Friday, December 31, 2021

Musical interlude II

One more tune to end 2021 - wishing all the best to readers in the new year.

Counting Crows - A Long December

Musical interlude

Riton X Raye - I Don't Want You

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Dan Diamond reports on the shortage of health care workers as the fifth wave of COVID crests in the U.S., while Carl O'Donnell and Ahmed Aboulenein report on the escalating number of children being hospitalized with the coronavirus. Robyn Urback warns that our governments' response to an escalating pandemic is now limited to telling us we're on our own, while Nanjala Nyabola views the main story of 2021 as one of failed political leadership in the face of collective crises. And Amnesty International highlights the deliberate choice to withhold vaccines from much of the world which has led to the most devastating wave yet. 

- On the comparatively hopeful side, Brett Wilkins reports on the development of the non-monopoly Cobervax vaccine. And the University of Hong Kong points out research showing that a nasal spray vaccine may help to prevent respiratory transmission. 

- Jeremy Appel writes that the response of Cargill workers to disregard for their health and well-being has been to fight for a collective agreement which ensures they'll be better treated. But lest anybody think employers will do the right thing without being forced, Jake Johnson reports that Delta's response to getting its way in reducing the recommended quarantine period (in the absence of any public health justification) has been to slash sick leave for its own workers. 

- Peter Kalmus discusses how the true tragedy of Don't Look Up is how closely a supposedly over-the-top movie mirrors what he sees in his work as a climate scientist. And Ryan Cooper points out how perception is winning out over reality when it comes to public awareness of the U.S.' respective economic positions under Donald Trump and Joe Biden. 

- Finally, Tenille Lafontaine rightly asks that Saskatchewan work to ensure that women are able to speak out online without facing a firehose of abuse and threats. 

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Patrick Wood and Mary Louise Kelly write that we still need to be managing COVID risk budgets to avoid contributing more to community transmission than necessary. Helen Branswell discusses some lessons learned through the pandemic so far. And Morgan Lowrie reports on the folly of pushing to keep COVID-positive workers on the job, while Don Braid comments on the dubious choice to restrict public health reporting when it's most obviously needed. 

- Katherine Wu highlights that anybody counting on individual-level vaccines to avoid infection is looking at years of changing boosters to try to keep up with a mutating virus. And Texas Children's Hospital announces that it has developed a non-patented vaccine which is being made available for international manufacturing and distribution - providing hope of actually suppressing the virus worldwide.  

- The UN Food and Agriculture Association discusses how land and water resources are already stretched to a breaking point. And Jeff Goodell reports on the prospect that a single collapsing glacier in Antarctica could swamp hundreds of millions of people in a matter of years. 

- Meanwhile, Ketan Joshi writes about the delay and denial being pushed by fossil fuel companies to avoid a transition to a liveable future. 

- Matt Bruenig writes that there's no good reason to refuse to provide income supports to people who need them. And Branko Marcetic highlights the dangers of limiting support for the poor to what's acceptable to the rich. 

- Finally, Colin Dacre reports on the permission granted to CN to engage in private prosecutions to unleash the power of the criminal justice system against protesters even after Crown prosecutors have concluded charges aren't in the public interest. And Matt Stoller calculates that 60% of the inflation being used as an excuse to cut social investment has in fact been siphoned off into corporate coffers through expanding profit margins. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Andre Picard discusses the need for people to avoid giving up in the battle to protect against the worst effects of a pandemic run amok. And Yasmine Ghania highlights what people with a positive rapid test need to do next. But contrary to the apparent plans of many provinces, "keep going to work" shouldn't be at the top of the list. 

- Meanwhile, Richard Warnica and Andrew Bailey document how the Ford PCs' decision-making has been driven by the business lobby, while Evelyn Kwong reports on their eagerness to follow the CDC's bizarre position that a more transmissible variant serves as reason to shorten workers' quarantine periods. And Melissa Fisher writes about the loss of the tolerable standard of living offered by the first set of pandemic supports. 

- Jane McAlevey argues that far more worker militancy is needed to rein in the longstanding pattern of extreme wealth and social neglect. And David Lao reports on new polling showing that a substantial number of workers have seen the ability to work from home as a substantial benefit - even if they're unsure how long that will be allowed to continue. 

- Finally, Amy Westervelt writes that a successful argument for climate action needs to be rooted in justice rather than appeals to science alone. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Ornamental cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Michela Antonelli et al. study the disease profile of post-vaccination COVID, concluding that full vaccination helps to reduce both the number and duration of symptoms. But Elizabeth Yuko points out that the result is still a significant risk of debilitating long-term conditions. And Aaron Collins offers a reminder that more effective masks are needed to limit the spread of the dominant variants. 

- Megan Molteni reports on the scenarios anticipated from the more infectious Omicron strain - with the forecasts ranging from bad to worse, while Rong-Gong Lin, Luke Money, Adam Elmahrek and Marisa Gruber report on the spike in cases and hospitalizations in California. And Winnie Byanyima highlights how wealthy countries' choice to prioritize intellectual property monopolies over the distribution of COVID vaccines has led to a far worse pandemic than necessary. 

