Saturday, April 30, 2022

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Mickey Djuric writes about the rising COVID-19 hospitalization numbers driven by unvaccinated people - but lest anybody treat past shots as an excuse for complacency, Fenit Nirappil and Dan Keating report on an increase in deaths among vaccinated people who are elderly and/or immunocompromised. Jason Moyer-Lee writes that there's no reason to celebrate the elimination of masking and other protections for people who will needlessly face avoidable disease and suffering. Adam Miller discusses what it might look like for COVID to become a more seasonal disease - while noting that we're still far short of the point of being able to predict its future waves. And Morgan Godfery calls out the right-wing attempts to diminish and criticize the successes of zero-COVID policies in New Zealand and elsewhere as more government simply abandon their constituents to the pandemic. 

- Austin Lee reports on a new study showing that a safe consumption site in Calgary resulted in savings of millions of dollars (to say nothing of the improved well-being of the people able to use it). And Zak Vescera reports that the federal government has gone so far as to invite Prairie Harm Reduction to apply for its funding directly for lack of any willingness by Scott Moe to make similar investments in health and safety in Saskatchewan.

- Drew Anderson highlights how refineries and other industrial polluters are doing untold damage to residents of Edmonton and surrounding areas. And the Canadian Press reports on the fine eventually issued to Husky for releasing harmful substances into a North Saskatchewan River tributary in 2018.

- Aryn Baker writes that the food supply crisis caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine offers a deadly preview of what's in store as climate breakdown affects agriculture around the globe. And CBS News reports that California is already facing drought conditions long before its usual dry season.

- Finally, Leah Gazan and Kim Pate make the case for a guaranteed liveable basic income in the wake of a pale imitation thereof which nonetheless managed to reduce poverty and improve welfare in the midst of a pandemic.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Musical interlude

The Paper Kites - Revelator Eyes


So far, the Saskatchewan NDP's leadership campaign has been awfully quiet. And with a membership deadline looming for anybody who wants to be able to vote in the leadership election, time is running out for anybody looking to attract support from outside the party's existing membership base.

While it remains to be seen whether she'll success, Kaitlyn Harvey has taken a couple of steps which should pique some interest: announcing the endorsement of Seth Klein as one of the country's prominent voices for climate action, and unveiling a platform based on principles of sustainability and harm prevention, as well as a far more honest assessment of the costs of maintaining the status quo. 

There's some obvious potential for those messages both in establishing Harvey's bona fides within the climate justice movement, and for the party's future path as a part of that movement. But time is running short to convert that potential into memberships and votes. 

Meanwhile, Carla Beck's campaign has demurred from releasing a detailed platform. Instead, she's offered a list of priorities with a few policy proposals, along with an explanation for not going into much more detail than that. (And there's actually another reasonable argument on that point which she doesn't address, which is the effort underway to improve the NDP's internal policy development.) 

Not surprisingly, Beck has also added to her list of endorsements - though it's hard to see those as a novel development in a race where she's had establishment support lined up behind her from day one. 

We'll find out fairly soon whether there are any surprises in the membership numbers which may affect the balance of the race. In the meantime, though, a quiet campaign looks to favour Beck as the default favourite. 

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Zak Vescera reports on the combination of high rates of hospitalization and virtually nonexistent vaccination that's resulted from Scott Moe's surrender to COVID-19. And Nicholas Larsen et al. add autonomic dysfunction to the list of post-COVID symptoms which are common even among people fortunate enough to avoid a severe case. 

- Jonathan Josephs reports that the deliberate decisions of corporate vaccine manufacturers have resulted in a more severe pandemic due to a choice not to make supplies available more equitably. And Joel Lexchin discusses how the Libs have caved to big pharma in failing to keep their promise to rein in prescription drug prices. 

- Ed Yong writes that the systemic consequences of climate change include increasing the frequency and severity of infectious diseases. Oliver Milman reports that we're approaching a cataclysmic extinction of marine life. Shirin Ali reports on a new study finding that half of the U.S.' water is too polluted to be used for swimming, fishing or drinking. 

- Anders Fremstad and Mark Paul discuss how neoliberal ideology has been used to stifle meaningful action to protect our climate and planetary environment. And Jessica Scott-Reid reports on the obstruction by the meat industry seeking to stop the development of plant-based products. 

- Umair Haque discusses how the right in the U.S. has managed not only to shatter the Overton window with shifts not just off the political spectrum but outside objective reality, but also to convince itself that the exact opposite has happened. And David Sirota warns that an ineffectual and captured Democratic administration is only reinforcing that nihilistic sentiment. 

