Charter review attracts a flood of templates

Chris Merrett - The Australian

ABOUT half the submissions to Victoria's review of its Charter of Rights are based on just three template documents.

About 3500 submissions had been received by Wednesday and just 100 were described as "substantive" by a parliamentary official.

Rights Charter's vague abstractions must be repealed

James Allan - The Australian

IMAGINE that someone stood up and proclaimed "I'm against cruelty" or "I'm in favour of patriotism".

Do you think those sort of bald proclamations, couched as they are in vague, amorphous moral abstractions, give you any idea of where that person would draw the line on specific issues such as how cattle should be treated when being shipped to market? Or what that person's view of David Hicks would be?

Censors struggle to catch the naughty bits

Michaela Boland - The Australian

THE rapid evolution of new media has brought manifold opportunities for artists and filmmakers but it also has rendered obsolete Australia's censorship laws.

Take the example of phone apps and computer games. Every one of the half-million games and apps available is required to be classified. Clearly they haven't been. To have processed so many titles and products would have been an impossible task for the Classification Board, originally set up to classify films and literature but which also now examines DVDs and videos.

Experts call for reform of living wills

Kirsten Garrett - ABC News

There are growing calls to change the law around living wills, or advance care directives, that allow people to set out their wishes for end of life care in advance.

As people near death, many lose the ability to communicate, and senior legal officers in New South Wales and Victoria say reform is sorely needed at a state and national level.

Victoria's former public advocate, Julian Gardner, says the current law is so complex that doctors may not follow a patient's wishes to stop life-prolonging treatment.

Dalai Lama arrives in Australia


ON Wednesday the Dalai Lama did his block.

But in the spirit of compassion and enlightenment he has embodied almost all of his life, he had forgiven himself by today .

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th reincarnation of the first Dalai Lama, began his fifth tour of Australia similarly to his first - with a lot of laughter, some ordinary good sense and a delightful openness.

No-gay Glee: Leeton High School musical leaves out Kurt Hummel accused of homophobia

Neil Keene – The Daily Telegraph

A HIGH school has been accused of homophobia after leaving a key gay character out of its Glee tribute musical.

Leeton High School, in Leeton, NSW, copped criticism after it emerged that its musical would not include one of the TV show's lead characters, openly gay teen Kurt Hummel.

Carbon death threats go cold

Andrew Carswell – The Daily Telegraph

CLAIMS prominent climate change scientists had recently received death threats have been revealed as an opportunistic ploy, with the Australian National University admitting that they occurred up to five years ago.

'Poll-driven' Labor risks voter flight

Michelle Grattan – The Age

LABOR has become so reliant on focus groups that it now ''listens more to those who don't belong to it than to those who do'', party elder statesman John Faulkner has said, in a swingeing attack on the ALP's narrow and undemocratic practices.

Door closed to latest boat arrivals: Bowen

Kirsty Needham and Tom Allard – The Age

THE 274 asylum seekers and crew who have arrived on Christmas Island since the Malaysia policy was announced will be processed in another country, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen confirmed yesterday.

Assisted suicide to air on BBC TV

Gordon Rayner – The Age

A FEW days after Peter Smedley's death last December, his close friends found individually written letters from him in their post, telling each one how much they had meant to him.

Unwanted message: vandals interfere with another Islam billboard

Stephanie Gardiner – The Sydney Morning Herald

Vandals have interfered with another of the provocative billboards along Sydney roads offering information about Islam, but organisers say they will push on with their campaign to "build bridges".

Strength helps women muscle into combat

Dan Oakes – The Sydney Morning Herald

AUSTRALIAN women could be qualified for frontline combat roles by late next year, raising the prospect of them fighting insurgents in Afghanistan.

Canberra backs new Libya

Dan Oakes – The Sydney Morning Herald

AUSTRALIA has joined a handful of countries in cutting off the Libyan regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and recognising the opposition as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people.

'Good for soul': Aborigines back constitution change

Michael Gordon – The Sydney Morning Herald

THE campaign to recognise indigenous Australians in the constitution has cleared its first big hurdle, with most members of the new body for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders backing the change.

Feeding children addictive drugs

Daniel Feher – The Drum

Would you give your child cocaine or amphetamines? Let’s hope the answer is no. However, both of these stimulant drugs are plant derivatives found in nature... just like caffeine, the most widely used mood altering substance on the planet.