Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Cluttered cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Gary Mason writes that Saskatchewan and Alberta are tragically showing the rest of the country what a COVID-19 disaster looks like. CBC News reports on a predictable spike in COVID-19 following Saskatchewan's Thanksgiving weekend. And Zak Vescera uncovers the Moe government's choice to beg for medical help from their Republican allies even while they demurred on making requests for help which was already on offer from Canada's federal government. 

- Meanwhile, PressProgress reports on the callous efforts of British Columbia's business lobby to prevent workers from having to access to sick leave during the pandemic. 

- Pratyush Dayal reports on how the Moe government's needless undercutting of social programs has led to the buildup of tent cities in the province's cities just in time for winter. 

- Hamilton Nolan sees reason for hope in the U.S.' wave of strikes, while pointing out the importance of people participating rather than merely observing. And Michael Sainato reports on organizing by retail workers at Dollar General and other stores which have refused to recognize the contributions of essential workers. 

- Dave Cullen writes that we shouldn't let self-serving actors turn the urgency of the climate crisis into an excuse to push expensive and dangerous nuclear power when we have more affordable renewable alternatives. 

- Finally, Karl Nerenberg discusses how a first-past-the-post electoral system magnifies and exacerbates regional divides. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Monique Beals reports on Anthony Fauci's recognition that attacks directed against him are based solely on denialists' hostility toward the truth, while Mike Baker and Danielle Ivory discuss the U.S.' public health crisis. And Zak Vescera examines why Saskatchewan's vaccination rate is so low (notwithstanding Scott Moe's failed attempt to make it into the province's only ongoing response to a pandemic in progress). 

- Meanwhile, Marianne Cooper discusses how women have borne the brunt of additional "invisible work" trying to ensure colleagues' well-being during the course of the pandemic. 

- John Woodside reports on polling showing that a strong majority of Canadians want to see our governments invest in a just transition, and not in new fossil fuel infrastructure. Bill McKibben writes that the effort to avert a climate breakdown has two major strengths in its corner in a massive activist base and readily-available technological solutions. And Kim Siever reports on TransAlta's move from fossil fuels to renewables even under a government desperate to stand in the way of any transition. 

- Christopher Lyon et al. examine models showing the dire future which awaits - including centuries of continually increasing temperatures and drastic environmental changes - if we don't rein in the climate crisis. 

- Finally, Justin Fisher reviews Divided (ed. by JoAnn Jaffe, Patricia Elliot, and Cora Sellers) as to the social harm Saskatchewan is suffering as a result of the Sask Party's neoliberal economic and political model. And Susan Ferguson discusses how the violence and devaluation of life inherent in capitalist decision-making have constrained the responses to COVID-19 and other crises. 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Hannah Devlin asks why the UK is accepting a thousand lives a week as the price of incompetence in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

- Meanwhile, Marlene Leung reports on new research showing that surface contact on high-contact areas of grocery stores isn't a source of COVID spread at all.

- Jim Stanford discusses how Canada has been recovering from the pandemic with far more strength than the U.S. - demonstrating that slashing pandemic supports doesn' t help the economy even as the Libs are set to follow the U.S. down that road. And Eric Levitz writes that after seeming to have been exposed as the cause of our inability to respond to an emergency, neoliberalism seems to have emerged unscathed.

- Marc Jaccard makes the case for a zero-emission vehicle mandate from the federal government, while Rewiring Australia points out that full electrification is well within reach. The UN Climate Change examines the painfully tight carbon budget left to have a reasonable chance of stopping a climate breakdown at 1.5 degrees of warming. And the Canadian Press reports on the IEA's forecasts showing that the fossil fuel sector is in irreversible decline.

- Finally, Aaron Wherry highlights why it would be in everybody's best interest for the Libs to work on a multi-year support agreement with the NDP rather than planning for another game of minority Parliament chicken.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Musical interlude

The War On Drugs feat. Lucius - I Don't Live Here Anymore

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Michael Bang Pedersen argues that the COVID pandemic offers a prime example of the importance of telling hard truths to the public - rather than engaging in the wishful thinking, sugar-coating and general denial we've come to expect from Scott Moe. And Susie Flaherty writes about new research confirming that children are spreaders of COVID-19 (and particularly its variants), while Lynn Giesbrecht reports that over a hundred Saskatchewan schools (plus several dozen daycares) are currently experiencing outbreaks.  

- Paddy Bettington rightly criticizes the UK Cons' version of "building back" for providing nothing but worse conditions for workers. And Paul Krugman points out the rightful revolt of American workers against being underpaid, put at risk and taken for granted.  

- Max Callaghan and Carl-Friedrich Schleussner discuss their new study showing how the vast majority of people are already affected by the climate crisis. And Oliver Milman, Andrew Witherspoon, Rita Liu and Alvin Chang observe that a climate disaster isn't merely a remote future prospect, but an imminent reality.  

- Simon Evans notes that the IEA's latest World Energy Outlook shows fossil fuel use peaking in 2025 if countries meet their climate commitments. But Rob Davies highlights how that limited and delayed change would be nowhere near enough to actually avert climate breakdown. 

- Meanwhile, Siddharth Joshi, James Glynn and Shivika Mittal discuss the obvious potential for solar power alone to meet the world's energy needs. And Dana Nuccitelli points out how a faster transition to a clean economy will also be a more affordable one.

- Finally, Brent Patterson examines what we know about the RCMP's unit dedicated to violating human rights to protect extractive industries. 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Amativa Banerjee writes about the cognitive dissonance involved in living through the COVID-19 pandemic. And Ian Sample reports on scientists' recognition that the UK's deadly second COVID wave was the result of the repetition of mistakes and a failure to learn from the first wave. 

