September 23, 2022

Posted by orrinj at 6:04 PM


More Democrats Than Ever Support The Palestinian Cause, And That's Dividing The Party (Zoha Qamar, SEP. 22, 2022, 538)

Summer 2014 marked one of the most deadly episodes of violence in Gaza. In May that year, Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed two Palestinian teenagers. In June, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped while hitchhiking in the West Bank and ultimately killed, and the IDF launched a full-force defense operation in response. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 73 Israelis were killed -- 67 soldiers and six civilians. Meanwhile, 2,251 Palestinians were killed, 551 of them children. Those casualty numbers affected the way the world saw the conflict, and the narrative of justified self-defense that the IDF presented wasn't universally accepted outside Israel, said Dov Waxman, director of the Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies at UCLA.

"It's really the last decade, during which so many events and shifts and factors have changed thoughts in the public domain," Waxman said." Indeed, myriad dynamics -- for example, how U.S. social-justice movements drew parallels to the escalating violence of the 2010s and how Donald Trump's allied stance toward Israel raised eyebrows during his presidency -- have gradually moved the needle on how the American public views the Palestinians. 

Notably, what happened in 2014 was the first large-scale escalation in the age of widespread social media. In the years since, researchers have pointed to the ways in which social media has reframed how the international community observes war in real time, whether over the past decade with the Palestinians or this year with the Ukrainians. Whereas bumper stickers once spread messages locally, hashtags were now sending information buzzing around the globe. Until then, most wide-scale information, particularly about life in Gaza, came through mainstream media outlets. Now, for the first time, people around the world were exposed and had access to firsthand accounts from Palestinians, many of which challenged (or at least contextualized) the details reported by large outlets. Some posts also singled out headlines and language used by such publications, accusing their framing of the violence as unfairly neglecting the Palestinian struggle.

"That summer, it was just so clear, how disproportionate the violence was," said Ben Daniel. "The Israeli government will often talk about their assaults as 'it's a war,' but it became clear that there was only one side with a military."

Her change in perspective is indicative of how Americans' opinions on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have shifted, too -- with change especially pronounced among younger Americans. According to Pew Research Center data from March, 61 percent of American adults under 30 have a favorable view of the Palestinian people, compared with 56 percent who have a favorable view of the Israeli people. Ben Daniel thinks it's important that these young Americans have also been witnessing growing civil rights movements at home.

Political Zionism is ultimately destined to lose the support of Americans for the same reason our old allies the Afrikkaners did.
Posted by orrinj at 5:50 PM


Cars Are Vanishing from Paris (Peter Yeung, September 23, 2022, Reason to be Cheerful)

Under Mayor Hidalgo, Paris has done as much as any city in the world to wage a war on cars amid a growing awareness of the damaging impact they have on cities.

Passenger cars emit huge amounts of pollution and are an inefficient use of finite public space. They are Europe's second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and the leading killer of children. Copenhagen has calculated that for each kilometer cycled by a resident, society reaps a benefit of €0.64 ($0.64), whereas each kilometer driven costs us €0.71 in impacts on health, safety and the environment.

But over recent years, Paris has implemented an array of measures to prioritize pedestrians, cyclists and transit while bringing car use screeching to a halt. In addition to pedestrianizing the Seine's quayside, the French capital has banned heavily polluting diesel cars through the creation of a low-emission zone (which will become progressively more stringent from now until 2030), reduced drivers' access to major streets, expanded green areas, and promoted other ways getting around the city. (During the pandemic, 50 kilometers of cycle routes were added to the existing 700 kilometer network).

As a result, the proportion of journeys by car in Paris has dropped about 45 percent since 1990, according to a paper published by the journal Les Cahiers Scientifiques du Transport. At the same time, the use of public transit has risen by 30 percent and the share of cyclists has increased tenfold.

Posted by orrinj at 5:48 PM


Kwarteng brings in a 'new era' of British economic policy - one where growth comes first (Daniel Pryor, 9/23/22, CapX)

Today's 'mini Budget' was proof that the new government are not just talking the talk, but walking the walk: the Growth Plan released as the Chancellor spoke this morning states firmly that 'economic growth is the government's central mission'. Kwasi Kwarteng has put a number on in too, making a 2.5% trend growth target his medium-term aim. After more than a decade of post-financial crisis stagnation and low productivity, such explicit recognition of our central economic problem is hugely welcome.

