Saturday, October 22, 2022

Saturday Evening Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Bob Becken discusses the use of "no smell" complaints about scented candles as a sad substitute for meaningful public reporting of ongoing COVID cases. And Aastha Shetty reports on a pilot project which is just beginning to measure air quality in a few Waterloo schools two and a half years into the COVID-19 pandemic. 

- Jim Stanford writes that Loblaws' price freeze stunt has served only to show that grocery magnates have the ability to avoid price increases when they want to - but have instead been choosing to profiteer in the course of a pandemic. Arthur Delaney discusses how the U.S. Federal Reserve is choosing to suppress wages after doing nothing to stop the portion of price hikes that could be siphoned off in pure profit. And Colette Murphy writes about the price everybody ultimately pays when we allow inequality to get out of control - as well as the readily-available measures we could be using to rein it in. 

- Mohamed Bsat notes that while there's a need to build more housing, there's also plenty that can be done to protect renters who need a home within the housing stock that already exists. 

- Finally, Bill Fortier reports on newly-released court documents showing the real steps toward violent conflict taken by the #FluTruxKlan agitators at Coutts, AB. And Jonathan Montpetit and Lori Ward investigate the influx of anti-trans candidates seeking to take over school boards to facilitate discrimination against LGBTQ children. 

Friday, October 21, 2022

Musical interlude

Tove Lo - How Long

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Marc Fortier reports on the spread of the XBB COVID-19 variant which looks to be causing widespread reinfections where it's been able to get a foothold. And Josh Pringle reports on the plea from Ottawa Public Health for people to resume masking indoors (to the extent they'd stopped in the meantime). 

- Andrew Jackson discusses why Liz Truss' laughably short and chaotic tenure as the UK's prime minister would represent decisive evidence against conservative economics - at least if the philosophy of further enriching the wealthiest people and corporations was ever subject to scrutiny by politicians and media outlets which are themselves dedicated to their service. 

- Timothy Gardner reports on a new World Resources Institute study showing that the climate promises and policies made so far fall short of being sufficient to avert a catastrophic breakdown.

- Mirzokhidjon Abdurakhmonov et al. study how U.S. Senators' stock purchases lead to inflated share values - particularly where they're responsible for overseeing the industry. And Stephanie Taylor reports on the OPP's recognition (revealed through the #FluTruxKlan Emergencies Act inquiry) that Pierre Poilievre and the Cons exacerbated the siege of Ottawa by legitimizing the occupying forces. 

- Finally, Libby Giesbrecht reports on the plight of homeless people in Saskatchewan facing a severe shortage of shelter beds - even as multiple levels of government focus more on breaking up any forms of mutual aid which could possibly offer at least a partial alternative.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Thursday Evening Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Claire Sibonney talks to Colin Furness about the cell dysregulation which looks to produce many of the most dangerous effects of long COVID. Sabrina Moreno discusses the connection between COVID-19 and a rising number of maternal deaths. And Betsy Ladyzhets offers suggestions for people looking for the most useful information still available about the risks around them, while Phil Tank rightly calls out Scott Moe and the Sask Party for keeping Saskatchewan's people in the dark (and thereby facilitating another COVID wave). 

- Meanwhile, Creeden Martell reports on CanAge's research showing the Moe government also lacks any plan to either limit avoidable cases of dementia, or address its consequences for care providers. And Steven Lewis points out that the growing cost and duration of health care education creates a barrier to filling the large (and growing) number of vacancies in the health care system. 

- Lindsay Ellis reports on the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy's long-overdue recognition that toxic workplaces represent a needless danger to physical and mental health. 

- Finally, Kat Exner reports on a study from the Daily Bread Food Bank showing that most food bank users face deep poverty alongside their lack of food security and other risk factors. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Wednesday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Andre Picard discusses how Canada is unprepared (by choice) for the effects of long COVID, while Jennifer Lee reports on warnings from Alberta doctors that people need to take the dangers far more seriously than their political leaders are bothering to do. Matthew Braunginn writes that the ripple effects of long COVID have broad economic and social implications. And Tanya Lewis notes that the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and the drug poisoning crisis has set the U.S. back by decades in terms of individual life expectancy. 

- The Canadian Labour Congress has released a report from Jim Stanford on the need to stop a pattern of interest rate increases which is doing far more to harm workers than to avoid inflation. And Hadas Their discusses Jamaal Bowman's work to address inflation through price controls which target the corporates which have used it as an excuse to extract record profits. 

- Meanwhile, Umair Haque warns that the precarious state of personal finances creates a substantial risk of systemic failure. 

- Tom Randall discusses the clean energy adoption curves which see widespread shifts toward renewable power, electric vehicles and battery storage on a scale which is likely to lead to a permanent transition.

- Finally, Justin Ling exposes a few more of Danielle Smith's more alarming public pronouncements and thought patterns - even as UCP MLAs, including the leadership contestants who previously identified at least some concerns, line up meekly behind her. 

On democratic decisions

Today looks to be a watershed moment for the future of the B.C. NDP, as its provincial council determines whether to follow a recommendation to disqualify Anjali Appadurai from its leadership race - and in the process effective disenfranchise the entire membership in favour of a coronation. 

