Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- George Monbiot rightly challenges the attempt of corporate interests and their political sock-puppets to demonize anybody concerned about our planet's future:
Exotic invasive species are a straightforward ecological problem, wearily familiar to anyone trying to protect biodiversity. Some introduced creatures – such as brown hare, little owl, field poppy, corncockle and pheasant's eye in Britain – do no harm to their new homes, and are cherished and defended by nature lovers. Others, such as cane toads, mink, rats, rhododendron, kudzu vine or tree-killing fungi, can quickly simplify a complex ecosystem, wiping out many of its endemic animals and plants. They have characteristics (for example, being omnivorous, light-excluding, toxic or inedible to any native carnivore or herbivore) that allow them to tear an ecosystem to shreds. These aren't cultural constructions. They are biological facts.

Comparing those who describe this process to racists is the intellectual equivalent of stating that evolution through natural selection is a coded attack on the welfare state, or that the first law of thermodynamics was hatched by green campaigners intent on conserving energy. It is to see the words but not to understand the science they describe.
Unlike most art, the wonders of nature often stand in the way of attempts to extract resources or to build airports or shopping centres. Corporate attacks on people who love and seek to defend the natural world have seeped into every pore. Culturally hegemonic, the developers' view finds expression in the most unlikely places.

So those of us whose love of the natural world is a source of constant joy and constant despair, who wish to immerse ourselves in nature as others immerse themselves in art, who try to defend the marvels that enthrall us, find ourselves labelled – from the Mail to the Guardian – as romantics, escapists and fascists. That, I suppose, is the price of confronting the power of money.
- But unfortunately, it's the people most determined to destroy all they can in the name of profit who are largely responsible for making their own rules. On that front, CBC reports on the miserable failure of self-regulation in Canada's rail sector (particularly when it comes to the transportation of oil), while Steve Horn points out that the U.S. government isn't even being informed of the actual location of the Keystone XL pipeline it's being asked to approve as safe.

- Rich Clarke makes the case for a guaranteed annual income among other steps to alleviate poverty and inequality:
Ask how to attack poverty and guaranteed annual income often comes up as the response or solution. While it has many positive facets, it alone is not the single answer. We do not believe there is one solution, but there is one goal — guaranteed income security.
It is recognized that more than one-third of working Canadians do not have permanent, full-time paid jobs. Many, often referred to as the precariously employed, fall below the poverty line due to low hourly wages and low hours of work, and/or not enough weeks of work in a year.

The working poor and near-poor — who move in and out of low-paid jobs but often fail to attain a decent standard of living — is disproportionately made up of recent immigrants — especially those belonging to racial minorities — persons with disabilities, female single parents, the single near-elderly, aboriginal Canadians and young people trying to get into secure employment.
There is no one solution to alleviating poverty. The concept of a guaranteed annual income is a reminder that we need to raise the bar for all; and the best way to do this is to strengthen the foundation of income security for all.
- Finally, Michael Harris sees the Harper Cons as running out of (however implausible and meaningless) stories to tell to distract from their own corruption and cover-ups. And Crawford Kilian offers a primer on the RCMP's investigation into Mike Duffy and his Conservative Party benefactors.

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