ACL Chief of Staff Lyle Shelton debates the issue of an R18+ rating for video games on last night's '7 PM Project'

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Pressure on Canberra to pay for people-smuggler prosecutions

Lanai Vasek, Sean Parnell - The Australian
The states will push for more funding for the cost of prosecuting people-smugglers at a meeting of the nation's attorneys-general today. The Australian has obtained correspondence between NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos and federal Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor in which the state called for more federal cash to meet the costs associated with the trial and detention of people-smugglers. "NSW joins with Queensland in requesting your urgent advice to . . . your commitment for direct commonwealth funding for the costs associated with the trial and detention of these defendants," the letter from Mr Hatzistergos on August 9 states. Queensland Attorney-General Cameron Dick and Police Minister Neil Roberts had expressed similar concerns to Mr O'Connor. Both approaches have been brushed off.

Labor plans revamp of job services program

Patricia Karvelas - The Australian
The government is overhauling the job placement program to give mature-age people better access to jobs and help the long-term unemployed. The Employment Minister, Kate Ellis, has written to job agencies telling them she wants their ideas on how to redesign the system in time for next year's budget, with new contracts to be rolled out in 2012. But she has told them not to expect more government funding for the program. "In considering future refinements, the government must be mindful of the broader fiscal environment," she said in a letter sent to job agency bosses yesterday.

$50m project aids Indonesia's poorest

Peter Alford - The Australian
Getting a marriage officially ended and a birth officially certified are the first steps out of poverty for millions of Indonesian women. That's why a new $50 million Australian program supporting Indonesian legal reform will focus on the country's "women-headed households" -- at least nine million families, more than half living on less than $2 a day. And it's why a substantial amount of the five-year funding will find its way to the Islamic religious court system, which administers most of Indonesia's family law. Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, who launched the Partnership for Justice program yesterday, said making the legal system accessible to poor women was a powerful force for economic development. "You empower women in developing countries and you unleash new economic development," he said after meeting representatives of a pioneering group, Women-Headed Household Empowerment (PEKKA) in Bali yesterday.

Way now clear for surrogacy for profit

Martin Beckford and Tim Ross - SMH
British childless couples are free to pay surrogate mothers large sums to have babies for them after a landmark High Court ruling. A senior family court judge allowed a British couple to keep a child even though technically they had broken the law by giving more than ''reasonable expenses'' to the American natural mother. Justice Mark Hedley said the rules on payments were unclear and put the baby's welfare at risk. Only in the ''clearest case'' of surrogacy for profit would a couple be refused the court order necessary to keep the baby, he said. Infertile couples will see the ruling as a signal that they can now pay women to bear children without fear of prosecution.

Human rights abuses happen close to home too

Nina Funnell - SMH
On December 10, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed and adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Nowadays, December 10 is celebrated as International Human Rights Day. In theory, Australians are unequivocally opposed to human rights abuses. In reality, many will condemn the governments of other countries where human rights abuses occur while simultaneously expressing complacency about human rights abuses occurring in our own backyard. In fact many individuals reject the notion that human rights abuses are routinely occurring in this country.

'Sexting' teens breach child porn law

Adam Carey - The Age
Children sending and receiving sexually explicit images on mobile phones - or ''sexting'' - are unwittingly falling foul of child pornography laws, a parliamentary hearing on child cyber-safety has heard. Education researcher Paul Weldon told the hearing that ''laws designed to protect children from adults [were] now being used against children''. Dr Weldon cited the case of a 14-year-old boy in Bunbury, Western Australia, who pleaded guilty last week to child pornography charges, after footage of a 14-year-old girl having sex with two other boys was downloaded onto his mobile phone. It is understood that the footage had been widely circulated among other schoolchildren.

Conservative Christians blast Apple decision to discontinue app

Dan Gilgoff - CNN
A coalition of conservative Christian leaders blasted Apple on Wednesday for discontinuing an app the group had created because the technology giant said the app was offensive. The Christian leaders had created the app to promote a document that urges opposition to abortion and gay marriage and support for religious liberty, among other positions. An Apple spokeswoman confirmed the company had removed the app, which was called the Manhattan Declaration after the document it was meant to promote, from Apple's online iTunes and iPhone stores. "It violates our developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people," said Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris, who said the app was removed last week.