Monday, January 13, 2020

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- James Bradley writes about the range of responses to an increasingly threatening climate. And Emma Morris offers some suggestions as to how to become part of the solution to the climate crisis.

- Adrienne Buller discusses why the popular and necessary prospect of a Green New Deal didn't get anything approaching a fair hearing in the UK's general election. And Malcolm Turnbull writes that Australia's catastrophic bushfires should have provided the impetus for a transition - though part of the lesson to be taken from Scott Morrison's response is that we can't afford to have fossil fuel lackeys in power to obstruct vital progress.

- PressProgress rounds up a few of the Jason Kenney UCP's holiday disasters, while Scott Schmidt rightly criticizes the UCP's pattern of trying to point fingers at newly-declared enemies rather than answering even simple questions about its actions in government.

- Sara Birrell highlights just a few of the examples of how Saskatchewan has suffered as a result of P3 schemes.

- Finally, Birrell also discusses the clash of values underlying the Co-op refinery lockout. And Jim Keohane and David Colletto note that Canadians generally would prefer a far more secure pension system than is currently available to most.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Gary Younge writes about the need to respond to a bleak reality with the dedication to imagine and create something better. And Vickie Cammack and Donna Thomson highlight how the response to a climate breakdown includes mobilizing our capacity to care for others.

- CBC News talks to John Pomeroy about the effects of a changing climate on Saskatchewan agriculture - and particularly the dangers to the province's water supply.

- But Nick Cohen weighs in on the reality denial of the right-wing government and media in Australia (which of course matches that of their counterparts in Canada).

- In the wake of last week's sabre-rattling over Iran, Toula Drimonis reminds us that we have far more in common with the civilians trapped by the poor judgment of their governing class than with the elites pushing for war on both sites. And Shree Paradkar calls out the CBC for demonizing minorities by amplifying the Cons' spin about "anchor babies".

- Finally, Royson James highlights the opportunities Toronto - like so many communities - has lost by obsessing over property tax levels rather than investing in social development.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Ben Jenkins rightly calls out Australia's right-wing government and media for caring not a whit for the people seeing their country go up in flames:
If you were holding out hope that the cynical and partisan way we currently talk about climate change can’t possibly hold in the face of actual climate disasters — when it’s undeniably manifested itself in unbreathable air and burning homes and smoldering coastline — let go of that hope now. These fires have shown the status quo to be a stubborn thing, possibly an immovable one. It’s rooted fast in place by money and politics and ideology.
Even from a cynical standpoint, there seems to be very little to gain in playing down a national crisis of this sort. A strong response rallies the nation. It shows you’re a leader who acts. Best of all, there’s no partisan division to navigate. It is a political truism that everyone, regardless of how they vote, does not want the country to be on fire.

But this isn’t about people, it’s about ideology, and to accept the unprecedented scale of the fires and act accordingly is to accept that the climate is changing and something needs to be done. That’s it. To me, this is the most striking aspect of the crisis — the debate about how best to douse a burning country has been seamlessly press-ganged into service in the ongoing culture war, all of which is amplified and buttressed by an increasingly demented right-wing media and an absurdly powerful fossil fuels lobby.
In this crisis, the conservative media have defended Morrison against the most benign attacks even as the death toll climbed and the fury mounted; they have dismissed experts with decades of in-field experience as “activists”; they’ve spread thoroughly debunked theories about these fires being caused by environmentalists’ opposition to preventative land clearing; even bushfire victims themselves were branded as “feral” when they had the temerity to heckle the PM during a photo opportunity in their fire-ravaged town of Cobargo. Possibly most telling of all, Craig Kelly, a member of Morrison’s government, went on UK television to deny any link between the fires and climate change, where even a wet gollum like Piers Morgan couldn’t let it pass. Back home, pundits on Sky News defended him, saying that they “didn’t know anymore more across the science than [Kelly].”

