Monday, February 24, 2020

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Anand Giridharadas writes that with Bernie Sanders in position to win the Democratic nomination for president, the U.S.' election will answer the question of whether the country belongs to billionaires or to everybody else. 

- Emily Bazelon discusses how the Trump administration's choice to stop enforcing labour law is making life even worse for American workers. And Jim Stanford writes that the employers complaining about a "skills gap" as an excuse for stagnant wages are responsible for setting up precarious jobs and failing to invest in their own employees.

- Kenneth Jackson reports on the federal government's failure to even track how many First Nations children are apprehended from their homes.

- Danyaal Raza writes about the dangers to Canada's universal health care system arising from the corporate-backed attempt to turn for-profit medicine into a constitutional principle.

- PressProgress highlights how Doug Ford's combination of mandatory online course credits and ballooning class sizes figures to make education entirely unmanageable.

- Finally, Mike Blanchfield reports on the Libs' acceptance of some transparency for future trade deals in order to secure the quick passage of the new version of NAFTA.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Eric Holthaus calls out any attempt by the uber-wealthy to paper over their profits from climate destruction with "philanthropic" donations. And David Wallace-Wells notes that while a response to our climate crisis is possible using the resources of society as a whole, it's beyond the scope of any individual fortune.

- Bronwyn Oatley, Meghan Bell and Danial Hoyer highlight the need for an inheritance tax and wealth taxes to meet obvious social needs and to ensure that wealth and power don't continue to accumulate in the hands of a privileged few.

- Sophia Reuss discusses the parallels between the U.S.' debate over health care generally and Canada's continued need for pharmacare. And the Economist also takes note of the glaring gap in our health care system.

- Finally, Bob Weber reports on the justified fear by Alberta workers that Jason Kenney will gamble their pensions on doomed fossil fuel developments. And Alex Ballingall reports on the prospect that the federal government might underwrite the Coastal GasLink pipeline to ram it through Wet’suwet’en territory - even as word comes out that the project has been rejected by provincial regulators.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Benjamin Israel, Jan Gorski, Nina Lothian, Chris Severson-Baker and Nikki Way highlight the reality that increased extraction from the tar sands is fundamentally incompatible with any attempt to meet reasonable greenhouse gas emission targets. And Jonathan Watts reports on new research from the UN Environmental Programme showing that the fossil fuel industry has caused far more carbon pollution than previously recognized.

- Alex Verman calls out Canada's front of friendliness covering up a pattern of aggressive exploitation by the mining industry:
Canada is continuing its practice of colonialism and primitive accumulation. What’s more, Canada is violating international laws around military occupation and around the rights of Indigenous people. Right now, as I write this, members of Wet’suwet’en nation are still resisting, facing mass arrest and state violence, to protect their lands from privatization at the barrel of a gun. But for Canada, this is business as usual. The siege on Wet’suwet’en is a microcosm of what makes Canada “Canada.” The logic of resource extraction, led by private companies and enforced by the state, is what motivates Canadian policy and justifies Canadian national identity. Canada is three mining companies in a trench coat, wearing a stupid hat and carrying a gun.

Scratch the surface, and that’s all that’s underneath it. Canada is fake. But the consequences are real.
- Samuel Alexander muses that capitalism can't be squared with an adequate response to our environmental crises. And Umair Haque worries that we're exhibiting the patterns of a society without a future.

- Finally, Primrose Riordan and Jamie Smith write about the control exerted by Australia's coal lobby even in the wake of its devastating wildfires. Bob Edwards points out the UK's massive subsidies to offshore drilling operators. Michele Bertelli reports on Italy's dumping of massive amounts of plastic waste in Malaysia. And Andrew Nikiforuk examines the identified environmental destruction to be expected from the Teck Frontier mine if it ever goes ahead.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Musical interlude

Tame Impala - Is It True

New column day

Here, on the attempt at a hostile takeover of the U.S.' political system - and the need for Saskatchewan to update its campaign finance rules to avoid the same fate.

