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.




Give boys cancer jab as well, say experts

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee has proposed that Gardasil vaccinations should be administered to boys to prevent throat and anus cancers. ALL teenage boys would be vaccinated against the sexually transmitted disease that causes some forms of cancer under an extension of a scheme now available to girls, the federal government's expert panel has recommended.  The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee has proposed Gardasil vaccinations, available to all girls to protect against cervical cancer, should be administered to boys to prevent throat and anus cancers triggered by the human papilloma virus (HPV). About 400 cases a year can be attributed to the virus.

Children & Family

Parents, that bundle of joy is really a beelzebub!

MOST couples assume having children will make them happier. But time and again researchers find parents are no happier than childless couples. More often children seem to bring unhappiness. Whether measuring life satisfaction, marital satisfaction, mental health, or happiness levels, parents often rate worse than non-parents. New research shows it does not have to be that way. The secret to parental happiness lies in a spirit of generosity towards one's partner, according to a study from the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, called When Baby Makes Three. How often partners express affection for each other, their willingness to forgive each other's faults, the small acts of service, such as making a cup of tea or giving a back rub, appear crucial in sustaining a couple through the shoals of parenthood.

Human Rights

Rudd seeks action on torture allegations involving Palestinian children

AUSTRALIA will raise concerns with Israel about its juvenile military court system, which has been accused of jailing and torturing Palestinian children as young as 12. Following a report in The Weekend Australian Magazine three weeks ago, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has instructed Australian diplomats to visit the juvenile military court.  The diplomats have been told to report to Mr Rudd on the conditions they find at the Ofer military prison, near Jerusalem.  According to a statement from Mr Rudd’s office, he has also instructed Australian officials to initiate a meeting with Israeli authorities to raise concerns about the system under which Palestinian children are tried.  Sixty of Israel's leading psychologists, academics and child experts have written to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that "offensive arrests and investigations that ignore the law do not serve to maintain public order and safety".


Lindsay and Blue Mountains MPs say no to gay marriage

FEDERAL MPs David Bradbury (Lindsay, Labor) and Louise Markus (Blue Mountains, Liberal) will not support a Bill to amend the Marriage Act to allow same-sex marriages.  While the ALP national conference decided to allow a conscience vote on gay marriage, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has ruled that out for his party.  Mr Bradbury said he would support the retention of the existing definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Gillard and Abbott's bipartisanship on gay nuptials is based on a fallacy

POLITICIANS reveal their true character through whom they fear. Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott remain terrified of working families, which is why they find themselves on the same side of the aisle in the gay marriage debate and why they are prepared to trash the traditions of their respective parties to agree with one another. Remember it is Labor that used to bind its caucus to vote as one, while the Liberals traditionally allowed MPs to cross the floor without fear of retribution.  But Gillard and Abbott have read the parliament as largely supportive of gay marriage, and the electorate as uninterested. While these two factors would normally assure reform, the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader don't trust democracy on this topic.

Overseas Aid

Lift aid, postpone surplus – Gates

THE billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has suggested the Gillard government could delay next year's prized return to surplus and increase its overseas aid budget instead. Mr Gates, who is on holiday in Sydney with his wife Melinda and their three children, took time to speak to the Herald about his future plans and his passion - global philanthropy.  He also ruled out speculation that he might return to the helm of Microsoft.

The stingy rich need to dig deep

If you are over 40 and pulling in an executive's salary, here is a maths problem to ponder at Christmas. Are you giving at least 7.5 per cent of your pre-tax income to charity? Do the sums.  Hopefully you will discover you give double. These proportions are considered the base range for philanthropic giving by the prominent Australian philanthropist and fund-raiser Bill Ferris, who doesn't let younger high-fliers, with their mortgages, off the hook either. The under-40s, he says, should be giving away between 2.5 per cent and 10 per cent of their pre-tax income.


Beleaguered Labor caught in a perfect storm

THE 2011 year inaugurated what is best called the New Australian Stress -- the nation is tied to Asia's growth cycle, susceptible to the economic crisis in the rich world, yet trapped in a domestic political mire that threatens to drown Gillard Labor.  To visitors Australia presents an incomprehensible paradox. The nation that survives the rich world financial crisis better than almost anybody has a Labor government burdened by flawed leadership, division and the worst ratings since polling began.  The disillusionment in Australia seems trivial compared with the problems of Europe and America. It is, however, meaningful in its own right. It testifies to alienation within the political system, equivocation about Australia's future path and the doubt over whether such a weakened government can deliver the reforms the nation needs.

