Property Grunt

Friday, April 06, 2007

Roll Call: Easter and Passover Edition

Greetings folks, Here’s the roll call.

I saw this on the Today show this week about how Craigslist was used as a weapon delivery system when a woman’s house was pretty much gut renovated because of someone put a fake craigslist ad announcing that everything in the house was free for the taking.

Marshall Mcluhan
would argue that the medium is in the message but I say if whether it is through email television, or radio, when someone says the word free, common

Ali Rogers discovers how through the power of loss her sponsoring brokers is able to pump some adrenaline into her business with her entry The big chair

And Zillow made an important announcement about their site regarding features that will further extend their goals in world domination.

Zillow.comTM Launches Home Q&A
“Ask Questions, Share Answers”at the heart of numerous new features harnessing knowledge of agents, homeowners and neighbors

Seattle – April 4, 2007—Real estate Web site today announced the launch of Zillow™ Home Q&A, among other new features aimed at further opening the site up to community contributions. Home Q&A is the ability for anyone to ask questions and share information and insight about more than 70 million U.S. homes.

“The release of Zillow Home Q&A enables anyone to ask any question about any house for the Zillow community to answer,” said Rich Barton, Zillow CEO. “This is the next step in our quest to help make everyone smarter about real estate. A quest that began with publishing ZestimateTM values last year as a starting point to answer the critical question, ‘How much is this home worth?’ Since then, we have enabled homeowners and agents to update home facts, post homes for sale, and set their Make Me MoveTM prices. Over half a million people have made these contributions so far, and we’ve only begun to scratch the surface in helping people get answers to critical real estate questions.”

Visitors to can now “ask a question” or “answer a question” about millions of homes, right on that home’s Zillow Web page. Anyone can rate answers as “helpful” or “not helpful,” and each contribution links back to a user’s profile page – telling visitors, for example, if the question was answered by a local agent or other real estate professional, or if the contributor frequently answers questions within the Zillow community.

“Today, some of the most colorful and important information about homes and real estate is trapped inside the heads of local experts – agents, homeowners and neighbors,” said Lloyd Frink , Zillow president. “By allowing people to freely ask questions and share information online about homes, we hope to unlock, for the community as a whole, a powerful vault of data – such as an agent sharing insight into a neighborhood, or a potential buyer asking the shortest commute route downtown.”

In addition to Home Q&A, other new features announced today include:
- Anyone – agent, homeowner, buyer – can create free profile pages with photos, narratives or contact information. All site contribution links back to the user’s profile page.
- Anyone can now indicate whether a home is for sale and at what price. Prominent space on the page is reserved for homeowners and listing agents who might subsequently enter information on that home.
- Anyone can now add an unlimited number of photos to any home’s Web page – for example, historical photos of homes, before-and-after shots, or neighborhood photos.
- Additionally, today marks the launch of Zillow EZ Ads, a self-service, low-cost and geographically-targeted way for agents, other professionals and home sellers to buy ads on Zillow map pages for specific ZIP code searches. The ads take a few minutes to create and can be bought easily with a credit card. EZ Ads can link to profile pages, homes for sale on Zillow or outside Web sites.

More than 150,000 real estate agents currently visit each month; these professionals have some of the most useful knowledge to share with the Zillow community. With many of these new features, Zillow is now providing a free platform for these professionals to answer questions and contribute to conversations, interacting with the millions of buyers and sellers who visit site. All contributions – whether Q&A, a wiki edit to the Real Estate Guide, home posted for sale or EZ Ad – can link back to a professional’s Zillow profile page.

In addition to community ratings of answers, any content on can be flagged for review by Zillow’s customer service team. Contributions deemed not constructive or off-topic will be removed.

One of the most-visited U.S. real estate sites on the Web, Zillow attracted more than four million unique visitors in February 2007, just one year after the site’s launch. Nearly 90 percent of Zillow visitors own a home, and half (54 percent) plan to buy or sell in next two years. Zillow’s growing database has data and Zestimate values on more than 70 million U.S. homes. Other community features previously launched include the ability for homeowners to update and edit information on their home, and post an owner’s estimate. Since this feature launched in fall 2006, more than 600,000 homeowners have updated their home information.

