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Friday, April 19, 2024

Links - 19th April 2024 (3 [including Russia ISIS Attack])

"Ancient Aliens!" *Coincidence? Chariots of the Gods? Magic! Atlantis!*

Toronto swaps sand for cobblestones at popular Humber Bay beach. Locals are not happy - "Part of the project necessitated resurfacing the beach on Humber Bay Park East, something residents have recently taken issue with. In photos provided by residents, the beach was filled with what looks like sand. It has since been resurfaced with cobblestones, according to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), which is doing the construction on behalf of the city. Local resident Aman Somal said he understands erosion protection is necessary but is frustrated a balance couldn't be found between that work and preserving the previous state of the beach... "We live in small condos here, we don't have backyard gardens, we don't have backyard pools. So the park is our backyard and the beaches are our pools. We want to protect it."... "If you walk on the beach, [it] means that you've got to put on running shoes," Persaud said. Fellow resident Marie Braz agreed. "I can't imagine walking on that, never mind plopping a chair down and, you know, a picnic basket," she said."
"Sustainability" reduces quality of life

Massive bank glitch lets people withdraw millions from their accounts - "People across Ethiopia have managed to withdraw large sums of money from their bank accounts after a system glitch. More than £31million was withdrawn mainly by students from the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) after they found out they could take out more money than they had in their bank accounts"

Author Takano says Japan has become ‘outlying zone’ in the world - "In Takano’s opinion, inbound visitors from China and South Korea are flocking to Japan because they see the Asian neighbor as a declining country.  “Seeking to take temporary refuge from harsh competition in their societies, tourists wish to come into contact with natural surroundings, smiles and traditional lifestyles that have been lost in their own countries due to rapid development and urbanization,” he said.  Takano believes foreign sightseers are coming to Japan en masse today for the same reason Japanese once visited other Asian nations as well as Africa in search of “backwardness” that had disappeared in Japan due to economic growth.   Presenting his view on the action Tokyo should take from now, Takano said Japan should promote itself as “an ancient capital of the globe given its deteriorated politics, economy and technology.”  “Japan’s value basically lies in its history, cuisine and scenery,” he said."

Meme - "Fantasy is when Karl Urban has long hair and sci-fi is when Karl Urban has short hair" *Lord of the Rings* *Pathfinder* *Star Trek* *Doom*

Meme - "Friday Night. Spaghetti Wrestling *2 bikini women*
Saturday Morning. All the Spaghetti You Can Eat. $1.00"

Meme - "If you put a fleshlight up your ass, leaving pussy side out, and a guy fucks the fleshlight is it technically no homo? I mean the dick isn't touching your ass and the other guy is fucking a pussy right...?"
"Gay to Straight Adapter"

Meme - Tomi Lahren: ""Don't be afraid" is written in the Bible 365 times- a daily reminder from God to live everyday fearlessly."
"The word "kill" is written 419 times. I'm not sure I want to use the same logic."

About the fish doorbell - visdeurbel - "Every spring, fish swim right through Utrecht, looking for a place to spawn and reproduce. Some swim all the way to Germany. There is a problem, however: they often have to wait a long time at the Weerdsluis lock on the west side of the inner city, as the lock rarely opens in spring. We have come up with a solution: the fish doorbell! An underwater camera has been set up at the lock, and the live feed is streamed to the homepage. If you see a fish, press the digital fish doorbell. The lock operator is sent a signal and can open the lock if there are enough fish. Now you can help fish make it through the canals of Utrecht. Pressing the fish doorbell notifies the lock operator that there are fish waiting to pass. The operator can decide whether or not to open the lock. The lock seldom opens in spring, but can now be opened daily, if necessary. The fish doorbell allows us to work together to ensure that fish do not have to wait as long at the Weerdsluis lock. This is good news, because it means they are less likely to be eaten by other animals, such as grebes and cormorants."

Personality changes following heart transplantation: The role of cellular memory - "Personality changes following heart transplantation, which have been reported for decades, include accounts of recipients acquiring the personality characteristics of their donor. Four categories of personality changes are discussed in this article: (1) changes in preferences, (2) alterations in emotions/temperament, (3) modifications of identity, and (4) memories from the donor’s life. The acquisition of donor personality characteristics by recipients following heart transplantation is hypothesized to occur via the transfer of cellular memory, and four types of cellular memory are presented: (1) epigenetic memory, (2) DNA memory, (3) RNA memory, and (4) protein memory. Other possibilities, such as the transfer of memory via intracardiac neurological memory and energetic memory, are discussed as well. Implications for the future of heart transplantation are explored including the importance of reexamining our current definition of death, studying how the transfer of memories might affect the integration of a donated heart, determining whether memories can be transferred via the transplantation of other organs, and investigating which types of information can be transferred via heart transplantation. Further research is recommended."

Thailand revokes visas for New Zealand tourists arrested for attacking police officer - "Immigration authorities banned brothers Hamish Day, 36, and Oscar Day, 38, from ever returning to Thailand. Thai news outlet Bangkok Post reported that the brothers have been charged with offences including robbery, causing physical harm to an on-duty officer, attempted bribery, and driving a motorcycle without a licence... Video of the incident has gone viral online, where onlookers can be heard shouting at them to stop. Both brothers have denied all charges and the police said on Monday they would ask the court for permission to deny their release on bail."

Student Persuaded by Friend to Amputate Legs for $1.3M Insurance Scam - "A university student in Taiwan who had his legs amputated in hopes of receiving a $1.3 million insurance payout has been arrested on suspicion of fraud, local prosecutors say.  The 23-year-old, identified only by his last name, Zhang, plunged his feet in a bucket of dry ice for more than 10 hours to get them so badly frostbitten that he would need a double amputation... The bureau said a friend of Zhang's from high school, identified only as Liao, persuaded him to carry out the insurance scam.  Liao, also 23, suffered losses from trading cryptocurrency, and he tricked Zhang into signing a legal note obligating him to pay about $800,000... Liao and Zhang rode around Taipei on a motorbike at night, wanting to present the claim that Zhang was afflicted with frostbite while riding the vehicle in the late evening, investigators said.  Just days before, Zhang bought several expensive policies for life insurance, travel insurance, and accident insurance... His legs bore no shoe or sock marks, and his injuries appeared symmetrical, which were inconsistent with a naturally occurring frostbite injury, investigators said.  The weather on the night of January 26 was also nowhere close to below freezing, with its coldest temperature at about 42 degrees Fahrenheit... "As Taiwan is a subtropical region, cases of severe frostbite requiring amputation are unheard of due to natural climatic conditions"... When police investigated Zhang and Liao in November, they found the plastic bucket used to freeze Zhang's feet, insurance documents, a white polystyrene box for dry ice, eight mobile phones, and a tablet computer"

New Zealand set to scrap world-first tobacco ban - "New Zealand will repeal on Tuesday a world-first law banning tobacco sales for future generations, the government said, even while researchers and campaigners warned of the risk that people could die as a result. Set to take effect from July, the toughest anti-tobacco rules in the world would have banned sales to those born after Jan. 1, 2009, cut nicotine content in smoked tobacco products and reduced the number of tobacco retailers by more than 90%... The decision, heavily criticised over its likely impact on health outcomes in New Zealand, has also drawn flak because of fears it could have a greater impact on Maori and Pasifika populations, groups with higher smoking rates. Repeal flies in the face of robust research evidence, ignores measures strongly supported by Maori leaders and will preserve health inequities, said Otago University researcher Janet Hoek. "Large-scale clinical trials and modelling studies show the legislation would have rapidly increased the rates of quitting among smokers and made it much harder for young people to take up smoking," said Hoek, co-director of a group studying ways to reduce smoking."
Paternalism towards indigenous groups is anti racist

St. John's woman notes every step of a new flight scam on social media - "She publicly tweeted at Air Canada, asking for a resolution — and received responses from nine different accounts claiming to be Air Canada agents.  "They had the Air Canada logo ... saying they were supervisors, [but] they didn't have any followers. So that triggered some alarm bells for me," she said. So, she ignored the messages and went directly to the company's website.  A few days later, she noticed she kept getting messages from agents saying they could resolve her issues.  "Curiosity got the best of me," she said. "So I played along." They asked for her booking reference number and, using that, obtained her phone number. They then contacted her via the messaging app WhatsApp. She says she was concerned about how they were able to get her number as it wasn't in any email or booking reference.  Then they asked her to download an app called Remitly — an international money transfer app.  "There was no Canada-to-Canada ability to transfer funds," she said, noting she could only make transfers to countries like Kenya. That triggered more alarm bells, she said.  The person on the other side of the screen assured her they would reimburse her money in Kenyan dollars: all they needed was her bank account number."

