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With the AFL Grand Final this weekend and the Brownlow Medal awarded this week, football has been in the news.
Whilst we don’t usually follow football, we did watch a game or two on TV whilst visiting family last weekend. Then we saw the last part of the Brownlow Medal count on Monday night.
Gary Ablett Jnr was favoured to win, but the result was very close. Just prior to the final round, he was two votes behind – he scored three points, giving him the Brownlow Medal for the second time.
During his speech, he said he actually wanted to get just two votes so that his former Geelong teammate Joel Selwood could have shared the medal.
He said that his father, Gary Ablett Snr, was the ‘best footballer he had ever seen play the game’, adding, ''Now that I've got two (medals) I guess I can give him one.''
We've been in touch with Gary Snr over the years, including talking with him as he prepared a feature article which was printed in the Herald Sun a few years back (on faith, morality and evolution).
In his speech, Gary Jnr thanked his family and girlfriend – and then said ''I want to thank God, because without him I couldn't be up here tonight."
We commend Gary for his forthright acknowledgement of God in his speech.
In their report, the Herald Sun noted that Gary “has become more attentive to religion in recent months.”
Back in May 2013, Gary Ablett Jnr posted a photo on social media, of he and two teammates having a pre-match prayer – the photo was accompanied by the verse, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Cor 10:31) Read media report.
Last week, on the Footy Show, Gary Ablett was questioned by Sam Newman about his faith and about that post.
Sam Newman was in 'serious mode', as he assured Gary the question was genuine and that he was 'a believer'! Gary explained about the Gold Coast Suns club chaplain, the pre-game prayer sessions and the weekly Life Group where they read the Bible, discuss issues and pray!
Watch the 3 minute segment on the Footy Show – click here.
It is encouraging to see a young man being forthright about his faith. Well done, Gary!
Phyllis Chesler, author and feminist, tells her shocking true story of life as a ‘bride’ in Afghanistan. She exposes the treatment of women under Islam in Afghanistan. Phyllis Chesler married an Afghan man she met at college in the USA in 1961. When they arrived in Afghanistan she found she was to live in a compound with her husband’s father, his three wives, children and servants.
This short article, adapted from her new book, provides an overview of her story – her treatment, the 'forced conversion', the increasing violence and her eventual escape from Afghanistan...
Phyllis concludes, “ I've never told this story in detail before, but felt that I must now. Because I hear some westerners preach the tortured cultural relativism that excuses the mistreatment of women in the name of Islam….
"I understand firsthand how deep-seated the hatred of women is in that culture. I see how endemic indigenous barbarism and cruelty is and unlike many other intellectuals and feminists, I don't try to romanticize or rationalize it.”
The article is adapted from her book, which will be published on 1 October, 2013. The book provides more detail of life after her return to the USA.
Article: My life of hell in an Afghan harem - Phyllis Chesler, Herald Sun, reprinted from New York Post, 23/9/2013.
Book: "An American Bride in Kabul" – to be published 1 October, 2013.
Read review, overview and details at Amazon - click here.
The civil war in Syria has been going on for two years. As part of the 'Arab Spring' movement that has occurred across the Middle East, forces opposed to the Syrian government have actively agitated for change. Jihadi elements have joined the 'rebel' forces.
In the resulting civil war, thousands of people have been killed and many people have fled the country.
Christians are increasingly being persecuted in Syria.We urge you to continue praying about the situation in Syria.
Chemical weapon attack - response by President Obama
In recent weeks, the debate about Syria has intensified following the use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria. Whilst some have claimed that the attack was carried out by the Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad, against the rebels, others have claimed it could have been carried out by the rebels themselves.
The reality is that no-one knows WHO used the chemical weapons.
Just this week The Guardian reported that a German paper cites German intelligence sources stating that President Assad was not involved. Read article.
By the end of August, US President Obama had concluded that the Syrian government had carried out the attacks and that action should be taken. At the same time, Russia and China walked out of a UN Security Council meeting that was discussing a possible military strike against the Assad government. See CNN article here.
An important factor is that President Obama made a statement, in August 2012, that a 'red line' that would lead to action in Syria was the use of chemical weapons.
As Judge Jeanine Pirro says, in this brilliant 10 minute video from 'Justice' on Fox News, the 'red line' is really a 'green light'! She provides a startling challenge to the arguments put by President Obama on the conflict.
A MUST-WATCH!Click here.
Elizabeth Kendal, of Religious Liberty Monitoring, also highlighted Obama's 'red line' speech in a post last Thursday (5/9/2013).
She wrote, "President Obama's "red line" speech was little more than a piece of political theatre aimed at establishing a platform of moral high ground from where the US-NATO could safely (politically if not practically) launch a military strike on Syria. It also signaled to the rebels exactly what the US would require if it was to justify and legitimise a military intervention on their behalf.
