Man 1, God 0 in school chaplains case
A father won the first round in his historic battle yesterday to have government-funded chaplains thrown out of the nation's public schools. Ron Williams journeyed from Toowoomba to Sydney yesterday for a directions hearing in his challenge and was thrilled to hear that his case could be heard in the High Court over three days in May. This is a very important moment," a jubilant Mr Williams said yesterday.

Elton John's new family too obscene for US
A US supermarket has come under fire for censoring a magazine cover featuring a photo of Elton John, his husband and their new baby boy. The Harps store in rural Mountain Home, Arkansas placed plastic covers with the words - "Family Shield. To protect young Harps shoppers" - over the copies of the current edition of Us Weekly celebrity magazine.  Shopper Jennifer Huddleston said she was offended after spotting the magazines earlier this week. She posted a photograph on Twitter where she vented her outrage.

No lies, no inventions - poverty in Australia is awfully real
Eleven per cent of Australians live in poverty - seriously.  Having written about poverty and homelessness in Australian newspapers for more than a decade, I am constantly intrigued by the number of indignant letters I receive from people who are adamant that what I write is a lie.  Alongside genuinely constructive or sympathetic feedback, each article also elicits impassioned responses from people who are certain of one thing: there is no poverty in Australia.  The facts as they see them are clear-cut: people who are homeless choose to be so, and those on welfare benefits should get jobs.

Thousands of suicides show the system’s broken
Entrepreneur and philanthropist Simon McKeon succeeded Professor Patrick McGorry as Australian of the Year yesterday. Yet in the year of Professor McGorry’s reign, the Federal Labor Government has largely remained silent on the very issue McGorry was recognised for; mental health.  According to the most recent figures, 2,191 Australians took their own lives in 2008.   Statistics tell us at least ten times that - another 20,000 - were hospitalised for self harm or an attempt. And this is a conservative figure, with ongoing debate about discrepancies between ABS figures, and coroner and police reports.

Abbott shifts his position on vote
Tony Abbott's Coalition has shifted its long-held position that indigenous recognition in the Constitution should be limited to the preamble, saying it is open to more substantial acknowledgment.  In a move that will bolster the chances of Aborigines achieving the change many want, Liberal MP Ken Wyatt, who at the last election became the first Aboriginal member of the House of Representatives, declared that the Coalition would look at all the options put forward by an expert committee set up by Julia Gillard to examine the issue.  Ahead of the expert panel's first meeting next month, Mr Wyatt, who is a member of the panel, said the Coalition was willing to negotiate on its final position on the referendum question put to the public.

Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei joins Egyptian uprising
Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, one of Egypt's most prominent dissidents, left for Cairo last night to join in mass protests that have rocked the country and are set to escalate today after Friday prayers.  Mohamed ElBaradei, whose return to Egypt early last year galvanised the country's faltering opposition, was in Vienna when tens of thousands of his countrymen started protests across Egypt on Wednesday, calling for a change of government.  As he left Vienna for Cairo last night, Dr ElBaradei - the former head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency - said he was "ready to lead the transition" to democracy in Egypt.

We must act for ourselves, not the US

By Malcolm Fraser
Better diplomacy depends on changing a flawed relationship.  The Age's diplomatic editor, Daniel Flitton, wrote an interesting article on Tuesday about the need for a more confident diplomacy in Asia, and in that he is certainly right.   But he left out two important aspects that significantly influence our relationship, not only with Asia, but with many countries further a field.  After the Vietnam War, our acceptance of tens of thousands of refugees from Vietnam and other parts of Indochina made people believe that the White Australia policy was well and truly buried.

Red zone defense
Roe v. Wade | Abortion proponents are defending their own bloody red zone against a reinvigorated pro-life movement.  Last year Markai Durham, a girl featured on MTV's 16 and Pregnant with her boyfriend James, found herself pregnant again. She explored her options, talked with her mother and best friend, and discussed with her boyfriend their financial situation and the daughter they already had. Then she made the choice they all said only she could make. But the pain seeped through.  Markai's voice broke when she called the abortion business to ask for information: "Afterwards, do you know, like, how I'll be or how I'll feel?" After the abortion, when her boyfriend called her baby a "thing," she lashed out: "You would never feel my pain. You weren't the one in the surgery room. I was there." Markai pointed to their curly-haired baby, "A 'thing' can turn out like that. . . . 'Nothing but a bunch of cells' can be her."