Adam Rossi on X - “Kids who nibbled their nails were less likely to get allergies and had stronger immune systems overall. Nail biting allowed bacteria and pollen trapped under the kids' fingernails to get into their mouths, boosting their immune system.”
Thumb-Sucking, Nail-Biting, and Atopic Sensitization, Asthma, and Hay Fever - "Children who suck their thumbs or bite their nails are less likely to have atopic sensitization in childhood and adulthood."
More evidence for the hygiene hypothesis

Jake on X - "Universities are funny. Hey what if we took a medieval institution for training priests and aristocrats and combined it w a hedge fund, sports franchise and resort for teenagers  Oh and it'll be the backbone for fundamental research for our entire civilization"

Actual Fact Bot: Revived | Facebook - "When Steve Madden was convicted of fraud and forced to resign as CEO of his own company, he created a new position for himself that paid $700,000 per year while he was in prison."

Meme - "Looks like your mom bought herself a van
B.J. Champion"

Dating app billboard criticised by Korat women's right group - "The leader of a women’s rights protection group in Thailand’s Nakhon Ratchasima province has described a dating app’s advertisement as being disrespectful to women.  “The word ‘delicious’ should only be used about food, but the ad used it about women. That is not appropriate. I personally think that the ad disrespects women,” said Chanyanut Surachat.  Several billboards promoting the Tinder dating app have popped up in the Muang district of Nakhon Ratchasima, known locally as Korat.  On the billboards, a question is asked: ‘What is delicious in Korat?’ There were two choices: ‘Fried Korat Noodles’ or ‘Korat ladies’. There was a checkmark next to ‘Korat Ladies’ and a cross next to ‘Fried Korat Noodles’.  Chanyanut added that the ad also implies that fried Korat noodles are not delicious, clearly belittling the signature dish of Korat.  She said that the noodles are also mentioned in the province’s motto, which features the province as the ‘Land of brave women, excellent silk, fried Korat noodles, Phimai Historical Park, and Dan Kwian pottery’."

I used vibrators to relieve a tortoise's constipation - "“This is actually a very normal and often used technique,” Emily Cehrs, a vet at the Safari West wildlife preserve in Santa Rosa, told Caters News Agency of her unlikely scat extraction technique... the US Food and Drug Administration recently approved the use of Vibrant, a vibrating pill that achieves the same affect in humans sans the need of a dancing dildo... Unfortunately, while high-tech, stool-propelling vibrators might sound like an innovative constipation remedy, they’re not often used due to the stigma of using a sex toy as a laxative"

WOMAN ORDERS AND CANCELS FOODPANDA DELIVERIES REPEATEDLY - "A Foodpanda rider shared his experience with an unruly customer on Facebook. The rider, Bryen Yap, is also the owner of the restaurant that received the order from the woman... "Guess what, I have your gate access, it is linked to my phone. I also have your lift lobby access key, I even have your house key..  If you are not happy about it… You can move out of the house end of this month.  Because the person who cooks your food, the person who sent your food and the person who owns the place you currently live in-  Is your landlord.”"

Meme - Circle K: "If you are buying slushies and videoing for TikTok - in our store OR parking lot, the police will be called. Thank You"

Cookie Monster on X - "Me hate shrinkflation! Me cookies are getting smaller. 😔"
Frank Oz on X - "@MeCookieMonster I'm shocked to see a news article on Cookie Monster talking about "shrinkflation". Jim would NEVER have allowed this. The SS Muppets need to live in their own pure world. Not our world. What has happened to the integrity of the character and the integrity of Sesame Workshop?"
Frank Oz on X - "I realize now what happened.  My head and heart are still in the Sesame Street that existed when Joan Cooney was active in it and when Jim and Jon Stone were alive, and when I was still performing on it.  But I have not kept up with it for years. I guess it's changed."
Frank Oz on X - "I understand what you're pointing out. Yes, the real world needs to come to Sesame Street. But that doesn't mean that The Muppet characters need to react in a real-world way.  The Muppet characters' reactions need to rise from their own naive and pure world."
Frank Oz on X - "To clear something up, the real world does indeed need to come to Sesame Street. But that doesn't mean that The Muppet characters need to react in the same real-world way.  The Muppet characters' reactions need to rise from their own naive and pure world."
Frank Oz on X - "No, Cookie Monster would react by having no idea what shrinkflation means. If he was told that it caused his cookies to be smaller he would be aghast. But he would not connect it to a concept. He would just be upset about the smaller cookies. He is a monster, not an adult human"
Clearly, Frank Oz is just an ignorant boomer who doesn't know anything about the muppets
From his other tweets he's a left winger, so this is about artistic purity, not politics

Meme - "When you both fucked the shit out of each other and you're just laying there trying to recuperate *wrestling scene with 2 wrestlers lying on ring floor*
I got no more in me"

Meme - "me, as my laptop fan suddenly becomes louder: what is it?? what program?? who is doing this to you????
*opening task manager* Who do I need to kill?"

Explaining Elections in Singapore: Dominant Party Resilience and Valence Politics - "The People's Action Party (PAP) of Singapore is one of the world's longest ruling dominant parties, having won every general election since the country's independence in 1965. Why do Singaporeans consistently vote for the PAP, contrary to the expectations of theories of democratization? We argue that valence considerations---specifically, perceptions of party credibility---are the dominant factor in the voting behavior of Singapore's electorate and a critical piece to the puzzle of the PAP's resilience. Furthermore, we argue that the primacy of valence politics arose in part by design, as the PAP has used its control of Singapore's high-capacity state to reshape society and thereby reshape voter preferences towards its comparative advantages. We use a multi-methods approach to demonstrate evidence in support of our argument through a within-case, historical analysis; a qualitative analysis of contemporary party competition and voter behavior; and a comprehensive quantitative analysis of the 2011 and 2015 general elections. Ultimately, our findings suggest that a focus on valence politics can increase the resilience of dominant parties, but that such a strategy also faces natural limits to the advantages it confers."
Cherian George - "This sober analysis by two political scientists attributes the PAP's electoral dominance mainly to its perceived capability in delivering generally desired outcomes – so-called "valence issues". Challenging the view that voters are driven by fear or by strategic motives, the authors argue that support for the PAP is sincerely motivated, by not just economic considerations but also the desire for social stability, national sovereignty, and efficient  delivery of grassroots services.  The PAP has benefited from the fact that a high-capacity dominant state can, over time, reshape society and bring voter preferences into alignment with the dominant party's comparative advantages, the authors argue. "The long-term reshaping of voter preferences, in short, constitutes an additional channel through which to entrench this 'self-reinforcing authoritarian equilibrium'.""

Meme - "When you ask a 1st grade class to write letters to people in a nursing home...
*hourglass with sand running out* times allmast up"

The Cultural Tutor on X - "Setting is a big part of any film, but how do you get the right place? You can use CGI, build a set — or find the perfect location. So from Star Wars to The Grand Budapest Hotel, here are some real places you might recognise from fictional worlds..."

U.S. Warned Russia Before Moscow Attack That Killed at Least 60 - "U.S. officials said they believed Islamic State was responsible for the attack. The group claimed responsibility in a statement issued by the Islamic State-affiliated news agency Amaq... On March 7, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow issued a cryptic warning to American citizens to avoid concert venues. The U.S. had information about a planned terrorist attack in Moscow potentially targeting large gatherings—including concerts—which prompted the State Department to issue a public advisory, White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement Friday night. “The U.S. government also shared this information with Russian authorities in accordance with its longstanding ‘duty to warn’ policy,” Watson added.  This week, Russian state news agency TASS said Putin described U.S. warnings about a possible terrorist attack as “provocative” statements that resemble “outright blackmail and an intention to intimidate and destabilize our society.” He called on the Federal Security Service and other law-enforcement bodies to step up efforts at preventing terrorist attacks... The intelligence was considered “actionable,” potentially providing Russian authorities with enough time to mitigate an attack, officials said... The shooting carries echoes of terrorist attacks on the capital by Chechen insurgents in the 2000s and undermines the image of invincibility Putin had sought to portray"
Clearly, the US knew about it because they were behind it!

Monday briefing: Why Vladimir Putin won’t link Islamic State to Moscow terror attack - “Shaun Walker, Pjotr Sauer and Andrew Roth set out signs of “a catastrophic security failure on the part of Russian authorities”. They note a slow police response to the attack and claims that the FSB, the federal security service, has been largely focused on domestic opposition and potential threats from Kyiv, with thousands of security officials sent to occupied Ukraine. Another factor they cite is a view that the threat from Islamist terrorism had subsided in recent years. It is unlikely that these concerns will be aired in Russia in the coming days. Andrei Soldatov, senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, argues in this piece that this is part of a deeply ingrained culture, instigated by Putin, of protecting the security agencies at all costs and ensuring the FSB is “completely immune to any criticism”. The FSB is expert at “killing and torture” and “investigating attacks after the event”, he writes. “But these are not the qualities that help to prevent attacks happening, and time and again, the FSB has failed.””

