Abortion
US: House passes bill to prohibit federal funding for abortion

Bill Theobald – USA Today

House Republicans, faced with mounting opposition from their own members, pulled a bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and instead Thursday passed less restrictive legislation to prohibit federal funding for abortions.

US: House GOP leaders cave on abortion bill
Deirdre Walsh – CNN

Mark it down as a rare win for House GOP moderates. After scrambling into the evening on Wednesday, House Republican leaders decided to scrap a vote on a controversial anti-abortion measure scheduled to coincide with an annual gathering of anti-abortion advocates on Thursday because they couldn’t round up enough support.

US: New poll: 8 Out of 10 Americans support ‘Significant Restrictions’ on abortion
Kate Scanlon – Daily Signal

Forty-two years after the passing of Roe v. Wade, how do Americans really feel about abortion? A new Marist poll sponsored by the Catholic organization Knights of Columbus asked Americans if they were pro-life or pro-choice – but they didn’t stop there.

Abortion: Debunking the myth of ‘choice’
Julie Roys – Christian Post

When she was 18 years old, Kathy Rutledge conceded to do what everyone in her family agreed had to be done. With a college scholarship and bright future awaiting her, there simply was no room for an unexpected child. Everyone agreed, Rutledge had to “get rid of it.”

Bioethics
Canada’s medical totalitarians

Sean Murphy – Mercator Net

An Ontario College of Physicians official, Dr Marc Gabel, says that physicians unwilling to provide or facilitate abortion for reasons of conscience should not be family physicians. The working group Dr Gabel chairs wants the College to approve this policy. If it does, ethical cleansing of Ontario’s medical profession will begin this year, ridding it of practitioners unwilling to do what they believe to be wrong. Dr Gabel claims that this is required by professional practice and human rights legislation.

Classification
Sky announces automatic online porn block

The Christian Institute

Sky broadband is to automatically block online pornography, the company has announced. In a blog post, brand director Lyssa McGowan said they are ensuring the default position of Sky’s Broadband Shield is the “safest one for all – that’s ‘on’”.

Two hour screen limit for kids ‘virtually impossible’ to enforce
Health Canal

A world-first longitudinal study by The University of Western Australia researchers examining the links between mental health and screen use by children and teenagers has found that guidelines to limit screen-based media-use to less than two hours a day are out of date and ‘virtually impossible’ to enforce.

Drugs & Alcohol
Commercial drug lab accused had cooking instructions: prosecutors

Christopher Knaus – The Canberra Times

A man accused of running a secret commercial-grade drug lab out of a Hume warehouse allegedly had a document instructing him how to manufacture illicit substances, a court has heard. Suspicions were first raised about the alleged drug lab early last year, after authorities received reports of hazardous materials and fumes associated with the building, just off Sheppard Street.

Sydney Day Club Up goes down after police allegations of repeated “drug incidents”
Star Observer

Day club closes and The Exchange Hotel is in the spotlight after liquor authority intervenes but Up promoter says there will soon be “nothing left on Oxford St”.

Health
US: Medical marijuana seller on a high in listing debut

Adelaide Now

Medicinal marijuana company Phytotech Medical has made a stellar stock market debut, with its shares doubling in value.

Human Rights
Christian group’s free speech denied over gay marriage conference ban, Government signals

John Bingham – Telegraph

Christians with traditionalist views must have their right to free speech upheld, ministers have insisted after one group opposed to gay marriage was banned from using a Government-owned venue because of its views. Christian Concern, which campaigned against the legalisation of same-sex marriage, has received a public apology after it was barred from staging a debate on marriage at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre opposite the Houses of Parliament.

Indigenous
Tas premier slates native land hand-backs

Andrew Drummond – Yahoo News

Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman says he is committed to reopening discussions about Aboriginal land hand-backs, and also wants to see indigenous people recognised in the state constitution. The Liberal leader spoke on Thursday at a preliminary Australia Day event, where he highlighted the possibility of increased land management for indigenous people.

Marriage
Removal of ceremony dampens gay unions

The Australian

Gay registered relationships have fallen steadily since the Liberal National Party took away “the party” from civil unions in Queensland. Formal same-sex relationship registrations have fallen two-thirds in the three years since the Newman government announced snap changes watering down civil unions by scrapping state-sanctioned ceremonies.

Prostitution & Sex Trafficking
Australian jihadists Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar accused of enslaving Yazidi women in Islamic State stronghold

Matt Brown and Suzanne – ABC

Notorious Australian jihadists Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar have been accused of enslaving women from the Yazidi religious minority in northern Iraq.

Religious Freedom & Persecution
Uganda Imam allegedly beats daughter to death for converting to Christianity
Morning Star News

A 12-year-old girl who was hospitalized for two weeks after her Muslim father beat her and her sister for converting to Christ last month is traumatized after learning that her sister died from the assault, sources said. Naigaga Saidah’s father, Imam Abudalah Ali of Bwita mosque in Kaliro District, allegedly beat to death her 15-year-old sister, Namugonya Jamirah, on Dec. 11 after the sisters put their trust in Christ at a five-day evangelistic event that ended that day.

The Middle East’s vanishing Christians
Michael Cook – Mercator Net

The Middle East is losing its ancient Christian heritage. When Iraq was invaded in 2003, 1.5 million Christians were living there. Now the figure is 400,000 and falling. The savagery of the Islamic State has accelerated the Christian exodus.

Wife of Christian pastor trapped in Iran reveals ‘really emotional moment’ during closed-door meeting with Obama
Billy Hallowell – The Blaze

President Barack Obama met face-to-face with Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been detained inside the brutal Iranian prison system since 2012, and her two children on Wednesday, affirming his commitment to bringing the pastor home safely.

Sexualisation of Society
Female tennis champ plays the game of her life. Is asked about her outfit.

Grace Jennings-Edquist – Mamamia

Following her win against Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, the ambitious 20-year-old tennis player – who reached the semifinals at last year’s Australian and French Opens and the final at Wimbledon — was interviewed on court. And instead of asking how she felt about the result, or what the secret to her professional success was, the male presenter asked the young Quebec player this: “Can you give us a twirl?”

Other
Japanese hostage held by Islamic State is a Christian journalist

Ruth Gledhill – Christian Today

One of the two Japanese hostages taken by Islamic State (IS) in Syria is a baptised Christian who belongs to the United Church of Christ in Japan.