For more information and commentary from the Zillow team, or to ask a question about the new features, visit the Zillow Blog at

Broadcast media: for free broadcast-standard b-roll, visit to preview and request video, either digitally or by tape.

About is an online real estate community where homeowners, buyers, sellers, and real estate agents and professionals can find and share vital information about homes, for free. Launched in early 2006 with Zestimate values and data on millions of U.S. homes, Zillow has since “opened up” the site to community input, data and dialogue, including Home Q&A. Zillow’s goal is to help people become smarter about real estate – what homes are worth, what’s for sale, and what local experts have to say about real estate and individual homes. One of the most-visited real estate Web sites, Zillow was the only online company named by Advertising Age magazine to its 2006 “Marketing 50” list of the most powerful consumer brands. Zillow is headquartered in Seattle and has raised $57 million in funding., Zillow, Zestimate and Make Me Move are trademarks of Zillow, Inc.

History will remember this man as a hero of the Japanese people.

Professor Yoshimi is man with a lot of guts to take on not only his own government but the denial of his own nation. Even if his fellow citizens dislike him now, future generations of Japanese will revere as the man who brought about the Japanese government to make amends for past atrocities committed against the innocent.

He will also be remembered as the man who tempered any of China’s motivation from turning the entire nation of Japan into a parking lot.

Here's the article.

