See today’s selection from online news sites.




Australia's great foreign aid rip off

AUSTRALIA'S $4 billion foreign aid program is plagued by fraud, with 134 "active" investigations into possible corruption in 16 countries.   Most cases of fraud are in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, who jointly receive $740 million a year in Australian aid.

Nauru solution open to PM Julia Gillard

NAURU has re-emerged as a serious option for Julia Gillard's asylum-seeker processing facility.  This comes after the tiny Pacific nation moved to sign the UN Convention on Refugees.   Ratification of the convention would satisfy the Prime Minister's key objection to reopening the existing facility on Nauru, which was paid for by Australian taxpayers as part of the Howard government's Pacific Solution.

Trashing Kevin Rudd 'could cost the ALP seats: Chris Trevor

A QUEENSLAND Labor MP has called on factional bosses to stop their "disgraceful" effort to denigrate Kevin Rudd's record. Meanwhile, Coalition research has warned that the state's voters would punish the party for dumping the former prime minister.  Chris Trevor, who holds the marginal Gladstone-based seat of Flynn, yesterday demanded Mr Rudd be treated with respect and accused right-wing faction leaders of playing down the dumped prime minister's record in an attempt to rewrite history.

Jeff Kennett of beyondblue attacked for connection to gambling

THE board of depression organisation beyondblue is to consider a letter by senator Nick Xenophon demanding Jeff Kennett resign as head.   In the letter to the board, independent Senator Xenophon said the former premier should either quit as a director of Amtek Corporation Pty Ltd, which services poker and other gambling machines, or resign from beyondblue.  In the letter written to all board members, Senator Xenophon said Mr Kennett's two positions "are fundamentally in conflict".

ABC counts down to free-to-air channel News 24

THE ABC's new free-to-air 24-hour news channel, ABC News 24, will launch on July 22 with a showcase news special to be simulcast on ABC1.  Viewers will need a digital TV set or set-top box to access the channel on a TV set, but it will also be available online and on a mobile phone.  The channel will be on air in time to cover the federal election, ABC managing director Mark Scott said yesterday.

A different Rudd could have survived: Hawke

Kevin Rudd would have remained prime minister if he had involved his ministers in a more consensus-driven approach, Labor's longest serving PM says.   Bob Hawke has told ABC TV's The 7.30 Report he knew how Mr Rudd would have felt after being dumped in favour of Julia Gillard.  Mr Hawke also lost the support of his party and his leadership in a challenge by his then-treasurer Paul Keating - a period explored in a new book by Mr Hawke's wife and biographer Blanche d'Alpuget.

Churches fund high school classroom

A coaltion of evangelical and pentecostal churches has struck a deal with the NSW Department of Education to fund construction of a classroom for scripture lessons at a public high school.  The seven churches, including Macquarie Life, an Assembly of God church with affiliations to Hillsong, approached the Warners Bay High School community with the $40,000 gift.

Churches must unite to deal with sexual abuse claims

Fresh allegations detailing abuse of children by clergy highlight the need for an ecumenical approach to caring for victims.  Recently a 67-year-old Catholic priest was sentenced to almost 20 years in prison for sexual assaults on young boys between 1968 and 1986.  Then, the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, apologised for crimes of sexual abuse by clergy, acknowledging the church's shame and failures, an apology endorsed by Sydney's Archbishop George Pell.