Saturday, February 06, 2021

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- The Globe and Mail's editorial board laments the choice of far too many provincial governments to sacrifice tens of thousands of lives rather than treating a pandemic with the seriousness and focus it deserves. Philip Pizzo, David Spiegel and Michelle Mello examine how governments which have taken science seriously rather than bending medical decisions to political ends have been far more successful in limiting the harm from COVID-19. Murray Mandryk takes note of the deadly wager the Saskatchewan Party is making on vaccines as a magic bullet. And Helen Rosner writes that there's no rational argument in favour of in-restaurant dining at this point - no matter how much public money the Regina Chamber of Commerce spends encouraging people to be irresponsible.

- Phil Tank reports on Scott Moe's choice not to use 98% of the rapid COVID tests provided to Saskatchewan by the federal government - which looks particularly dubious given that the province has promoted a pay-to-play testing option instead of actually using the tests on hand. Marc Smith reports that Saskatchewan's standard testing system is also operating far beyond its supposed capacity despite large amounts of federal funding. And Lauren Pelley notes that a responsible provincial government would be using a lull in vaccine shipments to build capacity for the foreseeable surge in availability, rather than spending all of its time whinging about the feds.

- Julia Peterson reports that Saskatoon is looking at filling the vacuum in support for solar energy left by the Sask Party (and matching the success that's been seen elsewhere). And Danton Unger reports on Winnipeg's study of fare-free transit as another example of cities showing leadership due to a right-wing provincial government's failures.

- Finally, Dave Cournoyer writes about the nearly universal opposition against Jason Kenney's plan to strip-mine mountaintops and endanger major water sources for a vanishingly small amount of coal profits while slashing regulation generally. But it should come as no surprise that the only exception is the Saskatchewan Party, which is too obsessed with cheerleading for resource extraction generally to show even the slightest concern for the impact on Saskatchewan's water and environment.

Friday, February 05, 2021

Musical interlude

glimmers - Don't Tell Me

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Andrew Nikiforuk takes a look at two proposals to get to COVID Zero - including one from Canada and one from Germany.

- Mickey Djuric reports on Saskatchewan's deceptive COVID-19 reporting - which results in a public announcement that people have "recovered" no matter how severe their ongoing symptoms (or even when they die of the disease).

- Patrick White and Molly Hayes report on the increased number of calls to police and health providers raising mental health issues during the course of a poorly-managed pandemic. Zak Vescera reports on how COVID-19 is affecting people living in poverty. And Doug Cuthand discusses how COVID-19 has resulted in disproportionate harm to Indigenous people and people of colour.

- Meanwhile, in case there was any doubt that overt prejudice remains just as much an issue as systemic inequality, Jason Warick reports on the interference of a group of racists in a memorial service being held by Muslim students at the University of Saskatchewan. And Laura Sciarpelletti reports on the racist tirade of an anti-masker against workers at a Vietnamese restaurant. 

- But on the bright side, Megan Squire discusses the promising evidence suggesting the deplatforming purveyors of hate can significantly limit the harm done by the people seeking to push it. 

- Finally, Kim Siever writes about the glaring flaws in Jack Mintz' attempt to treat the COVID crash and stagnant incomes as symptoms of insufficient giveaways to the corporate sector. Dan Darrah interviews Greg Meeker about the Kenney UCP's hijacking of workers' pension funds to be used to prop up the fossil fuel sector. And Scott Schmidt discusses how Albertans are paying the price for buying the claim that it doesn't matter if they're governed by monkeys as long as they're from the party preferred by the business class.

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Damien Cave writes about the lessons Australia's successful containment of COVID-19 offer to any other jurisdiction willing to listen and learn rather than recklessly endangering public health, while the Globe and Mail's editorial board questions why Canada doesn't fit that bill. And Tristin Hopper notes that mandatory quarantine has been one of the important factors in New Zealand's similar control over the coronavirus.

- Alex Nguyen highlights how the recognition of the risks workers face in coffee shops may be leading to a pattern of organizing and unionization. 

- Greg Rosalsky discusses how the poverty treated as the norm for so many service sector workers ultimately harms productivity at work as well as overall well-being. And Rosa Saba points out the needed movement to have the federal government avoid piling on CERB recipients in the midst of another pandemic wave.

- Zak Vescera reports on the danger homeless people in Saskatchewan are facing due to a combination of limited resources and extreme weather. 

- Duncan Cameron writes about the opportunity to reduce inequality and raise public revenue through taxes on financial transactions. And Kristy Koehler reports on the problems with using credit checks as a precondition to employment - particularly in public service work.

- Finally, Adam Serwer rebuts the theory that the Capitol insurrection (and the Trump movement generally) was the product of deprivation rather than an attempt to preserve unequal privilege.

