News

1. Cops are more important than your sick grandmother

Zach Churchill. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

The saddest Nova Scotia COVID news is that a woman in her 80s has died from the disease. It’s a terrible loss for her family and loved ones. I suspect that she was one of the three new cases reported Wednesday, and was a close contact of a previously announced case; hopefully her death came quickly and without too much suffering. She is the 66th person to die from the disease in Nova Scotia, and the first since August.

The most infuriating Nova Scotia COVID news from yesterday is that against Public Health’s publicly stated policies, and against Dr. Strang’s assurance that they wouldn’t be, police officers were quietly moved up the vaccination queue, in front of people with underlying health conditions, teachers, frontline hospitality industry workers, and EMTs and many other health care workers.

As I reported yesterday:

On March 8, Zane Woodford reported that Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella and Halifax-district RCMP Chief Superintendent Janis Gray had met with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang to ask him to prioritize frontline police offices in the vaccination sequencing.

At the COVID briefing the next day, March 9, I asked Strang about this, and he explicitly said police officers would not be moved up the vaccination queue. “If you look across the country, we are not seeing frontline police officers being a group that jumps out as having excessive amounts of COVID cases,” explained Strang.

Strang has been consistent on this: besides health care workers who may deal directly with COVID patients, Nova Scotians will be vaccinated by age cohort, because the highest risk factor for death or serious illness from the disease is age. Moreover, Strang has said repeatedly, carving out exceptions based on profession or even underlying health issues would slow down the entire vaccination pipeline such that it would delay the province reaching herd immunity. The best approach, said Strang, was to quickly vaccinate as many people as possible, and the best way to do that is by age cohort.

So it came as a surprise to me when over the weekend, it was brought to my attention that the province had quietly moved frontline police officers to Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout plan, before the mass vaccination of Phase three, effectively moving them up the vaccination queue.

The issue was underscored today when Health Minister Zach Churchill rejected repeated requests that people with underlying health issues be moved up the vaccination queue, but then quickly defended doing exactly that for frontline police officers.

I went on to quote from an exchange yesterday between Churchill, Canadian Press reporter Keith Doucette, and myself, in which Churchill blamed it all on Strang:

Churchill: The police officers made a case. And it was, as I understand it, again, I wasn’t in those meetings, but it was around the points of contact that they had where there’s no control over social distancing with members of the public. There’s, you know, volatility in terms of who they’re interacting with, so they made a case for front line police officers who are working on the streets and interacting with the public. And in that case, was compelling for Public Health. But because we, you know, we don’t want there to be someone that contracts that and then inadvertently through their work.

Bousquet: That’s a reversal of what Dr. Strang said. Why wasn’t there an announcement made or a release made related to it?

Churchill: I mean, I believe we’ve we’ve discussed that. But maybe that’s a question better asked Dr. Strang on that one.

Click here to read the entire exchange, and for yesterday’s new case numbers.

Strang and Premier Iain Rankin have scheduled a COVID briefing for 1pm today. I’ll be live-blogging it via my Twitter account.

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2. Supposed environmentalist premier parrots “natural gas is a transition fuel” bullshit

Premier Iain Rankin at the COVID briefing, March 9, 2021. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

Yesterday, I asked Premier Iain Rankin whether he supports the Goldboro LNG plant proposal. Here’s our exchange:

Bousquet: Pieridae Energy asking the federal government for over nine hundred million dollars in assistance. I realize the province doesn’t have a say in that, but are you supportive of that Goldboro project? And if so, what do you say about how it will affect the province’s greenhouse gas emission targets?

Rankin: I am supportive. I think that it’s important that we look at economic development in the province. I’m encouraged to see an agreement with the Mi’kmaq. They benefit from employment and it does help the international community get off coal. I’ve said that was my priority as well in this province. So to help Germany and others with natural gas as we transition, there would be an uptake of carbon here in the province. But internationally, it makes sense environmentally and it makes sense economically for our province.

Bousquet: You just referred to natural gas as a transition fuel. Environmentalists would very much disagree with you. They say that’s dated language to begin with, more corporate PR than than reflecting reality, especially given the lowering costs of renewables. Might you revisit that opinion?