- Larry Elliott writes that the best way to create hope for an economic revival is to push for a post-pandemic New Deal - not to cater to the financial elites who have enriched themselves through COVID and before. Nicola Penslero studies the effect of computerization in the workplace - finding that it has made lower-ranking employees far more productive without their being compensated accordingly. And Paul Prescod discusses the importance of publicly-owned broadband to ensure people have affordable access to the basic information tools required to participate in the global information economy.  

- Paula Span writes that U.S. women face a disproportionate amount of economic hardship in their senior years. And Errol Louis points out the large number of people spending their senior years in prison despite the lack of any plausible public safety rationale for keeping them behind bars. 

- Finally, Les Perreaux discusses the need for disaster mitigation to be a core principle of government decision-making - observing in particular that an honest reckoning with the cost of allowing our climate to break down may be exactly the incentive we need to limit the carbon pollution we emit in the first place. 

Monday, December 27, 2021

Monday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Marieke Walsh and Carrie Tait report on Canada's grim milestone of two million COVID cases recorded - even as the medical system braces for another wave to crest. And Betsy Powell reports on the push toward fourth vaccine doses in long-term care homes.

- Matthew Klein writes that the pandemic social support system now being slammed by the reactionary right had the effect of averting widespread financial disaster - though the concurrent attempt to declare the pandemic over in the face of all evidence raises the risk of that materializing for many eventually. And IMFBlog charts how the wealthiest few were able to increased their savings during the pandemic.

- Ryan Kessler and Kelly Skjerven report on another year of tragic records in drug poisonings in Saskatchewan. And Bryan Eneas talks to Jason Mercredi about the public's openness to harm reduction which is still being blocked by the Moe government.

- Max Blau and Lylla Youness report on BASF's knowing emission of carcinogens from its American plants, while Kiah Collier and Maya Miller report on the release of toxic substances by the medical sterilization industry (with active government participation in lowering standards to place people in increased danger).

- Finally, Joshua Adams discusses how the points used to generate the most rage among the U.S.' fascist right are invariably distorted versions of Black discourses.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Nick Dunne interviews Colin Furness about the impact the Omicron COVID variant figures to have in schools - and the need to hold off on reopening after a holiday which has included grossly insufficient precautions. Alyson Kruger asks whether people are learning lessons as to how to self-isolate when necessary. And Nick Cohen rightly draws an analogy between the UK Con MPs pushing to slash public health measures and their previous insistence on a hard Brexit as examples of wilful self-destruction in the name of revolution.

- Dawn Bowdish and Chandrima Chakraborty discuss how avoidable vaccine inequity paved the way for the emergence of the Omicron variant. And Jack Healey, Noah Welland and Richard Fausset discuss the increasingly-entrenched antivaxxers who are extending and worsening the pandemic for everybody. 

- Meanwhile, Joel Lexchin and Abhimanyu Sud write that Health Canada's reinforcement of brand-name drugs rather than scientific generic names serves only to make it more expensive to treat medical issues.

- Bruno Latour writes that the pandemic should serve as a warning as to the importance of collective action in the face of an impending climate breakdown. And Nick Boisvert reports on Canada's continued lack of preparation to deal with the extreme weather events and other emergencies caused by a changing climate.

- Finally, Robert Reich argues that we should be wary of the corporate media's insistence on narrowing the set of public policy issues treated as worthy of discussion or above any cost-benefit analysis. And Luke Savage challenges the core centrist philosophy of treating any worthwhile change as being politically impossible.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Musical interlude

Agnes - Here Comes the Night

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Katherine Wu, Ed Yong and Sarah Khang write that the Omicron COVID-19 wave is seeing governments make the same familiar mistakes in an accelerated time frame, while Umair Haque laments the continued combination of incompetence, ineptitude and indifference. And the Star's editorial board points out the chaotic set of responses at the provincial level, while Birgit Umaigba, Jesse McLaren and Naheed Dosani highlight the continued risks posed by the absence of adequate sick leave.

- Isabel Teotonio flags the desperate need to ensure that residents and workers in long-term care homes get booster shots to prevent another massacre. And Lisa Cordasco reports on the imminent overwhelming of British Columbia's health care system (like those across Canada). 

- Sander van der Linden discusses the importance of inoculating the general public against the type of misinformation that's served to undermine any effective response. And PressProgress highlights how Twitter has decided to treat bounties on Canadian doctors as an acceptable use of its platform.

- Laura Osman reports that instead of treating the pressures of a pandemic as a reason to question how we overpay for prescription drugs, the Libs are allowing big pharma to delay (if not avoid altogether) even minor steps to rein in the cost of needed medications.

- Finally, Mitchell Thompson points out how the Weston family's fortune is built on exploitation. And Ben Burgis writes about the importance of democratic equality in political and economic power to ensure that concentrated wealth doesn't dictate public policy decisions.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Andrew Nikiforuk distills the four myths which have resulted in Canada's political leaders plunging us into multiple avoidable waves of COVID spread. Isaac Olson and Verity Stevenson report on Quebec's latest set of public health rules to try to rein in an unprecedented number of cases, while Bartley Kives points out that Manitoba's health care system (like Saskatchewan's) is straining under the prospect of another wave without having recovered from the previous one. 

- Susan Delacourt highlights how the Libs' narrowed set of benefits - developed on the assumption that the worst of COVID was far behind us - proved to be obsolete by the time it was introduced. Christine Dobby reports on the especially severe effect on workers who may miss the threshold for even reduced federal relief, while having no say in whether they have access to employment income. And Nora Loreto reports on the 107 workers (to date) who have died of COVID contracted in Ontario workplaces. 