Lukashenko undermines Putin’s Ukraine claim on Moscow concert hall attack - “ISIS claimed responsibility for the massacre, which killed at least 139 people, and released graphic footage of the incident, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly suggested, without evidence, that Ukraine had helped orchestrate it. Putin on Saturday claimed that a “window” had been prepared for the attackers to escape to Ukraine, which Kyiv has denied. But Lukashenko, one of Putin’s most loyal allies, on Tuesday appeared to contradict the Kremlin’s claims, saying that the attackers initially intended to enter Belarus rather than Ukraine… Putin on Monday conceded the attack had been carried out by “radical Islamists,” but still tried to pin ultimate responsibility on Ukraine… Ukraine has vehemently denied involvement in the attack and called the Kremlin’s claims “absurd.” Others have speculated why the attackers would try to flee through a heavily militarized section of the border, with a large Russian troop presence.”

Russian defector sheds light on Putin paranoia and his secret train network - “A senior Russian security officer who defected last year has given rare insight into the paranoid lifestyle of Vladimir Putin, confirming details of a secret train network, identical offices in different cities, a strict personal quarantine and escalating security protocols. Gleb Karakulov, who served as a captain in the Federal Protection Service (FSO), a powerful body tasked with protecting Russia’s highest-ranking officials, said the measures were designed to mask the whereabouts of the Russian president, whom he described as “pathologically afraid for his life”. The 36-year-old said the train was used because it “cannot be tracked on any information resource. It’s done for stealth purposes.”… Karakulov described a virtual state within a state that includes firefighters, food testers and other engineers who travel with Putin on his trips abroad, providing a rare first-hand insight into the levels of paranoia and sheltered lifestyle of the Russian president. “They call him the Boss, worship him in every way and only ever talk of him in those terms,” he said… He confirmed that Putin relies heavily for information on reports provided by his security services. Putin did not use a mobile phone or the internet, Karakulov said, and did not even bring an internet specialist with him on foreign trips. “He only receives information from his closest circle, which means that he lives in an information vacuum,” he said. Putin is still in quarantine and requires all staff working in the same room as him to also undergo a two-week quarantine, severely limiting the number of people who have personal contact with him. Karakulov said Putin used identical offices in St Petersburg, Sochi and Novo-Ogaryovo, and that the secret services used fake motorcades and decoy planes to pretend he was leaving. “This is a ruse to confuse foreign intelligence, in the first place, and secondly, to prevent any attempts on his life,” he said. He said Putin’s behaviour and lifestyle had altered significantly since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, when the president retreated from most travel and public appearances. “He has shut himself off from the world,” Karakulov said. “His take on reality has become distorted.””

Meme - "I call for an immediate ceasefire between Russia and ISIS. Russia should be restrained, have a proportional response and operate according to international law. For their conflict to be over, there should be an independent ISIS state established next to Russia. I urge Russians to provide humanitarian aid to ISIS, including food, water, medicine electricity. FREE ISIS."

The Golden Age of American Jews Is Ending

Richard Hanania on X

"Jewish woman moves to the Bay Area for the "progressive values," shocked that the half-literate DEI types who control the school system take the side of the Palestinians." 

 The Golden Age of American Jews Is Ending - The Atlantic

"Stacey Zolt Hara was in her office in downtown San Francisco when a text from her 16-year-old daughter arrived: “I’m scared,” she wrote. Her classmates at Berkeley High School were preparing to leave their desks and file into the halls, part of a planned “walkout” to protest Israel. Like many Jewish students, she didn’t want to participate. It was October 18, 11 days after the Hamas invasion of southern Israel.

Zolt Hara told her daughter to wait in her classroom. She was trying to project calm. A public-relations executive, Zolt Hara had moved her family from Chicago to Berkeley six years earlier, hoping to find a community that shared her progressive values. Her family had developed a deep sense of belonging there.

But a moral fervor was sweeping over Berkeley High that morning. Around 10:30, the walkout began. Jewish parents traded panicked reports from their children. Zolt Hara heard that kids were chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a slogan that suggests the elimination of Israel. Rumors spread about other, less coy phrases shouted in the hallways, carrying intimations of violence. Jewish students were said to be in tears. Parents were texting one another ideas about where in the school their children could hide. Zolt Hara placed a call to the dean of students. By her own admission, she was hysterical. She says the dean hung up on her...

Most worrying was what parents kept hearing about teachers, both in Berkeley and in the surrounding school districts. They seemed to be using their classrooms to mold students into advocates for a maximalist vision of Palestine. A group of activists within the Oakland Education Association, that city’s teachers’ union, sponsored a “teach-in.” A video trumpeting the event urged: “Apply your labor power to show solidarity with the Palestinian people.” An estimated 70 teachers set aside their normal curriculum to fix students’ attention on Gaza.

Even classes with no discernible connection to international affairs joined the teach-in. Its centerpiece was a webinar titled “From Gaza to Oakland: How Does the Issue Connect to Us?,” in which local activists implored the kids to join them on the streets. They told the students—in a predominantly Black and Latino school district—that the Israeli military works hand in glove with American police forces, sharing tips and tactics. “Repression there ends up cycling back to repression here,” an activist named Anton explained. Elementary-school teachers, whose students were too young for the webinar, were given a list of books to use in their classes. One of them, Handala’s Return, described how a “group of bullies called Zionists wanted our land so they stole it by force and hurt many people.”

The same zeal was gripping schools in Berkeley. Zolt Hara learned from another parent about an ethnic-studies class in which the teacher had described the slaughter of some Israelis on October 7 as the result of friendly fire. She saw a disturbing image that another teacher had presented in an art class, of a fist breaking through a Star of David. (Officials at Berkeley High School did not respond to requests for comment.) In her son’s middle school, there were signs on classroom walls that read Teach Palestine.

Zolt Hara didn’t need to imagine how kids might respond to these lessons. She heard about incidents at her children’s schools. One kid walked up to a Jewish student playing what he called a “Nazi salute song” on his phone. Another said something in German and then added, “I don’t like your people.” A Manichaean view of the conflict even filtered down to the lowest grades in Berkeley. According to one parent complaint to the principal of Washington Elementary School, a second grader suggested that students divide into Israeli and Palestinian “teams,” and another announced that Palestinians couldn’t be friends with Jews.

On November 17, the middle school that Zolt Hara’s son attends staged its own walkout. Zolt Hara was relieved that her son was traveling for a family event that day. But she heard about video of the protest, recorded on a parent’s phone. I tracked down the footage and watched it myself. “Are you Jewish?” one mop-haired tween asks another, seemingly unaware of any adult presence. “No way,” the second kid replies. “I fucking hate them.” Another blurts, “Kill Israel.” A student laughingly attempts to start a chant of “KKK.”...

Students began to recall how painful their school’s walkout had felt. Their classmates had left them alone with teachers, who they suspected would think less of them for having stayed put. At every stop in their education in this progressive community, they had learned about a world divided between oppressors and the oppressed—and now they felt that they were being accused of being the bad guys, despite having nothing to do with events on the other side of the world, and despite the fact that Hamas had initiated the current war by invading Israeli communities and murdering an estimated 1,200 people.

At the end of the session a student in a kippah, puffer jacket, and T-shirt pulled me aside. He said he wanted to speak privately, because he didn’t want to risk crying in front of his peers. After October 7, he said, his school life, as a visibly identifiable Jew, had become unbearable. Walking down the halls, kids would shout “Free Palestine” at him. They would make the sound of explosions, as if he were personally responsible for the bombardment of Gaza. They would tell him to pick up pennies. As he was walking into the gym to use one of its courts, a kid told him, “There goes the Jew, taking everyone’s land.” I asked if he’d ever told any of this to an administrator. “Nothing would change,” he said. Based on how other local authorities had responded to anti-Semitism, I didn’t doubt him.

Like many American Jews, I once considered anti-Semitism a threat largely emanating from the right...

I consoled myself with the thought that once Trump disappeared from the scene, the explosion of Jew hatred would recede. America would revert to its essential self: the most comfortable homeland in the Jewish diaspora.

That reassuring thought required downplaying the anti-Semitism that had begun to appear on the left well before October 7—on college campuses, among progressive activists, even on the fringes of the Democratic Party. It required minimizing Representative Ilhan Omar’s insinuation about Jewish control of politics—“It’s all about the Benjamins baby”—as an ignorant gaffe. And it meant dismissing intense outbreaks of anti-Zionist harassment by pro-Palestinian demonstrators, which coincided with tensions in the Middle East, as a passing storm.

Part of the reason I failed to appreciate the extent of the anti-Semitism on the left is that I assumed its criticisms of the Israeli government were, at bottom, a harsher version of my own. I opposed the proliferation of settlements in the West Bank, the callousness that military occupation required, and the religious zealotry that had begun to infuse the country’s right wing, including its current ruling coalition.

Such criticisms were not those of a dissident—the majority of American Jews share them. The Palestinian leadership has a long record of abject obstructionism, historical denialism, and violent irredentism, but American Jews heap blame on recalcitrant right-wing Israeli governments, too. Polling by the Pew Research Center in 2020 found that only one in three American Jews said they felt that the Israeli government was “sincere” in its pursuit of peace... 63 percent of American Jews said they considered a two-state solution plausible. Jews were, in fact, more likely than the overall U.S. population to believe in the possibility of peaceful coexistence with an independent Palestine.