Rankin: Well, I think that’s debatable. I’m focusing on renewables where possible. So wind, solar. You’re going to see a lot more on our grid. But the reality is coal is the most carbon intensive fuel to be burned. It has more particulate matter, mercury and so on down the line. That’s why Canada has been working to to get off coal. That’s why I want to get off coal 10 years earlier. So this facilitates the world getting off coal. And I think it’s a very important environmental initiative to be part of and impacts our economy here and allows us to bring in more revenue to spend on fighting climate change, transitioning to electrifying our transportation system, bringing our buildings to net zero. So I acknowledge there’s differences of opinion and natural gas is something that is cleaner than coal.

Well, there you go. I don’t have time to get into it this morning (I must leave at 10am), but I’ll return to this Monday.

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3. Child care

Christine Saulnier, Nova Scotia director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA-NS). Photo: Trevor Beckerson, Foundary Photography

“The authors of a national report released today highlighting COVID-19’s impact on Canada’s child care sector are sounding the alarm about the need for sustained, substantial operational funding to transform child care ‘before it’s too late,’” reports Yvette d’Entremont:

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives study, titled ‘Sounding the Alarm: COVID-19’s impact on Canada’s precarious child care sector,’ found “dramatic” drops in enrollment at full-time licensed centres across the country while revenue-generating parent fees remain “unaffordably high.”

The report’s authors also found that child care centres in Canadian cities offering lower fees due to provincial funding — notably Quebec’s set fee system — are “holding their own” during the pandemic.

In many cities outside P.E.I, Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, and Quebec, child care services are forced to rely on parent fees. As parents continue to struggle with the economic impacts of COVID-19, many can no longer afford child care.

Click here to read “Report: child care centres are seeing a ‘dramatic’ decline in enrolment due to COVID.”

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4. Mass murder search warrants

The Halifax Examiner has been part of media consortium that has been pursuing a lengthy and costly court battle to get the search warrants related to the mass murder investigation unsealed.

This week, we got to the end of the first seven (of I think 26) warrants, and that’s laid the court process for the rest of them, so hopefully we’ll soon start getting a lot more — I expect to receive the next six in coming weeks.

But those first seven were only revealed in dribs and drabs as the lawyers wrangled over processes and law, briefs flew this way and that, the judge made preliminary rulings, and the legal bills piled up.

As I say, this week’s ruling set the process for the rest of the warrants, but it revealed just two bits of new information from the first seven: the name of the anthropologist hired to look for human remains on the killer’s property (it was Dr. Kathy Gruspier, a prof at U of T) and the password for the lock on the killer’s garage in Portapique.

I was particularly angered by the password issue. That’s because early on, in July, the Crown had submitted to the court a giant spreadsheet identifying each paragraph in each search warrant document (technically, Informations to Obtain, or ITOs), and an explanation for each redaction. According to the spreadsheet, the paragraphs containing the password were to be redacted “temporarily,” until the police investigation was complete.

But, in this week’s ruling, Judge Laurie Halfpenny MacQuarrie noted that “the Crown sought permanent redaction” of the paragraph. No explanation was given for what had changed between July and March, and so far as I’m aware (maybe I missed it in the tsunami of court briefs), no legal argument was put forward to justify a permanent redaction.

In any event, the judge overruled the Crown on this tiny, tiny item, so we now know the password was… [drumroll] … GOLD.

Why on Earth this had to be kept secret is beyond me. The garage is burned down. The lock is destroyed and will never be used for anything else. The killer is dead. But the Crown made an argument that the password should be kept from the prying eyes of the public, and the judge had to, as they say in the courts, “turn her mind” to the issue and make a ruling.

This would all be ridiculous and not worth comment, except that all these procedures are costing an awful lot of money. I can’t determine exactly how much of the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on this court battle relate exactly to the password issue, but it wasn’t nothing. And, as another reporter commented to me recently, most of the players in these legal proceedings — the judge, the court assistants, the Crown, the RCMP, even the CBC [which is part of the media coalition] — are going through these absurd legal maneuverings at public expense. Unlike, say, me, none of them have to weigh spending money on writing a brief about a password on a broken lock to a burned out building owned by a dead man against, for instance, hiring a freelancer to investigate the environmental issues related to a gold mine proposal. It’s just public money, who gives a shit?, right?

