8.10 RNZ News Special: LynnMall terrorist attack

Kim Hill hosts a one-hour live news special following the attack carried out by a violent extremist at New Lynn Countdown on Friday afternoon. 

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Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

9.05 Prof David Murdoch: is Covid elimination still achievable?

University of Otago professor of infectious diseases David Murdoch.

Photo: University of Otago

As of Friday afternoon, more than 70 percent of New Zealanders aged 12 or over had received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, or are booked in to receive it. But as witnessed in Israel, where Covid cases have been rising sharply since July despite a high vaccination rate, so-called ‘breakthrough cases’ are a cause for concern - especially as we grapple with Delta and other emerging variants.

Professor David Murdoch is Dean of the University of Otago and co-leader of The Infection Group. He is also a member of the Strategic Covid-19 Public Health Advisory Group chaired by Sir David Skegg, and on various Covid-19 related committees, including testing and vaccine advisory groups.

Professor Murdoch joins the show to discuss vaccination rates and New Zealand’s strategy for elimination in the face of this outbreak.

People waiting for their turn at the drive-through vaccination centre at The Trusts Arena, Auckland.

People waiting for their turn at the drive-through vaccination centre at The Trusts Arena, Auckland. Photo: RNZ/Nick Monro

9.35 Prof Ethan Bier: using mutated mosquitoes to control disease

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Photo: Supplied

Genetically engineered mosquitoes could be the key to winning the war against malaria, a disease that affects more than 200 million people every year and kills more than 400,000 - many of whom are children. 
The main tool is a gene drive: when scientists insert a gene drive into an organism, the organism passes that new gene to all its offspring, and the offspring do the same. In July, scientists based in an Italian lab reported that genetically modified Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes could wipe out their own species in an environment mimicking sub-Saharan Africa – showing for the first time how gene-drive technology works under ecologically challenging conditions. 
Ethan Bier is a distinguished professor in the section of Cell and Developmental Biology at UC San Diego, and is the head of the Bier Lab – where they focus research on active genetics, developmental patterning, and human disease mechanics. 

Anopheles gambiae.

Anopheles gambiae. Photo: AFP

10.05 Tim Dean: is it time to ditch our outdated moral beliefs?

In his debut book How We Became Human: And Why We Need To Change, Sydney-based philosopher, writer and teacher Tim Dean looks at how we evolved to be moral creatures, and why some of our evolved inclinations are out of step with the modern world. 

Dean examines how we can reshape our thinking to thrive in the modern world, and asks what evolution has to do with issues like racism, sexism, social media toxicity, religious intolerance and political partisan warfare? 

Dean has a doctorate in philosophy from the University of New South Wales on the evolution of morality. He specialises in ethics, critical thinking, the philosophy of science and philosophy education.

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Photo: Supplied

10.35 Dr Joe Pojman: Texas signs 'heartbeat' abortion ban into law

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Photo: Texas Alliance For Life

A controversial law dubbed the ‘Heartbeat Bill’ has come into effect in the US State of Texas this week after the Supreme Court did not respond to an emergency appeal by abortion providers. 

The Heartbeat Bill is one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion measures, banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy - a point when many women do not know they are pregnant. The law is also unusual in that it allows ordinary citizens the right to sue doctors or anyone supporting a procedure past the six-week point, which critics say potentially opens the door to ‘vigilante lawsuits’. 

Dr Joe Pojman is the founder and executive director of an anti-abortion advocacy group Texas Alliance for Life. He is an outspoken supporter of the new law, which has put the State of Texas at the center of a national debate over reproductive rights.

Protestors at a reproductive rally held in Brooklyn after Heartbeat Bill went into effect in Texas.

Protestors at a reproductive rally held in Brooklyn after Heartbeat Bill went into effect in Texas. Photo: AFP

11.05 Todd Antony: sharing images of remarkable subcultures worldwide

Formerly based in London, now in lockdown in Auckland, photographer Todd Antony usually travels the reaches of the globe on ambitious commercial and personal projects, racking up numerous international awards in the process. Antony’s most recent personal project got a ‘best of show’ at the August 2021 American Photographic Artists Awards: a series of portraits shot in May of Sierra Leone’s Flying Stars amputee football team, a group born out of that country’s 1991-2002 civil war (Antony is also crowdfunding for the team). 

Antony’s advertising clients include Samsung, Sony, Shell, Audi and the BBC, but in his personal work in the last seven years he’s travelled to work with extraordinary and diverse subcultures and groups. They have included the ‘Climbing Cholitas’ a group of Bolivian indigenous women who used to cook for visiting high altitude mountaineers but have now taken on the climbing themselves, and Dekotora Japanese truck decorating culture.


11.30 Haritina Mogoșanu: growing plants in space

Space science educator and astrobiologist Haritina Mogoșanu returns to Saturday Morning to discuss growing plants in space. Her Seeds in Space programme has involved distributing seeds to more than 100 New Zealand schools, working with JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (their astronauts' growth images here). 

In 2021 astronauts aboard the International Space Station have undertaken a plant-growth experiment with basil seeds exploring how microgravity affects plant genetics. Last year, Haritina sent pōhutukawa seeds to the space station measuring, when back on Earth, their viability to germinate.

Mogoșanu, who has a horticultural engineering degree, is the executive director of the New Zealand Astrobiology Network and Public Programmes Manager at Experience Wellington.  

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Photo: Provided


Books featured in this show:

How We Became Human
Written by Tim Dean
ISBN: 9781760982010
Published by Pan Macmillan


Music featured in this show:

Jazz on the Autobahn
The Felice Brothers
Played at 11.35am