Bloody violence on the Wii console

A new shooter game on the family friendly Nintendo Wii puts a realistic sniper rifle in players' hands. Sniper Elite comes with a replica sniper rifle game controller, complete with telescopic sight. A promo for the game says it takes "the art of sniping ... to the extreme". "When you make an extreme sniper shot, the view follows the path of the bullet in slow motion, while the camera rotates around the bullet, making for exceptionally satisfying kills."

Greens forced to back down on Israel boycott

A Greens-dominated Sydney council was last night forced to abandon its bid to implement a boycott of goods and services from Israel, after a fiery meeting that lasted more than three hours.   Two of the five Greens on Marrickville Council repeatedly split from their colleagues by refusing to back motions to water down the original proposal to support the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign.  The council finally passed a motion that resolved not to pursue the BDS "in any form" with the support of the same Greens councillors, Peter Olive and Max Phillips, four Labor councillors and two independents.

George Wright doesn't belong to a faction and wants to promote consensus

George lives more than 900km from Sussex Street, prefers Spanish food over Chinese and doesn't belong to a faction.  The ALP's new national secretary, endorsed unanimously by the party's national executive yesterday, defies the stereotype of a Labor faceless man.  But the former ACTU tactician from Melbourne, who will be based there in his new job, comes with strong Labor credentials and, importantly, the imprimatur of Julia Gillard.

Julia Gillard to tackle China on human rights

Julia Gillard says she will raise human rights with political leaders in China including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.  The Prime Minister will face her toughest diplomatic test as Prime Minister on her upcoming three nation North Asia trip, with stops in Japan, South Korea and China.   “I will of course be raising human rights (with China),” she told ABC 24 before leaving for Japan tomorrow.

What the veil reveals

When President Barack Obama gave his 2009 speech to the Muslim world from Cairo, he stated, "The U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it."   It was a curious statement—a leader of the free world speaking of the "right" of women to be hidden, excluded.   Hijab literally means "veil" or "curtain" and was inaugurated to distinguish the prophet Muhammad's wives as his property. Later, the caliphs housed their women in harems to shelter them from public view. Both harem and hijab fell out of fashion early in the 20th century, but with the rise of Islamic radicalism in the 1980s, the hijab (with the modern addition of the niqab, the fully veiled face) made a comeback.

California May Require Teaching of Gay History

In California public schools, students are required to learn about black history and women’s history. And if a bill approved by the State Senate this week becomes law, the state will become the first in the country to mandate that schools also teach gay history.   While the bill does not set specific requirements about what should be taught to students, it does say that contributions of gays and lesbians in the state and country must be included in social science instruction. So Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in the state, and Bayard Rustin, a civil rights activist, may take a prominent place in the state’s history books.   Advocates say that teaching about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in schools would prevent bullying and shatter stereotypes that some students may harbor. They point to several students who have committed suicide after being taunted by peers for being gay. But the bill has drawn vociferous criticism from opponents who argue that when and how to talk about same-sex relationships should be left to parents.

It started with a kiss: Gay protests in your Facebook

This week, Facebook pages have been brimming over with pictures of same-sex couples kissing. The pictures are a protest against Facebook because a photo (actually a still from EastEnders) of two blokes having a pash was removed.   Facebook have now apologised, saying the removal was a mistake. Maybe it was, but people are right to be cynical when discrimination against gay people is still seen as OK by many sections of society.    Growing up, there were some things I couldn’t get my head around. Differential equations were one, homophobia was another.   I came from a progressive place. As an atheist kid at a Catholic school, I was brought up on a diet of inclusion, acceptance and love. You know, all the good Christian stuff and very little of the bad.

Facebook apologises after John Snow Kiss-In pic of men snogging taken down 'in error'

Facebook has been forced to apologise to its users after a picture of two men kissing mysteriously disappeared from its website.  In an email to, Facebook’s US-based Public Policy Communications Manager Andrew Noyes said that: “The photo in question does not violate our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and was removed in error. We apologize for the inconvenience.”  The picture in question is a publicity still from BBC series EastEnders, and was used to promote the John Snow Kiss-In - an anti-homophobia event held in a London pub last Friday.