Anyway, should you ever stumble upon some other overlooked property that was owned by the killer and it has a lock on, try using the password GOLD and maybe you can steal the killer’s stuff.

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5. Spaceport

They made a pretty picture of a rocket in space, so everyone in Nova Scotia thought it must be real.

“The company planing to build Canada’s first spaceport in northeastern Nova Scotia has been granted an 18-month extension to begin construction,” reports the Canadian Press:

Nova Scotia’s Environment Department confirmed Wednesday it had granted the extension request by Maritime Launch Services on Monday.

“Maritime Launch Services is expected to satisfy all conditions of the environmental assessment approval that are required to be completed in advance of project commencement by Dec. 3, 2022, at the latest,” the department said in an email.

Nova Scotia’s government originally set a deadline of this June when it granted conditional environmental approval for the project in 2019.

Evidently, even though the financial world is awash with trillions of dollars of loose cash and people are dropping money into all sorts of bizarre schemes — imaginary money, imaginary driverless cars, imaginary retail gaming opportunities, imaginary art — there doesn’t seem to be the appetite to invest in an imaginary spaceport that relies on a hybrid rocket produced by “a dubious, nearly-bankrupt Ukrainian company using Cold-war technology” whose factory could at any moment be overrun by the Russian army.

Maritime Launch Services should link to this item on WallStreetBets so the day traders can prove me wrong. That’s probably a better investment strategy than going hat-in-hand to Richard Branson.

And to think people in Canso spent good money remodelling their houses in anticipation of renting out rooms to tourists from Jupiter.

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6. John Risley owns the Canadarm

Canadarm2 after its installation on the International Space Station by CSA Astronaut Chris Hadfield and the STS-100/6A crew. Photo: Canadian Space Agency

Speaking of space investments, how did I miss that John Risley bought the Canadarm?

Reports the Globe & Mail:

MDA Inc., maker of the iconic Canadarm, plans to file for an initial public offering in coming days as its private equity owners tap investor interest in space-based technology plays.

Two Canadian banks lent Northern Private Capital the money it needed to buy MDA for $1-billion in December, 2019, from Colorado-based Maxar Technologies Inc. On Wednesday, MDA and its backers declined to comment on their plans.

Northern is owned by Nova Scotia-based billionaire John Risley and chief executive Andrew Lapham, formerly at Onex Corp. and Blackstone. MDA’s investors also include former BlackBerry Ltd. chairman and co-CEO Jim Balsillie, Senvest Capital and the Fonds de solidarité FTQ. When Northern acquired the company, Mr. Lapham said MDA “is highly likely to be a public company again. I don’t know the exact timeline, but it’s not [as long as] 10 years.”

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Views

1. The Eastern Shore

St. Mary’s River in the 1970s. Photo: Stephen Archibald
St. Mary’s River in the 1970s. Photo: Stephen Archibald

“In 1972 I got a job at the Nova Scotia Museum,” writes Stephen Archibald:

My first assignment was a year in Guysborough County working on the Sherbrooke Village restoration project. The previous year had been experience rich, going to museum school in England, and my time in Sherbrooke was equally special, but different.

Archibald digs through his photos from the period to compile “Old Album, Number Seven.” His pics of Sherbrooke are interesting, and it’s really cool that a then-young man was employed to learn about the history of various crafts and about restoration, but I was especially pulled away by Archibald’s landscape photos.

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Government

No meetings


On campus

Dalhousie

AIDS Quarantine in BC: Metaphor or Reality? (Friday, 12:10pm) — Eli Manning will give this Health Law Institute seminar via Zoom.

Mary Bibb Cary: Nineteenth-Century Transnational Teacher, Abolitionist, Publisher, Artist (Friday, 3:30pm) — Afua Cooper will talk. Email here to get the link.

King’s

Counter Memory Activism Speaker Series (Friday, 7pm) — online discussion with visual artist, editor, community activist, youth advocate, and educator Syrus Marcus Ware.


