Saturday, April 17, 2021

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Justin Ling writes that the third wave of COVID currently swamping conservative-run provinces can be traced back directly to our leaders' refusal to acknowledge and act on scientific realities. Nora Loreto discusses the super-spreader events in workplaces which governments have consistently covered up and enabled. The Canadian Medical Association calls for extraordinary measures to control the spread of the coronavirus, while Bruce Arthur writes about the alarmed response from Ontario's health care workers in the wake of Doug Ford's decision to impose a police state rather than doing anything to rein in the spread of COVID-19. Ellen Mauro talks to some of the public health experts whose warnings have been ignored for months, while Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Rosa Saba highlight the obvious options to provide paid sick leave and shut down non-essential work. And Laura Woodward reports on some of the Saskatchewan experts similarly trying to get through to a wilfully-ignorant government. 

- Linda McQuaig writes about the need for our own, publicly-owned biotech manufacturer to ensure Canada doesn't face the type of supply delays and risks it's run into with coronavirus vaccines. Crawford Kilian points out that while vaccines sit unused over trumped-up fears about blood clotting, even that single symptom is more likely as a result of COVID itself than any vaccine, while Elizabeth Renzetti offers the sound evaluation of risk that it's more dangerous to drive to a vaccination centre than to receive any of the ones now available. And Jen Gerson comments on the dangers of treating vaccines as a consumer product which allows for arbitrary personal whims, rather than a social good whose distribution needs to be maximized for everybody's safety.

- Andrew Jackson makes the case for higher corporate tax rates on an international scale based on our lived experiences with the false promise of trickle-down economics. Darren Shore points out that Chrystia Freeland's writing about plutocrats should put her in an ideal position to ensure they pay their fair share - at least unless her goal is primarily to serve them rather than the public interest. And for those looking for new models to ensure a fair tax system, Emmanuel Saez and Gabrien Zucman examine the opportunities in taxing corporations' stock shares (PDF) and billionaires' unrealized capital gains (PDF).

- Finally, Nick Falvo examines the federal role in housing policy - including its far larger investments in propping up the prices of detached houses than in ensuring that homes are available for everybody.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Musical interlude

Donovan Woods - Whatever Keeps You Going

Friday Afternoon Links

 Assorted content to end your week.

- Alex Hemingway writes about the massive concentration of wealth among the richest few Canadians while most people have struggled through the pandemic. And Derrick O'Keefe follows up by pointing out how that accumulation highlights the need for a wealth tax, while Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks comment on the strong public support for ensuring the wealthy pay their fair share. 

- Mark Rendell wonders whether the federal government will take up a long-awaited opportunity to develop real industrial policy. And David Macdonald notes that instead of obsessing over deficits, we should be locking in future investments at record-low interest rates.

- David Climenhaga writes about the film-flammery behind the small nuclear reactor road show regularly presented by right-wing premiers as an excuse for negligent climate policy. And Arthur White-Crummey reports on Saskatchewan's continued place as the worst offender in Canada when it comes to emitting carbon pollution, while Sarath Peiris points out the silliness of the Moe government's decision to make cleaner vehicles more expensive.

- Finally, Scott Schmidt calls out the Kenney UCP's curriculum cheating as an indicator of the need to demand better from the province's leaders.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Robyn Urback criticizes the Ford PCs' habit (matched by other conservative governments) of responding to COVID-19 with continued cycles of procrastination followed by panic. And Rachel McLay highlights how political will has been the key factor in Atlantic Canada's success in suppressing the coronavirus.

- Andre Picard writes about the complete loss of perspective involved in focusing on remote risks of vaccines while ignoring the far more severe public health cost of delaying or preventing their use. And Alexander Zaitchik discusses how Bill Gates' involvement in vaccine development and distribution includes pressuring countries to prioritize pharmaceutical monopolies (and associated profits) over the distribution of vaccines.

- Nathalia Passarinho and Luis Barrucho report that the COVID-19 death toll in Brazil includes thousands of young children. And Hannah Ellis-Pedersen discusses a new wave (sparked by new variants) threatening to produce absolute calamity in India. 

- Hawa Mire notes that Ontario's ineffective vaccine rollout has been caused largely by underlying inequalities. And Andrew Jackson and Katrina Miller offer their take on the new normal we should be working to build as we recover from the pandemic.

- The Guardian highlights the need for the media to report on the climate emergency with appropriate coverage - both in paying due attention, and discussing it in sufficiently serious terms. 

- Finally, Martin Lukacs exposes the Libs' secret committee with oil lobbyists which served to ensure that neither any pandemic relief nor any recovery infrastructure would affect the continued dominance of petropolitics in Canada. Christian Favreau characterizes the Trudeau strategy as one of denialism through gradualism. The Canadian Press reports on the continued growth of greenhouse gas emissions due to the weakness of the Libs' half-efforts, while Bob Weber discusses new research showing how Canada is consuming a grossly disproportionate share of the global carbon budget. David Thurton reports on the tens of billions of dollars we continue to spend subsidizing the fossil fuel sector every year. And David Cochrane, Salima Shivji and Aaron Wherry report that the Cons' competing plan is to do even less to price carbon pollution, with a pinch of corporate cronyism tossed in.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Wednesday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Toby Sanger points out how Canada could gain tens of billions of dollars annually by working with Joe Biden to apply a global minimum corporate tax. And Linda McQuaig reassures us that a wealth tax can have a profound impact on inequality without collecting from anybody but the richest of the rich.

