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8 Tuesday news bites (July 19)

“Thank you for my erotic coconut.”

Good morning fellow newsters! It’s that time of the morning again as we wonder what the heck is happening in the news cycle, and how we can get across it in two minutes … which is where these news bites come into it. Settle in. Grab a coffee. Catch up.

1. Women on maternity leave disadvantaged when they return

Mothers who take time off for maternity leave earn less than their counterparts who did not, upon their return. After the first year they earn about 4.4% less on an hourly rate, but this jumps to about 12% three years later. The figures were calculated on a survey of more than 200 women returning to the workforce from 2002 until 2009 as part of the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey. The question now is, is that fair?

2. Second top cop resigns in London, journalist found dead, as phone hacking scandal widens

Yesterday it was the commissioner of police, last night our time it was his deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police John Yates who resigned. John Yates was widely criticised as being the cop who prevented what could have been a full investigation into phone hacking in 2009. The body of Sean Hoare, a News of the World Journalist who became the first whistleblower to allege that his editor Andy Coulson knew about phone hacking and actively encouraged it, has been found in an apartment this morning. Police are investigating but say it does not appear to be suspicious.

The coco-de-mer.

3. Prince William and new bride Kate given a coconut that looks like a vagina

That was not a typo. While on honeymoon in the Seychelles, they were presented with the erotic coco-de-mer which looks just like lady bits. Or buttocks, depending on who you ask. For those playing along at home, the coco-de-mer is the largest seed in the plant kingdom. Oh yes indeed.

4. Swimmer Nick D’Arcy ordered to pay $180,000 in compensation to Simon Cowley

It was the punch that ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’ that will likely cost swimmer Nick D’Arcy $135,000 after a court ordered he pay it to fellow team mate Simon Cowley for ‘pain and suffering’ caused. Including medical expenses, Cowley will receive more than $180,000.

5. Gun regulations in New South Wales may be relaxed … to help Shooter’s Party

In another example of a Government needing the help of minor parliamentary groups to pass legislation, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell may look at relaxing gun control laws in the state to curry favour with key representatives. This may include removing the requirement of children to be 12 and have a $100 permit before being able to shoot an air rifle and allowing all schools to offer shooting as a program in the school if the school chooses. One MP told the Sydney Morning Herald: ”The Shooters only have one agenda. They wave through anything the government wants and accumulate credit. But then they expect their agenda to be done.”

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Johan and his ark. (No unicorns).

6. Dutch man builds entire ark … to Biblical scale.

Johan Huibers wanted to build Noah’s Ark, which is fair enough really. So he did. He began in 2008 with 50 helpers and built it to the exact measurements as specified in the Bible, following the directions said to have been delivered from God that were ‘300 cubits long, 30 high and 50 cubits wide’. This makes the ark 150m long, four storeys high and 25m wide. It’ll be stocked with around 1600 species of plastic animal (sadly, there will be no real-life hanky panky). No word on whether the other millions upon millions of animal species will fit, however. Johan plans to turn the ark into a Bible museum.

7. Coal Seam Gas drilling can release cancer causing chemicals, inquiry hears

A senate inquiry into the Coal Seam Gas industry sitting in western Queensland heard from several medical experts yesterday, including a Queensland Government epidemiologist, that the process of fracking can release a cocktail of chemicals that cause cancer. The BTEX chemicals (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene) have been banned by the Queensland Government but are naturally occurring in the coal seams themselves, and can be released. Fracking is used sparingly in modern gas extraction in Australia. The experts were careful to intimate that the chemicals only caused cancer after long-term exposure.

8. ‘Assessment’ of Burmese refugee who told Australian authorities he was a war criminal.

A refugee from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has admitted to shooting 24 people in the back of the head during anti-Government protests in 1988 in Burma and being involved in the deaths of at least 100 more. The man said he had lived with the guilt for more than 20 years. “I did it, I am a war criminal. For so long I have lived like an animal. Now I want to release what I carry inside for 20 years. I want to say sorry to the mothers and fathers of the people I killed.” The Australian Federal Police will look into the man’s statements.