And so warnings weren’t heeded, rescue efforts weren’t funded, Hawaiian jaunts weren’t called off, not through incompetence, but through sheer bloodymindedness. If you take one thing away from all of this, know that there are people in both the government and the media who would sooner see the country burn than confront the enormity of this problem.

All of this should terrify you, because the appalling response to this crisis in Australia isn’t an aberration. Like the fires themselves, it’s the product of years of adverse conditions — a dominant conservative press, a powerful fossil fuel lobby, a class of politicians in the thrall of both — that would look very familiar the world over.
- Damien Cave likewise calls out Rupert Murdoch's role in spreading disinformation and anti-climate propaganda in the face of a public emergency. Emily Holden discusses the oil industry's investment in controlling any conversation about the climate crisis. And Vikram Dodd and Jamie Grierson report that the UK is choosing to label people fighting for our survival as extremists to be subject to extra surveillance and control.

- Spencer Jakab writes about the readily-avoidable damage being inflicted by natural gas flaring. And Chris Varcoe's reporting on the UCP's closed-door development of policy for orphan wells only looks to highlight another area in which the public will be expected to bear the cost of environmental destruction wrought by the oil sector.

- A new Pew Research poll shows that fully 70% of Americans view their economic system as unfairly favoring those who already have the most. And Reuters/Ipsos finds majority support for a wealth tax as one means of addressing the unfairness.

- Finally, James Hurley reports on a wave of foreclosure forgery in the UK comparable to what took hold in the U.S. after the 2008 economic crisis.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Musical interlude

Esthero feat. Miguel - Many Times

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Simon Holmes a Court challenges the argument that any country or industry can opt out of being part of the response to our climate crisis. And Emily Holden comments on the oil industry's control over public discussions about climate change, while Christopher Knaus examines the disinformation campaign intended to deflect responsibility for Australia's record temperatures and catastrophic bushfires.

- Nichole Dusyk points out that the Canada Energy Regulation's assumptions about future oil production represent an all-in bet on humanity's failure to stop the climate breakdown. And Robyn Allan exposes how the Trudeau government's Trans Mountain pipeline purchase was designed to leak public money to fossil fuel tycoons from day one - and is succeeding in that task.

- Matt Elliott offers a reminder that the costs of infrastructure don't stop merely because a project's initial photo ops have come to an end. 

- Matthew Stanley writes about the long and ongoing struggle to address structural inequalities in the U.S.

- Robert Raymond discusses the well-funded campaign to portray extractive capitalism as a solution rather than a source of inequality. And the British Medical Journal takes note of new research showing that a modest minimum wage increase can substantially reduce suicide rates (among other social benefits).

- Finally, Andrew Coyne writes about the advantages of minority governments compared to the zero-accountability model which is the norm in majority Parliaments.

[Edit: fixed typo.]

Thursday, January 09, 2020

New column day

Here, on the new year's early reminders of the generous treatment of corporations and their CEOs compared to workers.

For further reading...
- David MacDonald's look at CEO pay is here (PDF).
- And Toby Sanger's study of corporate tax freedom day is here (PDF). From that, I'll particularly highlight this figure as to the accumulation of corporate cash in comparison to the total amount held in machinery, equipment and intellectual property:

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Kate Aronoff offers a reminder that the right's constant bleating about limiting government spending never applies to the cost of wars of choice.

- Laura Glowacki reports on how Doug Ford's choice to allow rent increases will only make matters worse for Ontario's poorest residents. And Andrea Horwath and Sol Mamakwa discuss the urgent need for a mental health strategy for Indigenous people facing high suicide rates.

- PressProgress highlights how Canadians have to make do with far fewer paid vacation days than people throughout most of the developed world. Robert MacDonald discusses how the gig economy fits into the broader deterioration of working conditions. And Paul Willcocks rightly argues that it's past time for Canadian jurisdictions to follow the lead of California and other governments which are legislating protections for gig workers.

- Finally, Lee Drutman makes the case for a proportional electoral system from the U.S.' perspective - with lessons which we'd do well to learn in Canada as well.