Darkened minds - I wish to respond to Stuart Rintoul's article ("Outrage at suicide school exercise")

The Australian
Last year, whilst working as a teacher's aide, I went through The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by Irish novelist John Boyne with a group of "strugglers" in Year 7. For those of you who haven't read this book, it's about the son of a Nazi concentration camp commandant, and the friendship he develops with a young Jewish child in the camp. The key lesson of the book is to help children to see others as human beings just like themselves, and to see how ideology can influence people to do horrible things.

It's impossible to ensure "ultimate primacy to Australian values"

The Australian
Unless it is agreed that Judeo-Christian beliefs underpin traditional Australian culture ("Bowen unveils new strategy on multiculturalism", 17/2). Christianity, as the basis for life and law in Australia, was taken for granted when the Constitution was drawn up. It wasn't considered necessary, in those days, to spell it out. Multiculturalism wasn't meant to be the catalyst for watering down the Christian faith by declaring that Christianity has no greater value than any other faith -- yet this is what it does in practice. And, by doing this, it attacks the foundations on which our society is built. It's high time for the government to take a strong stand and make it clear that Christianity shapes our values in Australia.

UK gay couples can have church civil ceremonies

The Australian
Gay couples are to be allowed civil partnership ceremonies in churches, Britain's government said today - erasing some of the last remaining distinctions between gay partnerships and traditional marriages. Although marriage and civil partnership are already similar under British law, civil partnership ceremonies are currently not allowed to have religious references, are banned from churches, and must take place in a public building overseen by a government registrar. The change, being introduced under equality laws, will give same-sex couples the chance to tie the knot in religious buildings - although the government stressed that churches can opt out if they wish to. "No religious group will be forced to host a civil partnership registration, but for those who wish to do so this is an important step forward," said Home Secretary Theresa May.

Reshuffle of Anna Bligh's front bench could set up early election

Courier Mail
Queensland ministers Robert Schwarten and Desley Boyle will step down from their portfolios. Anna Bligh is set to place her administration on an election footing more than a year before the poll is due, with a radically reshaped frontbench. The Queensland Premier yesterday revealed plans to reshuffle her Cabinet after two ministers announced they would move to the backbench from Monday and retire at the next election. Public Works Minister Robert Schwarten and Local Government Minister Desley Boyle both announced they would not contest while a third, likely to be Tourism Minister Peter Lawlor, is expected to make his retirement announcement today.

Labor gives power back to people

Simon Benson - The Daily Telegraph
Union influence over the Labor Party would be diluted under radical reforms suggested in the wake of the near-disastrous federal election. A report also recommends giving the public a direct say in choosing local Labor candidates and shifting to the US style "primaries" system of federal elections. Labor sources have revealed that the party's election campaign review - headed by former NSW premier Bob Carr, former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks and Federal MP John Faulkner - has recommended breaking the back of the trade union movement's influence over the ALP.

It's not Alan Jones party ... but he'll cry if he wants to

The Daily Telegraph
Powerful Sydney radio broadcaster Alan Jones has been dragged into an ugly Liberal Party brawl that threatens to damage Tony Abbott's leadership. In an extraordinary move, the talkback king has privately warned he will "name and shame" two Liberal MPs he claims are trying to destabilise the Opposition Leader. Mr Jones, a fan of Mr Abbott's conservative political views, has pointed the finger at South Australian Jamie Briggs and Queenslander Steve Ciobo. He has told senior Coalition figures they were behind efforts to undermine party unity by challenging their leader. Mr Jones - who has a daily audience of about 500,000 - passed his blunt message on to Coalition health spokesman Peter Dutton earlier this week.

Fingerprints of Chief Justice seen in High Court unanimity

The High Court has been growing more unanimous and is becoming increasingly keen to tackle constitutional questions in a way that limits the power of governments, annual analysis of its decisions has shown. At the same time, the court was widely praised for its decisions, rather than derided as illegitimate and out of control, as it had been under the leadership of previous chief justices, according to two law academics from the University of NSW.

Design flaw? A fired NASA employee says he was let go because of his belief in intelligent design

Edward Lee Pitts - World Mag
On Christmas Eve, 1968, as a Super Bowl-sized viewing audience watched on television, the crew of moon-orbiting Apollo 8 took turns reading from the creation story in the first chapter of Genesis. David Coppedge remembers that moment. He also remembers astronaut Buzz Aldrin's quoting of Psalm 8 as the Apollo 11 mission returned in July 1969: "'When I consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the Moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; What is man that Thou art mindful of him?'" But it seems that times have changed. Coppedge, a longtime computer administrator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), lost his job on Jan. 24, nearly two years after he was demoted for his support of intelligent design.