Saturday, June 13, 2020

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Aaron Wherry discusses the dramatically different effects of the COVID-19 pandemic based on inequalities in income and privilege. And Katherine Scott draws on Canada's most recent monthly jobs report to highlight the need for a recovery centered on women.

- Meanwhile, Heather Scoffield points out the tone-deaf whining about deficits from Cons who are happy to see people suffer in order to clear government balance sheets for corporate tax cuts.

- Jonathon Gatehouse reports on Doug Ford's refusal to identify the experts who are supposed to be behind his government's ineffective response to the coronavirus. And Kim Siever reports on the UCP's choice to throw millions of dollars at McKinsey to provide cover to attack and privatize Alberta's postsecondary education system.

- Carl Meyer writes about the connection between Canada's subsidies to the fossil fuel sector, and the gap between promises and reality when it comes to climate change.

- Finally, Doug Cuthand writes about the racism embedded in Canada's justice system as it stands. Crawford Kilian examines what might come next after defunding and dismantling existing police institutions, including the prospect of ensuring that our safety is protected by genuine peace officers. Michelle Stewart discusses some of the functions currently in police hands which would be ripe for rethinking. And Wesley Lowery notes how the institutional power of existing police remains largely undisturbed even as the public has reached its breaking point.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Musical interlude

Wide Mouth Mason - You Get Used To It

Friday Evening Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- George Monbiot writes that the UK Cons are using their own botched Brexit as an excuse to set up a disaster capitalist's paradise.

- Canadians for Tax Fairness discusses how the Libs' inclination to attach draconian penalties to their pandemic income benefit signals the gap in treatment between the wealthy and the rest of us. And the Tax Justice Network takes note of the modest progress that's been made in so much as registering the beneficial ownership of wealth.

- Kim Siever discusses two of the most important problems in relying on billionaires' charity rather than taxes to fund social priorities.

- Alex Bozikovic wonders why Toronto is refusing to take a golden opportunity to build more affordable housing. And Jolson Lim discusses the risk of a wave of homelessness if the protections set up as COVID-19 first spread are allowed to expire.

- Finally, Meagan Day discusses the connection between ending mass incarceration and strengthening the labour movement. Ratna Omidvar and Leslie Seidle offer their take as to the changes needed to support migrant workers, while Kathleen Harris reports on the employer abuse and risk of disease which represent the status quo. And Allison Hurst examines the diminished wages and working conditions for long-term care workers in British Columbia.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Edward Lempinen reports on new research showing that the response to COVID-19 in just six countries has prevented 500 million infections and millions of deaths. And Amanda Follett Hosgood writes that stopping the spread of the coronavirus is especially important in remote areas whose limited resources make them particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases. 

- David Macdonald notes that Canada's job losses from the coronavirus are reaching Great Depression levels, and reflecting a shift from temporary to permanent unemployment. And Beatrice Britneff reports on the open questions as to how Canadians are expected to make ends meet when CERB benefits expire this summer.

- Pete Hudson discusses Brian Pallister's determination to use the coronavirus as an excuse for austerity at a time when it's even more damaging than usual. 

- Andrew MacLeod reports on MiningWatch's findings as to how mining corporations have worsened the spread of COVID-19. And Nicole Hong, Barry Meier and Ronen Bergman report that the intimidation tactics of the dirty fossil fuel sector now include paying mercenaries to attempt to hack activists and journalists. 

- Finally, Gary Mason highlights why we should be outraged at the RCMP's treatment of Chief Allan Adam. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor emphasizes the need to move beyond questioning specific acts of police violence when it reflects longstanding - and police-enforced - racial and social inequality. Canadians for Tax Fairness points out the role a more just tax policy can play in eliminating systemic racism. And Sandra Hudson sets out some options for defunding police across Canada, while Hadeel Abdel-Nabi makes the case to pursue that possibility in Calgary.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

On obstructionism

I'll give Yaroslav Baran credit for explaining in this thread how Parliament's standard procedures have been modified over the summer. But it's hard to see how that offers any justification for the Cons' contrived outrage over Parliament being "shut down".

In essence, the process boils down to two elements.

First, it's possible for the government to advance and pass legislation in special sessions - but only with all-party consent. To the extent a single party disagrees with a bill moving forward, it has the ability to withhold consent, bringing that process to a halt.

In other words, under the special order they're determined to criticize, the Cons can singlehandedly prevent the passage of any legislation which they don't believe should be approved through an adapted procedure.

And if there's a need to pass legislation which can't secure all-party agreement? That would lead toward what Baran inexplicably describes as a "loophole", being...a return to the normal Parliamentary procedure in full, with MPs being required to attend in person in order to conduct business.

Baran is right that in that event, MPs wouldn't be able to comply with social distancing rules. But that's exactly why it's been necessary to develop alternative procedures in the first place (over the Cons' consistent refusal to cooperate), rather than clinging to the assumption that Parliament has to function exactly as it has in the past. And it's nothing short of asinine to complain about the risks of meeting in person, while simultaneously bleating that anything other than that means Parliament has been forcibly "shut down". 

Of course, the Cons' utterly unconstructive response to the question of how Parliament can best operate in a pandemic mirrors their similarly obstructive position on how the federal government should respond to COVID-19 generally. And Canadians who have had to do their best to be constructive through a period of uncertainty and unfamiliarity should expect better from the official opposition than to stomp their heels and refuse to do anything of the sort.

Wednesday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Brink Lindsey discusses what the coronavirus pandemic has revealed about the failings of both libertarian philosophy, and the public sector apparatus left after decades of neoliberal neglect.