- Needless to say, that makes an especially dangerous and deadly fourth wave all the more preventable and inexcusable. On that front, Mickey Djuric reports on the continuing erosion of care for Saskatchewan residents in need of surgery, while Zak Vescera reports that the province is on the verge of needing to ship ICU patients to Ontario for lack of health care capacity. 

- Meanwhile, Marlene Leung reports that many of the experts trying to help save lives in the midst of a pandemic have themselves faced threats of violence for daring to do so. 

- Norm Farrell writes that David Card's Nobel prize helps to signal how empirical reality is on the side of progressive policy - even as the wealthiest few set up self-serving default assumptions to the contrary. 

- Jacob Lorinc reports on the CCPA's research into the hundreds of thousands of workers who have left thankless and abusive service-sector jobs for ones which offer greater pay and security - and the employers trying to spin that as reflecting a "labour shortage" rather than a need to do better themselves. Robert Reich characterizes the newfound willingness of U.S. workers to reject unacceptable work as an unofficial (and entirely necessary) general strike. And Shannon Waters documents the lobbying by B.C. employers against a basic standard of paid sick leave. 

- Finally, Mariana Mazzucato highlights the need for a new international consensus in which governments plan, and deploy public resources toward, a new economic structure which serves the common good rather than the rich. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- David Fickling responds to the attempt by petropoliticians to blame high gas prices on limited climate action rather than the vagaries of commodity economics. Lisa Friedman reports on the agreement among 30 countries to slash methane emissions as a crucial short-term step in mitigating a climate breakdown. And Pratyush Dayal reports on the embarrassing gap between Saskatchewan residents' acknowledgment of the reality of the climate change, and their unwillingness to be part of the solution in fighting it. 

- Emma Black argues that any successful push toward a just transition needs to originate in the working class. Chris Saltmarsh highlights the importance of a Green New Deal which reflects state planning in the public interest, rather than attempting to get capital interests to develop a clean economy. 

- Lucy Ellman discusses how we've prioritized frequent and gratuitous air travel over basic health and safety (among other far more important concerns).   

- Kim Moody writes about the needless fragility of just-in-time supply chains as exposed by events ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic, to the disruption caused by a single stuck ship. 

- Jennifer Sweet reports that out-of-control housing markets are pricing cooperatives out of the picture along with most individuals. 

- David Climenhaga writes about the dangers of Jason Kenney's all-in bet on an equalization referendum to salvage public support. 

- Finally, Doug Cuthand notes that the racism which led to Joyce Echaquan's death remains embedded in Canada's history and established social structures. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Uplifted cats.


Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Ian Sample and Peter Walker report on the Parliamentary inquiry which has found the UK's response to COVID-19 to be one of the country's most severe public health failures in history. Denis Campbell reports on a new study showing that the UK's growing gap in lifespans based on income has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. And Jackie Dunham reports on the long-term damage to the nervous system being observed in people who have suffered from long COVID. 

- Meanwhile, Jake Johnson discusses the U.S.' hoarding of COVID vaccines. And Rebecca Robbins points out how after being gifted a vaccine developed through public investment and targeted donations, Moderna is going out of its way to avoid making any supply available to the poor countries where they're most needed. 

- Julieta Caldas chimes in on how philanthropy generally serves to entrench wealth and power. And Lori Nikkel writes that Canada now has significantly more food charities than grocery stores - while asking how we can accept that reality. 

- CBC News offers a reminder of some of the revelations about tax evasion prior to the Pandora Papers - while at the same time making clear that mere knowledge of offshoring has been far from enough to ensure that the wealthy are required to pay their fair share. And Roman Lanis and Peter Wells warn that we'll continue to see more of the same unless we eliminate the secrecy that allows assets to be hidden. 

- The Associated Press reports on the first step of achieving agreement among 140 countries on a minimum corporate tax rate. But Michael Galant highlights the problems with hoping for inequality to be solved based on the self-interested designs of the wealthiest countries. 

- Finally, Stuart Trew discusses how investment treaties continue to give corporate owners precedence over democratic governance in the public interest - even under newer models which supposedly respond to environmental and labour concerns. 

Monday, October 11, 2021

Monday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Blair McBride writes about the long-term medical crisis Alberta can expect as people are unable or unwilling to have normal diagnoses carried out while the health care system is overrun by COVID-19.  And Mickey Djuric reports on the frustration of Saskatchewan families with their inability to access medical care for children.

- Faiz Shakir writes that organized labour is managing to win some important concessions for workers in the U.S. But Brett Wilkins offers a reminder of how far there is to go in ensuring that workers benefit from the riches that are being created, as the 1% now holds more wealth than the entire U.S. middle class.

- Matt Gurney takes note of Canada's housing crisis which is progressing beyond being an economic issue to a profound social illness. 

- Jeremy Lent discusses how a capitalist mindset is entirely incompatible with any solution to the climate crisis. And Amy Salyzyn and Penelope Simons theorize that an entirely new model of professional responsibility needs to be adopted to ensure that the legal profession doesn't continue trampling human rights and environmental imperatives in the service of extractive industries.

- Finally, Simon Evans examines historical greenhouse gas emissions from a few standpoints - including a per-capita calculation which shows Canada as the absolute worst offender in spewing carbon pollution.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Ricky Leong discusses the complete lack of any reasonable explanation for the UCP's failure to protect the health of Albertans in the face of the fourth wave of COVID-19. And Murray Mandryk comments that the Sask Party likewise insists on doing too little, too late even as people suffer as a result of their negligence.