But it's worth noting that the issue isn't an entirely new one. And the recommendation in the B.C. campaign seems to be applying drastically different standards and results than what Saskatchewan experienced in relatively recent memory. 

By way of background, in the 2009 Saskatchewan NDP leadership campaign, a volunteer on behalf of Dwain Lingenfelter's campaign submitted and paid for 1100 membership applications in the names of members of two Saskatchewan First Nations without their knowledge or consent. (The volunteer would end up pleading guilty to the criminal charge of attempting to utter forged documents.) 

Lingenfelter's campaign manager had approved of payment for the memberships - without knowing they were being submitted without the putative members' knowledge, but also without following up to determine whether there was any financial need to justify the mass payment of membership fees. And when the mass signups without consent were discovered, both the campaign and the party had to determine how to respond. 

For Lingenfelter's part, he treated the matter as being one of an "overexuberant volunteer", while not imposing public consequences on the campaign manager or anybody else. 

The Saskatchewan NDP's response was to cancel the memberships that had been falsely submitted, and to commission an investigative report into how the problem arose and how to prevent it from happening again. And while there were some calls for Lingenfelter to withdraw from the race voluntarily, I don't recall any serious possibility that he would be disqualified, either for the initial violation or for his reaction. (Indeed, my view at the time was that it was best for him to remain in the race and let members decide how his handling of the issue weighed in evaluating his suitability as a leader.) 

Comparing that situation to the one now facing the B.C. NDP, there looks to be little reason why a more severe penalty would result in Appadurai's case. Any issue about the validity of new memberships would result solely from potential regulatory non-compliance in reaching people who wanted to become members, not outright forgery to bring people in unwittingly. The investigation was able to contact questioned members at a level of detail which allowed for the flagging of specific memberships based on existing membership in another party (if one presumes that should itself result in cancellation). And there isn't an obvious difference in Appadurai's response as compared to Lingenfelter's: both acknowledged some wrongdoing, while minimizing how it would be characterized and declining to punish members of their own campaign for less-than-perfect oversight. 

That leaves a strong perception that the difference in treatment arises largely from the question of deviation from expectations. Lingenfelter was the heavy favourite entering the campaign, meaning that his disqualification might have been seen as producing an unexpected result. And conversely, Appadurai's campaign is under particular scrutiny due to the perception that she might well have signed up enough members to change the previously-anticipated outcome. 

Hopefully it goes without saying that campaign rules shouldn't be made and applied with the goal of channeling the results toward predetermined outcomes. And if the B.C. NDP decides it would rather deny members any vote than find a mechanism to cancel only questionable memberships, that figures to have far-reaching effects within the party and beyond as to whether people see democratic change as a meaningful possibility. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Casual cats.

Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Mike Crawley reports on new research showing both the growing number of Canadians suffering from long COVID, and its tendency to result in greater strain on our health care system. And Crawford Kilian writes about the dangers of voting against public health - particularly in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. 

- Ricardo Tranjan discusses the connection between predatory lending and housing insecurity, as people forced into short-term, high-interest loans are increasingly unable to find homes in the fact of soaring rental costs. And Heather Vogell exposes the secretive rent algorithm which is being used to extract every possible dollar from tenants. 

- Dan Cameron examines some of the options available to enhance the voices of workers in shaping their own workplaces. 

- David Climenhaga offers a reminder that the Flu Trux Klan's support was never widespread - even in Alberta where its warped worldview is now reflected by the newly-installed premier. And Charles Breton, Olivier Jacques and Andrew Parking examine the differing levels of resentment between Canadian provinces - with Saskatchewan ranking atop the set of petroprovinces as the most resentful of both Canada as a whole and its other regions. 

- Finally, Mitchell Thompson investigates some of the systematic efforts by racist and anti-LGBTQ forces to take over Canadians school boards to indoctrinate students with their own hate. 

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Melissa Lopez-Martinez reports on the belated effort to get Canadians to resume taking precautions against the spread of COVID-19. And the Guardian is telling the stories of people living with long COVID - and what they've lost to a pandemic whose damage could largely have been averted by remotely responsible public policy.

- Jared Wesley offers an important look at Danielle Smith's populist playbook which seeks to simultaneously portray privileged people as victims and as an unstoppable force whose will must be given effect. Brett Dolter and Russell Wangersky both point out how Scott Moe reflexively deceives the public about empirical reality to serve the continued inflation of his own ego. And Mary Elizabeth Williams discusses the connection between conservative politics and lower levels of empathy - though perhaps the most important point to be drawn from recent empathy research is how the right is winning the war to eliminate it in people of all political persuasions.

- Chandler Dandridge interviews Gabor Mate and Daniel Mate about how a capitalist society is harming everybody's mental health and well-being. Kim Siever points out how corporate profits have consistently outpaced any gains in wages for Canadian workers. And Katie Underwood interviews Lana Payne about her efforts to ensure members of the working class are valued by governments and employers alike.

- Finally, Brett Marsh comments on how the effects of a climate breakdown will fall disproportionately on the people least able to bear them. And Andrew Nikiforuk discusses the mounting cost - and lack of benefit - being inflicted on the Canadian public due to the Libs' decision to build the Trans Mountain pipeline at public expense.