Germany lifts Doom sales ban after 17 years

A German ban on selling Doom to teenagers has been lifted after 17 years.

The classic video game was put on an index of controlled titles in 1994 as it was deemed likely to harm youth.

Like pornography, sales of the violent shoot ’em up were restricted to adult-only stores.

The rules have been relaxed because officials believe that Doom is now only of artistic and scientific interest and will not appeal to youngsters.

However, one version of the game remains on the index because it features Nazi symbols on some levels — via

Austrian father locked daughters in room for 41 years

Austrian police are investigating claims that a man locked up his two mentally ill daughters in a small room in their home and sexually abused them for 41 years.

Officers said the 80-year-old repeatedly raped the women between 1970 and May 2011 in St Peter am Hart, near the Bavarian border. The alleged victims are now aged 53 and 45. A police official did not name either the suspect or the alleged victims.

Police confirmed they were investigating after a report in the Oberösterreichische Nachrichten newspaper — via

Warring Pacific tribes swap two young children to end violent feud

Warring tribes on the tiny Pacific island of Tanna have agreed to swap two children to settle a long-running land dispute that descended into violence.

The clans, who have been arguing over property rights on the island for more than two decades, revived the ancient and controversial custom of child swapping in an attempt to end hostilities after the feud turned violent and several people were injured in a brawl.

Such a child swap has not taken place in more than 200 years — via

Russia arrests high-ranking police officer in Anna Politkovskaya murder case

Russian investigators say a high-ranking retired police officer who allegedly organized the 2006 murder of crusading journalist Anna Politkovskaya has been arrested — potentially the breakthrough her family and friends have been waiting for after many false starts and two botched trials.

Vladimir Markin, spokesman of the official investigative committee, identified former top Moscow police officer Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov as a key suspect in the case after he was arrested yesterday.

According to the investigation, Pavlyuchenkov received the order to organise the killing of Anna Politkovskaya in exchange for a monetary reward and gave his agreement, he said in a statement today — via

How Fake Money Saved Brazil

This is a story about how an economist and his buddies tricked the people of Brazil into saving the country from rampant inflation. They had a crazy, unlikely plan, and it worked.

Twenty years ago, Brazil’s inflation rate hit 80 percent per month. At that rate, if eggs cost $1 one day, they’ll cost $2 a month later. If it keeps up for a year, they’ll cost $1,000.

In practice, this meant stores had to change their prices every day. The guy in the grocery store would walk the aisles putting new price stickers on the food. Shoppers would run ahead of him, so they could buy their food at the previous day’s price — via

Live animal export outrage: horrendous slaughter of cattle

The RSPCA and Animals Australia have released new footage they say shows the horrendous slaughter of cattle in Turkey.

The latest video, screened at a press conference in Canberra this morning, came as two separate bids to end the live animal export trade failed to win the support of a single government or opposition MP — via

An Urban Jungle for the 21st Century

The math is impressive. In the last 25 years, the population of Singapore has nearly doubled, to more than five million. Over the same period, its green cover — planted areas that appear green on satellite photos, from parks to rooftops — has increased from a little more than a third of the city-state’s area to nearly half.

But it is not enough. In Singapore’s next green road map, its 10-year development plan, the country aims to go from being a garden city to a city in a garden. The difference might sound very small, says Poon Hong Yuen, the chief executive of the country’s National Parks Board, but it’’s a bit like saying my house has a garden and my house is in the middle of a garden. What it means is having pervasive greenery, as well as biodiversity, including wildlife, all around you — via

Europe Takes Its Own Path on Internet Privacy

All 90 people wanted information deleted from the Web.

Among them was a victim of domestic violence who discovered that her address could easily be found through Google. Another, well into middle age now, thought it was unfair that a few computer key strokes could unearth an account of her arrest in her college days.

They might not have received much of a hearing in the United States, where Google is based. But here, as elsewhere in Europe, an idea has taken hold — individuals should have a right to be forgotten on the Web.

