Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Ross Barkan takes stock of the reality that the U.S. has allowed a million people to die of a disease whose transmission could largely have been prevented, while Alexander Quon reports on the latest data showing that official death totals in Saskatchewan significantly undercount the lives lost to COVID-19. Holly Else notes that a more thorough accounting of the COVID damage would include recognition of the time and function lost due to disability as well, while Danielle Wenner and Gabriella Arguidas Ramirez point out that a lack of messaging about the reality of long COVID is likely distorting both public policy and individual actions. And Malia Jones writes that while the decision by governments to deny us current and accurate information makes it impossible to fully assess our risks, we're still best off doing all we can to avoid catching and spreading COVID. 

- Max Fawcett writes that the meltdown in cryptocurrency just as Pierre Poilievre put it at the centre of his Con leadership campaign highlights the need for exactly the public-interest regulators who will be the first to go under fanatic libertarians. And Jessica McKenzie discusses how the harm done by bitcoin includes an assertion of entitlement to burn gas and spew carbon pollution without regulation or regard for the planet. 

- Chris Turner offers a valiant defence of climate optimism even as the likelihood of success in averting climate breakdown appears grim. And Damian Carrington reports on new research showing that in order to avoid catastrophe we need to not only stop the 195 carbon bombs in the planning stages, but also shut down existing fossil fuel production sites. 

- David Wallace-Wells writes that temperatures which are now being reported as unprecedently extreme will likely be the norm (or even the lower end of expectations) in the decades to come. Olivia Rosane highlights the UN's research showing that 75% of the world could face drought by 2050 due to climate change and land degradation. And Karin Brulliard reports on New Mexico's largest-ever fire which is still burning after a month. 

- Christopher Mathias reports on the concerted effort by violent extremists to hijack Idaho's entire political system through both intimidation and abuse of electoral systems.  

- Finally, Jared Abbott interviews Jonathan Smucker and Alison Troy about the opportunities available for left-wing populism to offer a positive alternative to the hatred and nihilism of the right. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Slumbering cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Xue Cao et al. find that infection with COVID-19 produces accelerated physical aging among its other alarming effects, while Jan Hennigs et al. discuss the development of respiratory muscle dysfunction as a product of long COVID. Which means - as noted by Moira Wyton - that the decision to get an additional booster vaccine is an easy one for the people in a position to receive it.  

- Eve Darian-Smith highlights how the same anti-social industries (including resource extraction and finance sectors) are lobbying both to perpetuate carbon pollution and install authoritarian governments to ensure that efforts to build a healthy population and planet don't serve as barriers to short-term profits. Vanessa Nakate warns against outside efforts to impose gas dependence on Africa when its development can be powered with cleaner technology. 

- Diana Kruzman writes about the developing phenomenon of "flash droughts" which are threatening the availability of food and water in the U.S.' midwest. And Christy Climenhaga discusses how glaciers have melted past the point of no return in the western Canadian Rockies, making our water supplies far more precarious. 

- Cory Doctorow points out the problems with accepting "vote with your wallet" as a means of expressing values in the context of choices severely constrained by corporate decision-making. And Judd Legum writes about the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to constitutionalize the right to corruption on the part of the people whose extreme wealth can swamp democratic politics. 

- Jake Johnson discusses the record executive pay being handed out even as workers are told (at both the firm and social levels) that they need to accept cuts in real income to avoid inflation. Richard Burgon writes that the UK should be capping prices and profits rather than wages. And Heather Scoffield approves of the NDP's plan to ensure that inflation doesn't create more poverty and inequality by having the wealthy pay more to double the low-income GST credit. 

- Finally, Umair Haque pleads for Americans to pay attention to the violent takeover of their society by white supremacists. 

Monday, May 16, 2022

On historical echoes

Ontario's ongoing provincial election is presenting some interesting echoes from previous campaigns - particularly the 2015 federal election which similarly involved a seemingly vulnerable Conservative majority, an NDP official opposition and a Lib attempt to jump back into default-government status. 

At the outset, I'll reiterate my longtime view that contrary to conventional wisdom, the 2015 NDP strategy - which involved focusing largely on making the case to defeat the Harper Cons, and positioning Thomas Mulcair as a broadly acceptable option in the event voters reached the judgment Justin Trudeau wasn't ready for the job of prime minister - was neither entirely unreasonable nor unsuccessful. 

The first necessary step to achieve anything was to make the case for a change in government, and Mulcair's work prosecuting Harper and his record played a huge role in achieving that. And while Trudeau's performance was beyond the NDP's control, there was a plausible path to government if he'd failed to live up to expectations. (Of course, it ultimately helped Trudeau that dismissive messaging about him lowered the bar considerably.) 

To the extent that calculation failed to achieve all of the desired outcome, it's one that Andrea Horwath's Ontario NDP seems determined not to repeat: it's rightly keeping a focus on the continuity between PC and Lib policies as representing a series of failures that need fixing. But there are also a couple of other distinguishing factors which offer the prospect of a better outcome in Ontario. 

