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.







 

 

 

Classification



Apple censors explicit music on iTunes Match

Apple is unintentionally censoring rap music and other explicit tracks downloaded using its iTunes Match service — by replacing them with the clean versions of the same songs.  According to a report in Cult of Mac — confirmed in tests by Mashable — songs uploaded to the service with explicit lyrics are automatically replaced by the clean version of the song.



R18+ video games set to get the nod in Australia

VIDEO games with an R18+ rating could be sold in Australia from next year.  Legislation for the adult category for games classification is expected to be debated in Federal Parliament in a matter of weeks.  But the guidelines for the classification are still not clear and it is uncertain if video games previously refused classification for being too violent or graphic for even adult gamers would subsequently be allowed to reapply for classification, prompting fears that graphic content could reach children.  Developmental psychologist Glenn Cupit, of the Australian Council on Children and the Media, warned should such games be sold in Australia, they would find their way to children.



Aussie mothers protest against Facebook for removing breastfeeding photos

ANGRY mums have organised a protest at Facebook's Australian offices next week after the social network suspended users who had posted images of themselves breastfeeding.  Sydneysider Lucy Allen, 21, had her Facebook account deactivated for two days in July last year after she posted a photo of herself breastfeeding and pumping milk at the same time.  “Facebook didn’t actually give me a reason," Ms Allen said. "They just said it was a breach of their terms of use."





Education



Parents ask to see the maths as school fees climb

FRUSTRATED at being hit with ever-increasing bills, parents of children at private schools are calling for greater transparency surrounding fees.  As the year 12 tuition costs at 40 of Sydney's independent schools rose by an average of 5.7 per cent above last year's figures, one parent said the continual increases - outstripping inflation and salary rises - were ''killing us''.  Parents who spoke to the Herald on condition of anonymity said they were not given adequate explanations about why the increases were necessary.



Parents lobby Victorian Government to ban Bible in classrooms

PARENTS are stepping up pressure on the Education Department to end religious education in state schools amid claims it is making children isolated and fearful.  A massive billboard has been erected in Bulleen claiming state schools "are not church playgrounds".  It says: "Special religious instruction divides our children".  The billboard was erected by parent-run lobby group FIRIS (Fairness in Religion in Schools), which is calling on education authorities to change the law so that "special religious instruction" is no longer offered in state schools.





Gambling



Casino ethics were allowed to deteriorate, review told

THE Sydney casino has been ''sliding back to the old ways'', putting revenues before behaviour, a former manager told the recent review of The Star's licence.  High-value players who had sexually harassed or threatened staff were allegedly given favourable treatment, former and existing staff told the barrister conducting the review published three days before Christmas.



The power of a word in the ministerial ear

You wouldn't think that poker machines and ethanol have much in common. But the actions of the O'Farrell government in recent weeks have managed to tie them together quite neatly.  The Minister for Hospitality, George Souris, quietly put through a regulation last month that did Clubs NSW a big favour.  The regulation made it easier for registered clubs that are established adjacent to new housing release areas to get approval for up to 150 poker machines from the Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority.



Pokies ATM link to teenager's death

A CORONER has slammed gambling regulators over a teenager who took his life after withdrawing his last few dollars from an ATM inside a gaming venue and losing on the pokies.  Jacob Anton Van Berlo, 19, killed himself last May after losing the money at the Warragul Downtowner east of Melbourne.  Mr Van Berlo was an apprentice at the Warragul Gazette, but owed money to friends and sometimes spent his whole pay in one day on the pokies.  On the day of his death, Mr Van Berlo spent his lunch break gambling at the Warragul Downtowner, withdrawing $270 from an ATM inside the premises.



Gaming Commission refuses to block new Castlemaine pokies

CASTLEMAINE residents have lost their battle to block 65 new poker machines in their central Victorian town after the gambling regulator approved an application to build a sports club in an old railway shed.  The Maryborough Highland Society bought 65 machines at the 2010 state pokies licence auction and applied to develop old railway buildings in Castlemaine - owned by the state government - into a sports and community club.



Opposition 'too cheap' to meet pokies victim

THE federal opposition has declined to fork out a few hundred dollars so an Adelaide-based problem gambler can travel to Canberra to meet the coalition taskforce devising its gambling policy.  The gambling committee - chaired by opposition families spokesman Kevin Andrews - is having meetings with gaming industry representatives, community groups and individuals this week.??The taskforce includes frontbenchers Malcolm Turnbull and Luke Hartsuyker, with backbenchers Josh Frydenberg, Steve Ciobo and Alan Tudge.