For further reading...
- Libby Watson wrote about the decline of the U.S.' public financing system once candidates decided they could raise more money from other sources. 
- Edward Helmore reported on Tom Steyer's move to buy his way into one set of Democratic presidential debates. And FiveThirtyEight's ad buy tracker is just one of many sources showing the wildly disproportionate ad spending by Steyer and Michael Bloomberg.
- Leslie Albrecht discusses Bloomberg's leveraging of his wealth through multiple types of donations into political support. And Bloomberg News has been serving the cause of its owner with headlines like "Bloomberg Campaign Says It’s a Two-Man Race for the Nomination".
- Finally, David Dayen writes about the risk of people supporting Bloomberg solely as a matter of partisan loyalty. And Tom Scocca argues that Bloomberg is the cause of the U.S.' democratic illness, not a cure.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- John Miller takes note of the corporate media's bias against Wet'suwet'en land defenders and others engaged in demonstrations in solidarity. Stuart Trew comments that we shouldn't let demands for convenience override the ongoing need for reconciliation. Paige Raibmon writes about the obvious error in writing Indigenous law out of the "rule of law" for the purpose of delegitimizing land defenders. And Jennifer Ditchburn points out the absurdity of relying on the concept of the rule of law at all as a means of undermining well-recognized Indigenous rights, while Stephen Maher points out how the CPR's history is intertwined with the subjugation of Indigenous peoples.  

- Laurie Macfarlane writes about the need to discuss how wealth is accumulated - including the growing roles of inheritances and luck - in order to build a movement to ensure that it's put to positive social purposes. Daniela Gabor worries that the EU's plans for a green economic transition are being designed mostly to further enrich the wealthy, rather than focusing on either environmental improvements or distributive justice. And Stefan Stern points out how much better off we'd be if the rich paid more in wages and taxes rather than claiming to be philanthropists.

- But on the bright side, PressProgress highlights British Columbia's plan to raise an extra $200 million per year by ensuring that its highest-income residents pay something closer to their fair share of the price of a civilized society.

- Finally, both the Globe and Mail's editorial board and Rob Breakenridge join the chorus calling for the UCP to shut down its backfiring war room. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Horizontal cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac offer a stark look at the plausible worst-case scenario for a climate breakdown over just the next thirty years. And Zarah Sultana argues that in the UK (as elsewhere), we need to demand transformative politics to respond to our social and environmental crises:
The scale of the climate crisis means moderation won’t cut it. The only answers are radical. Socialists across borders will need to link up to campaign for an international Green New Deal. It will tax the super-rich and take on polluting profiteers who wreak havoc from Brazil to Bangladesh. It will create new, green industries that will save our communities while saving our planet too. None of it will be possible without confronting the existing order, where 100 companies are responsible for 70 per cent of global pollution. Our lives are threatened by their pursuit of profit. 
Call it ‘taking back control’ if you like — taking control away from the billionaires and winning it for workers in every corner of the planet. This means being clear that our allies are the dispossessed everywhere, and our enemies arrive by limousine not dinghy, with green politics as a new class politics for our age.

My generation grew up being told there was no alternative to cuts and declining opportunities. That was miserable enough. Now that dismal economic model is putting our planet in peril.

We can be the generation that rises to this existential challenge. We can end the cycle of capitalist destruction. As our planet burns, we must make good on the promise of an old socialist hymn: We will bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old.
- Andrew Nikiforuk suggests that federal approval of the Teck Frontier mine could provide Alberta with a lesson in when to stop digging - though the danger is that even allowing Jason Kenney to oversee development could further destabilize the ground for everybody.

- Andrew MacLeod highlights how the RCMP has been interfering with free reporting in the course of its Wet’suwet’en raids - presumably with reference to its documented concern about allowing activists to with public support.

- Finally, Amir Barnea makes the case for Canada Post to offer affordable banking and financial services to people left behind by the financial sector.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Monika Dutt offers a reminder that some of the best investments we can make in improving public health are aimed at social factors:
As a physician, I often see people at high risk of poor health because they live in poverty. We know that poverty contributes to higher rates of many conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, depression, and even children having difficulty in school.

It is simply harder to be healthy when you lack a decent income. Many people can’t afford their medications, adequate housing, activities for their kids or nutritious food — some of the staples for being healthy. This is a serious concern in a place like Cape Breton, where there is such a high rate of poverty.

To reframe how we think about poverty and health, we need to consider what is needed to create healthier communities. One important aspect of that is the elimination of poverty.
- Michael Swan points out the Ford government's moves to turn welfare into a profit centre. Matt Elliott highlights the unfairness of the TTC's plans to crack down in forcing extremely high fines on people who lack the money for transit. And Antonietta Corado writes about her path from relative security to homelessness. 

- Emily Leedham discusses how the law is all too often stacked in favour of capital and against the interests of labour and other groups of citizens.

- Amber Bracken challenges the attempts of outside actors to portray and stoke division within the Wet’suwet’en. And Kate Gunn and Bruce McIvor offer a primer on the law involved in the use of unceded land.

- Finally, George Monbiot discusses how ongoing policy choices which destroy the natural environment are exacerbating flooding in the UK. And Collin Gallant notes that Alberta may be able to resolve part of its vast problem of abandoned oil wells by turning well sites into solar installations.