Saturday, January 25, 2020

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Justin Nobel exposes the toxic - and even radioactive - side effects of the oil and gas industry. Reuters reports on the widespread presence of permanently-dangerous chemicals in drinking water in cities across the U.S. The Canadian Press reports on charges against an Alberta company arising out of a hydrogen sulphide leak. But Inyat Singh notes that Alberta's provincial auditor is just about to begin a review of one of the lasting environmental harms being dumped on the public in the form of orphan wells - and Sharon Riley writes that Alberta's government has buried the facts on that front before. And Paul Cowley discusses the likely-futile attempt of Alberta municipalities to secure the power to require oil and gas operators to pay their tax bills, even as Jason Kenney declares they're far more deserving of sympathy and public financial support than, say, people living with disabilities.

- Duncan Cameron points out how the corporate elites at Davos are prioritizing oil profits over a liveable planet. And Adam Scott and Patrick DeRochie discuss the folly of gambling public pension funds on fossil fuel infrastructure such as the the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

- Umair Irfan reports on the protest by Harvard law students against the firm working on helping Exxon and other oil giants escape any consequences for their contribution to the climate breakdown. But Joshua Sealy-Harrington points out how a combination of soaring tuition and limited options upon graduation is making it difficult for law school graduates to pursue work in keeping with their values.

- Gernot Wagner offers a reminder that the oil industry was aware of the realities of climate science before most - and that it worked feverishly to suppress the truth and manufacture doubt in order to keep extracting profits. And Stephen Maher writes about Volkswagen's evasion of any criminal charges for its emissions fraud.

- Finally, Andrew Nikiforuk debunks the myths being used to try to paint liquid natural gas and other fossil fuel expansion projects as a solution to climate change, rather than an aggravating factor.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Thursday, January 23, 2020

New column day

Here, on the Saskatchewan Party's dangerous focus on privatization and photo-ops rather than the public infrastructure the province needs.

For further reading...
- Alex MacPherson reported on both the Moe government's advance notice of the flaws in the roof of the new North Battleford hospital, and the continued use of panels from a provider whose products had already failed in the building's walls. And Scott Larson's report includes more details about the litany of problems with the building.
- Zak Vescera reported on the belated declaration that the Saskatchewan Health Authority is looking at addressing a multi-billion-dollar infrastructure deficit - a mere six months after the provincial auditor updated the state of disrepair in Saskatoon's facilities, which in turn came a year after the SHA itself started acknowledging the size of the backlog it's only now starting to address.
- CBC News reported on the limited use of the grossly-overpriced Regina bypass. And again, Sara Birrell highlighted how Saskatchewan has been harmed by the Sask Party's P3s.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz, Todd Tucker and Gabriel Zucman write about the need for governments to bring in sufficient revenue to act in the public interest. And Sophie Alexander points out some of the millionaires who want their class to contribute their fair share.

- Robinson Meyer offers some historical perspective on both the climate breakdown we're already facing, and the continued carbon pollution which only figures to make matters worse. Mitchell Anderson comments on the futility of the Australian government's helicoptering of temporary food supplies to wallabies while it remains determined to destroy their habitat. And Emma McIntosh writes that both global economic forces and public opinion are on the side of a transition away from fossil fuels.

- Meanwhile, John Vidal writes that the solution to our excess of plastic waste involves planning to avoid creating it in the first place, not relying on recycling after the fact.

- Josh Rubin reports on the wage stagnation facing men living in Toronto over the past two decades. And the Economist weighs in on the connection between minimum wage levels and suicide rates.

- Finally, David Climenhaga takes note of the general strikes in France to save pensions under attack by Emmanuel Macron - as well as the media blackout against that type of collective action in Canada.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Comfy cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Michael Enright interviews Linda McQuaig about the loss of public resources to privatization - even in the face of popular opinion:
People don't like big corporations. They don't like the big five or six banks because of the banking fees, etc. So the idea of privatization and private enterprise is a pretty easy target for you, isn't it?

You're absolutely right. Polls show privatization is generally very unpopular. That's why they renamed it public-private partnerships, to make it sound more friendly. And the big banks are anything but popular.

The interesting thing, though, is the gap between the public's attitudes — which is very skeptical about big business, wanting to rein it in, wanting to tax at higher — and our governments. Even though they [the government] don't go around openly siding with business and they're sensitive to the public mood, in their policies they're actively privatizing in ways that are very costly to Canadians. I think it's pretty clear that they're doing it because they're getting that demand from the private sector.
- Robert Booth reports on how private rental housing is harming health outcomes in the UK, while the Economist points out the problems flowing from an obsession with homeownership. Daniel Tencer highlights Canada's lack of transparency in real estate holdings. And the Star's editorial board makes the case for a vacancy tax in Toronto.

- Amelia Hill discusses the glaring gap in life expectancy based on wealth and other social factors.  And Olga Khazan writes about the many interrelated causes of the opioid crisis.

- Monika Dutt and Edward Xie offer a reminder that employers who require sick notes from employees make everyone worse off.

- Finally, Scott Schmidt rightly argues that the purpose of government should be to serve the interests of people, not to facilitate the concentration of capital in the name of economic growth.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz points out that a few gross numbers based on top-end wealth can't change the reality that Donald Trump's economy has only squeezed the working class. Jim Stanford highlights Australia's "retail apocalypse" resulting in massive job losses and disruption, while Josh Robin notes that male workers in Toronto have seen their wages stagnate since 2000. And Phillip Inman reports on the IMF's recognition that we're at risk of another crash at any time due to inequality and a precarious financial sector.

- Kelly Cryderman points out that Jason Kenney's supposed plans for jobs in Alberta are doomed as long as he insists on skimping on child care. And PressProgress is duly scathing in response to Doug Ford's desire to pattern Ontario's education system after Alabama's.

- Lee Fang exposes the lobbying and disinformation campaigns by pesticide producers to avoid accounting for the dangers of poisons which have been found to devastate bee populations. And Rebecca Cohen writes about a foiled corporate attempt to empty a basin beneath the Mojave Desert to be sold into Los Angeles' suburbs.

- Meanwhile, Sarah Boseley reports on the public health dangers arising out of Big Pharma's complete failure to adequately research new antibiotics (and the concurrent reluctance of governments to fund research designed to produce public benefits rather than private profits).

- Finally, Jennifer Pagliaro writes about the underfunding of libraries which keeps them from serving vital purposes - including as a place to go for people who otherwise lack one.