This week: Good news/bad news

Plus a week in the life of Suaad Hagi Mohamud

Luiz Inácio Lula da SilvaFace of the week
Rio happy: Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, sheds a tear after hearing that Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Olympics

Suaad Hagi MohamudA week in the life of Suaad Hagi Mohamud
The Canadian woman “trapped” in Kenya because of a passport mix-up may not be an innocent victim after all. According to a government affidavit released this week, the woman who arrived at Nairobi’s airport carrying Mohamud’s ID was not Mohamud at all—but her sister. The alleged impostor was “vague and evasive,” and could not provide basic information—including her son’s birthday. On Sunday, Mohamud’s lawyers vowed to press on with her $2.5-million lawsuit.


Proof of life
Hamas militants released a video of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is seen in the footage holding a newspaper and delivering a message to his family. It is the first glimpse of the now 23-year-old since he was snatched from his post near the Gaza border in June 2006. Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter helped broker the deal, which saw Israel release 20 female Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the tape. Shalit’s fate is a huge political issue in Israel, and a major stumbling block to a renewed peace process. Hopefully, he’s now closer to heading home.

We’re number four!
Canada is the fourth-best place to live, according to the United Nations’ 2009 human development index. Norway, Australia and Iceland took home the gold, silver and bronze, respectively, according to the index, which measures the quality of life people can expect to enjoy (or not enjoy—Afghanistan came in at 181 out of 182 countries) based on where they live. Apparently, our true north strong and free isn’t quite as livable as it was last year—Canada ranked third in the 2008 index. But we’re betting Stephen Harper’s jam-out with Yo-Yo Ma gives us enough points to crack the top three next year.

Edgy programming
The CBC’s endless quest to stay relevant has taken a dubious turn in the form of a copy-sharing deal with the National Post. (What business does a taxpayer-funded broadcaster have in the private sector newspaper industry?) Ironically, the Mother Corp. also proved this week the value in focusing on core strengths—like hockey and figure skating. The first episode of new reality show Battle of the Blades, pairing female skaters with clapped-out NHL players, attracted 1.95 million viewers—the network’s biggest audience since the first episode of Little Mosque on the Prairie. Turns out hockey and figure skating go together like Muslims and Saskatchewan.

Apply within
The University of Regina is offering its graduates a unique guarantee: find a meaningful, rewarding job within six months of convocation or get another full year of classes free of charge. Vianne Timmons, president of the university, says 97 per cent of graduates already find employment in their field of choice, and she is confident the new gimmick will boost that figure to a perfect 100 per cent. Our advice to university officials? Encourage all graduates to send their resumés to the Ontario Ministry of Health. According to a scathing report by the provincial auditor general, the ministry can’t seem to hire enough consultants these days.


Judgment day
Another week, another blow to the Catholic Church. Nova Scotia Bishop Raymond Lahey turned himself in to Ottawa police after he was charged with possession of child pornography (border guards found “images of concern” on Lahey’s laptop while performing a random search at Macdonald-Cartier International Airport). Parishioners in the diocese of Antigonish, where Lahey was known as a pillar of the community, were stunned by the revelation—as were Catholics around the world. Lahey, after all, is the same bishop who helped broker a $15-million settlement for parishioners who claimed they were sexually abused by priests in the diocese.

Unclean hands
As health authorities brace for the second coming of swine flu, one piece of advice has remained constant: wash your hands. But does all that scrubbing really work? According to a newly released study commissioned by the Public Health Agency of Canada, there is actually “no evidence” that frequent hand washing prevents the transmission of influenza. The researchers, who focused their attention on health care workers, concluded that vaccines and anti-virals are the only interventions “shown unequivocally to reduce the spread, and to mitigate the impact, of influenza.” It also wouldn’t hurt to avoid Backstreet Boys’ concerts; singer Brian Littrell has been diagnosed with H1N1.

Virtual sniffles
Speaking of sore throats, Ottawa bus drivers are calling in sick like never before. According to an internal memo that was leaked to a local blog, nearly one in 10 “Transpo” operators are booking off with coughs and colds every weekday, with the highest rates of absenteeism—surprise, surprise—on Fridays and sunny days. To all those inconvenienced passengers, there is a silver lining: just be thankful you weren’t trying to catch an Air India flight this week. The airline was forced to cancel dozens of connections after 180 pilots conspired to phone in sick on the same day.

Pass the Swiffer
So much for splitting the chores. New studies released this week reaffirmed what wives and mothers know all too well: women still do the bulk of the housework. In Britain, a survey found that females with jobs do more than triple the amount of household tasks compared to their working husbands, while in the U.S. a study revealed that by the age of 10, girls are rinsing more dishes and vacuuming more floors than their brothers. “Kids aren’t only learning that girls do the housework,” says Constance Gager, the study’s lead author. “They’re learning that that’s fair.”