Saturday, April 09, 2022

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Stephanie Dubois reports on the growing body of research showing that the risk of COVID-19 reinfection is worsening due to the Omicron variants. Troy Charles talks to Ayisha Kurji about the multiple viruses hospitalizing Saskatchewan children as public health rules have been eliminated, while Gail Lethbridge points out the web of contradictions in COVID-19 messaging which is causing massive outbreaks in Nova Scotia. Sarah Wildman writes that vulnerable people stand to be left out as public health protections are removed in the name of returning to an exclusionary "normal". 

- Michael Marmot writes about the lives being endangered by the UK Cons' refusal to provide any help to people whose existing poverty has only been exacerbated by soaring costs of living. And Doug Nesbitt comments on the failure of wage levels to come anywhere close to keeping up with prices - even as anti-inflation rhetoric is used to try to ensure workers are left behind. 

- Meanwhile, Stephen Vance discusses how Ontario's "sunshine list" - based on a far outdated standard - facilitates right-wing rhetoric against front-line public sector workers. 

- Donya Ziaee discusses how the agreement on pharmacare between the NDP and Libs leaves many open questions as to what a system might look like - and argues that we'll need to work to ensure the result actually helps people rather than locking in corporate profits. And Andrew Jackson takes note of the many ways in which the federal budget falls short of the shift toward more progressive policy that people may have expected both as a result of the confidence and supply agreement, as well as the lessons learned in the course of the pandemic.

- Finally, Clem Nocos writes that the Libs' financial commitment and actions fail to match their rhetoric when it comes to housing policy. And Sabrina Maddeaux points out how what's included in the federal budget is particularly insufficient for young people who don't have the advantage of already owning a home.

Friday, April 08, 2022

Musical interlude

Kadebostany - Mind If I Stay

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- George Monbiot writes that rhetoric about "learning to live with it" has become the go-to excuse to allow preventable tragedies - including the COVID pandemic and the deepening climate crisis - to go unaddressed. Joe Vipond, Kashif Perzada and Malgorzata Gasperowicz argue that Albertans (like citizens elsewhere) have never given informed consent to the mass infection strategy apparently being substituted for any reasonable public health policy. And Linda Geddes reports on new research adding a massively increased risk of deep vein thrombosis and blood clots to the list of effects of infection. 

- The CCPA offers its review of Saskatchewan's provincial budget, highlighting Scott Moe's attempt to use it as to stop talking about the ongoing pandemic even as the damage wrought by COVID-19 reaches new heights. Phil Tank points out how a continued focus on (misleading nominal-dollar) comparisons to a decade and a half ago shows that the Saskatchewan Party has never grown up. And Jessie Anton reports on the students taking direct action to push for adequate education funding - rather than cuts for an already-starved public system while new money is funneled to private operators. 

- Meanwhile, the CCPA's federal budget review recognizes that some important steps toward improving people's lives are ultimately being treated as secondary to keeping the corporate sector comfortable. Mike Moffatt notes that a belated federal return to the world of making housing policy falls far short of what people need to fulfil their right to a home. And Alex Ballingall reports on the rightly frustrated response of environmental groups to a budget whose main investment in climate change is a handout to oil companies for carbon capture and storage schemes which do little to reduce emissions while locking in fossil fuel infrastructre. 

- Fatima Syed writes about the Ontario NDP's complete and ambitious climate plan in an election where the other main parties are looking to downplay the future of the planet. And Paige Bennett reports on new research from the White House Office of Management and Budget showing a multi-trillion-dollar price tag attached to climate inaction.  

- Jacob Lorinc discusses the growing recognition that corporate greed is the main driver in life becoming perpetually less affordable. 

- Finally, Lauren Pelley explains why a national pharmacare program hasn't yet been implemented despite a myriad of promises and studies - with furious lobbying by profiteers of course ranking at the top of the list. 

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Tim Requarth writes about the U.S.' appalling number of COVID orphans who have lost caregivers due to failures in public health policy - and the fact that they're now being left without alternative social supports as well. And the Decent Work & Health Network points out Ontario's worsening lack of protections for workers generally, while Alex Cosh asks why British Columbia has ended measures which are vital to alleviating spread and illness among migrant workers. 