If a US military strike on Syria eventuates, it will be nothing other than an act of naked aggression in pursuit of economic and geo-strategic ends. To call such an intervention "humanitarian" or "moral" is duplicitous in the extreme...."
Read Elizabeth's insightful article:
The Humanitarian/Moral Intervention: an exercise in duplicity
-- and jihad comes to Maaloula village (Syria)
The article includes an account of jihadi attacks on a Christian village in Syria.
Read Elizabeth's other important articles on the issue:
President Obama announced he wanted to carry out a military strike against the Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad, because he claimed that the regime had used chemical weapons against the rebels. British Prime Minster David Cameron, initially supported him and took the issue to the Parliament - BUT they voted AGAINST Britain being involved in a military strike against the Assad government. When it became obvious that other nations weren't supporting a military strike, President Obama decided that he would take the issue to the US Congress to ask them to vote on the proposed action. Several media sources have criticised the changing arguments used by President to justify a military strike (see Bloomberg and Slate article Obama in the Box).
Media reports suggest that most Americans do not want the government to get involved in military action against Syria - people are concerned about the repercussions (since President Assad has said that Syria would retaliate if a military strike was carried out) as well as getting involved in another war in the Middle East.
President al Assad did an interview with CBS about the issue this week where he mentioned retaliation - see here.
President Obama is scheduled to give an 'Address to the Nation' today (Tuesday) to try and generate support for his proposal.
See media report.
The reality is that a civil war is going on in Syria....
During the recent federal election campaign the question of military intervention was raised. When Kevin Rudd talked about a military strike, Tony Abbott's response was to urge extreme caution - he said that the conflict was not "goodies versus baddies but baddies versus baddies".
Greg Sheridan, the Foreign Editor for The Australian, wrote, "TONY Abbott was entirely sensible to be cautious about offering support for a military strike on Syria. The Opposition Leader's description of the conflict as involving not "goodies versus baddies but baddies versus baddies" was a small part of a sophisticated answer stressing the dangers of military action, the unpredictable consequences, the need for proportionality and the danger of doing more harm than good."
Article: Tony Abbott's caution on Syria shows he knows the dangers, The Australian, 3/9/2013.
Act for America, led by Brigitte Gabriel, says, "The President and some in the US Congress want us to believe that US involvement in Syria is solely about the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.
But, as is so often the case in the Middle East, the reality is not that simple – as you’ll see when you watch the riveting news story below about Turkey supporting jihadists who are going to Syria.
Whacking a hornet’s nest with a stick – even just one time – usually ends up causing a lot of unnecessary pain. We need to avoid that strategy in Syria. We don’t need to be dragged into their civil war where our enemies are fighting our enemies."
Video News Report about jihadist involvement - click here.
Russia's proposal - Syria should 'hand' over chemical weapons...
The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has refused to support military intervention in Syria.The G20 Meeting in Russia last week discussed possible alternatives and consequences.
An important breakthrough in the situation has occurred today. The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has proposed an alternative - that the Syrian government could hand over its chemical weapons to "international supervision" so they could be stored and destroyed.
Already the Syrian government has responded positively. The proposal, which initially followed an 'off the cuff" remark by US Secretary of State John Kerry, has now been supported by a number of European leaders, including Britain's David Cameron, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said, "I'm considering urging the Security Council to demand the immediate transfer of Syria's chemical weapons and chemical precursor stocks to places inside Syria to places where they can be safely stored and destroyed."
Read media report: Syria welcomes Russian proposal to surrender chemical weapons as Assad warns US over strikes, Radio Australia, 10/9/2013.
* Please pray that common sense prevails in this situation, which is essentially a civil war within Syria.
* Pray for wisdom and restraint by world leaders.
* Pray for Christians who are being persecuted in the midst of the unrest.
The election is over - all except the final counting of votes!
With the Coalition government led by Tony Abbott gaining a majority of seats in the House of Representatives and forming government, we can look forward to a more stable government. We congratulate Mr Abbott on the Coalition's victory and his new role of Prime Minister.
However, in the Senate the balance of power is likely to be held by a number of small parties - more on that below...
The landslide election of the Coalition is a resounding call for the new government to take a conservative approach on the economy and management of our nation.
The overwhelming result also puts an end to the same-sex 'marriage' issue.
Kevin Rudd, Labor and homosexual groups campaigned extensively on this issue - and were defeated. We call on Labor to dump their policy of changing the Marriage Act to allow homosexuals to 'marry'.
We call on the Coalition to continue to strongly uphold marriage being between a man and a woman - and not to legislate for ANY legal registration of homosexual relationships, be it 'marriage', 'civil unions' or 'relationship registers'.
Let's just get on with governing the country!