- Adam King writes that the Pandora Papers offer just the latest reminder that any refusal to fund the society we want is a matter of choice rather than lack of resources.

- Matt Bruenig points out the U.S.' dangerous combination of gratuitously-slashed unemployment benefits and a lack of new employment. And Lysa Lloyd offers her perspective on the precarity and drudgery that come with surviving on social assistance. 

- Sandy Carrier discusses how a general disability benefit in particular would provide a desperately-needed basic standard of living. And Andre Picard writes that all parties should be able to agree on the need to ensure people with disabilities aren't trapped in poverty.

- Angela Smith interviews Jessica Whyte about the neoliberal movement's use of human rights language to impose cruel capitalist structures. 

- And finally, Alan Finlayson discusses the need to present progressive politics based on concrete proposals and demands, rather than nebulous values which are easily distorted by opponents while offering little of substance for potential supporters to draw upon.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Adam Hunter points out the stark gap between public health officials emphasizing the need for protections against community transmission of COVID-19, and Scott Moe's stubborn refusal to apply them. Alexander Quon writes about the hundreds of Saskatchewan patients missing out on surgeries every day. And Jacqueline Howard reports on the new research confirming that children face no less risk of infection than adults.

- Rhitu Chatterjee points out the large number of people in the U.S. losing essential caregivers to COVID-19. And Matt Sedensky discusses how nursing homes are losing staff - and the ability to care for residents - as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

- Umair Haque warns that the supply chain breakdowns seen in the course of the pandemic are just the beginning of a state of perma-crisis.

- Bob Weber reports on the UCP's pathetic - if perhaps not surprising - announcement that oil companies won't be contributing a dime of their massive windfall profits to cleaning up their messes. And Isabella Kaminsky highlights how fossil fuel giants have put massive chunks of the legal industry to work in attempting to avoid responsibility for the damage they've done to people and our natural environment.

- Meanwhile, Christian Schimpf et al. find that confidence in the long-term future of fossil fuels (however misplaced) translates into a refusal to accept climate action. 

- Finally, the Guardian's editorial board discusses the connection between the UK Cons' pay-to-play political schemes and the tax loopholes shown to be exploited in the Pandora Papers.

Friday, October 08, 2021

Musical interlude

Raye & Rudimental - Regardless

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Thomas Saunders discusses how COVID-19 transmission through schools is resulting in effectively a separate epidemic among children and parents. Kathy Eagar offers a reminder of the dangers of recklessly discarding public health measures rather than taking care to make sure that reopening is sustainable. Erin Anderssen takes a look at the long-term difficulties facing people who have suffered from long COVID. And Scott Larson reports on the recognition by the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses that shuffling health care workers around is no answer to the demands placed on them by a pandemic that's been allowed to run out of control. 

- Meanwhile, Tosin Thompson writes about new research showing how air filters can remove viral particles from the air. 

- Christine Fernando reports on the likelihood that climate-related disasters will be the norm for today's younger generations. And Andrew Gregory discusses the growing recognition that a degraded natural environment will place young people under a lifetime of avoidable stress and anxiety. 

- Jaela Bernstein offers her take on what Canada needs to do to contribute its fair share to global emission reductions. And Marc Lee chimes in with some necessary lessons from British Columbia's unprecedented wildfire season. 

- But in case anybody thought the industries who have profited off of destroying the climate would be willing to contribute to solutions, Rod Nickel reports on the demands of tar sands operators who want the government to pay 75% of the bill to greenwash their continued extraction of dirty energy. And Frank Duffy writes about the UK auto industry's refusal to consider workers' attempts to transition toward non-emitting vehicles. 

- Finally, Yakov Feigin discusses how the right's obsession with inflation as an excuse for cruelty and austerity neglects the fact that the ultimate source of that inflation is the stagnation of productive capacity due to underinvestment. And Ian Welsh points out our glaring inability or refusal to do anything substantial without some entrenched corporate oligarch taking the resulting profit. 

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Carrie Tait reports on the spate of readmissions of COVID-19 patients to Alberta hospitals, while Zak Vescera points out the large number of Saskatchewan diagnoses happening only in hospital as infected people fail to get tested until their symptoms are severe. And Arthur White-Crummey reports that the Moe government still hasn't gotten around to making a request for federal assistance. 

- Neal Marquez et al. study the greater severity of COVID infections in prisons. And the Center for Health Security discusses the need for higher-quality masks and respirators than are currently in widespread use. 

- Haozhe Yang and Sangowh Suh examine the generational implications of the climate crisis - with younger people standing to benefit substantially from climate change mitigation. And Rebecca Leber highlights how the reconciliation bill currently stalled in Congress represents the U.S.' last and best chance to make a constructive contribution toward averting climate breakdown.

- But in case there was any doubt whether the interests of older and wealthier people are being favoured, Damian Carrington reports on the massive amounts of money being poured into fossil fuel subsidies. And Kim Siever reports on the oil and gas industry's negative contribution to Alberta's corporate tax revenues in 2020. 

- Meanwhile, William Gillies discusses what an actual national energy program could achieve if given a chance to operate. 

- Finally, George Monbiot offers a reminder that trashing the planet and making off with the spoils isn't a distortion of capitalism, but the essence of a system designed to reward individual greed and temporary exploitation. 

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Smriti Mallapaty reports on new research suggesting that vaccines provide only partial protection against the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19. Sarath Peiris asks when Scott Moe and his minions will be held accountable for sacrificing hundreds of lives and thousands of people's health to science denial and wishful thinking. And the Maple examines the failure of both Moe and Jason Kenney to take steps to protect public health in the face of record case and hospitalization counts. 