- Meanwhile, Walker Bragman and Alex Kotch expose how the Koch right-wing message machine has been running at full capacity to undermine any public health response to COVID.

- Angela Dewan reports on the similar lobbying and PR effort by fossil fuel interests to lock in long-term reliance on natural gas (and associated carbon pollution). And Erik Reinert writes about Frederick Soddy's prescient recognition of the problems with an economy which fails to properly value and protect our natural environment. 

- Finally, Robert Reich writes that corporate exploitation is the actual cause of the inflation we're experiencing - and that working-class and lower-income people will only be worse off if our policy response is to let even more wealth and power flow to those who already have the most. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Ben Cohen points out some of the ways the Omicron variant deviates from what we've come to assume about COVID-19. And Colin Horgan writes that we should draw lessons from the pandemic in exposing some of the ways our social system is built to collapse. 

- Max Fawcett discusses how Jason Kenney and Doug Ford are proving themselves cowards with their grossly insufficient responses to the impending Omicron wave. But contrary to Fawcett's conclusion that Kenney ranks as the worst premier in the country, Scott Moe's refusal to implement a single public health measure - even in the face of modelling showing how a reasonable government could snuff out the wave entirely - stands out as uniquely callous even among this lot. 

- Kate Aronoff writes that the U.S.' failure to move ahead with even basic climate change legislation endangers the world as a whole. Trevor Melanson notes that the public needs to be better informed about the success stories that have arisen to date. And Julia Rock reports on Enbridge's attempt to squeeze even more windfall profits out of its pipelines now based on the argument that they'll be obsolete in just a decade or two. 

- PressProgress surveys some of the most important fights taken up by Canada's labour movement this year. And the Canadian Labour Congress responds to the Ford PCs' attempt to entrench second-class status for gig workers - including by highlighting the importance of universal social programs in not tying the necessities of life to employment (however it's disguised). 

- Finally, Stephen Maher looks to the history of tobacco companies' public denial of scientific facts in raising the likelihood that social media giants are similarly hiding the deliberately harmful effects of their own products. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Leveled-up cats.

On lockdowns

Richard Raycraft reports on the absurdity that the Libs' latest excuse for a pandemic support (the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit) is available to precisely zero Canadians even as the Omicron wave crests. But let's note that the problem with it involves a common set of assumptions between the federal government and its provincial counterparts.

After all, the concept of a "Lockdown Benefit" naturally arises out of foundational assumptions about what government should do in the course of a pandemic. It involves a choice whether to focus on ensuring income supports are available for everybody who needs them, or to set narrow conditions to deny relief to the extent possible. And the Libs have obviously shifted their priorities from something closer to the first principle, to a fairly strict application of the second. 

But what makes the lockdown benefit all the more problematic is that it operates only where a province or region actually imposes one. 

By now, it should be absolutely clear that most of our provincial governments are themselves opposed to anything of the sort, relying instead on claims of "personal responsibility" and bending over backward to keep businesses open with little regard for the effect on public health. Indeed, the governments most aligned with anti-vaxxers and anti-science cranks are busy claiming that even the barest restriction on business operations should be treated as a "lockdown" to be avoided at all costs.

So that's where we're left: being admonished to make socially responsible decisions for ourselves, while also being told that the ostensible individual freedom to choose whether to limit the spread of the Omicron variant justifies depriving people of access to social supports. 

The result of governments with a reflexive aversion to government action or support at both the federal and provincial levels is thus to place the burden on individuals to absorb the cost of trying to stop the most dangerous variant yet. And whether people end up lacking the necessities of life through a pandemic winter or continuing to circulate for want of available income sources, we'll have a far less healthy society as a result. 

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Ben Cohen writes that we shouldn't take a negative rapid test as license to stop taking every possible precaution to limit community spread. The Star's editorial board asks whether people are ready to make vaccinations mandatory. Supreya Dwivedi laments the innumeracy and delay which are making Ontario's Omicron wave far worse than it needs to be, while Richard Murphy highlights how stupidity in government has led to catastrophe in the UK. And Andrew Longhurst discusses the need for far stronger action in British Columbia as well. 

- Arnaud Boehmann makes the case to engage in a wartime-style mobilization against a climate breakdown. And Charlie Smith notes that the crank court challenges by petro-provinces against the federal carbon pricing system have opened the door for the federal government to play a substantial role in guiding a transition away from fossil fuel production. 

- Jim Stanford calls out the Ford government's choice to treat gig workers as second-class citizens rather than providing them the same protections as other employees. And Josh Kaye points out the New Brunswick NDP's push for a four-day workweek as an example of a meaningful gain for workers which may be well within reach. 

- Astra Taylor interviews David Wengrow about his research showing that inequality is far from inevitable in a developed society and economy. 

- Finally, Robert Hiltz writes that SaskTel should serve as a model for a country which is desperately lacking for affordable and reliable access to basic communication services due to a corporate oligopoly. 