In the remainder of this post I provide an overview of the RESULTS of the election, with key information from the Australian Electoral Commission.
Note: Votes still being counted, especially pre-poll and absentee votes, and the AEC data/website is continually being updated.
AEC Virtual Tally Room - and counting of votes
Counting of postal and pre-poll votes is still occurring for the next few days. Some seats in the House of Representatives that are close will be 're-counted' - and some results will undoubtedly be challenged. Senate votes will be counted over the next few weeks.
Results for the House of Representatives
In the House of Representatives, there was a swing to the Coalition of around 3.32%.
The Labor Party had its lowest primary vote in more than 100 years - just 34%.
It was only preferences from the Greens and other parties that saved some of their seats.
On a two-party preferred basis the Coalition had 53.12% to Labor's 46.88%.
Read first preference statistics - gives first preference votes for all parties.
Overview of results
- The AEC has the Coalition at 86 seats and Labor at 57 seats out of the total of 150.
In Fairfax and Fisher, candidates from Palmer United Party are in contention; in Indi, Liberal Sophie Mirabella is being challenged by a conservative Independent and in Mallee, where the Nationals John Forrest retired, there is a battle between the Liberals and the Nationals.
- The AEC says that the Greens Adam Bandt retains the seat of Melbourne. Bob Katter has retained his seat. Independent Andrew Wilkie has been returned.
- Six seats are listed as 'close': NSW- Barton, Reid, Eden-Monaro; VIC - McEwen; QLD - Capricornia, Petrie. Full info here.
- For the results for YOUR division - click here and select your Division.
Results for the Senate
Initially, for the Senate, the votes 'above the line' were counted. The first preferences of the pre-poll and postal votes, as well as the 'below the line' votes will be added to the AEC data as they are counted. Eventually the candidates with the lowest vote is eliminated, then ballot papers for that candidate re-distributed and so on - read AEC overview of the process.
For an overview of the 'First preference' votes cast for each Party in the Senate see this AEC webpage:
Click here for the National data - then select your State/Territory.
Estimates of the preference flows, where votes are re-distributed as candidates are eliminated, have been done - resulting in the media reports we have seen about the possible outcome of the Senate.
However, the final result of the Senate seats may not be known for a week or more as the votes are all counted.
So what will (could) the Senate look like?
One estimate of the numbers in the Senate is:
Coalition 32, Labor 25, Greens 9, Other 8.
Another report puts it at Coalition 33, Labor 25, Greens 10, Other 8 - total of 76 Senators.
As I've noted above, these figures are FAR FROM FINAL!
However, it seems that the 'balance of power' in the Senate will probably shift from the Greens in July next year when the new Senate begins. Whilst the Greens will still have around nine Senators, there could be up to eight cross-bench Senators and they could have a big influence on the Senate. Some, but not all, of them are from the more conservative side of politics - so it will be an interesting time!
* John Madigan (Vic, DLP) was not up for election this time and continues for another three years.
* Nick Xenophon retains his seat in South Australia, gaining more than a full 'quota'.
Current reports suggest that Family First will gain a seat in SA and Palmer United Party could gain two seats - one in Queensland and one in Tasmania.
Because of complicated preference deals, it is currently being reported that the Australian Sports Party in WA will win a seat - with just 0.22% of the vote (as currently counted), and the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party could win a seat in Victoria with 0.52%.
The Liberal Democrats in NSW could also win a seat - partly, it is thought, due to having No 1 on the ballot paper and people confusing them with the Liberal Party.
Read a media report about the possible outcome of the Senate.
The following media report provides an insight into each of these 'potential' Senators:
Shock WA Senate win looms for Australian Sports Party's Wayne Dropulich, News.com, 8/9/2013.
Of course, there is a lot of counting and allocating of preferences still to occur.
The current predictions will undoubtedly change in the weeks ahead.
We will only know when the RESULTS are DECLARED.
This week we are concentrating on the election.
Our regular News Updates will resume next week!
In this Election News Update....
Please continue to pray about the election.
There has been a huge reaction to the statements that Kevin Rudd made on Q & A on Monday night, especially from Christians - a number of articles are listed.
The Sex Party has broadcast increasingly strident ads – they started with removing tax exemptions for churches but their latest ad is offensive. This is the party that Labor is preferencing right after the Greens in Victoria!
Meanwhile, the media is giving space to the major Parties – and not the minor parties - unless, of course, they want to ridicule them.
Only two more sleeps to go!
PREPARING TO VOTE
You can read all the information we have sent by email – on the FRONT page of our website – www.saltshakers.org.au
The information is also ALL posted on our Federal Election 2013 webpage – with links to each email post and more.
This includes the last TWO posts about PREFERENCES in the SENATE.
PLUS - the Christian Values Checklists –click here.
May God bless and guide you as you vote!