Seal of approval
Inuit leaders are delighted by the positive publicity that Governor General Michaëlle Jean has attracted to the seal hunt ever since she appeared on camera last week snacking on a freshly slaughtered pup. During a visit to Nunavut, Jean partook in the skinning of a seal with a traditional ulu blade, and sampled a piece of its heart, calling it “fresh” and “delicious.” (According to Jean, this delicacy has the texture of sushi, but with a meatier taste.) One restaurant in Montreal told the CBC that sales of its seal appetizer have doubled since the video emerged. Adrienne Clarkson—in Nunavut last week, like Jean, for a symposium hosted by her husband John Raulston Saul—doesn’t see what the big deal is. She’s been eating raw food in the region for almost 40 years, and it never made headline news. “It’s nothing new to me, okay?” she told reporters. “I have a lovely sealskin coat . . . I’ve eaten raw food since 1971—and there you are.”
She said she wanted a revolution
For the first time since Sara Jane Moore, 77, was imprisoned for attempting to assassinate president Gerald Ford in 1975, she admitted last week that her actions were “a serious error.” Back in the mid-’70s, Moore, then a 45-year-old single mother, says she became caught up in the anti-Vietnam War protest movement in California. “I became immersed in it,” she told Matt Lauer, the host of NBC’s Today Show. “We were saying the country needed change. I genuinely thought that [shooting Ford] might trigger that new revolution in this country.” It was on Sept. 22, 1975, that Moore fired on Ford as he greeted a crowd in San Francisco. She missed his head by mere feet. After serving 32 years in jail, six of which she spent in solitary confinement, Moore was released on parole in 2007. Over time, she said, she “began to realize that I had let myself be used.” When host Lauer asked her why she was speaking out now, she said, “I think that one gets tired of being thought of as a kook, a monster, an alien.”
In a bid to appeal to reformists and women voters, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, hoping to take the Iranian presidency from current title-holder Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has vowed to disband the “morality police” and reform laws that discriminate against women if he wins the June 12 election. “We should empower women financially,” he told an all-female crowd of supporters. “Women should be able to choose their professions according to their merits.” Most notable of all to observers is that Mousavi is campaigning with his wife, Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, who was, until recently, the chancellor of Alzahra University in Tehran. “No prime minister or president of the Islamic Republic has ever done that,” a prominent Iranian women’s rights activist told the Guardian.
Newspapers in South Korea are reporting that Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s dictatorial leader, has officially chosen a successor: his youngest son, Kim Jong Un, said to be the son who most resembles the Dear Leader himself. Little is known of the younger Kim, except that he was born in 1983 or 1984, he enjoys skiing, and he studied English, German and French at a Swiss school. His perspective on his country’s controversial nuclear program remains, like his father, a total mystery.
Jon & Kate plus spite
Rumours of adultery and discord swirling around TLC’s Jon & Kate Plus 8 stars Jon and Kate Gosselin may not be great for the family, but they’ve provided a welcome boost for the tabloid magazine Us Weekly, according to its editor Janice Min. Min, who has put the Gosselins on the cover for the past six weeks straight, told the New York Post that the story has given their newsstand sales a huge boost: “The thing I loved about it is that it introduced new celebrities to the world of celebrity journalism.” But not all of the attention the Gosselins are attracting is career-friendly. Last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Labour reported that, following a complaint it received, it is investigating the show to ensure that it complies with the state’s child labour laws.
Canadian director James Cameron, 54, has reportedly been named in a lawsuit after a member of his staff, Oscar Escalante, allegedly crashed a car belonging to Cameron into an electricity pole, causing a three-day power outage and costing the U.S.-based Western General Insurance Company US$125,000 in lost income. According to gossip peddlers TMZ.com, both Cameron and Escalante are being sued for negligence. The Oscar-winning director’s long-awaited follow-up to Titanic—a 3D film called Avatar, four years in the making—is widely held to be the most anticipated film of 2009.
