ISIS CLAIMS DEADLY JAKARTA ATTACKS
Photo: Veri Sanovri/Xinhua/ZUMA
Indonesiaâ€™s capital of Jakarta was rocked by a series of fatal explosions and gunfire this morning in attacks that local police spokesman Anton Charliyan said were meant to imitate Novemberâ€™s deadly terror in Paris, The Guardian reports. At least seven people were killed, including five gunmen, around Thamrin Street, a major shopping and business district near foreign embassies and the United Nations offices. A source linked to ISIS said the terror group was behind the violence.
- â€œWe all are grieving for the fallen victims of this incident, but we also condemn the act that has disturbed security and peace and spread terror among our people,â€ Indonesian President Joko Widodo said.
- Indonesia, the worldâ€™s largest Muslim nation, was aware of a credible threat from terrorists and has often been targeted in the past, AP reports.
TURKISH POLICE BUILDING TARGETED
At least six people were killed and 39 wounded in the Turkish town of Cinar after a car bomb explosion outside a police station Wednesday night that Turkish authorities are blaming on the militant Kurdistan Workersâ€™ Party (PKK). According to Todayâ€™s Zaman, there was no official claim for the attack, which caused â€œextensive damage.â€ The DiyarbakÄ±r province, where it happened, is home to a Kurdish majority, and tensions between the Turkish government and the PKK have escalated since a two-year ceasefire ended in July. The bombing came less than two days after an ISIS attack in Istanbul that killed 10 German tourists. Seven people have now been arrested in connection with the suicide blast.
AID CONVOY FOR MADAYA
A second convoy of trucks transporting flour, medicine and hygiene products left Damascus today for the besieged Syrian town of Madaya, three days after an initial delivery of humanitarian aid, the BBC reports. The UN believes that up to 40,000 people have been trapped in rebel-held Madaya since October, with reports of mass starvation.
â€œThe Jewsâ€™ great concern,â€ todayâ€™s headline in French daily Aujourd'hui en France reads above an image of a man wearing a skullcap. It comes after a teenager attacked and wounded a Jewish teacher who was wearing the traditional headgear Monday in the French city of Marseille. France is debating whether itâ€™s still safe for members of the Jewish community to wear the traditional accessory â€" also known as a kippah or yarmulke. Read more from Le Blog.
4, 8, 19, 27, 34, 10
At least three lucky players â€" in California, Tennessee and Florida â€" have picked the winning Powerball numbers in what is the biggest single lottery jackpot in history, worth an estimated $1.6 billion.
ECUADOR TO ALLOW ASSANGE INTERROGATION
Ecuador has agreed to cooperate with Swedish prosecutors who want to interrogate WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over a rape allegation made during Assangeâ€™s stay in Sweden in 2010, Sydsvenskan reports. But Ecuador Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said the agreement to let Assange be questioned comes with certain conditions, namely that it will be conducted in accordance with Ecuadorian law and by Ecuadorian prosecutors, though Swedish authorities can be present. Patino said that Assange was granted asylum in Ecuador due to suspicion of persecution, and is therefore â€œunder our countryâ€™s jurisdiction,â€ Business Insider UK reports. The interrogation will be held at Ecuadorâ€™s embassy in London, where Assange has taken refuge since 2012.
Snoop Dogg doesnâ€™t like it when gaming goes wrong. â€œWhat the f*** are you doing, Bill Gates? Fix your s*** man,â€ he said of the Microsoft magnate in a profanity laced tirade.
ASIAN, EUROPEAN SHARES FALL
Shares across Asia fell significantly today after a massive sell-off on Wall Street Wednesday, and European stock markets were also down this morning, the Financial Times reports. Japanâ€™s Nikkei 225 closed down 2.7%, partly recovering from a 4% fall earlier in the day. This comes as oil prices continue to drop and even briefly fell below $30 per barrel yesterday, a level unseen since 2004. According to a high-profile strategist in London, the world could face a 2008-like financial crash this year that would provoke the collapse of the eurozone.
MY GRAND-PÈREâ€™S WORLD
EBOLA OUTBREAK OVER AFTER TWO YEARS
Liberia has been officially declared Ebola-free, the World Health Organization announced today. The news effectively marks an end to the virus outbreak in West Africa, though the WHO warned that â€œthe job is not overâ€ and that â€œmore flare-ups are expected.â€ Ebola killed more than 11,000 people since the outbreak started in December 2013.
Just how much homework help should parents offer their children? Like anything, itâ€™s a delicate balance, but a word with the school may be required when children are being assigned work that hasnâ€™t been covered in class, Matthias Kohlmaier writes for Germanyâ€™s Süddeutsche Zeitung. â€œA long-serving primary school principal in Bavaria says that students have to learn and study quite a lot, especially when the switch to a secondary school is on the horizon. â€˜But,â€™ she says, â€˜if teachers claim that they are not able to do this or that during lessons and that children should study these topics at home, I would say that something has gone horribly wrong at this school!â€™â€
Read the full article, Help? That Homework Question For Parents Everywhere.
CHINESE WEALTH GAP WIDENS
The top 1% in China hold one-third of the nationâ€™s total wealth, a sign that the gap between rich and poor is rising at a faster pace, a new report from the China Family Panel Studies shows. By contrast, the poorest 25% of the population hold only 1% of their countryâ€™s wealth. According to Les Échos, this inequality is causing growing disparities in education and health care access.
ON THIS DAY
Happy birthday to actress Faye Dunaway and NBCâ€™s The Today Show. That and more in todayâ€™s shot of history.
When it comes to polluted cities, your first thought probably wouldnâ€™t be London. And yet, it only took seven days for the British capital to exceed pollution limits for the whole of 2016.
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.
- The Perverse Effect Of Street Art On Neighborhood Gentrification ... ›
- Taiwan To Hong Kong To L.A., Birth Of Bubble Tea Culture ... ›
- How The Pandemic Is Helping Reinvent Food Production ... ›
- What's Chic Now In Paris Dining? African-American Soul Food ... ›