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How much should Australians know about Papua New Guinea?

In the last week Papua New Guinea (PNG) has received more exposure in the Australian media than it has for a very long time indeed.  Ever since news of the ‘Regional Resettlement Arrangement Between Australia and Papua New Guinea’ agreement between Prime Ministers Rudd and O’Neill appeared on 19 July, discussion and criticism of the so-called ‘PNG Solution’ has been widespread on the internet, on television, radio, and even in the few newspapers still being published.  Media outlets which negligently had let their regional coverage slip away – preferring to invest their remaining funds into reportage of last night’s Masterchef – are now scrambling to find copy from anyone with either opinions on the subject, but little knowledge, or some direct knowledge of PNG, alas in short supply.

US embassy alert shows war against al-Qaeda unfinished

The closure of 21 United States embassies across the Middle East and Africa -- the widest such closure in US history -- demonstrates the "War on Terror" is far from over. As the threat that inspired the closures indicates, the "war" is unlikely to be concluded in the foreseeable future.

The war in Iraq has, from a US perspective, all but concluded and Afghanistan is starting to wind down. But both remain sites of conflict and will remain so as internal and regionally inspired factions compete for politico-religious control. Syria, too, has increasingly become the site for intra-religious conflict, rather than simply a civil war against a despised dictator.

The unspecified threat against an embassy was intercepted in Yemen, the key base for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. While effectively independent of other al-Qaeda-named organisations, AQAP is regarded as perhaps the most dangerous of its offshoots.

Cancer survivors do best when following prevention guidelines

There is much we know about how diet and lifestyle can influence the risk of a person developing cancer. Now, for the first time, the effectiveness of cancer prevention guidelines has been applied to cancer survivors with promising results that should make any cancer survivor sit up and take note.

In the most important report ever published on dietary and lifestyle factors and cancer risk, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute of Cancer Research in 2007 issued 8 recommendations on diet, physical activity, and weight management for cancer prevention.

Cambodian election: Hun Sen losing his tight grip on power

The only surprise in Cambodia’s elections over the weekend was that the victory for Hun Sen's Cambodian People’s Party was reduced to a comfortable rather than an overwhelming majority. For a "democracy" in which the ruling party and the state machine are, in effect, as one and there are widespread allegations of electoral fraud, the CPP’s reduced majority was a slap in the face to Hun Sen (pictured, after voting) and his strong-man style of government.

The CPP lost 29 seats to end up with a majority of just eight, for a total of 68 of the Cambodian Parliament's 123 seats. This means the CPP no longer has the two-thirds majority required to change the country’s constitution.

Colonialism, sovereignty and aid: what refugees mean for PNG

At first glance, the deal between prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Peter O’Neill transferring all Australian-bound asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea appears to deliver many benefits to that small poor country.

In return for housing the boat-arriving asylum seekers and resettling those found to be refugees, PNG receives a package of much-needed assistance, that includes redeveloping its universities, a new hospital, upgrading roads, a new courts complex, and the deployment of Australian police.

In addition, the processing centre on Manus Island will be expanded, PNG’s naval facilities on the island will receive a facelift, and schools and health centres will be constructed for Manus Islanders.

Want healthy kids? Feed them the same as what you eat

A major new study has called into question the traditional view that family meal times should be enjoyed together around the dinner table if youngsters are to pick up good eating habits. Having children eat the same foods as grown-ups appears a more important guide to kids developing healthy eating habits.

The habit of eating family meals together rubs off as healthier eating habits for children, yet it is not clear what are the key reasons for this. Social bonding, parental pressure (“Eat your veggies or you aren’t allowed to leave the table”), and positive reinforcement of good nutrition messages all are plausible reasons.

Can Australian LNG projects stay competitive?

In less than a year, the Australian LNG landscape has gone from a feeling of euphoria to one of increasing negativity and pessimism. There is no doubt that the pendulum of sentiment tends to overshoot both extremes – the scale of the exuberance of 2010-2012 was, in hindsight, unjustified and unprecedented in the global LNG arena. Similarly, the pervasive pessimism today may be self-destructive if left unchecked. However, I will argue that some degree of caution is the prudent strategy when facing increasing uncertainty, and may be better for the long term competitiveness of the Australian LNG industry.

Should MasterChef have asked Samira to cook pork?

Many Australians would have watched Muslim MasterChef contestant Samira get kicked off the show on Wednesday night for cooking the worst pork hot dog. 

Lifestyle keys to preventing bowel cancer

Bowel cancer is one form of cancer where diet and lifestyle choices play a big part in determining a person’s risk of being diagnosed with it. Medical researchers have now put some hard numbers to how much this cancer can be prevented by following specific lifestyle recommendations.

Bowel cancer (also called colorectal or colon cancer) is the second biggest killer of Australians from cancer each year. Dietary factors alone are thought to explain almost half of bowel cancer risk, with physical activity (or lack of) around another quarter followed by genetics and family history. Processed meat, obesity (especially fat around the abdomen), smoking and alcohol are the diet and lifestyle factors that are considered to have the most evidence for being linked to colorectal cancer.

Toppling of Egypt’s Morsi is Indicative of the Challenges ahead for Arab Spring Countries

The removal of Egypt’s president Mohamed Morsi has done nothing to heal a deeply divided nation and an even more polarised political class. One of the many questions that will persist for some time is  whether this was really a ‘military coup’ in the classical sense or whether it was ‘people power’ driven by mass demonstrations and  enacted by the military.But this is a mere sematic debate that does not advance any particular practical argument, nor does it change a fundamental reality: that is any political action should always be judged by its outcome first and foremost and not simply by  its discursive construction.

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