Bataclan Aftermath, Old East Asia, Spying Barbie

Bataclan Aftermath, Old East Asia, Spying Barbie


The last of the three suicide attackers at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, where 90 people were killed on Nov. 13, has been identified as Foued Mohamed-Aggad, a 23-year-old man from Strasbourg, in eastern France, Le Parisien quotes French authorities as revealing Wednesday.

  • Mohamed-Aggad had reportedly left for Syria in Dec. 2013 with his brother and a group of friends, France 24 cable news network reports. While most of the group returned to France in 2014, and were subsequently arrested, Foued Mohamed-Aggad had stayed in Syria.
  • The terrorist was identified last week after his mother contacted French police after she’d received a text message from a Syrian phone number saying her son was a “martyr” from the Bataclan attack. Investigators then compared his DNA with that of his family members’ to confirm.
  • In an interview with Le Parisien, Foued Mohamed-Aggad’s father said: “If I had known, I would have killed him before.”
  • On Tuesday, members of the Californian rock band Eagles of Death Metal returned to visit the Bataclan for the first time since their Nov. 13 concert. The group, which joined U2 on stage at another Paris venue on Monday, says it wants to be the first to play at the Bataclan when it reopens. Photo: Maxppp/ZUMA


Taliban fighters killed at least 22 people after storming the Kandahar airport compound in southern Afghanistan Tuesday evening and were holding hostages Wednesday morning, Al Jazeera reports. According to the BBC, victims include military personnel as well as civilians. The airport compound is used by NATO and the Afghan military and the attack is seen as a huge blow to the joint security mission. Officials said gunfire could still be heard around the airport Wednesday and that civilians were being held hostage in a building. This attack comes as key negotiations aimed at reviving negotiations with the Taliban were underway in neighboring Pakistan. Speaking from Islamabad, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani reacted to the attack: “I strongly reiterate our commitment to lasting and just peace within which all movements that resort to arms convert themselves to political parties and participate in the political process legitimately."


The United States is seeking to confirm reports that Iran launched a medium-range ballistic missile on Nov. 21, in violation of United Nations resolutions, Reuters quoted the U.S. ambassador to the UN Samantha Power as saying Tuesday. If this is confirmed, she added the U.S. would look for appropriate action before the UN’s Security Council. Iran is prohibited from carrying out any kind of missile tests under a 2010 Security Council resolution.


The East Asia Pacific region, which includes Myanmar, western China, Japan, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific islands, is now home to some 211 million people aged over 65, or a third of the world’s seniors. This means the region is aging faster than any other region in history, anywhere on the planet, a report published by the World Bank Wednesday warns. This record is likely to have significant negative impacts on both the region’s public services and economic growth.


After a months-long offensive, Iraqi military forces have retaken a part of the western city of Ramadi from ISIS, in what is seen as a significant victory in the country’s fight against the terrorist group, The Washington Post reports. Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s largest province of Anbar, had been captured last May by ISIS and is a strategic city in the organization’s control of what it considers its caliphate. According to Ramadi residents quoted by Reuters, ISIS fighters are increasingly using civilians as human shields and treating them like prisoners.


John Malkovich has been John Malkovich for 61 years today. This, and more, in your 57-second shot of history.


U.S. conservationist and North Face Inc. founder Douglas Tompkins died Tuesday in a kayaking accident, in his adopted country of Chile. Read more about it on Le Blog.


The couple who last week killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, in what is being investigated by U.S. authorities as an act of terrorism, had borrowed $28,500 from an online lender just two weeks before the attack, the New York Post reports. Investigators believe the married couple, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 29, may have used the funds to stockpile weapons and reimburse neighbor Enrique Marquez, who purchased two .223-caliber assault rifles used during the shooting.


Brazil’s supreme court has suspended the special committee in charge of examining impeachment moves against President Dilma Rousseff, Folha de S. Paulo reports. The committee, stacked the president’s opponents, had been appointed earlier by the lower house of Brazil’s congress. Scuffles broke out on the floor of the legislature as supporters of the president attempted to physically block the ballot, smashing an electronic voting unit and unplugging others. The supreme court later suspended the creation of the committee until a judgment is issued on the legality of the vote.


