Saturday, January 02, 2021

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Daisy Fancourt discusses how general non-compliance with public health orders and recommendations can be traced back to the perception that elites couldn't be bothered to do their part (and would never face consequences for their actions). Which leads of course to the latest on the conservative parade of pandemic vacations - with Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips resigning only after it was clear that would need to do so to save Doug Ford's hide, while multiple Sask Party and UCP MLAs and prominent staffers insist they're right to consider themselves above everybody else.

- Bryan Eneas reports on the Saskatchewan Coroners Service's need for additional morgue capacity to deal with the casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic, while Arthur White-Crummey reports on the outbreak affecting inmates and staff at the Regina Provincial Correctional Centre. (Needless to say, it's worth a reminder that Scott Moe believes those are the result of his government handling the pandemic perfectly.)

- Meanwhile, Kendall Latimer reports on families' calls for some currently-lacking transparency from private care homes. And Dr. Amit Arya, Dr. Naheed Dosani, Dr. Silvy Mathew and Dr. Andrew Boozary highlight the need to put an end to the for-profit long-term care which is trading residents' lives for temporary profits.

- Tom Parkin discusses how the NDP's strong level of current support can be traced to its focusing on people's needs in the course of the pandemic. And Jacob McLean discusses the importance of electoral organizing (including through the Ontario NDP) as part of any push for socialist policy.

- Finally, Marta Zaraska makes the case to work on increasing our level of empathy in the year to come.

Friday, January 01, 2021

Musical interlude

 Radical Face - Sunlight

Friday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to start your year.

- Shawn Micallef highlights how the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the refusal by far too many people to follow a social contract - including anti-social leaders elected to shape and apply it.

- Owen Jones writes about the dangerous disinformation - spread with far too little thought within the media - that COVID-19 doesn't need to be taken seriously. And Niall McGee reports on the rise in stock promotion scams since the pandemic started.

- James Keller and Jaren Kerr note that hospitals which are already operating beyond their capacity are facing impending disaster as patient numbers rise, while James Keller and Stefanie Marotta point out the further strain on a health care system which will need to work out how to rapidly deliver a vaccine. Lawrence Wright goes into detail about the U.S.' utterly failed response, while Robson Fletcher looks at the causes of Alberta's December spike in COVID-19 deaths. And Moira Wyton discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us that while nobody is immune from a public health disaster, the harm falls disproportionately on people already facing severe disadvantages.

- Finally, Andrew MacLeod notes that even John Horgan was taken by surprise by the speed and effectiveness of the B.C. civil service's response to the coronavirus - showing that even our leaders most inclined to accept public-sector action are underestimating what it can achieve when given the chance (while concurrently putting too much emphasis on private interests).

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Fran Quigley interviews Joanne Goldblum and Colleen Shaddox about the entirely feasible steps which could be taken to eliminate poverty in the U.S.:


You devote a good deal of the book to reviewing the data and the stories that describe US poverty, but you always circle back to solutions, refuting the idea we often hear that “the poor will always be with us.” Why do you think we can, as your subtitle promises, end poverty in the United States?


Because poverty is simply not having enough money to meet your needs. There is nothing more complicated about it than that. And we live in the richest nation in the world, where there is plenty of money. So if we have the political will, we could end poverty.

There are lots of different ways to do it. A living wage is necessary, and a universal basic income can help. We talk in the book about universal health care, housing supports, about making water and electricity and heat a public good. Other countries do all this, and there is no reason we could not do so as well. If we just tax people appropriately, we can have the money to do all this.


We write about challenges in affording car insurance in places where you need a car to get to work, the difficulty in keeping the lights on, not being able to afford medicines. Being in poverty is like walking across a rotted floor — there are so many ways you can fall through. And it all comes down to money.

- Meanwhile, Amanpreet Brar, Maria Daniel and Gurbaaz Sra point out how Amazon's warehouse workers have been put at additional risk by COVID while being silenced in efforts to protect their health and safety. 

- Don Braid points out that racists are attaching themselves to the antisocial principles behind anti-public health rallies to try to recruit adherents and claim legitimacy. And Georgina Alonso discusses the importance of Black Lives Matter - and the harm done by systemic racism it seeks to challenge - in rural Canada.

- Burgess Langshaw-Power writes about the folly of relying on a new generation of false promises and pipe dreams from nuclear power proponents. 

- Michael Barnard calculates how planned increases in the federal carbon price figure to clean up Alberta's power grid by incentivizing the replacement of natural gas power with renewable energy. But Lisa Schick reports on the Moe government's evisceration of Saskatchewan's residential solar sector even as it leaves no stone unturned in pushing further fossil fuel development.

- Finally, Kendall Latimer reports on the "quiet revolution" which has followed the more prominent initial discussion of #metoo in Regina.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Deep thought

No one could have predicted that somebody's refusal to accept responsibility for causing another person's death - and indeed insistence that they're entitled to avoid any questioning about it - might speak poorly to their fitness to govern a province.

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Noah Smith examines how even leaving aside such trifling considerations as human welfare, it's a better economic proposition to provide money to people with less money than those with more. And Matt McGrath highlights how any hope of averting a climate breakdown requires that the wealthiest people on the planet eliminate some of the extravagant emissions from their lifestyles.

