Ted Baillieu's control over the Liberal Party is slipping, with a fresh attack on the party's planned preference deal with the Greens and another candidate quitting only weeks ahead of the election. In defiance of the party's gag order, a prominent Liberal supporter has spoken out strongly against the preference deal that is threatening to ignite a civil war among grassroots Liberal voters. Former Liberal Party Victorian deputy director Tony Barry has joined a long list of Liberal heavyweights warning the deal puts the party at risk of losing its "moral authority and philosophical consistency" and giving the Greens a political beachhead from which to grow.
Tehran has accused the West of trying to pressurise it over the case of an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning, as an exiled activist said the woman was not executed today as feared. "They (Western nations) have become so shameless that they have turned the case of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, who has committed crime and treason, into a human rights case against our nation," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said. "It has become a symbol of women's freedom in Western nations and with impudence they want to free her. Thus, they are trying to use this ordinary case as a pressure lever against our nation," he was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency.
An Iranian woman who faced being stoned to death will hang today, a human rights group has claimed. The International Committee Against Stoning said that the authorities had given the go-ahead for the execution of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. Her fate has provoked international outcry after she was sentenced to death by stoning for committing adultery. Under huge pressure, Tehran eventually ruled that the 43-year-old mother-of-two would be hanged instead.
Voters disillusioned with Barack Obama's management of the US economy handed control of the House of Representatives back to Republicans. Two years after much euphoria surrounding his presidential election win, voters punished Mr Obama's side in mid-term elections yesterday by giving the Republican Party a likely majority of 243 seats to 192. Democrats lost their house majority for the first time since 2006 in elections rated a referendum on Mr Obama's policies. With the US economy failing to rebound after the recession and unemployment stuck on 9.6 per cent, voters took out their anger on Democrat candidates in what could be a warning to Mr Obama for the 2012 presidential election unless conditions improve.
The 114th and 115th vessels to arrive this year have taken the number of asylum-seekers to 5548. The surprise approach of two asylum-seeker boats to Christmas Island last night has pushed the number of arrivals for the year beyond the record set during the years of the Howard government. Labor was just 51 people shy of outstripping the Coalition's record of 5516 asylum-seekers in 2004 when the two boats appeared on the horizon soon after 3pm local time (7pm AEDT). The first boat contained 11 passengers and one crew member, while the second vessel had 71 passengers and one crew.
The US Supreme Court has expressed sympathy for a California law that aims to keep children from buying ultra-violent video games in which players maim, kill or sexually assault images of people. But several justices said the law faces a high constitutional hurdle before going into effect. The high court has been reluctant to carve out exceptions to the First Amendment, striking down a ban on so-called "crush videos" that showed actual deaths of animals earlier this year. California officials argue that they should be allowed to limit minors' ability to pick up violent video games on their own at retailers because of the purported damage they cause.
Police have shut down eight illegal brothels located mainly in Melbourne's inner-north with links to illegal immigration and potentially under-age prostitution. About 60 police yesterday took part in co-ordinated raids targeting the brothels and seven other locations. They seized cash, computers and documents. Four men were arrested and four illegal immigrants located, with the six-month investigation also focusing on human trafficking. Some of the brothels - which were in Richmond, Abbotsford, Fitzroy North, Clifton Hill, Preston, Doncaster East, Seaford, East Melbourne, and West Melbourne - were located next to family homes.
The Greens want medically supervised injecting rooms, the party's most prominent state MP says. The Greens, who have four to six seats in their sights, would also give Metro the boot if they grabbed control of public transport after the November state election. Greens candidates in six key seats yesterday also outlined their support for euthanasia, gay marriage and death duties, and said Melbourne should still have Stage 3 water restrictions.
Labor has pulled off a coup before this month's state election by winning almost unanimous endorsement and financial support from unions - including from malcontents that backed the Greens at the federal election. Support by the Brumby government for union-friendly projects such as the desalination plant, along with recent efforts to woo union officials directly, appear to have succeeded in heading off any state-based defection to the Greens' cause. Major unions have confirmed they will be directing support to Labor candidates facing challenges from the Greens in key suburban seats. This could prove crucial by delivering money for advertising and union volunteers to help on the ground in what is shaping up as the closest state election since 1999.
SIR – We welcome last night’s parliamentary debate on government policy surrounding the provision of information to women seeking a termination of pregnancy. In March 2008, the Royal College of Psychiatrists issued a position statement in which it recognised that good practice in relation to abortion should include informed consent, involving the provision of adequate and appropriate information regarding the possible risks and benefits to the physical and mental health of the woman. A major 30-year study that was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry in 2008 showed, after adjustment for confounding variables, that women who had abortions had rates of mental disorder that were about 30 per cent higher than their peers. Moreover, the notion of “informed consent” enjoys massive public support. A ComRes poll published on the anniversary of the Abortion Act last week showed that 89 per cent of British adults supported “a woman’s right, enshrined in law, to be informed of all the physical, psychological and emotional risks associated with abortion”. As consultant psychiatrists, we strongly urge Parliament to introduce legislation ensuring that women seeking abortion are fully informed about the possible consequences of their abortion decision.Professor Andrew SimsPast President, Royal College of PsychiatryProfessor Patricia CaseyUniversity College DublinChristopher FindlayConsultant Psychiatrist, CheshireNick LandConsultant Psychiatrist, MiddlesbroughSunil RahejaConsultant Psychiatrist, LondonAdrian TreloarConsultant Psychiatrist, LondonLondon W1
President Pestello, Father Rector, ladies and gentlemen: It is an honour as a visitor to your shores to be invited to deliver the 2010 Loyola Lecture on this feast day of Blessed Rupert Mayer, the German Jesuit who took a stand being imprisoned and persecuted by the Nazis for his daring to preach the word fiercely. He was back in his pulpit the moment the Prefect of Munich declaimed, 'The priests are all the same. Threaten them enough with arrest, rattle the keys of the concentration camp; they subside without further ado and shut up.' I acknowledge the sponsors of the lecture: Le Moyne’s Jesuit community, the Sanzone Center for Catholic Studies and Theological Reflection, and the Rev. Kevin G. O'Connell SJ, Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities.
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