Granted, when he was Chancellor, Rishi Sunak gave the occasional nod to the virtues of low taxes too, and had slated some income tax changes for a few years down the line. The key difference now is that the policy actually matches the rhetoric: jam today, not jam at some indeterminate point in the future. The Government's tax cuts are unprecedented in modern politics--the biggest tax-cutting event in half a century--and represent the beginning of, in Kwarteng's words, a 'new era' in British economic policy. The days of lazily judging every fiscal change by its immediate distributional impacts alone are over and the 'boosters' are in the ascendancy.

Scrapping the planned corporation tax rise means we will avoid the serious damage it would have done to investment, wages and living standards, with macroeconomic feedback helping to cushion the expected blow to Treasury revenues in the medium term. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:31 AM


Beyond Unhinged: How Trump Confessed To Bank Fraud On 'Hannity' (Lucian K. Truscott IV, 9/23/22, , National Memo)

Hannity presses on, agreeing with Trump that the lenders have their own valuations, "they've got their own bosses and shareholders they have to answer to," because it's not your fault, it's the fault of these biggest, bestest, most powerful people you're dealing with.

Leaning forward, again indicating the gilded magnificence of the room at Mar a Lago, Trump confidently says, "So they would look at a property like this, I don't even have a mortgage on this property, I don't have a mortgage on most of my properties," says the man who has signed away practically everything he owns to Deutsche Bank to get the money he's living on.

"You know, I used to read where he's overextended, he has so much money he borrowed, and I'm saying, what are they talking about? But actually, the one good thing is that people see what a great company I built. I built a great company. A powerful company. A company that's very lowly-leveraged, with among the best assets anywhere in the world, and you look at this asset, and she has this down to $75 million dollars, I can tell you, it's many times that number. She said, oohh, he evaluated it at 75 or whatever it is, and she valued it at 75, or whatever it is, this is Letitia James, no, but if I were going, I don't even have a mortgage on this property, but if I was going to put a mortgage on this property, the institutions are going to be coming over, they're going to be going through comparable properties all over Palm Beach or wherever it is, Miami, we have them all over, we have tremendous properties..."

Are you following this? This is Mar-a-Lago he's talking about. Trump has been charged in the New York lawsuit with overvaluing his properties to use them as collateral for loans. Letitia James, who did her due diligence and looked up all the comparable properties in Palm Beach, determined that Mar-a-Lago was worth $75 million. The New York attorney general discovered in Trump's financials that that he valued it at $739 million in order to qualify for loans.

What Trump does, in his roundabout, incoherent interview with Hannity, is take a shovel in hand and dig a big hole and jump into it wearing his blue suit and red tie and black lace-up shoes, when says Letitia James doesn't have a case against him for overvaluing his properties on loan applications, but look at me! I'm right here on national television and I'm providing all the proof you need that I overstated the value of my properties, in this case, Mar-a-Lago, which isn't worth what non-billionaire Letitia James said it was worth, but "many times that number."

These public statements by Trump, made on the same day he was sued in New York State, are all admissible in James' lawsuit against him. She says he overvalued his properties. Trump's defense is, no I didn't, and yet here he is admitting that's exactly what he did, and he got away with it because the banks with all the best and biggest and most powerful law firms went along with it and loaned him money, so it's all their fault, not his. And yet it's Donald Trump's name on those loan applications Hannity asked him if he filled out, and it's his name on those valuations, and whether the banks went along with his numbers and loaned him money or not, he attested that what he was putting on those financial documents was true.

That, my friends, is called bank fraud, live on the Sean Hannity show on Fox News for everyone, including Letitia James, to see. And that's why we need a new word for "unhinged."

Posted by orrinj at 7:21 AM


House Republicans pull ads from Ohio Trump district (Josh Kraushaar, 9/23/22, Axios)

The National Republican Congressional Committee withdrew about $1 million in ad reservations for the district, according to a GOP source familiar with its strategy, all but surrendering the seat to Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur.

