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

Androids new voice assistant seems to be a pro-life Bible quoting creationist


Jesus Diaz - Gizmodo





I‘m sure Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos doesn’t know about this, but he’s funding a seemingly Christian extremist search engine that is anti-abortion, anti-evolution, racist and even thinks that rape may be justifiable. It’s called ChaCha, and it powers Android’s most popular Siri competitor, Iris. Like Siri before, Iris is now being accused of being anti-abortion. But while Siri’s anti-abortion stand proved to be a technical problem caused by its beta status, Iris seems truly and openly anti-abortion.
















Classification

You can't read this book: Censorship in an age of freedom by Nick Cohen – review


Denis MacShane - The Observer





One of the comforting myths of our times is that we have seen a massive expansion of freedom of expression. Perhaps a price has been paid in the explosion of inequalities between and within nations and in religious wars harking back to the 17th century. But, what the heck, these are regrettable side-effects of a much freer, better informed world. Twitter and Facebook, together with fearless journalists and human rights lawyers, have massively expanded the boundaries of freedom, so the argument runs. Look at Iran, Egypt, Libya or China. Surely social media and the inventors of Google and Wikipedia have dumped the censor in the dustbin of history. Nothing could be further from the truth.














Drugs & Alcohol

Pregnant women still drinking


Cathy O'Leary - SMH





Health researchers say more needs to be done to warn pregnant women not to drink alcohol, as new figures show one in five continue to drink even once they find out they are having a baby. A study of data from the 2011 National Drug Strategy Household Survey shows pregnant women over age 35 are ignoring warnings about associated health risks.
















Drugs, cash seized

Callan Lawrence - Blacktown Sun





A drug bust by Blacktown detectives last week may be linked to a $25 million haul of heroin and ice, as well as $300,000 in cash and guns. The operation to break the drug syndicate gained momentum on Tuesday when police stopped a car in Brussels Crescent, Rooty Hill, and say the male driver, 42, was in possession of two grams of the drug ice.














Human Rights

Burma: CSW returns from Kachin State with evidence of continuing grave human rights violations


Dan Wooding - ASSIST Ministries





A team from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) returned this week from a three-week fact-finding visit to Rangoon and Kachin State on the China-Burma border, where the CSW team recorded evidence of grave human rights violations. CSW told the ASSIST News Service that its team interviewed internally displaced people (IDPs) from Kachin State and northern Shan State, and heard first-hand testimonies of killings of civilians, torture, the destruction of homes, churches and villages. CSW also received reports of rape.


















Marriage

Gay marriage bills make their ill-fated debut


Jessica Wright - SMH





Two separate private member's bills to legalise same-sex marriage will be introduced today in a historic move for the gay rights movement. Labor backbencher Stephen Jones will present his bill to legalise gay marriage while Greens MP Adam Bandt and Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie will sponsor a second bill. Mr Wilkie's bill, however, carries a caveat that religious ministers will not be obliged to perform same-sex ceremonies.














PM praised for help in planning passage of same-sex marriage bill

Dan Harrison, Tim Lester, Josephine Tovey - SMH





As federal Parliament considers three separate bills to legalise gay marriage, the Labor backbencher behind one of them has revealed the Prime Minister's role in getting his bill to the floor of Parliament. Stephen Jones yesterday introduced a private member's bill to allow same-sex couples to marry, just moments after the Greens MP Adam Bandt introduced a similar bill, which is being co-sponsored by the independent Andrew Wilkie.












Valentine's means marriage for 200 in NSW

NineNews





At least 100 couples are expected to create a Valentine's Day they'll remember, by saying "I do" in ceremonies across NSW on Tuesday. The NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages estimates that more than 200 people will marry in NSW on February 14. Thirty-five of those couples will wed at the state's registry offices, with 19 choosing to tie the knot on Tuesday at the Sydney office in Chippendale, according to NSW Registrar Greg Curry. "Valentine's Day is busy here at the registry with so many couples getting married," Mr Curry said in a statement.












Poster couple for gay rights divorcing

Irene Moore and Cary Berglund - NBC Bay Area News





When gay couples first sought the right to legally wed in California, they argued that they were entitled to all of the benefits of marital bliss. It was only a matter of time before that benefit extended to the right to split up. Even as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found California's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional Tuesday, one of the state's first gay couples to tie the knot was calling it quits.












Wallsend church expresses opposition to same-sex marriage

Newcastle Herald





At the same time bills to legalise same-sex marriage were introduced in Federal Parliament yesterday a church in Wallsend was expressing its opposition. Wallsend Presbyterian Church on Nelson Street updated its message board last week and session clerk Doug Smiley confirmed it was in response to the proposed legislation. The message displayed read, ‘‘Even tradies know you need both male and female joints to make a marriage’’.














Overseas Aid

Chaos rules as aid floods into freezing Afghan refugee camps


Rod Nordland - SMH





The 6000 refugees living in the Charahi Qambar camp did not object when US soldiers came by on Saturday to deliver 1100 blankets for the families there. Nor did they mention that the day before, an Afghan aid group, Aschiana, had also made a delivery of blankets, and was planning to come back with clothing - at least the third such donation in a few days, the others coming from businessmen.
















