June 24th, 2010
08:55 AM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Julia Gillard

Australia’s Labor Party selected the 48-year-old lawyer Thursday to replace Kevin Rudd as prime minister, ending his 2 1/2 years in that position.

Gillard said she was aware that the move makes her the nation's first woman prime minister, "and maybe the first redhead," but added, "I didn't set out to crash my head on any glass ceilings; I set out to keep my feet on the floor."

Gillard said she would work to harness wind and solar energy and to pursue putting a price on carbon emissions, but said she would not address the latter goal - which her predecessor had been unable to achieve - until after a general election.

Gillard said she would also pursue increasing taxes on mining companies, another issue that has stirred controversy and fierce opposition from the industry. "Australians are entitled to a fairer share of our inheritance of the mineral wealth that lies in our grounds," she said.

Born in Wales, she moved with her parents to Australia when she was a child. After studying law, she was elected to the House of Representatives for Lalor, Victoria, in 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2007 before joining Rudd as deputy prime minister.

"Julia's unique, hard-working, passionate, driven by noble ideals and wants to do good things for the country," John Gillard told Seven Network Australia about his daughter.

CNN: Gillard takes Australian helm: 'The government was losing its way'

Mark Suppes

The Web designer for the Gucci fashion company made his own nuclear fusion reactor in a Brooklyn, New York, warehouse. Suppes is the 38th independent amateur physicist in the world to achieve nuclear fusion from a homemade reactor, according to the website Fusor.net.

The BBC reports that Suppes spent two years working on his reactor, which is legal in the United States. It contains no nuclear materials, such as uranium or plutonium. "I was inspired because I believed I was looking at a technology that could actually work to solve our energy problems, and I believed it was something that I could at least begin to build," Suppes told the BBC.

He purchased parts on eBay, spending $35,000 of his own money and some $4,000 he raised on a website that connects artists and inventors with private investors, according to the BBC. Suppes, 32, said he now wants to build a bigger reactor that will cost millions of dollars.

New York Daily News: Gucci Web designer builds homemade nuclear reactor

Open Source Fusor Research Consortium

Terry Cannon

The award-winning Alhambra High School library technician is looking for work. The Los Angeles Times reports that Cannon received a standing ovation from his peers last week when he was named the school's employee of the year. Two days later, columnist Steve Lopez writes, the 56-year-old employee of the year got laid off - due to California’s budget crisis and its impact on schools.

Alhambra Valley Unified Superintendent Donna Perez, who called budget-driven layoffs "heart wrenching,” said she’s had to cut $45 million from her budget during the last three years and may have to lay off some 80 teachers next year, according to the paper. She called Cannon’s work - teaching research skills, cataloging books, introducing students to great literature - outstanding, the paper said.

"I've come to terms with the loss of the job," Cannon told Lopez. But he said he was unhappy to be fired on the last day of school after the students had left, so he wasn’t able to say goodbye to them. "I guess they're afraid you'll go postal, or steal library books, or, God forbid, lower morale," Cannon told Lopez. "Although, I've never seen morale as low as it is."

Cannon’s award was a golden apple trophy.

Los Angeles Times : A golden apple and a pink slip

Alhambra Unified School District

John Isner and Nicolas Mahut

After two days and 163 games, the Wimbledon opponents have broken all records in professional tennis history for duration and number of games. On Wednesday, The New York Times reports, the chair umpire suspended the match with a tied score, 59-59, in the fifth set. At that point, they had played for a total of 10 long hours, achieving 881 points.

“Nothing like this will ever happen again,” Isner said to TV cameras immediately after the two-day marathon was stopped. “Ever.”

The 6-foot-9 Isner, 25, who attended the University of Georgia, and Mahut, a 28-year-old from France, are scheduled to keep playing Thursday.

The New York Times: To be continued ...

Gary Spino and Tony Brown

The married couple struggled to have a baby who has a biological and legal connection to both of them. Growing up, the men were subject to considerable ridicule and harassment for being gay. Together for years, they married in Canada, where same-sex marriage is legal nationwide. In the United States, their marriage is not recognized.

When they wanted a family of their own, the couple faced the steep costs associated with surrogacy and an egg donor. Soledad O'Brien uncovers the social, political and legal challenges they faced on their journey to have a baby on the CNN documentary “Gary + Tony Have a Baby,” which premieres at 8 p.m. ET and PT Thursday.

Spino told CNN, “The hardest thing I have had to do was to understand that I am gay. And then to share that with the people I love and the world. Coming out after being raised in a small town and 12 years of Catholic education was and continues to be, a process both, painful and healing - scary and freeing.”

Brown said, “The fear of just being myself is the greatest obstacle I have overcome. It took a lot of patience and a lot of mistakes along the way, but it is the best thing I have ever done.”

CNN: Gay in America

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