Monday, December 20, 2021

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Umair Haque is rightly frustrated that we haven't learned and applied obvious lessons about how to fight COVID after two years, while also warning against any assumptions that the Omicron variant will go easy on us. Ian Bogost writes about the realization that due in large part to reckless government choices, we may never make it to a post-COVID future. But Nesrine Malik pushes us to keep fighting to limit the damage we do to the people around us. And CBC News interviews David Fisman about the role of improved masking in stopping the spread of a more contagious variant. 

- Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon talks to Colin Furness about the need to finally acknowledge - and act on - the reality that ventilation systems need to be upgraded to respond to an airborne pathogen. And Kathryn May reports that the federal government has delayed plans to push public employees back into common office spaces. 

- Matt Stoller discusses how the factors causing the U.S.' supply chain disruptions include warped corporate incentives which make it profitable for some companies to cause a cargo traffic jam.

- Paul Mason writes that the fall of Boris Johnson is the result of a toxic party ideology which is incapable of acting in the public interest.

- Brandon Doucet argues that it's long past time for Canadians to have truly universal health care, including public coverage for prescription drugs and dental care. And Alex Hemingway writes that fiscal responsibility means making positive investments in people's health and well-being - not imposing punitive austerity. 

- Finally, Patricia Callahan, James Bandler, Justin Elliott, Doris Burke and Jeff Ernsthausen trace how wealth concentrated in the Scripps, Mellon and Mars families in the early 20th century has turned into a twelve-figure pile of assets steered away from any tax responsibilities.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Dr. Katharine Smart highlights the crucial choices which need to be made to avoid a calamitous fifth COVID-19 wave, while Chelsea Nash writes that the most important failings from previous waves have been those of the people with power to make decisions at a social level. And Phil Tank reports on Tara Moriarty's expectation that Saskatchewan has suffered far more COVID deaths than have been reported.

- Meanwhile, Zak Vescera's Trapped series offers a desperately-needed look at the lives being lost to drug poisonings and related dangers to individual health and well-being. And Lilian Shyman et al. study the connection between social determinants of health and depression.

- Drew Costley reports on new research showing how many lives have been saved by reductions in carbon pollution from more efficient vehicles. But Barry Saxifrage notes that even as alternatives to natural gas in home energy supplies are readily available, the continued use of dirty fossil fuels in Canadian homes remains the norm. And Olivia Rosane discusses our constant - if usually unknown - consumption of toxic microplastics.

- Hamilton Nolan discusses how unions can save lives when they provide a counterbalance to employers who are willing to risk workers' safety in the name of profit margins. 

- Finally, Beatrice Brooke writes about the desperate need for the wealthiest and most privileged few to contribute their fair share to the societies they exploit.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- David Bush discusses how the latest wave of COVID-19 would have been entirely avoidable if we hadn't allowed corporate interests to suppress vaccine availability and turn workplaces into super-spreaders, while Andreas Laupacis confirms that we had (and have) more than enough knowledge to rein it in if our leaders cared enough to bother. Clara-Laeila Laudette reports on new research showing that the Omicron variant is far more likely to cause reinfection than previous versions of COVID, but no milder when it does take hold. Alexander Quon reports on Dr. Saqib Shahab's warning that people need to be cautious over the holidays, while Denis Campbell reports on the calamitous state of the UK's health-care system as massive spread among workers leaves nobody to treat increasing numbers of patients. Sabrina Maddeaux writes about the importance of proper ventilation in reducing viral spread.

- Ashleigh Stewart reports on the disinformation campaign pushing anti-vaccine positions in Canada. And Phil Tank reports on the steps anti-vaxxers took to take over Saskatchewan's Buffalo Party before putting themselves at Scott Moe's service.

- Graham Thomson discusses why Albertans need to be wary of the UCP's attempts to torque the province's political system to gloss over their past wrongs and eliminate competing voices just in time for the next provincial election.

- Finally, Matt Gurney writes that Justin Trudeau's hatred for the left reflects the fact that it actually stands for the principles which he seeks to claim for his own through mere lip service. And Eoin Higgins discusses how the COVID pandemic and other crises have pushed people to distinguish fakery from actual principles and solutions.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Musical interlude

Flight Facilities feat. Broods - Forever

Better late than never

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the running joke in Saskatchewan politics was that whatever NDP leader Ryan Meili pushed for, Scott Moe's Saskatchewan Party government could be counted on to implement three days later.

This of course came after Moe's party had laughed at the concept of both the idea of a pandemic generally, and any attempt at cooperation in responding to it. So it hardly reflects any great measure of respect for the wisdom of an opposition leader operating in an area of professional expertise. 

But nearly two years later, even the "belatedly and grudgingly follow good advice" level of consideration for non-government voices has come to be nothing more than a halcyon memory. 

It took only a little over a month for Moe to start focusing on undoing public health measures rather than implementing them. And in the time since, he's constantly framed Saskatchewan's COVID response in terms more associated with anti-regulation rhetoric than public health - with the effect of legitimizing the people trying to undermine any response at all in the face of all scientific evidence and compassion for their fellow human beings, while also creating substantial confusion for anybody expecting a consistent or coherent message from a government in a time of crisis.

And tragically, political messaging designed to drive home points in the short term has proven to have grave longer-term implications. 

A campaign promise never to return to lockdown not only signaled Moe's refusal to accept that public health could come first under any circumstances, but also served as a disincentive against the implementation of even more modest steps no matter how desperately they were needed. 