- Paul Krugman writes that the U.S. is failing the marshmallow test when it comes to maintaining protections against the spread of COVID-19. Alexis Madrigal and Robinson Meyer warn about the apparent plan to give up on fighting against the pandemic. Marc Santora warns that far too many governments are choosing to declare business at usual in the face of a continued threat - even where the coronavirus is already far from under control. And Laurie Monsebraaten and Kristen Rushowy report on the impossible demands Ontario is making of child care centres in throwing them open without warning, consultation or funding, while Bruce Arthur writes about the risk that creates for parents.

- Meanwhile, Kate Kelland reports on new research suggesting that widespread mask use could prevent a severe second wave.

- Jennifer Koshan, Lisa Silver, and Jonnette Watson Hamilton rightly criticize the UCP's attempt to legislate the principle that pipelines trump the freedoms of expression and assembly. And Brandi Morin and Anya Zoledziowski highlight the response by Indigenous communities who haven't been consulted about numerous new laws prioritizing tar sands development over human and environmental health.

- Finally, Yellowstone to Yukon notes that UCP's closure of parks and recreational facilities looks to be connected directly to its desire to ramp up coal mining for little apparent purpose other than to spew as much carbon pollution as possible. And that comes as new research shows that it won't cost the U.S. a dime to transition to 90% clean energy by 2035, including by phasing out coal power entirely.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Cat introductions.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Yaryna Serkez highlights how COVID-19 has both exploited and exacerbated the U.S.' existing inequalities. And Alexander Panetta writes about the perpetuation of racial inequality in the U.S. for upwards of five decades after civil rights legislation was supposed to establish a nominally equal footing.

- Cornel West discusses the militarized boot crushing the neck of U.S. democracy. And Poppy Noor examines how the U.S. has treated the media as a target in order to try to suppress reporting on both police violence and the strong public response.

- Meanwhile, Tom Nolan points out how militarized police forces result in the labeling of peaceful activists as an enemy to be combated. And Sandy Hudson discusses how the defunding and demilitarization of police would save the lives of Black and Indigenous people in Canada.

- Steven Chase and Robert Fife report on the Trudeau Libs' choice to fund the Saudi purchase of armoured vehicles - signalling the emptiness of their two main excuses for proceeding with arming the Saudis, including both the supposed sanctity of contract and the desire to have other countries pay for our exported products.

- Eleonore Fournier-Tombs writes about the need to rethink our expectations for care work as we reshape our economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

- Finally, PressProgress exposes James Pattinson's laughable claim that he's powerless to change the slashing of hazard pay for workers at Save-on-Foods.

Monday, June 08, 2020

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Stephen Long writes that one of the key economic symptoms of the coronavirus pandemic has been to push people into underemployment. And CBC Radio examines how people with disabilities have been left out of both conversations as to how to respond to COVID-19, and the resulting relief programs.

- David Climenhaga examines the Kenney UCP's legislative attack on freedom of expression and assembly. Jonny Wakefield highlights how little would be accomplished by Kenney's plan to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars on a provincial parole board. And Dave Cournoyer discusses why Kenney's insistence on attacking his citizens and the people who serve them has made him one of the few leaders not to earn support in his COVID-19 response.

- Nicole Mortillaro reports on the opportunities to reduce our carbon pollution while building a prosperous and sustainable economy.

- Meanwhile, Yrjo Koskinen, J. Ari Pandes and Nga Nguyen argue that the income trust structure which once underwrote the expansion of the tar sands could be used to fund a transition to renewable energy. But it's certainly worth questioning whether it's necessary to set up gratuitous giveaways to capital as the price of a clean economy - particularly when there's every opportunity to instead ensure the purveyors of dirty fuel pay the price, as Jon Porter reports is happening through Germany's requirement that gas stations offer electric car charging.

- Finally, Karen Foster discusses how the pandemic has pointed the way toward a four-day work week which reduces hours but not pay. But needless to say, the Fraser Institute is pushing a model which would instead force workers to choose between maintaining pay and reducing work, while putting them on the hook for productivity increases to cover the gap.

Sunday, June 07, 2020

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Andrew Niikiforuk discusses why we shouldn't count on a COVID-19 vaccine to emerge at all - nor to fully resolve the dangers of the coronavirus even if it is eventually developed. 

- David Suzuki argues that a mere return to normal isn't good enough even if it eventually proves possible. The Globe and Mail's editorial board makes the case for expanded health coverage - though it falls short of demanding that be a universal public system. And Heather Scoffield writes that we shouldn't stop treating people facing homelessness with caring and dignity once the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

- Danielle Goldfarb notes that immediate job reports are is missing much of the impact of the coronavirus on incomes and ongoing economic participation. And Hassan Yussuff and Goldy Hyder write that there won't be a full recovery without a massive investment in child care.

- Alexandra Mae Jones reports on research showing the many outbreaks of COVID-19 in mining operations which have prioritized the extraction of materials over human life. And CBC News reports that Ontario is only starting to ensure coronavirus testing for migrant workers after multiple deaths and dozens of cases.

- Finally, Brandy Morin writes that Canadians reacting to the U.S.' protests against racial violence and inequality need to own up to our own history of discrimination against Indigenous people. Masai Ujiri calls for people with power and privilege to use their positions to combat continued discrimination. And Leyland Cecco calls out Justin Trudeau for limiting himself to words and photo ops, rather than using the power of government to reform policing in Canada.