Saturday, March 07, 2020

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Bethany Lindsay reports on the start of B.C.'s inquiry into money laundering through casinos. And PressProgress offers a reminder as to how the Saskatchewan Party has chosen to operate under the "Wild West" of election financing rules to ensure it can rely on big corporate donations from out of the province.

- As for what those donations have secured, Arthur White-Crummey reports first on the remarkable declaration that a multi-million-dollar investment fund for First Nations and Metis run by a Saskatchewan Party insider was never intended either to make money or to create jobs, and then on the multi-billion-dollar backlog of maintenance in schools resulting from the Sask Party's focus on tax slashing and corporate giveaways.

-  Meanwhile, Susan Delacourt writes that a pandemic should be the type of event which reminds us of the need for a functional government. And Tara Carman reports on the national crisis of under-resourced shelters which leave people attempting to flee violence with nowhere to turn.

- Finally, Mitchell Anderson ponders how our political and economic standing would look better if we'd spent the last few decades focused on pursuing treaties rather than gambling on fossil fuel subsidies.

Friday, March 06, 2020

Musical interlude

Tanika Charles - First & Last

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Owen Jones asks why we're not treating the existential threat of a climate breakdown with anything close to the urgency applied to the coronavirus response. And Niklas Höhne, Michel den Elzen, Joeri Rogelj, Bert Metz, Taryn Fransen, Takeshi Kuramochi, Anne Olhoff, Joseph Alcamo, Harald Winkler, Sha Fu, Michiel Schaeffer, Roberto Schaeffer, Glen P. Peters, Simon Maxwell and Navroz K. Dubash highlight how a decade of delay on reducing greenhouse gas emissions has already made the task far more difficult.

- Norm Farrell offers a reminder that greenhouse gas emissions aren't any less damaging just because nobody bothers to measure them. And Sarah Cox reports on the massive liability attached to B.C.'s orphaned oil and gas wells.

- Sir Michael Marmot offers a reminder of the importance of the social determinants of health after a decade in which the UK has chosen to make itself a test case in the harm that can be done by austerity. And Laurie Monsebraaten notes that the results of Ontario's basic income pilot show that rather than disincentivizing work, a reliable source of income instead enabled people to find better-paying and more secure employment. 

- Simon Wilson writes about Leilani Farha's case to make evictions illegal as part of the recognition of housing as a human right.

- Finally, Jenna Moon offers some background on the use of facial recognition software - both as a matter of policing and of corporate profit-seeking. And Caitlin Taylor, Stephanie Matteis and David Common report on the design and manufacturing of consumer products to fail and require replacement.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

New column day

Here, on the Saskatchewan Party's refusal to accept that nuclear power is as impractical as it is unpopular - and how that fits into the view the province's voters should take of Scott Moe's government.

For further reading...
- The Uranium Development Partnership's report is archived here (PDF), and Dan Perrins' subsequent public consultation report here (PDF).
- Elise von Scheel reported here on Moe's nuclear reactor announcement (alongside Doug Ford and Blaine Higgs, who at least have previous dependence on nuclear power as an excuse). But then, Richard Carlson discussed why Ontario too has far better options than to keep pushing nuclear.
- Jim Harding and Theresa McClenaghan (in a report by Jordan Gill) highlighted some of the glaring problems with a plan to rely on undeveloped hypothetical power rather than real clean energy.
- And as a reminder of what Alberta has been able to accomplish by pursuing renewables, remember that its solar and wind power are now its most affordable (and environmentally-friendly) power sources.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Polly Toynbee and David Walker write about the brutal social consequences of a decade of austerity in the UK.

- Andrew Jackson reviews James Crotty's Keynes Against Capitalism with a strong emphasis on Keynes' recognition of the need for a democratically-planned economy.

- Justin Ling suspects that a political reckoning may be on its way as housing prices soar far beyond the means of Canada's working class. And Leilana Farha writes that the effect of setting housing policy based on the profit motive of developers is to deny people a human right to a safe place to live.

