Recently, human growth hormone (or HGH) has found media attention for its use by sports people to gain an unfair competitive advantage.
HGH is naturally produced in the body just below the brain in the anterior pituitary gland as part of a family of peptide hormones. HGH performs a wide (and not yet fully understood) range of signaling functions in the body, such as stimulating the immune system and strengthening bone through increased calcium retention; but, from a doping point of view, it’s ability to trigger the secretion of insulin like growth factor (IGF-1) is of interest.
As Spain’s Operacion Puerto trial neared the end of its second week, the Australian Crime Commission has released a report that exposes what it calls widespread doping in many Australian sports along with links to organized crime involved in the supply of doping products and match fixing. This report follows up the USADA Armstrong case and further exposes the lie peddled in the Anglo American world that doping in sport is something that only happens somewhere else, for example in European countries like Spain or in sports like cycling.
It probably felt satisfying, being French President Francois Hollonde, during his almost George W. Bush-like ‘mission accomplished’ moment in Timbuktu recently. French forces spear-headed a quick campaign in Mali to defeat Islamist insurgents, saving the country’s fragile, government from collapse and the preventing the establishment of a new home for Islamist global terrorism.
But the 3,500 French troops – around a third of the anti-Islamist forces in Mali - are now preparing to leave. What they are leaving is displaced and desperate Islamist forces holed up in the inhospitable Ifoghas Mountains in northern Mali’s border with Algeria.
Parents of babies born severely premature or with serious abnormalities are turning to the courts in a bid to override medical opinion to commence or continue life-sustaining treatment for their infants.
It had elements from the outset, but the war in Syria is looking more like a war by proxy between outside interests. It may be that it can now only be resolved from outside.
Most wars are proxies to some extent, perhaps the most notorious recent war being the three-cornered contest in Cambodia between 1978 and 1992. Syria is now starting to look like such a multi-faceted contest, but perhaps with even greater potential for complication.
The air attack last week by Israel against a Syrian military target raised the spectre of a wider conflagration. Initial reports said the target was a convoy that was presumed to be carrying guided surface-to-air missiles to Syria's Hezbollah allies in Lebanon. However, reports now indicate the target was a military research centre at Jamraya, north-west of Damascus about 15 kilometres from the Lebanese border.
'We all still suffer from the life-draining, over-legislated madness called British Australia, which never seems to abate to the reason of sound voices or even democracy. Then they expect us to join in their triumphant dances over our ancestors' graves each January 26' (Phill Moncrieff, Aboriginal musician).
'Viral videos have indeed triggered a vigorous participatory culture' (Tasneem Dustagheer).
After a slight misunderstanding regarding the Mayan calendar, the world has not ended in 2012. Whether we anticipated the end of life as we know it or the dawn of a new year, 2013 is now upon us. As is customary at the start of a new year, we can take the opportunity to look back and reflect on the year that has passed. For many, 2012 meant viral images and movies, online activity and protest, parodies and political gaffes.
The government of Sri Lanka has been embarrassed over its human rights record by a call for a boycott campaign being run by respected Australian sports writer Trevor Grant. Grant has been using the Sri Lanka cricket team’s current tour of Australia to highlight what the UN believes were war crimes committed in Sri Lanka in 2009 and a subsequent campaign of human rights abuse against the country’s Tamil minority.
The campaign is the first politically driven proposed boycott of sports in Australia since the anti-apartheid boycotts of South African sporting teams in the 1970s and '80s.
While touring Australia, the Sri Lankan cricket team, self-proclaimed ambassadors for their country, have been touting a holiday resort on their country's north-east coast. Grant says the military built-and-run resort is situated at the site where some 40,000 Tamil non-combatant men, women and children died at the hands of the Sri Lanka military.
The English have always been ambiguous towards "the continent". It is, as any self-respecting English person will tell you, full of foreigners. And England's Conservatives, particularly their more reactionary, chauvinistic rump, have always been anti-European Union.
So, as the EU contemplates moving towards greater integration, it was not entirely surprising UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced overnight he would hold a referendum on whether the UK would remain within the EU and, if so, on what terms. There was some ambiguity in Cameron’s speech, with some viewing it as a bet each way on the future of the UK’s relationship with Europe.
The Conservatives had already introduced a "referendum lock" on acceding further powers to the EU, which means further pro-EU changes have to go to a ballot. But Cameron is now looking to renegotiate the UK's relationship with the EU on those areas previously agreed to.