In the harbour

06:00: ZIM Constanza, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
14:45: CSL Tacoma, bulker, arrives at Gold Bond from Wilmington, Deleware
15:30: Atlantic Star, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
16:00: Taipei Trader, container ship, arrives at Piere 42 from New York
16:30: ZIM Constanza sails for New York
18:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Saint-Pierre


Footnotes

People do the internet differently. No matter how I compile Morning File, somebody complains about it. A lot of people don’t like the format. People complain that the headline doesn’t match the first item, or they complain that there’s too much in Morning File, or that there’s no index, or that… well, there’s always something to complain about. I put the link tags in hoping that would help people, but hardly anyone understands them (they link directly to the URL so you can share any particular item without saying “scroll down to number 8”), so that just sows more confusion.

I started Morning File with the idea that it would be a combination news aggregator and vehicle for my own whimsy, and the other writers have used it that way as well. We write longer, stand-alone articles for more substantive new pieces, but I can’t imagine having a stand-alone article just to make a joke about GameStop or whatever. And if we have 14 tiny bits on the homepage, nobody would read them anyway.

So I’m inclined to keep with Morning File, but I get so many complaints about it that it often discourages me. Maybe I should chuck the whole thing and sleep in, I sometimes think, but then I come up with a joke about a Serbian swimmer’s name, and I jump right back in.

Please subscribe, or drop us a donation. Thanks!

Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. Checked all the Central Zone places to get Astra Zeneca today and all read ‘no appointments available.

  2. I’m so disappointed that police have jumped the queue for vaccination with the sole argument seeming to be that a small handful of provincial officers MIGHT find themselves in a precarious non-socially-distanced position.
    Thousands of front-line workers and professionals who are surrounded by large groups of people on the daily being pushed aside for this. It’s extremely aggregating to learn this, especially in a time when the momentum behind DEFUNDING THE POLICE is gaining speed, meaning less officers should find themselves in the aforementioned precarious positions.

    I’d like to know how many times per day each officer finds themselves in direct unprotected physical contact with a member of the public that is over and above that of a health-care worker or teacher.

    To serve a protect themselves.

  3. I’d really miss Morning File. It’s what I’m paying for, almost solely. Appreciate everything the HE does, but this is the piece I consistently make time for. Agree with others in the comments that the complaints are an indication of folks valuing the thing. Otherwise why take time to complain? Just close the tab and never look back. Never fun to receive complaints though. Hey complainers: please try to let the HE know that you complain because you care 🙂

  4. Don’t you dare change Morning file! It’s so easy to skim and then focus on the articles we like.!

  5. I look forward to the Morning File every day! I’m not gonna say “don’t change a thing”, change whatever you like 🙂 Always remember that it’s the people with complaints who feel motivated to say something, the rest of us are happily reading.

    Also, don’t let up on this BS with moving police up the queue. I bet the average bus driver or librarian interacts with more (masked and unmasked) members of the public each shift than a cop does, but no special dispensation for them!

    1. There were three or four police officers in the hallway of my apartment building today. Not one of them had a mask on and they were shouting (loudly) at a resident who was refusing to open her door. I always thought responding officers wore masks. I guess I thought wrong.

      I don’t think any officers should be bumped unless they are in the currently being served age range – and surely we don’t have too many that are over 63 years of age!

  6. I love the morning file! I find myself reading through until I get to a bit of “snark, whimsy” or a funny bit, then guessing who the writer is, then scrolling back up to see if I was right.

  7. Only about 1% complain, and that happens regardless of what you do… someone is always unhappy. But for every complaint, there are 99 people who love Morning File! See above! ????

  8. Is Risley using the space arm to connect his mansions?

    Keep Morning File, I first became a subscriber precisely because of the cynical humour woven into the news.

    Spaceport: how does exploding tons of fuel to blow a pile of junk into space meet any kind of environmental standards in a world on the brink of climate disaster?

  9. Morning File is great. The content mix, variety of voices, layout, headlines. Don’t change a thing. It is a clearing in the forest of internet irrelevance and nonesense

  10. Re: Mass murder search warrants
    Perhaps the Police should be charged with reckless and vexatious use of a black Sharpie….
    The default is the wrong way – they should have to *prove* to 3 judges that redaction is essential.

