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“The Armstrong Stench – Surely the Sgt Schultzes of Cycling Australia Must Have Smelt It”

How did Lance Armstrong get away with it?

It is a question for the ages, and one that is a key to a lot of doors that have sat quietly locked for years, but which are now being thrown wide open.

It is a matter of little White lies, and great big black ones more than it is about the blood, or the science of drug testing and evading that testing.

Above all, the stench of a hidden hand, or maybe a not so hidden hand, remains.

It is clear to all except maybe Blind Freddy that Lance Armstrong ran the most managed and professional doping system ever seen in professional sport.

The Armstrong Effect and above all the Armstrong Stench … surely The Sergeant Schultzes of Cycling Australia must have smelt it?

Why are Tamils Fleeing SRi Lanka?

Among the many claims that about ‘boat people’ that are made in order to fulfil particular political agendas, one is that when a war is officially concluded then people who live in the once afflicted area have nothing more to worry about. As a result, they do not have a legitimate claim for protection against persecution.

If people flee such an area, the assumption is that they are ‘economic’ refugees, hoping to ‘queue jump’ in order to secure a better life for themselves. This has been the claim made about refugees fleeing Sri Lanka. This claim is morally wrong and it is wrong in fact.

From 1983 until 2009, a number of Tamil groups, eventually coming under the banner of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Tamil Tigers), fought a bitter, bloody and often ruthless war to establish a separate ethnic Tamil state in Sri Lanka’s north and east. The war was a consequence of earlier anti-Tamil rioting.

Occupy: The Future

‘The Occupy movement is an extremely exciting development. In fact, it’s kind of spectacular. It’s unprecedented…Occupy is the first major public response to 30 years of class war’ (Noam Chomsky, ‘Occupy’)

'Antisocial Media?' Regulating Digital Selves

The consequences of communication via social media continue to be met with ambiguity, from accusations that it is making us cruel, to fears that it will have unknown impacts on generations to come. People are unsure about whether social media is good or bad for us.

 

'Tow Back' Tony rows backwards

There are a number of ways to interpret Opposition leader Tony Abbott’s failure to raise his asylum seeker ‘tow back’ proposal in his meeting with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, but none of them are positive. In short, the ‘town back’ proposal was – and in so far as it continues to be defended by Opposition speakers – remains a policy disaster.

In a political contest increasingly characterised by who has the metaphorically hairiest chest, ‘Tow Back Tony’ has been a tough-guy par excellence. Not only had Mr Abbott taken the hardest line on asylum seekers, he went that one step further by not just saying that a government under his leadership would implement asylum seeker deterrent policies but it would physically take asylum seeker boats back to the territorial waters they came from.

Weighing in on the best diet

In the search for the solution to the growing waistlines of Australians, many popular diets have been tried and eventually discarded. There are literally hundreds of dieting books and programs to choose from, with many popular ones substantially departing from mainstream nutrition and medical advice.

So should it be low-fat, low-carbohydrate, high-protein, low-glycaemic index, small meals or any one of a myriad of other popular dieting approaches? The scientific jury is now firmly in with dozens of high-quality randomised controlled trials showing that no one dieting option is the magic solution for everyone.

State of the evidence
Apart from some short-term success for particular approaches, mostly low-carbohydrate diets, all of the popular dieting approaches fare poorly in terms of weight loss, weight maintenance and adherence once the 6-month milestone is passed.

Burma's reform process more than just window dressing

For long-term Burma watchers, it has been easy to regard that country’s recent political changes as window dressing by an authoritarian regime hoping to attract investment without actually giving up power. There is no doubt, too, that the 2010 elections remained a very long way from being free and fair.

But the bi-elections in April this year did appear to offer a glimpse of a genuine reform process, with opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) candidates winning 43 of the 44 seats contested. Burma’s President Thein Sein has since been feted around the world as a reformer, as has NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi as the symbol of hoped-for political change.

Since April, there have been numerous changes in Burma’s political and military leadership. To date, these changes have almost all seen the promotion of reformist officers or former officers and the side-lining of the government’s anti-reform faction.

Peace in Mindanao

The peace agreement between the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed on Sunday has, it seems, brought to an end four decades of a bloody and destructive war in the southern Philippines that has cost an estimated 150,000 lives. Assuming the peace agreement holds, it will create an autonomous Islamic homeland for the Philippines’ ‘Bangsamoro’ people and bring much needed stability to an historically deeply troubled region. The peace agreement recognises the long-standing military stalemate between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the MILF. A compromise arrangement has long been recognised by the MILF and at least some in the government as the only practical means to ending the conflict.

Online opportunities: digital innovation or death through regulation?

The steady measured progress of innovation in higher education has been replaced with an explosion of new ideas. The change is both exhilarating and frightening. Each day there are new innovations, as more and more experts explain where these changes might take us.

New ideas are flourishing around Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs, badging, portfolios, assessment, and other ways of extracting value and efficiency from the digital learning experience. Just six months ago most of us had never heard of MOOCs, but if you search for this very odd acronym now you get a flood of results.

Much of the digital innovation so far has come from the United States, but what about Australia? There are some urgent questions around whether we, too, are able to nurture innovation.

BALLOT OR NOT TO BALLOT? THAT IS NOT THE QUESTION

Dr John Basarin, Research Fellow, Deakin University & Project Manager, Gallipoli-2015
Email: john.basarin@deakin.edu.au

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