Why it matters: Kaptur's redrawn district -- which backed Trump by three points in 2020 -- once looked like an easy pickup for House Republicans. The GOP is now at risk of squandering another race because Republican primary voters nominated an extreme candidate.

Details: Majewski, an Air Force veteran, has been under fire for sympathizing with the QAnon conspiracy theory movement and saying that every state that backed Trump in 2020 should secede from the United States.

The AP reported this week that Majewski misrepresented his military service, inaccurately claiming he was deployed to Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. In reality, he spent six months loading planes at an air base in Qatar.

Posted by orrinj at 7:13 AM


I miss the stiff upper lip: Some social constructions deserve to be kept (Tim Dawson, 9/23/22, The Critic)

Of course, there is an absurdity to the construct. It is, like so much of our history and culture, woven into class. The stiff upper lip, as we think of it now, is hewn in the draughty dormitories of minor public schools. It represents, to some extent, a metamorphosis: from boyish innocent into cold-hearted Major General, or venture capitalist, or Tory politician. There is a twinkle to it, as well: almost a foolhardiness. Its roots are undeniably martial. We think of the officers, on parched foreign soil, insisting on stopping for tea as their position is overrun. We think of the response to Lord Cardigan, following the disastrous charge of the light brigade: "Never mind, my Lord, we are ready to go again". We think -- grimly, blackly -- of the 20,000 men killed on the first day of the Somme.

By the mid-20th century we considered ourselves a nation of quiet stoics. We suffered, yes, as all humans suffer; but we coped. Just. 

"When I was a regular soldier, we had lots of officers who was Honourable, you know," says Lance Corporal Jones, in Jimmy Perry and David Croft's sitcom masterpiece Dad's Army. "At least they was called Honourable. They used to stand there in an haughty manner, as if they'd got a smell under their noses. I tell you one thing -- they was very good at keeping their stiff upper lips. Do you know, we had a young officer in the battle of Omdurman, he had his head blown right off -- and his upper lip was as stiff as cardboard."

Something has certainly changed. We have moved from communicating almost complete emotional breakdown via the merest twitch in the left eyebrow, to proclaiming the most trivial problems as loudly and publicly as possible. 

I say all this as a man with something of an artistic temperament (a temperament, actually, that I'd prefer I didn't have). I tend to pick up on other's emotions and often find myself moved. If I were on the pronoun-wielding left, I'd probably describe myself as an "empath". Even typing it, typing this, feels icky and self-indulgent -- isn't everyone an empath? There's nothing quite like the word "empath" in someone's social media bio to set my Spidey sense on edge. Those that genuinely wear their heart on their sleeve often prefer to pull a discreet cuff over it.

The irony is I find the world of constant fake outrage and hysteria harder to navigate than a consensus that was just a touch more circumspect. I don't think people should button up their emotions until they explode. Hell, even Churchill blubbed. But I am struck that, as a society, we have never been never more more open -- yet, it seems, we have never been less happy.

Rifleman Benjamin Harris, whose superb first-hand recollections of his time in Wellington's Anglo-Portuguese Army are well worth a read, faced death, plague, violence and deprivation. Yet he seems happy; he reports that he was happy. If you took the average British 25-year-old from 1809, and the average British 25-year-old today, and examined their raw mental state, which would be healthier? I am not convinced it would be the young person today.

Posted by orrinj at 7:09 AM


EV sales to hit all-time high in 2022, IEA says, but more work needed to put world on net-zero path (Anmar Frangoul, 9/23/22, CNBC)

Electric vehicle sales are on course to hit an all-time high this year, but more work is needed in other sectors to put the planet on course for net-zero emissions by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency.

In an announcement accompanying its Tracking Clean Energy Progress update, the IEA said there had been "encouraging signs of progress across a number of sectors" but cautioned that "stronger efforts" were required to put the world "on track to reach net zero emissions" by the middle of this century.

So much done; so much yet to do.