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jim Stanford reminds us that a focus on protecting health is the best strategy to ensure a functioning economy. And Gary Mason writes about the increasing fatigue Canadians have with the feckless responses of all levels of government - aside from the Atlantic provinces which have been largely successful in suppressing the spread of COVID-19. 

- Meanwhile, Gillian Petit and Lindsay Tedds study (PDF) how instead of looking to help people or keep them safe, right-wing governments have used emergency COVID supports as an opportunity to cut people off from provincial benefits.

- Rita Trichur discusses how paid sick leave in particular is a must as a matter of economic policy alone (even leaving aside the social and health implications of incentivizing people to work while sick). And Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Andrew Bailey report on the immense number of workers treated as essential for the purpose of being kept at work, while Bill Kaufmann reports on the care home workers who are being told to keep reporting for work even while testing positive for COVID-19 (and who want to see more responsible management in charge). 

- Nature highlights how after over a year of experience with the coronavirus, we're still far too focused on rare surface transmission rather than air transmission. And Carl Zimmer notes that the new UK strain may be able to resist the vaccines that have been developed so far - making control of community spread all the more important.

- Finally, Karl Nerenberg reports that while the Libs make a show out of trying to cut belated deals with the private sector, the NDP is leading the charge to have medicine and long-term care treated as public services rather than sources of corporate profit. And Kevin Barry argues that there's no reasonable explanation for allowing public goods like vaccines to be manufactured and distributed with profit-seeking in mind.

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Elevated cats.


Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Gabrielle Drolet discusses how essential workers have been left to bear the physical and emotional burdens of workplaces designed to prioritize the interests of bosses and customers first. And Bruce Western and Jake Rosenfeld study (PDF) the effect unions have in pushing for equity - and the associated lack thereof as governments and businesses have spent decades in an all-out war against labour. 

- Meanwhile, Dylan Matthews reports on the Biden administration's moves to make meatpacking work at least somewhat less abusive.

- The Guardian's editorial board comments on the need for speed in taking action to avert a climate breakdown. Peter Oldridge writes that the prairie premiers should start recognizing that the future will be powered by renewable energy. And Alex Ballingall rightly challenges Justin Trudeau's attempt to treat perpetual fossil fuel development and responsible climate policy as being remotely compatible with each other.

- Sharon Riley exposes how Alberta has undercut the protection of birds put at risk by tar sands tailings ponds. And Brian Cross notes that Alberta's farmers will be far worse off due to the UCP's choice to eliminate any credit for emission offsets.

 - Andrew Nikiforuk points out how the UCP tipped off foreign investors about their plans to push coal mining long before providing any notice to the communities which will bear the brunt of the resulting environmental damage. 

- Finally, Emma Gilchrist calls out Jason Kenney's attacks on journalists and environmental activists as a poor distraction from their own failings. And Jeremy Appel weighs in on the use of public money to fund conspiracy theories.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Linda Geddes discusses the problem with people approaching COVID-19 restrictions based on the question of what's permitted (or worse yet what they can get away with), rather than what choices are most likely to limit the spread of the virus.

- Richard Horton writes about the growing expert push for a no-COVID strategy, while Michael Baker and Martin McKee offer 16 reasons for any country to pursue that goal. Lynsey Chutel and Marc Santora point out the need to fight the pandemic everywhere for anybody to be safe from future spread and newer, more dangerous variants. May Warren wonders what ever happened to contact tracing as part of the plan to control community spread in far too much of Canada, while the Globe and Mail's editorial board laments the failure to use rapid testing as one means of identifying potential sources of transmission before symptoms have appeared. And Winnie Byanyima argues that it's unconscionable for vaccines developed largely at public expense to be turned into corporate profit centres at the expense of universal availability as a public good, while Reshma Ramachandran and Zoey Thill take note of the rhetorical sleight of hand involved in associating vaccines with pharmaceutical companies rather than public sources of research and support.

- Meanwhile, Scott Gilmore discusses how Canada's national response to the coronavirus ranks among the world's worst. Andre Picard notes that the latest federal announcements involving limitations on some type of travel figure to offer far more in terms of symbolism than substantial outcomes. Mike Blanchfield reports on the growing recognition that we need domestic vaccine production capacity. And Charles Shaver highlights the importance of paid sick leave, particularly for people working to keep the public healthy.

- AFP reports on Argentina's implementation of a wealth tax to help fund coronavirus relief. And Christian Paas-Laing interviews Miles Corak about the need to do more to rein in wealth inequality - including the fact that Chrystia Freeland earned much of her public reputation documenting and (at least implicitly) recognizing the need for greater equity which her government is choosing not to pursue.

- Finally, Zarah Sultana discusses how big money distorts the U.S.' political system beyond any reasonable definition of the term "democracy". And Umair Haque writes about the dangers of being satisfied with a return to the same normal which produced the rise of Trumpian fascism to begin with.