Spain’s government is now championing this cause. It has ordered Google to stop indexing information about 90 citizens who filed formal complaints with its Data Protection Agency. The case is now in court and being watched closely across Europe for how it might affect the control citizens will have over information they posted, or which was posted about them, on the Web — via

Trojan T-shirt targets German right-wing rock fans

Music fans who took souvenir T-shirts from a rock festival in Gera, eastern Germany, have discovered they hold a secret message.

The so-called Trojan T-shirts bore a design of a skull and right-wing flags and the words hardcore rebels.

But, once washed, the design dissolves to reveal a message telling people to break with extremism — via

Concerns swirl over safety of uncontacted Amazonian tribe

The whereabouts of a remote Amazonian tribe who appeared in remarkable footage earlier this year aiming bows and arrows at a plane flying over their jungle homes was unknown Monday after government officials sent to protect them were forced to abandon their post and flee from armed drug traffickers.

Traffickers crossed the border from Peru and threatened officials from the National Indigenous Foundation (Funai), the government body charged with protecting Brazil’s isolated Indians, a foundation spokesman said, underlining new threats for isolated Indians as traffickers seek new territory and routes.

This is extremely distressing news, says Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, an indigenous rights group based in the UK. There is no knowing how many tribal peoples the drugs trade has wiped out in the past, but all possible measures should be taken to stop it happening again — via

Sydney to Melbourne rail trip in three hours

A ticket on a high-speed train to Melbourne or Brisbane would cost between $75 and $197 for a journey taking about three hours, a major federal government-commissioned study has found.

And travelling between Newcastle and Sydney could take just 40 minutes, for a ticket price as low as $16.50, the study also shows.

The federal Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, will today honour an election commitment and release the first stage of a $20 million study into building an east coast high speed rail network — via

$3m benefactor Frank Samways is a dog’s – and the Lost Dogs Home’s – best friend

A big-hearted businessman has left Melbourne’s Lost Dogs Home $3 million — the largest bequest in its 100-year history.

Staff at the animal shelter described the donor, Frank Samways, as a man so empathetic for abandoned pets that he wouldn’t enter the animal shelter in Gracie Street, North Melbourne.

The home’s managing director, Graeme Smith, said Mr Samways, a charming, charismatic person, used to attend donor functions in the home’s courtyard. But [he] never set foot inside the shelter because he thought it would be too disturbing for him. He didn’t want to see any dog or cat incarcerated — via

Millions hit in South Korean hack

South Korea has blamed Chinese hackers for stealing data from 35 million accounts on a popular social network.

The attacks were directed at the Cyworld website as well as the Nate web portal, both run by SK Telecom.

Hackers are believed to have stolen phone numbers, email addresses, names and encrypted information about the sites’ many millions of members.

It follows a series of recent cyber attacks directed at South Korea’s government and financial firm — via

Got $799,000? You could buy a town in South Dakota

Scenic, South Dakota, might not have much — a dance hall, a jail and a handful of out-buildings. But it’s a town. And most of it could be yours for $799,000.

They’ve decided to sell and move on, said Dave Olsen, a realtor with Coldwell Banker, who is hoping to sell the property.

It’s 46 acres in total — 12 acres in town and 34 acres around it — located about 50 miles east of Rapid City, South Dakota — via

Theravada Buddhist monks walk away from sex-abuse allegations

A Tribune review of sexual abuse cases involving several Theravada Buddhist temples found minimal accountability and lax oversight of monks accused of preying on vulnerable targets.

Because they answer to no outside ecclesiastical authority, the temples respond to allegations as they see fit. And because the monks are viewed as free agents, temples claim to have no way of controlling what they do next. Those found guilty of wrongdoing can pack a bag and move to another temple — much to the dismay of victims, law enforcement and other monks — via

Australian leaders mentioned in manifesto

The man behind Norway’s massacre described the former Australian prime minister John Howard as one of the most sensible leaders in the Western world, according to an online version of his 1500-page manifesto.

The unverified document, published on various websites, shows Anders Behring Breivik may have paid attention to issues in Australia. As well as mentioning Mr Howard, he also refers to Sydney’s Archbishop, Cardinal George Pell, and points to a comment by the Catholic leader where he describes 11 September as his personal wake-up call — via

Nun forced to leave India after 29 years of helping leprosy patients

A Catholic nun from Britain who has spent 29 years caring for leprosy patients in Bengaluru, India, is being forced to give up her work and leave the country after Delhi refused to renew her residency permit.