Among the brutal epiphanies of October 7 was this: A disconcertingly large number of Israel’s critics on the left did not share that vision of peaceful coexistence, or believe Jews had a right to a nation of their own... Over the three-month period following the Hamas attacks, the Anti-Defamation League recorded 56 episodes of physical violence targeting Jews and 1,347 incidents of harassment. That 13-week span contained more anti-Semitic incidents than the entirety of 2021—at the time the worst year since the ADL had begun keeping count, in 1979...

Liberal Jews once celebrated Israel as the lone democracy in a distinctly undemocratic region. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition of theocrats and messianists seems bent on shredding the basis for that claim. But many governments in the world share these undesirable traits. Still, no one calls for the eradication of Hungary or El Salvador or India. No one defaces Chinese restaurants in San Francisco because Beijing imprisons Uyghurs in concentration camps and occupies Tibet.

The anti-Zionism that has flourished on the left in recent years doesn’t stop with calls for an end to the occupation of the West Bank. It espouses a blithe desire to eliminate the world’s only Jewish-majority nation, valorizes the homicidal campaign against its existence, and seeks to hold members of the Jewish diaspora to account for the sins of a country they don’t live in and for a government they didn’t elect. In so doing, this faction of the left places itself in the terrible lineage of attempts to erase Jewry—and, in turn, stirs ancient and not-so-ancient existential fears.

Nowhere is this more fully on display than in the Bay Area. After October 7, protesters flooded city-council meetings, demanding cease-fire resolutions and rejecting any attempt to include clauses condemning Hamas for the rape and murder of Jews. One viral video compiled enraged citizen comments at an Oakland city-council meeting. These citizens weren’t just showing solidarity for the people of Gaza, but angrily amplifying wild conspiracy theories. One woman declared, in the style of a 9/11 truther, that “Israel murdered their own people on October 7.” Another, in the manner of a Holocaust denier, described the events of that day as a “fabricated narrative.”

For months, the Berkeley city council resisted the pressure to pass a cease-fire resolution; the mayor regarded foreign policy as far beyond its jurisdiction. But the pressure grew so intense that the council could hardly conduct any other business. Protesters disrupted official meetings, forcing the mayor to keep adjourning deliberations to another room where the public was not allowed. Police offered to escort council members to their cars after meetings. The mayor’s unwillingness to condemn Israel was anomalous, even in his own city. On December 4, the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board voted to endorse a cease-fire.

Impassioned support for the Palestinian cause metastasized into the hatred of Jews. Anti-Semitism has become part of the landscape. In 2021, a community space in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood, owned by a progressive gay Jewish activist, was defaced with messages including Zionist pigz. After October 7, the windows of Smitten Ice Cream, owned by a Jewish woman, were smashed and spray-painted with the words Out the Mission.

During Hanukkah, a menorah sponsored by Chabad Oakland and perched on the shore of Lake Merritt, in the center of the city, was torn apart by its branches and hurled into the water, replaced by graffiti reading your org is dying, we’re gonna find you, you’re on fucking alert. Oakland Public Works quickly painted over the message and other anti-Semitic graffiti. But when I walked the trail around the lake several weeks after Hanukkah, I found a weathered metal box, built to display a work of public art. On its side was a laminated message titled “The World We Wish to See.” What followed was a lyrical vision of liberation that imagined a future in which “all beings are treated with dignity.” But whatever display had once existed in the box had been removed. What was left were the etched words Zionist KILLER.

In the hatred that I witnessed in the Bay Area, and that has been evident on college campuses and in progressive activist circles nationwide, I’ve come to see left-wing anti-Semitism as characterized by many of the same violent delusions as the right-wing strain. This is not an accident of history. Though right- and left-wing anti-Semitism may have emerged in different ways, for different reasons, both are essentially attacks on an ideal that once dominated American politics, an ideal that American Jews championed and, in an important sense, co-authored. Over the course of the 20th century, Jews invested their faith in a distinct strain of liberalism that combined robust civil liberties, the protection of minority rights, and an ethos of cultural pluralism. They embraced this brand of liberalism because it was good for America—and good for the Jews. It was their fervent hope that liberalism would inoculate America against the world’s oldest hatred.

For several generations, it worked. Liberalism helped unleash a Golden Age of American Jewry, an unprecedented period of safety, prosperity, and political influence. Jews, who had once been excluded from the American establishment, became full-fledged members of it. And remarkably, they achieved power by and large without having to abandon their identity. In faculty lounges and television writers’ rooms, in small magazines and big publishing houses, they infused the wider culture with that identity. Their anxieties became American anxieties. Their dreams became American dreams...

The sons and daughters of immigrants may have dabbled in socialism, but in the 1930s and ’40s, liberalism became the house politics of the Jewish people. Walter Lippmann, a descendant of German Jews, first used the term liberal in the American context, to describe a new center-left vision of the state that was neither socialist nor laissez-faire. Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish justice on the Supreme Court, conceptualized a new, expansive vision of civil liberties. Lillian Wald and Henry Moskowitz co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, in the belief that all minorities deserved the same protections. Jews became enthusiastic supporters of the New Deal, which staved off radical movements on the left and the right that tended to hunt for Jewish scapegoats. As a Yiddish joke went, Jewish theology consisted of die velt (“this world”), yene velt (“the world to come”), and Roosevelt...

The Jewish vacation from history ended on September 11, 2001. It didn’t seem that way at the time. But the terror attacks opened an era of perpetual crisis, which became fertile soil where the hatred of Jews took root. Though Osama bin Laden claimed credit for the plot, that didn’t stop some people from trying to shift the blame. One theory explained in exquisitely absurd detail how Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, had toppled the Twin Towers.

But there was also a more sophisticated version of this conspiracy theory, one that had a patina of academic respectability. On the left, it became commonplace to fulminate against the neoconservatives, warmongering intellectuals said to be whispering in the ear of the American establishment, urging the invasion of Iraq and war against Iran...

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, for one, took exception to the idea that Jews were pulling the strings of the United States government. “I suppose the implication of that is that the president and the vice president and myself and Colin Powell just fell off a turnip truck to take these jobs,” he said.

In 2007, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, professors at Harvard and the University of Chicago, respectively, spelled out what others implied in The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, a book published by a venerable house, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, that soon arrived on the New York Times best-seller list. This was the opposite of the schmaltzy Streisand tribute—the Jewish state as not a friend but a villain surreptitiously manipulating American power to further its own ends.

One year later, Lehman Brothers, a bank founded in 1850 by the son of a Jewish cattle merchant from Bavaria, collapsed. That news was followed by the revelation that Bernie Madoff had masterminded the largest-known Ponzi scheme in history. Although politicians, on the whole, refrained from casting Jews as the primary culprits of the 2008 financial crisis—which was, in fact, systemic—a sizable portion of the public harbored this thought. Stanford University professors conducted a survey that found that nearly a quarter of the country blamed Jews for crashing the global economy. Another 38.4 percent ascribed at least some fault to “the Jews.”

In the era of perpetual crisis, a version of this narrative kept recurring: a small elite—sometimes bankers, sometimes lobbyists—maliciously exploiting the people. Such narratives helped propel Occupy Wall Street on the left and the Tea Party on the right. This brand of populist revolt had long been the stuff of Jewish nightmares... 

In the old Jewish theory of American politics, the best defense against the anti-Semitism of the right was a united left: minorities and liberal activists locking arms...

In the late 1960s, former comrades began to quietly, then brusquely, discard this spirit of common cause. Younger activists in the civil-rights movement took a hard turn toward Black Power and dismissed the old liberal theory of change as a melioristic ruse. Anti-war protesters embraced the decolonization struggles of the developing world. After Israel captured the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in 1967, many came to view the Jewish state as a vile oppressor. (This was well before right-wing Israeli governments saturated the occupied territories with Jewish settlers.) Even as Israel’s shocking victory in the Six-Day War, 22 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, filled American Jews with pride and confidence, a meaningful portion of America’s left turned on Israel.

The turmoil of the late ’60s presaged the rupture that has occurred over the past decade or so. A new ideology has taken hold on the left, with a reordered hierarchy of concerns and an even greater skepticism of the old liberal ideals...

Even before Trump took office, the Resistance announced a mass protest set to defiantly descend on the capital, what organizers called the Women’s March on Washington. In an early planning meeting, at a New York restaurant, an activist named Vanessa Wruble explained that her Judaism was the motivating force in her political engagement. But Wruble’s autobiographical statement of intent earned her a rebuke. According to Wruble, two members of the inner circle planning the march told her that Jews needed to confront their own history of exploiting Black and brown people. Tablet magazine later reported that Wruble was told that Jews needed to repent for their leading role in the slave trade—a fallacious charge long circulated by the Nation of Islam. (The two organizers denied making the reported statements.) That moment of tension never really subsided, either for Wruble or for the left.

When the march’s organizers published their “unity principles,” they emphasized the importance of intersectionality, a theory first introduced by the law professor Kimberlé W. Crenshaw... Transposed by activists to the gritty work of coalition-building, it became the basis for a new orthodoxy—one that was largely indifferent to Jews, and at times outwardly hostile.

