Toxicologist is called in to help sort out contradictory findings on 1080 and wildlife deaths

We smell a rat when one laboratory report says testing has  detected 1080 in dead rodents collected on the West Coast, contradicting the findings of another laboratory report which found no evidence of the controversial poison.

The identity of the laboratory which produced the first-mentioned report is being kept confidential “for the security and safety of the independent chemists involved … ”

The secret lab’s findings challenge the Department of Conservation insistence that 1080 was not found in any of the wildlife tested by Landcare Research and Massey University veterinarians.

Who should we believe?

The Science Media Centre asked for help in tackling that question by asking for  comment from Dr Belinda Cridge, in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at University of Otago.  Her observations can be read HERE. Continue reading “Toxicologist is called in to help sort out contradictory findings on 1080 and wildlife deaths”

Hurrah for self-identification – already we can change our gender and in the UK we can change our race, too

Legislators who are being pressed to change discriminatory laws  – including a measure enabling people to choose the gender recorded on their birth certificates –  should brace for a fresh wave of agitation.

It’s the notion that people should be allowed to choose their race as well as their gender.

University staff and students in Britain have been told they can choose if they are black, white or any other race as well as their gender and whether they are disabled.

The decision was made by the University and Colleges Union, which represents researchers, teaching staff and lecturers.

Its latest report says:

“Our rules commit us to ending all forms of discrimination, bigotry and stereotyping.

“UCU has a long history of enabling members to self-identify whether that is being black, disabled, LGBT+ or women.” Continue reading “Hurrah for self-identification – already we can change our gender and in the UK we can change our race, too”

Shhh! The case of a British paedophile who was locked up with women is best not discussed on a Massey campus

The question of what process should be followed before people can change the genders recorded on their birth certificates may well have been discussed on Massey University’s Wellington campus.

Trouble is, a bunch of students with firm ideas on the subject and a militant urge to muzzle contrary ideas staged a sit-in and pressed for the university to cancel the event.

Massey’s administrators – anxious to cocoon sensitive staff and students from information or arguments that might offend or upset them – accordingly advised Speak Up For Women to find an alternative venue for its Feminism 2020 event.

The University has received external advice on its health, safety and wellbeing obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, and its duty of care to the University community, and has made the decision on these grounds.

The legal advice we have received is that cancellation of the event, as concluded by the report, is the only way to eliminate the risk to health and safety and to ensure that the University would not be in breach of its health and safety obligations.

Massey University declared itself to be committed to the values of academic freedom, the freedom of speech, and the freedom of expression, “as values that lie at the very heart of the tradition of a university and academic inquiry”. But … Continue reading “Shhh! The case of a British paedophile who was locked up with women is best not discussed on a Massey campus”

It’s a blessing for Massey science teachers and students that an auspicious’ moon was shining over construction site

We are delighted to report the great news reflected in a heading on a news item from Massey University.

It says Auspicious’ moon shines over construction start and appears on an item illustrated by Auckland campus staff, students and construction workers who have gathered for the blessing of the site of a new building.

The moon happened to be moving into a full phase at the time of the ceremony.  According the kaumatua who officiated, this is a good omen for the project.

So what is being built?  A Maori studies centre, where indigenous myths and spiritual beliefs can be taught and questioned?

Nope.  A science centre is the beneficiary of the moon’s serendipitous position in the sky.

This is the site of Massey’s new Innovation Centre at the Auckland campus. Continue reading “It’s a blessing for Massey science teachers and students that an auspicious’ moon was shining over construction site”

The Trough Monitor: speech-muzzling Massey will benefit from the latest serving of PGF money

The Point of Order Trough Monitor alerted us today to a handout which will benefit – among others –  the university which banned former Opposition leader Don Brash from its campus on spurious security grounds.

The ban brought Massey’s compliance with Section 161 of the Education Act into question, although Point of Order was left wondering  who (if anybody) actually enforces the law which deals with academic freedom:

It is declared to be the intention of Parliament in enacting the provisions of this Act relating to institutions that academic freedom and the autonomy of institutions are to be preserved and enhanced.

For the purposes of this section, academic freedom in relation to our universities includes —

The freedom of academic staff and students, within the law, to question and test received wisdom, to put forward new ideas and to state controversial or unpopular opinions.

In the performance of their functions, the councils and chief executives of institutions, Ministers, and authorities and Crown agencies “shall act in all respects so as to give effect to the intention of Parliament as expressed in this section”

This aspect of the legislation is incorporated in a Massey University policy document which informs staff members of the standards of conduct expected of them as university employees.

Never mind.  There’s plenty of money in the Provincial Growth Fund and it has to be spent somewhere. Continue reading “The Trough Monitor: speech-muzzling Massey will benefit from the latest serving of PGF money”

All this politicking about Māori seats – will Massey staff and students be able to discuss it?

It perhaps won’t be examined by students at the Treaty-led Massey University, where staff are cocooned from indelicate thinking about Maori representation by their protective vice-chancellor . But ACT leader David Seymour is crediting his Smaller Government Bill with prompting Winston Peters into action on the Māori seats.

A press statement he issued at the weekend alerted us to Peters  telling Sky News he would propose an amendment to a Labour MP’s bill.  This would have the effect of putting the future of the seats to a referendum.

An account of what he said has been reported by Television One:

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has reiterated his intent to push for a referendum on the future of the Māori seats in Parliament.

Continue reading “All this politicking about Māori seats – will Massey staff and students be able to discuss it?”

The law requires academic freedom to be preserved and enhanced – but who does the policing?

Whose job is it to check that university authorities comply with the Education Act 1989?

We ask because of the widely reported goings-on at Massey University, which have culminated in students being denied the chance to listen to Don Brash, former Governor of the Reserve Bank, former leader of the National Party, former leader of the ACT Party, and the best known member of Hobson’s Choice.

Section 161 of the Education Act deals with the academic freedom which has been imperilled at Massey.  It says: Continue reading “The law requires academic freedom to be preserved and enhanced – but who does the policing?”

  David Clark (it had to happen) gets something right

In  one of the smartest  moves he has made,   Health Minister  David Clark  has recruited  Steve  Maharey to  be  Pharmac’s  chairman.  Unlike  many of the  “Labour luvvies”   being named  these   days  to  various  panels and  other  well-paid jobs, Maharey  has genuine  credentials for  the task.

He  was one of the  most effective ministers in the Clark government and then  moved  out of politics  when he believed  he had   contributed all he could in that  sphere.  He  subsequently  had  a stellar  period in public  service  as  Vice-chancellor of  Massey University  from 2008  to  2016. Continue reading ”  David Clark (it had to happen) gets something right”