London-born Jacqueline Jean McEwan, now known as Sister Jean, or the Mother Teresa of Sumanahalli, runs a mobile clinic for leprosy patients. She has been ordered to leave without explanation by the union home ministry and if her appeal for permission to stay goes unanswered by 2pm on Monday she will have to board an evening flight bound for London — via

Keeping the peace with the bar-strip lollipop

A City of Victoria councillor is sweet on the idea of handing out candy suckers to late-night, inebriated revellers after leading a successful Canada Day test run.

Following the traditional fireworks display, which drew an estimated 30,000 people to downtown Victoria, Councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe, her husband, two City of Victoria staff and Victoria Police Department officers doled out hundreds of red and blue lollipops to loud and aggressive, mostly young, men.

Ms Thornton-Joe said after the men popped a lolly in their mouths, their nasty energy all but dissolved. They got calmer after taking the lollipops, she said. It had an immediate effect — via

Commuters want Wi-Fi, contactless: survey

A survey of 8000 Australian commuters has revealed a high demand for Wi-Fi and contactless ticketing options when using public transport in major cities around the country.

Results published by the Tourism and Transport Forum this month show that while commuters were keen for wireless internet access on trains, buses and trams, many of them wouldn’t be willing to foot an increase in their ticket price. Instead, many would be happy to use a service supplemented by advertising — via

Egypt’s Indiana Jones steps down

Egypt’s antiquities minister has been fired after months of pressure from critics who attacked his credibility and accused him of having been too close to the regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

Zahi Hawass, known for his trademark Indiana Jones hat, lost his job along with about a dozen other ministers in a Cabinet reshuffle meant to ease pressure from protesters seeking to purge remnants of Mr Mubarak’s regime — via

Stop ignoring us, Aussies tell Google

Google is facing a wave of complaints from users around the globe after it launched yet another service that is only available to those who live in the United States.

On one of its in-house blogs this week, Google revealed it had launched a new marketplace for its Android mobile platform, which dramatically expands the platform’s functionality, allowing users to rent movies and purchase books. The Android Market has also been overhauled in general to make it easier for users to find applications.

However, the book and movie purchasing functionality is limited to customers in the US only, a fact that has drawn the ire of customers located in other regions. In the US, wrote one user in response to Google’s blog. Also in the US, along with Google Music and Google Voice, both available in the US. Here’s to the centre of the universe — via

Jewish community leader tells of sex abuse

As a leader in the Jewish community and a human rights advocate, he believes he has a responsibility to speak publicly for the first time about the abuse he says dogged his childhood. He hopes his story will empower and encourage others to speak to the police or seek the help they may require.

This is about justice and closure, both for myself and other victims, says Mr Waks, a vice-president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and president of the ACT Jewish Community, among other senior roles. He wants to hold to account the alleged perpetrators of the crimes and the Yeshivah Centre, which runs the college and which he says betrayed victims by persuading them to remain silent.

Mr Waks also hopes his story will help change the stigma faced by victims of sex abuse. I feel I’ve moved on with my life … you can actually move forward while acknowledging that it has inevitably impacted me in a profound way — via

Police raid Spanish copyright society in embezzlement case

Senior officials in Spain’s Society of Authors and Publishers (SGAE), the country’s leading collection society for songwriters and composers, face embezzlement charges in the wake of a Friday raid on the organization’s offices. (A collecting society collects licensing fees for public performances of music and distributes them to artists and record companies.)

According to Spanish newspaper El País, the investigation is focused on José Luis Rodríguez Neri, the head of an SGAE subsidiary called the Digital Society of Spanish Authors (SDAE). Neri faces charges of “fraud, misappropriation of funds and disloyal administration.” On Monday, a High Court judge grilled him for more than four hours over the charges — via

Families of 7/7 victims were targets of phone hacking

The phone-hacking crisis enveloping the News of the World intensified on Tuesday night after it emerged that Scotland Yard has started to contact the relatives of victims of the 7 July 2005 attacks to warn them they were targeted by the paper.

