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News: Ban on R18+ video games overturned in Oz

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Australia will get an R18+ rating for video games

Movies and television in Australia have long been rated on a scale that included a special category for above 18s, but video games have never had access to it. That’s about to change after parliament today voted to introduce an R18+ category which would come into effect from January in 2012. The gaming industry in Australia has been forecasted to be worth $2.5 billion per year by 2015 – a rate of 10 per cent growth a year. A Bond University study found that nine out of ten Aussie homes has a gaming device (whether a console game or otherwise). Previously, games that were deemed to graphic, violent or ‘adult’ were banned from sale here or re-produced with extra offending content removed, such as happened in the roaming Grand Theft Auto titles which allowed game characters to have sex with prostitutes. So, is an R18+ category long overdue, or a bad idea?

Gillard on Four Corners

Claims Gillard personally orchestrated Rudd’s downfall

Doubt has been cast over the long-running narrative that then Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard was pushed, or ‘dragged’ into rolling then PM Kevin Rudd after factions pulled support. But now claims have emerged the devastating internal polling (which showed Julia Gillard’s personal standing was much higher than Rudd’s) was handed around to MPs by Gillard herself, in order that they be convinced a push for her as PM was not only worth it, but must happen. Labor MPs confirmed the information. Fairfax reported: “It also raises questions about the Prime Minister’s claim on the ABC program Four Corners on Monday that she had no specific recollection of the polling. The MPs are now prepared to speak on a background basis because they are disenchanted with her leadership, angry at her level of candour in her public comments this week, and no longer prepared to support her in any party ballot for the leadership. This stuff of Gillard’s that ‘I only tumbled into it on the day of the challenge’ is patently untrue,” said a caucus member she had lobbied before the coup.

Man guilty of smacking his son

An Australian Capital Territory man has been found guilty of smacking his teenaged son with a wooden spoon after the boy called his mother a ‘bitch’. The man avoided a conviction because the magistrate said the father was particularly remorseful. He had originally pleaded not guilty to a charge of common assault where his defence argued what the man did was ‘lawful chastisement’. Magistrate David Mossop yesterday found the man had taken things too far and had left the boy bruised and scratched around his legs and hands. However Mr Mossop accepted the boy had a history of poor behaviour and that the insult to the mother went too far. He accepted that the father displayed ”a significant degree of remorse” while still maintaining he was only trying to discipline his son. Speaking of Dads trying to discipline their children, what’s your take on this dad who went public to teach his daughter a lesson?

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Antonio Guterres

UNHCR boss says we are ‘obsessed’ with ‘boat people’

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres told an Australian audience he found it difficult to take our ‘problems’ with asylum seekers arriving by boat and be as worried as many Australians are. “It is very difficult for me as High Commissioner, who has to deal with the whole world, to be convinced that 6000 is a very important problem,” Mr Guterres said of boat arrivals to Christmas Island. I understand that in the psychology of Australia, the collective psychology, this is an important problem … but you need to understand also the global perspective.”

He said that people smuggling had become ”a nasty business” linked to organised crime and it was important for governments to crack down on human trafficking. But, he said, protection also had to be offered to the victims of the trade, who often had no legal way to escape their situation.

Last year 1500 asylum seekers died in the Mediterranean Sea, as 57,000 people reached Malta and Italy by boat. Another 100,000 asylum seekers reached Yemen by boat.

Australia Post in parcel boom, thanks to online

Online shopping has led to a 10 per cent jump in the number of people sending and receiving parcels in the six months to the end of 2011. But while parcel deliveries went boom, letters are becoming a thing of the past. “The period leading up to Christmas really highlighted a widening gulf in profitability of our letters business and our parcels business,” chief executive Ahmed Fahour told a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra yesterday. Parcel numbers were also up 20 per cent in December compared with a year before. “We delivered 3 million more parcels in December than we would in an ordinary month,” Mr Fahour said. “It’s taking our letters business backwards to levels not seen since the 1990s.” That would be because of a consistent use of email in place of letters. So spill, are you still a letter sender? And are you shopping online more often?

Euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke

Euthanasia campaigner may be disbarred

Right-to-die campaigner Philip Nitschke is being investigated for his application to import the sedative and euthanasia drug nembutal for a terminally ill patient who has since died. The inquiry by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, which registers and regulates doctors, started in late November, even though Dr Nitschke’s application had not been decided. The woman wrote in her diary: “That I cannot sleep due to this disease has meant that I get no respite … and I cannot live life to the fullest in the precious time I have left.” Doctors in Australia can import the drug under strict conditions as it can be used to ease pain, but when used in the wrong dosages it becomes an effective killer, which is precisely why some want to use it.

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