- Mae Watson Grote writes about the need to address structural causes of inequality and poverty, rather than pretending that "financial literacy" is of any use compared to the systemic barriers which keep people in precarious circumstances. And Paul Krugman discusses the importance of public policy which allows for the growth and strengthening of the labour movement.

- Simone Tagliapietra discusses the impossibility of trying to rein in the climate crisis without simultaneously improving the conditions facing vulnerable people.

- Jim Stanford highlights how corporate-funded opposition to a fair minimum wage depends on obsolete economic theory which has been proven wrong in practice.

- Bruce Arthur slams Doug Ford for his reckless games of chicken against the coronavirus, while Matt Gurney takes note of the complete lack of thought or responsibility behind Ontario's pandemic response. And the Globe and Mail's editorial board writes that all levels of government have failed Canadians by not ensuring workers have paid sick leave available in order to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

- Finally, Molly Bernstein and Sean McElwee point out the strong support in the U.S. to redirect resources from police to alternative emergency response mechanisms.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Kitchen help cats.


Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Sam Cowie writes about the devastating effect of COVID-19 in Brazil, where a particularly dangerous viral variant is combining with the anti-social Bolsonaro government to cause widespread illness and hunger. And Jenna Moon highlights the worst-case scenario facing Ontario's health care system, where hospitals lack the staff to operate temporary beds and are facing painful decisions as to how to triage care for people who need it. 

- Meanwhile, Anna Mehler Paperny reports on the delayed pivot toward vaccinating frontline workers to stop COVID-19 spread where it's most likely to take place.

- Chris Hatch is reassured that the general public has maintained its concern about climate change in the face of the pandemic. But Noah Smith warns that we shouldn't treat carbon pricing as a cure-all - no matter how often it's portrayed that way by both economists with tunnel vision, and businesses looking to avoid more direct responsibility. And Michaela Solomon compares the Saskatchewan Party's gratuitous punishment of electric vehicle drivers against the steps taken by other governments to reduce carbon pollution by incentivizing their use.

- PA Media reports on the latest data showing the carbon dioxide content of our atmosphere at the highest level in recorded history.

- Finally, Doug Cuthand writes about the need for funded harm reduction sites to reduce the toll in health and lives from drug use in Saskatchewan.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

On giveaways

It seems that our former Lib MP is chuffed about the corporatized FCL's takeover of the assets of True North Renewable Fuels. But Regina's citizens may have some questions.

After all, it was just a month ago that City Council approved a million dollars' worth of public money to fund an engineering study for True North. And one would think the decision-making process would have looked rather different if the proponent was one which could easily have funded the expense itself.

Moreover, if True North's assets are being transferred, the grant money and any results of the study would figure to form part of that - while any ability to repay the City will be in severe doubt.

So let's ask: how did True North's valuation for sales purposes change as a result of the City's grant? How much will FCL benefit from a public grant intended to support a new operator rather than an existing corporate monolith? And how much information - or how little - about the now-concluded sale was communicated to the City when it made its decision?

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Anya Zoledziowski discusses how we're only facing a third wave of COVID-19 due to avoidable political choices, while the Globe and Mail's editorial board laments the epidemic of political negligence which has resulted in severe consequences for public health and welfare. Elizabeth Payne reports on the painful choices facing health professionals as serious coronavirus cases swamp an already-stressed health care system. Adam Miller points out that we need to revise our assumptions as to what's safe based on the spread of more easily transmissible and more dangerous variants, while Bhinder Sajan reports on the reduced room for error. And a group of experts, doctors and citizens is circulating a petition to finally shift to a COVID-zero strategy to keep people healthy and safe, while Ian Welsh recognizes that it's been obvious from the beginning how that was the only viable choice if we value people's lives. 

- Meanwhile, Tonda MacCharles writes about the reality that individual vaccination doesn't mean that anybody can go back to living as if the pandemic didn't exist.

- BBC News reports on the WHO's desperate plea for wealthy countries to prioritize vaccine availability around the globe over profits for manufacturers. And Linda McQuaig offers a reminder that the only way to ensure a secure supply of medicine is to maintain our own, rather than hoping we can throw enough money and privileges at big pharma to bump us ahead of other countries.

- Finally, Carlito Pablo discusses how work from home during the course of the COVID pandemic has affected productivity - concluding that the result has included both more production, and longer hours. And Rick Salutin writes about the continued refusal of Doug Ford (and other politicians) to put sick leave in place to allow workers to stay home and keep people healthy.