Souris demands answers over sacking of casino chief



THE Hospitality Minister, George Souris, has raised questions about the Star casino's compliance with gaming laws as authorities issued a deadline of 1pm Monday to give full details of the sacking of its managing director, Sid Vaikunta.  The chief executive of the casino's owner Echo Entertainment Group, Larry Mullin, told the stock exchange on Thursday that Mr Vaikunta's employment had ''ended after his behaviour in a social work setting''.  Yesterday Mr Souris said ''the casino has only just completed its five-year [licence] review, during which none of these issues seem to have come to the fore.



Woolworths lobbies opposition for voluntary pre-commitment on poker machines

AUSTRALIA'S biggest pokies operator Woolworths has lobbied the federal opposition to tackle problem gambling with voluntary pre-commitment measures, despite the limited success of its own trial of optional bet limit cards.  Woolworth's gaming arm Australia Leisure Hospitality (ALH), which owns owns 12,000 poker machines across 294 venues Australia-wide, appeared before the opposition's gambling taskforce this week.





Marriage



They do: Qld sets same-sex union date

Queensland's first same-sex civil unions are set to occur in a month's time, a move Deputy Premier Andrew Fraser is heralding as the sign of a “modern, progressive state”.  The enactment of the civil partnerships law will come three months after it was passed with support from most Labor MPs and one independent but opposed by the Liberal National Party and other crossbenchers.  The state government will today announce the law formally commences on February 23, meaning the first civil unions could occur on March 5, following the 10-day waiting period required after paperwork lodgement.





Politics



Parliament is resuming. Brace yourself



EDITORIAL

MPs and senators are returning to Canberra for next week's resumption of Parliament amid a rare atmosphere of anticipation. For the government, nothing has changed, yet everything has changed. The numbers on the floor of the House remain the same, though the faces have shuffled around a little. Yet the steady decay of Julia Gillard's position as Labor leader has continued over the summer break, and as it has done so the chances of Labor MPs moving to dump her have increased. There is open talk of replacing her. In part she is responsible for this growing opposition. The chicanery over the Speaker's position, the abrupt reneging on the deal with Andrew Wilkie over poker machines, the inept Australia Day incident - all have helped cut the Prime Minister's popularity and undermine her standing with the public, as well as diminishing the confidence of caucus members in her political skill. Another part of it is bad luck - continuing economic gloom from overseas infects attitudes towards her and her government throughout the community. Part is due to the machinations of others - principally Kevin Rudd, but also the backbench MPs who have grown increasingly nervous at Gillard's inability to lift Labor's standing in the polls. Disaffection feeds on itself.



Momentum building for leadership challenge

ON Friday evening a week ago, after her office had been in lockdown for much of the afternoon, Julia Gillard accepted the resignation of Tony Hodges, her disgraced press secretary. The Prime Minister clearly meant every word when she declared that no one was angrier than she was.  The incident reflected very badly not only on Hodges but on the people who recruited and promoted him, and on the Prime Minister's office more generally. It raised basic questions about how politically savvy they are and how often they have recourse to the dark arts.  It also raised questions about Gillard's judgment and her modus operandi. If a staffer close to her displays this level of opportunism and trickery, is it because they're all in a day's work and might have been rewarded if things had gone according to plan?



Prime Minister Julia Gillard in for the chop

A LEADERSHIP war plan is being mapped out by key Kevin Rudd backers, with senior NSW MPs demanding the deputy leadership in any new Rudd government.  Planning for a Rudd comeback will mean an inevitable showdown with Treasurer Wayne Swan, with the NSW camp wanting Immigration Minister Chris Bowen to take his job. Sources close to the Foreign Minister confirmed that planning was well under way for the make-up of a possible Rudd cabinet.



Disaster-prone Julia Gillard living on borrowed time

IT wasn't supposed to start this way. The government went into the summer recess at the end of last year hoping that a break in political hostilities would give Julia Gillard the time she needed to rise above the accusations of broken promises, trickery and incompetence. The polls towards the end of 2011 had started to move in Labor's favour, sort of.  The primary vote was still a major concern, but the Prime Minister's personal numbers had steadily improved in the final months of the year and the hope was that the party vote would follow. Labor optimistically called it momentum.