“That kind of crap is not going to work in the United States of America,” Democratic candidate Bernie expand=1] Sanders responds to Donald Trump’s scapegoating of Muslims. The Pentagon has also warned that the Republican presidential candidate’s rhetoric was a threat to U.S. national security, stating it “bolsters” ISIS’ narrative.


Australian police raided the Sydney home and business premises of a man believed to be the founder of Bitcoin, the daily ABC reported Wednesday. A statement from the Australian Federal Police said the searches were related to a tax investigation.


Up on the French hillsides of Banyuls-sur-Mer, just north of the border with Spain, Rémi Barroux reports for Le Monde on one of the unexpected effects of climate change: “Yvon-Berta Maillol, 78, bushy mustache and beard, can't imagine that his vineyard, one of the oldest in the region dating as far back as 1611, could disappear. Still, he can’t help but notice that many things have changed. ‘We never used to harvest before Sept. 15-20, now we often start from the very first days of September,’ he says. When he took over the 36-acre family vineyard in 1975, heat waves didn’t scare anybody. On the contrary, winemakers were even eager to obtain the level of grape maturity that they provide, as well as the degrees of alcohol. But excessive heat can spoil the wine, and agronomists say that local wines have been gaining one degree of alcohol every 10 years for the past three decades.”

Read the full article, French Wine Supremacy Threatened By Global Warming.



Mattel’s Hello Barbie, advertised as the world's first interactive Barbie doll, allows children to converse with the doll by recording their voice and then connecting to the Internet via Wi-Fi. Now, what could possibly go wrong with a hackable toy that eavesdrops on private conversations?

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The Food Truck, A Sign That The White And Wealthy Are Moving In

In San Diego, California, a researcher tracked how in the city's low-income neighborhoods that have traditionally lacked dining options, when interesting eateries arrive the gentrification of white, affluent and college-educated people has begun.

Balboa Park Spring Fling Food Truck festival

San Diego Food Trucks via Facebook
Pascale Joassart-Marcelli

SAN DIEGO — Everybody, it seems, welcomes the arrival of new restaurants, cafés, food trucks and farmers markets.

What could be the downside of fresh veggies, homemade empanadas and a pop-up restaurant specializing in banh mis?

But when they appear in unexpected places – think inner-city areas populated by immigrants – they're often the first salvo in a broader effort to rebrand and remake the community. As a result, these neighborhoods can quickly become unaffordable and unrecognizable to longtime residents.

An appetite for gentrification

I live in San Diego, where I teach courses on urban and food geographies and conduct research on the relationship between food and ethnicity in urban contexts.

In recent years, I started to notice a pattern playing out in the city's low-income neighborhoods that have traditionally lacked food options. More ethnic restaurants, street vendors, community gardens and farmers markets were cropping up. These, in turn, spurred growing numbers of white, affluent and college-educated people to venture into areas they had long avoided.

This observation inspired me to write a book, titled The $16 Taco, about how food – including what's seen as "ethnic," "authentic" or "alternative" – often serves as a spearhead for gentrification.

Take City Heights, a large multi-ethnic San Diego neighborhood where successive waves of refugees from places as far away as Vietnam and Somalia have resettled. In 2016, a dusty vacant lot on the busiest boulevard was converted into an outdoor international marketplace called Fair@44. There, food vendors gather in semi-permanent stalls to sell pupusas, lechon (roasted pig), single-sourced cold-brewed coffee, cupcakes and tamarind raspado (crushed ice) to neighborhood residents, along with tourists and visitors from other parts of the city.

Informal street vendors are casualties.

A public-private partnership called the City Heights Community Development Corporation, together with several nonprofits, launched the initiative to increase "access to healthy and culturally appropriate food" and serve as "a business incubator for local micro-entrepreneurs," including immigrants and refugees who live in the neighborhood.

On paper, this all sounds great.

But just a few blocks outside the gates, informal street vendors – who have long sold goods such as fruit, tamales and ice cream to residents who can't easily access supermarkets – now face heightened harassment. They've become causalities in a citywide crackdown on sidewalk vending spurred by complaints from business owners and residents in more affluent areas.

This isn't just happening in San Diego. The same tensions have been playing out in rapidly gentrifying areas like Los Angeles' Boyle Heights neighborhood, Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, New York's Queens borough and East Austin, Texas.

In all of these places, because "ethnic," "authentic" and "exotic" foods are seen as cultural assets, they've become magnets for development.