- Finally, Alex Himelfarb offers a message of hope and solidarity for collective action in a time which demands it. 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Peter Smits et al. examine some of the risk factors which tend to produce particularly severe breakthrough cases of COVID-19. The Economist summarizes what we know so far - and still have left to learn - about long COVID. Mark Lieberman discusses the particularly high concentration of long COVID cases among educators in the U.S. And Melanie Borrelli reports on new research showing that children's mental health is primarily harmed by the spread of COVID rather than by public health measures to stop it. 

- Kelsey Langston makes the case for the Moe government to start funding harm reduction - though the next indication that it cares a whit about saving lives will be the first. And Zak Vescera reports on the Saskatchewan Party's appalling insistence that it won't bother to do anything to work on suicide prevention even after it passed legislation confirming the ongoing need for a strategy. 

- Clement Nocos offers a backgrounder on how to implement universal mental health care in Ontario (in advance of an election campaign where that's on the table thanks to the NDP). And Catherine Carstairs discusses why dental care remains outside of the universal health care system despite its obvious connection to health and welfare. 

- Meanwhile, Armine Yalnizyan, Pat Armstrong, Marjorie Griffin Cohen and Laurell Ritchie warn of the dangers of instead allowing the Ford PCs and other right-wing government to privatize needed care services. Philip Mirowski warns that the death of neoliberalism has been greatly exaggerated - as the mere fact that its promises have proven false doesn't mean there's a lack of corporate servants willing to keep pushing it. And Tom Perkins examines how corporations have been price-gouging consumers even while using their own greed as an excuse to try to impose public austerity. 

- Finally, Lori Culbert and Dan Fumano highlight how far Vancouver has to go in allowing families' needs to be met. And Leif Gregersen writes about the gross insufficiency of the resources being provided to help homeless people. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Andre Picard highlights how the response to COVID-19 has been complicated - if rendered all the more important - by the recognition that people can expect to be reinfected if exposed to it. Lena Sun, Dan Keating and Joel Achenbach discuss how the U.S. has now seen over half of its population infected, while Paul Campos writes about the jarring increases in mortality rates that have wiped out 70 years of health progress among younger adults. 

- Seth Borenstein reports on the UN's research showing that there are all the more disasters to come due to a climate on the brink of breakdown. And Colleen Slevin and Deepa Bharath report on climate activist Wynn Bruce's self-immolation - which while less eagerly reported than similar actions in the face of government repression reflects an equally justified depth of concern about the consequences of accepting the status quo. 

- Meanwhile, AUPE points out that the UCP's reaction to the increased prevalence and risk of wildfires has been to slash its firefighting budget and assume without evidence that it can count on a shorter wildfire season. 

- John Anderson offers a helpful reminder of the subsidies still being shoveled toward the fossil fuel industry which is using public money to cook our planet while systematically enriching the least scrupulous people alive. And John Paul Tasker reports on Environment Minister Jerry DeMarco's warning that the Libs' emission reduction promises are based on wishcasting, rather than realistic plans to actually cut emissions and ensure a just transition for workers. 

- Finally, Paris Marx writes that Elon Musk's Twitter takeover shows how our current platforms for conversation are little more than billionaires' playthings, while Joshua Potash reminds us of Musk's selective interest in free speech which includes arbitrary action against labour and environmental voices as well as anybody who points out even the most glaring of flaws in his own self-promotion. Max Fawcett makes the case for increased regulation of the social media sites that currently dominate the flow of information, while Edward Ongweso Jr. and Ben Burgis each argue that we should instead be setting up open and publicly-administered alternatives. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Communicative cats. 

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Lauren Pelley reports on the strain Canada's children's hospitals in particular are facing in the midst of COVID-19's sixth wave. David Axe discusses the most important risk factors in the potential emergence of new global waves, while Smitri Mallapaty offers a reminder that the coronavirus can spread and mutate in deer and other animal populations. Sun Yoo et al. study the prevalence of the development of long COVID (being about 30% of all people treated) while Antonios Koutalos et al. find that long COVID's effects include harm to the musculoskeletal system. And Gili Regev-Yochay et al. study the effectiveness of a fourth vaccine dose. 

- Kim Siever highlights how Canadian grocery stores have raked in windfall profits during the course of the pandemic while pointing the finger elsewhere for the higher prices they're charging to people trying to buy the necessities of life.  

- Meanwhile, Geraint Harvey points out that businesses are predictably responding to the slightest upward wage pressure with a round of automation to eliminate jobs which might otherwise have to pay a living wage. And Paul Christopher Gray and Jordan House compare the successful Amazon organizing drive in Staten Island to previous attempts in Alberta and elsewhere. 

