Senator John McCain’s mother, the feisty Roberta McCain, 97, won’t tolerate bullies on her team. Appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last Wednesday, she dismissed Republican pundit Rush Limbaugh as a glorified “entertainer.” “What he represents of the Republican party has nothing to do with my side of it,” she said. “I don’t know what the man means, I don’t know what he’s talking about.” Limbaugh was one of her son’s harshest critics during the 2008 presidential election. More recently, Limbaugh suggested that her granddaughter, Meghan McCain, who sees herself as the fresh new face of the GOP, should take a hike.
B.C. may get its Citizen of the Year back
Twenty years ago, Frank Hertel, 72, a charismatic Victoria businessman who pledged to turn Vancouver Island into a high-tech mecca, fled Canada to avoid tax evasion charges. On May 9, Interpol arrested him at Heathrow Airport in London, where he is now in jail, awaiting an extradition hearing. In 1984, Hertel founded a company called International Electronics Corp., which specialized in oil and thermal power, with the help of a federal program allowing for scientific tax credits. The Victoria Chamber of Commerce named him “Citizen of the Year,” but in 1985, Revenue Canada reported that he owed $30 million in back taxes and began seizing assets. In 1986, after being slapped with tax evasion charges, he fled Victoria for Venezuela, where he is said to have lived for a time in a large house in Caracas. “He knew everybody in Venezuela,” his former lawyer George Jones told the Victoria Times Colonist. “It was remarkable.” His bail was set at $900,000.
Guests: call first
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, 63, leader of the Burmese pro-democracy party NLD, is on trial for breaching the conditions of her house arrest after she allowed a strange American man to stay in her home for two days. John Yettaw, a 53-year-old Vietnam war veteran, allegedly swam up to her home—uninvited and for unknown reasons—using homemade flippers. Suu Kyi alleges she told Yettaw to leave, but that he refused, saying that he was exhausted. Suu Kyi has been detained for most of the last two decades, and was due to be released after serving a six-year sentence on May 27. Critics say Burma’s military government is using these charges as an opportunity to silence Suu Kyi for another three to five years. Members of her legal defence team met with her this week at the Rangoon prison where she is being held. She told them: “Don’t worry about me. I will face whatever happens.” Her chief lawyer, Kyi Win, however, blames Yettaw for the whole mess, calling him “a fool.”
Bruni’s secular life
Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is now on record as the only first lady of France—a predominantly Catholic nation—to have ever criticized the Pope. Speaking with the French women’s magazine Femme Actuelle, Bruni-Sarkozy called Pope Benedict XVI’s refusal to support the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS in Africa “damaging.” “I was born Catholic, I was baptized, but in my life I feel profoundly secular,” she says. Last week, as though offering up an Exhibit A, a Paris auction house announced its intention to auction off a nude drawing of Bruni-Sarkozy as part of a collection called “Pin-up.” Also featured in the collection are photos of the burlesque star Dita von Teese, dressed as a nurse and as a dominatrix.
Old man Caulfield
J.D. Salinger, the notoriously reclusive American fiction writer, swore off publishing new works decades ago. For a Swedish-American writer named John David California, however, Salinger’s silence is an open invitation. California’s debut novel, 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye, is an unauthorized sequel to Salinger’s classic coming-of-age story Catcher in the Rye. In 60 Years Later, Salinger’s Holden Caulfield, now 76 and known as “Mr. C,” flees a nursing home (it was a prep school in the original) to search, once again, for answers to life’s great questions in the streets of New York. “He’s still Holden Caulfield and has a particular view on things,” California, 33, told the Guardian. “He can be tired, and he’s disappointed in the goddamn world. He’s older and wiser in a sense, but in another sense he doesn’t have all the answers.” California dedicated his book to Salinger. “Maybe he will get upset,” he admits. Critics argue that the prospect of this book is so horrific, it can only be a hoax.
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