- Jim Stanford writes about the importance of frontline workers in a pandemic - and the economic forces trapping them in precarity and deprivation. 

- Alec Salloum discusses how the Moe government's changes to Saskatchewan social programs are depriving the people who most need housing and income supports of those basic building blocks of a healthy life. And George Eaton points out how cuts to pandemic supports look to increase poverty and inequality in the UK. 

- Cole Hanson highlights how Canada has chosen to legitimize tax evasion rather than making it a priority to ensure the wealthy pay their fair share. And Adam Ramsey similarly writes about the UK's role in the Pandora Papers and the global system of tax avoidance, while Peter Oborne discusses the partisan connections between tax evasion and big-money donations to the UK Cons. 

- Meanwhile, Umair Haque and Doug Saunders each discuss the self-inflicted damage the UK faces as a result of Brexit. 

- Finally, Magdi Semrau explores how the U.S.' media distorted coverage of withdrawal from Afghanistan in favour of a frame of permanent war with no regard for consequences. And David Pugliese exposes how Canada has trained far-right extremists in the Ukraine. 

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Surfaced cats.


Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Nazeem Muhajarine and Kathryn Green call out Scott Moe's Saskatchewan Party government for causing readily-preventable suffering and death - both from COVID-19 directly, and its devastating effects on the broader health care system. And Scott Larson reports on the "grim" situation facing Saskatoon's hospitals (among others). 

- Paul Krugman rightly questions why the self-appointed Very Serious People can't reach agreement on such fundamentals of a civilized society such as preserving a habitable planet and ending child poverty. 

- Sean Holman discusses the need to put human faces on the climate crisis, rather than dealing with it primarily as a matter of abstract policy. And Rachel Sherrington documents how the fossil fuel sector uses manipulative advertising to claim an interest in exactly the type of climate progress it's blocking through the concentrated application of wealth and power.  

- Jason Deign reports on yet another example of carbon capture and storage turning into an expensive flop, as a Chevron CCS setup intended to serve as license for a massive natural gas project is falling far short of its emission control targets. Hilary Beaumont reports on Enbridge's payment and use of Minnesota police to attack demonstrators opposed to the Line 3 pipeline, once again demonstrating the oil industry's use of state violence to override public concerns about health and the environment. 

- PressProgress exposes how Saskatchewan's process to evaluate infrastructure proposals is hopelessly biased in favour of privatization and financialization of public goods. And Randy Richmond reports on Ontario's plans to privatize the monitoring of inmates as an alarming example of the intersection of corporate interests and limitations on individual rights. 

- Finally, the Guardian and Charlotte Grieve offer summaries of the Pandora Papers as just the latest example of the wealthiest few around the globe escaping any obligation to contribute to the common good. 

Monday, October 04, 2021

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Paul Nuki, Jennifer Rigby and Anne Gulland write about the refusal to acknowledge the airborne spread of COVID-19 which led to a continuing failure to put basic precautions in place - though part of the problem is noted to involve the match between droplet spread and conservative governments' ideological preferences:

Policymakers and politicians also have a natural bias against the idea that diseases may be airborne, says Professor Jimenez. 

“Droplets and surfaces are very convenient for people in power - all of the responsibility is on the individual,” he said. “On the other hand, if you admit it is airborne, institutions, governments and companies have to do something.”

- And Zak Vescera reports on Scott Moe's continued insistence on pushing already-failed U.S. fads as a substitute for preventative measures, this time in demanding monoclonal antibodies while his public health half-measures fail to make up for a summer of complete neglect. 

- Heather Mallick challenges the attempt to spin any oil as ethical or friendly in the face of a climate crisis along with the well-document historical impact of extractive industries. And Halena Seiferling argues that the new Parliament needs to put climate considerations at the centre of every issue it addresses. 

- Meanwhile, Henry Paulson highlights how we're in the middle of an extreme extinction event for large numbers of species. And Nathanael Johnson notes that the severe wildfires across much of North America this summer were far from the worst on the planet due to Russia's unprecedented blazes.

- Finally, Kim Siever writes that Alberta saw a huge drop in payday loans in the early stages of the COVID pandemic - confirming once again how even a modicum of social support can alleviate the extreme precarity and stress we've been conditioned to think of as normal. Umair Haque laments the Biden administration's failure to work on improving citizens' lives on the scale obviously necessary. And Phillip Inman reports on Antonio Guterres' warnings about the urgent need to reduce inequalities around the globe. 

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- The Canadian Press reports on the overwhelming public support for vaccine mandates and other public health rules - as well as the supermajorities recognizing that Jason Kenney and Scott Moe have failed their provinces:

Unsurprisingly given their provinces' struggles with the fourth wave of the pandemic, Kenney and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe ranked the lowest among provincial first ministers for their handling of the health crisis.

Fully 80 per cent of Alberta respondents said they were very or somewhat dissatisfied with Kenney's performance, and 74 per cent of Saskatchewan respondents felt the same about Moe.

- The Associated Press reports on the widespread shortages caused by the UK's ill-advised fixation on Brexit. And Matt Stoller writes about the U.S.' own supply chain failings, while noting that the issue goes far beyond COVID.

- Jeremy Appel offers a reminder as to how Canada lost its domestic vaccine supply to privatization and acquiescence in the business model of big pharma. 

- John Michael McGrath discusses how to empower municipalities now that the Supreme Court has confirmed that there's no Charter-protected right to meaningful elections at their level. And Henry Grabar writes about Paris' success reclaiming public spaces for people rather than cars. 

- Finally, Jeff Keele reports on how seniors with low incomes are being affected by the Libs' failure to account for their circumstances in designing the CERB. 

