Saturday, August 15, 2020

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- As the Libs continue to stall on announcing a promised transition from an expiring CERB to a revised employment insurance system, David Macdonald details who stands to lose out if EI simply operates as it has in the past.

- Leslie Young reports on Theresa Tam's warning that COVID-19 may overwhelm Canada's health care system this fall if we're not careful. And Ruth Robillard makes the case for more protections in schools to limit its spread.

- Meanwhile, Stephanie Levitz reports on one positive initiative to ensure that surplus food which would otherwise have gone to waste will instead find its way to people who need it.

- CBC News reports on the growing movement in support of Tristan Durocher and the Walking With our Angels camp. And Michael Bramadat-Willcock's report includes Durocher's apt comparison between Saskatchewan's suicide crisis and a wildfire being allowed to burn when it could be controlled. 

- Finally, Paris Marx discusses the futility of hearkening back to earlier stages of capitalism rather than working on building a more equitable and democratic alternative.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Friday Evening Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on the severe uncertainty facing far too many as the CERB is set to wind down with nothing but vaporware to replace it.

- John Paul Tasker reports on the Libs' slow response to the obvious lack of personal protective equipment at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. And Rachel Treisman reports on the recognition by CDC director Robert Redfield that this could easily be the U.S.' worst fall ever for public health.

- Andre Picard discusses the need for clear guidelines to ensure both that children are as safe as possible in returning to school, and that parents aren't confronted with avoidable anxiety about their health. And Alex Bozikovic raises the important question of what we need to do to address ventilation in schools, while Nathaniel Meyersohn writes that stores are also particularly dangerous potential sources of potential outbreaks if they don't make use of available air filtration systems.

- Finally, Robert Asselin writes about the need for Canada to develop some meaningful economic planning of its own in response to the likelihood that a Biden administration will engage in the same. And Carolyn Sissoko highlights the problems with an economic system in which new fiscal capacity is almost entirely absorbed by existing corporate monoliths rather than anybody looking to build anything new.

Musical interlude

Interpol - Obstacle 1

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Thursday Evening Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- David Macdonald discusses the opportunity to transition from the temporary CERB to a permanently-improved income support system for Canadians - along with the danger that people relying on modest relief now will be left to drown if the old EI rules are applied. Tammy Schirle and Mikal Skuterud note that contrary to the usual anti-social spin, there's no evidence at all that the availability of an improved safety net has led to less searching for work. And Kate Hayman and Jesse McLaren comment on the need for paid sick leave to ensure workers can keep their families and workplaces healthy.

- Lori Johb rightly argues that Saskatchewan can and should aim higher than to value austerity over investment in care for people. And Michael Pina points out the movement for group economics which has received some unexpected attention thanks to the uniform choices of three NBA players.

- Meanwhile, Adam Saifer points out how the coronavirus has highlighted the insufficiency of charity to deal with collective needs.

- Luke Savage notes that COVID-19 has exposed the cruelty underlying the U.S. economy. And Brett Christopher discusses how the UK's handing of a massive PPE contract to an entirely unqualified political friend of the government reflects the rise of rentier capitalism.

- Finally, Justin Mikulka notes that the much-vaunted Bakken fracking boom has busted, while operators haven't bothered to clean up their mess.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Wednesday Evening Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Nicole Lyn Pesce examines the growing evidence that people with even minor cases of COVID-19 may face neurological symptoms lasting for months. And Lauren Pelley writes about the need to start thinking about how to deal with a full winter of the coronavirus - though I'd argue we need to go further and start planning for the anticipated multi-year period of distancing and protective measures.

- Joseph Magnet discusses the inevitability of COVID-19 outbreaks in schools. John Michael McGrath writes that parents aren't expecting miracles, but have every right to demand effort, competence and compassion from the governments who have children's health and safety in their hands. Alex Soloducha reports on the rightful calls of Saskatchewan parents to have the province ensure an effective plan for any return to school rather than foisting blame (but no resources) on school boards. Amina Zafar surveys some doctors as to how best to check viral spread in schools, while the Alberta Federation of Labour recommends a workplace health and safety approach to minimize the prospects of a Cargill-style calamity.

- Jessica Yun examines why share prices are staying at all-time-high levels in the course of a pandemic which has severely reduced economic activity - with attacks on workers and wages looming large in the equation. And Don Pittis discusses the reality that assets available for fire-sale prices only further enrich the people who have spare wealth to acquire them.

- David Roberts writes about new research showing that the effects of air pollution are so severe as to make a transition to clean energy a clear economic benefit even if we ignore the climate crisis.

- But that makes it particularly depressing that Canada is handing out massive fossil fuel subsidies even compared to our international counterparts, rather than planning for any meaningful move toward renewables. And that goes doubly for Alberta's plan which is based on trying to extract temporary wealth from a greenhouse gas emissions path which will lead to an inevitable climate disaster.

- Finally, David Climenhaga warns us not to be taken in by promises of small nuclear reactors which serve only as a delay tactic rather than a viable part of the transition.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Blissed cats.

Tuesday Evening Links

This and that for your Tuesday evening.

- Crawford Kilian examines the UN's advice on how to keep school safe from COVID-19, while the Saskatchewan Medical Association and Saskatchewan College of Family Physicians (PDF) both urge the Saskatchewan Party start paying attention to what's needed to keep people safe. And The New York Times' editorial board points out that even the U.S. could get control of the coronavirus by this fall if there was any competence or caring to be found among its decision-makers.