March 31, 2007
In Japan, a Historian Stands by Proof of Wartime Sex Slavery
IT was about 15 years ago, recalled Yoshiaki Yoshimi, a mild-mannered historian, when he grew fed up with the Japanese government’s denials that the military had set up and run brothels throughout Asia during World War II.
Instead of firing off a letter to a newspaper, though, Mr. Yoshimi went to the Defense Agency’s library and combed through official documents from the 1930s. In just two days, he found a rare trove that uncovered the military’s direct role in managing the brothels, including documents that carried the personal seals of high-ranking Imperial Army officers.
Faced with this smoking gun, a red-faced Japanese government immediately dropped its long-standing claim that only private businessmen had operated the brothels. A year later, in 1993, it acknowledged in a statement that the Japanese state itself had been responsible. In time, all government-approved junior high school textbooks carried passages on the history of Japan’s military sex slaves, known euphemistically as comfort women.
“Back then, I was optimistic that this would effectively settle the issue,” Mr. Yoshimi said. “But there was a fierce backlash.”
The backlash came from young nationalist politicians led by Shinzo Abe, an obscure lawmaker at the time in the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party, who lobbied to rescind the 1993 admission of state responsibility. Their goal finally seemed close at hand after Mr. Abe became prime minister last September.
Mr. Abe said he would adhere to the 1993 statement, but he also undercut it by asserting that there was no evidence showing the military’s role in forcing women into sexual slavery. His comments incited outrage in Asia and the United States, where the House of Representatives is considering a nonbinding resolution that would call on Japan to admit unequivocally its history of sexual slavery and to apologize for it.
To Mr. Yoshimi, Mr. Abe’s denial sounded familiar. Until Mr. Yoshimi came along 15 years ago, the government had always maintained that there were no official documents to prove the military’s role in establishing the brothels. Mr. Abe was now saying there were no official documents to prove that the military forcibly procured the women — thereby discounting other evidence, including the testimony of former sex slaves.
“The fact is, if you can’t use anything except official documents, history itself is impossible to elucidate,” said Mr. Yoshimi, a history professor at Chuo University here.
The emphasis on official documents, according to Mr. Yoshimi and other historians, has long been part of the government’s strategy to control wartime history. In the two weeks between Japan’s surrender on Aug. 15, 1945, and the arrival of American occupation forces, wartime leaders fearing postwar trials incinerated so many potentially incriminating documents that the Tokyo sky was said to be black with smoke. Even today, Japan refuses to release documents that historians believe have survived and would shed light on Japan’s wartime history.
Although Mr. Yoshimi found official documents showing the military’s role in establishing brothels, he is not optimistic about unearthing documents about the military’s abduction of women.
“There are things that are never written in official documents,” he said. “That they were forcibly recruited — that’s the kind of thing that would have never been written in the first place.”
John W. Dower, a historian of Japan at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said Mr. Yoshimi’s “extremely impressive” work has “clarified the historical record in ways that people like Prime Minister Abe and those who support him refuse to acknowledge.”
MR. YOSHIMI grew up in Yamaguchi Prefecture in western Japan, in a household with fresh memories of the war. He traces his interest in history to a junior high school lecture on the nation’s American-written, pacifist Constitution and its guarantee of human rights. He was impressed that the Constitution “even had something to say about a kid like me in the countryside.”
After completing his studies at the University of Tokyo, Mr. Yoshimi concentrated on Japan’s postwar democratization. It was while searching for documents related to Japan’s wartime use of poison gas in the Defense Agency’s library that he first stumbled upon proof of the military’s role in sexual slavery.
Mr. Yoshimi copied the document but did not publicize his finding. At the time, no former sex slave had gone public about her experiences, and awareness of wartime sex crimes against women was low.
But in late 1991, former sex slaves in South Korea became the first to break their silence. When the Japanese government responded with denials, Mr. Yoshimi went back to the Defense Agency.
Of the half-dozen documents he discovered, the most damning was a notice written on March 4, 1938, by the adjutant to the chiefs of staff of the North China Area Army and Central China Expeditionary Force. Titled “Concerning the Recruitment of Women for Military Comfort Stations,” the notice said that “armies in the field will control the recruiting of women,” and that “this task will be performed in close cooperation with the military police or local police force of the area.”
In another document from July 1938, Naosaburo Okabe, chief of staff of the North China Area Army, wrote that rapes of local women by Japanese soldiers had deepened anti-Japanese sentiments and that setting up “facilities for sexual comfort as quickly as possible is of great importance.” Yet another, an April 1939 report by the headquarters of the 21st Army in Guangzhou, China, noted that the 21st Army directly supervised 850 women.
Mr. Yoshimi went public by telling Asahi Shimbun, a national daily newspaper. The attention led to years of harassment from the right wing, he said, including nightly phone calls.
These documents had survived because they had been moved 25 miles west of central Tokyo before the end of the war, Mr. Yoshimi said. The postwar American occupation forces had then confiscated the documents, eventually returning them to Japan in the 1950s.
DESPITE the government’s efforts to hide the past, Mr. Yoshimi succeeded in painting a detailed picture of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery: a system of military-run brothels that emerged in 1932 after Japan’s invasion of Manchuria, then grew with full-scale war against China in 1937 and expanded into most of Asia in the 1940s.
Between 50,000 and 200,000 women from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia and elsewhere were tricked or coerced into sexual slavery, Mr. Yoshimi said. Thousands from Korea and Taiwan, Japanese colonies at the time, were dispatched aboard naval vessels to serve Japanese soldiers in battlefields elsewhere in Asia. Unlike other militaries that have used wartime brothels, the Japanese military was the “main actor,” Mr. Yoshimi said.
“The Japanese military itself newly built this system, took the initiative to create this system, maintained it and expanded it, and violated human rights as a result,” he said. “That’s a critical difference.”
Mr. Yoshimi said he was unsurprised by the most recent moves to deny the wartime sex slavery. He said they were simply the culmination of a long campaign by nationalist politicians who have succeeded in casting doubt, in Japan, on what is accepted as historical fact elsewhere.
In 1997, all seven government-approved junior high school textbooks contained passages about the former sex slaves. Now, as a result of the nationalists’ campaign, only two out of eight do.
“Mr. Abe and his allies led that campaign,” Mr. Yoshimi said, “and now they occupy the center of political power.”