Saturday, October 02, 2021

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- The Globe and Mail's editorial board discusses the need to consider whether to lift public health measures with care rather than stubborn anti-social ideology. Adam Miller writes that Alberta's failure to do anything of the sort in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it a cautionary tale, while Andrew Nikiforuk highlights the need to hold Jason Kenney (among other politicians) accountable for his lethal negligence in exercising the responsibility placed on a government to keep people safe. 

- Laura Osman reports on Theresa Tam's recognition that the Delta variant means we need higher vaccination rates to avoid catastrophic COVID surges. And Apoora Mandavilli discusses how the COVID variants appear to be getting more efficient at spreading through the air. 

- The Canadian Institute for Climate Choices examines how Canada's infrastructure isn't prepared for catastrophic climate change - making clear that any temporary failure to invest in transition and adaptation is going to be a false economy. 

- Duncan Kinney and Jake Pesaruk expose how multiple levels of government are instead funnelling money into a company combining fossil fuel extraction with environmentally-destructive crypto currency mining. And Geoffrey Morgan reports on the closure of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association as a prime example of how governments are propping up fossil fuel projects which are seen as unproductive by private-sector standards. 

- Finally, Maximillian Alvarez, Jen Pan and Paul Prescod trace the decline of collective action to Ronald Reagan and his corporate backers. And Luke Savage interviews Patrick Wyman about the role of local tycoons in consolidating power and suppressing popular organization at the community level. 

Friday, October 01, 2021

Musical interlude

CHVRCHES & Robert Smith - How Not to Drown

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Anand Giridharadas writes about the dangers of letting political discussions become primarily a matter of process and personalities, rather than the real impact decisions have on people's lives. 

- Graham Thomson calls out Jason Kenney for his consistent refusal to acknowledge the reality of COVID - both in communicating with the public and in making decisions about how to respond to a deadly pandemic. And Tanya Lewis points out the need to upgrade face masks to deal with more infectious COVID variants. 

- Kristian Nielsen examines the role privileged people will play in determining whether we're able to avoid a climate catastrophe. Max Fawcett discusses Canada's choices in its approach to the upcoming United Nations climate change conference - noting that all available evidence suggests that it's countries who get ahead of the inevitable transition to clean energy who will be best off in the long run. And Rebecca Leber discusses how Republicans are ensuring their states will be left behind by prohibiting municipalities from implementing any effective climate action. 

- Meanwhile, Heather Scoffield writes that investors and financial institutions are recognizing that the future is renewable as well - though they may need a boost from public policy to fully incorporate the into their decisions. 

- Douglas Todd writes about the reemergence of inheritance culture, as the children of families with wealth to spare are nearly alone in their ability to afford a home in Canada's major cities. And Chris Lehmann reviews Matthew Stewart's The 9.9 Percent as an important description of the group of workers outside the wealthy elite which works to preserve its privilege. 

- Finally, Melissa Ridgen interviews Murray Sinclair about the path toward reconciliation. And Martin Lukacs writes about the Defenders of the Land who are challenging the exercise of colonial power and pointing the way toward reconciliation based on the mutual recognition of rights.  

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Thursday Morning Truth and Reconciliation Day Links

A few links and reports for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

- Rose Lemay writes that reconciliation requires systemic change at the level of individual assumptions and awareness. Murray Sinclair notes that the proclamation of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is just one small step in a journey which will take lifetimes to complete. And Drew Hayden Taylor observes that one day is nowhere near enough to respond to centuries of colonialism - particularly when so many provinces have refused to participate. 

- Meanwhile, Ross Diabo writes about the history of deliberate and systemic abuse and devaluation of Indigenous peoples going far beyond the residential school system alone.  

- Meghan Grant highlights the victims of the 25 Alberta residential schools acknowledged in the Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. 

- Suzanne Shoush and Lisa Boivin recognize that acknowledgment of the truth requires that we accept the anger and outrage of people historically mistreated by our governments, not look to deny or minimize the harm. 

- Finally, Chris Tyrone Ross offers his perspective as to how best to spend the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation - both in learning about the reality of Canada's treatment of Indigenous peoples, and acting to change our relationship for the better. Pratush Dayal lists of some of the events being held around Saskatchewan. And the summary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report - including its calls to action - can be found here (PDF). 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The difficult journey upstream

One of the signature messages of Ryan Meili's work in activism and politics has been the concept of upstream thinking - described in extremely brief form here:

To imagine a different approach, it’s helpful to start with a classic public health parable:

Imagine you’re standing on the edge of a river. Suddenly a flailing, drowning child comes floating by. Without thinking, you dive in, grab the child, and swim to shore. Before you can recover another child comes floating by. You dive in and rescue her as well.

Then another child drifts into sight. . . and another. . .  and another.  You call for help, and people take turns fishing out child after child. Hopefully before too long some wise person will ask: Who keeps chucking these kids in the river? And they’ll head upstream to find out.

Every time we have to clean up an environmental disaster, every time a young person winds up in jail, every time people have to take medicines to make up for the fact that they couldn’t afford good food, we’re suffering from the results of downstream thinking.

For many people inclined to look for smarter and more effective ways of carrying out the work of helping people, this has been an extremely powerful analogy. But it may be time to examine its limitations in the broader political context - and to highlight what those say about the work to be done in bringing about change in Saskatchewan and elsewhere. 

It's well and good to start from the perspective of people whose first inclination is to try to save people who are floundering - particularly when Meili is able to speak personally about his work trying to improve people's health as a doctor, and reach out to audiences of engaged activists looking to do good through their actions. 