- Finally, Umair Haque holds out the prospect that the future will eventually get better - but only well into the future, and based on the hope that younger generations will prove far more successful than the ones now in power at defining and working toward the common good. 

Monday, April 25, 2022

On set identities

While there's been some attention paid to Environics' polling on provincial identity politics, little of it seems to have noted just how little public interest there is in a highly concerted effort to build up a Saskatchewan sovereigntist movement. 

After all, Scott Moe's Saskatchewan Party has gone far out of its way (backed of course by big Alberta oil money) to spend time demanding more power as a "nation within a nation", rather than using the authority it has to keep Saskatchewan's people safe and healthy. And much of its excuse for doing so is the presence of other theoretical competitors for the anti-Canadian title - from the Buffalo Party which parlayed the province's largest out-of-province donation into a few distant second-place finishes, to whatever is currently bubbling up in the fever swamps of anti-vaxxers.

Yet for all the money, power and fanaticism behind those efforts, Environics' polling shows only 24% wanting more to be done to build a provincial identity separate from Canada...compared to 20% taking the position that we should change course to stop wasting our time. (And of course the largest single share is of those who choose the middle, "same" option rather than wanting to increase the resources being put into stoking separatism for amusement and profit.)

Of course, it's far from clear that Moe or any of his fellow travelers have the slightest clue what a Saskatchewan identity would look like other than to be a fully-owned subsidiary of the Alberta conservative movement. But we should be both reassured by the fact that our fellow citizens aren't taking the bait no matter how much of a noise machine is dedicated to pitching it - and outraged that our government is so bent on a cause which is so obviously out of touch with what's important to the province's actual people. 

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Stephanie Desmon interviews Ziyad Al-Aly about the danger COVID-19 poses for the heart - even for people with mild cases which have otherwise seemingly run their course. Megan Ogilvie, May Warren and Kenyon Wallace report on new research showing the avoidable risk that unvaccinated people create for people who have had their . And Justin Chandler talks to three Ontario medical officers of health about the need for masks - with all recognizing the continued importance of wearing masks even if their political circumstances have made orders difficult to pursue. 

- In the context of Elon Musk's imminent takeover of Twitter in the name of "free speech", Robert Reich warns that any talk of freedom by billionaires (or their media mouthpieces) inevitably means they're looking for a way to exert even more control through their wealth. And Alex Pareene writes that the alt-right is dedicated to trying to undermine the very idea of journalism in the sense of discovering and reporting truth - particularly as that tends to prove inconvenient for the movement's funders looking to protect wealth gathered through exploitative means. 

- Meanwhile, David Moscrop writes that progressives can't afford to cede the notion of populism to the fascists using it to posture as defenders of the working class.  

- Andrew Jackson discusses the damage done by decades of neoliberalism while reviewing Gary Gerstle's The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order

- Finally, Jen St. Denis rightly asks why we aren't building affordable homes when that would require nothing more than following the precedent set in the 1970s. And Chris Ballard questions why the Ford PCs are going out of their way to make Ontario homes less energy-efficient. 

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Adam Miller discusses new research showing nearly half of Canadians have already caught COVID-19 at least once, while Charlie Smith offers a list of proclamations which also serve as reasons why we shouldn't allowing it to spread further. But Michael Lee reports on Peter Juni's warning that yet another new wave this fall is nearly inevitable in Ontario. Will Stone and Maria Godoy highlight why it's still wise to mask on public transport even when it's no longer required, while Jamie Ducharme writes that one-way masking is still far better than nothing (even if it falls well short of evidence-based public health protections). And Beeke Tappe et al. find that yet another side effect of COVID is its making the body more vulnerable to pathogenic molds.

- Harriet Mercer discusses the importance of the IPCC's acknowledgment that colonialism is linked to the climate crisis. And Mark Omara et al. examine how a small number of low production oil and gas wells are producing a massive proportion of the U.S.' fugitive methane emissions. 

- Jacques Gallant queries why the federal Libs are dragging their feet on decriminalizing drug use in order to rein in the devastating crisis of drug poisonings. And Zak Vescera reports on the medical students and other community members fighting for safe consumption sites in Saskatchewan - even as the Moe government makes clear it has no interest in saving lives.

- Finally, Umair Haque rightly coins the term "greedflation" to describe how corporations are exacerbating inflation in order to profiteer at the expense of people who can't afford their price increases. And Arwa Mahdawi discusses how the wealthiest few aren't just richer than they used to be, but also far more self-absorbed in how they accumulate and use their obscene fortunes.