When the Women’s March listed the various injustices it hoped to conquer on its way to a better world, anti-Semitism was absent. It was a curious omission, given the central role that Jews played in the conspiracies promoted by the MAGA right, and a telling one. Soon after the march, organizers pushed Wruble out of leadership. She later said that anti-Semitism was the reason for her ouster. (The organizers denied this charge.)

The intersectional left self-consciously rebelled against the liberalism that had animated so much of institutional Judaism, which fought to install civil liberties and civil rights enforced by a disinterested state that would protect every minority equally. This new iteration of the left considered the idea of neutrality—whether objectivity in journalism or color blindness in the courts—as a guise for white supremacy. Tolerance, the old keyword of cultural pluralism, was a form of complicity. What the world actually needed was intolerance, a more active confrontation with hatred. In the historian Ibram X. Kendi’s formulation, an individual could choose to be anti-racist or racist, an activist or a collaborator. Or as Linda Sarsour, an activist of Palestinian descent and a co-chair of the Women’s March, put it, “We are not here to be bystanders.” To be a member of this new left in good moral standing, it was necessary to challenge oppression in all its incarnations. And Israel was now definitively an oppressor.

The American left hadn’t always imposed such a litmus test. During the years of the Oslo peace process, groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine had no problem attending events with liberal Zionists. Back then, the debate was over the borders of Israel, not over the fact of its existence. But that peace process collapsed during the last days of the Clinton administration, and whatever good faith had existed in that brief era of summits and handshakes dissipated. Hamas unleashed a wave of suicide bombings in the Second Intifada. And in the aftermath of those deadly attacks, successive right-wing Israeli governments presided over repressive policies in the West Bank and an inhumane blockade of Gaza.

Palestinian activists and their allies began the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, pushing universities to divest from Israel. The new goal was no longer coexistence between Arabs and Jews. It was to turn Israel into an international pariah, to stop working with all Israeli institutions—not just the military, but also symphonies, theater groups, and universities. In that spirit, it became fashionable for critics of Israel to identify as “anti-Zionist.”...

Zionist can start to sound like a synonym for Jew. Zionists stand accused of the same crimes that anti-Semites have attached to Jews since the birth of Christianity; Jews are portrayed as omnipotent, bloodthirsty baby-killers. Knowing the historical echoes, it’s hard not to worry that the anger might fixate on the Jewish target closest at hand—which, indeed, it has.

In 2014, dorms at NYU where religiously observant Jews lived received mock eviction notices—“We reserve the right to destroy all remaining belongings,” read the flyer slipped under doors—as if intimidating college kids with unknown politics somehow represented a justifiable reprisal for Israeli-government action in the West Bank. The same notices appeared at Emory University, in Atlanta, in 2019. At the University of Vermont and SUNY New Paltz, groups that helped sexual-assault survivors were accused of purging pro-Israel students from their ranks. “If you don’t support Palestinian liberation you don’t support survivors,” the Vermont group exclaimed. Years before October 7, students at Tufts University, outside Boston, and the University of Southern California moved to impeach elected Jews in student government over their support for Israel’s existence. This wasn’t normal politics. It was evidence of bigotry.

Among the primary targets of the activists were the Hillel centers present on most college campuses. These centers occasionally coordinate trips to Israel and, on some campuses, sponsor student groups supportive of Israel. Those facts led pro-Palestinian activists to describe Hillel as an arm of the “Israeli war machine.” At SUNY Stony Brook, activists sought to expel Hillel from campus, arguing, “If there were Nazis, white nationalists, and KKK members on campus, would their identity have to be accepted and respected?” At Rice University, in Texas, an LGBTQ group severed ties with Hillel because it allegedly made students feel unsafe. What made this incident darkly comic is that Hillel couldn’t be more progressive on issues of sexual freedom. What made it so worrying is that Hillel’s practical purpose is not to defend Israel, but to provide Shabbat dinners and a space for ritual and prayer. To condemn Hillel is to condemn Jewish religious life on campus.

As exclusion of Jews became a more regular occurrence, the leadership of the left, and of universities for that matter, had little to say about the problem. To give the most generous explanation: Jews simply didn’t fit the analytic framework of the new left.

At its core, the intersectional left wanted to smash power structures. In the American context, it would be hard to place Jews among the ranks of the oppressed; in the Israeli context, they can be cast as the oppressor. Nazi Germany definitively excluded Jews from a category we now call “whiteness.” Today, Jews are treated in sectors of the left as the epitome of whiteness. But any analysis that focuses so relentlessly on the role of privilege, as the left’s does, will be dangerously blind to anti-Semitism, because anti-Semitism itself entails an accusation of privilege. It’s a theory that regards the Jew as an all-powerful figure in society, a position acquired by underhanded means. In the annals of Jewish history, accusations of privilege are the basis for hate, the kindling for pogroms. But universities too often ignored this lesson from the past. Instead, they acted, as the British comedian David Baddiel put it in the title of his prescient book about progressive anti-Semitism, as if “Jews don’t count.” ...

For a brief moment, it felt as if the October 7 attacks might reverse the tide, because it should have been impossible not to recoil at the footage of Hamas’s pogrom. Israel had yet to launch its counterattack, so there was no war to condemn. Still, even in this moment of moral clarity, the campus left couldn’t muster compassion. At Harvard, more than 30 student groups signed a letter on October 7, holding “the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.” Days later, the incoming head of NYU’s new Center for Indigenous Studies described the attacks as “affirming.” This sympathy for Hamas, when its crimes were freshest, was a glimpse of what was about to come.

On the afternoon of October 11, Rebecca Massel, a reporter at the Columbia Daily Spectator, received a tip. She was told that a woman, her face wrapped in a bandanna, had assaulted an Israeli student in front of Butler Library in a dispute over flyers depicting hostages held by Hamas. The woman’s alleged weapon was a broomstick. Her battle cry was said to be “Fuck all of you prick crackers.” After striking him with the broomstick, the man said, she attempted to punch him in the face. By the end of the fracas, she had bruised one of his hands and sprained a finger on the other.

Massel began to report out the story. She spoke with the victim, who told her, “Now, we have to handle the situation that campus is not a safe place for us anymore.” She spoke with the NYPD, which confirmed that it had arrested the woman, who was charged with hate crimes and has pleaded not guilty. Massel and her editors curbed their impulse to quickly score a scoop, double-checking every sentence. They didn’t publish the story until 3 a.m. on October 12.

Later that morning, Massel, a sophomore studying political science, was sitting in her Contemporary Civilization seminar when her phone lit up. It was her editor, calling her back. She had texted him to get his sense of the response her article had elicited, so she stepped out of class to hear what he had to say. She had already caught a glimpse of posts on social media, harping on her Jewishness and accusing her of having a “religious agenda.” She’d worried that these weren’t stray attacks. The editor told her the paper had been inundated. The messages it had received about the article were vitriolic, but he didn’t give her any specifics. Before returning to class, she checked her own email. A message read, “I hope you fucking get what you deserve … you racist freak.”...

She thought about what the Israeli student had told her the day before. A dean had apparently advised him to leave campus because the university couldn’t guarantee his safety. Now Massel felt unsure of her own physical well-being. She decided that she would stay with her parents until she could get a better sense of the fury directed at her...

Massel spoke with 54 students. What she amassed was a tally of fear. Thirteen told her that they had felt harassed or attacked, either virtually or in person. (One passerby had barked “Fuck the Jews” at a small group of students.) Thirty-four reported that they felt targeted or unsafe on campus. (At one precarious moment, the Hillel center went into lockdown, out of concern that protesters might descend on the building.) Twelve said that they had suppressed markers of their Jewish identity, wearing a baseball cap over a yarmulke or tucking a Star of David necklace into a sweatshirt. She learned that a group of students had created a group-chat system to arrange escorts, so that no Jew would have to walk across campus alone if they felt unsafe.

Perhaps even more ominously, Massel uncovered incidents in which teachers expressed hostility toward Jewish students. One Israeli student told Massel that a professor had once said to him, “It’s such a shame that your people survived just in order to perpetuate another genocide.” When I made my own calls to students and faculty, I heard similar stories, especially instances of teaching assistants seizing their bully pulpit to sermonize. One TA wrote to their students, “We are watching genocide unfold in real time, after a systematic 75+ years of oppression of the Palestinian people … It feels ridiculous to hold section today, but I’ll see you all on Zoom in a bit.” One student left class in the middle of a professor’s broadside against Israel in a required course in the Middle East–studies department. Afterward, he sent an email to the professor explaining his departure, to which the professor wrote back, saying they could discuss it in class later. When the student returned, the professor read his email aloud to the whole class, and invited everyone to discuss the exchange. It felt like an act of deliberate humiliation.

