Friday, October 05, 2012

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Michael Harris follows up on the previous activism to save the Experimental Lakes Area by noting that efforts to work with the Harper Cons are providing both divisive and disastrous:
(J)ust a few months after the Death of Evidence rally, another event is playing out behind the scenes that is partly the way of the world and partly full-blown tragedy.  If those same scientists held a rally today, they would have to call it by another name. Judging from what is happening in that penumbral zone where idealism and power politics collide, a good title might be the Death of Innocence.

In a sad act of political naiveté and myopic thinking, of cowardice posing as pragmatism, the movement to save the ELA has been strategically sidelined. In its place, there is a fevered attempt to reduce the momentous public policy issues involved to one, short-term, panic-stricken objective  – finding a new operator for this unique scientific program at all costs.

The scientists who just a few short months ago asked the public to support their cause against oppressive politicians are now shunning the media, hopping in bed with the government, and fighting amongst themselves. The PhD student who gave up her studies to single-handedly run the movement to save the ELA, has been asked to “go silent” by her colleagues and mentors. The people who asked her to do that are the same people who encouraged her to fight the good fight for ELA, her fellow scientists at the top levels of this betrayed national treasure.

Why? Politics. The senior scientists have decided not to antagonize the Harper government with embarrassing reminders of the harsh facts: ELA was not shuttered to save $2 million, or because it no longer fit the agenda of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, or because recent scientific studies there had been disappointing. It was cancelled because the science being produced at ELA was a potential obstacle to the untrammeled development of projects like the oil sands. It provided the one thing an ideology-driven government can’t abide; independent, verifiable, and impartial facts.
- Meanwhile, Jeffrey Simpson theorizes that the continued movement questioning the Northern Gateway pipeline will win out in the end.

- Trish Hennessy storifies a noteworthy debate between Armine Yalnizyan and Andrew Coyne on income inequality.

- David Climenhaga calls out the media for thoughtlessly repeating Fraser-fabricated "facts" with no basis in reality.

- Duncan Cameron discusses why the Harper Cons have no interest in engaging with the rest of the world through the UN:
In another view, the UN is a coherent international organization with a mandate to promote its charter, and live up to the expectations of its founders that what unites the people's of the world is greater than what divides them. This second conception of an activist UN was what motivated Lester Pearson, Dag Hammarskjöld, and generations of idealists who believed that many issues do not bear passports, and that the world needs action from a world scale organization on issues as diverse as AIDS, social statistics, child nutrition, tourism, arms control, control of nuclear energy, and protection of heritage sites.

In its preamble, the UN charter defines its first purpose as "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which ... has brought untold sorrow to mankind."

Serious differences loom between those like the Harper government who believe political problems can be dealt with by military action, and those who are convinced that means exist to resolve the most serious differences without resort to violence.

Those in the second camp still support the UN despite its own participation in wars because, as the Swedish ambassador to Norway said in accepting the posthumous award of the Nobel Peace Prize to  Dag Hammarskjöld, quoting  Hammarskjöld'ss last article: "... set-backs in efforts to implement an ideal do not prove that the ideal is wrong." 
- Finally, regular reader and commenter Dan Tan has started a blog of his own - with the first post featuring his take on Justin Trudeau and empty-vessel politics.

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