Saturday, March 27, 2021

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Julia Wong reports on the building third wave of COVID-19 in Alberta. And Ricardo Tranjan examines how little the Ford PCs actually put into the education system to address the additional demands created by a pandemic.

- Dana Nuccitelli discusses new research showing that a transition to a low carbon emission economy would generate substantial economic growth for the U.S. And Jakob Kapeller, Rafael Wildauer and Stuart Leitch discuss how a wealth tax can help to fund a fair and clean recovery.

- Alexander Panetta reports that even the U.S.' main oil lobby group is accepting the need for carbon pricing while Canada's conservative premiers either refuse to plan for them, or scheme to turn it into a subsidy for additional emissions. And Bob Weber reports on the use of the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to stop enforcing environmental standards - with Jason Kenney's Alberta predictably ranking as the worst offender.

- But Drew Anderson writes that the UCP is on shaky ground after falsely assuming that Alberta's general public would be as willing to be told lies as Kenney is to dispense them.

- Finally, Adam King highlights the need for workers who don't have the protection of a union in their workplace to nonetheless have more of a say in the terms and conditions of their employment.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Musical interlude

Danko Jones - I Want Out

On fossilized assumptions

The comparative cost of different power options in the real world:

The world’s best solar power schemes now offer the “cheapest…electricity in history” with the technology cheaper than coal and gas in most major countries.


Across the U.S., renewable energy is beating coal on cost: The price to build new wind and solar has fallen below the cost of running existing coal-fired power plants in Red and Blue states. 


Building new wind and solar plants will soon be cheaper in every major market across the globe than running existing coal-fired power stations, according to a new report that raises fresh doubt about the medium-term viability of Australia’s $26bn thermal coal export industry.

While some countries are moving faster than others, the analysis by the Carbon Tracker Initiative, a climate finance thinktank, found renewable power was a cheaper option than building new coal plants in all large markets including Australia, and was expected to cost less than electricity from existing coal plants by 2030 at the latest.

The default assumption in Saskatchewan's fossilized media:

And even if they were to, there is the messy problem that we still must burn coal for the lion’s share of our electrical needs because solar and wind remain costly and we aren’t blessed with hydroelectric resources.

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- John Smith discusses the importance of recognizing and repairing the weaknesses in our social fabric which have been laid bare by the coronavirus pandemic. And George Monbiot discusses how the force of consumerism has warped the way we live.

- Rachel Aiello reports on the Auditor General's conclusion that Public Health Agency of Canada was both unprepared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, and slow to understand the scope of the problem. And Matina Stevis-Gridneff reports on Europe's plans to restrict vaccine exports which are putting Canada's progress on that front at risk.

- Meanwhile, as variants of concern rage out of control across much of Saskatchewan, Zak Vescera reports on the northern First Nations who have succeeded in flattening the curve by valuing public health over immediate profit and convenience. Mike Moore reports on Newfoundland's immediate and effective management of a variant outbreak. And Andrew Nikiforuk highlights how it's been open to any government to be free of the worst of COVID-19 by prioritizing disease control.

- Sarath Peiris argues that Scott Moe shouldn't have much choice but to take climate change seriously now that the Supreme Court has ruled on the validity of federal carbon pricing - though it's hard to see a particularly defensible reason for his stubborn refusal to do so sooner. And Cam Holmstrom comments on the modern application of the notion of peace, order and good government.

- Finally, Robert Hiltz writes about the travesty that was the RCMP's response to the killing of Colton Boushie. And Ethan Cox recounts just one example of how the use of police to respond to a mental health crisis produced gratuitous violence without making anybody safer.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Armine Yalnizyan highlights how our failure to put adequate resources into the caring sector stands in the way of both a COVID recovery and sustainable longer-term economic development.

- Jessica Wildfire writes that our economy has been set up to be unaffordable for nearly everybody in order to allow profits to be skimmed off the top of everything we do. And Bob Lord discusses how a fair and progressive tax system is a must to avoid the toxic concentration of wealth in the hands of a greedy few.

- Joe Nocera comments on the importance of seizing a moment in which workers and unions are rightly seen as a necessary collective counterweight to corporate control.

- John Clarke writes about the need to develop class solidarity across international borders, rather than presuming that the fate of individual politicians or states represents an acceptable proxy for the public interest. And Lachlan Markey notes that the U.S. is seeing a concerted effort to push the Biden administration leftward. 

- Finally, Aaron Wherry discusses Erin O'Toole's failed attempt to have the Cons pay so much as lip service to the climate crisis. And Gillian Steward points out how the Cons have chosen to render themselves irrelevant to discussion around one of the most important issues we face - particularly as the implausible attempt to undermine even modest action through the courts has failed.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- John Guyton, Patrick Langetieg, Daniel Reck, Max Risch and Gabriel Zucman examine (PDF) the massive amounts of money which people at the very top of the income distribution hide from revenue authorities. And Nancy Cook reports on Joe Biden's plan to at least somewhat increase what the wealthiest few pay to fund a functional society. 

- Michal Rozworski highlights how the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the erosion of public planning capacity through decades of privatization and outsourcing.

