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News: Finance Minister Penny Wong and partner are now mums

Baby Alexandra, Sophie Allouache and Penny Wong

Finance Minister Penny Wong and partner are now mums

Penny Wong’s partner Sophie Allouache gave birth to a girl called Alexandra at 8am on Sunday. Senator Wong said: “Sophie and I are delighted beyond words, she’s just beautiful. Like all new parents know, there’s nothing like this. The PM’s given me a bit of leave so I’m going to take time off and hopefully we can get the important things in life like feeding and nappy changing and sleeping under control.” The baby was conceived using IVF and a sperm donor the couple knows but will not reveal.

Matthew Newtown charged with assault

The actor and son of TV royalty who has publicly battled mental illness has been charged with assault after allegedly punching a taxi driver in the head on Sunday morning. The driver alleged he became aggressive, punched him and then punched him again after the cab had stopped. Newton will appear in court in January. He recently gave a one-on-one interview with Tracy Grimshaw on A Current Affair in which he said he regretted his past actions in which he assaulted his partners Brooke Satchwell and Rachael Taylor.

Are juries good enough for trials?

The high-ranking Justice Peter McLellan has proposed alternatives to using regular juries in criminal trials because ‘lay’ people might not be able to understand the issues at hand. “If there are difficulties for a judge in resolving disputes between experts, these will be greater (for) lay people,” he said in a speech at the University of NSW law faculty. “A trial with only a judge or multiple judges will be far less time consuming and would result in significantly reduced expense to the state.” He suggested multiple judges (like the model of justices who preside in High Court cases) would be a surer bet. Critics said the concept of ‘being judged by your peers’ should remain.

Andrej Pejic

Australian ‘androgynous’ model Andrej in push-up bra campaign

Male model Andrej Pejic, who made headlines around the world when he modelled female fashion on the major catwalks, has now taken his feminine look a step further by appearing in an advertising campaign for Dutch chain Hema. It’s part tongue-in-cheek, part brilliant ploy to show how effective its new ‘mega push-up bra’ is. Hema claims it boosts cup size by two and given Andrej has no breasts to speak of, it’s not a bad marketing ploy.

Meryl Streep on the cover of Vogue

Meryl Streep becomes oldest woman on cover of Vogue

At the age of 62. The actress features while promoting her new role as Margaret Thatcher in the film Iron Lady and said she joked to the magazine’s staff she was ‘probably the oldest’ woman to be on the cover. They said she was. Meryl says in the interview she remembers telling her husband, sculptor Don Gummer, that her career was over at age 40. Instead, she received three separate offers to play a witch. “Once women passed childbearing age they could only be seen as grotesque on some level. Women whose usefulness had passed.” No mention of what Vogue editor Anna Wintour thought of Streep’s performance in The Devil Wears Prada that we can see, though…

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Andrew Bolt’s lesbian sister breaks her silence

He’s the conservative columnist with a lot to say on many things. But it was a recent column on the ‘slippery slope’ of allowing same sex marriage which led to his gay sister finally speaking up. She wrote on Crikey: “As my family will recall, I came out when I was 21 years old. Like many in the GLBTI community, I was awash with the relief and joy of recognising and expressing such a fundamental part of who I was. Again, like many, I experienced much uncertainty about my value to the community and the fear of rejection.

“For the most part though, I feel fortunate to have received respect and love from people important to me as I made those first tentative steps out of the closet. That, of course, is not everyone’s experience. Rejection by parents, siblings and peer groups is not altogether uncommon and low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and suicide can be the terrible result. I want marriage equality. At the very least, I wish for a rational and respectful debate.”

Facebook moves to help prevent suicide

The social networking site with more than 800 million users is launching a new service that allows those experiencing suicidal thoughts to be connected to a counsellor on Facebook’s chat service … if their friends speak up. While it is apparently too difficult for Facebook to spot users who have posted suicidal thoughts (it’s easy for a computer algorithm to misinterpret posts) friends who spot posts hinting at self-harm can click a link beside the status that sends the user an email offering support. “The only people who will have a really good idea of what’s going on is your friends so we’re encouraging them to speak up and giving them an easy and quick way to get help,” said Facebook’s Fred Wolens.

While we’re here, check out this impressive reminder of the year that was on the world stage. Be warned, some of the footage is graphic:

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