Malaysia outgunned Australia on refugee plan

Peter Hartcher, Phillip Coorey - SMH


The federal government is facing strong opposition from the Coalition and Greens over their asylum seeker deal with Malaysia. The federal government was forced to accept increasingly unequal terms from Malaysia in negotiating its refugee swap. Two months ago Australia was discussing a two-for-one exchange, an official familiar with the talks said. Under the agreement in principle announced by the Prime Minister at the weekend, Australia will almost immediately send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia.






ACT Chief Minister resigns

Mark Metherell, Noel Towell - SMH


The Chief Minister of the ACT, Jon Stanhope, resigned yesterday having served 10 years in the job, making him the longest-serving leader of any government in Australia. Mr Stanhope, 60, announced he was standing down and wanted a career change.






BHP urges a 'go slow' approach on carbon tax

Peter Ker, Barry Fitzgerald - SMH


BHP Billiton has urged the government to ''go slow'' on tackling carbon emissions, saying reform of the electricity sector should take priority over the rest of the economy. As debate over a carbon tax continued to dominate Australia's business sector, BHP's chairman, Jac Nasser, warned the nation yesterday against thinking its plans for a carbon tax would be influential - environmentally or diplomatically - on a global scale. In an indication that Canberra could be listening to BHP's message, Mr Nasser revealed that ''dialogue'' between the government and its business roundtable on climate change had been ''good'' - so much so that BHP had no issues with the consultation process.






Lady Gaga on her new Judas video: ‘It’s not a religious statement’

Amy Shank - Christian Today


Pop star Lady Gaga appears in her newest video as a rocked-up Mary Magdalene riding the back of a motorcycle with a leather-clad Jesus Christ. The video is for her new single, Judas, and strikes a typically risqué tone, with the singer appearing in a black bikini top with crosses on the front and at one point holding a gun to Judas’ head. The video stars The Walking Dead actor Norman Reed as Judas and was directed by Laurieann Gibson. In the video, Jesus has long pleated hair and wears an open black leather jacket and a crown of thorns on his head.






Mental health bright spot in Budget

Mark Kenny - Adelaide Today


Mental health is tipped to headline today's tough Budget with more than $2 billion aimed at helping sufferers. The mental health push will be the highlight of a drab economic blueprint handed down by Treasurer Wayne Swan, right, heavy on program cuts and harsh new welfare conditions dubbed "more stick than carrot". These include measures to push some of the 800,000 Disability Support Pension recipients back into paid work and cracking down on people claiming the Newstart allowance without making sufficient efforts to find work.






Step up or get out, former Tasmanian premier told

ABC


Former Tasmanian premier David Bartlett is under pressure to take on more ministerial duties or get out of Parliament, following the loss of senior Labor minister Lin Thorp in the weekend upper house election. The former Children's minister's defeat in Rumney has prompted the third cabinet reshuffle since December. Mr Bartlett stayed on the front bench after stepping aside as premier in January to spend more time with his young family.






Pakistani Christians facing false, deadly accusation

Becky Yeh - OneNewsNow



Christians in Pakistan recently fled when a Muslim mob attacked a seminary and accused believers of desecrating the Quran. Roughly 4,000 Muslims recently attacked a Presbyterian seminary in Gujranwala and compelled 3,000 believers to flee the area. Pastor Eric Issac, who oversees a local Presbyterian church, was also arrested and falsely accused of burning the Quran. Jonathan Racho, regional manager for Africa with International Christian Concern (ICC), says the attack may have been trigged by the Pakistani police's decision to release two Christians accused of insulting the Quran.


Andrew Wilkie's wonky, but he's right on pokies

Herald Sun



Pokies are a suffocating blight on so many Australians sometimes they even kill. Andrew Wilkie is right to take on an industry in denial. Andrew Wilkie is right to take on an industry in denial. After the nail-biting finish to last year's federal election, Canberra correspondents told us repeatedly about a "new paradigm" in Australia's politics. They loved the term. I hated it.





Hey God, reveal thyself!

The Punch



As this article goes to press, neither Jesus, the Hidden Imam or John Maynard Keynes has returned to earth, which is unfortunate as religion has never been in greater need of validation. It’s irrelevant if religion has practical benefits in terms of charity, community building and teaching ethical behavior, if religion’s key claims are not rooted in reality. Either religion is factual or it is not and either there are good reasons to believe something or there are none. Religions make very specific claims about the world and these should be subject to rigorous scrutiny. Christianity claims that God is omniscient, responds to prayer, intervenes in human affairs and created all the animals and plants in their present form; Jesus was the Son of God, was resurrected from the grave and will return to earth; and that the Bible is the inspired word of God.





What’s bad for the gays is bad for Uganda

The Punch


In October 2009, an Anti-Homosexuality Bill, or what has been internationally dubbed as the “Kill the gays” Bill, was introduced by David Bahati MP in Ugandan Parliament. The Bill strengthened the existing criminal penalties while increasing the sentences for certain kinds of consensual sexual “offences” between people of the same-sex. Much of the social and political obsession with the idea of “homosexuality” in Uganda disparately emerged as a product of British colonialism. “Sodomy” offences or “acts against the order of nature”, as they are commonly referred to, were introduced through colonialism as a way of policing all non-heterosexual or non-reproductive relationships.