Book Review: The Scapegoat, About the Expulsion of Michael Rasmussen from the Tour De France 2007 and beyond, Verner Møller , Akaprint, Aarhus, 2011.
In a country in which there are no public opinion surveys and in which the still developing media could not be said to reflect, much less shape, the views of most people, trying to understand why the people of Timor-Leste vote as they do was not an exact science. Such judgments that could be made were only on the basis of anecdotal evidence set against what is known about Timor-Leste’s history and some conventional theories about politics.
Australia’s rebuilding of diplomatic ties with Fiji has taken some observers by surprise, given the strength of opposition to Fiji’s 2006 military coup. Australia has been torn between principle and real politik since its high commissioner, James, Battley, was ordered out of Fiji in 2009, followed by acting high commissioner Sarah Roberts in 2010. The question now is whether Australia has moved too quickly to still have any influence in Fiji’s proposed return to democratisation.
After cancelling the country’s 2009 elections, Fiji has recently established a voter roll, which indicates that the country could be preparing for elections, nominally scheduled for 2014. Fiji has not enjoyed freedom of speech or a free media since the 2006 coup nor does it allow freedom of assembly. Ousted prime minister Laisenia Qarase, whom Bainimarana installed after the 2000 coup, has just been convicted of abuse of office in a long-running corruption case.
Australian and New Zealand ministers responsible for food regulation last week bowed to lobbying from processed food manufacturers and agreed to permit them to market products with general level health claims without requiring pre-market or independent verification.
General level health claims are those that relate a food or an ingredient with a health benefit, such as “product X helps promote the strength of the immune system”.
The ministers’ decision came just over a week after the Australia Institute for Health and Welfare released its Australia’s food and nutrition 2012 report, showing approximately one in four Australian children and nearly two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese. Diet-related diseases including obesity cost the health system over A$16bn annually.
Imagine this scene – a personal trainer barking at his flabby pen-pushing charges to push themselves through the pain barrier and climb those steps because “the human body wasn’t designed to sit at a computer all day”. It’s easy to imagine because of the common perception that the root cause of the current obesity epidemic is a radical shift in human behaviour – from the hunter-gatherer ways of our ancient ancestors to our current sedentary lifestyles with diets high in energy-dense and highly-processed foods.
On July 6th the Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation hosted the National Symposium on Multiculturalism in Australia: from theorising to policy making. The aim of the symposium was to gauge current debates and trends concerning ‘multiculturalism’ in the academic, government and community sectors. There were key themes and concerns both new and longstanding that became apparent from this event. These included a repositioning of our understanding of an “Australian multiculturalism” to include concerns of migration and citizenship, away from the traditional academic and policy tendency to attempt to isolate multicultural and settlement concerns from debates on immigration and population.
‘Heaven knows, I'm not comparing the internet to a hurtling death trap. But the internet has its destructive side just as the automobile does ... As with the car, criticism of the internet's shortcomings, risks, and perils has been silenced, or ignored’ (Lee Siegel) .
The cyborg-ish figure of the terminator (the T-800) blurred the boundaries between human and machine, hope and apprehension. Arnie came back in the sequels hardwired to sacrifice himself for the preferred life form (humans) and this was reassuring: machines know who their masters are.
The sci-fi series Caprica picked these ideas apart with a ‘rise of the machines’ type of plot. Fantasy and reality are woven together as characters interact in a virtual world. This machine-human narrative of the 21st century looks to unsettle rather than reassure us. What if the machines don't come back to save us? What if they decide they are better than us?