When I talked with Jewish students at Columbia, I was struck by how they, too, tended to speak in the language of the intersectional left. They described their “lived experience” and trauma: the pain they felt on October 7 as they learned of the attacks; the fear that consumed them when they heard protesters call for the annihilation of Israel. They sincerely expected their university to respond with unabashed empathy, because that’s how it had responded in the past to other terrible events. Instead, Columbia greeted their pain with the soon-to-be-infamous concept of “context,” including a panel discussion that explained the attacks as the product of a long struggle. This historicizing felt as if it not only discounted Jewish students’ suffering but also regarded it as a moral failing...

There are many reasons for the unusual intensity of events at Columbia, which is located in a city that is a traditional bastion of the American left; its campus is where the late Palestinian American literary critic Edward Said achieved legendary status. But Columbia is also a graphic example of the collapse of the liberalism that had insulated American Jews: It is a microcosm of a society that has lost its capacity to express disagreements without resorting to animus...

In 2022, the Tufts political scientist Eitan Hersh conducted a comprehensive study of Jewish life on American college campuses, which surveyed both Jews and Gentiles. Hersh found that on campuses with a relatively high proportion of Jewish students, nearly one in five non-Jewish students said they “wouldn’t want to be friends with someone who supports the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.” They were saying, in essence, that they couldn’t be friends with the majority of Jews...

The German government, for understandable reasons, doesn’t count Jews. But the embassy sent me a tally of passport applications submitted under laws that apply to victims of Nazi persecution and their descendants. In 2017, after Trump’s election, the number of applications nearly doubled from the year before, to 1,685, and then kept growing. In 2022, it was 2,500. These aren’t large numbers in absolute terms; still, it’s extraordinary that so many American Jews, whose applications required documenting that their families once fled Germany, now consider the country a safer haven than the United States.

I also saw signs of flight in Oakland, where at least 30 Jewish families have been approved to transfer their children to neighboring school districts—and I heard similar stories in the surrounding area. Initial data collected by an organization representing Jewish day schools, which have long struggled for enrollment, show a spike in the number of admission inquiries from families contemplating pulling their kids from public school."


This is yet another counter-example to the right wing anti-Semites' claim that all Jews support Israel unconditionally

Of course, he has to bash Trump and Musk even though she can't point to anything they did or said that's anti-Semitic ("dog whistling" is the way to put words in people's mouths as usual)

Too bad if you point out that the left treat Jews like they treat white people, you get condemned as racist

Links - 19th April 2024 (2 - Housing)

Growth Boundaries: Counterproductive, Expensive, and Anti-Urban - "There are usually two rationales for growth management. The first is environmental: it preserves natural areas on the metro fringe. That goal seems short-sighted, for reasons I’ll state below. The second is that growth management helps contain infrastructure costs. If growth cannot extend beyond a boundary, or does so incrementally, it will prevent excess extension of roads, pipes, etc. That might be a valid benefit, and one I’ll explore in a later article. In this piece, however, I’m more interested in the costs of growth management. The main one is affordability; when governments draw lines where growth can and cannot go, it reduces the supply of buildable land, and thus also the supply of housing. This makes housing more expensive, according to the economic literature. One study, titled “A Line in the Land”, found that in various U.S. cities, growth restraints led to price increases and political manipulation by NIMBYs. Other studies, focusing on Portland, said that pre-UGB the city never had home price medians above the national median. But the UGB caused a price spike in the early 1990s, and has continued, writes Portland State University business professor Gerard Mildner, because of the UGB’s rigidity... Growth management advocates often say that metros can maintain their housing elasticity by upzoning the core. But this often isn’t allowed either, due to the density limits described above. Instead they become places that can’t grow anywhere—up, in, or out. Randal O’Toole, a research fellow at the Independent Institute, argues that even if these metros allowed ample infill, they would not become affordable with growth containment policies still in place. Because peripheral land is cheaper, and low-rise suburban tract housing easier to build, suburban greenfields are more hardwired for affordability than infill neighborhoods, he believes. In a recent public debate, O’Toole noted that every state has low-density zoning, but only some struggle with affordability. They are generally the ones that instituted strict suburban growth management policies. The suggestion is that these arbitrary lines are part of the regulatory salad that makes housing expensive, and may even be the most significant regulation of all. Beyond affordability issues, growth management amounts to an oversimplified approach to urbanism. The main reason boils down to the fact that cities are complex... Growth containment laws posit that all these complex operations should occur inside a narrow boundary, whether or not expensive urban land is the best place for them. This violates “comparative advantage”—an economic principle stating that different land areas have different optimum uses—and is tyrannical to boot... There’s no point in forcing the suburban areas right next to cities also to be farms and forests. It’s a bit of agrarian-romanticism that ignores the entire point of urbanization. But the most ironic thing about growth containment is that it may worsen sprawl. In Portland, the UGB only extends 10-15 miles east, west and south beyond city limits (Portland’s northern boundary is Vancouver, WA). That is a limited buildable area for a 2.2-million-person metro, and causes people to leapfrog to distant cities. Consider: 8 of Oregon’s 10 fastest-growing cities sit right inside the edge of Portland’s UGB, showing the demand for suburban sprawl and the desire to live near, but not in, the city... Portland’s commuter statistical area is now comparable to larger metros like New York. “Perhaps the greatest irony is that an ‘urban containment’ policy designed to prevent sprawl could well be accelerating it,” wrote Cox in New Geography. “Higher prices, in part due to [the UGB], have forced more people to look ever further for housing that is affordable.”"

The Anglosphere needs to learn to love apartment living | Financial Times - "Forty years ago, the UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland had roughly 400 homes per 1,000 residents, level with developed continental European countries. Since then the two groups have diverged, the Anglosphere standing still while western Europe has pulled clear to 560 per 1,000.  Unsurprisingly, the same pattern is reflected in house prices, which have risen further and faster in most anglophone countries since the global financial crisis than elsewhere. There appears to be a deep-seated aversion to urban density in anglophone culture that sets these countries apart from the rest. Three distinct factors are at work here.  The first is a shared culture that values the privacy of one’s own home — most easily achieved in low-rise, single-family housing. The phrase “an Englishman’s home is his castle” dates back several centuries. From this came the American dream of a detached property surrounded by a white picket fence, while Australians and New Zealanders aspired to a “quarter acre”. A new YouGov survey bears this out: when asked if they would like to live in an apartment in a 3-4-floor block — picture the elegant streets of Paris, Barcelona or Rome — Britons and Americans say “no” by roughly 40 per cent and 30 per cent respectively, whereas continental Europeans are strongly in favour. The cumulative impact of centuries of such preferences is huge. Across the OECD as a whole, 40 per cent of people live in apartments, and the EU average is 42. But that plummets to 9 per cent in Ireland, 14 per cent in Australia, 15 per cent in New Zealand and 20 per cent in the UK.  And it’s not just living in these apartments that Britons don’t like. Almost half say they would oppose new 3-4-storey blocks in their local area, whereas in every European country surveyed a plurality would be in favour. This brings us to the second shared problem: planning systems. No matter that the UK has a discretionary approach while the others use zoning — the planning regimes in all six anglophone countries are united in facilitating objections to individual applications, rather than proactive public engagement at the policy-setting stage. This preserves the low-density status quo. Finally, we have what I call the nature paradox: Anglophone planning frameworks give huge weight to environmental conservation, yet the preference for low-density developments fuels car-dependent sprawl and eats up more of that cherished green and pleasant land."

Auckland: the 2016 upzoning worked - "In 2016 Auckland upzoned about 75% of its core urban area. Six years later, there’s been a lot more construction, expanding total housing supply by 4%. Rents in Auckland haven’t risen as fast as in the rest of New Zealand, and affordability (rent as a percentage of household income) is now better than in the rest of the country, when it used to be worse."

Inclusionary Zoning: The Most Promising—or Counter-productive—of All Housing Policies - "Imagine two towns, both committed to helping their low-income residents but short on funding for social services. Both decide to require retailers to sell 5 or 10 percent of their wares at steeply discounted prices to families who qualify for benefits: milk, jeans, refrigerators, whatever. But they do it two different ways.  The first town flat-out forces stores to do it, giving them nothing back in exchange. The place gets a little better for the lowest-income families who qualified for the discount, but there are other unintended, but inevitable, consequences that hurt the whole community. Retail is highly competitive, so only the most profitable shops can afford to sell a share of their products at a loss. Lots of stores go out of business, and surviving stores tend to be ones with bigger markups and higher prices: Nordstrom, not Payless; Whole Foods, not Safeway. Prices for everybody not qualified for discounts go up. Even for those who receive the discounts, there are fewer places to shop and marked-down supplies are limited. The town overall becomes less prosperous.  The second town also requires “inclusionary pricing”—the same 5 or 10 percent discounts to qualifying families—but this town also compensates stores with economic benefits of comparable value: they can build a bigger shop than otherwise allowed under local laws; add profitable new ventures, such as liquor sales; dispense with expensive parking lots that were otherwise required; and win exemptions from certain taxes. In this community, retailers come out even and stay in business. The money they lose on their inclusionary sales is balanced out by gains from new benefits. Families with lower incomes shop where everyone else does, in a range of stores. Unlike the town that does not balance out the cost of its inclusionary pricing, this second town makes sure low-income families can thrive and be part of the local social fabric without shuttering stores and pushing up prices for those who don’t get the discount—keeping the whole community thriving and intact...  If IZ imposes costs that it doesn’t sufficiently offset, it will suppress homebuilding. Without new homebuilding, IZ can effectively freeze neighborhoods in architectural amber, choke off housing choices, inflate home prices, accelerate the displacement of working families, erect walls to opportunity and inclusion, and forestall both density and affordability... Many people active in local politics—including many neighborhood groups, social justice advocates, politicians, and ordinary voters—seem convinced that developers make so much money they can easily absorb the costs of subsidizing rent for a share of their tenants... f IZ imposes costs on homebuilding, on net, fewer homes will be built. There is no free lunch. There is no wiggling out of the economics. IZ without balancing offsets will push some prospective housing developments from black to red ink, suppressing housing choices and driving up housing prices for everyone. Rising prices, in turn, drive displacement of cities’ families and individuals with low incomes and wealth. In this way, un-offset IZ can effectively function precisely as what its proponents aim to overcome: exclusionary zoning. In places with housing shortages and rising prices, un-offset IZ is a zero-sum game at best: it helps affordability by creating some subsidized homes, but hurts affordability overall by hampering the creation of more homes overall."

