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Hands off our aid

The message is quite simple – hands off the overseas aid budget. The Australian aid program represents the generosity of the Australian public to those living in our region or across the globe that require humanitarian assistance to improve basic living standards or support in times of emergency.
 
Domestic fiscal constraints – especially those based on political expediency – should not drive our commitment to the world’s poor. Yet, two recent decisions have done precisely that.
 

Why are we obsessed with celebrity?

We don’t have to look far to find the pulse, the plasma of celebrity, running through the arteries and veins of society. In fact, if one was able to tune one’s magical ear into café and bar conversations, mealtimes at work, playground huddles, radio broadcasts, the chatter of the social media; or if one was to hone one’s all-seeing eyes onto bedroom walls, magazine filled coffee tables, designer and perfumery shops, all manner of goods and services, and the broad output of television and cinema, then one would find celebrity sounded out and visualised large.

 

Dietary supplements offer little benefit for most people

A comprehensive review of clinical trials involving a wide range of popular dietary supplements has found that with the exception of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, there is little evidence to support their use in Western countries by the general population.

Dietary supplements are big business, with around half of the Australian population using at least one type per year; most commonly a multivitamin and mineral pill. Many people take supplements as a form of dietary insurance in case they are not meeting their nutrient needs from foods alone. Others take them as a form of health insurance – to protect against certain diseases. Some just take them out of habit.

Supplements do have a role to play in some situations. People with a diagnosed deficiency, those with malabsorption conditions, women planning pregnancy, and people with very poor diets all can benefit from specific nutrient supplementation.

Japan’s elections signal disillusionment, change.

The crushing victory by Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party in the weekend’s elections has signalled that Japanese voters are worried, disillusioned and impatient for change. With Japan’s economy still in the doldrums, China’s influence growing and the country still reeling from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, many Japanese want a return to when the country was an economic powerhouse and its regional and domestic security was assured.

Although ignominiously defeated just three years ago, the recycled former prime minister Shinzo Abe has led the LDP back to power on a platform of getting the economy moving, standing up to China and re-starting the country’s nuclear power program. Despite around 80 per cent of Japanese voters wanting to see a phase-out of nuclear power following the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster, Abe’s pro-nuclear LDP sees nuclear power as central to the economy’s revival.

A new era of consumer protection?

If the goal of product disclosure statement (PDS) is to help consumers make the most appropriate choices, we have to start with the consumer, rather than the document.

So, when we think about consumers, decision-making, and even consumer protection, we need to understand how people decide, and the processes they use to understand information.

With Assad’s days numbered, Australia follows the international pack.

In an uninspired but necessary act of ‘me too-ism’, Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s announcement that Australia now formally recognises the Syrian National Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian state follows the US and around 100 other countries which also understand that the Assad regime’s days are numbered. The question now is not if, but when, how, whether Bashir al-Assad senior team will be granted asylum and, if so, where.

 A regime bombing its own people, in Assad’s case with Scud missiles, phosphorous bombs, is a clear sign that it is on the edge of collapse. Anti-Assad forces control or hold significant sway over the north and east of the country, increasingly isolating Assad’s Alawite support base on the Mediterranean coast.

Anzac Day at Gallipoli-2015; Balloting- There is a better solution

GALLIPOLI 2015- BALLOTING OPTIONS
THERE IS A BETTER SOLUTION

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Mr Snowdon, on 23 September 2012, announced that there would be a ballot for those wanting to attend the ceremonies at Gallipoli in 2015. The Anzac Ceremonial Site at North Beach could hold only 10,500 people and excluding the VIPs of 500, there would be 10,000 places, 8,000 for Australians and 2,000 for New Zealanders. These people would then walk 3.4 km up to Lone Pine for the Australian national ceremony there or even further to Chunuk Bair for the New Zealand national ceremony. The reasons given were security, safety, amenity and comfort of those attending and the need to ensure ceremonies were appropriate for the occasion. It was claimed that the Governments of New Zealand and Turkey were in agreement with this announcement.

Why Egyptian power grab may not be what it seems

The recent news reporting about Egypt's political crisis creates the impression the country has fallen into the hands of a band of ultra-conservative mullahs intent on forcing women into niqab (full covering) and chopping off light-fingered hands. Egypt is clearly in turmoil -- but the current troubles are more complex than opposition to a supposed radical religious takeover.

The protests have been centred on opposition to the country’s proposed new constitution, planned to go to referendum this Saturday. But much of the protest is now also explicitly opposed to the continuing presidency of Mohammad Morsi. Given his election in June in what was widely regarded as a free and fair process, this begs the question of the Egyptian opposition’s commitment to democratic processes.

Between guilt and innocence: 2Day FM and the moral blame game

This past weekend, we saw the media – old, new, and social – trying to digest the indigestible.

The death of Jacintha Saldanha, the British nurse who apparently took her own life after being caught up in a prank phone call from 2DayFM DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian, is one of those stories that is so sad, so utterly pointless and bewildering, as to leave us gasping for something, anything, coherent to say about it.

There’s also something frighteningly random in how things seem to have played out: a simple, farcical prank call from the other side of the planet, and suddenly a 46 year old woman – a mother of two and from all accounts a dedicated and well-regarded professional – is dead.

That she is appears to be, from what we know at this stage, the result of decisions that had nothing to do with her.

Celebrating Human Rights Day in Timor-Leste

As the world celebrates Human Rights Day on 10 December, it is a good time to pause to reflect on the status of human rights in Timor-Leste. 13 years after the end of Indonesian rule and after ten years of independence, the question arises as to whether Timor-Leste’s aspirations to respecting notions of human rights, as outlined in its Constitution, have been successful.

Notions of human rights are broadly located in two categories; civil and political rights and social, economic and cultural rights. It is conventional to regard these respective categories of rights as being equal in value and mutually dependent.

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