    PS. Love the Morning File. Keep it, or you too could be redacted.

  11. The morning file is awesome, please keep it. As you can tell from the comments, it is hugely popular. I am wondering now if just put that out ! lol

  12. I just noticed you got rid of the Facebook, etc ‘share’ links. I had mentioned in the past that the Facebook button in particular (the Twitter, Linkedin, etc ones etc were fine) caused your browser to connect to a Facebook-controlled server every time you loaded a page on this website. I really appreciate it even though I’m sure it wasn’t done on my account.

  13. Tim-Kudos on your pursuit of newbie environmental Premier Rankin for his stance on the proposed/pleading Goldboro Liquified Natural Gas mega project. Rankin’s response mirrors Trudeau’s two sides of the mouth environmental approach: that we need to keep extracting fossil fuels – though in a supposedly more benign manner – so that in the meantime we can keep the fossil fuel cash flowing for economic benefit while we plod along to otherwise. Let’s take advantage of the dollars from Germany or China who are willing to spring for their fossil fuel narcotics.
    Well, many of us who clearly read the present/now signs of the collapse of our sacred living environment say “NO!”. We must have governments on all levels place their total foremost priority on a Just Transition now!. Not here and there. That is the sane and necessary path we need to shake Premier Rankin, Justin Trudeau and other civil leaders to unwaveringly institute and properly fund Just Transition legislation and programs without tepid bullshit political half measures.
    Tim-Keep up the good journalistic and concerned citizen fight and particularly do not let Premier Rankin greenwash us.
    Richard Peisinger

  14. I love that John Risley is using the money from selling his fishing fleet to Native peoples to buy a Space Arm. Is this postmodern or what? What with the mythical spaceport and the mythical LNG plant, Guysborugh County is right in the middle of modern unreality. Here is reality: a friend and I took a trip down to Liscombe area in August to have a look at one of the proposed L&F cuts to be licensed, so I could make some form of informed comment. Fifteen km down a dirt road on the Gehogan peninsula through Crown lands, you come to the end of the road at a lovely large acreage of shore frontage, complete with beach and wetland, that was obviously once Crown land and sold to a developer — who has made about 8 25-acre lots (you can build on a 25-acre lot zoned Forestry). The derelict sign by the rusty gate has a German real estate agent’s phone number. The trees on the Crown lands will be chipped: they are small. The chips go abroad from the vast terminal at Sheet Harbour. The roadsides in Guysborugh County are shorn of trees. No wonder Guysborough County folks grasp at straws and new colonialism. Ask what government cut the community economic development agencies a few years ago. AND go visit Guysborough County: Liscombe Lodge is great and so is Sherbrooke Village.

  15. I have no problem with front line fire,police and ambulance employees being vaccinated, especially in a violent city such as HRM. Office staff can wait.

      1. You don’t know what you don’t know. Or you are in denial.
        In 76 days we have had 4 shootings.

        1. Four shootings in 2.5 months. Without context that doesn’t mean anything. How does it compare to other cities of similar size? How does it compare to the first 2.5 months of 2020? 2019? 2018? Provide us with those numbers and if they are significantly different (as in statistically) then I’ll retract my laughter.

          I still would not characterize HRM as a particularly violent city. Canada in general is not a particularly violent country either,

          1. 3 murders in 24 days – Jan 27, February 7 and February 20. If you don’t know the numbers, don’t argue.

  16. The Morning File format is what sets the Examiner apart and makes up its style. I peruse it just as I would a newspaper and will sometimes read sections I wouldn’t otherwise as it catches my eye. I don’t usually care about events in Halifax but if I’m curious I can have a quick look. It’s a reliable way to convey a lot of different information in a fun format. Helpfully, linking story items makes me more curious about their content and I will have a look if it piques my interest. Keep up the great work.

  17. 1) I love morning file. Those of us who do not complain can be assumed to like it I think.

    2) Agree with Charlene – the police getting vaccine (and more money from council) is enraging. Without the Examiner how would I know. Great work!