And more recently, the choice to spent the fall of this year politicizing and attacking the concept of even vaccine mandates as recommended by medical health officers has taken one obvious and important mechanism to protect against the spread of a new variant off the table. 

Now, expectations for Moe seem to have plummeted to the point that even making booster shots available to the all-too-small share of adults who want them (with little apparent planning to make that work logistically) is being treated as grounds for worship - even when paired with Moe's willingness to play footsie with anti-vaxxers while refusing to listen to health care providers and experts, along with the use of precisely zero public health measures while other provinces approach the impending wave on a wartime footing. 

For Moe and the Saskatchewan Party, political battles still look to be the only consideration at play - resulting in his refusing to follow the recommendations of better-informed people (including Meili) under any circumstances. And it doesn't figure to be long before another wave of Saskatchewan citizens pays the ultimate price. 

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Kai Kupferschmidt reports on the recognition among scientists around the globe that the Omicron COVID variant is almost certain to precipitate another major wave of infections and hospitalizations. CBC News reports on the Ontario COVID19 science table's recommendation of a circuit breaker to reduce the damage, while Laura Sciarpelletti reports on similar calls being ignored by Scott Moe in Saskatchewan as he once again insists on "vaccines only!" in response to impending disaster. 

- Which means at least from a governance standpoint, we're in much the same boat as Ed Yong's description of the U.S., with our leaders lacking any willingness to ensure a collective response to a social problem. And Karl Nerenberg writes that the Libs' fiscal update pays lip service to COVID while failing to address ventilation as a core determinant of community spread. 

- David Dayen warns against causing severe and immediate deprivation for large number of people by cutting off supports in the name of making a marginal dent in the far less important issue of inflation. Solani Kolhatkar recognizes that the main source of price increases has been corporate exploitation. And David Macdonald points out there are plenty of other options to address inflation by managing prices rather than abandoning the people who most need help.   

- Alfred McCoy discusses the global unrest we can expect if we don't succeed in reining in catastrophic climate change. Ben Phillips discusses how gross inequalities are spurring widespread human rights violations and democratic backsliding, while Gabrielle Canon notes that people already faced with homelessness end up bearing the brunt of extreme weather events. And Diane Coyle writes about the need to start measuring our social progress in terms of well-being rather than GDP and investor moods. 

- Rebecca Leber writes about the move in New York and other jurisdictions to eliminate natural gas distribution as a building standard. And Leanna First-Arai rightly questions the claim that crypto mining somehow serves as solution to climate destruction, rather than a generator of unnecessary pollution which exacerbates the problem. 

- Finally, Asha Banerjee et al. examine the broad effects of unionization, and find important benefits going far beyond the workplace. And Anna North writes about the culture that has left so many people continuing to muddle through work even in the midst of multiple crises - and severe dangers to their own health and well-being. 

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- David Wallace-Wells discusses the alarming warning indicators from our still-developing understanding of the Omicron COVID variant. Nazeem Muhajarine writes about the importance of booster vaccines in limiting the damage, while Wallis Snowdon reports on the justified frustration of Alberta doctors faced with Jason Kenney's choice to relax public health rules and increase community spread. And Joseph Allen offers some updates to the COVID playbook which should be applied this winter. 

- Krisna Saravanamuttu writes that the Ford PCs' refusal to provide paid sick days is only exacerbating the racial inequality in the effects of COVID. And Supriya Dwivedi writes about the looming price tag from Ford's climate negligence. 

- Tyler Cowen discusses the distributional effects of inflation - though it's noteworthy that the key means of mitigating a disproportionate effect on lower-income workers is to allow for wage increases to keep pace with changes in prices. And Brian Doucet notes that policies which merely add to the supply of unaffordable dwellings won't help the people whose right to housing is being denied. 

- Armine Yalnizyan points out how the increased use of migrant workers based on a supposed labour shortage in Quebec is suppressing wages and working conditions for everybody. And Dorien Frans and Nadja Dorflinger examine the dark side of the logistics boom for the workers who face exploitative working conditions. 

- Globe Newswire reports on the escalating amount of plastic waste being generated by Amazon in particular. And Bill Kovarik writes that the past few decades of climate fraud and delay match the oil industry's century-long endangerment of people's lives by covering up the known effects of lead in gasoline. 

- Finally, Luigi Zingales highlights the need to stop conflating centrally-controlled capitalism with freedom in any meaningful sense, and to instead use competition law to ensure people have the ability to make meaningful choices. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Mark Lipsitch et al. examine the current state of knowledge about COVID breakthrough infections and the public health measures still needed to avoid them. Kenyon Wallace and Ed Tubb highlight the dangers of new waves of deadly viral spread in long-term care homes which are wrongly assuming that vaccination is the only protection residents need, while Carly Weeks notes that experts are calling for limitations on mass gatherings. 

- Mariana Mazzucato and Ilona Kickbusch discuss the consequences of putting insufficient resources toward public health on a global scale. And Nora Loreto writes that media misdiagnosis has made it far more difficult to encourage people to contribute to the prevention and cure of COVID spread.

- Meanwhile, Steven Lewis writes that even before taking account the looming fifth COVID wave, the Moe government's insistence on throwing money at corporate operators is doomed to failure as a means of addressing surgical waitlists.

- D.T. Cochrane discusses the continued income inequality and wealth concentration which are allowing the rich to exercise ever more control over the rest of us. And Michael Roberts writes about the multiple dimensions and global reach of inequality. 