- But Umair Haque points out how far too many decisions are made by and for remorseless and malicious idiots (in the original sense of the term).

- On that front, Tavia Grant and Kelly Grant note that whatever Ontario is calling a "lockdown" is designed to do nothing to stop the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces which have frequently been the sources of outbreaks. And Jenny Kwan and Daniel Blaikie call for the Libs to avoid damaging clawbacks on CERB payments.

- Ian Sample reports on the conclusion of the President of the UK's Royal College of Psychiatrists that the coronavirus pandemic will have more severe mental health effects than any event since World War II. And Amanpreet Brar, Lawrence Loh and Basak Yanar highlight the unfairness of temporary low-wage workers being forced to accept the worst stresses and risks while making do with meager incomes.

- Finally, Frank Morris discusses how COVID-19 has exacerbated the exodus of medical professionals from small towns in the U.S. (even in the absence of governments actively driving them away).

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Holiday cats.


Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Emma Ladds, Alex Rushforth, Sietse Wieringa, Sharon Taylor, Clare Rayner, Laiba Husain and Trisha Greenhalgh study the wade-ranging and severe symptoms resulting from "long COVID", while Jennifer Lutz and Richard Carmona point out how a health care system dependent on individual funding is ill-equipped to respond. Andre Picard writes about the absurdity of Ontario taking a holiday from distributing COVID-19 vaccines.

- Meanwhile, Mitchell Anderson discusses the lives lost in Western Canada to decades of propaganda which have built deep antipathy and distrust toward both science and the federal government. And Lee Berthiaume reports on another poll showing that the vast majority of respondents in the prairie provinces have had enough of failed leadership in responding to the coronavirus.

- CBC News points out how we've wasted two decades in the fight to salvage a liveable planet in the face of a climate breakdown. 

- John Harris points out that the UK's current set of self-inflicted crises is nothing new, but instead reflects a history of hubris and poor judgment by the country's ruling class. And Dani Alexis Ryskamp discusses how the U.S. has eliminated the prospect of the modest but secure middle-class lifestyle depicted in the Simpsons and other cultural touchstones.

- Finally, Michael Laxer highlights how COVID-19 has been used as an excuse for class warfare in Canada, with the richest few individuals and largest corporations claiming massive handouts and taking the opportunity to exploit their advantages in wealth and power while people generally are shamed for trying to survive.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Adam Finn writes about the factors which have allowed for the rapid development of safe COVID-19 vaccines. 

- Helen Tang discusses the stress and frustration she's heard from the people she's had to reach as a contact tracer. Madeleine Cummings tells the stories of single parents navigating the pandemic. And Lisa Wolff and Terence Hamilton examine the support provided to families through Canada's pandemic relief - along with the need for structural change (including a national child care program) to lead our recovery efforts. 

- Robert Reich writes about the importance of an economy based on building up from the bottom, rather than hoping that wealth trickles down from the top. Dylan Penner warns against using the privatized Canada Infrastructure Bank for our post-COVID rebuilding. And Jill Mahoney reports on the lack of attention that's been paid to such basic infrastructure as school ventilation in the midst of a pandemic.

- Jim Elliott points out that contrary to the constant drumbeat of oil industry propaganda, there's plenty of public appetite for a transition to clean energy. Aaron Rutkoff writes that even the world's dirtiest carbon polluters are coming to terms with that reality. And Cheryl Katz highlights how large-scale battery storage is becoming a reality rather than a distant hope.

- Finally, Emily Chung argues against the current pattern of anti-repair design and planned obsolescence which makes our consumption far more harmful to the environment than it needs to be.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Owen Jones writes that the oft-repeated message that the public is responsible for the control (or spread) of COVID-19 serves mostly to deflect from gross failures of government. Grant Robertson reports on the deterioration of Canada's capacity to respond to a pandemic. Roberto Rocha, Inayat Singh and Julianna Perkins point out that provinces which acted sooner have had far more success in limiting case loads. And Michael Baker, Nick Wilson and Tony Blakely examine the superior outcomes from plans which eliminate viral spread, rather than assuming that some level of community transmission is acceptable and controllable.

- Elayne Hyshka and Hakique Verani note that contrary to Jason Kenney's deflections, the rise of drug overdoses in Alberta is the result of precisely the harm exacerbation strategy his government is determined to inflict on the province. And Danny Kerslake reports on the spread of COVID-19 through the Saskatchewan Penitentiary at a rate even worse than that of other federal penitentiaries.

- Pamela Cowan writes that the tragic loss of life which marked 2020 should push us to take far better care of senior citizens. And Brigitte Pellerin similarly argues that we should use what we've learned to ensure we never again ignore marginalized people.

- Terry Gross discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has turned into a windfall for the people who already had far more than they could possibly need. Noah Smith points out that the growth of inequality isn't limited to the rise of the uber-rich, but also includes increased disparities within the middle class. And Alex Hemingway studies how the underrepresentation of people outside the upper classes in political leadership leads to distorted policy outcomes.

- Finally, Heather McGregor points out how Ontario's most recent anti-poverty plan falls short of offering any useful plans to lift people out of poverty.