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

Clinics granting sex-selection abortions to be investigated by health officials


Jasmine Coleman - UK The Guardian





The health secretary, Andrew Lansley, has asked officials to look into claims that some doctors are granting women illegal abortions based solely on the sex of their unborn baby. The Department of Health launched an inquiry following a newspaper investigation into sex-selection terminations, where secret footage was taken of consultants at British clinics agreeing to abort foetuses because a baby of that gender was not wanted.










Qld abortion laws must change: Greens

Nine News





Queensland's "archaic" abortion laws must be independently reviewed by the state's next government, the Queensland Greens say. Party spokeswoman Libby Connors has criticised Labor Premier Anna Bligh for not reforming abortion laws during her time in office.














Children & Family

'Kids opt for sex changes'


The Porter





A small but growing number of teens and even younger children who think they were born the wrong sex are getting support from parents and from doctors who give them sex-changing treatments, according to reports in the medical journal Pediatrics. It's an issue that raises ethical questions, and some experts urge caution in treating children with puberty-blocking drugs and hormones.














Drugs & Alcohol

Alcohol warnings ignored - FARE


Bigpond News





An advocacy group concerned about dangerous drinking says the federal government has failed to release two reports on the impact of warning labels on the alcohol-consumption habits of pregnant women. The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education says it has obtained the reports under freedom of information laws, and they should have been made public late last year before a decision on the possible introduction of mandatory warning labels.














Education

Garrett takes up Gonski challenge with focus on quality teaching


Andrew Stevenson - SMH





The School Education Minister, Peter Garrett, has told a conference of teachers he will not ignore the Gonski review of school funding, calling it an urgent national education challenge.














Environment

We need some cold hard facts about coal seam gas


Lucy Kippist - The Punch





This week’s mess in the Pilliga Forest of New South Wales, is the latest evidence of an extremely messy industry. Communities remain divided over coal seam gas. Especially in Queensland, where it’s splitting votes in the lead up to the state election.


















Gambling

Gambling Tatts Group on track to lift second half profit


Herald Sun





Gambling firm Tatts Group has lifted its first half profit by 11 per cent and says it is encouraged by the outlook for the rest of the financial year. The group today said its net profit rose to $166.88 million for the half year to December 31, from $149.9 million in the previous corresponding period. Revenue from continuing operations rose to $1.97 million from $1.89 million.










Company linked to Chinese crime gangs lured high rollers to casino

Sean Nicholls - SMH





A company contracted by the Star casino to attract high rollers from Asia has been linked to a Chinese crime gang. The Neptune Group, a Hong Kong company, signed a three-year deal in February 2009 with the casino's then operator, Tabcorp, to introduce high rollers via gambling tours known as ''junkets''.














Human Rights

Syrian bishop describes country’s ‘murderous stalemate’


John Pontifex - Aid to the Church in Need





A senior bishop in Syria has described how the country is “locked in a murderous stalemate” and has told how his people say farewell to one another after Sunday Mass uncertain if they will meet again. Archbishop Samir Nassar of Damascus emphasised that the Syrian people were being “subjected to enormous pressures” with economic disaster and conflict spread to almost every town. In a statement to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Nassar wrote that people were desperate to leave the country but could not obtain visas after the closure of embassies in Damascus.


















Indigenous

$70M to Close the Gap on treatable indigenous eye health


The Melbourne Newsroom





Researchers from the University of Melbourne say $70 million could ‘close the gap’ on Indigenous eye health, which unlike other health conditions is preventable and treatable. Presently Indigenous Australians suffer six times the blindness of mainstream Australians and 94 percent of vision loss in Indigenous Australians is unnecessary, preventable or treatable.
















Marriage

Hargreaves' gay note in 'bad taste'


Noel Towell - The Canberra Times





ACT Labor backbencher John Hargreaves has resigned as government whip over an alleged gay slur against his colleague Andrew Barr 18 months ago. Mr Hargreaves stepped down last night after Canberra Liberals' MLA Alistair Coe told The Canberra Times that the veteran politician and former minister sent him a note containing a ''homophobic'' message across the Legislative Assembly chamber while Mr Barr was speaking during a session in August 2010.
















Overseas Aid

Burma desperate for HIV drugs


Sky News





Some 85,000 HIV-infected people in Burma are not getting treatment due to a lack of funding, despite renewed international engagement with the government amid a wave of political reform, a medical aid group says. Doctors Without Borders warned in its report that the situation in Burma could worsen after the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria cut funding worldwide because of a shortfall in donations.










AusAid/World Vision suspends funding to Palestinian group

J-Wire





AusAid has suspended aid to Union of Agricultural Work Committee an alleged agency of the proscribed terror organisation the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Last week, the Israeli legal group Shurat HaDin alleged that AUSAID, the Australian Agency for Ineternational Development and World Vision “are providing financial aid and other forms of martial support to the UAWC.” AusAID responded to J-Wire’s request for a statement by saying: “The Australian Government does not fund terrorist organisations or affiliates and funding would be terminated if any such links were confirmed.














Politics

Gillard's plan to crush Rudd


Phillip Coorey - SMH





Kevin Rudd plans to hit the phones as soon as he lands in Australia today to head off a humiliating defeat in the leadership ballot on Monday and score enough votes to keep alive the prospect of a second challenge. As the government shredded itself with public infighting and ministers unleashed a shock-and-awe campaign to crush Mr Rudd, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, called a ballot for 10am Monday.










Lucky country 'at risk' amid chaos, says Don Argus

Annabel Hepworth and Scott Murdoch - The Australian





One of the nation's most senior and celebrated directors, former BHP Billiton chairman Don Argus, has warned that Australia risks losing its "lucky country" title as Labor's leadership crisis pushes the business community's dismay with Canberra to a new low. As Kevin Rudd declared that restoring business confidence was his No 1 priority, industry leaders lined up to question whether a new leader could save corporate Australia's faith in a government that many consider anti-business.












Prostitution & Sex Trafficking

Inquiry calls for sex industry shake-up


Jessica Nairn - ABC





An inquiry into ACT prostitution laws has recommended a shake-up of the industry to include much harsher penalties. The inquiry was called after a 17-year-old girl died in a Canberra brothel from an overdose of drugs in 2008. The committee was set the task of reviewing the 20-year-old Prostitution Act and it received more than 50 submissions including from police, sex workers, churches and religious lobby groups.
















Religious Freedom & Persecution

Iran court convicts Christian pastor convert to death


Lisa Daftari - Fox News





A trial court in Iran has issued its final verdict, ordering a Christian pastor to be put to death for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity, according to sources close to the pastor and his legal team. Supporters fear Youcef Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old father of two who was arrested over two years ago on charges of apostasy, may now be executed at any time without prior warning, as death sentences in Iran may be carried out immediately or dragged out for years.


















Refugees

Smugglers blamed for deadly Australia shipwreck


AFP





A coroner investigating the deaths of some 50 refugees killed in a shipwreck off Australia's remote west coast ruled Thursday that the people-smugglers and crew behind the trip were to blame. Coroner Alastair Hope said the accident, which killed 50 refugees from Iran and Iraq when their rickety ship was dashed on rocks in wild seas in December 2010, was Australia's worst peacetime sea disaster in 115 years.