Today’s selection from online news sites


Two couples suing doctors for failing to diagnose Down Syndrome


TWO Victorian couples are suing doctors for failing to diagnose Down Syndrome in their unborn babies, denying them the chance to terminate the pregnancies.  The couples are claiming unspecified damages for economic loss, continuing costs of care of the children, and "psychiatric injury".

Filter not part of preference talks: Greens


THE internet filter was not up for negotiation when the Greens cut its preference deal with Labor for the upcoming federal election.   Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said that the party had not softened its position on the filter legislation as part of the preference deal which is expected to strengthen its numbers in the Senate after the August 21 poll.

Adults in online teen feuds face penalty


IT seems like a natural response - parents defending their children when they are bullied.  But, with bullying on social networking sites like Facebook on the rise, parents could find themselves facing serious criminal charges for making threats while defending their children. Detective Senior Sergeant Barry Blundell, officer in charge of the Electronic Crime Section, said while bullying was "reprehensible", it was not a crime.

Jessi Slaughter and the 4chan trolls - the case for censoring the internet


THE case of a US girl who was hounded by internet stalkers into police protection highlights the need for content filtering, an Australian academic says.  Eleven-year-old Jessi Slaughter has been targeted with death threats after her address and phone number were shared on internet forums by pranksters in response to a YouTube video she posted from her bedroom.   Her mother said she hasn't seen her daughter's video and told Gawker she "doesn't go on the computer".

Heterosexual marriage is society's bedrock


SADLY Derryn Hinch manages to mangle just about everything in the marriage debate (The Australian, July 16).  He totally misses the purposes of marriage for example. Marriage is a universal and historical institution which serves tremendous social purposes.  It regulates human sexuality, and it procures the wellbeing of any offspring from the sexual union. Thus it is not a mere private matter, but a vitally important social institution.

Tax holiday for Aborigines


PRIVATELY employed Aborigines would be given a tax holiday on incomes up to $80,000, under a policy of Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce.  The opposition regional development spokesman yesterday called on indigenous leaders to back the Nationals' plans for a zonal tax rebate, saying more needed to be done to encourage investment and employment among the country's most impoverished people.

Manifestos turn into a battle of the kindest cuts


THE election campaign turned even more frugal yesterday as Tony Abbott raised his promised cuts in programs to $45.8 billion and Julia Gillard said she would not be spending an extra cent of new money.  With the focus squarely on economic management, the Coalition rushed to outgun the government, having amassed a war chest of $12bn to spend on election promises against a paltry $198 million from the government.

Boatpeople offered help to return home


ASYLUM-SEEKERS on Christmas Island who agree to go home could receive training, education and money to start a small business.  The proposed reintegration package would be administered by the IOM, which opened an office with two staff on Christmas Island this month. "Primarily, IOM's role on Christmas Island will be to provide (detainees) with independent advice and assistance promoting voluntary departures from Australia," a community notice from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship stated.

Fear mongering over Greens deal


Three years ago the Liberals were warning that the nation's economic prosperity and social cohesion were at risk.  The reason?  Labor had cut a preference deal with the Greens. It was not as comprehensive as that sealed in the first week of this campaign, in which the Greens will receive Labor Senate preferences in every state and territory, and Labor will receive Greens preferences in more than 50 marginal seats.

Charter of honesty is only half the test


In the old days leaders promised big during election campaigns ("By 1990 no Australian child will be living in poverty") and cut back their spending afterwards. These days political leaders promise poor during the campaign ("above all else it will be very lean") and the spendathon comes after it.  Kevin Rudd got the loudest applause during his 2007 election launch when he declared: "The spending has got to stop". It didn't stop for long. After the 2008 budget his government embarked on the largest spending increase since Gough Whitlam in 1975 - $100 billion of new discretionary measures, money which is still rolling out.

Gay zombie porn gets festival flick


THE Australian censor has banned a film from screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival for the first time in seven years - a work described as ''gay zombie porn''.  Festival director Richard Moore received a letter yesterday from the Film Classification Board director Donald McDonald, stating that L.A. Zombie, the latest offering from Canadian provocateur Bruce LaBruce, could not be screened as it would in his opinion be refused classification.

Sex meets politics


VIRGIN voter? Flirting with numbering every box below the line? The Australian Sex Party wants you. Fielding candidates for the first time in the Senate and lower house, the 3000-strong minor party is hoping to shake up the political debate.  Lead Victorian Senate candidate Fiona Patten said there was more to the Australian Sex Party than slogans.  ''We have always been a forward-thinking party rather than a moving-forward party and frankly we are a party of real action,'' she said at a campaign launch in Melbourne yesterday.

Labor candidate links Abbott's views to suicide


The Federal Opposition says a Labor candidate should apologise for linking the Coalition leader's policies to people committing suicide.  Labor's candidate for the Victorian seat of Flinders, Adrian Schonfelder, has told a local newspaper that Tony Abbott's conservative religious views are "influencing people to take their own lives".  He singled out the Opposition Leader's religious views on sex before marriage and abortion.   Local Liberal MP Greg Hunt says the comments are deeply offensive, and the Prime Minister must take action.