- The Canadian Press reports on the NDP's push to eliminate for-profit long-term care - which was of course voted down by the corporate establishment alliance of the Libs, Cons and Bloc. And Christo Aivalis notes that there's plenty of room for additional ambition in bringing essential utilities including telecommunications under public control.

- Julia Peterson talks to Markham Hislop about the ongoing transition to clean energy - and the reality that it's happening no matter how desperately the petrostate tries to cling to the past century's economic model. 

- Karen McVeigh reports on new research showing that bottom trawling in the oceans is a major cause of carbon emissions. And Erin Brockovich writes about how we're endangering ourselves through the use of toxic chemicals.

- Finally, the Broadbent Institute has published a new set of principles for Canadian social democracy. And Elizabeth McIsaac discusses the need for the pursuit of equity to be at the centre of any work for social change.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

 Stretched cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Andre Picard offers a look at what the arrival of a third wave of the coronavirus will mean. Morgan Lowrie reports on the rise of deadlier and more contagious COVID variants across Canada, while Colleen Silverthorn and Heidi Atter highlight their spread in Saskatoon and Regina respectively. The COVID Tracking Project points out how even the U.S. may face a worse wave than the ones which have already cost over half a million lives. And Pam Belluck discusses how mild initial COVID symptoms may give way to severe long-term neurological effects.

- Which is to say that Saskatchewan's combination of the lightest public health rules and highest case rates (as reported by Mickey Djuric) represents an exceptional level of negligence even compared to Canada's other conservative-governed provinces. And Roberto Rocha's reporting on how stronger restrictions have a demonstrable effect on public behaviour confirms that it's Scott Moe's choice to allow for preventable sickness and death.

- Alex Pareene calls out the U.S.' insistence on privileging intellectual property interests (over vaccines developed largely with public funds) over the production and distribution of vaccines which would protect everybody.

- Meanwhile, Hassan Yussuff, Doug Roth and Linda Silas offer a reminder that far too many Canadians are struggling to pay for needed medications in the absence of a national pharmacare program.

- Peter Greene discusses how "non-profit" charter schools are in fact being turned into corporate cash cows. 

- Finally, Jason Warick reports on a push to stop the Saskatchewan Party's selloff of Crown lands. And David Giles reports on the efforts of Marc Spooner and others to use SGI rebate cheques to preserve grasslands where the provincial government can't be bothered to do so.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Tenille Bonogoure writes about the human costs of Canada's choice to respond to a deadly infectious disease with polite deference rather than a determined effort to stamp it out. Matt Rivers notes that Brazil's outright denial has led to even worse, including the emergence of a variant which threatens people around the globe. And Sumathi Reddy points out that while access to a vaccine may slightly alter the calculus involved in personal decision-making, it doesn't affect the ultimate need for people to keep COVID-19 locked down to the greatest extent possible.

- The Globe and Mail's editorial board discusses the growing case for capital gains taxes on real estate based on wildly inflated housing prices in Canada's largest cities. 

- The Manitoba Organization of Faculty Associations calls out Brian Pallister's utter obeisance to the U.S. conservative group American Legislative Exchange Council in preparing his hidden legislation, while Lucas Edmond calls out Pallister's authoritarian neoliberal education plan in particular. And Jeremy Klaszus and Jeremy Appel uncover the secretive, big-money campaign to reject any housing in Calgary other than developer-friendly suburban sprawl. 

- But lest anybody think it's only the corporate sector looking to rally voters toward alternative choices, Alexander Kaufman notes that municipalities are serving as a focal point for climate organizing in the U.S. And Robert Reich writes that the unionization push at Amazon may represent the start of a new progressive era.

- Finally, Guy Quenneville reports on the findings of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission  on the RCMP's racism and neglect in response to the killing of Colten Boushie. And Joe Friesen reports that even that damning report was based on incomplete information as the RCMP destroyed evidence about its actions.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Nazeem Muhajarine, Cory Neudorf, Kyle Anderson and Alexander Wong each point out the desperate need for Saskatchewan to keep people healthy in the face of new COVID-19 variants, while Zak Vescera discusses the contrast between what experts and recommended and what Scott Moe has chosen to do in minimizing any effective response. And Chris Chacon reports on similar warnings from Alberta's doctors which are likewise going unheeded, while Jason Herring notes that the cresting third wave is entirely preventable. Which means that it's time for a Photoshop inspired by the phrase commentators have begun using to describe Doug Ford's PCs (who themselves deserve nothing but criticism for increasing risks when we can least afford it):

- Meanwhile, Sara Mojtehedzadeh points out the gap between the COVID-19 cases actually traced back to Amazon, and the much smaller number reported to Ontario's workers' compensation system.

- Alexandra Rendely, Anjali Bhayana and Seema Marwaha discuss how the severe and long-lasting effects on long-haul COVID patients have all too often been erased from any discussion of both public health choice and health case systems. 

- Moira Walsh reports on the effects of the coronavirus on the nurses working to prevent and treat it. And Jennifer Yang looks at the plight of refugees and other precarious workers facing the risks of the front lines of a pandemic.

- Finally, Sharon Lerner discusses how big pharma plans to turn COVID-19 into a cash cow by inflating the price of vaccines as soon as it can find an excuse to do so.