- David Sirota, Julia Rock and Andrew Perez report on the efforts by Amazon and other employers to ensure they can coerce employees to stay in unsafe work environments under penalty of termination - a power which resulted in the death of six Amazon workers this week.

- Finally, Kristin Annable, Josh Hoffman and Caroline Barghout investigate hundreds of deaths in police custody, and find dozens of examples of people detained while intoxicated"for their own safety" who died as a result. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Relaxed cats.

Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- John Paul Tasker reports on Dr. Theresa Tam's warning that cases of the Omicron COVID variant are set to escalate rapidly. Blake Murdoch and Christopher McCabe discuss why waiting for full confirmation of Omicron's dangers before responding will result in action being taken far too late, while the Globe and Mail's editorial board argues that booster shots are needed now to contain the damage. Brooks Fallis writes that the tools are available to rein in COVID if they're paired with political will which has been sorely lacking to date. And Andre Picard writes that we still have much to learn about immunity to COVID (even as the ground continues to shift). 

- Meanwhile, Jessie Anton reports on the Moe government's decision to restrict the information available about COVID spread in schools, further limiting people's knowledge even as they're admonished to navigate a social crisis through individual choices. And Luke Savage discusses how corporatism is behind both COVID inequities, and the continued mutation and spread of a disease which continues to endanger everybody. 

- Tami Luhby juxtaposes the millions of people driven into poverty by the pandemic against the wealth amassed by the richest few, while Daniel Ziffer notes that the relative health of people who received what amounted to a limited basic income should point toward the benefits of pursuing one more broadly. And Katherine Scott writes about the need for a recovery which doesn't leave people behind, while Nav Persaud et al. offer an important set of recommendations to ensure health equity. 

- Julian Cribb writes about the rise of petrofascism as a means of insulating powerful corporations from either science-based decision-making or democratic choice. Jeffrey Barbee and Laurel Neem expose Reconnaissance Energy Africa's drilling in a protected wildlife conservancy (while buying the silence of local people). And Jeremy Appel points out the oil lobbyists standing in the way of the climate action needed in Canada. 

- David MacDonald examines how only a few types of costs are responsible for nearly all of any complaint about inflation - and how the same right-wing governments demanding austerity to "help" are doing nothing to protect their poorest residents from those. Abhi Kantamneni and Brendan Haley make the case for a national strategy to reduce energy poverty. And Ayla Peacock writes about the difficulty many people are facing navigating a housing crisis while being paid poverty wages.  

- Finally, Aaron Wherry writes about both the case to reduce the voting age to ensure young people can vote on the decisions which will shape their future, and the NDP's work to advance that cause. 

Monday, December 13, 2021

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Umair Haque reminds us that the COVID pandemic is far from over, while Julie Bosman, Amy Harmon and Albert Sun discuss the escalating U.S. death toll which now includes one of every hundred Americans over 65. Will Stone, Jesse Bloom and Sarah Cobey, and Carl Zimmer and Andrew Jacobs each offer summaries of the current state of knowledge surrounding the Omicron COVID variant. Bruce Arthur writes that booster vaccinations are a necessary but not sufficient response to a variant that spreads far more quickly and easily, while Holly McKenzie-Sutter asks the experts what needs to be done (with preparations to account for spread among health-care staff looming as a crucial step).

- Keenan Sorokan reports on a survey showing deteriorating morale among Saskatchewan's health care workers who have already been overworked and disrespected even before a fifth wave crests. Laura Osman reports on the prospect that at least some of the strain on surgical capacity can be relieved by ensuring more consistent scheduling.  

- David Wallace-Wells offers a reminder about the immense global death toll caused by air pollution. And Debarati Guha-Sapir and Ilan Kelman write about the importance of reducing people's vulnerability to the climate disasters which can't be averted. 

- Kathryn Blaze Baum discusses the possibility of treating our natural environment as a form of capital in order to try to reflect its value. Max Fawcett writes about the need for the federal government to step in and protect water sources from the Alberta tar sands, while Ollie Williams reports on the Northwest Territories' rightful unwillingness to stand idly by if the UCP plans to allow the toxic contents of tailings ponds to be dumped into the broader ecosystem.  

- Natasha Bulowski reports on new research showing the increasing concentration of wealth in Canada. Magdalena Sepulveda recognizes that tax justice is an essential precondition to the exercise of human rights. And Sara Mojtehedzadeh investigates how truck drivers have been systematically exploited. 

- Finally, Dimitri Lascaris writes that Canada needs to be preparing for the collapse of the U.S. in both economic and democratic terms. And incase anybody was under the illusion that we're immune from similar forces in our domestic politics, Simon Little reports on the B.C. COVID denialists who have taken to hanging politicians in effigy, reflecting the violence and ignorance behind the attempt to undermine public health. 

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Ben Cohen writes about the expert consensus on the need for booster shots and public health measures to slow the spread of the Omicron COVID variant.

- Juliana Kaplan and Andy Kiersz write about the latest World Inequality Report, which shows ever more obscene wealth getting funneled into fewer and fewer hands. And Jim Bronskill reports on Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien's warnings about the growth of surveillance capitalism which combines an insatiable lust for profit with dangerous amounts of knowledge about the consumers targeted.