- The Star's editorial board writes that COVID-19 has highlighted the need for an income support system which goes far beyond EI as it stands.

- The Canadian Press reports on the death of Canadian James Hill as a result of the uncontrolled spread of COVID while in ICE custody. And lest anybody think Canada's immigration system is wanting for cruelty, Doug Schmidt reports on the threat of kidnapping and deportation used to prevent a migrant farm worker in Ontario from reporting employer abuse.

- Joseph Stiglitz offers a reminder as to why GDP fails to measure the well-being and sustainability which should be the focus of our public policy choices.

- Finally, PressProgress points out the Saskatchewan Party's outright bragging about relying on massive corporate donations to drown out other voices. And Geoff Leo catches them promising that donations will be personally reviewed to allow donors to get into Scott Moe's good graces.

Monday, August 10, 2020

On risky responses

Plenty of people have taken note of the Saskatchewan Party's "Kate" data collection scheme - and it's given rise to much due mockery, as well as some important recognition of the underlying system. But if it's true that the Sask Party's plan for now is to blast messages out to mobile numbers, it's worth noting how any direct responses to the scheme may lead to election-campaign mischief.

If indeed the marketing group behind the messages knows nothing about respondents besides the randomized number dialed initially, then even a humorous response provides some significant data.

Presumably most of the texts will go without responses. As a result, anything written back is likely to be read, and to mark a recipient as having an interest in Saskatchewan politics. And any negative or mocking response figures to flag the number as being linked to someone less than enamoured with Scott Moe's government.

Which is a problem, since systematic information about non-supporters can be an extremely dangerous thing in the hands of a political party's third-party operatives.

For the primary Canadian example, one need only look to one of the associated companies of the Sask Party's contractor, which employees exposed as having called non-Conservative voters with false information about polling station relocations. That led in turn to an investigation which stalled only due to an issue in proving the specific intent of the people ordering and making the calls - but which confirmed both the calls themselves, and the Cons' awareness that they would include incorrect information. 

Lest there be any doubt, it's entirely fair and normal for political parties to seek to contact voters for both persuasion and voter identification.

But it's also well worth noting how any information can be misused in the hands of unscrupulous operators - particularly when the Saskatchewan Party seems to see no issue putting its voter outreach in the hands of a group responsible for past misinformation. And Saskatchewan voters will need to be aware of the risks of handing them the data to make a voter suppression scheme work.

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Kat Devlin and J.J. Moncus point out how people were justifiably pessimistic about burgeoning inequality even before a pandemic which has further consolidated wealth and power in the hands of the obscenely rich. reports on Statistics Canada's data showing that visible minorities have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 disruption. And Food Banks Canada's Hunger Count both documents the widespread use of food banks in Canada, and makes important recommendations on child care, housing and income supports to address the root causes of hunger. 

- Al Etmanski and Kathleen O'Grady write about the importance of unifying a movement of Canadians with disabilities in the face of neglect from all levels of government.

- Christine Montross discusses the need to respond to mental health concerns with compassion and harm reduction rather than violence and incarceration. And CBC Radio reports on one mother's fight to treat the opioid addiction crisis with the urgency it deserves.

- Jeff Gray writes about the possibility that a model of providing shelter hotels to homeless people may be one of the COVID-19 responses worth continuing - though as a longer-term plan it should surely make sense to provide housing which isn't so temporary.

- Finally, a group of economists including Joseph Stiglitz, Mariana Mazzucato, Robert Reich and Gabriel Zucman agrees on the need to end the carbon economy as we build back better in the wake of COVID-19.

Sunday, August 09, 2020

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (via Behind the Numbers) examines how women are bearing the brunt of homelessness and insecure housing in the midst of a pandemic, while Victoria Gibson reports on the increasing number of children in Toronto's homeless shelters. Ben Miljure reports on just one of the landlords ignoring any prohibition against evictions to try to force people out of a home. Conor Dougherty warns of the impending wave of evictions as the U.S.' protections for tenants expire. And Naomi Klein warns about the risks facing a lockdown generation - while noting that housing solutions which worked during the Great Depression would provide more support than the government is bothering with now.

- Meanwhile, Nill Kaplan-Myrth discusses the need for the workers and experts in all areas of social policy to work together in solving the social problems which have been exposed by COVID-19. Marta Zaraska is hopeful that we can emerge from the pandemic with a renewed focus on kindness and social responsibility. And the Guardian points out a plan by Stephen Machin and Lee Elliot Major to ensure the wealthiest few pay their fair share to fund the assistance people need.

- Kiera Krogstad expresses her disappointment in the Moe government's sad excuse for a back-to-school plan from the perspective of a high school student, while Carla Shynkaruk reports on the plight of a family with an immunocompromised child. Adam Miller surveys a group of experts on what's missing from provincial plans so far, while Tess Kalinowski reports on the thorough federal-level recommendations which aren't reflected in provincial choices. And Jack Power and Jack Horgan-Jones report on Ireland's large-scale teacher hiring and capital grants to ensure that distancing is possible within schools.

- Finally, David Shukman writes about the impending future in which the summer is too hot for humans to survive over large swaths of the planet. And Moira Warburton reports on the collapse of the Milne Ice Shelf as just the latest climate disaster which shows how we're failing to avert a complete breakdown of our natural environment.