Enough support in caucus for Rudd to wound PM

< style="padding-left: 30px;">KEVIN Rudd hasn't got the numbers to defeat Julia Gillard yet, but his support is growing in the Labor caucus and he could fatally wound the Prime Minister in the event of a spill.  Mr Rudd's backers say the former prime minister can count on at least 25 votes in the Labor caucus, and up to 40 if a leadership spill occurs.  While either figure would leave him short of the 52-MP majority he would need in the 103-member caucus, the claims show numbers are being counted and a challenge could come sooner rather than later.



After the tumble, and staffer bumble, she's ready to rumble

A literal and metaphorical fall for Julia Gillard sees the Prime Minister starting the parliamentary?year on the back foot, and in dire need of a leap of faith to retain the leadership.  EVEN with her back to the wall, Julia Gillard can laugh at herself. We're chatting after a formal interview in her Melbourne office and she recalls the previous time she took an undignified tumble in front of the nation's media, an occasion that was far less fraught and dramatic than last week's stumble, when she was whisked from perceived danger by bodyguards at the Lobby restaurant in Canberra.



Return of Rudd could spark exodus from cabinet



LABOR faces a possible exodus of senior ministers should Kevin Rudd retake the leadership, with several members of cabinet confiding they would find it difficult to work under him again.  Speaking on the condition of anonymity, several cabinet ministers told the Herald yesterday that in the event of a leadership change, they would most likely go to the backbench.



Every which way it's Rudd

Three immovable realities are leading Labor MPs to an unpalatable decision to restore their dumped leader.   In a Chinese classic tale, a monk is sent on a long and dangerous journey to find sacred texts. For protection, Buddha gives him a mischievous monkey god.  The monkey, equipped with a flying cloud and a magic staff, is well-meaning but wayward. Buddha controls him by putting a golden band around his head; if he's veering out of control, the monk can tighten the band and inflict pain to bring the monkey in check.



Pro-Kevin Rudd MPs want Bill Shorten as Treasurer

LABOR'S leadership saga has taken a new twist with a radical plan being floated for Bill Shorten to become Treasurer if Kevin Rudd returns to the Prime Minister's office.  The push for Mr Shorten to be offered the second-most powerful job in the Government is being encouraged by MPs who want to change from Julia Gillard back to Mr Rudd. While one Labor figure said it was a "fantasy" to suggest Mr Rudd would give such a plumb job to one of the faceless men who toppled him as PM 19 months ago, others said it would be a clever tactic to heal the party and show Mr Rudd would be an inclusive leader.



Rudd would not race to poll

KEVIN Rudd would not rush to an early election if he regained the prime ministership from Julia Gillard, Labor sources say.   As Ms Gillard continued to be buffeted by a barrage of speculation about her future, it is understood Mr Rudd has changed his thinking on election timing from last year when he favoured seeking an early mandate.  His longer timetable - which would depend on retaining crossbench support - would reassure some caucus members.



Abbott needs magic to pull surplus out of a hat

The rest of the world started 2012 transfixed by the unfolding euro zone debt crisis. In Australia, we started with some confusion about whether the last global financial crisis happened at all.  Mostly we were worried about whether Labor would once again install Kevin Rudd in the merry-go-round of its leadership and what happened to Julia Gillard's blue shoe.



Groping for leadership in an hour of darkness

HAS there been a bigger lost opportunity in modern Australian politics than Kevin Rudd's decision not to go to an election in early 2010? Rudd and his government were still popular back then and could have expected to win that election, which would have been fought over the Coalition's abandonment of an emissions trading scheme under its new leader, Tony Abbott.  Importantly, the ALP would have almost certainly won a second term in its own right. There is every likelihood that Rudd would still be prime minister and the whole nightmare of the past two years would have been avoided. From Rudd's failure to call that early election, the whole sorry tale of federal Labor in 2010, 2011 and these first few weeks of 2012 flows.



