Saturday, January 15, 2022

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Jim Stanford discusses how Canada's COVID response has been slanted toward handouts to corporations and demands of workers - and increasingly so as the pandemic has continued. Alison Pennington calls out the cruelty by design in Australia's similar move toward eliminating pandemic leave as the worst wave yet crests. And Joe Vipond, Malgorzata Gasperowicz, Wing Kar Li and Michelle Brandenburg discuss what people can do to help protect their community against the Omicron variant even as political leaders refuse to lift a finger.

- Adam King writes that CEOs have made out like bandits throughout the pandemic. And Leticia Miranda reports on the call from retail workers for at least a modicum of the respect and concern which was offered in early 2020 but withdrawn as soon as bosses figured they could get away with it.

- Justin Ling notes that the worsening national health care crisis could have been averted even if promises from earlier in the pandemic had been kept. And Moira Wyton discusses the precarious state of Vancouver's hospitals even before the Omicron wave hits at its worst, while Jeremy Simes reports on the collapsing health care system in rural Saskatchewan.

- Meanwhile, Adam Hunter talks to Nazeem Muhajarine about the complete lack of any scientific basis for Scott Moe's aversion to public health protections. And Phil Tank reports on the Saskatchewan Party MLAs embedding themselves in the anti-vaxx movement - even as they're too cowardly to acknowledge it.

- Finally, the Tyee offers space for people to comment on their experiences and views on the return to school in the midst of the Omicron wave.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Musical interlude

Glass Animals - Heat Waves

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Katherine Wu calls out the wishful thinking (and deliberate neglect) behind any attempt to brand the Omicron COVID variant as "mild". Evelyn Lazare discusses the vicious circle created as the health care workers expected to care for the sick themselves become infected in droves by a disease that's been allowed to run rampant. And Ian Welsh offers a grim prognostication as to the consequences of the anti-precautionary principle being applied by Ontario's government (among so many others). 

- Meanwhile, Nathaniel Dove reports that the side effects of COVID include an escalating number of Saskatchewan people dying while waiting for surgery. And Kendall Latimer reports that the province also reached record highs in deaths due to drug poisonings, thanks in no small part to the provincial government's hostility to harm reduction and social determinants of health.  

- Dorothy Woodend responds to one of the main criticisms of Don't Look Up by arguing that we're long past any time for subtlety in dealing with a climate breakdown in progress. Maya Yang reports on research showing a strong majority of Americans recognizing the need for climate action - though sadly there's little reason to believe that will be reflected in policy outcomes. And CBC's What On Earth contrasts the progress other jurisdictions are making in transitioning away from fossil fuel infrastructure against Ontario's choice to build an increased number of natural gas connections. 

- Joseph Politano breaks down the components of the U.S.' current inflation, and finds no reason for concern about a wage-price spiral threatened as an excuse to impose punishing austerity on workers. 

- Finally, Linda McQuaig is hopeful that a new child care plan will remind Canadians of the value of investing in social development - but notes that the idea could go awry if it's hijacked by corporate profiteers, rather than building a public service. 

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Gloria Novovic writes about the desperate need to start planning ahead to control the damage done by the COVID pandemic, rather than reacting only to calamities already in progress. Ed Yong highlights why there's no reason to minimize the effect of the coronavirus based on "incidental" infections which still impose massive costs on an overwhelmed health care system. Mary-Ann Davies et al. study the prevalence of severe outcomes in the course of South Africa's Omicron wave, and find that any change in the virus itself (rather than vaccination or other immunity rates) has produced only a 25% reduction in risk of hospitalization or death compared even to the most severe Delta wave. And Christina Frangou offers a look at the effects of long COVID on people who have continued to suffer illness and disability long after even mild initial cases. 

- Michael Osterholm and Cory Anderson call out the misleading message that stubbornly keeping schools open without taking steps to protect staff and students is a remotely plausible option. And Mickey Djuric reports that Saskatchewan's already-strained education system is being forced to carry out contact tracing responsibility abandoned by public health structures. 

