Industrial farming a war on our planet: Dr Vandana Shiva

vandana shivaWith the World Health Organisation and members of the scientific community telling us Genetically Modified plants are safe what is there to worry about? Metabolic diseases and cancers, industrial pollution, the creating of high risk mono-cultures and control of seeds are just a few issues raised by those who say there’s plenty to concern us about the practice of injecting plants with pesticides and making them more dependent on chemical intervention than ever. Environmentalist Dr Vandana Shiva says the impact of industrial farming is so bad, it’s a war on our planet.

Dr Shiva is the founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in Dehra Dun, India and the founder of Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources – especially native seed – and to promote organic farming and fair trade.

A short version of this interview first appeared on The Wire 

Bob Carr on Bill Shorten, a federal ICAC, and the fallout from Brexit

Bob Carr and Catherine ZengererBob Carr was a former NSW Premier, Labor Foreign Minister and is now Director of the Australia China Relations Institute at UTS. He’s seen what Labor and federal politics looks like from the inside, and in his  role as Foreign Minister has handled delicate negotiations with political leaders the world over. I caught up with him to discuss the making of Bill Shorten this election, whether he supports a federal ICAC and what the fallout from the Brexit could look like for Australia.

This interview first appeared on The Wire  on 2ser 107.3 

#Faketradie #Parakeelia and the influence of social media this election

Fake tradiePeople on Twitter were quick to respond to the Coalition’s latest election ad featuring an actor playing a tradie, with the #faketradie hashtag pointing out the myriad of ways the tradie looked like a fake. It wasn’t a good look for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who is already battling perceptions of being out of touch with working class people.  The PM’s attempt to highlight his innovation image also took a battering at the leader’s debate live on Facebook on Friday night, when the video feed kept buffering as he tried to spruik his record on the NBN. The scandal over the Liberal Party’s company Parakeelia, which receives tax payer dollars via MP allowances for voter-monitoring software, has had huge traction on Twitter, but not so much in the mainstream media. But how much influence does social media have on the election? Margo Kingston is a Twitter journalist and editor of citizen journalism site, No Fibs.

This story first appeared on The Wire 

The Killing Season Uncut: behind the scenes with Sarah Ferguson

sarah fergusonBeing a fly on the wall when then Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard challenged Kevin Rudd for the leadership in June 2010 with no warning either to him or the Australian public is something many Australians would have loved. Why did she do it? And who was behind the push to topple one of the most popular Prime Minister’s Australia has ever had? This is what award winning journalist Sarah Ferguson set about finding out with her team from the ABC, and the result was The Killing Season documentary series. Remarkably not only did Ferguson coax both Rudd and Gillard to set out their version of events on camera, but over 100 key players, from senior Labor politicians to political advisors, came forward with their account too. Now Sarah Ferguson, along with Researcher Patricia Drum, has put more pieces of the puzzle together in the new book The Killing Season Uncut.

This interview first aired on The Wire

Was the Orlando killer a terrorist?

Pulse-ShootingThe mass shooting in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida has sparked debate about whether the killer was a terrorist or simply a deranged homophobe. Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in a bizarre phone call to 911 in the middle of his killing spree, but there is no evidence he had any direct links to the terrorist organisation. The Canadian media is reporting Mateen frequented The Pulse nightclub for at least three years. So how long was he planning the attack? And how much influence did Islamic State propaganda have in his decision? I put this to Greg Barton, Professor of Global Islamic Politics at the Alfred Deakin Institute, Deakin University.

Image: A vigil for the shooting at Pulse in Portland. Photo Credit: Sarah Mirk on Flickr

This story first appeared on The Wire.

Beyond Belief – how we find meaning with or without religion

Hugh-MackayWhether your faith lies with one true God, the cosmic bureaucracy or the church of the flying spaghetti monster, your beliefs shape your identity. Despite plummeting attendance at traditional church services, around two thirds of Aussies either believe in God, or some other higher power. Social researcher, Hugh Mackay argues that both atheists and theists are believers – since the existence of God can neither be proven nor disproven. His book‘Beyond Belief  – How we find meaning , with or without religion’ is an ode to agnosticism, to doubt and uncertainty, and an exploration of how we find spiritual fulfillment in a secular age.



Navigating Climate Change Knowledge Wars

It’s nearly ten years since Kevin Rudd said climate change was the great moral challenge of our time. While three quarters of Australians now believe climate change is happening, some still aren’t sure whether it’s just a natural cycle or whether it’s caused by human activity like burning coal. Yet the science remains clear – the planet is warming and the changing climate means is resulting in extreme weather events around the world. Nobel Prize winner Peter Doherty says our lack of understanding of the science comes down to the knowledge wars being run by vested interests, who stand to lose if we take meaningful action on climate change . He’s urging you to inform yourself and his book, the Knowledge Wars, is a guide to navigating what is misinformation and what is real.

How will the US respond to the ISIS beheading?

foley-photo-syriaThe Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has responded to US attacks on Iraq with the brutal beheading of American journalist James Foley and a threat to execute another journalist, Steven Sotloff, if the US does not call a halt to air strikes. The militant group says the US is no longer fighting an insurgency, but an Islamic army, and a state that has been accepted by a large number of Muslims worldwide. But will the threat affect US tactics in Iraq?
Image: James Foley. Source: The Global Post

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Dr Anthony Billingsley, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of New South Wales

This story first appeared on The Wire

Disability head exits job with a few home truths

graham innesOutgoing Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes has spoken out strongly as he steps down from the job. He says the idea of calling Australia ‘lifters or leaners’ takes the focus off any real attempt to help people with disabilities find jobs.

Featured in story: Graeme Innes, outgoing Disability Discrimination Commissioner

This story first appeared on The Wire


The history of slang – how a criminal code became everyday speech

jonathon-green-language-500-years-of-the-vulgar-tongueSlang was once the language of thieves and beggars – a criminal code that helped them communicate with each other and organise crime from the streets to behind bars. Like a puzzle we need to solve, it’s held a fascination for us for centuries; a sometimes salacious desire to be in on its secrets and be part of the “in crowd”. Slang lexicographer Jonathan Green draws on thirty years research to trace the history of slang in a follow-up to his slang dictionary.

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Author and Lexicographer, Jonathan Green

This story first appeared on The Wire