‘CANADA LOOKS LIKE ONE OF THOSE POORO DISINTERESTED PASSERS-BY’-WRITER PHILIP Dl
ALEX ALLAN THE CASE OF THE AILING SPYMASTER
What happened to Britain’s top spy? Alex Allan, chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, was found by a tenant last week in his London home, unconscious and reportedly covered in blood. The colourful spymaster, who runs a Grateful Dead fan site and once windsurfed down the Thames to work during a transit strike, was raced to a hospital and subjected to a battery of tests, though doctors have yet to make a diagnosis. Scotland Yard has said there is no evidence that Allan, 57, was the victim of an assassination attempt akin to the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, a vocal critic of former Russian President Vladimir Putin, who succumbed in 2006 to a dose of radioactive polonium-210. Government sources are suggesting the collapse was a result of pneumonia, though experts have said the significant blood loss makes this unlikely. Exactly what happened remains the biggest mystery in British intelligence in years.
ANGELA WHYTE DAD LEAVES HIS MARK ON AN OLYMPIAN
In an age when most sports stars sport a tattoo, it takes a lot more than a Superman symbol or a slithering snake to catch people’s attention. In fact, it’s much more surprising to see an athlete without one. Kudos, then, to Canadian Olympic hurdler Angela Whyte, whose choice of body ink is original enough to warrant double take. “That’s in case I get lost and I have amnesia,” she laughs, when asked why her last name is scribbled, ever so sloppily, over her left bicep. In all seriousness, the tattoo is a tribute to her dear dad, Evert, a single father who raised her and her older brother, Eddie. “It’s my dad’s writing, a homage to my father,” says Whyte, a 28year-old Edmonton native. “When he would send me mail to Idaho [her training base], I would take pieces of the letters that I liked and finally said, ‘Let’s do it.’ ” Whyte and her one-of-akind tattoo will be boarding a plane to Beijing later this month, where she will represent Canada in the 100-m hurdles.
DANIEL LIBESKIND A TOWER OFFENDS ITALY’S MANLY PRIDE
It’s no secret that the work of U.S. architect Daniel Libeskind isn’t universally loved. When he finished the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal for Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum, it was received by the city’s mayor as a creation that would foster “strong opinions on both sides.” But his latest design for a skyscraper in Milan has sparked rare invective, with Italy’s blustering prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, complaining the structure, which bends in the middle, emanates a “sense of impotence” because it is not manly enough.
Writer Umberto Eco added that the building will “be one more in need of Viagra.” The architect replied that Berlusconi is a xénophobe with fascist tastes. “As an American and Jew brought up in Poland, I find Berlusconi abominable. His concept of nationalism, of closing border and denying what’s different is repugnant.” Berlusconi hints he may axe Libeskind’s A
DARA TORRES QUEEN OF THE POOL AT AGE 41
She’s on the block, ready to swim for her country one more time. In a remarkable comeback, 41year-old Dara Torres returned to the pool last weekend to clinch a spot in her fifth Olympic games, unprecedented for a U.S. female swimmer, most of whom are half her age. Torres, who has a twoyear-old daughter, made the U.S. team in her favourite event, the 50-m freestyle, smashing the U.S. record three times over two days. In a race called the “splash and dash” for its frantic pace and normally tight finishes, the nearly six-feet-tall Torres won the final with a time of 24.25 seconds, half a body length ahead of second-place Jessica Hardy. Torres’ Olympic career now spans 24 years. She’s already won four gold medals, one silver and four bronzes at Olympics dating back to the 1984 Los Angeles Games. She also competed in the Seoul, Barcelona and Sydney games. However, gaining the podium this summer in Beijing is going to be V_yw
^ tough: no matter how impres* sive her time is, it’s % f still .28 seconds off the ^ current world’s best in the 50-m, set by Australian Libby Trickett in March. Trickett is 23 years old.
ING GIRLS AT A TRADE SHOW, THRUSTING FLYERS AT VES BROUGHTON ON ALBERTA’S IMMIGRATION DRIVE
AT THE CENTRE OF THE A-ROD SCANDAL
When entertainment manager Guy Oseary signed up third base phenom Alex Rodriguez as a client last year, the New York Yankee’s marriage to wife Cynthia seemed solid. But just three months after the birth of their second daughter, his wife filed for divorce. The “other woman” rumours pointed to another Oseary client, Madonna. While she denied the affair, her publicist confirmed that Oseary, 38, had introduced his clients to each other. She and Rodriguez had attended a Kabbalah service in their manager’s apartment. Oseary, 38, has worked for Madonna since he was a teenaged talent scout, rising quickly in her business empire, signing acts such as Alanis Morissette to her Maverick Records. In 2005, Oseary became her manager. For the publicityshy Oseary, the global frenzy surrounding his clients must be distressing. Especially since Cynthia Rodriguez sought comfort at the home of Lenny Kravitz— another Oseary client.
ALBERTA, THE LAND OF OPPORUNITY
You’d think it was 1908, not 2008. There was Alberta’s minister of employment and immigration, Hector Goudreau, visiting Britain in a bid to attract thousands of immigrants to the western frontier. Goudreau trumpeted the province’s economic might, superior social services and inexpensive lifestyle, compared to highpriced Britain. Goudreau was mocked by newspaper writers on what Canada actually offers. “Canada still looks like one of those poor young girls at a trade show, thrusting flyers at disinterested passers-by,” sniffed Daily Mail writer Philip Delves Broughton. “It is the big, earnest, empty restaurant which can’t understand why the scrappier joint next door is hopping.” But the last laugh will probably be Goudreau’s. Britons are swarming Alberta. Nearly one in 10 Calgary policemen now hails from Britain and the Calgary Police Service has temporarily ceased recruiting bobbies. The real interest in Britain has prompted a more sober and realistic editorial response: fears of a brain drain to Canada.
THE GOOD GIRL OF THE INDIE MUSIC SCENE
In the often-decadent world of pop music, there’s a good girl on stage. London, Ont. native Basia Bulat has been building a career in Europe, Japan and Australia, where she’s released her first album, Oh, My Darling. Bulat combines ragtime beats, strings, and dreamy vocals in a performance that prompted Britain’s Guardian newspaper to call the record “the kind of experience you immediately phone your friends about.” This week, Canada’s music journalists gave the young Bulat a berth on their short-list selections for the third-annual Polaris Music awards, which honour Canadian independent pop musicians. The announcement put her in the company of Montreal’s Plants and Animals, Vancouver psyche-rockers Black Mountain and Winnipeg’s The Weakerthans. The Polaris winner will be announced in late September.
THE AUTO WORKER’S TOUGH HEIR APPARENT
As frontrunner to succeed Canadian Auto Workers president Buzz Hargrove, who announced his retirement this week, Ken Lewenza, 53, still has to face a formal vote by September. But with Hargrove’s personal endorsement and the probable backing of the powerful union’s 17-member board, Lewenza’s election is beginning to sound more like a coronation. A high-school dropout who says his nightmare is his children and grandchildren being out of work, he is a hard-driving president of Windsor’s Local 444. Some CAW senior executives grumbled this week that their own ambitions are being thwarted by Lewenza’s machine. There’s talk of intimidation and fear of his volcanic temper. With sales by the Big Three automakers in freefall and layoffs sure to follow, the pugnacious Lewenza made a pointed call: “unity, unity.” Will he get it by persuasion or hanging tough?
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