Saturday, February 08, 2020

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Robert Reich comments that Democrats who failed to recognize and respond to a rigged economic system share in the blame for the rise of Donald Trump's toxic populism. And George Monbiot notes that Trump is just one of many strongmen-in-the-making daring anybody to stop them from running roughshod over the world:
These are experiments in absolutism. They don’t amount to fascism in their own right. But in conjunction with the elevation of preposterous and desperate men, the denigration of minorities and immigrants, political violence, mass surveillance and widespread mockery of liberalism and social justice, they suggest that some countries, separately and together, are beginning to head towards the darkest of all political places.

The normalisation of impunity is possibly the most important step towards authoritarian rule. Never let it be normal.
- Katharina Pistor makes the case that corporate limited liability only warps incentive structures to shift risks and costs from corporations to the public.

- Adam Hunter reports on the doubling of Saskatchewan's MRI waitlist as the Sask Party has pushed privatized service rather than expanding public capacity. And Patrick White highlights the unfairness of unconscionable fees for telephone access in prisons.

- Van Badham writes that climate denialism has evolved from pretending nothing is happening to our planet at all, to somehow claiming we'll be better off with extreme weather and an endangered natural environment.

- Finally, Shawn Jeffords reports on Doug Ford's plans to allow Ontario's natural forests to be decimated. And Dorothy Woodend reminds us that individual choices make far less difference in contributing to plastic pollution than systemic corporate waste.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Thursday, February 06, 2020

New column day

Here, on how the costs of approving the Teck Frontier tar sands mine likely include locking Canada into another cycle of public subsidies for a dying oil sector - making it clear that it isn't in the public interest.

For further reading...
- Tzeporah Berman has previously questioned how any approval could be reconciled with a meaningful response to the climate crisis. And Bill McKibben rightly recognizes that approval for Frontier is utterly contrary to any claim to climate leadership.
- Andrew Willis reported on Teck's conditions to actually develop the Frontier site even if it's permitted to do so.
- Joanna Partridge has reported on fund manager BlackRock's plan to divest from coal and other fossil fuels. And Nick Cunningham discusses how the financial sector is taking climate risk and expense into account in determining whether projects will be funded and/or insured.
- Finally, in case there was any doubt that Canada's petropoliticians will happily throw as much public money as they can get their hands on into subsidizing dirty fossil fuels, the Canadian Press reports on Scott Moe's plan to fund new pipelines which lack any apparent use while continuing to slash Saskatchewan's public services.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- John Clarke writes about the war on people living in poverty arising out of needless austerity:
The OCAP years have seen the abandonment of social housing by governments, the elimination of the Canada Assistance Plan (CAP), Tory cutbacks that compare to those of Thatcher and Reagan and their consolidation by Liberal governments. When we began we never imagined that the state of homelessness would attain the grim proportions it exhibits today. The intensification of the war on the poor is the defining feature of the last three decades.

It has played a distinctive role in the broader neoliberal assault on the working class. At root, the dominant motivation has been to restore profitability through intensified exploitation. Technological innovation and class war have combined to reorganize the global workforce. The Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research uses the example of the iPhone to demonstrate the brutal efficiency of the Global Supply Chain. As it accesses raw materials and component parts, such an operation takes advantage of egregiously exploited workforces across the planet.

Even in a rich country like Canada, the neoliberal decades have seen a huge intensification of the rate of exploitation. Industrial jobs have been moved offshore, unions have been weakened, low wage precarious work has proliferated and the social infrastructure has been battered. A key component of the attack on social programs and public services, has been the reduction of income support for unemployed, sick and disabled people.
- Meanwhile, May Warren discusses the less-than-surprising link between luxury vehicles, dangerous driving and "disagreeable" men focused on status. 

- AC Shilton reports on the toxic effects of pollution in the dying town of Minden, West Virginia. And Geoff Dembicki offers a reminder that aging fossil fuel infrastructure poses an imminent threat to the Great Lakes among other areas.

