Uniting Church launches Japan Quake and Tsunami Appeal

Christian Today

The Uniting Church in Australia has launched an emergency appeal in response to the devastating impact of the Japan earthquake and tsunami. UnitingWorld, the relief and development agency of the church, will facilitate the appeal. UnitingWorld is in contact with the leadership of the United Church of Christ in Japan (UCCJ), assuring them of the Uniting Church’s prayers and concern. The UCCJ leaders have asked for the financial support of the Uniting Church in Australia to help provide food and water, medical support, safe shelter and pastoral and counselling services.



Government threatens R-rating games showdown

ABC

A wide-ranging shake-up of the Classification Act could be on the cards if there is no agreement to change the rating system for computer games. Any change to the classification system needs unanimous support from the Commonwealth, states and territories. The Federal Government has given state and territory attorneys-general until July to decide whether to introduce an R18+ classification for video games. Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor says after a decade of debate, it is crunch time.





Detainees stage Darwin rooftop protest


NT News

A Group of detainees have staged a protest on the roof of Darwin's detention centre last night. Immigration spokesman Bill Power said the nine Burmese detainees turned something minor into something big. He said a detainee became "aggressive" when he demanded food in the dining room. "At the time he didn't get it," he said. Mr Power said the detainee was taken from the room which caused other detainees to become "distressed." He said Northern Immigration Detention Centre staff were expected to negotiate with the detainees in an attempt get them off the roof at 8pm.




Roozendaal obscured on voting cards

SMH

Eric Roozendaal and the names of other Labor upper house candidates have been blurred on the party's how-to-vote cards, adding further to speculation the Treasurer is being kept out of the spotlight during the election campaign. Candidates have begun issuing how-to-vote cards after pre-polling opened on Monday. The upper house section, which is identical on Labor's cards, only shows the name of the party while the names of the top three candidates, which appear in the same sized font, have been obscured.





O'Farrell behind preferences flowing to Nile

Sean Nicholls - SMH


The state Opposition Leader, Barry O'Farrell, has been forced to defend the Liberal Party's decision to direct preferences to the Christian Democratic Party in the upper house only a week after ruling out preferencing the former One Nation leader, Pauline Hanson, because of her policies. As signalled by Mr O'Farrell on Friday, pre-poll electoral material prepared by the Liberals instructs voters to direct preferences to key independents in the lower house. But it also directs voters to place the Christian Democratic Party as its second preference on the upper house ballot.





Keeping her distance on Q&A

The Australian

Julia Gillard gets back some mainstream credibility. Julia Gillard is no teenager but it was her interlocutor, Tony Jones, who showed his age on ABC TV's Q&A program on Monday night. Jones is 55, the Prime Minister 49, but it was not those six years that made Ms Gillard seem more contemporary than the presenter. Rather it was his attachment to the era of Vietnam war protests and anti-Americanism in the face of her genuine embrace of US innovation and strength that demonstrated the generational gulf between the ABC and mainstream Australia. Jones, apparently perplexed that anyone could see past the 1960s, gave the Prime Minister a golden opportunity to separate her government from the left-wing baggage of 40 years ago. She was eight years old when the moratorium marches started in 1970, and has avoided the time warp that still drives some journalism at the ABC.





Internet breeds 'gamble anytime' generation

SMH

The rise of internet-based sports betting is changing the face of problem gambling in Australia, say addiction experts who report a surge in younger men in need of help. Faster internet speeds and the proliferation of internet-enabled mobile phones had created a younger generation that could "gamble anywhere anytime", said experts attached to the University of Sydney. The number of people with sports betting-related problems attending their gambling addiction clinics have surged by around 70 per cent in just three years.





ABC gave Assange a no-strings invitation

The Australian

The ABC issued Julian Assange a no-strings attached invitation to question Julia Gillard on Tuesday night's Q&A program. The broadcaster said yesterday it had no idea what the WikiLeaks founder would ask the Prime Minister and gave her no prior warning of the hostile question. Mr Assange challenged Ms Gillard on whether the Australian government had shared intelligence on its citizens with foreign powers and asked whether the Australian people should charge her with treason.





Eighteen, not on Facebook, and still smiling

SMH

It has instigated possibly the greatest social revolution of a generation: political uprisings have been changed by it, movies have been made about it, anthropologists now study it. And yet Rosemarie Costi, 18, wants nothing to do with it. ''I have a little confession to make,'' the school captain of Monte Sant' Angelo Mercy College in North Sydney said in her welcome speech to year 7 students. ''I don't have Facebook. I don't have a profile page, I don't write on walls, I rarely 'lol' [laugh out loud] and I certainly don't poke.'' With more than 500 million people spending more than 11 billion hours a month on Facebook, Miss Costi's position sounds unique.





Hundreds shot in Bahrain protest: reports

SMH

At least 200 people have been shot and wounded in a Shi'ite village south of the Bahraini capital, a medic says, as the king imposed a state of emergency after bringing in Saudi and Emirati troops to help quell anti-regime protests. As violence escalated, close ally the United States warned that there was "no military solution" to political upheaval in Bahrain and that any violence against peacefully expressed political demands "should be stopped". "More than 200 people we received today had been shot with buckshot," a hospital doctor in the village of Sitra, south of the capital, said.





A 'global crisis'

Mindy Belz - World Mag

Religious liberty is what's at stake in the Muslim world, and beyond. Christian journalists can ask a question others often stifle: What is God doing in the world? It's a good question, if tricky. There is the risk of underestimating God, of playing it too close. And there's the risk of going long, and presuming. So taking Paul as my guide (1 Corinthians 2:16) I will launch out, because many people lately have asked, "What do you make of the Middle East?" when what they really want to know is, "What in the world is God up to?" The question—and the recent upheaval—bring to mind a conversation over lunch in July 2001 with a learned American working in Africa. I had just returned from Kakuma, a camp in northern Kenya for refugees from civil wars in Sudan, Somalia, and Ethiopia. It had 77,000 refugees then—today it houses over 400,000—and seethed with tension and violence much like the civil wars most of its inhabitants had escaped. I poured this out to my friend, and he said a profound thing: "I believe that if we as Western Christians will not go to the Muslims, the Lord will bring the Muslims out to us."




Ready to die for a cause


World Mag

Last month Shahbaz Bhatti attended the National Prayer Break­fast in Washington, D.C., met Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other dignitaries, then continued on to Ottawa, to London, and to Brussels. "He was trying to raise the public consciousness about rising extremism in Pakistan," said longtime friend Victor Gill, a Pakistani-American who lives in Philadelphia and has worked with Bhatti for years. What Bhatti, 42, did not accomplish in life many hope he may help to accomplish in death, as photos of his bullet-ridden, blood-soaked black sedan headlined newspapers around the world after his March 2 assassination.