The revelation that bereaved family members may have had their mobile phone messages intercepted by Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator employed by the paper, in the days following the 2005 London bombings will heap further pressure on the title’s owner, News International, part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire — via

Australia’s infrastructure barely adequate

Infrastructure Australia, which was set up to advise the Government, says the country is suffering from poor planning and less than adequate investment in infrastructure.

It says Australia’s infrastructure is barely adequate and there will be long-term costs if there is not significant improvement.

It has singled out water and energy infrastructure as key areas in need of extra investment — via

A history of marriage in Australia

On 13 August 2004, in a debate punctuated by rage and tears, the Senate passed a Howard government amendment to the Marriage Act banning same-sex marriages.

Exactly 45 years earlier, on 13 August 1959, in the midst of debating Australia’s first national Marriage Act — the one Howard later amended — the House of Representatives erupted at the news an Aboriginal woman had been denied permission to marry — via

Google pulls paid apps from Taiwan after being fined

Taiwanese users of Google Inc’s Android Market were left in the dark yesterday as the search engine giant removed the paid app section from its online store.

The removal of the paid app section came after the Taipei City Government slapped Google with a NT$1 million (US$34,550) fine for failing to offer Taiwanese consumers a seven-day free-trial mechanism as mandated by law — via

Most ISPs will filter Interpol list this year: IIA

The association representing Australia’s internet industry today claimed that 80 to 90 per cent of Australians would have their internet connections filtered for child pornography this year, following the release of an industry code in July that will focus on a blacklist of sites supplied by international policing agency, Interpol –via

Voluntary ISP filter attracts global attention

The continued support by several of Australia’s largest internet service providers for a voluntary version of the Federal Government’s mandatory ISP filtering scheme has attracted the ire of the world’s largest digital rights group, the Electronic Frontiers Foundation.

This week, Telstra and Optus reiterated that they were still planning to start filtering their customers’ traffic for a list of internet addresses provided by the Australian Communications and Media Authority which it has deemed to contain child pornography. The initiative is a stop-gap measure agreed to by ISPs and the Federal Government in mid-2010 while a review is carried out into the Refused Classification category of content which the wider mandatory filter will block.

Another major ISP, Primus, is also planning to implement the voluntary filtering scheme — via

US Evangelist Jason Hooper claims he’s on a mission from god

A visiting American evangelist who claims healing powers has walked from a NSW court without even a fine despite driving 110km blind drunk and crashing into a parked car.

Self-claimed prophet of God Jason Hooper — touring with Hillsong protege Ben Hughes — declared God had forgiven him for his double-shot whisky binge that ended in a mangled wreck on the Mid North Coast.

I’ve worked it out with the Lord. I was wrong, Hooper told The Sunday Telegraph — via

Now, bury the problem

An underground bus terminal could solve the peak-hour logjam that turns one of the city’s major arteries into a commuter nightmare, says a leading authority on transport.

York Street in the Sydney city centre is the bane of bus commuters travelling from the city’s north, as it transforms into a single line of traffic moving at glacial pace.

Many frustrated passengers simply get off at Wynyard and walk towards Town Hall rather than sit in the traffic jam. There is such a backlog at the Queen Victoria Building that commuters boarding buses to suburbs including Balmain, Epping and Lane Cove are also delayed — via

Legal aid reform could end right to a free solicitor

A cornerstone of the legal system, the universal right to a solicitor upon arrest, could be jettisoned in favour of means-testing under controversial plans drawn up by the Ministry of Justice.

Legal experts including Lord Ken Macdonald QC, a former director of public prosecutions, have expressed alarm at the proposal and questioned how it would work in practice — via

Pressure builds on Thompson

Major corporate members of the Employers and Manufacturers Association are piling on pressure for embattled chief executive Alasdair Thompson to be sacked at an emergency board meeting on Monday.

Mr Thompson yesterday sparked outrage by suggesting once-a-month sick problems were a factor that affected women’s productivity.

He later started a fiery confrontation with Campbell Live reporter Mihingarangi Forbes when she questioned him on his statements — via