Posted by orrinj at 6:53 AM


$9M fund created to boost Upper Valley housing, backed by area employers (NORA DOYLE-BURR, 9/23/22, Valley News)

WEST LEBANON -- Nonprofit housing finance organization Evernorth announced the creation of an $8.95 million workforce housing loan fund for the Upper Valley in a Thursday news release.

The Upper Valley Loan Fund, supported by eight Upper Valley employers, is slated to yield as many as 260 additional rental homes in the region over the next two or three years. Of the new units, 243, or 94%, are to be affordable to people earning between $13 and $25 per hour.

"The bottom line is that the workforce cannot find an affordable place to live in the Upper Valley," Deb Flannery, vice president of lending at Evernorth, said in the release. [...]

The initial fund, capitalized with investments from Bar Harbor Bank, Citizens Bank, Dartmouth College, Dartmouth Health, Hanover Co-op Food Stores, Hypertherm, King Arthur Baking and Mascoma Bank, is expected to leverage about $67 million in additional public and private financing to increase the rate of production of workforce housing.

It's a virtuous loop.

Posted by orrinj at 6:51 AM


A multi-agency state effort has successfully reduced lead in schools, officials say (EMMA COTTON, 9/23/22, VTDigger)

Almost all Vermont schools and child care programs have addressed lead in their drinking water systems thanks to a state program created and funded by a 2019 law, state officials announced this week. As a result, students' exposure to lead has plummeted. [...]

There is no safe level for lead in the body, according to the report. Exposure is particularly harmful for children, and it can slow or impair growth and cause learning and behavioral problems.

"Each year hundreds of Vermont kids are poisoned by lead," Mark Levine, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health, said in a statement. "This program shows how we can work together as a state to reduce lead exposure and keep our children healthier. Parents and caregivers can take comfort in knowing that the water their kids are consuming at their school and child care is now safer."

From June 2019 through December 2021, schools and state officials tested more than 15,000 taps, according to the report. Of those, one out of five had levels above the state's standard.

Seventy-five percent of schools and 14% of non-school based child care facilities found lead in at least one tap, and 21% of all taps needed to be replaced, according to the report. The highest concentration of lead identified was 25,000 parts per billion.

Posted by orrinj at 6:45 AM


Ukraine war comes home to Russians as Putin imposes draft (Anton Troianovski, Valerie Hopkins, Ivan Nechepurenko and Alina Lobzina, 9/23/22, New York Times)

Putin's escalation of the war effort was reverberating across the country, according to interviews, Russian news reports and social media posts. As the day wore on, it became increasingly clear that Putin's decision had torn open the cocoon shielding much of Russian society from their leader's invasion of a neighbor.

Mothers, wives and children were saying tearful goodbyes in remote regions as officials -- in some cases, ordinary schoolteachers -- delivered draft notices to houses and apartment blocks. In mountainous eastern Siberia, the Russian news media reported, school buses were being commandeered to move troops to training grounds.

Russian officials said the call-up would be limited to people with combat experience. But the net appeared wider, and some men decided it was best to head for the borders.

Yanina Nimayeva, a journalist from the Buryatia region of Siberia, said that her husband, a father of five and an employee in the emergency department in the regional capital, had been inexplicably called up. She said he received a summons to an urgent 4 a.m. meeting where it was announced that a train had been organized to bring men to the city of Chita.

"My husband is 38 years old, he is not in the reserve, he did not serve," Nimayeva said in a video addressed to regional officials.

Despite the Kremlin's crackdown on dissent, protests erupted on Wednesday night across Russia in response to Putin's move, with at least 1,312 people arrested, according to the human rights watchdog OVD-Info. More protests were reported on Thursday, including in Dagestan, an impoverished southern Russian region where anti-draft protesters blocked a federal highway.

"When we fought in 1941 to 1945 -- that was a war," one man yelled in a video of an angry crowd widely shared on social media. "And now it's not war, it's politics."

Military-age men clogged airports and border crossings trying to flee, and some ended up in distant cities like Istanbul and Namangan, Uzbekistan. "We decided that we don't want to live in this country anymore," one reservist said after arriving in Turkey.

Terrifying when the Right's bubble bursts and folks are confronted by reality.