Politics

Newspoll has Tony Abbott back in lead as Labor splits grow

Dennis Shanahan - The Australian





Tony Abbott has again overtaken Julia Gillard as preferred prime minister as the Coalition continues to dominate a federal Labor Party distracted by leadership divisions. Voter satisfaction with the Opposition Leader has risen in the past two weeks, with Mr Abbott's personal position the best it has been since October. The Prime Minister's standing has sunk to its lowest level since November - before the positive impact for the Gillard government of the visits of the Queen and US President Barack Obama.












Julia Gillard jumped the gun before kevin Rudd was knifed

Phillip Hudson - Herald Sun





Julia Gillard's staff were working on a "victory speech" two weeks before she toppled Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister. But Ms Gillard insists she did not ask for the speech to be written and did not make the decision to challenge her leader until the day it happened. New claims have also emerged that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanded a meeting with Washington Ambassador Kim Beazley a fortnight before the coup, seeking assurances that a change of PM would not be bad for America.














Prostitution & Sex Trafficking

Sex workers who will 'do anything' blamed for syphilis outbreak in Mount Isa


Townsville Bulletin





Mount Isa's booming illegal prostitution trade has been blamed for an outbreak of syphilis in the northwestern mining town. The State Government on Sunday launched an education campaign in northwest communities to raise awareness about the curable sexually transmissible infection and encourage residents to have regular testing. Five cases of syphilis have been reported in the Mount Isa Health Service District already this year. There were 16 cases in the region in 2010 and more than 80 cases in 2011.
















Religious Freedom & Persecution

Nigeria: Forces infiltrated by Boko Haram, Jonathan almost left hopeless


Emmanuel Mayah - All Africa





Travelling the 700-kilometre-route from Baga to Kano is a death wish. Since the first Boko Haram bomb went off in Maiduguri last year, fish traders from the Lake Chad region of Chad Republic have seen enough human parts on the streets and now avoid northern Nigerian markets like a plague. Such is the handiwork of the Boko Haram. Cities like Damaturu, Potiskum, Kano, Bauchi, Jos and Katsina are also crawling with Muslim extremists and their sympathisers, some of them in the police and the other armed forces. In January a Mitsubishi bus with six Christian passengers fleeing the carnage in Maiduguri took the chance of refuelling at Potiskum. Hardly had the attendant started the pump than some men on motorbikes, armed with AK 47, pulled in. They shot dead the travellers, including a woman and a baby. Such horrific massacres hardly make the headlines anymore in today's Nigeria: they are eclipsed by even more macabre killings as Boko Haram jihadists mix sadism with showmanship. Newspapers headlines are literally in red.


















Refugees

Tough laws on people smuggling are a con


Michael Duffy - SMH





Occasionally I spend a day wandering from trial to trial in the Downing Centre, Sydney's giant justice factory. It's one way of keeping in touch with certain aspects of the city. A while ago I began to notice small dark men in the dock, always with an interpreter. These are the crew from the Indonesian boats that carry asylum seekers to our shores, charged with people smuggling and farmed out by the Commonwealth to the states for justice. There are lots of them: as of last September, almost 200 had been convicted and another 251 were due before the courts.
















Sexualisation of Society

Online shopping trend for Valentines? Sex toys, sex dolls as gifts


Christine Gaylican - IB Times





Online shopping trend these days saw a rise in purchases of sex dolls and sex toys, according to site Alibaba.com. In a statement, the buyers and suppliers website Alibaba.com said the site has been swamped with enquiries for sex dolls, vibrators and dildos in the months leading up to Valentine's Day, with searches for plastic partners alone increasing by 240 per cent year on year.














Other

Carers prey on vulnerable children and the disabled


Peter Mickelburough - Herald Sun





Vulnerable children and the disa led are being assaulted or sexually attacked by their carers and case workers almost daily. Records obtained by the Herald Sun reveal for the first time the shocking toll of misery perpetrated by people whose role is to protect the state's most defenceless and fragile. More than two Department of Human Services clients are attacked every day on average, with almost 1800 assaults, sex attacks or rape allegations reported in 30 months to July last year. In more than 500 cases state-appointed staff and carers were accused.












Christians join tributes to Whitney Houston

Christian Today





Christians were today joining the world in paying tribute to Whitney Houston. Houston’s untimely death at the age of 48 has come as a shock to the music world and those close to her. Her godmother, soul singer Aretha Franklin, said it was “stunning and unbelievable”. Music mogul Simon Cowell said Houston had “one of the greatest voices I have ever heard in my life, ever” Civil rights campaigner the Rev Al Sharpton led prayers for the singer during today's Sunday service at the Second Baptist Church, in Los Angeles.












St Barnabas, the famous Sydney church set to make return after fire


Vikki Campion Urban - The Daily Telegraph





For decades a little neon golfer on Elizabeth St never missed, Eternity was chalked on footpaths, while the pub and the pastor on Broadway sent witty quips back and forth. But while some of Sydney's most well-known images, objects and landmarks are lost forever to history, one is making a return.