The Verdict Is In: Land Use Regulations Increase Housing Costs - "the Obama administration published the report "Housing Development Toolkit." Rather than echoing past presidential administrations, and thinking up all the ways that the federal government could subsidize homeownership, the report listed why homes are so expensive in the first place: restrictive zoning, bureaucratic delay and other regulations. The report laid out a 10-point plan for how expensive major metro areas can reduce their housing prices, mainly by liberalizing their markets to increase supply.  The surprising thing was that this call for deregulation came from a Democratic president whose answer for other government-imposed problems--from expensive health care to failing inner city schools to slow economic growth--is to advocate for more government interference. So what inspired Obama's unusual position?  It might be that the academic literature has by now grown so overwhelming that certain conclusions can't be ignored...   The best part of having this academic, bipartisan consensus against land use regulations is that it may drown out all the phony theories behind why housing prices are so high. In San Francisco, to name one example, just about every last scapegoat has been targeted for eating up the housing supply, including the growing tech industry, rich Asian immigrants buying second homes, Airbnb hosts who use their units for short-term rentals, and developers who only build luxury units. Others claim that the city's proximity to water and mountains, mixed with its high residential density, makes it "land constrained"; of course, this is a self-imposed problem, since regulations prevent much of the infill and outlying land alike from getting built up. And activists have even stated that San Francisco's innate characteristics as a dense and historic city make it so desirable that no amount of supply will satiate demand; in other words, the city functions outside of basic economic laws. These arguments have been used in other expensive cities like New York and Washington, DC.   But anecdotal evidence shows that global megacities that embrace rapid construction, such as Houston and Tokyo, can maintain affordability despite populations that are both fast-growing and wealthy. The academic literature shows that this isn't an accident; regulations that restrict supply really do make areas more expensive, while a hands-off attitude creates more elastic markets and lower prices. It's nice that America's highest level of government has caught on."

It’s Easy To Blame Private Equity For Housing Shortage, But Crisis Has Deeper Roots - "The Democrats who run the US House Financial Services Committee have identified a convenient villain: corporate investors.  The committee held a hearing today, and the name of the session is the giveaway: “Where Have All the Houses Gone? Private Equity, Single Family Rentals, and America’s Neighborhoods.” Indeed, corporate investors have purchased hundreds of thousands of single-family homes across the country over the last decade, making it harder for Millennials, Gen Z and other first time buyers to break into the market.  But, some experts, including a key one at the hearing, argue that the problems with the housing market run much deeper; they pin the housing shortage and rising rents on the lack of new home building since the Great Recession."

Raze, rebuild, repeat: why Japan knocks down its houses after 30 years - "Unlike in other countries, Japanese homes gradually depreciate over time, becoming completely valueless within 20 or 30 years. When someone moves out of a home or dies, the house, unlike the land it sits on, has no resale value and is typically demolished. This scrap-and-build approach is a quirk of the Japanese housing market that can be explained variously by low-quality construction to quickly meet demand after the second world war, repeated building code revisions to improve earthquake resilience and a cycle of poor maintenance due to the lack of any incentive to make homes marketable for resale... Everywhere from major metropolitan areas such as Tokyo and Osaka to struggling mid-size cities to suburban housing estates, renovated buildings are an evolving niche in the property market, emblematic of the dramatic transformation under way in Japan. The country is shrinking
Weird. Why aren't greedy investors buying up Japanese houses and driving up prices like in the rest of the developed world? Clearly the Japanese are doing something right by having less greedy people than in the rest of the world!

Why is Melbourne’s housing still so much cheaper than Sydney’s? - "Whether they buy or rent, Melburnians are, on average, spending less on housing than Sydneysiders, enough to entice anyone struggling with Sydney’s seemingly impossible housing market.  And while vacancy rates in Melbourne are the country’s lowest – at 0.8% – its median rent, at $543, is still $180 cheaper than Sydney’s. Only Adelaide has cheaper median rent than Melbourne, which makes the Victorian capital a very tempting proposition for young people or low-income families... Long-term factors include the natural geography that borders and restricts Sydney, including national parks and mountains that prevent endless, easy expansion.  Another is the simple fact that Melbourne has been able to build more dwellings than Sydney... Since 1992, NSW has, on average, built around six dwellings for every 1,000 people each year, compared with eight to nine dwellings for every 1,000 people in Victoria and Queensland. The report also said that the costs of building new dwellings, particularly apartments, were significantly higher in Sydney, making it harder to increase supply and in turn decrease rent.  “So Melbourne’s been able to produce or committed to more development of apartments than Sydney, particularly in the inner city, making their apartment prices cheaper,” Wiltshire says.  “The restrictions on how high you can build, in particular, bind much tighter in Sydney.”... “The median income between New South Wales and Victoria is pretty similar, but the distribution of those incomes is quite different. You’ve got a greater proportion of people in that high income bracket in New South Wales than you have in Victoria.  “And that would push up prices at the top end of the market which tends to spill over into other portions of the market as well.”"
Liberal logic: developers are greedier in Sydney than in Melbourne. There is no point reducing the cost of building, since greedy developers won't pass on the savings

‘Thanks Dave!’ Residents Cheer Chappelle After He Blocks Development, Buys 52-Acre Lot Near His Home - "Dave Chappelle’s neighbors cheered him after Chappelle bought the entire 52-acre lot near his home in Yellow Springs, Ohio, to block a proposed 140-home development... “The village and Oberer had worked together to produce a plan that would include duplexes and affordable housing along with single-family homes in a 53-acre area along Spillan Road at the south edge of town”... “The houses they were going to build were not affordable to the people who live in the village,” Chappelle’s publicist Carla Sims told the Daily Mail. “It was going to attract interlopers. Dave was trying to make sure that the people that live in Yellow Springs can stay and afford to live in Yellow Springs. This development was not going to do that.”"
Damn greedy developers and landlords keeping housing expensive!

Why self-made millionaire Tori Dunlap still rents - "“I was 22 and trying to figure out my career and what my life looked like,” she says. “I did not have the skills to be able to manage a home, to make repairs on the home.”  Today, she’s a multi-millionaire who still rents. “That’s 100% OK because it’s something that makes sense in my life,” she says. “I’m single, I don’t have kids and I travel a lot. It’s nice knowing that I have the flexibility to pick up and move if I want to.” Rather than tying up much of her wealth into a single property, she grows those funds in diversified investments instead... While some people might think that monthly homeownership costs will be cheaper in the long-run compared with renting, that’s increasingly untrue in most real estate markets.  For 89% of Americans, renting a two-bedroom home is cheaper than buying a comparable property, according to a recent analysis by The Economist. Three years ago, that was true for only 16% of Americans, the study says.  Plus, there are other recurring homeownership expenses you don’t have to pay for as a renter, including private mortgage insurance, property taxes, mortgage interest and the cost of repairs. Not to mention, coming up with enough cash for a down payment."