A waste of a good book
Koji Suzuki, one of Japan’s most celebrated horror writers, has teamed up with Hayashi Paper Corp., a Japanese toilet-paper manufacturer, to publish his latest terrifying novella on rolls of loo tissue. Drop is a nine-chapter story about an evil spirit who lives in a toilet bowl. “I’ve read the story, and it’s very scary,” said Takaki Hayashi, vice-president of the paper company. An earlier work by Suzuki, about a videotape that results in certain death for anyone who views it, was the basis for the 2002 Hollywood film The Ring, starring Naomi Watts. Drop is printed on blue toilet paper spattered with what is meant to look like blood—the story is repeated every 86 cm. It costs $2.50 per roll.
Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni was poised to become the first member of the Arab world to hold the top job at UNESCO, the United Nations Paris-based culture agency, when his past came back to haunt him last week. In a newspaper column in France’s Le Monde, philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, director Claude Lanzmann and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel jointly accused Hosni of espousing deeply anti-Semitic views. Last May, after a member of the Egyptian parliament confronted Hosni about Israeli books in Egyptian libraries, the distinguished trio quoted Hosni as having said: “Let’s burn those books; if there are any, I will burn them myself before you.” They also quoted him as having spelled it out more explicitly in 2001: “Israeli culture is an inhuman culture; it’s an aggressive, racist, pretentious culture that is based on a simple principle, stealing that which does not belong to it and then claiming it as its own.” In his rebuttal, also published in Le Monde, Hosni wrote that the comments were “hyperbole.”
The mean girl wins
At 67, Archie Andrews, the comic book heartthrob, is finally ready to tie the knot. In August, Archie Comics will celebrate the 600th issue of its flagship title by marrying off Archie and his wealthy sweetheart Veronica. Not that the squeaky-clean comics publisher is encouraging underage marriage; this will be a flash-forward to “Archie and his friends after they graduate college.” The wedding will take place in part one of a six-issue series, which gives the fickle Archie plenty of time to switch his proposal to Betty, Cheryl Blossom, and every other girl in Riverdale.
The O’Reilly factor
On Sunday, George Tiller, the Kansas doctor notorious among pro-life groups for performing late-term abortions, was fatally shot in the lobby of his church in Wichita. Within 24 hours, media observers began to ponder the degree to which Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly was responsible for making Tiller a target of violence. According to Salon.com columnist Gabriel Winant, O’Reilly had taken opportunities on-air to compare Tiller to a Nazi, to dub him “Tiller the baby killer,” and to warn him of “judgment day.” While O’Reilly never advocated violence, his critics say he put Tiller at risk by making him the target of a movement with a violent history (Tiller survived a previous assassination attempt in 1993). Winant called O’Reilly’s use of inflammatory language “sensationally irresponsible.” Scott Roeder, 51, has been charged with the murder.
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will serve as honorary chairs of the U.S. Library of Congress’s 2009 National Book Festival, an annual celebration of reading in the Washington area. One person who won’t be in attendance, however, is hip-hop artist Kanye West. Last week, the Grammy Award-winning rapper said in an interview, “I am a proud non-reader of books. I like to get information from doing stuff like actually talking to people and living real life.” West’s aversion, however, didn’t stop him from writing a newly published 52-page book of his own, Thank You and You’re Welcome, his personal philosophy for living, including such pithy nuggets as, “Get used to getting used!” and “I hate the word hate!” West, whose mother, the late Donda West, was a university English professor, credits his hatred of reading for allowing him to draw on a “childlike purity” in the penning of his own book.
The latest chapter in the always colourful love life of Silvio Berlusconi finds the Italian prime minister accused—by his wife and others—of having engaged in an affair with an underage aspiring model named Noemi Letizia. Berlusconi was reported to have attended Letizia’s 18th birthday in Naples earlier this month and given her an expensive necklace, provoking his wife to announce to the media, “I cannot remain with a man who consorts with minors.” Berlusconi says he only attended the party because he was in town and Letizia was an old family friend, but photos later turned up of the two of them together at social events last year, when she was only 17. Last week, Berlusconi managed to succeed in having the photos blocked from publication. Other evidence said to be found among the 700 photos seized from a Sardinian photographer, Antonello Zappadu, includes shots of young women at Berlusconi’s private New Year’s party, some of whom are topless, taken by Zappadu with a high-powered lens. Berlusconi confirmed that Letizia did attend his New Year’s party, but he denied they ever had “a spicy or more than spicy” relationship. “I have sworn this on the lives of my children,” he told Italian press. “I am aware that, if this were perjury, I would have to resign a minute later.”