Gay wedding ban stays: PM
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said yesterday that the government ban on gay marriage would remain, despite moves within his center-left Labor Party to have it overturned. Rudd, who considers himself a moderate Christian, won the 2007 election on a platform that supported the former conservative government’s legal definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Rudd said his government’s position remained unchanged amid media speculation that he will face a groundswell of support for same-sex marriage at Labor’s national conference, due to begin in Sydney today. “We are consistent with the policy we took to the last election,” he told public broadcaster ABC. The issue was thrown into the spotlight this week when the Labor Party in Tasmania state voted for the Marriage Act to be amended to allow for same-sex unions.
Parking wardens need judo
Issuing parking tickets is such a dangerous business that parking wardens on Tuesday demanded self-defense training and the right to carry pepper spray and batons. Nearly half of Sydney’s parking attendants have been assaulted by irate motorists and one in 10 had needed hospital treatment. “About a fifth of the officers received physical injuries that required medical attention,” United Services Union spokesman Ben Kruse said. “Enough is enough ... there needs to be a focus on personal protective equipment.”
Bombed hotels re-open
Two luxury hotels in Jakarta that were struck by suicide bombers earlier this month reopened yesterday, a hotel spokeswoman said. The JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels reopened less than two weeks after the twin blasts on July 17 killed seven people, most of them foreigners, Marriott spokeswoman Ina Ilmiaviatta said. Marriott International manages both hotels. “We have resumed our normal business operations today. We hope to be able to reach an average hotel occupancy of 60 to 70 percent like before, in spite of the bombings,” she said. “We have certainly increased our security measures, with some new approaches which I cannot tell you as they’re confidential.” The two main areas damaged by the bombs — a lounge in the Marriott and a restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton — remain closed.
Smuggled tusks seized
Customs inspectors have discovered about 300kg of elephant tusks hidden in a shipping container of African timber, an official said yesterday. Bui Hoang Duong, head of the customs inspections department at the northern port of Haiphong, said inspectors had spotted the tusks on Tuesday concealed in a container of wood from Kenya. The sender was identified as Span-Freight Shipping Ltd. “The two companies listed as recipients on the waybill have refused to receive the elephant tusks,” Duong said, adding that police and customs were still trying to identify the owner.
Baby born with two heads
Doctors in a government hospital in Manila were closely monitoring yesterday the condition of a baby girl born with two heads. The still unnamed baby was born late on Tuesday at Doctor Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital. One of the unnamed attending doctors said the newborn was in a stable condition but she may die if both heads share only one heart. The parents of the baby, a tricycle driver and a housewife, are appealing for help and prayers.