July 19, 2021

Public Policy Magazine (Max Bell Institute – Canada)   Amr Soliman
Budgeting for well-being

This is a critique first published on June 21, 2021 in response to the April federal budget.  But is raises a point that begs an answer for basic income issues and for any effort to confront income inequality.  Our progress in the care of Canadians has been traditionally measured by the Gross Domestic Product or the GDP.  If Canada were to focus on improving measures of happiness beyond income, the usual measure of the GDP would not measure goals around a quality life.  “As we shift from targeting GDP growth to focusing on wellbeing, there is a need for better indicators to inform policy decisions and measure progress. This should be achieved by firstly ensuring that Canadians participate in a public debate on what wellbeing means to them. For example, health is certainly one of the main dimensions of wellbeing. Canadians need to agree on what indicators – i.e. life expectancy, child mortality rate, smoking and obesity prevalence, waiting time in hospitals, drug prices, etc. – should be used to measure progress in terms of health.”  We then need to measure the indicators and make the results public every so often.  https://policymagazine.ca/budgeting-for-wellbeing-beyond-gdp/   Related article: Science Alert.com  A Paralyzed Man’s Brain Waves Converted to Speech in a World-First Breakthrough https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-have-converted-a-paralyzed-man-s-brain-waves-to-speech  

Indigenous Leadership Institute – Bev Sellars
A Love Story…

“When you love someone or something, you do everything you can to protect them. You fight for them. You nurture them. You interact with them. Love is a set of emotions and behaviours characterized by intimacy, passion, and commitment. It involves care, closeness, protectiveness, attraction, affection, and trust. All of this the Indigenous people felt for their lands, waters and everything in them…Our love was also unquestionable for our children and grandchildren. It is common in many Indigenous communities to think seven generations ahead to provide and protect the lands and waters for them… Unfortunately, our territories now resemble European countries in 1492 with overharvesting and poisoning of the waters. We need to get out of this abusive relationship and each one of us has a responsibility to do so. Our waters and lands need a divorce from the abusers. Thankfully, there are a growing number of non-Indigenous who now know the true love of the land and are joining the fight for everyone’s survival… We will continue to fight for all our grandchildren, even the grandchildren of those who are polluting. All children, born and unborn, have a right to a healthy environment.” https://www.ilinationhood.ca/blog/alovestory  Related article: Canadian Press – Manitoba government is ‘rewriting history,’ former senior bureaucrat says  Manitoba government is ‘rewriting history,’ former senior bureaucrat says (msn.com)

Lawyer’s Daily – Amanda Jerome
MHCC releases recommendations to support inmates during pandemic

This link is important not only for its factual content but also for an indication of how the prison system responds to a health crisis.  The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) has just release the results of its study on how well the prison system coped with the Covid-19 virus and what the prisons and (CSC) should do to better cope.  The report speaks to both prisoners and those recently released and includes consideration of the addiction problem in prisons.  ““In Canada, between 65 and 70 per cent of people who are incarcerated are living with problematic substance use. Furthermore, 73 per cent of federally incarcerated men and 79 per cent of federally incarcerated women live with one or more current mental health problems or illnesses,” the release added.”  This report promises follow-up as well in the areas of mental health and addictions with a view to the need for emergency hospital treatment from inadequate release and re-entry.  https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/criminal/articles/28312/mhcc-releases-recommendations-to-support-inmates-during-pandemic?nl_pk=40ed8ea4-637a-4d76-870f-04f0eeae7de8&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=criminal  MHCC Press release and links to full report: https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/new-mental-health-commission-of-canada-resources-seek-to-improve-mental-health-and-substance-use-outcomes-of-justice-involved-persons-815491226.html

Rabble.ca – Matthew Behrens
Enduring Canada’s surveillance regime

Here is a link to the silliest legal story ever spoken.  Beherns, a refugee advocate, presents the case of Mohamed (Moe) Harkat.  First Harkat spent three years in custody without charges or any kind, then he was released into house arrest.  Since then, the most outrageous procedure in legal history has evolved:  “The dystopian dance works like this: three times a day, Moe walks out of the cottage and up a hill. Parked at the top of the hill is a car with dark-tinted windows, and inside are two fully-kitted CBSA officers (bullet proof vests, weapons at the ready) who sit there all day to confirm he is at the cottage. He waves at them and they wave back. Moe heads into town to search for a pay phone — never easy to find in an age dominated by the cell phone — because he has to “report in” from a landline. Once at that pay phone, he calls the guys in the surveillance car he waved to a few minutes earlier, to confirm he is at the cottage. They thank him, he hangs up the phone, drives back to the cottage, waves at the men in the surveillance vehicle he just called to confirm he is at the cottage, and tries to relax from this maddening bit of spirit-breaking repression. He has to do this two additional times that day. It’s a cruel exercise straight out of the legendary film Cool Hand Luke, where such repetitive, degrading punishments are meant to make someone’s “mind right.”  https://rabble.ca/columnists/2021/07/enduring-canadas-surveillance-regime

Hartford Courant (US) – Isabelle Chan
Campaign seeking clemency for incarcerated women comes to Capitol