  18. The Morning File is great as is.
    I enjoy looking through everything even if I don’t read it all. Maybe that’s because of my age and I was brought up on newspapers.
    Another on-line news thing in town is totally locked down and avariciously protects every word with CIA level security features. They need to change, but not The Examiner

  19. Morning file is my favourite part of the Examiner. Mess with it and I will use “GOLD” to hack into your computer and delete all the bookmarks in your browser.

  20. I agree with Alison above! And I use the links to individual items. 😀

    RE: LNG – No one asked about coal, we all know that’s bad, so keep the spin down, there, Skippy. Not answering the question is a slide into McNeil-ville.

    RE: CHILD CARE – Please provide support to child care centres before airlines. No offense, airlines.

    RE: POLICE POLITICKING – How was the Minister of Health “not part of those meetings”? Where is the police connection and leverage? Did they advocate directly to the Premier? As a citizen, I want to know what meetings and with who in the room. I mean, I personally think three months is a great timeline and why the hell anyone is jostling for position over a month or two’s difference –which may, by the way, divert resources from the overall effort –speaks to me about ego and power more than health concern, but that’s me.

    1. I agree with keeping the morning file …always fun to explore. On the police first idea …I too find it deplorable and agree with the ego and power comment. Another thought as to why people are jockeying for position within a very short time frame may be something as simple as thinking they won’t have to wear a mask or thinking that they may be able to travel first. Who knows ….it is certainly a long way from Dr Bonnie Henry’s mantra of be kind, be calm, be safe.

  21. Re continuing to encourage use of natural gas: well over ten years ago when we needed a new furnace they happened to be installing a natural gas line on our street. We considered it, switching from oil, but decided because it was still a fossil fuel we would get a heat pump instead. We never looked back, best decision we ever made during the over forty years we lived in that house. Even though I talked it up amongst my friends and neighbours who were also in line for new furnaces, the houses all being of an age, I don’t think any of them chose to do anything other than stick with oil or switch to natural gas (although a couple of other houses on the street do have heat pumps). Unless the government actively encourages switching to genuine renewables and drops the rhetoric around “transition” we will make no progress. The time for transition has passed. There is no time left, we have to change. Surely a premier who positions himself as an environmentalist should know this.

    1. I grew up out west on natural gas.

      I was appalled moving here and having to worry about oil tanks and oil deliveries. I wanted natural gas but it took forever to get that up and running despite natural gas off shore.

      Upgraded electrical and a heat pump later and my only regret is the Nova Scotia Power private monopoly. Natural gas is NOT the future nor our near future. An “environmental” premier would look beyond political triangulation and stand by that conviction.

      Needless to say I will NOT be voting Liberal next election.

  22. I love the Morning File. Don’t change it! You’ll never please all of the people all of the time so continue pleasing some of us every morning.:)

  23. Just think about the complainers as people who are so invested in The Examiner that they care about the details.

  24. Keep the morning file. I like the format that combines references to reportage and editorial comment and context.
    Snark and whimsy are a bonus.

  25. Vaccination roll-out .. politics has now taken over it would appear .. public health is playing second fiddle

    1. I listened to both the briefing at 1 p.m. and the CBC interview with Dr. Strang. It was obvious that the decision to vaccinate “front-line” police is really a political decision, given Strang’s acknowledgement that police are apparently not getting priority as so-called front-line workers in other provinces. I may get shit for saying this, but aren’t some police and RCMP just likely to shoot, taser or otherwise dispatch people that they think pose a threat to them?

      A question that I have not seen raised is how many police are there in Nova Scotia, and what percentage of them would be considered front-line workers.

  26. Please keep Morning File! I rely on it and like getting to hear from all the HE staff. I’ve gotten used to the format and appreciate the changes you’ve made to make it easier to link to individual items.

    1. I love the format. Very easy to read with a screen reader. Very easy to scan using headings. Very accessible – great job.

  27. Don’t change the format! It’s not difficult to understand that stand alone articles get their own posts and are then incorporated into the next Morning File. And you only have to read Morning File a couple of times to understand the format. My humble opinion.

  28. I love the Morning File, warts and all! Keep it coming. Today’s was delightfully enraging.

    1. And I have absolutely no problem with the complainers. Constructive feedback, troubleshooting and constant renewal are key to improving your great product.