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News: New poker machine campaign launches.

New poker machine campaign launches

Stop the Loss, a new campaign that raises awareness about the damage problem gambling has in the community, launched today. The campaign features the image of a young girl whose parents aren’t home to care for her, feed her, or help with her homework. Speaking on behalf of the Coalition, Tim Costello said the ads are a powerful reminder that poker machines cause real harm that had to be matched with real reform. “Poker machine addiction is tearing thousands of Australian families apart and these new ads reflect this devastation through the eyes of a child,” Rev Costello said. “Every year $12 billion is sucked out of Australian pockets and into poker machines with 40 per cent of the losses coming from around 100,000 addicts. These people are losing their jobs, their marriages, their homes and in too many tragic cases their lives.” After appearing to double-cross Independent MP and pokie reform campaigner Andrew Wilkie when it picked up new votes in the lower house, promising instead to introduce a mandatory pre-commitment trial after 2014 instead of passing legislative reform before the end of the government’s term. Today Mr Wilkie pulled his support for the watered down measures, saying he would only get on board again if amendments were made and machines came both pre-commitment and $1 bet limit ready after 2014.

Here’s the new campaign from Stop the Loss:

Parents want schools to teach religion fairly

Some Victorian parents are taking the school system to court, arguing their children should learn about all religions in school or none at all. Fairness in Religions in School believes “Sunday school lessons” by church volunteers should be replaced by “culturally diverse and unbiased” classes. The group is taking the Victorian Department of Education to the state civil administrative tribunal in a hearing scheduled to last seven days.

Parents’ group spokesman Scott Hedges said the case did not oppose teaching Christianity in schools, but sought to ensure religious studies was culturally diverse and unbiased.

“We are parents who feel this hurts our children,” Mr Hedges said. “The Government is allowing church volunteers to use the schools effectively to teach a Sunday school lesson.

“What we want is religion taught by teachers as cultural studies.”

Do you support them? Why?

– In New South Wales, ethics classes have been proposed as alternatives to religion classes. But will they ‘ruin our kids’?? Mamamia took a look.

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More cruelty claims at Indonesian abattoirs

The animal rights organisation that uncovered horrific butchering practices in Indonesia last year has filmed fresh instances of unregulated slaughter in Jakarta, Indonesia. Animals Australia filmed the footage in January, months after the Australian Government passed strict new legislation to ensure Australian producers exported to approved abattoirs. Fairfax reported:

A screenshot from the first footage to be revealed

The footage [which is graphic and can be seen here] includes a slaughterman at Temur Petir stabbing at the face of a cow with a blunt metal file while it is in a restraint box. The animal jumps onto its hind legs as it attempts to climb out of the box.

Animals Australia is confident the abattoir is part of an accredited supply chain, though doubts remain. The government is reviewing the footage.

The video, a complaint and a report from the RSPCA was handed to the agriculture department last Friday who are now investigating. RSPCA chief scientist Bidda Jones identified dozens of breaches of the new supply chain assurance rules, which were introduced to protect animal welfare following the crisis last year.

– Here’s how the original live export ban story broke and what happened next.

– If you want a quick guide to what happens to your food before you eat it in Australia, check this out.

Why do people deface online memorial pages?

Are people who hang around online forums or innocent memorial pages and make sadistic, sick remarks all psychologically damaged? News.com.au reported a feature in which it tracked down three Internet ‘trolls’ [the moniker given to those who lurk online looking to post deliberately antagonistic remarks] and asked them why they did it. One user ‘Ben’ said: “It just makes me happy when I can make someone angry. It sounds weird but I kind of feed off their anger. The angrier I can get them, the better I feel,” he told news.com.au. He usually only trolls a post or website once before moving, not out of any sense of decency, but because he is scared of being arrested. He said the worst thing he ever did was vandalise the Facebook memorial page of a young girl who had committed suicide. “I wrote, ‘How’s it hanging guys’.”

News.com.au reported the apparent links between spending time online and being desensitised to people’s emotions. “Cyber-researcher Karyn Krawford claims that extreme trolling may be a sign of mental ill-health. Ms Krawford said she had done studies which showed the empathy of mental health sufferers decreased for every hour they spent online. “This lack of empathy caused people to become emotionally immune and desensitised to images they’re not seeing in real life,” she said. In one study, subjects displayed a complete lack of empathy when shown images of people dying. “They couldn’t see how much that person was hurting; they couldn’t see the cut off arm or the pain and distress and terror. “As a consequence they were able to make these remarks and express these bullying type behaviours.”

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Nobel Peace Prize nominees revealed

Bradley Manning

Should it be Bill Clinton or Bradley Manning, the US soldier who released classified documents to WikiLeaks and has been charged with 22 offences by the US Government? There are some 231 nominations – including 43 organisations – so the field is a strong one. On top of a former US President and soldier the list also includes: ex-German chancellor Helmut Kohl who led his country’s reunification process, Ukraine’s ex-prime minister and now jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, US political scientist Gene Sharp, known for his theory of non-violent resistance which inspired some of the key figures behind the Arab Spring, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki who was brought to power in 2011 by the revolution in his country, and television news channel Al-Jazeera. The winners are announced in October.

– Mamamia covered the three inspirational women who jointly won last year’s prize here.

US to make car reversing cameras mandatory

United States lawmakers are pushing for an end to driveway deaths – mostly of young children – and they hope that will come when reversing cameras on new cars are made mandatory, likely in 2014. In the States about two children die and 50 are injured. Each week. Figures for Australia show about 12 – 18 children die each year in driveway accidents while several are injured each week. While lawmakers and advocates for the measure admitted it wouldn’t save everyone, they hope it will help. “In terms of absolute numbers of lives saved, it certainly isn’t the highest,” said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety in Washington. “But in terms of emotional tragedy, [driveway] deaths are some of the worst imaginable. When you have a parent that kills a child in an incident that’s utterly avoidable, they don’t ever forget it.” In New South Wales at least, NRMA Insurance has long lobbied for reversing cameras to be standard equipment. The company’s 2011 reversing visibility study found that 55 per cent of NSW drivers had a near miss while reversing. Would that be something we should push for in Australia?

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