- Naomi Oreskes and Jeff Nesbit discuss how the fossil fuel sector has rigged political outcomes to ensure it will still be rolling in profits long after anybody can seriously claim there's an economic case for oil and gas development. Juan Oritz highlights how Canadian banks are continuing to fund the destruction of our natural environment. And Emily Atkin and Jesse Coleman write that Exxon is still deliberately denying climate science - including its own research into the foreseeability of a climate breakdown. 

- David Broadland notes that forestry is another industry where the subsidies given away to preserve the illusion of a viable industry exceed the economic returns from the industry itself. 

- Seth Klein offers a how-to guide in eliminating fossil fuel dependence from one's own home.

- Finally, Rachel Gilmore writes about at least a partial shift away from a puritanical and punitive approach to drug policy in Canada. But Alexander Quon reports that Regina's supposed resolution of the need for Camp Hope has instead given rise to just one more shelter with a long waitlist and an inability to help many of the people who most need it.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Bruce Arthur warns that the worst of the COVID pandemic may be just around the corner as the far more transmissible Omicron variant spreads throughout Canada, while Karen-Marie Elah Perry and Shila Avissa discuss the perpetual gaslighting effort aimed at persuading us the pandemic is over no matter how obvious its ongoing damage. Julie Johnson reports on one super-spreader wedding as an example of how the precautions which seemed sufficient are failing miserably against Omicron. And Ivan Semeniuk reports on the urgent effort among scientists to determine how it will affect vulnerable populations in particular.

- Meanwhile, Ian McGillis talks to Nora Loreto about the lethal policy failures we've seen throughout the pandemic. And John Paul Tasker reports on the findings of Auditor General Karen Hogan that the federal government completely failed to apply regulations to protect temporary foreign workers from COVID spread.

- Chris Hall reports on the push by activists to stop precipitating drug poisonings by treating addiction as a crime. And Moira Wyton reports on new research showing the wide-ranging health benefits of overdose prevention sites.

- Henry Grabar writes that the practice of systematically placing apartment buildings only on busy and polluted streets serves only to amplify inequality.

- Finally, Nikolaus Kurmayer reports on the important step taken by Austria's environment and transport minister in determining that a highway megaproject couldn't be justified in light of the need to take climate action. And Andrew Freedman reports that major businesses are beginning to move their operations away from areas which will soon be swamped by a climate breakdown.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Musical interlude

Dallerium feat. Olive - How Do I Sleep Now

Friday Afternoon Links

 Assorted content to end your week.

- Alejandro Jadad studies the social murder traceable to politicians' flawed responses to COVID-19 and other known causes of sickness and death, while Tara Moriarty points out the incomplete reporting of deaths across Canada. And Solarino Ho reports on the new federal modelling showing that Canada is on the precipice of another avoidable COVID wave. 

- Meanwhile, Kimi Chaddah writes that the burgeoning scandal of UK Cons partying in the midst of lockdown orders reflects the broader belief in ruling-class impunity. 

- Jennefer Laidley and Mohy Tabbara study the state of welfare in Canada, finding that even the temporary boost provided by COVID supports in 2020 left the incomes of people receiving social assistance below the poverty line in all ten provinces. Ayla Peacock asks how people are supposed to navigate a crisis of affordable housing while only bringing in poverty-level wages. And Stephen Wentzell reports on Campaign 2000's latest research indicating that we're not on pace to eliminate child poverty until the 2070s. 

- John Woodside reports on a new PBO review showing that Canada is forfeiting billions annually in tax giveaways to the fossil fuel sector, while Kenny Stancil highlights how the oil industry is rolling in profits (and handing out massive payouts to shareholders) while squeezing consumers. And Matt Simmons points out how Coastal GasLink is flagrantly breaking environmental laws is while calling in the RCMP to violently remove land defenders. 

- Finally, Patrick Galey notes that scientists are identifying nothing but reason for skepticism in long-term "net-zero" pledges which rely on offsets and nonexistent future technology rather than near-term emission reductions. And David Suzuki puts our environmental destruction in perspective while calling for us to use our brief time on Earth to improve our planet rather than degrading it. 

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Thursday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Bruce Arthur writes about the need for governments' responses to COVID to adapt to the increased risk posed by the Omicron variant. And Charles Blow writes that he's understandably lost patience with anti-vaxxers who are endangering us all in the service of ever-more-implausible claims and theories.

- Sarah Krichel interviews Nora Loreto about the failures of Canadian media in covering the pandemic. And Robert Reich discusses the similar pattern in the U.S. of corporate media serving mostly to comfort the already-powerful at the expense of people who need journalism on their side. 

- Mickey Djuric reports on Scott Moe's predictable choice to use the collapse he precipitated in the public health care system as an excuse to funnel money to corporate surgical centres.

- Marcus Baram offers a look inside the world of corporate union-busting, while Kim Moody discusses the power workers vital to logistical industries have if they choose to exercise it. And Ben Ger and Rebecca Kantwerg make the case for tenants to organize and bring collective bargaining to the world of housing.

- Finally, Stefanie Davis reports on Saskatchewan's looking place back at the bottom of list of Canadian provinces in providing anything close to a liveable minimum wage.

