On ABC RN’s The Science Show Robyn Williams spoke to Kate Hughes, Research Assistant in the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney, and Ben Selinger, Emeritus Professor at ANU (transcript available) in the light of the ABC Four Corners program The Monsanto Papers.
Kate Hughes lives in a valley in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage area. The decision is simple. Either you use glyphosate to counter the Chinese false bamboo, or you have a valley choked with the weed.
She says you look at the risks against the benefits. Glyphosate is applied by suited up contractors who know what they are doing.
Selinger has had much experience with agricultural chemicals and co-authored a book with Russell Sparrow – Chemistry in the Marketplace. He points out that glyphosate is categorised as a Class 2A carcinogen along with eating meat and inhaling smoke.
He makes the distinction between “whether something is inherently dangerous and whether in fact it is going to cause a problem, in other words whether it is hazardous.”
- to put that simply the asphalt on our roads is full of carcinogens, very high concentrations of them, very dangerous ones, but people don’t go out, pick up a bit of asphalt and chew it, or when it’s warm and molten roll in it and get it on their skin.
He feels the Four Corners program missed that point entirely.
He said glyphosate does not leave residues that would be of concern in food consumption, but appropriate care needs to be taken by those applying it.
According to Professor Alexander Todorov of the Department of Psychology at Princeton University human beings have evolved to make up their minds very rapidly whether a stranger is friend or foe. He describes his first research:
- In the very first study that we did we would present faces for 100 milliseconds, 500 milliseconds to a full second, and ask people to make various judgements. I actually thought that to make complex judgements like trustworthiness or aggressiveness, in contrast to attractiveness, you would probably need a long exposure time to faces, perhaps a second. And it turns out that the judgements were fairly indistinguishable from each other. And the main effect of this additional exposure was to increase our confidence, the confidence in judgements.
He says there have now been a dozen of subsequent studies replicating this effect, and now we know that essentially you don’t need more than a 200 millisecond exposure to a facial image. That’s a fifth of a second!
First impressions matter, and we are not all made equal. Females are seen as more trustworthy than males, and females tend to have lighter skin, which also makes them look more trustworthy. I always knew it was a really bad idea for males to sport an unshaven look!
He goes on to say that people who look younger than their biological age actually do live longer.
How do you look younger?
Well, number one is genetic luck. But then the other things are having a better life, coming from a higher socio-economic status with more wealth and better access to healthcare, not having a chronic condition, not smoking, not being chronically exposed to sun. So all of these things that contribute to your health, they contribute also to how you look. The question is, is this something about the character of the person or their life circumstances?
Of course looks can be deceiving, first impressions can be a “very, very lousy guide of what the person is across time and situations.”
I make no comment except that while cosmetics is a legitimate tool to improve our looks, some people do seem to spend a lot of money in disfiguring themselves.
3. Lifting the lid on asylum seeker policy
In a fascinating interview on the 7.30 Report Shaun Hanns,
a former Home Affairs official whose job was to assess asylum claims has quit his job to speak out saying that while he is firm believer in boat turn backs, all remaining people in offshore detention can be brought to Australia without it threatening the tough border regime.
He strongly believes in turning back the boats, because
- the risk of death on that passage from Indonesia to Australia is so high. It’s roughly equivalent to people trying to survive through the Syrian civil war – that’s how serious this trip is.
He said that in December 2014:
- it was written into legislation, that people who had come after that time but who hadn’t gone, hadn’t been removed to the islands as yet could stay in Australia.
Although it was not advertised, people smugglers would have known about it, and it has not started the flow of boats simply because the surveillance is too good and boats do not get through. Nor did the deal with the US in 2016 lead to a return of boats.
So there is no need to keep people on Nauru and Manus Island as a caution.
See also Former Home Affairs insider calls for Nauru and Manus Island refugees to be brought to Australia at ABC Online, which also references a speech by Julia Banks and a forthcoming 4000-word essay by Hanns at The Monthly.
Now a Galaxy survey has shown the around 80% of voters support NZ resettlement for children on Nauru.
Labor has always struggled to get through that, apart from solidarity on turning back boats, its policy is quite different from the government’s. This iteration is from what it took to the last election. At base it sees treating asylum seekers as humans in need, fleeing persecution, rather the chancers looking for a better life and inherently ‘illegal’. It emphasizes working up the supply line in Southeast Asia, strengthening the UNHCR and cooperating with SE Asian countries rather than simply sending boats back to Indonesia where they live in limbo, begging to gain the necessities to stay alive and without prospects of an accepted life in the community.
This interview with Tony Burke on RN Drive highlights sending Dutton to the High Court, but it also tells us where Labor is at right now from the Labor politician who is currently leader of business in the house, and was immigration minister when the last boat sank and Rudd instituted Nauru and Manus Island. He expresses determination to bring the government to action in the short term.
There is a long essay in The Monthly by James Button Dutton’s Dark Victory. In putting together the Home Affairs portfolio the department Immigration and Citizenship had a name change to Immigration and Border Protection. Perhaps even more importantly many of its functions were split up and spread around other departments. Part of Australia’s secret in the large-scale integration of migrants was that there was a one-stop shop, and the operational department was able to feed back into policy. This is no longer the case.
All this by ministerial fiat rather than as a result of a review. One former employee said the good angels are leaving, arrogant gods remain.