Erratic, wily, treacherous and a survivor, Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has been a menacing fixture in his country for decades. The leader of the CIA-backed Hezb-e Islami, a faction that served as one of the strongest resistance forces against Soviet occupation in the 1980s, he became prime minister of Afghanistan in the early 1990s before being pushed out by the Taliban. But when the Taliban fell to the U.S.-led coalition in 2001, he returned, waging jihad alongside his erstwhile enemies against NATO troops. Last week, Hekmatyar suggested to the Associated Press he would conditionally take up Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s offer of direct talks. He had told the AP he’d scaled down attacks against NATO forces for lack of money and was refusing any more co-operation with the Taliban. Next day, he was denying that, and said he’d welcome closer collaboration with the Taliban. One explanation for his erratic statements: the wily Hekmatyar is just shopping around for the best offer.
GLENN HOWARD OUT FROM HIS BROTHER’S SHADOW
Brad Gushue blames bad ice. Instead, he should blame good genes. At last week’s 2007 Tim Hortons Brier, Ontario skip Glenn Howard, 44, stole the championship out from under Olympic gold medallist Gushue’s Newfoundland rink when the latter missed a crucial shot. Howard’s 10-6 victory was his first as skip at the Brier. Playing third under big brother and curling legend Russ Howard, 51, Glenn has taken home two previous Briers. But Russ’s celebrity has eclipsed his sibing’s. Gushue says of Glenn: “He’s been on the best team in the world and he doesn’t get respect because he’s always going to be known as Russ’s little brother.” This Brier win should change that. Glenn, a manager of a Midland, Ont., Beer Store, dedicated the Tankard to his parents, while a proud Russ looked on.
COPS TO RAPPER: PAYBACK TIME
There’s no love lost between the 34-year-old rapper-turned-actor and the New York City police. After his bodyguard was gunned down last year, Busta Rhymes refused to co-operate in the investigation. That, and a string of less-serious alleged incidents, have soured relations. He’s said to have driven with a suspended licence, run a red lightthen cussed out the cops who stopped him—and allegedly beat up his own driver. Last Saturday it was payback time. Rhymes was due to appear on a Manhattan street to act in a crime movie called Order of Redemption, but had to withdraw from his scenes. Police told the producers that they refused to assign the usual film-set patrol. A city film office spokeswoman said the police had safety concerns. In the eyes of the NYPD, Rhymes is going to have to go a lot further toward redemption than just acting
HAUNTED BY VAMPIRE HUNTERS
For the daughter of the late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, life continues to be a trial. She is currently living in Montenegro and is under continuing police investigation over an incident in 2001, in which she fired a gun during her father’s arrest. Marija Milosevic never attended her father’s funeral, nor did she attend a rally on Saturday where her father’s supporters marked the first anniversary of his death. But she has taken interest in his burial plot. Located in the front yard of his wife Mira Markovic’s house (who is holed up in Russia with her son), the grave has been damaged by activists, self-described “vampire hunters.” Recently, one man, Miroslaw Milosevic (no relation), managed to wedge a metre-long stake beneath the tomb’s stone lid in an attempt to pierce Slobodan’s heart. He claimed that without this ritual, Slobodan’s spirit would haunt Serbia. Marija has reportedly complained that police have failed to protect her father’s grave, so she hired private guards to prevent ¡ another attempt to vanquish the y spectre of the dead dictator. , ^
AND HE DOESN’T GET RESPECT BECAUSE HE’S ALWAYS R BRAD GUSHUE ON BRIER CHAMP GLENN HOWARD
TURNAROUND EXPERT IS CHARGED WITH FRAUD
When Nortel Networks was looking for a new CEO in 2001 to turn the struggling telecom giant around after the tech bust, the chairman, Lynton “Red” Wilson, called on Frank Dunn, whose “management skills, industry experience and business credentials” were supposed to ensure the company would become sustainable and profitable. But this week, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged Dunn and other Nortel execs with “repeatedly engaging in accounting fraud,” while Ontario regulators are alleging Nortel made “material misstatements” about the company’s financial reporting. If he is found guilty, Dunn, who was criticized for building a multi-million-dollar mansion while laying off thousands of Nortel employees, could face fines reaching into the millions. He sold the dream home in 2005 for a fraction of his original asking price. Fired from Nortel in 2004 after 28 years’ service (he started there right after graduating from McGill University)—Dunn may also be prohibited from ever serving as an officer or director at a publicly traded company ever again
SUDDEN DEATH, NO OVERTIME
Read ’em and weep. At least that’s the conclusion of the NHL Players’ Association, which on the weekend suspended executive director Ted Saskin. For 18 months, Saskin has been fighting dissident players who questioned his rich compensation—at least US$10 million over five years—and quick elevation to the union’s top job after the disastrous 2005 lockout. Saskin quickly replaced his ousted predecessor, Bob Goodenow, without even a formal job search taking place. Last week, the media reported that Saskin had monitored players’ email accounts, looking to gain the upper hand on dissidents. Saskin allegedly admitted to the snooping when confronted by union officials—at first—then denied it and blamed Goodenow for the misdeeds. Saskin may still have a soft landing—his contract contains a US$2million golden parachute. Meantime, the NHLPA isn’t taking
THE HARD LIVES \
OF ROYAL WOMEN
The 72-year-old wife of Japan’s Emperor Akihito emerged from her sick bed last week to attend an ikebana show in Tokyo. The Empress Michiko has had several bouts of stress-related illness, most recently intestinal bleeding, nosebleeds and mouth ulcers. Life in the imperial household hasn’t been easy.
Harassed by her domineering mother-in-law and courtiers for being a commoner, she has suffered breakdowns, including one that left her unable to speak for months. This time her illness is blamed in part on a critical biography of daughterin-law Crown Princess Masako, which alleges how, under pressure to have a male heir, the vibrant Masako has succumbed to depression. Michiko will scale back duties until her health improves, but Masako has largely with-
A TROPHY-CAR COMPANY
GETS A NEW OWNER
Majority ownership of the Aston Martin, voted “sexiest car” in a 2005 survey, is now in the hands of a consortium led by auto-racing mogul David Richards. The Ford Motor Co., which owned the luxury carmaker, announced on Monday that the British-based Richards beat out several other investors eager to bag the trophy asset made famous by the James Bond films. The 54-year-old former accounting student turned professional rally driver first became enamoured with the sport at 15 after watching a Royal Automobile Club event. In 1981, he founded Prodrive Ltd., a firm that designs, constructs and races cars. He and three other investors receive a company that has grown production from just 46 cars in 1992 to 7,000 last year. Meanwhile, Ford walks away with US$848 million to fund its rescue plan-a pittance given the giant lost US$12.7 billion in 2006.
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