Gay ‘propaganda’ banned
Parliament unanimously passed a federal law on Tuesday banning gay “propaganda” amid a Kremlin push to enshrine deeply conservative values that critics say has already led to a sharp increase in anti-gay violence. The law was passed 436-0 with just one deputy abstaining from voting on the bill, which bans the spreading of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” among minors. The law in effect makes it illegal to equate straight and gay relationships, as well as the distribution of material on gay rights. It introduces fines for individuals and media groups found guilty of breaking the law, as well as special fines for foreigners. The Duma also approved a new law allowing jail sentences of up to three years for “offending religious feelings,” an initiative launched in the wake of the trial against the anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot. The two laws were widely criticised by liberal and human rights communities and come amid a wider crackdown against independent civil activity in the country.
Brockovich faces charge
Environmental activist Erin Brockovich will face a misdemeanor charge of operating a boat while intoxicated, the district attorney in Las Vegas said on Tuesday. Julia Roberts won an Academy Award for playing Brockovich in a 2000 film, portraying her efforts to sue Pacific Gas & Electric for polluting the water supply of a small Southern California town. Brockovich, 52, has an Oct. 7 court date stemming from her arrest on Friday last week at a marina on the Colorado River reservoir behind the Hoover Dam, said Tess Driver, an aide to Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson. A Nevada State game warden said he had to help Brockovich dock a boat and said two breath tests measured her blood-alcohol level at twice the legal limit. Brockovich could face six months in jail, a US$1,000 fine, up to 96 hours of community service and court-ordered alcohol and drug counseling if convicted, Driver said.
Women escape limo fire
Ten women — some of them in their 90s — escaped unharmed from a limousine that caught fire in California just more than a month after five nurses were killed while trapped inside a burning limousine on a nearby bridge. The women were celebrating one of their 90th birthdays and were in the vehicle outside the birthday woman’s home when white smoke drifted out of the partition between the driver’s compartment and the passenger compartment, passenger Mary Chapman said on Monday. Chapman, 63, said she got out and the other women — some of whom relied on walkers and canes — followed with help from each other and a caregiver.
Man graduates 80 years late
It took nearly eight decades, but Frederick Gray is finally a high-school graduate. The Watertown Daily Times said that the 97-year-old World War II veteran was presented on Monday with a diploma from Watertown High School during a ceremony at his northern New York home. Gray was set to graduate in 1934, but dropped out to get a job during the Great Depression. Gray worked in a factory before being drafted into the US Army in 1942. He served in the 24th Infantry Division in the Pacific campaign, earning a Bronze Star. Gray says he never expected to get a diploma and is “dumbfounded by the thoughtfulness.”