Saturday, May 29, 2021

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Zeynep Tufecki warns that the deadliest phase of the coronavirus pandemic may be yet to come even after vaccines become widely capable of distribution. Eric Reguly notes that contrary to the wishcasting of conservative governments, existing vaccines themselves haven't resulted in herd immunity. And Simon Little reports on the effect the spread of the B.1.617 variant figures to have on B.C.'s reopening plans. 

- Guy Quenneville reports on the latest request of Saskatchewan's residents not to buy the Sask Party's messaging, as the Saskatchewan Health Authority warns of already-high mobility rates which may be exacerbated if people race back to possible transmission venues. And Zak Vescera uncovers the Moe government's longstanding awareness that it's been failing to provide for vulnerable populations.

- Matthew Thomas reports on new research showing that beyond its benefits for workers themselves, a four-day work week would also substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

- Jesse Freeston and Martin Lukacs expose the Canadian pension funds behind Jair Bolsonaro's privatization of Brazilian public water systems.

- Finally, Tanya Talaga asks how many Joyce Echaquans need to die at the hands of a discriminatory health care system. But the revelation of an unmarked mass child grave at the Kamloops Indian Residential School offers an ugly reminder of the damage to Indigenous people Canada has wilfully inflicted.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Musical interlude

Tame Impala - Tomorrow's Dust

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Matt Gurney questions how it is that Ontario (like other provinces) is continuing to avoid any meaningful planning in its pandemic response, with the problem now being a lack of guidance or direction in distributing second doses of vaccines.

- Stephanie Taylor reports on a new study from the International Institute for Sustainable Development showing how demand for oil is set to decline in the decades to come. Aaron Saad writes that instead of continuing to look to exploit fossil fuel reserves and spew as much carbon pollution as possible as the industry dies out, Canada should be discussing how to make up for our disproportionate harm to the global environment. And Max Fawcett points out that any honest message to oil sector workers would include recognition that a transition is necessary - not a refusal to allow anybody to find sustainable work.

- Katherine Long and Will Evans report on Washington's investigation into Amazon's disregard for worker health and safety. 

- Oliver Wainwright discusses the work being done to reverse decades of systems architecture based on the preferences of a tall, white male.

- Finally, Sarath Peiris recognizes that it's the Saskatchewan Party which has chosen to become a permanent campaign machine with no interest in providing responsive or competent government once elected. Janai Nelson highlights the risks of allowing authoritarian governments to silence opposition and stifle protest. And Andrew Marantz discusses the work being done in the U.S. to ensure people aren't limited to a choice between establishmentarianism and fascism.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Ian Welsh calls out the latest example of deceptive use of COVID-19 data to minimize the risk people continue to face, as the CDC is failing to investigate or report on cases which don't result in immediate hospitalization even if they lead to long COVID. Vaughn Palmer writes that British Columbia's plan to lift public health measures appears far too likely to run into the realities of increasingly dangerous variants. And Andrea Woo, Laura Stone and Marieke Walsh report on the still-changing vaccination plans which are seeing the intervals for a second dose reduced in a number of provinces.

- Wency Leung highlights the risk of COVID outbreaks in high-rise buildings with insufficient ventilation. And Emily Anthes reports on new research showing that both ventilation and preventative testing are essential elements to keeping schools safe.

- Mitchell Thompson reports on Tim Hortons' anti-union and anti-fair wage strategy. And Samuel Fleischman and Wen Zhuang interview Jane McAlevy about the important of organizing to build worker power - particularly in increasing participation and involvement among people who aren't drawn to activism on their own.

- Trish Hennessy writes that we'll emerge from the pandemic into a changed world - but need to ensure the change we see involves collective action in the public interest.

- Finally, Angella MacEwen and Jonathan Gauvin make the case for sharing the wealth rather than facilitating its accumulation:

Economic inequality isn’t just unfair; it also creates a deeply dysfunctional economy. The more those at the top make decisions based on increasing their own wealth rather than our shared wealth, the less the economy can perform its role of sustaining people and our societies.

There are clear and concrete solutions that we can implement as a society - if we have the political will.

Wealth accumulation in Canada has been fostered and facilitated by political decisions:

  • Corporate and personal tax cuts have allowed the wealthy to accumulate more wealth — and more power.
  • This power has been used in turn to pressure governments to deregulate — especially by reducing protections for workers, consumers, and the environment.

Taxing the rich is a real possibility to address both income and wealth inequality, by:

  • Creating an annual net wealth tax is a good start toward a fairer economy, but is not enough on its own.
  • Changing how we tax capital gains will raise almost as much money as a modest wealth tax.
  • Increasing the tax rate for corporations, closing loopholes, and increasing taxes on the highest income earners will make the economy more equal, and raise revenue that can be used to fund important public investments.

These proposed tax changes are actually quite moderate, and well within the range governments in Canada have set in recent history. While this means that doomsday predictions about devastating impacts to the economy are clearly exaggerated, it also means that we need to do more than just tax wealth — we need to also change the built-in levers in our system that ensure the rich get richer and the poor stay poor.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

On unhealthy bias

Shorter Murray Mandryk:

It's important that we have compassion for everybody's mental health concerns regardless of politics. And by that, I of course mean allowing partisan operatives from only one side to play the victim while lying through their teeth about supporters' violent threats against their perceived opponents.

