No more climbing on Uluru
Visitors to Uluru, a giant sandstone slab jutting from the central Australian desert, have for decades ignored a sign at the rock's base that politely reads: "Please don't climb." On Wednesday, the board members of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park said they would soon stop requesting hikers respect the landmark considered sacred to the indigenous Anangu people. Instead, they will demand it. "It is an extremely important place," said Sammy Wilson, an Indigenous community representative who sits on the park's board and is what is known as a traditional owner. Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is "not a theme park like Disneyland," Wilson said. Climbing the 1,141-foot-tall rock will be banned as of Oct. 26, 2019. On that day in 1985, the government returned ownership of Uluru to the Anangu people. As part of that agreement, the Anangu lease the site back to the government, and the two parties jointly manage it. Traditional owners do not climb Uluru out of respect, and they worry hiking will damage the stone. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sally Barnes, director of national parks, said the ban "clearly says we put country and culture first when managing this place for all Australians and our visitors from around the world."
LGBTQ people suffer globally, expert says
Laws criminalizing consensual gay sex have been scrapped in about 25 countries in 20 years, but more than 70 nations still have such prohibitions, said the U.N.'s first-ever independent expert investigating violence and discrimination based on sexuality. "LGBT people are suffering a crucible of egregious violations, including killings, rape, mutilation, torture, arbitrary detention, abduction, harassment, physical and mental assaults," Vitit Muntarbhorn told a General Assembly panel Friday. They face "lashings and forced surgical interventions, bullying from a young age, incitement to hatred and pressures leading to suicide." He called for reforming criminal laws against same-sex relations and gender identity and for establishing more anti-discrimination laws.
Defense secretary resigns amid claims of sexual harassment
Britain's defense minister resigned Wednesday following allegations about inappropriate sexual behavior — the latest in growing stories of abuse in the country's corridors of power. Michael Fallon, 65, said in a resignation his past actions "may have fallen below the high standards that we require of the Armed Forces." A newspaper reported Fallon had repeatedly touched a journalist's knee in 2002. The journalist had shrugged it off, but reports suggested more stories about Fallon might emerge. Prime Minister Theresa May has called a meeting of party leaders to address abuse and ordered an inquiry into claims that the de facto deputy prime minister, Damian Green, made inappropriate advances on a Conservative activist, which Green denies.
Bye-bye, beer bikes
Group-powered pedicabs popular with inebriated tourists and stag parties are now banned in the busiest sections of downtown Amsterdam. The ban on "beer bikes" — where people sit around a table on stools or bike seats, pedaling the vehicle around while drinking — kicked in Wednesday, a day after a court rejected arguments from four operators that the prohibition was too drastic. The city says the contraptions are a public nuisance, and many annoyed Amsterdam residents say they block roads and encourage drunken and rowdy tourists. Anyone who has seen these party bikes likely can agree. — tbt* wires