Labor's Right falls in behind embattled Gillard

LABOR'S dominant Right faction has locked in behind Julia Gillard, declaring its allegiance despite party disquiet over the Prime Minister's performance in the wake of this week's ministerial reshuffle.  And government hard heads appear to have quelled dissent in ministerial ranks, with Resources Minister Martin Ferguson yesterday praising Ms Gillard a day after refusing to declare his loyalty.  Mr Ferguson's clarification of his position came as MPs advocating the return of former prime minister Kevin Rudd turned their guns on Wayne Swan, criticising his performance as Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer.

Defiant Gillard: I'm here to stay

"I think we've got to remember that the predictions this time last year were the government wouldn't last" ... Prime Minister Julia Gillard.  FURTHER interest rate cuts need to be a central element of Australia's defence against recession should the financial crisis in Europe worsen beyond expectations, Julia Gillard says.  In an end-of-year interview with the Herald, the Prime Minister was also defiant amid building leadership tension between her and Kevin Rudd, saying her government would last the full term and she would lead it to the election.  ''As we move towards the end of 2011 and start looking to 2012, I think we've got to remember that the predictions this time last year were the government wouldn't last,'' she said. ''I've never had the slightest doubt that this government would go to the next election at the normal cycle in the second half of 2013. I'd hope that as we leave 2011, more people will share my view than perhaps used to.''

Leader speculation froth and bubble, says Gillard

JULIA Gillard has dismissed leadership speculation as part of the surface froth and bubble of politics - but yesterday forced a senior minister to issue a statement of support for her. With the leadership issue surfacing again after her controversial reshuffle, Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said his comments on Thursday failing to back Ms Gillard had been ''misconstrued''. Ms Gillard is believed to have been concerned when Mr Ferguson, asked whether he had shifted support to Mr Rudd, said he was ''loyal to the Labor Party'', adding he had a ''very professional relationship'' with both Ms Gillard and Kevin Rudd.

Shorten's new mission: burn Abbott

Labor is set to turn up the heat on workplace relations next year.  God knows it has caused her enough pain, but Julia Gillard is banking on one big potential benefit from her reshuffle - that industrial relations, which Labor regards as a natural strength, can be turned into a bushfire to burn Tony Abbott and that Bill Shorten is the man who can effectively wield the fire-stick. Given this is Labor's turf, the party should be doing a lot better. An October Newspoll found the ALP ahead of the Coalition 39-35 per cent as best party to handle IR. In July 2010, it led 53-27 per cent.  If 2011 (and the years before) saw a huge debate on climate change, it will be the turn of workplace relations next year. As a policy area, this has been relatively quiet since the tumultuous days of WorkChoices, followed by its dismantling.


Christopher Hitchens Has Died, Doug Wilson Reflects

Editor's Note: Christopher Hitchens has died at the age of 62. A statement from Vanity Fair said that he died Thursday night at cancer center in Houston of pneumonia, a complication of his esophageal cancer. CT asked Douglas Wilson to weigh in on the life and death of the prominent atheist. (The image on our homepage features Wilson, left, and Hitchens in a mock arm wrestling match.)  Christopher Hitchens was a celebrity intellectual, and, as such, the basic outlines of his life are generally well known. But for those just joining us, Christopher Hitchens was the older of two sons, born to Eric and Yvonne in April 1949. He discovered as a schoolboy that probing questions about the veracity of the Christian faith were part of a discussion that he "liked having." His younger brother, Peter, followed him in unbelief. But unlike Christopher, Peter publicly returned to the Church of England, the communion where they had both been baptized.

Unarguably the end of the line for Hitchens, atheist, intellectual and 'charmer'

"Looking death more closely in the eye, as I have been doing, doesn't teach you much that you don't already know, surprisingly" ... Christopher Hitchens.   FOR Australians who saw Christopher Hitchens, the robust polemicist, in a linen suit with a glass in his hand onstage in Sydney last year, it is hard to believe that he has died at 62 from oesophageal cancer.  On diagnosis of his illness, Hitchens cut short the publicity tour for his memoir Hitch-22 shortly after he attracted record-breaking crowds at the 2010 Sydney Writers' Festival to hear his views on topics ranging from the Iraq War (for) to women's humour (against).

In God he trusts - Tim Tebow fuels the American divide

HIS fans say he is streaking towards a divinely sanctioned destiny. His critics believe he is a pretender whose time is running out.  And the pundits in the middle suspect he is on his way to becoming the most controversial American sportsman since the heyday of Muhammad Ali.  Meet Tim Tebow, the God-fearing quarterback of the Denver Broncos and the ost talked-about athlete in America.  Two things have made Tebow famous. First is a winning streak that has been so strange and unexpected that commentators have asked quite seriously whether divine providence has played a part.