NEWSMAKERS

'THEY HAVE TO CALL ME MA'AM ANIALUTE ME'-JENNIFER BENNETT COMMANDS THE RESPECT OF HER MILITARY SIBLINGS NOW THAT SHE'S BECOMING A CANADIAN NAVAL COMMODORE

December 10 2007
NEWSMAKERS

'THEY HAVE TO CALL ME MA'AM ANIALUTE ME'-JENNIFER BENNETT COMMANDS THE RESPECT OF HER MILITARY SIBLINGS NOW THAT SHE'S BECOMING A CANADIAN NAVAL COMMODORE

December 10 2007

'THEY HAVE TO CALL ME MA'AM ANIALUTE ME'-JENNIFER BENNETT COMMANDS THE RESPECT OF HER MILITARY SIBLINGS NOW THAT SHE'S BECOMING A CANADIAN NAVAL COMMODORE

NEWSMAKERS

JENNIFER BENNETT

THE FIRST LADY OF THE NAVAL RESERVES

Commodore Jennifer Bennett

began her attachment to the navy at a young age—she was christened in a ship’s bell instead of the traditional basin. On Saturday, Bennett, 49, will become the first Canadian woman to head a naval formation when she assumes command of the nation’s 24 naval reserve divisions. It’s a position that was held by her father when she first joined the naval reserves 33 years ago. “Women have progressed through a series of firsts in the Canadian Forces,”

Bennett says. “It happens to be time for the navy.” At her new job (which is part-time), Bennett will manage the naval reserve and its assets, performing administrative and ceremonial duties. She also has a civilian job as head of a private school in Oakville, Ont. As for her new position, “my entire family is very excited and proud,” Bennett says—two of her three siblings are also in the naval reserve, a family tradition started by her father. And because she outranks her siblings, “they have to call me ma’am and salute me in a military setting,” Bennett jokes—an added benefit to getting the promotion.

RICK ROSS

A REAL GANGSTA IMAGE: FREE TURKEYS

If you were to take Miami rapper Rick Ross at his word, he’s led a nasty life. With a performing name lifted from an infamous American cocaine dealer, Ross rhymes about being a dope kingpin, bragging in song of knowing Pablo Escobar and Manuel Noriega and claiming he needs $10 million a year—far more than he makes rapping— “just to function.” But last week, Ross revealed the gentler reality behind the thug fiction. The MC spent the afternoon handing out Thanksgiving turkeys to needy Miami families in a promotion for a new restaurant he’s participating in called the Hip Hop Grub Spot. The eateries serve healthy snacks, wraps, sandwiches and energy drinks created by faculty and students from Florida universities, and will offer opportunities to students for executive and entrepreneurial training. That’s a long way from hanging with Noriega.

RACHIDA DATI

‘SARKOZETTE’ HAS THE PRESIDENT’S EYE

When Nicolas Sarkozy was elected president of France last May, he chose Rachida Dati as his justice minister. The glamorous daughter of a Moroccan stonemason has an abrasive style that prompted her chief of staff and seven other advisers to leave in huffs, while judge* and lawyers across France threaten to strike over her plan to close 100 tribunals and courts. But one person definitely entranced by her is Sarkozy. He’s callea her “ma beurette” (“my little Arab girl”), and gushed about her intelligence and ambition. He’s taken her abroad on official trips, spawning jealousy among less beautiful cabinet ministers. Her importance to the president is so great she appeared with him during an official trip to China this week. There are no justice issues on the SinoFrench agenda. Is there no stopping the woman French gossips are naming “Sarkozette”?

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INGRID MARIE RIVERA

A BURNING VICTORY

It’s a good thing beauty queen veteran Ingrid Marie Rivera has experience keeping her composure in front of judges. This week, as she was crowned Miss Universe Puerto Rico—beating out 29 others for the chance to represent her island next year in Vietïam—Rivera, 24, was burning with an outbreak of hives. After a final smile and wave she dashed backstage, stripped off her clothes, and doused her body in icy water. Lab results soon confirmed suspicions: Rivera’s gown and makeup had been laced with pepper spray. Resented by rivals for her pageant prowess (Rivera won Miss World Caribbean in 2005), the marketing and business student was the target of even more sabotageearlier last week her suitcase, containing clothing and credit cards, went missing. Things were so tense, she even considered bowing to the pressure and dropping out: “At one point I said, ‘Am I a masochist?’ ” On the bright side, the bomb threat that postponed preliminary events hasn’t been blamed on the veteran champion’s nemeses.

