HOSTAGES HELD ON HIJACKED PLANE IN CYPRUS
A Cairo-bound commercial jet that was re-routed to Cyprus this morning was hijacked over what appears to be a personal matter involving a woman, The Guardian reports. The hijacker is reportedly still holding seven hostages in the plane that landed at the Cypriot city of Larnaca 7:50 a.m. local time. The man reportedly threw a letter from the plane, asking it to be delivered to his Cyprian ex-wife. Reuters reports that the hijacker has made a political demand for unspecified female prisoners in Egypt to be released. Meanwhile, one Egyptian minister said of the hijacker, â€œHeâ€™s not a terrorist, he's an idiot.â€
TALIBAN TAUNTS PAKISTANâ€™S PM
Taliban fighters who killed at least 72 people and injured hundreds more during an Easter bombing in Lahore, Pakistan, mocked Pakistanâ€™s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a tweet this morning, saying that war had â€œreached his doorstep,â€ Hindustan Times reports. â€œTerrorists cannot dent our resolve,â€ Sharif said in a televised address yesterday. â€œOur struggle will continue until the complete elimination of the menace of terrorism.â€ A Taliban spokesman tweeted in response that Sharif â€œrepeated old words to give himself false assurances.â€
PALMYRA IN BETTER SHAPE THAN EXPECTED
Photo: Yin Bogu/Xinhua/ZUMA
The Syrian governmentâ€™s antiquities director says the condition of the ancient city of Palmyra, which has been recaptured from ISIS, isnâ€™t as bad as expected and that many of its sacred antiquities survived, The Wall Street Journal reports. â€œ80% of the ruins are in good shape," Syria's antiquities chief told AFP yesterday. Still, satellite images and ISIS videos posted online show the destruction of the Temple of Bel, which dated back to A.D. 32, and the Arch of Triumph, which was built under the Roman emperor Septimius Severus between A.D. 193 and 211.
BRUSSELS DEATH TOLL REACHES 35
The death toll from last weekâ€™s terror attacks in Brussels has now reached 35, Radio Luxembourg reports. Meanwhile, Belgian police have released video footage of the third suspect in an appeal for information about the man.
ISIS PLANS ATTACK ON TURKEYâ€™S JEWISH CHILDREN
According to information obtained from six ISIS members who were arrested in the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep last week, the terror group is plotting to murder Jewish children at nurseries, schools and youth centers in Turkey, The Times reports this morning.
FIDEL CASTRO LASHES OUT AT OBAMA
In an excursive 1,600-word letter titled â€œBrother Obama,â€ which was published yesterday in the official Communist Party newspaper Granma, former Cuban President Fidel Castro lashed out at Barack Obama after his recent visit to Cuba. The 89-year-old Castro, who has not been seen in public since last summer, chided the American president for his youth and for failing to recognize the major accomplishments of Cubaâ€™s Communist revolution. Despite thawing relations between the two Cold War enemies, â€œWe do not need the empire to give us anything,â€ Castro wrote.
In the Paris neighborhood of Belleville, home to a thriving Chinatown, prostitutes with no other prospects work to support families here or in China. And now, new dangers loom, Florence Aubenas reports for Le Monde. â€œâ€˜At first, we could not imagine we would sell our bodies,â€™ says a petite blonde. â€˜But at the age of 40, a woman is worth nothing.â€™ In Paris, other girls â€" mostly French â€" have dubbed these women the â€˜proletarians.â€™ Almost all come from northeastern China. In the late 1990s, a series of governmental reforms were initiated there during which everything closed for months. â€˜We had nothing,â€™ the blonde says. In the sock factory where she was working, employees were advised to â€˜take something, sell it on the sidewalkâ€™ because they werenâ€™t coming back. Meanwhile, at the other end of China, a new economy was built through textiles, electronics and enlisting battalions of rural youth. One working class replaced another.â€
Read the full article, In Paris, Chinese Prostitutes Driven Into The Shadows.
POLICE FAMILIAR WITH CAPITOL SHOOTER
The 66-year-old Tennessean Larry Russell Dawson, who was shot by police and hospitalized yesterday after wielding a gun at the Capitol Visitors Center, is known by the police after a series of legal issues dating back 20 years, The Tennessean reports.
MY GRAND-PEREâ€™S WORLD
U.S. OFFICIALS UNLOCK IPHONE, DROP APPLE CASE
The U.S. Justice Department announced yesterday that it had succeeded in unlocking the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters and that it was dropping its case against Apple. The development ends a high-stakes legal battle, but it leaves the broader issue over encryption unresolved, Reuters reports.
ON THIS DAY
Quick, what was the first country to ban smoking in bars? Find out in todayâ€™s shot of history.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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