ACL compiles a daily media monitoring service of stories of interest to the Christian constituency relating to children, family, drugs and alcohol, marriage, human rights, religious freedom etc. Visit the ACL’s website each day to see what’s of interest in the news. Please note that selection of the articles does not represent ACL endorsement of the content.



 



Abortion

Wounds of regret still just as painful


Clare van Ryn - The Examiner





The issue of forced adoptions has been the focus of a Senate committee for the past 18 months and on Wednesday, the community affairs committee tabled its final report. I've been reading some of the 418 submissions, mostly from women forced to put their children up for adoption after falling pregnant out of wedlock. These vignettes of a cruel practice perpetuated through the 1950s-1970s are utterly heart- wrenching. One woman, pregnant at 18, wrote: "I will feel forever sad and sorry that I didn't have the gumption or strength of character to be able to stand up for myself and my daughter. This is how you felt. You were so bad, so troublesome, so undeserving. What would a frightened, downtrodden and shamed young girl have to offer her child, where would she start? I could not fight my family or the society's values at that time."










Subsidy sought for RU486

Stephanie Peatling - SMH





Public funding to lower the cost of RU486 and one other so-called abortion drug will be considered at a meeting of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Commission in March. The Therapeutic Goods Administration last year approved an application to import RU486 (mifepristone) and another drug GyMiso (misoprostol) by MS Health, a not for profit subsidary of the reproductive health group Marie Stopes International.










Bioethics

Catholic network and Google form 'holy alliance'


Catholic News





What does the Web say about the Catholic Church? What do Catholics want from the Web? And which ethical and spiritual issues are most widely discussed by Internet users? Aleteia, a worldwide Catholic network, has formed an alliance with search engine giant Google to try to find answers to these questions, reports Vatican Insider. Other hot topics include bioethical issues such as abortion and euthanasia. When it comes to specifically faith-related issues, the French argue predominantly about relations with Islam whereas the Mexicans concentrate on the defence of minorities and Italians, perhaps a little surprisingly, are big on the catechesis debate.


















Children & Family

Children with rights but no responsibility are getting out of control


Karen Brooks - The Courier-Mail





Once upon a time, we lived in a world where children were seen and not heard. Fast forward to 2013 and, if recent reports are correct, we live in a society where children are seen all the time, heard by everyone and any distinction between adult space and a child's place is blurred. Take for example the debate that erupted following an incident in Sydney where a patron in a cafe asked another with a baby crying shrilly for a sustained period, and who was disturbing everyone, to either take the child for a walk or "find another solution".
















Drugs & Alcohol

Behaviour study aims to discover future alcoholics and drug addicts


Amy Corderoy - Sydney Morning Herald





Which of the thousands of fresh-faced children starting high school this week will grow up to be the rebels? Researchers from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of NSW are studying more than 3000 NSW high school students to try and discover whether personality traits predispose them to drug and alcohol problems, and if early intervention can prevent them. The program is part of a new Centre for Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use, which will be launched on Thursday and will be the biggest in the world for research into the combined topics.












Secret website harboured drugs smorgasbord, court hears

Steve Butcher - The Age





A judge has expressed fears about a secretive eBay-like online marketplace a man used to buy illegal drugs for his "smorgasbord" trafficking operation. Melbourne's County Court heard the black-market Silk Road had been described as a "certifiable one-stop shop" for illicit drugs. Consumers protected by anonymity browsed catalogues of substances on Silk Road and users were given positive or negative ratings by other users based on their dealings.














Education

Nexus between school life and mental illness sets course for later life


John Feneley - SMH





From Wednesday, more than a million NSW students will begin a new year at primary and high schools while another 400,000 will proceed with their studies at TAFE or university. Now more than ever, education is a passport to personal satisfaction and worldly success, while a lack of formal qualifications excludes people from an increasingly wide range of occupations.












State accused of lagging on school bullying

Jewel Topsfield - The Age





The Baillieu government has been accused of failing to take school bullying seriously after lengthy delays in announcing the winner of a competition to name its road-toll style anti-bullying campaign. It is also yet to provide the resources and training for teachers on understanding, identifying and dealing with bullying promised during the 2010 election campaign.














Health

Eye-opener as scientists grow lens cells


Bridie Smith - SMH





Researches have established a way to grow human eye lens cells in the laboratory - the first time this has been done at 100 per cent purity. The discovery means patients suffering congenital sight impairment caused by lens damage such as cataracts might one day be able to have a transplant, allowing them to grow an eye lens without the genetic defects their DNA would otherwise dictate. The researchers from Monash University's Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute took stem cells and isolated the lens epithelium - the embryonic tissue from which the lens of the eye develops.
















Human Rights

Anti-discrimination legal moves a clear lesson in the perils of overkill


Nicholas Tonti-Filippini - SMH





Suppose a school was confronted by the information that a teacher was also working as a prostitute or an internet porn star or had a recent conviction for illegal substance possession. The known lifestyle would obviously conflict with the values that a teacher would be expected to teach and the school could be expected to contest the suitability of his employment because the roles are not compatible. The issue is different for a religious school only in that the values that the school represents are more definitely prescribed than for the average school, and there may be more scope for the conduct of teachers to conflict with the role for which they are employed, and their capacity to give witness to the faith in the classroom. The latter is necessary for the school to serve its reasons for existing as a religious school and what it offers parents.










