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 

My art is my culture, my culture is my art: Indigenous women on the experiences of making art in a contemporary context

Indig women in artsA recent Vivid ideas talk organised by Women in the Arts in Sydney gathered together contemporary Aboriginal women who are innovators in the arts to reflect on their experiences as Indigenous women practicing in a contemporary context. They say Aboriginal art and culture shouldn’t only be celebrated in NAIDOC week.


Was Malcolm Turnbull born to rule?

Malcolm Turnbull Born to RuleIn the lead up to the 2016 election, Malcolm Turnbull released a short video talking about his upbringing, which painted him as a battler brought up by a single dad. But while the story of Turnbull’s mother leaving him at the age of 9 is undisputed, just how real is the story of ‘the battler’? Journalist and author Paddy Manning turned his forensic eye to Turnbull’s life in his book Born to Rule: The unauthorised biography of Malcolm Turnbull, and he says the battler image is far from true. Catherine and Paddy take a look at Malcolm Turnbull’s life, from his early beginnings, to his work at Goldman Sachs, his role in the HIH disaster, the NBN and ultimately as Prime Minister of Australia.

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.



The Chaser team take on election 2016

charles-firth1If you watched last night’s leaders’ debate between Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, you wouldn’t have been alone in thinking it was boring and over-scripted. But don’t give up on watching the election campaign just yet. With five weeks to go until the election, the Chaser team are back to spice things up – not only on TV with their ‘Election Desk’, but in print as well. The Chaser Quarterly is back, teaming up with SBS’ The Shovel team to produce an election special edition. Managing Editor and Chaser troublemaker, Charles Firth, gave me a peek inside.


Our poisoned planet a bigger risk than climate change

poisonedplanetOur children are sicker; cancer, obesity, allergies and mental health issues are on the rise in adults; and, frighteningly, we may be less intelligent than previous generations. In the meantime chemicals are being pumped into every part of our environment – the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the water we drink and the air we breathe. Author Julian Cribb says our poisoned planet is a bigger issue than climate change, and it’s something we all need to take urgent action on.
In his new book, Poisoned Planet, Julian Cribb says we have the tools to clean it up and create a healthier, safer future for us all.

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Author, journalist, editor and science communicator, Julian Cribb

This story first appeared on The Wire