- Meanwhile, Olga Khazan notes that the lack of paid sick leave and other supports is forcing people to keep dragging themselves to work while infected. Basit Mahmood points out how the combination of stagnant incomes and rising rents and prices is leaving more and more UK households destitute. And Errol Schweiser discusses how food price inflation in particular is a matter of profit-taking by large corporations with the power to control the market. 

- D.T. Cochrane examines how corporate Canada has already stopped contributing any income taxes to Canadian society to for the year. And Dan Darrah calls out the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for its relentless attacks on workers and people who rely on public services. 

- Finally, Jeff Seal, Chris Libbey and Rick Libbey discuss the importance of moving toward a just cause standard for eviction based on the recognition that housing is a human right. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Sarath Peiris discusses the Saskatchewan Party government's utterly feckless pandemic response - which they've apparently decided to keep in place for the rest of the Omicron wave. And Abdullah Shihipar points out the folly of expecting individual choices to resolve a collective action problem. 

- Wallis Snowdon reports on the UCP's laughable decision to let employers dictate when employees are required to work even while infected with COVID. Rachel Bergen reports on the spate of outbreaks in Winnipeg care homes. And Cathy Crowe discusses how Toronto's system of shelters has collapsed due to preventable neglect. 

- John Michael McGrath writes about the issues the pandemic has raised about capacity in our health care system. And Stephen Magusiak points out how privateers are seizing on the lack of resources in the public system to push for even more profit-based health services.  

- Finally, Luke Savage discusses how workers have been suffering the ill effects of COVID while their bosses get even richer. Amira Elbaghawy reminds us of the problems with relying on the corporate sector to decide what social and environmental work should be done. And Molly Murphy examines the RCMP's Community-Industry Response Group which has been using the force and surveillance of the state to in the service of fossil fuel barons fighting against Indigenous and environmental activists.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

On unearned compensation

One of the most striking recent developments in Saskatchewan's COVID response has been the disconnect between Scott Moe's government telling people not to get PCR tests due to their utter failure to provide them, and the Workers' Compensation Board declaring that nobody will be able to make a claim for workplace illness without one.

But let's set aside any doubt as to who figures to benefit from that policy by remembering what happens when the Workers' Compensation system finds itself with a surplus under the Saskatchewan Party .

To wit: employers get a windfall to the exclusion of workers. But there is one exception: public employers, who see any reward for safe workplaces siphoned off into the province's general revenue. 

So if Moe is successful in preventing people from being able to establish that COVID-related disabilities arose at work, the likely result is...for the funding intended to support workers in exactly these types of situations to be diverted to the Saskatchewan Party's corporate donors. 

Though to be fair, anybody who can't wait a full day for one of the insufficient number of tests available through the public health care system always has another option: paying another Saskatchewan Party donor to get one. Because we're all in this together.

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Contained cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Charlie Smith highlights how attempts to minimize the ongoing pandemic have reduced the public credibility of both government and public health officials alike in British Columbia (even as they've provided a messaging boost to anti-vaxxers). Nam Kiwanuka laments how parents have been left to fend for themselves, while Dan Sinker notes how the choices have been all the more grim in jurisdictions which sent kids immediately back to school. Bruce Arthur discusses how the misleading spin of a "mild" variant has led both governments and citizens to fail to take a severe threat seriously. And the Globe and Mail's editorial board asks why Canada has so far to go in vaccinating young people when there's ample vaccine supple to get it done. 

- Megan Ogilvie examines how the Omicron wave is devastating Ontario's health care system and the people who rely on it. Josh Rubin reports on the economic losses caused by workers getting sick in the absence of appropriate public health protections. And Angelyn Francis writes about the steps we need to take to protect people with disabilities from the continuing pandemic. 

- Victoria Forster reports on new research suggesting that the Omicron variant reaches peak transmissibility around 3-6 days after symptom onset - meaning that public health rules assuming a 5-day period is sufficient after a positive test may be pushing people back to work when they're most infectious. And Linda Geddes reports on the relatively good news that COVID loses most of its infectiousness within five minutes in the air - though that will only help if we take the steps needed to reduce contacts which raise the potential for short-range infection.

