This week: Good news/Bad news

Plus a week in the life of Axl Rose

Face of the weekFace of the week
Feeding time: A zookeeper feeds milk to a newborn male giraffe at a zoo in Duisburg, Germany. The giraffe was born on Oct. 3.

Axl RoseA week in the life of Axl Rose
Welcome (back) to the jungle. Fresh off of being accused of plagiarizing material for Guns N’ Roses’ latest album, Chinese Democracy, the 47-year-old front man announced on Monday a series of Canadian tour dates that will take his band to 13 cities—from Winnipeg to Moncton, N.B. On Wednesday, The Middle, an ABC sitcom set in Indiana, debuted featuring a character named after Rose, who hails from the Hoosier state.


Clean slate
Hamid Karzai might not like it, but a UN panel’s rejection of hundreds of thousands of votes in Afghanistan’s disputed August election is welcome news for the troubled country. Accounts of widespread electoral fraud on the part of Karzai’s supporters had weakened his government in the eyes of Afghans, and left Westerners wondering exactly what their troops were fighting for. The prospect of a runoff election offers the government at least the hope of legitimacy—the lifeblood of any democracy. If Karzai wins fair and square, he will have demonstrated growth as a leader and new-found respect for the electoral process. If he loses, Canada and other NATO countries will get a fresh start with his successor. After an election tarnished by the spectre of voter fraud, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Unclenching the fist
Iranian nuclear officials met in Vienna with members of the International Atomic Energy Agency this week to discuss an agreement whereby Russia and France would treat low-enriched Iranian uranium and turn it into fuel rods for a research reactor in Tehran. In return, Iran would guarantee to not use the enriched uranium to produce weapons. We’re wary of any promises made by Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—last seen on the world stage fulminating about capitalism and the West. But this is a good start toward neutralizing Tehran’s nuclear threat.

Just-in-time delivery
The first doses of the swine flu vaccine went out across Canada this week, and were expected to be approved for use within days. That’s a bit ahead of schedule, but not a moment too soon for Canadians. B.C. is in the midst of a major H1N1 outbreak—nearly 15 per cent of recent visits to the B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver were for flu-like symptoms. And a recent poll suggests two-thirds of Canadians will avoid shaking hands out of fear of spreading the illness. If the vaccine can’t keep the bug at bay, perhaps it will at least help keep us civil.

A kinder Kanye
Director Spike Jonze released two gems this week. Where the Wild Things Are, based on the children’s story about a boy who becomes king of a group of hairy monsters, finished first at the box office. Its success is a relief to those who’ve watched in dismay as the likes of Couples Retreat and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen won recent box-office titles. Jonze also worked with Kanye West on an 11-minute short film called We Were Once a Fairy Tale, in which West conquers a demon that makes him act like a jerk. Let’s hope this art becomes reality.


Inhuman touch
The logistical problems posed by Canada’s growing prison population hit home this week as operators of a remand centre in Edmonton revealed plans to dispense with in-person visits in favour of video conferencing. The idea is to clear the backlog of people waiting to pay visits, but it’s a callous solution to pressures that will only worsen as the Harper government proceeds with plans to toughen sentencing laws, keeping more convicts inside for longer. The feds say they will spend more on prisons—“virtual visiting” equipment should not be on their shopping list.

Game misconduct
There are some things you just don’t do in this country. Right up there on the list: don’t steal money from peewee hockey players. The Clarington Thunder collected more than $4,000 last weekend, selling raffle tickets and gift baskets to help cover the team’s travel, uniform and ice-time expenses. A few hours later, they discovered the money had been stolen. This unfortunate story comes on the heels of the arrest of Torontonian Randy Gumbley, who allegedly scammed 100 young players into shelling out $2,800 to play in front of talent scouts at a non-existent tournament in France.

Consider the source
Another week, another debacle at the UN Human Rights Council. This time, the council endorsed a report accusing Israel of committing war crimes during its campaign in Gaza last year. Not surprisingly, the report makes no mention of crimes on the part of Palestinian terrorist group Hamas—even though another UN-commissioned study, issued by international judge Richard Goldstone, charged both Israel and Hamas with war crimes. Then again, what else should we expect from a “human rights council” composed of Cuba, China and Saudi Arabia—some of the worst human rights abusers in the world?

Homer eroticism
The latest Playboy issue—featuring a buxom, bright-yellow-skinned, four-fingered beauty with a blue bouffant—is causing quite a stir. Marge Simpson, matriarch of The Simpsons, appears in skimpy lingerie and with doughnuts hiding her breasts. For a generation of kids brought up on the show, Marge’s sexy turn comes as an unpleasant surprise—we liked her better as a tidy, slightly neurotic mom. Maybe Marge could learn a thing or two from Kelly Osbourne: the former drug-addict daughter of heavy-metal legend Ozzy Osbourne recently turned down an offer from Playboy, saying, “I wouldn’t want my father or brother to see me naked.”

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