ALUTE ME’—JENNIFER BENNETT COMMANDS THE HE’S BECOMING A CANADIAN NAVAL COMMODORE

ALVARO URIBE AND HUGO CHÁVEZ FREEZING IN VENEZUELA

Nobody puts Hugo Chávez in a corner. The Venezuelan president was stung last week when his Colombian counterpart, Alvaro Uribe, abruptly cancelled Chávez’s role as mediator between Colombia’s government and leftist rebels. President Uribe ended Chávez’s involvement in the negotiations for speaking directly to Colombia’s army chief despite being told not to. Chávez lashed back, announcing he was putting relations with Colombia in the “deep freezer.” Relations between the two countries could have been described as amicable, despite the political differences between the leftist Chávez and pro-Washington Uribe. But when Uribe dumped Chávez as a gobetween with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Chávez mused publicly that, “Colombia deserves a better president.” Chávez says the spat will end only when he receives a full apology or when a new government comes to office.

DR. ANGELA GENGE GEHRIG'S DISEASE AND THE CFL

This year’s Grey Cup week festivities were interrupted by one very sobering Canadian Football League story. Montreal doctor Angela Genge announced that she is launching an epidemiological study of Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) after learning of a much higher incidence of the illness in former CFL players than in the general population. One former Alouettes all-star, Tony Proudfoot, was diagnosed with the disease last year, and his former teammate Larry Uteck died of the disease in 2002. Genge, an assistant professor at McGill and director of the Montreal Neurological Institute’s ALS clinic, is being careful not to read too much into the numbers just yet. “It may not be football,” she told CBC Radio. “It maybe something in particular with what these guys took as supplements during their training. It may have been other factors that we can’t see yet.” A 2005 study in Italy found that ALS occurred nearly six times more frequently among professional soccer players than in the general public. Genge expects her study to take at least a year.

MARIUS KLOPPERS

WORKING ON THE RIGHT BALL PARK

The chief of the mining giant BHP Billiton has a giant appetite. Marius Kloppers, CEO of the Melbourne, Australia-based company, wants to buy Rio Tinto in a US$140-billion deal. But the bid has met with no end of problems. Tom Albanese, the CEO of Rio Tinto (which recently acquired Montreal’s Alcan), says Rio Tinto’s synergies with the aluminum maker will create cost savings not recognized in Billiton’s offer. He described the bid to an interviewer: “It’s not even in the same ball park. You’ve got to go across the road; maybe even across two roads to find the right ball park.” Next, customers are up in arms, particularly Chinese steel mills that would buy iron ore from the combined Billiton/Rio Tinto. They fear the new giant could dominate iron-ore prices. There has been speculation that cashrich Chinese interests would buy enough Rio Tinto shares to prevent the takeover. Kloppers this week reportedly offered to create an iron-ore trading exchange, but that too was rebuffed by customers. He may yet score Rio Tinto and create a mining colos-

if he

sus

can

MICHAEL ONDAATJE

A LITERARY LION MAKES IT NO. FIVE

The 2007 Governor General’s award for English-language fiction goes to Divisadero, bringing to five the number of GGs Michael Ondaatje has won, which ties the record of the late Hugh MacLennan. Ondaatje’s first novel since Anil’s Ghost ( winner of the GG and Giller Prize in 2000) weaves two narratives shifting in time and place between 1970s California and 19th-century France. Canadian reviewers rhapsodized about its artful lyricism: “This novel is so rich that every description or summary beggars its accomplishment,” wrote the Globe and Mail. British reviewers pleaded boredom. “Again and again, my eyes slipped off Ondaatje’s allergyinducing prose and fixed on something more deserving of attention—my feet at the end of the sofa, the plasterwork in the London Library. Oh, for a glimpse of some drying paint,” griped the Telegraph. Not that Ondaatje needs to care. He won the 1992 Booker Prize for The English Patient. And it seems inevitable he’ll overtake MacLennan.