Market-rate housing will make your city cheaper - "The activist asked me what I thought we needed to do to ensure affordable housing in San Francisco, to which I responded “We should let people build a lot more of it.” At which point a look of shock and dismay came over her face, and in a horrified voice she asked: “Market rate??”  “Yes,” I said. “Market rate.”  In fact, the belief that building market-rate housing raises rents is surprisingly common... Cook seems to be concerned mainly with the price of buying a house. But “affordable housing” policies, like inclusionary zoning, rent control, and public housing, are all about renting houses... it seems as if he thinks that the price of a market-rate rental unit comes built into its walls and floors — that market rents in an expensive city are fixed, and have nothing to do with the number of units that exist there... Because some units in a modern American city are price-controlled, it means that market-rate units will usually be more expensive than the average unit. This isn’t always 100% true — some market-rate units might be even cheaper than price-controlled units because they’re really small and crappy, or because they’re in a really dangerous neighborhood, etc. But in general, market-rate units will be more expensive than the average unit. So it’s easy to see how building more market-rate housing can increase average rents. The key word here is “average”... Suppose you bulldoze a parking lot in San Francisco and build a gleaming new tower full of market-rate apartments targeted at tech workers. Maybe some tech workers move in from San Jose or Palo Alto to live in those apartments — but probably not, since their jobs are down in San Jose and Palo Alto. More likely, they move into the gleaming new market-rate units from other parts of San Francisco. They move from low-rises in the Mission and Bernal Heights, from old Victorians in the Haight, and so on.  And when the tech workers move to the new tower, what happens to those rental units they just vacated? Those units go on the market! And unless landlords want to let their units sit vacant for many months (which costs them a lot of money), they have to rent those units at a discount to whatever they were charging before. Who moves into those newly discounted units? Maybe some other tech yuppies looking for a bargain. Maybe some service workers paying market rent in the East Bay and commuting over every day to work in SF. Maybe some middle-class family currently paying market rent elsewhere in SF. It’s not clear.  But whoever it is, the availability of a discounted market-rate unit gives them some negotiating leverage with their current landlord... So by this process, building fancy new expensive market-rate housing lowers rents for regular folks.  This process is especially important when you have a city that’s attracting a big influence of highly-paid people looking for rental units (i.e., yuppies). Without any new market-rate construction, the yuppies will flood into the city’s older housing stock, offering to throw wads of cash at landlords for the chance to move into a low-rise or an old SF Victorian or a Brooklyn brownstone or whatever. By building gleaming new towers of fancy “luxury” units, you can divert those yuppies, so that they don’t start a bidding war with existing middle-class residents for existing middle-class units... it’s especially cynical and counterproductive when so-called “progressives” in cities like SF block the construction of new housing on parking lots, as happens rather regularly. But even if you have to tear down existing housing to build market-rate housing, you can get a net benefit in terms of affordability. If you tear down 50 units of low-rise housing and replace them with 500 units in a huge tower, that’s a lot of new supply. So the benefit can outweigh the cost in terms of affordability.  Of course, there is a way that building market-rate housing can raise rents within a small area. It’s called “induced demand”. If a new apartment tower makes a neighborhood seem nicer or more upscale, it can draw in high-income people from elsewhere, raising demand for housing in the nearby area. That increased demand will raise rents locally. But it’ll still improve affordability overall, because the rich people who move to that neighborhood will leave their old neighborhood. That reduces demand for housing in the old neighborhood, which will make it more affordable... the “induced demand” or “gentrification” effect — there are a bunch of papers showing that even that doesn’t usually happen... New market-rate housing lowers rents in the surrounding area a little bit, though the effect is probably mitigated by the induced demand effect. In a few cases, induced demand can even cancel out the supply effect within a very small radius. At the citywide level, though, you get the full effect. Opponents of market-rate housing will occasionally grasp at a single study that seems to go against this growing weight of evidence. But even then, they almost always misunderstand the research they try to cite... Opponents of market-rate housing construction have a ridiculous fantasy that if they can just restrict supply enough, rich yuppies will be forced to move far away, while middle-class and working-class people will get to stay where they are. This is simply not what happens. What actually happens is that money finds a way — the landlords together find a way to get what they want, which is to expel the middle-class and working-class renters out of town, and have the higher-paying yuppies take over their units. This is exactly what happened in San Francisco. Incredibly low rates of market-rate housing construction in SF and surrounding cities led to soaring rents and a stagnant population, while median incomes also soared — not because everyone in SF got a giant raise, but because lower-income people were driven out of the city by high rents! People need to abandon the fantasy that blocking market-rate housing can drive rich people out of town. It cannot. All it can do is to make life more unaffordable for everyone."
Left wingers hate the market and don't understand how it works, so
Refusing to build housing leads to gentrification, as poor people get pushed out

JUE Insight: The effect of new market-rate housing construction on the low-income housing market - "I illustrate how new market-rate construction loosens the market for lower-quality housing through a series of moves. First, I use address history data to identify 52,000 residents of new multifamily buildings in large cities, their previous address, the current residents of those addresses, and so on for six rounds. The sequence quickly reaches units in below-median income neighborhoods, which account for nearly 40 percent of the sixth round, and similar patterns appear for neighborhoods in the bottom quintile of income or percent white. Next, I use a simple simulation model to roughly quantify these migratory connections under a range of assumptions. Constructing a new market-rate building that houses 100 people ultimately leads 45 to 70 people to move out of below-median income neighborhoods, with most of the effect occurring within three years. These results suggest that the migration ripple effects of new housing will affect a wide spectrum of neighborhoods and loosen the low-income housing market."
Left wingers don't understand the ripple effect

Supply Skepticism Revisited - "Although “supply skeptics” claim that new housing supply does not slow growth in rents, we show that rigorous recent studies demonstrate that: 1) Increases in housing supply slow the growth in rents in the region; 2) In some circumstances, new construction also reduces rents or rent growth in the surrounding area; 3) The chains of moves sparked by new construction free up apartments that are then rented (or retained) by households across the income spectrum; 4) While new supply is associated with gentrification, it has not been shown to cause significant displacement of lower income households; and 5) Easing land use restrictions, at least on a broad scale and in ways that change binding constraints on development, generally leads to more new housing over time, but only a fraction of the new capacity created because many other factors constrain the pace of new development."

Australia should prepare for the death of the middle class, experts warn - ““The main issue is obviously the housing market,” Mr van Onselen said… Red hot inflation over recent years has seen the cost of goods and services soar, he added, putting intense pressure on household budgets. “But on top of that, people’s average tax rates have risen very strongly in the past couple of years, so they’ve had more of their disposable income lost there too.” Australia has gotten to a once-unimaginable situation where having a full-time job is no longer a shield against financial despair and even poverty, social services groups say. Last year, St Vincent de Paul Society saw a 40 per cent surge in the number of calls for support from struggling Aussies. Many of them belong to a cohort that would broadly be considered “to have security in their quality of life”, a Vinnies spokesman told NCA Newswire… The gap between rich and poor has widened so much that Australia’s middle class is worse off than it was 20 years ago, financial adviser Alex Jamieson believes. “Back in the 2000s, life was certainly easier; the houses were bigger, the school fees weren’t as expensive and many people didn’t have mortgages close to what they are sitting at now””

Is the Environmental Movement Killing Itself with Social Justice? - "The tweet got a fair bit of attention. So far, it’s had 1,081 “impressions” (meaning people who saw it), with some “likes” and retweets, but it got a hostile reply from an anti-sprawl group in southern Ontario. The reply was a copy and paste from Wikipedia, which called NumbersUSA anti-immigrant, and cited the Southern Poverty Law Center in saying it was conceived by “white nationalist John Tanton” as the “grassroots arm for the anti-immigrant movement.”  Several things are noteworthy about the reply: one is how biased the entry in Wikipedia is; another is that the SPLC still retains any shred of credibility after its corruption and highly questionable money-raising methods were exposed a few years ago – not to mention the bad behaviour of its founder, Morris Dees, who was fired in 2018.  John Tanton was an ophthalmologist and conservationist who was concerned about America’s rapid population growth, which since the mid-sixties has been driven by immigration. By SPLC-type reasoning, that made him a white supremacist. It’s also noteworthy that whoever copied and pasted from Wikipedia was content with accepting what it said without further investigation.  PIC replied to the anti-sprawl group by saying that the NumbersUSA study should be judged on its own merits and that the discredited SPLC should not be used as an excuse to ignore the impact of population growth on sprawl...   One of PIC’s followers on Twitter who frequently posts population-related material, including retweeting PIC’s tweets, informed PIC via “Messages” (i.e., directed only to PIC) that she had been blocked on Twitter by the lead author of a paper on “post-growth climate mitigation scenarios” published on Research Gate. When she asked him why, he explained (via email) that she had tried to use his work “in service of an anti-immigrant, closed-borders argument,” and that if she was concerned about ecological breakdown, what she needed “to target is capitalism, not immigrants and refugees, who are overwhelmingly victims of it.”  He asserted that “we can have a post-growth society with immigration – the two are not incompatible.” He also asserted that, speaking as an ecological scientist, the claim to reject immigration on ecological grounds had “been rebutted repeatedly” and was “a position used cynically by people whose only actual concern is to uphold racial chauvinism.” PIC can certainly agree with him about the desirability of “gender equality, universal access to high-quality education and healthcare, and decent livelihoods and economic security.” These he said were the “basic socialist principles” she should be arguing for and that she had “put the cart before the horse” with her concerns about population growth... To have concerns about immigration levels does not make one “anti-immigrant” any more than using birth control makes one anti-baby... some environmental organizations, as discussed above, do more than ignore the population issue, they also actively disparage those who address it"

End Wokeness on X - "NYC homeowners who lost their homes to squatters sat down with CBS.  Some of them are now in debt for paying electricity and maintenance bills for the squatters.   Squatters turn into tenants after 30 DAYS.  After that timeframe, homeowners will be arrested if they turn off electricity/water, attempt to evict them, or change locks."

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