Nicola Roxon to spare the right to offend in discrimination U-turn

Patricia Karelas - The Australian





Attorney-Gemeral Nicola Roxon has rolled back Labor's proposed anti-discrimination reforms to remove the prohibition on causing offence, which has been criticised by the media, judicial figures and the human rights lobby as an attack on free speech. Ms Roxon will today announce that her department is drafting a series of options for the new laws that includes the removal of the section that prohibits conduct that offends, insults or intimidates.














Marriage

Chick-Fil-A no longer funds most controversial groups


Evann Gastaldo - Newser





If you've been pining for Chick-Fil-A but don't want to support its president's anti-gay stance, rejoice: The company no longer donates to the most controversial groups opposing gay marriage, and hasn't since 2011. Rather, the company "focuses on youth, education, marriage enrichment, and local communities," says Campus Pride. The national LGBT campus organization looked at tax documents for Chick-Fil-A's philanthropic WinShape Foundation to make the determination, CNN reports. However, Chick-Fil-A does still donate to some groups that are against gay marriage—just not the most divisive ones. Despite all the uproar that ensued after company president Dan Cathy said last year that he supported traditional marriage, Chick-Fil-A continues to grow: Sales were up 14% in 2012 over a year prior, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, and the chain opened 96 new stores.










New word proposed to embrace same-sex marriage

The Australian





Renaming gay marriage as "sarriage" would end divisions over marriage equality, New Zealand's parliament has been told in a quirky submission on marriage equality legislation. The government administration committee heard a mix of views on Wednesday, including from Russell Morrison, who is concerned the bill will give the word "marriage" more than one meaning. "There are already too many words in our language with multiple meanings and I don't believe that we should be adding to that situation," he said. He says the words "marry" and "marriage" are understood to refer to a man and a woman, so he's come up with his own solution to avoid any confusion: "sarry" and "sarriage".














Overseas Aid

'Catastrophic' situation


ABC





The United Nations described the humanitarian situation in Syria as "catastrophic" and donors pledged more than $1.5 billion in aid. Australia has upped its aid to the war-torn country with Foreign Minister Bob Carr pledging a further $10 million for refugees pouring out of Syria, making it the fourth-largest contributor. "We're increasing our aid by another $10 million and that will assist refugees who've ended up in Lebanon, Jordan, I think Iraq as well, and Turkey," he said.












Politics

PM announces election for September 14


Judith Ireland and Daniel Hurst - SMH





Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced the federal election date as September 14 this year. In a surprise move, Ms Gillard broke with tradition to set the election date months before the polling date - effectively setting the country up for a campaign season lasting more than seven months. "Time is not for wasting. So decisions have to be made about how we use our time this year," Ms Gillard said in a speech to the National Press Club in Canberra.










Gamble or advantage?

Dennis Shanahan - The Australian





Julia Gillard is adamant that the seven months leading to the September 14 election will not be Australia's longest election campaign. The Prime Minister may be adamant, but she's wrong. What Gillard has done is formalise an informal election campaign in an attempt to maximise the advantage of office, to draw on the authority of being a working prime minister and to apply pressure on Tony Abbott and the opposition to announce and cost policies well before the official election campaign starts on August 12.










NSW Labor subpoenaed ahead of Thomson case

ABC





Fair Work Australia has issued the New South Wales ALP with a subpoena ahead of the Federal Court case against former Labor MP Craig Thomson. The subpoena calls for the release of informat on about payments allegedly made by the Health Services Union to Mr Thomson's local branch and the New South Wales branch.














Prostitution & Sex Trafficking

Prostitutes touting for business on social networks


Fiona Hamilton - The Australian





Prostitutes and escort agencies are openly using Facebook and other social networks to advertise their services and tout for new business. Hundreds of unrestricted pages dedicated to the sex trade have been created on social networking sites, fuelling concerns that children are being exposed to explicit content and offers of adult services. In many cases, agencies and individuals have used Facebook and Twitter to post lurid photographs alongside detailed descriptions. These include names, phone numbers, addresses, prices and specific sex acts on offer.
















Other

Charles Sturt Council votes to review pledge to 'Almighty Father'


Holly Petersen - Weekly Times





Charles Sturt councillors will review their opening pledge following concern about a prayer to the "Almighty Father" being out of touch with the community. Councillors voted last night to review the pledge, with options for a new opening statement to be presented to elected members at their next meeting on Monday, February 11. Cr Doriana Coppola, who moved the motion, said the prayer was no longer reflective of the diversity of beliefs in the area.












A Christian commonwealth of nations is Europe's best possible future

Adrian Pabst - ABC Religion





David Cameron's long-awaited speech on Europe made some good points about the EU's current crisis of legitimacy and the imperative to reconnect the European project to its citizens. But he was wrong to claim that the choice for Europe is either a centralised super-state based on the eurozone or a loose network of sovereign nation-states which merely trade with one another. This ignores Europe's distinctly Christian foundation and also the cultural and religious ties that bind Europeans to one another - the "glue" that holds societies together and helps secure both peace and prosperity.