- Josh Dzieza discusses the dangers of putting algorithms in charge of workplaces (and treating workers' humanity as an inefficiency to be eliminated). And Jason Miller writes that the problem of far too many workers lacking social supports to make it possible to follow quarantine recommendations is no less prevalent in Canada than the U.S.

- Finally, Matthew Norris writes that the emergence of protests across Canada is a symptom of crumbling democratic legitimacy. And David Roberts notes that the U.S. allies of Canada's right-wing parties are going to ever greater lengths to stymie even the most basic of governance - with the party's minority in Oregon's legislature systematically denying quorum in order to make sure a Democratic majority is unable to pass anything at all.

Monday, March 02, 2020

On continued embarrassments

Abbas Rana's revelation that the Cons have decided to protect all of their incumbent MPs from any internal accountability seems to have received relatively little attention. But it's particularly worth paying attention to it given how many Cons have gone out of their way to demonstrate they're not up to their current jobs.

Surely voters should have at least some option other than to be stuck with a representative signing on to a grossly ignorant and inflammatory separatist manifesto.

Surely constituents should have an opportunity to challenge an MP trying to push anti-abortion legislation through Parliament, or undermining decades of progress in respect for the LGBTQ community.

And surely citizens should be able to question whether a failed leader reduced to ranting about children's TV shows deserves to represent them on the ballot.

But the Cons have declared they don't want anybody who to have better choices than the utter embarrassments currently in their ranks - whether based on what they've done so far, or what they continue to do while holding positions of public trust. And that should speak volumes as to the party's institutional unfitness for office.

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Fernando Arce discusses how Doug Ford's attacks on labour create public health risks. And Amanda Mull writes about the futility of telling workers with no safety net to stay home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, while Donald McNeil Jr. points out the obvious dangers of gagging the scientific community in the face of an impending pandemic.

- Evan Smith highlights how any blather about a "free speech crisis" generally represents nothing but a right-wing attempt to protect bigotry from criticism while stifling any other points of view.

- Shiri Pasternak and Irina Ceric write that court injunctions all too often serve only to privilege smash-and-grab business tactics over the public good. And Doug Nesbitt points out that while Jason Kenney and his fellow petropoliticians lean heavily on talking points about jobs, they have no interest in actually fostering sustainable employment.

- James Bruggers reports on the Trump administration's choice to ignore all scientific evidence and facilitate pollution in order to goose short-term profits for big corporations.

- Finally, Agence France-Presse reports on Luxembourg's decision to make all transit free to users. And Lauren O'Neil points out that Toronto (and other Canadian cities) could easily afford the same if we chose to plan our communities around people rather than cars.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Heather Scoffield points out that the Trudeau Libs' definition of poverty (for the purposes of claiming credit for having reduced it) excludes many people facing extremely precarious financial circumstances. Sarah Boseley discusses how the UK Cons' gratuitous austerity has led to declining life expectancies among lower-income people. And Smokey Thomas slams the Ford PCs' use of a foreign corporation to try to take social assistance away from Ontarians.

- Alistair Steele writes that Ottawa's catastrophic choice to use a P3 to build the Confederation light rail line should offer important lessons for other governments looking at developing infrastructure.

- Imelda Dacones highlights how our climate breakdown is a public health crisis (among other dangers). And a group of B.C. health professionals calls for a moratorium on liquid natural gas pipelines due to their risks to health and the environment.

- Meanwhile, Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood argues that the withdrawal of the Teck Frontier project should offer us an opportunity to begin a needed conversation about a transition away from fossil fuels. But Mike De Souza and Heather Yourex-West's report on the UCP's cover-up of a report on harms from the climate crisis should remind us not to expect a trace of honesty from Canada's petropoliticians.

- Finally, Graham Thomson points out that the obvious answer to Alberta's budget is to start raising revenue at least somewhat commensurate with the norm across Canada. But PressProgress notes that Jason Kenney has instead chosen to attack Alberta's most vulnerable citizens along with its public service.