- The Canadian Press reports that British Columbia is moving toward restoring card-check certification which will make it easier for workers to take collective action. But Catherine McInyre exposes how Amazon has skirted labour and employment laws to avoid collective bargaining with the workers who allow it to function. 

- Conor Curtis and Tzeporah Berman rightly ask why the Trudeau Libs would even consider allowing massive new offshore drilling while pretending to care about averting a climate breakdown, while Elaine Anselmi takes a closer look at how the Bay du Nord project came to be approved yesterday. Kate Aronoff similarly points out the folly of the U.S. Democrats' focus on pushing oil companies to drill more. Don Pittis is rightly appalled at the spate of fuel tax breaks which are serving as a carbon pollution subsidy and handout to a fossil fuel sector already swimming in windfall profits. And Emily Chung reports that researchers learning the effects of natural gas stoves in the home are shifting away from them as quickly as possible. 

- Meanwhile, Damian Carrington reports that microplastic pollution is beginning to be found even in people's lungs. 

- Finally, Sharon Blady discusses how investments in preventative medicine - including pharmacare and dental care - produces fiscal benefits as well as improved health. 

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Wednesday Night Cat Blogging

Bagged cats.

#SKNDPLDR22 - The Race is On

I've previously noted the danger that the Saskatchewan NDP's leadership campaign - however unnecessary it should have been to begin with - might be particularly damaging to the party if it failed to produce some meaningful challenge to Carla Beck as the first entrant and front-runner. 

From that standpoint, it's great news that Kaitlyn Harvey is entering the race - and doubly so for the prospect that her entrance will highlight some of the most important issues which have been conspicuously absent both in Beck's campaign so far, and in the NDP's recent efforts in opposition. 

Just as Beck's campaign has focused on personality and endorsements rather than policy, Harvey's launch was exceedingly light on any specific policy proposals. But it may be understandable if the leadership campaign includes less policy specifics than usual in a context where the party's general policy-making apparatus is being revamped as a result of its post-election review. 

What Harvey has been willing to put front and centre, however, is her advocacy for climate justice and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. Both reflect issues which should be touchstones for progressive activists and voters. But both have all too frequently been treated as taboo topics and obstacles to support rather than points of priority in the party's political decision-making. (And unfortunately, the otherwise justifiable focus on a 24/7/365 campaign has thus far led the party toward even more risk aversion and focus on headlines and news cycles, rather than any focus building deeper awareness and support on issues of principle.)

Presuming her campaign themes reflect that background, Harvey should thus at the very least ensure that the most important questions facing both the NDP and the province are subject to some meaningful thought in the course of the leadership race. And I wouldn't be entirely surprised if the opportunity to organize for climate justice through the leadership campaign helps propel Harvey to a far stronger result than would be expected based on the candidates' public profiles to date. 

Wednesday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Rohan Smith reports on new research showing how little of the coronavirus needs to be passed from one person to another to result in infection, while CBC News reports on Quebec's belated but needed decision to hold off on lifting mask mandates. And William J. Barber and Liz Theoharis discuss how inequality and poverty have exacerbated the harm done by COVID-19 - particularly as the pandemic has dragged on and public health measures have been loosened. 

- Meanwhile, DT Cochrane examines how corporations have seen their profit margins soar in the midst of the pandemic. 

- Clarrie Feinstein reports on the CCPA's new research showing that increases in Ontario's minimum wage actually helped generate employment, while also reducing wage gaps based on race and gender. And Nicholas Keung highlights how international students are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. 

- Amy Westervelt discusses the IPCC's inescapable conclusion that the fossil fuel sector is the main barrier to averting climate breakdown - though it's certainly worth noting how that finding was downplayed in its summary. And John Lorinc points out the limited effects of electric vehicles in limiting carbon emissions if they simply lead to continued sprawl. 

- Finally, David Broockman and Joshua Kalla study how Fox News viewers can see their state of knowledge improve after agreeing to view less propagandistic news sources. But Kristin Nelson offers a reminder that many people are drawn toward authoritarianism - with that tendency mapping closely to people's views as to parenting and relationships to power. 

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Andrew Nikiforuk discusses how the pandemic denial of Boris Johnson, Jason Kenney, Scott Moe and others is only ensuring that more people suffer avoidable illness and death. And Merlyna Lim and Brandon Rigato examine how Canada's far right has become a fertile breeding ground for anti-science conspiracies around COVID and climate change.  