- Bob Weber reports on Alberta's complete failure to deliver on promised environmental monitoring for the tar sands. And David Climenhaga calls out the combination of climate delay and publicly-funded cronyism behind the UCP's attempt to push nuclear power rather than cheaper and readily-available renewable alternatives. 

- Finally, David Hope and Julian Lindberg study the effects of tax cuts for the rich - and unsurprisingly find the result to be worsened inequality without any benefit in total economic activity or productivity. 

Monday, January 10, 2022

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- David Wallace-Wells writes that the U.S.' Omicron COVID wave looks far more severe than Europe's - even if it isn't being met with any meaningful policy response. Chuck Wendig criticizes the inexcusable choice of so many governments to let COVID win rather than working to keep people healthy. And the Canadian Press reports on the widespread hospitalization records being set in the face of a variant which have dangerously tried to portray as "mild". 

- Joel Dryden reports on yet another outbreak at the same Cargill meat plant where management staff and government personnel both gleefully chose worker endangerment at the outset of the pandemic. And Anne D'Innocienzio and Dee-Ann Durbin report on the ugly choice facing workers being forced to work while sick if they want to have any income. 

- Alex Ballingall discusses how the latest wave has further highlighted longstanding weaknesses in health care systems which have been treated like providers of consumer goods rather than essential services. Jennifer Sinco Kelleher and Terry Tang report on the breakdown of all kinds of public services due to mass infection, while Jessika Guse reports on a new memo showing how Alberta's health care system faces mass redeployment to try to continue functioning. 

- Richard Mueller refutes the UCP's spin about needing to slash public servants' incomes. And Harold Meyerson reports that the National Labour Relations Board is examining how to protect workers in gig employment - including through a potential presumption that improper classification of workers as independent contractors rather than employees is itself illegal.  

- Drew Anderson reports on the environmental damage done by the oil industry in Alberta - and the liability now being borne by people who later came to own contaminated properties. But Jon Stone reports on the UK Cons' continued willingness to let fossil fuel barons write the rules governing their industry as a signal that governments are refusing to learn anything from decades of pollution, spills and misinformation. 

- Finally, Robert Reich discusses where we can still find and strengthen the public good in a deliberately atomized society. 

Sunday, January 09, 2022

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Trevor Herriot and Cathy Holtslander write about the Saskatchewan Party's climate position which can't be treated as anything but implicit denialism. John Woodside points out that the Libs' fuel regulations seem designed to lock us into decades of avoidable fossil fuel use, while Bill McKibben takes note that an inexcusable amount of carbon pollution is happening solely for the sake of producing and transporting other fossil fuels.

- Meanwhile, Nicole Poindexter discusses how it's possible to simultaneously end energy poverty and transition away from dirty energy with renewable minigrids and battery storage.

- The Star's editorial board highlights how wealth accumulation at the top comes at the expense of everybody else, while Robert Kuttner discusses Thomas Piketty's road toward advocacy for socialism and wealth redistribution. Connie Lin discusses how U.S. workers are using their increased recognition as to unfairness in the workplace as a reason to leave exploitative jobs. And Steven Hall points out what Don't Look Up can teach us about economics, including the desperate need for publicly-oriented planning to replace subservience to capitalists. 

- Jen St. Denis reports on Paul Kershaw's call for a windfall tax on high-priced real estate. 

- Zak Vescera reports on the glaring need for additional staff and resources to run shelters in Saskatoon (and elsewhere in Saskatchewan). And Bonnie Larson, Ginetta Salvalaggio and Claire Bodkin discuss how a safe-supply policy would work wonders in mitigating the drug poisoning crisis. 

- Finally, Amil Niazi writes that parents are now facing the same challenges as at the beginning of the pandemic, only with far less support and with two years of fatigue weighing them down. And Shannon Proudfoot discusses the problems with virtual learning - even as the damage caused by that pales in comparison to the risk of lifelong health conditions.