The first is the one which was entirely outside of the federal NDP's control: following Jack Layton's death, the leader whose popularity helped boost the party into Official Opposition status was no longer around to help it take the next step into government.

It's bizarre in that context to see commentary (mostly from Lib spinners, but somewhat from others as well) suggesting that Ontario's NDP should have jettisoned its leader voluntarily after achieving its best result in a generation. But for now, the party enjoys the advantage of Andrea Horwath's relatively strong approval ratings and consistent ability to boost the NDP's standing, while the Libs have a comparatively unknown leader who remains ripe for a campaign collapse.  

Of course, that leaves the major avoidable failing of Mulcair's federal campaign, being the lack of a strong pushback against the Libs' messages about the relative progressive positioning of the two parties. That allowed Trudeau to win over far too many voters with a claim to progressivity which was entirely unwarranted based on the parties' actual platforms. 

But while the Ontario Libs are trying to similarly claim to be challenging the NDP from the left, Horwath's team has done plenty to ensure that type of attack is neither plausible nor successful.

Indeed, if there's anything that's gone glaringly unmentioned in most coverage of the Ontario election, it's the deep policy work already done (and yes, promoted) by the NDP in areas where the Libs have spent the campaign hastily cribbing a platform for themselves. 

Want to see Canada's most populous province actually be a leader in implementing a Green New Democratic Deal? The NDP has worked out how to get there (PDF). 

Think a party's commitment to increasing housing supply should be backed by a meaningful analysis of how to get there, as well as specific plans to ensure homes are available for vulnerable groups? The NDP has it covered (PDF). 

A detailed plan to bring long-term care under public control and protect residents from the neglect set up by decades of Lib and PC privatization? That's been developed (PDF) as well.

Want to see a promise to provide universal mental health care which is actually supported by a road map to get there? That's been done too (PDF). 

In each case, the NDP's detailed plans - supported by significant research and analysis - have been copied in part by the Libs in two- to four-page platform entries. But there's little room for dispute both as to which party has the more progressive policies, and which has put meaningful thought and analysis into how to implement them. 

Unfortunately, those plans won't amount to much if the broader electorate isn't convinced to vote the PCs out and the NDP in. But that's where it's essential to let people know that there is a viable alternative - and that it's ready to fix the most important issues facing Ontario if given the chance.  

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Mark Kline warns against accepting continuing denialism about the impact of COVID-19 on children. Andre Picard discusses Canada's grim milestone of 40,000 (reported) COVID deaths. And Dennis Thompson notes the reality that long COVID may be a chronic condition requiring constant treatment, while Sky News reports on the warning from Asthma and Lung UK that people are being abandoned to try to hunt down oxygen and other necessities through private channels rather than receiving the care they need through the NHS. 

- David Milstead reports that long-term care executives managed to rake in extra-large bonuses even as their residents were dying at unconscionable rates in the first year of the pandemic. And Mitchell Thompson exposes how PC assistant labour minister Deepak Anand sought to profit from privatized long-term care while his government was neglecting residents and grinding workers. 

- Jiaying Zhao and Lorne Whitehead rightly ask why a basic income to fully eliminate poverty remains in the realm of pilot projects and preliminary consultations rather than full implementation. 

- David Knowles reports on new research showing that we've reached a new record for carbon concentration in our atmosphere. And Serhii Plokhy writes that we only need to look at the historical dangers of nuclear power to see why it's not a viable answer to the need for a clean energy transition. 

- Finally, Juliette Kayyem discusses the dishonesty of treating the Buffalo mass shooter as a "lone wolf" when his plans and motivations are readily traceable to a large and organized group of white supremacist terrorists. And Talia Lavin recognizes that the underlying values are in fact shared and amplified by the entire Republican party. 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Judy Melinek offers a coroner's perspective on the large number of ways in which COVID infection can result in death or severe illness, while Lixue Huang et al. find that long COVID remains an issue even for many of the people who were first infected two years ago. And Zak Vescera talks to some of the immunocompromised people who can only see the admonition to "live with the virus" as a declaration that their lives aren't valued. 

- Don Braid discusses how Alberta patients are dying due to the UCP's choice to impose ever-larger burdens while refusing to pair them with adequate resources. And Stephen Parnis expresses the frustration of an emergency-room worker who's burning out due to the decision to treat his existence as an excuse to let preventable diseases and risks run rampant. 

- James Devitt-Nyu discusses new research showing that neoliberal policies tend to produce anti-social and inegalitarian attitudes. And Spencer van Vloten offers a reminder of the large number of Canadian families struggling with poverty and deprivation of the necessities of life. 

- Fiona Harvey, Matthew Taylor and Damian Carrington report on IEA Executive Director Faith Birol's warning that massive new fossil fuel projects are certain to doom us to climate catastrophe if they're allowed to proceed. 

