Today’s selection from online news sites






AUSTRALIANS will go to the polls on August 21 after Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the date for the next federal election today.

Julia Gillard on her way to Government House


PRIME Minister Julia Gillard is on her way to Government House to meet Governor-General Quentin Bryce ahead of calling an August election.

Gillard on the road to set poll date


JULIA Gillard has left Melbourne and is expected to be travelling to Canberra to visit Governor-General Quentin Bryce to call a federal election.

Ms Gillard smiled, but said nothing to reporters outside her western Melbourne home, as she was driven away just after 7am (AEST).

August 21 or 28 are the anticipated dates.

The media is already camped outside Government House in Canberra.

Kevin Rudd insists there was a deal with Julia Gillard

KEVIN Rudd yesterday confirmed that he believed Julia Gillard last month reneged on an arrangement that would have saved his job as PM.

But Mr Rudd said he would not make any public comment about the June 23 meeting in which the arrangement was discussed, easing Labor fears that he might "go rogue" and derail the party's election campaign.

Scrutiny of the alleged deal over the Labor leadership exploded on Thursday when Nine Network political editor Laurie Oakes revealed claims that, in the meeting, Ms Gillard agreed to give Mr Rudd more time to recover his popularity but later reneged at the behest of factional powerbrokers backing her candidacy.

Child sex diseases down in Territory

NEARLY 160 cases of sexually transmitted infections were reported in Territory children under 15 last year - and 15 were in kids between infancy and nine years of age.

The grim figures come from the Health Department.

But there is some good news. The number of cases is actually down - by 17 per cent - on those recorded for 2008. It has reversed what had been an upward trend in recorded cases each year since 2005.

The Sexual Health and Blood Borne Viruses Unit reports there were 158 cases of either gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis or trichomoniasis in Territory youth aged 14 or younger last year.

Howard's on my list of great Australian PMs

JOHN Howard, Bob Hawke and Paul Keating are our greatest PMs.

FRANKLIN D. Roosevelt is the greatest US president, according to the Siena Research Institute of New York. He had to deal with the Depression and World War II (he was also assistant secretary of the navy during World War I) and was the only president elected to more than two terms.

FDR heads the list of the five greatest presidents in the latest ranking which, for the record, is rounded out by his distant cousin Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

Rights of older citizens 'eroded' in care homes

Dehumanising group activities and bizarre house rules are having a negative effect on seniors

NURSING homes are forcing residents to be dressed and ready for breakfast by 8am, dragooning them into group activities they often find degrading and effectively banning them from eating foods as benign as eggs and fresh fruit.

This erosion of basic citizenship rights is the result of a relationship between regulators and an aged-care sector motivated by making things easier for itself.

Family knows best: why tasteful TV is getting a better reception

Australian television audiences have ditched cynicism for the new nice

IT wasn't quite Kubrickian but 2001 was a cold time on Australian television. After revelling in a joyous Sydney Olympic Games, we were strangely lapping up the launches of cynical or voyeuristic TV programming including game shows The Weakest Link and Greed, vacuous or bitchy reality series including Popstars and Big Brother and a wave of slickly produced, sometimes heartless, US comedy and drama including Friends, CSI and Sex and the City.

Almost a decade later, Australian audiences have abandoned their cynicism for sophistication and bonhomie.

They are lapping up local programming ahead of international shows and are unwilling to cop the cheap and nasty. Nice is right.

Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott's transformation from the political wastelands to a potential prime minister has amazed even close supporters. In nine months he has toppled his party leader, forced the then prime minister, Kevin Rudd, to abandon his great moral crusade on emissions trading, and played a decisive role in Rudd's fall.

This was a man who a year ago was emerging from a political funk, having written a book, Battlelines, that showed he had never really given up his dream to lead, even if the notion of him as leader seemed improbable at the time to everyone else.

A senior Liberal who remembers him as a somewhat lost man after the crushing defeat of the government of John Howard - Abbott's confidant and mentor - says: ''The transformation has been truly remarkable.''