Food vendor at outdoor international marketplace called Fair@44.

Fairat44 via Instagram

A call for food justice

Cities and neighborhoods have long sought to attract educated and affluent residents – people whom sociologist Richard Florida dubbed "the creative class." The thinking goes that these newcomers will spend their dollars and presumably contribute to economic growth and job creation.

Food, it seems, has become the perfect lure.

It's uncontroversial and has broad appeal. It taps into the American Dream and appeals to the multicultural values of many educated, wealthy foodies. Small food businesses, with their relatively low cost of entry, have been a cornerstone of ethnic entrepreneurship in American cities. And initiatives like farmers markets and street fairs don't require much in the way of public investment; instead, they rely on entrepreneurs and community-based organizations to do the heavy lifting.

In City Heights, the Community Development Corporation hosted its first annual City Heights Street Food Festival in 2019 to "get people together around table and food stalls to celebrate another year of community building." Other recent events have included African Restaurant Week, Dia de Los Muertos, New Year Lunar Festival, Soul Food Fest and Brazilian Carnival, all of which rely on food and drink to attract visitors and support local businesses.

Meanwhile, initiatives such as the New Roots Community Farm and the City Heights Farmers' Market have been launched by nonprofits with philanthropic support in the name of "food justice," with the goal of reducing racial disparities in access to healthy food and empowering residents – projects that are particularly appealing to highly educated people who value diversity and democracy.

Upending an existing foodscape

In media coverage of changing foodscapes in low-income neighborhoods like City Heights, you'll rarely find any complaints.

San Diego Magazine's neighborhood guide for City Heights, for example, emphasizes its "claim to authentic international eats, along with live music venues, craft beer, coffee, and outdoor fun." It recommends several ethnic restaurants and warns readers not to be fooled by appearances.

Longtime residents find themselves forced to compete against the "urban food machine"

But that doesn't mean objections don't exist.

Many longtime residents and small-business owners – mostly people of color and immigrants – have, for decades, lived, worked and struggled to feed their families in these neighborhoods. To do so, they've run convenience stores, opened ethnic restaurants, sold food in parks and alleys and created spaces to grow their own food.

All represent strategies to meet community needs in a place mostly ignored by mainstream retailers.

So what happens when new competitors come to town?

Food vendor at outdoor international marketplace called Fair@44.

Fairat44 via Instagram

Starting at a disadvantage

As I document in my book, these ethnic food businesses, because of a lack of financial and technical support, often struggle to compete with new enterprises that feature fresh façades, celebrity chefs, flashy marketing, bogus claims of authenticity and disproportionate media attention. Furthermore, following the arrival of more-affluent residents, existing ones find it increasingly difficult to stay.

My analysis of real estate ads for properties listed in City Heights and other gentrifying San Diego neighborhoods found that access to restaurants, cafés, farmers markets and outdoor dining is a common selling point. The listings I studied from 2019 often enticed potential buyers with lines like "shop at the local farmers' market," "join food truck festivals" and "participate in community food drives!"

San Diego Magazine's home buyer guide for the same year identified City Heights as an "up-and-coming neighborhood," attributing its appeal to its diverse population and eclectic "culinary landscape," including several restaurants and Fair@44.

When I see that City Heights' home prices rose 58% over the past three years, I'm not surprised.

Going up against the urban food machine

Longtime residents find themselves forced to compete against what I call the "urban food machine," a play on sociologist Harvey Molotch's "urban growth machine" – a term he coined more than 50 years ago to explain how cities were being shaped by a loose coalition of powerful elites who sought to profit off urban growth.

I argue that investors and developers use food as a tool for achieving the same ends.

When their work is done, what's left is a rather insipid and tasteless neighborhood, where foodscapes become more of a marketable mishmash of cultures than an ethnic enclave that's evolved organically to meet the needs of residents. The distinctions of time and place start to blur: An "ethnic food district" in San Diego looks no different than one in Chicago or Austin.

Meanwhile, the routines and rhythms of everyday life have changed so much that longtime residents no longer feel like they belong. Their stories and culture reduced to a selling point, they're forced to either recede to the shadows or leave altogether.

It's hard to see how that's a form of inclusion or empowerment.The Conversation


Pascale Joassart-Marcelli is a Professor of Geography and Director, Urban Studies and Food Studies Programs at San Diego State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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