- Finally, Wyatt James Schierman makes the case for news coverage to focus far more on what actually matters, and far less on gossip and trivia. And David Moscrop writes that the proper response to contrived threats to national unity is to build unifying structures such as a national pharmacare program.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Opportunistic cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Justin Worland writes that the financial sector is belatedly and slowly waking up to the dangers of the climate crisis - with crucial implications for both the limited future of the fossil fuel sector, and the development of the energy sources which will replace it. Regan Boychuk discusses Alberta's glaring lack of a plan to deal with that reality. And Malte Humpert makes clear that natural gas isn't any more viable a solution in addressing shipping than for other purposes.

- John Lorinc highlights the need for rent control to address Toronto's lack of affordable housing. And Craig Evan Pollack, Amanda L. Blackford, Shawn Du, Stefanie Deluca, Rachel J.L. Thornton, and Bradley Herring study how money for housing can reduce medical costs and other social expenses.

- Roy Romanow and Greg Marchildon make the case for a national pharmacare program. Ariel Fournier reports on the problems with limited access to medication which is common in other countries but hasn't been approved in Canada. And Zak Vescera reports on the nursing homes desperately wanting for resources in Saskatchewan, while Owen Jones points out the lack of support for end-of-life care in the UK.

- Finally, Alex Hemingway comments on the dangers of British Columbia's fixation on balanced budgets over social investments. And Ryan Tumulty notes that the Libs are at least gesturing toward making well-being a priority in their budget development.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Larry Elliott writes that continuing inequality looms as an obstacle to meaningful climate action. But David Love offers a reminder that climate apartheid is the likely end result of failing to rein in carbon pollution.

- Christopher Smart outlines the OECD's plans to regulate how multinational corporations are taxed. But Alex Cobham warns that the current structure looks to cause increased complexity without actually reducing the availability of tax havens.

- Chris Maisano points out the glaring disconnect between a U.S. population which is increasingly supportive of unions, and public policy which has been designed to prevent workers from actually organizing. And Cole Stangler discusses the importance of turning an increasing number of moments of activism - such as the French general strike - into longer-term membership and involvement.

- PressProgress warns that the same mining companies who have been allowed to exploit our environment without cleaning up their messes now have a plan to profit off of remediating their own damage. Janet French reports on the UCP's plan to start allowing oil operators to dump water from tailings ponds into Alberta's waterways. And Scott Miller reports on the Saugeen Ojibway Nation's resounding vote against taking on the risk of Canada's nuclear waste. 

- Finally, Bruce Campbell discusses the origins of both the Lac-M├ęgantic catastrophe and the failure of Boeing's 737 Max planes in self-regulation by businesses more interested in cutting costs than averting foreseeable tragedies.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Andrew Jackson highlights how the Libs' signature tax baubles are accomplishing little while costing significantly more than projected. And Karen Stewart joins the ranks of the wealthy looking to pay more of their fair share in taxes - emphasizing in particular the need to adequately mobilize against a climate breakdown.

- David Roberts discusses the importance of social tipping points in ending the harm carbon pollution is doing to our planet. Sophia Reuss reviews the new book by Kate Aronoff, Alyssa Battistoni, Daniel Aldana Cohen and Thea Riofrancos on the potential for a Green New Deal (and the need to fight for it). John Geddes notes that the climate crisis can't be addressed by individuals without governments leading the way. Bentley Allan argues for Canada to pursue a green industrial policy. And David Suzuki makes the case for the federal government to focus on electric buses in its next budget.

- Meanwhile, Noah Kaufman rightly calls out the right's excuses for inaction by pointing out that vague allusions to innovation aren't the least bit helpful in combating the climate crisis.

- And James McCarten takes note of the glaring lack of any climate language in the new NAFTA which the Libs are determined to push through without meaningful review or debate.

- Finally, Mia Rabson reports that the Libs have managed to confirm the obvious point that plastic waste harms the environment - meaning that they have one less excuse for continued inaction on single-use plastics.