A high-profile psychologist has attacked several books on the national English curriculum after a Year 8 student was asked to write a suicide note as an exercise based on the book Smithereens. Psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said the first story in the book was about "a bloke who murders his brother-in-law because he is abusing his sister", the second was about the "legal killing of homeless children", and another was about a man who kept a human hand in a box to remember a lost love. Edited by Richard Baines, published by Oxford University Press and described as a collection of chilling short stories for secondary students in years 8-10, students are encouraged in follow-up activities to explore the issue by writing poems in a suicide note.
A lesbian mother was stopped from moving her daughter interstate after a court ruled her ex-partner had the same rights as other parents, despite no biological link. The 41-year-old mother had asked the Family Court to grant her sole parental responsibility for the four-year-old girl, conceived via an anonymous sperm donor, noting that her ex-partner was not listed as a parent on the child's birth certificate. But Family Court Justice Paul Cronin disagreed ruling that the women "had equal shared responsibility" for the child. In deciding whether to let the mother relocate the child from Queensland to NSW, Justice Cronin also took into account the girl's relationship as a sister to the second woman's eight-year-old daughter. It was decided the move would not be in the girl's best interests until she was old enough to understand and maintain a long-distance relationship with her non-biological mother and sister.
An Australian ethicist has advocated genetically screening embryos to create superior "designer babies" with higher IQs. Melbourne's Julian Salvulescu, now Oxford's practical ethics professor, has said it is our "moral obligation" to use IVF to choose the smartest embryos, even if that maintains or increases social inequality. Experts have criticised the Gattaca-style idea, saying the money involved could be better spent improving quality of life in Africa. They have also warned IQ screening could result in unintended results. But Dr Salvulescu has said we have a moral obligation to create a smarter society, thereby dramatically reducing welfare dependency, the number of school dropouts, the crowding of jails and the extent of poverty.
Women's rights activists and pro-change protesters in Egypt have rallied to condemn a serious sexual assault on an American news reporter, Lara Logan, which took place in Cairo's Tahrir Square in the moments following Hosni Mubarak's resignation last Friday. "Lara Logan ... and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration," Logan's employers, CBS news, said in a brief statement. "It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into frenzy. "In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers."
It took only a few hours after the floodwaters hit Brisbane last month for the tyro voice of Queensland's once loud, now diminished, One Nation party to start making noise. In its sights was the Gillard government's financial support in the wake of the disaster, balanced against its multi-billion-dollar foreign aid program. As the river city sat under a wash of mud, silt and debris-laden water, Labor and Coalition party leaders were busy offering inspiration and sympathy, and dodging questions about the specifics of the cost and funding source of the massive recovery that lay ahead. But in One Nation's cramped office in the working-class town of Beenleigh, southeast of Brisbane, new state director Ian Nelson was burning with rage. A former businessman, who says he has worked extensively in Asia, Mr Nelson was angry the Bligh and Gillard governments were giving a "paltry" $1 million each to the flood victims' fund just weeks after $500m in foreign aid had been committed to Indonesian schools.
Convicted rapists and paedophiles in some parts of Britain have won the right to challenge strict rules which demand they register their whereabouts with authorities for the rest of their life. Sex offenders in England and Wales will likely be able to make a request to the courts to have themselves removed from Britain's Violent and Sex Offender Register, a national database of those jailed in serious sex crime cases. Under the current system, all those jailed for at least 30 months on sex crimes charges are placed on a database of abusers for life and must inform authorities of changes of address and each time they plan to travel abroad.
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January 23, 2018
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