MP Graham Perrett says he'll quit if Kevin Rudd returns

JULIA Gillard's supporters are warning that any shift to Kevin Rudd as prime minister would force "suicide" resignations from Labor MPs and a disastrous snap election, as ministers and backbenchers are being urged to close ranks and stop destabilising the government.  In the volatile atmosphere ahead of the resumption of parliament next week and the possibility of a leadership challenge to the Prime Minister within weeks, Ms Gillard's supporters are warning of forced by-elections if Mr Rudd becomes prime minister again.  The Foreign Minister's backers say the former prime minister can count on at least 25 votes in the Labor caucus, and up to 40 of the 52 he would need if a leadership spill occurred.





Religious Freedom & Persecution



Atheist temple an aberration, not divine inspiration

A lain de Botton has reinvigorated the conversation on religion. His new book, Religion for Atheists, moves away from the tedious debates of recent years to a more reflective consideration of religion's role in sustaining shared values.  Religion as a human phenomenon is too vast, pervasive and complicated to be discussed in simple binary terms of belief and unbelief. The evangelical atheists of the past few years may not be notable for sceptical doubt, but religious practitioners are often quite uncertain in their beliefs. De Botton is writing for the sceptics, whether they belong in any religion or not. It's a welcome shift of focus.





Refugees



Libs to reopen bigger, cheaper Nauru centre

THE Coalition has pledged to reopen an asylum-seeker processing centre on Nauru after receiving commercial capital costings of less than one-third of the Gillard government's $316 million building estimate, and less than half the $1.7 billion running costs.   A commercial contractor, involved in setting up the original offshore processing centre in Nauru under the Howard government Pacific Solution, has submitted a report suggesting a much cheaper option, with an extra 600 beds, than the Department of Immigration's estimate.  The opposition frontbench was briefed on Thursday on the proposal, and told there could be 350 beds at a smaller site within 12 weeks of reopening the detention centre.





Sexualisation of Society



Girlhood threatened by terrors of the web

LOG OFF your daughters. Keeping teenage girls off the internet is the basic premise of the latest parenting book to whip up controversy, Girl Land by American essayist Caitlin Flanagan, which will be out in Australia in April.  Released in the US at the start of the year and in Britain this week, Girl Land holds that a girlhood of diaries, daydreams and dates is under siege from the ''coarsening and deadening effect of the internet''. Flanagan argues that ''taking away the internet connection in her bedroom is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a daughter''.





Other



Child killer study finds diverse motives for men and women

HE BECAME known as the Facebook killer because it was on the social networking site that he broadcast his intention to kill his daughter: ''Bout 2 kill ma kid,'' wrote Ramazan Acar shortly before he murdered two-year-old Yazmina in Melbourne in November 2010 by stabbing her repeatedly. But it was less the medium than the motive that defined his crime.  Soon after that message, he posted another intended for his ex-partner, Rachelle D'Argent: ''Pay bk u slut.''



Fairfax bid: Is it insurance or a minefield?

FOR iron ore billionaire Andrew Forrest, Gina Rinehart's move this week to become Fairfax's largest shareholder is nothing if not serendipitous. For the mega-wealthy, control of Australia's most influential newspaper group, Fairfax, is like an insurance policy against political decisions that run against their commercial interests.  Rinehart has paid less than $200 million for this insurance and while she probably will have to pay more, the investment could yield a hefty return.  According to well-placed sources Rinehart was not the only candidate running the ruler over Fairfax - Forrest and his mate Kerry Stokes were sniffing around as well.



Homegrown jihad

The campsite on the 50,000-hectare cattle station in the red dirt country at Louth was booked by phone in the name of Adam George.  Expecting a group of feral fox and pig hunters on safari to the back of Bourke, the property owner left directions in a mailbox and saw just one man, who simply called himself ''Joe''.  The company Joe kept alarmed the locals. The seven men - led by Aimen Joud from Melbourne and Mohamed Ali Elomar from Sydney - got lost and had to ask for directions.



HSU whistleblower denies money laundering

THE Health Services Union whistleblower Kathy Jackson has been accused of destroying documents and laundering money through a colleague's bank account, according to a leaked email obtained by the Herald.  Ms Jackson, the national secretary of the union, has described the allegations as ''entirely false''.  Ruth Kershaw, a prominent union economist who previously worked with Ms Jackson at the Health Services Union in Melbourne, made the explosive claims in an email to Struan Robertson, a former industrial officer with the union and the half brother of the man at the centre of the scandal, federal Labor MP Craig Thomson.