But once we probe a bit more into the question of what happens when you "head upstream to find out" why people are being thrown in the river, we can't escape the reality that there are some ugly answers.

Contrary to what we might hope, it isn't the case that merely identifying how people are being thrown into the river will necessarily lead to action to stop it - either in the sense that the people currently in charge will welcome the opportunity to do so, or that the general public will care enough to take power away from anybody so callous as to keep up the carnage. 

To the contrary, what the journey upriver reveals is a well-fortified complex designed to ensure that the child-chucking process can continue, along with a general population which at best needs to be convinced that there's a problem. 

That phenomenon has been readily observable on all kinds of issues in Saskatchewan politics - from the systematic deprivation inflicted on First Nations and Indigenous peoples, to the refusal to work toward harm reduction as a matter of health policy, to the obstinate refusal to be anything but a barrier to action to avoid global climate breakdown. 

But it may resonate all the more in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic - based on both its widespread impact, and our ability to compare public information to government and business actions. 

The relative success of strong public health measures at the beginning of the pandemic proves that we know exactly how to limit the human toll of COVID-19. And the available knowledge has only improved since then, meaning that our government could end the flow of kids into the river based on well-proven techniques if it had any interest in doing so. 

But the constant focus of the Saskatchewan Party government (along with its corporate donors and political base) has been to try to get back to the usual business of child-chucking as soon as possible. And now, we've reached the stage where the people willing to dive in to save those who are struggling are not only being devalued by those with power, also but being conscripted to explain and justify Scott Moe's decision to chuck people in the river and then let them drown. 

To be clear, none of the above is to suggest that we can afford anything but a determined focus on what's happening upstream. Even if we assume that changing the party in power is on its own a meaningful outcome, it's doubtful that we'll do any better convincing people to vote for an alternative if all we try to offer is a slightly more efficient and consultative rescue service. And more importantly, temporary political success won't actually resolve the underlying problems absent the needed focus on root causes. 

But it also isn't enough to innocently and naively wander toward the source of the underlying problems and expect that exposing them will lead to change. 

There's far more to Meili's political project than a walk along the riverside to a quick diagnosis and course of treatment. And it seems like we're starting from scratch even in some of the most basic assumptions about how a society needs to function - even as those had been highlighted by the pandemic which still serves as an everyday stressor.

That means we need to work on building our capacity to demand systemic change through all available mechanisms, and brace for relentless attacks from the entrenched politicians and business interests - along with compliant media and citizens who have been pushed to defend child-chucking as essential to their incomes and identity. And in seeking to persuade the public, we need to be prepared to do a great deal of work explaining why people should care that children are being chucked in the river in the first place. 

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Lara Herrero offers a quick guide to what we know about the Delta variant - and how it should change our previous perspective on the fight against COVID-19. And Andre Picard highlights why parents shouldn't be at all hesitant to get children vaccinated at the earliest opportunity. 

- Kieran Leavitt discusses how the choice to stop governing in the midst of a pandemic has led to catastrophic results in both Saskatchewan and Alberta. David Climenhaga notes that Jason Kenney's track record of delay followed by panic makes it impossible to believe his assurances in any direction, while Max Fawcett warns that Kenney appears more interested in privatizing health care than ensuring people survive COVID. And Colleen Silverthorn interviews Brett Wasko about the need to start again limiting indoor gatherings to reduce community transmission. 

- Meanwhile, Alex McKeen writes about the efforts of Canada's COVID Zero movement to get us to stop accepting avoidable losses of life and health in the name of imaginary economic gains. 

- Hasan Sheikh writes that the Trudeau Libs have no more excuses when it comes to finally delivering on their decades-old promise of national pharmacare. 

- Bruce McAdams and Rebecca Gordon recognize that any spin about a "labour shortage" in face reflects the refusal of employers to provide acceptable pay and working conditions. 

- Finally, Luke Savage interviews George Monbiot about the effect decades of atomization have had on the willingness and ability of people to resist conspiracy theories. And Jeremy Corbyn writes about the need for social movements to lead the push for change where political parties abandon the cause. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Interactive cats.


Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Danny Westneat discusses Steven Taylor's work on the psychology of pandemics which has proven prescient as we've responded to COVID-19. And Umair Haque writes that people are understandably burned out on collapse - even as there's little prospect of some of the slow-motion catastrophes being resolved in the foreseeable future. 

- Murray Mandryk calls out Scott Moe for engaging in photo ops rather than pandemic management, while Adam Hunter reports on the Saskatchewan Party's failure to ask for available help from the federal government. And Phil Tank documents the change in the Sask Party's messaging toward grudgingly acknowledging the ongoing calamity, even as it's refused to move within shouting distance of even the measures which were used earlier in the pandemic. 

- Megan Cassella writes that some American lawmakers are drawing important lessons from the drop in poverty, hunger and bankruptcies when the U.S.' social safety net was bolstered in response to COVID-19. But Matt Lundy reports on the dwindling number of Canadians supported by Employment Insurance - and the cliff facing many workers as pandemic supports are scheduled to disappear next month. 

- Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on the first Ontario prosecution of an employer for failing to keep employees safe from COVID. And Peter Loewen and Blake Lee-Whiting discuss what gig workers generally want - which largely amounts to the types of stability and protection gig work has been designed to evade. 

- Matt McManus discusses how the promotion of capitalist "liberty" represents little other than the choice to facilitate private domination by the wealthy. 

- Finally, Jonathan Watts writes about the environmentally disastrous race to extract resources from deep sea. And John Woodside exposes how Canadian banks are funding the continued spread of fossil fuel infrastructure which endangers our living atmosphere. 