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Miquel Oliu-Barton et al. study the effects of different government approaches to COVID-19 - and find that elimination strategies have produced far superior outcomes to attempts to live with uncontrolled community spread. And Andre Picard begs us to stop repeating our mistakes in responding belatedly and insufficiently to the spread of increasingly dangerous mutations. But Bruce Arthur discusses how Ontario looks to be limiting any public health response, while Teri Carter writes about the arrival of Omicron in areas of Kentucky where the population is operating in denial of the pandemic. Katelyn Jetelina examines what we know about the Omicron variant so far. And Alexander Quon and Adam Hunter report on the confirmed arrival of Omicron in Saskatchewan, even as Scott Moe cozies up to anti-vaxxers.

- Meanwhile, a Nature editorial highlights the need for vaccine equity to limit global spread, rather than relying on selective and ineffective travel bans, while Glen Pearson warns against trying to hold to a risky lifestyle behind a wall of pandemic nationalism. And Umair Haque discusses how capitalist ideology has exacerbated the pandemic, while Walker Bragman calls out Joe Biden in particular for prioritizing pharmaceutical profits over the needed distribution of vaccines. 

- Jake Johnson writes about the continued concentration of wealth within a tiny proportion of the world's population, while Michael Read takes note of Australia's impending inheritance tsunami. And Jeff Ernsthausen, Paul Kiel and Jesse Eisinger highlight how some of the most prominent tycoons in the U.S. have avoided paying taxes on their fortunes by selectively booking business losses. 

- Adam Tooze writes that the U.S.' dependence on fossil fuels may drag its entire economy down in the decades to come - a warning which applies with equal force to Canada. John Michael McGrath discusses a new report from Ontario's Financial Accountability Officer on the immense costs of a climate breakdown (and the costs which couldn't yet be modeled), while Gordon Laxer suggests that we should limit the influence of foreign oil companies on our politics. And Nazanin Meshkat reports on a call from Ontario doctors to stop gratuitous highway construction due to its effect on people's health. 

- Finally, Barton Gellman discusses the wealth and privilege of the violent movement which launched a coup to try to keep Donald Trump in power this year regardless of the choices of voters - and will likely do far more toward that end in 2024. 

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Holiday cats.


Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Matt Gurney writes about what continues to be a woeful response to COVID in Ontario among other provinces, while Jason Herring reports on Alberta's collapsing emergency medical services. And Claire Pomeroy recognizes the tsunami of disability which will need to be addressed arising out of long COVID. 

- Umair Haque writes that our social system is collapsing due to the capitalist imperative to concentrate perpetually more wealth into fewer and fewer hands. And David Dayen highlights why so many workers have decided after facing the trauma of a pandemic that they're not willing to tolerate exploitative jobs. 

- Elaine Power, Paul Taylor and Valerie Tarasuk remind us that charities and food banks shouldn't be accepted as a response to poverty and hunger. 

- Scott Schmidt points out the obvious unsustainability of an economic system which relies on people taking on unmanageable debt to provide both jobs and profits. And Dan Darrah reports on the record profits being reaped and bonuses being paid out by Canada's big banks as they extract a growing share of our country's wealth. 

- Finally, Morgan Meaker writes that the U.S.' rejection of Meta's attempt to buy out Giphy may reflect a noteworthy first step in reversing the concentration of wealth and power through antitrust law.

Monday, December 06, 2021

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Supriya Dwivedi writes about the Groundhog Day-style loop we're trapped in due to a pandemic which is being allowed to continue and evolve. And while Daniel Wood and Geoff Brumfiel point out how the politicization of the pandemic is resulting in systematically higher death rates among Trump-supporting counties, Gaby Galvin reports on new polling showing that even in the U.S. a strong majority of the public favours doing far more to keep people healthy and safe - making the continued reluctance to do anything other than cater to the anti-social few all the more inexcusable. And Roni Caryn Rabin discusses how the pandemic has led to higher blood pressure among the public beyond anything traceable to the spread of the coronavirus.  

- Meanwhile, Karl Nerenberg calls out Canada's refusal to lift a finger to make vaccines more available around the globe. And Adeoluwa Atayero reports on Scott Moe's choice to put gratuitous barriers in the way of vaccinating children in schools. 

- Heather Rust exposes how the U.S.' corporate health care system is using worker burnout as an excuse to make conditions even worse for those trying to continue caring for patients, while Francis Racine reports on a warning from the Ontario Health Coalition that the Ford government is only increasing reliance on the private long-term care businesses who have caused so much avoidable suffering and death. And David Helps and Alexander Stephens point out that increased union organization and better conditions for workers are musts in order to rebuild a function economy and society. 

- Andrew Leach discusses how Alberta is past perceiving temporary oil price spikes as actual booms - suggesting that the fossil fuel industry's spin about being a source of wider prosperity has run its course everywhere but in the halls of power. Taylor Noakes rightly argues that we should be investing in a transition to a clean economy, rather than permitting and even subsidizing the continued destruction wrought by the existing oil and gas industry. And Kyle Bakx reports on the grim choice between maintaining the tailings ponds which have done so much damage to Alberta's land and wildlife, and allowing the companies responsible to release the water back into the broader environment.   

- Finally, Garret Ellison reports on the EPA's developing conclusion that there may be no safe level of several commonly-used bio-persistent chemicals. And Sasha Abramsky warns that the western U.S. may be on the verge of a drought that never ends.