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Grace Blakeley discusses how corporate handouts represent a major contributor to the concentration of wealth by the richest few. And CNN reports on the new billionaires created by the public development of COVID-19 vaccines.

- Rachelle Younglai points out that generational wealth transfers are increasingly becoming the price of admission for anybody seeking to find adequate housing for a family. 

- Meanwhile, Anita Kumar writes that U.S. Republicans - like their Canadian conservative cousins - are trying to block any enforcement steps to ensure that the wealthy pay their fair share.

- Noah Smith discusses how social media essentially turns status anxiety into an omnipresent element of people's engagement with the community around them.

- Fiona Harvey reports on the belated agreement among developed countries to stop backing the continued production of coal around the world. But the Financial Times highlights how wealthy countries are trying to undermine the International Energy Agency's recent guidance on the need for a transition to clean energy sources.

- Finally, Maya Wolfe-Robinson reports on at least one police chief who recognizes the need to invest in community development rather than militarized to protest. And Janelle Blakley reports on the work being done by community organizations to try to avert drug-related harms and deaths which the Moe government would prefer to ignore.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Cats amid chaos.


Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Robert Reich offers some lessons we need to draw from the coronavirus pandemic - including the recognition that while billionaires won't save us from collective action problems, effective government can.

- Renju Jose reports on Melbourne's instant reaction to community spread of the particularly dangerous B.1.6172 variant. And Matt Elliott rightly praises young Ontarians for wasting no time in getting vaccinated. 

- But Bartley Kives calls out Brian Pallister for being more interested in casting shade than doing anything to ameliorate Manitoba's ugly third wave. Paige Parsons reports on a call from Alberta doctors to avoid reckless reopening, while Andre Picard makes a similar plea more generally. And Justin McCurry reports on the International Olympics Committee's appalling call for people to make public health sacrifices in order to ensure that a sports exhibition can proceed.

- Kenyon Wallace reports on the abuse and neglect of residents of Ontario's long-term care homes. And Tamara Daly, Ivy Lynn Bourgeault and Katie Aubrecht call for a shift toward a virtuous cycle of care - rather than the current vicious cycle squeezing any ethic of care out in order to maximize short-term profits.

- Finally, Jordan Barab and David Michaels note that we shouldn't take the CDC's vague phrasing about lifting masking requirements as an excuse to put workers in further danger. Hayes Brown points out that what corporate lobbyists are attempting to spin as a "labour shortage" amounts to nothing more than employers' refusal to offer acceptable wages and working conditions. And Alex Press writes about the increased exploitation of workers into taking intolerable hours for insufficient pay - and the need to reshape the balance of power to reverse course.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Jenna Gettings et al. study the massive effect masking and improved ventilation have in reducing the spread of the coronavirus in elementary schools. But Sheila Wang reports on the outdated assumptions still being used to inform public health advice about COVID-19. And Michael Zennie and Gladys Tsai point out that the pandemic has evolved to the point where countries like Taiwan who successfully stamped out earlier waves are now facing significant spread, while . 

- Meanwhile, Umair Haque writes that after being handed intellectual property rights over publicly-researched vaccines, the pharmaceutical sector is now banking on COVID-19 becoming endemic to provide an ongoing source of profits.

- David Sirota highlights how the U.S. serves as a tax haven for the rich - including by dedicating far more effort to auditing low-income people than the corporations who are actually hiding money. Luke Savage discusses how Wall Street always tends to get its way in Washington even when public opinion is united against it. And David Lawder and Michael Nienaber report that other countries are watering down even the U.S.' modest proposals for international tax standards. 

- Erica Johnson reports that banks are exploiting the pandemic by extracting even more and higher fees from the people who can least afford to pay them.

- Finally, Ian Gill writes that we're far more likely to be able to pursue happiness and well-being if we don't link them to constant consumption and environmental destruction.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- The Globe and Mail's editorial board discusses the reality that the end of the age of oil is near no matter how many petropoliticians try to operate in denial. Carl Meyer reports on the oil lobby's attempts to turn the pursuit of emission reduction targets into an issue to be managed by the Ministry of Finance rather than anybody with any responsibility for environmental goals. And Jeffrey Jones reports on the Bank of Canada's warning that many fossil fuel assets are mispriced due to the gap between wishful thinking and reality. 

- Meanwhile, Becky Ferreira reports on the latest climate catastrophe, as the largest iceberg on the planet has broken loose from Antarctica.

- Marc Fawcett-Anderson reports on Canada's classification of waste as a toxic substance - which at least creates the possibility of a ban, though falls short of actually accomplishing that.

- Josh Eidelson interviews Lauren McFerran about the U.S.' National Labour Relations Board which is resuming offering some protection to workers after being placed under corporate control by the Trump administration.

- Finally, Umair Haque highlights how the working class is increasingly voting for fascist policies which serve only to demean punish others rather than benefiting working people.