Veronica Guerin

Veronica Guerin:

THE late Veronica Guerin landed a prestigious honour last week when she was named as one of the Seven Most Courageous Women Ever by America's best-selling women's magazine, Glamour.

In a list compiled by the heavyweights, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Judy Williams (of the international campaign to ban landmines), Lucy Lawless (co-star of Spartacus and Blood & Sand) and Rosalind Miles (author of Who Cooked the Last Supper?), the Sunday Independent reporter was placed third behind Harriet Tubman, the runaway slave and spy, and Shirin Edaldi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner and Iranian attorney.

Civil rights icon Rosa Parks was fourth, with Vietnamese activist sisters Trung Nhi and Trung Trac earning fifth place. Lillian Kinkela Keil, the Second World War combat nurse who helped to evacuate more than 10,000 wounded troops was at number six on the list, ahead of anti-Hitler activist Sophie Scholl, who was placed seventh.

Palin's poll joy and court woe

IN QUITE a different poll, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (with 16 per cent of votes) narrowly topped Sarah Palin (who earned a 15 per cent approval rating) in a Gallup survey to determine the most admired woman in America.

Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey came in third (with eight per cent) edging out first lady Michelle Obama, (who scored seven per cent.) But it hasn't been all good news for Palin, as the Anchorage Daily News reported her attempts to keep the upcoming court battle over custody of her one-year-old grandson Tripp private have been scuppered.

Alaska Superior Court Judge Kari Kristiansen ruled on December 23 that Palin failed to provide evidence that Tripp would be harmed by publicity generated by the trial, which was instigated by Palin's daughter Bristol, who filed for full custody of her baby son in early November.

The baby's father, Levi Johnston, who has made no secret of his negative feelings for the Palin clan, caught the judge's attention when he argued against holding the custody case in camera.

Johnston claimed: "I know that public scrutiny will simplify this matter and act as a check against anyone's need to be overly vindictive, aggressive or malicious, not that Bristol would ever be that way, nor that I would.

"But," he added, "her mother is powerful, politically ambitious and has a reputation for being extremely vindictive. . . so, I think a public case might go a long way in reducing Sarah Palin's instinct to attack." As if.

Tiger rumour

mill in full swing

TIGER Woods, who turned 34 on Wednesday, remained in hiding last week, but that didn't stop the rumour mill spinning out of control -- no doubt influencing sponsors like telecommunications giant AT&T to sever ties with the embattled sports star.

Insiders insist there's no truth to reports that the former golfing great is holed up in Arnold Palmer's home. Other reports that he was spotted ("holding hands") with mistress Number One Rachel Uchitel at a party in Palm Beach last Sunday night (his boat, notably named Privacy, has been moored there for the last few weeks) have also been discounted, as has the story that Woods had plastic surgery after the Thanksgiving altercation with his wife Elin Nordegren -- who, by an array of accounts, either split his lip when she threw a cell-phone at him and/or injured his face when she attacked him with a 9-iron.

Nordegren, who is laying low in her native Sweden with the couple's two children, isn't commenting on any of the stories, while Uchitel appears to be making the most of her newfound notoriety, partying in Palm Beach where she was photographed in a bikini on the beach mid-week where she was trailed by paparazzi and reporters who archly noted her request for privacy.

Some Sheen for Charlie's heart

SOUNDS like Charlie Sheen caught a lucky break last week when lawyers for his wife Brooke Mueller reported she wants to reconcile with her husband, despite her claims that he put a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her on Christmas Day.

"They're very much in love. They want to try to work it out and want to have the best shot at doing that," her lawyer Yale Galanter told reporters last Wednesday. Sheen's attorney Richard Cummins confirmed his client (who faces charges of felony menacing, domestic violence, second-degree assault and criminal mischief at a February 8 court hearing) wants to reconcile after filing a motion asking a judge to dismiss a restraining order that prevents the couple from having contact.

In a remarkable statement, Galanter described the situation between the couple as being "a very interesting legal conundrum. . . Events occurred. She gave a sworn statement to a law enforcement officer. She wants to work on her marriage".

Galanter also said he wasn't concerned that social services might intervene out of concern for the wellbeing of the couple's nine-month-old twin sons.

"These kids are in probably the most loving, nurturing, wholesome, healthy environment I have ever seen," he said, without a trace of irony.

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