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.