Monday, September 27, 2021

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Don Braid discusses how Alberta's health care system and polity are both collapsing under the weight of a UCP government which has utterly failed to protect either from readily-preventable damage. And Emily Pasiuk reports on Jason Kenney's continued excuses for letting COVID-19 run rampant rather than doing anything to stop a catastrophe in progress. 

- Meanwhile, Allison Jones reports on the comparative success of continued public health measures in reining in a fourth wave in Ontario. Carly Weeks reports on the new research confirming the reality that children are far more vulnerable to the Delta variant than to previous iterations of the coronavirus, while Ontario's Science Table studies the lasting symptoms and disabilities facing people who suffer from long COVID. 

- David Pugliese reports on the latest revelations showing that Canada's military treated the pandemic as an opportunity to push a propaganda and surveillance campaigns against citizens without authorization or oversight. 

- Jongsay Yong et al. study how Australia's push to privatize long-term care predictably resulted in worse results for residents. And the AP reports on Berlin's move to bring thousands of apartment units under public control to ensure they're used to benefit people. 

- Rest of World surveys the realities facing gig workers around the globe. And Laura Lam and Kam Phung discuss the need for Canadian labour and employment policy to respond by empowering the workers involved. 

- Finally, Robert Reich offers a reminder as to why "corporate social responsibility" is a delay tactic aimed at allowing capitalists to continue their exploitation, not a means of solving social problems. 

#Elxn44 Roundup

News and notes from Canada's federal election campaign.

- Dru Oja Jay discusses how activist movements can maximize their impact in a second consecutive minority Parliament by demanding meaningful and lasting change as the price for NDP support. 

- Andrew Jackson notes that timidity in presenting a sharp progressive contrast to the Libs' platform may have led to the softening of NDP support when it mattered most. Olivia Stefanovich discusses a few perspectives on the strengths and weaknesses of the NDP's campaign. And Tyler Shipley writes about the limitations on pursuing a left agenda through electoral politics in their current form. 

- Meanwhile, John Michael McGrath points out the need for the Libs to engage in some reflection of their own - particularly as to the public's recognition that nothing mattered more to them than reinforcing their own power. 

- In a similar vein, Liam O'Connor and Sara Birrell discuss the frustrations of young voters with the prospect of having action to make housing available kicked down the road yet again. And Kai Nagata writes that the election ultimately left us right back where we started while exposing some of the obstacles to progress. 

- Finally, Colin Walmsley notes that a first-past-the-post electoral system exacerbates geographic divides, including an entrenched rural-urban divide in Parliament. 

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Ian Austen takes Alberta's shame to the international stage by pointing out how the UCP's "best summer ever" has given rise to the fourth wave of COVID-19. Adam Hunter points out how similarly disastrous pandemic mismanagement hasn't yet produced the same political consequences for Scott Moe as for Jason Kenney, while Doug Cuthand calls out Moe for putting politics over public health. And Zak Vescera reports on the Moe government's decision to start withholding modeling information which has demonstrated how reckless it's been.

- Meanwhile, Mackenzie Read talks to Nazeem Muhajarine about the need for more public health steps to get Saskatchewan's fourth wave under control. Lynn Giesbrecht reports on the hundreds of cases already known to have arisen in two weeks following the return to schools this fall. Dan Jones reports on the responses to Moe's attempt to point fingers at other for his failure to get people vaccinated in Northern and rural areas. And Jaela Bernstein discusses how underpaid frontline workers are bearing the brunt of anti-vaxxer rage.

- Supriya Dwivedi writes that the recent federal election highlighted the Canadian media's lack of recognition of how to deal with far-right disinformation. And Michael Spratt notes that while a manufactured controversy over a question about discrimination was turned to the advantage of right-wing parties, it also served to confirm the distinct and ongoing problem of racism in Quebec.

- Aaron Saad discusses how Canada's governing political parties have prevented their bases from fully understanding and engaging with the climate crisis. And Chris Hatch comments on the climate implications of the federal election.

-Finally, Loren Balhorn writes about the continued importance of working-class political parties to provide voters with a plausible mechanism for social change.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Karl Nerenberg notes that taxes on the wealthy represent an excellent starting point in ensuring that it's possible to pass progressive policy in a minority Parliament. And Katrina Miller, Toby Sanger and Alex Hemingway point out the role the provinces can play in developing a more progressive tax system while funding the services and social investments we need.

- But Michael Roberts warns that there's little indication yet that we'll change course from an economy dangerously reliant on dying resource industries and zombie corporations. 

- Meanwhile David Roberts, points out that Illinois is setting new standards in developing an equitable transition plan to a clean economy.

- Kandist Mallitt calls out the increasing use of violent police force to displace homeless people based on the view they have no place in a commercialized housing market. And Jesse Jenkinson and Stephen Hwang write that we should be making tent encampments unnecessary rather than illegal.

- Finally, Umair Haque discusses Britain's continuing failure to realize that it's shot itself in the foot by pushing through Brexit in the absence of any coherent reason or rational plan.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Musical interlude

Japanese Breakfast - Be Sweet

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Katherine Wu, Ed Yong and Sarah Zhang set out six rules which will shape how we handle the next wave of COVID - including recognition that vaccination alone isn't going to be sufficient to avoid a tragic human toll.

- Yasmine Ghania reports on the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation's rightful frustration with the lack of isolation for COVID-positive students. Zak Vescera reports on some of the patients who are missing out on needed care and treatment because the Moe government has allowed COVID to run rampant. And the Canadian Press reports on the suspension of organ donations as a particularly damaging outcome. 