Tiheba Bain, founder and executive director of Women against Incarceration, knows about both going home and leaving family imprisoned behind.  Bain spent 23 years in York Correctional Facility in Connecticut and remembers the fear and the dread of re-entry.  The point at issue is when is ‘enough’?  What do long sentences in inhumane places do for the women or for the rest of us?  https://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-news-incarcerated-women-tour-20210715-36qk2djbpvdapmjzk3cxlqo4ei-story.html   Related article: The Charlotte Post – Ashley Mahoney   Turning trauma behind bars into advocacy for formerly incarcerated: Rock bottom to champion for transformation    https://www.thecharlottepost.com/news/2021/07/15/local-state/turning-trauma-behind-bars-into-advocacy-for-formerly-incarcerated/  Related article: Washington Post – Gwen Levi  Opinion: I was sent back to jail for going to a computer class. It’s time to act on home confinement. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/15/gwen-levi-home-confinement-prison-biden/?utm_campaign=wp_opinions_pm&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_popns&carta-url=https%3A%2F%2Fs2.washingtonpost.com%2Fcar-ln-tr%2F3427667%2F60f08ccb9d2fda945a058125%2F597720279bbc0f6826c0ca16%2F13%2F53%2F60f08ccb9d2fda945a058125  

The Marshall Project (US) – Beth Schwartzapfel
Inside The Nation’s Overdose Crisis in Prisons and Jails – Behind bars, drug use is rampant and uniquely deadly, new data shows.

Can you believe The Justice Bureau stats indicate that prison deaths from drug overdose and alcoholism is up 611% from 2001-2018?  The most recent years 2019-20 also show considerable increase but are not included in these stats; nation-wide the deaths are up 30% for 2019, making advocates think there is a further increase in the prison deaths.  Incarcerating people with drug addiction but without treatment programs, bad and impure contents in the illicit drugs, and poor medical response all have a share in the problem.   https://www.themarshallproject.org/2021/07/15/inside-the-nation-s-overdose-crisis-in-prisons-and-jails?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm_source=opening-statement&utm_term=newsletter-20210715-2545   Related article: WFAE 90.7 (Charlotte, NC – National Public Radio) – Catherine Welch  South Carolina Prepares To Bring Firing Squads To Death Row  https://www.wfae.org/south-carolina-news/2021-07-14/south-carolina-prepares-to-bring-firing-squads-to-death-row  Related article: The Nashville Tennessean – Mariah Timms   Tennessee death row inmate found dead days after state requests execution date  https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/crime/2021/07/16/tennessee-death-row-inmate-stephen-hugueley-found-dead/7990283002/  

Marshall Project (US) –
Will The Reckoning Over Racist Names Include These Prisons? Many prisons, especially in the South, are named after racist officials and former plantations.

The prison system is the only place still enjoying free or cheap labour under the 13th Amendment, not surprisingly on lands once owned as plantations using slave labour for cotton and sugarcane.  The link offers a review of the places where prisons are still named for slave owners and are continuing the exercise of cheap labour from prisoners.  The prisons with cruel histories and named for slave owners are found in Arkansas, North Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas.   https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/07/29/will-the-reckoning-over-racist-names-include-these-prisons   Related article: N.Y. Times – Rachel E. Barkow and Mark Osler  We Know How to Fix the Clemency Process. So Why Don’t We?  https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/13/opinion/biden-clemency-justice-dept.html   Related article: Prison-off.org (Brazil) Brazil prisoners reading books to shorten their sentences  https://prison-off.com/brazil-prisoners-reading-books-to-shorten-their-sentences/?lang=en

Massachusetts Institute of Technology – MIT News – Anne Trafton
Storing medical information below the skin’s surface – Specialized dye, delivered along with a vaccine, could enable “on-patient” storage of vaccination history.

Many wonder why the reluctance to get vaccinated for the Covid-19 virus.  Here is a complicating factor: science can now keep track of medical records by inserting at the same time as a vaccine an entire vaccination record using dyes – “which consists of nanocrystals called quantum dots, can remain for at least five years under the skin, where it emits near-infrared light that can be detected by a specially equipped smartphone.”  While such electronic detection may be helpful replacement for paper tracking, especially among children, many will surely wonder what else comes with the technology.  https://news.mit.edu/2019/storing-vaccine-history-skin-1218

Provincetown Independent (MA – US) – Sophie Hill
Sheriff Cummings’s Contract with ICE Is Renewed Again – Data show the program affects Jamaican men disproportionately

When Trump was president, there was considerable controversy, largely in the context of police reform, about the use of municipal and state police officers as a part of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  The notion was that police would not arrest or release anyone from custody without first verifying if there was a warrant on the persons immigration related.  They were then contracted by designating a certain number as immigration officers.  Trump then introduced a change that the contract would be ‘evergreen,’ not expiring until deliberately cancelled by either ICE, Homeland Security or the local police department.  Local police have always argued that playing the role of immigration police compromises their ability to effectively community police and many refused.  This is another one of those changes that Biden could implement easily but it remains in limbo.  https://provincetownindependent.org/sheriff-cummingss-contract-with-ice-is-renewed-again/