- Polly Toynbee writes that the UK Cons need to be held responsible for the damage they've knowingly inflicted on their public health care system. 

- David Macdonald finds that a substantial portion of the inflation being used as an excuse for austerity and neglect is in fact directly traceable to corporate profiteering. 

- Ole Hendricksen calls out the joint effort between governments and the corporate sector to conceal health and safety risks in the name of maximizing the extraction of short-term profits. And Brian Mann highlights how corporations use bankruptcy laws selectively to shed the liabilities arising from their past abuses while otherwise continuing business as usual. 

- Finally, Rebecca Laibor and Umair Irfan discuss the IPCC's conclusion that new fossil fuel infrastructure can't be reconciled with averting a climate breakdown. And Yasmine Ghania reports that the Moe government's response to even the insufficient plans of the Trudeau Libs is to thumb its nose at any action whatsoever. 

Monday, April 04, 2022

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Michael Marshall offers a reminder that even where it hasn't been able to achieve its ideal goal, a zero-COVID strategy has produced far better outcomes for people. The Ottawa Citizen's editorial board is rightly scathing in responding to Doug Ford's abandonment of his province. Emma Teitel writes that the building wave is the first where we're facing the explicit acknowledgment that we've been left to fend for ourselves, while the People's CDC is working on providing advice that isn't grossly biased toward keeping business open at the expense of public health. May Warren and Ghada Elsharif discuss why (even more than in previous outbreaks) it feels like COVID-19 is everywhere. Kayla Rosen reports on Joss Reimer's much-needed acknowledgment that the let-'er-rip strategy is setting up massive numbers of people to be afflicted with long COVID. 

- Fiona Harvey reports that scientists are warning that we need a rapid transition away from oil and gas dependency, while Seth Klein writes that the supply and confidence agreement between the NDP and the Libs falls well short of the mark. And Reuters reports on Ember's research showing that we can't blame a lack of renewable options for our continued reliance on dirty fossil fuels, as wind and solar energy are in fact growing at a fast enough pace to allow for a full transition in time to meet the 1.5 degree target. 

- John Michael McGrath writes about the Ford PCs' pitiful excuse for a housing bill in advance of an election where a lack of available homes and a propensity for catering to developers at the expense of citizens are major issues. 

- The Canadian Press reports on the push by Canadian jurisdictions to decriminalize drug possession in order to reduce the number of people dying of drug poisonings. 

- Finally, The Maple talks to Brent Patterson about the glaring lack of need (or use) for the F-35s fighter jets which the Libs are so eager to make the subject of a massive federal purchase.

Sunday, April 03, 2022

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Ezra Cheung reports on research showing the increasing severity of the Omicron BA.2 variant for children in Hong Kong, while David Axe discusses the similar pattern observed in Europe. And Jesse Feith points out the connection between long COVID and myalgic encephalomyelitis - though while the frame of reference may be somewhat helpful, the lack of action to deal with chronic fatigue prior to the pandemic doesn't offer any great hope that governments who are already washing their hands of long COVID will put any effort into addressing it now. 

- John Harris writes that instead of focusing narrowly on inflation or costs of living, we should be recognizing that our economic and politics structures are set up to exclude increasing numbers of people from being able to obtain the necessities of life. Lori Fox discusses how Canada is falling far short of providing needed mental health care for working-class people.

- Jacques Poitras reports on Rod Cumberland's termination as a college instructor for heresy against corporations and the chemicals they want to spray around without consideration of public or environmental health. And Ilana Cohen and Michael Mann weigh in on the need to stop relying on fossil fuel money for climate research. 

- Burgess Langshaw-Power discusses how the Libs' plan to call tens of billions of dollars in subsidies to the oil industry to lock in several more decades of carbon pollution is doomed to failure as a measure to help avert climate breakdown. And the American Lung Association points out that a shift to electric rather than combustion vehicles would have plenty of additional benefits to health and well-being beyond the displacement of greenhouse gas emissions. 

- Finally, David Moscrop writes that the Libs' belated and inflated purchase of F-35s represents the worst of all possible worlds, wasting even more money than planned without any consideration of whether burning billions on fighter jets actually serves a meaningful need.