- Linda McQuaig calls for the NDP to use the balance of power to pursue hearings on a wealth tax - though the more substantive option would seem to involve avoiding that step and pressing the demand directly. 

- Meanwhile, Sabrina Maddeaux writes that we shouldn't be surprised to see the Libs refusing reform of an electoral system which disproportionately benefits them at the expense of other parties and interests. 

- Finally, Wyatt Schierman writes about the lack of much for anybody to celebrate arising out of Monday's election. And Sonia Theroux notes that if Justin Trudeau were serious about wanting stability and a longer mandate, he'd be best served working on a formal agreement rather than continuing his pattern of repeated games of confidence-vote chicken. 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

On echoes

Plenty of commentators have pointed out the symmetry between this year's election and that of 2008 in terms of low voter turnout and general dissatisfaction with the outcome on the part of all parties. But it's worth noting the similarities between the two campaigns and their aftermath on the part of the NDP in particular.

2008 was treated as a golden opportunity for Jack Layton and the NDP to improve their standing. But even with the most popular leader among the national parties, a well-run campaign, and seemingly uninspiring or downright self-destructive competitors, the NDP ended up with...a small increase in the percentage of the popular vote due to declining overall turnout; a slightly improved seat count which fell far short of the party's number of targeted ridings and left it in fourth place in the Parliamentary standings; and punditry which questioned Layton's strategy of running for the position of Prime Minister, and asked whether he might have hit his ceiling as the party's leader. 

Sound familiar?

Needless to say, it was for the best that Layton was able to continue applying his experience and popularity to the cause of building the NDP for another election cycle. And any attempt to treat the replacement of a generally popular and able leader as a cure-all is as misguided now as it would have been in 2008. 

Indeed, the next election cycle may well match 2011 as one in which a leader with strong recognition and approval is a particularly potent force. 

The Cons look to be deciding whether or not to push Erin O'Toole out the door for making even token efforts toward moderation. And any review process and leadership campaign on their end raises a real possibility of schisms within the party, an extreme shift to the right which could disqualify them as a perceived alternative government, or the Cons' version of Michael Ignatieff's saviour complex and lack of self-awareness. 

Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau's negative impressions figure to be thoroughly baked in at this point, meaning that voters may be primed for change by the next (hopefully non-pandemic) election. Yet unlike some commentators, I'd have to see it as unlikely that he'd be pushed without wanting to leave - or that he'll choose to leave government without pursing another shot at a majority as long as there's any hope of winning one. 

To be clear, there's plenty the NDP needs to reckon with as a result of the campaign. Among others, those include the need for clearer and more ambitious policy (an area where I'll again point out COVID response as an obvious lost opportunity), as well as concerns being raised about a centralized campaign which spent plenty in the pursuit of a relatively small number of ridings, yet had difficulty converting those into seats. 

But the fact that there's room to learn lessons doesn't mean it's time to throw out the work the NDP has already done. And it shouldn't come as any surprise if the path of slow progress leading to a breakthrough is one the NDP can navigate again. 

[Edit: fixed typo.]

#Elxn44 Roundup

News and notes from the aftermath of Canada's federal election.

- Christo Aivalis is the latest to point out that nobody emerged from the election as a winner. And John Packer writes that there's an ever-stronger case for a coalition government given the low level of popular support for the party with a plurality of seats. 

- Katrina Miller notes that the idea of taxing the rich isn't about to disappear anytime soon, and that it makes sense for it to be one of the outcomes of Monday's election. 

- Karl Nerenberg writes about the multiple barriers to voting which limited turnout and affected the fairness of the election. And Ole Hendrickson argues that the low turnout also serves as evidence of discontent with an electoral system which fails to reflect the will of voters. 

- Pam Palmater highlights why we need to be worried about the PPC's increased number of votes as an indication of a dangerous far-right movement. 

- Finally, Nia Williams writes about the demand by Canadian fossil fuel workers to see the Libs make good on the promise of retraining as part of a just transition. 

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- The Institut economique Molinari studies how COVID Zero strategies have not only kept populations healthier, but helped to preserve higher levels of freedom than plans which instead allow for avoidable community transmission. And Andrew Conway-Harris et al. find (PDF) that air filtration is extremely effective at removing COVID-19 and other airborne diseases from hospital wards. 

- Which is to say that responsible governments should be able to minimize the continued spread of COVID. But instead, Jason Warick reports on the repurposing of Saskatchewan health care providers to brace against an avoidable fourth wave, while Taz Dhaliwal highlights the rightly outraged response of doctors now being told by Scott Moe that they bear responsibility for not sufficiently countering his constant minimization of the pandemic. And Zak Vescera reports on the ballooning number of COVID cases in Saskatchewan's under-19 population. 

- Geoffrey Morgan reports on the growing concern that the massive liabilities associated with a declining oil patch will be dumped onto governments and landowners as oil companies shed idle wells. And Niciolas Van Praet reports on the attempt by fossil fuel companies to use trade agreements to prevent any transition away from new production to help avert climate disaster. 

- Michael Sean Winters discusses how more progressive taxes on the rich represent both a popular step and a smart policy choice. And Chris Dite interviews Marie Sneve Martinussen and Seher Aydar about the success of Norway's Red Party in turning class messaging into both electoral and social change. 

- Finally, Sean Isaacs writes about the encroachment of financialization on nearly every aspect of our lives, and the resulting increase in capital's control over people. And Karin Larsen reports on the underhanded tactics of one prominent Vancouver landlord in seeking to evade rent controls by setting up an artificial "utility provider" which would not be subject to any caps (while still using the threat of eviction to force the payment of its bills).