Mainland cars protested
Several hundred people marched on Sunday, opposing a controversial government scheme that allows mainland Chinese cars into the territory, further escalating tensions between the two sides. About 300 protesters in the busy downtown area chanted slogans such as “[we] oppose mainland cars roaming in Hong Kong freely!” and waved banners that read “No, no, no, mainland Chinese cars.”
Flu scare quarantines plane
Health authorities yesterday said they overreacted to an influenza scare on a flight from Japan by quarantining the plane on the tarmac at Auckland airport for several hours. The Air New Zealand flight from Tokyo was isolated after it landed yesterday morning, when the airline informed health officials that about 60 Japanese students were displaying flu-like symptoms. The Auckland Regional Public Health Service put local hospitals on standby for mass patient admissions, as medical teams in biohazard suits entered the Boeing 777-200 to examine the sick passengers. They were eventually allowed to disembark after about three hours, when it was determined that, while some had colds, they had been immunized against flu and did not have the virus.
Gay marriage bills mulled
Two rival bills that would lift a ban on gay marriage were introduced into parliament yesterday, weeks after the ruling Labor Party lifted its opposition to same-sex unions. The bills are essentially the same. Both place same-sex couples on the same footing as heterosexuals, but allow religious ministers the freedom to refuse to solemnize marriages inconsistent with their beliefs.
UK rapist to be deported
A British man convicted of torturing and raping a young woman in a case that drew parallels to the film The Silence of the Lambs yesterday lost his fight against deportation. Leslie Neil Cunliffe was released from jail on parole in April after serving about 12 years for his crimes. Cunliffe was dubbed the “Silence of the Lambs” rapist by authorities after he posed as a policeman in 1999, abducting a 21-year-old woman at gunpoint and locking her in a backyard shed with padded walls. The woman was tied to a chair that had been bolted to the floor and her eyes and mouth taped shut during the ordeal in which she was raped and tortured over several hours in the property in Geelong, west of Melbourne. Cunliffe eventually strapped a fake bomb to her, stripped her from the waist and took photos to demand a A$1 million (US$1.07 million) ransom. The woman escaped after Cunliffe went out to buy food and a woman heard her screams for help.
Ten-year-old bombers caught
Police arrested two 10-year-old would-be suicide bombers in the south, officials said on Sunday, months after President Hamid Karzai pardoned the pair over a similar incident. The children had two vests full of explosives when they were detained, he added. They had previously been arrested by security forces, again wearing explosive vests, but were reportedly released in August last year, along with 18 other children, after receiving a pardon from the president. The two boys had gone to Pakistan after their release, but were sent back to the country after being trained to conduct suicide attacks. “They told me I would be safe after conducting a suicide attack,” one the boys, Azizullah, was quoted in a statement sent by Kandahar media office.