- Finally, Josh Eidelson writes about the growing successes of labour organizers putting unions in place for Starbucks workers and others whose employers had previously managed to use their power to avoid collective bargaining. 

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- David Dayen discusses how manufacturing monopolies have produced the U.S.' shortage of baby formula. And Alyssa Rosenberg recognizes that any reasonably-governed country would be moving heaven and earth to ensure infants don't suffer due to corporate greed. 

- Meanwhile, Nina Lakhani exposes how meat packing giants and the Trump administration sacrificed workers' lives rather than allowing any health and safety protections to be applied even in the face of a deadly virus. And Nora Loreto asks why we still don't have anything remotely approaching an accounting of the lives lost to workplace-spread COVID in Canada. 

- thwap points out how anti-inflation rhetoric is being used as yet another excuse for class war against workers. 

- Alexander Furnas et al. study how lobbying leads to changes in policy - finding donations to be less of a direct influence than ideological sorting. 

- On the bright side (and in a prime example of policy we should be looking to emulate) Sam Jones reports on Spain's plans to provide menstrual leave among other additional measures to ensure improved gender equity.

- Finally, Stephen Maher discusses the increasing threats and harassment facing people seeking to run for office - though it's well worth noting the asymmetry based on ideological orientation as fascist groups primed to treat others as subhuman apply that theory to the political sphere. 

Friday, May 13, 2022

Musical interlude

Arcade Fire - Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Phil Tank offers a reminder that Saskatchewan's citizens shouldn't follow the lead of its government in wrongly pretending the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Sumathi Reddy writes about the growing recognition that reinfection - with a risk of both severe and long-term symptoms every time - is going to be the reality for people who fail to take precautions. And Keren Landman discusses a few of the questions about long COVID which have yet to be answered. 

- Peter Hannam talks to some of the economists pushing back against the attempt to suppress wages as a response to inflation in Australia. And Ethan Wolff-Mann warns that the U.S. Federal Reserve is effectively pressuring employers not to hire workers, sacrificing labour in the name of an issue which (as Michael Roberts notes) is almost entirely the result of corporate greed and profiteering

- Aditi Mukherji writes that putting water at the heart of climate policy will help point the way toward thoroughly and equitably addressing the climate crisis. And Zoya Teirstein points out that after decades of cynical delay tactics by the oil industry and its bought-and-paid-for political puppets when there was time for a gradual transition, there aren't many climate options left which don't involve some trade-offs. 

- That said, David Suzuki notes that there's plenty of room for adapting personal practices to be good for both ourselves and our planet. 

- Mitchell Thompson and Luke LeBrun report on Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce's participation in a "slave auction" as a leader of his frat house. And Stephanie Fung, Anna Liu, karine ng and Chris Ramsaroop discuss how the pandemic has exposed the racism which remains to be identified and uprooted in all kinds of communities. 

- Finally, Aditya Chakrabortty calls out just one of the systematic campaigns of targeted abuse generated by the UK's right-wing hatred machine. 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Danny Halpin reports on new research showing that people who have suffered from long COVID are at far greater risk of blood clots, while Mary van Beusekom discusses how COVID-19 and other severe respiratory infections can lead to psychiatric disorders. And Johanna Reidy, Don Matheson and Rhema Vaithianathan write that we should be treating our public health system as essential infrastructure for its ability to avoid the time lost to illness and death when diseases are needlessly allowed to spread. 

- The Guardian reports on the numerous "carbon bombs" which are being planned by fossil fuel companies - and the reality that no climate plan can survive the damage major oil and gas companies plan to inflict on our planet if given the chance to do so. James Dyke and Julia Steinberger write that every increment of global warming we can prevent is worth the effort in the name of survivability even if we're falling short of the promises made to future generations. Natasha Bulowski and John Woodside report on the Libs' continued subsidies for carbon pollution - most recently through a loan guarantee putting the public on the hook for the Trans-Mountain pipeline. Darren Shore argues that it's long past time to stop handing out tax breaks to the oil industry. And Abacus Data finds plenty of interest among Ontario's population in switching to electric vehicles if their provincial government was willing to provide incentives or infrastructure.

- Pat Van Horne writes that there's no excuse for the Libs' failure to move ahead on pharmacare given the strong support from both the general public and the people working in the health care sector. But Kelly Crowe reports that the Libs have fully reversed their promises in throwing the force of the federal government behind pharma-sector profits at the expense of access to needed medications.  

- Finally, Emily Leedham points out the secretive religious sect which funneled tens of thousands of dollars into a third-party advertiser aligned with the oil sector, the Saskatchewan Party and UCP to run anti-Trudeau ads in the 2019 federal election campaign. Mack Lamoureux reports that while visible public disruptions may have ebbed and flowed, the anti-vax convoy has become a well-funded way of life for some of its participants. And Robert Reich warns that the U.S. is on the verge of what looks at best to be a profound divide, with the obvious risk of escalation into a second civil war.