SPOTLIGHT: THE POWER OF NOT INFORMING
With the increasing number of terror attacks in France comes an intensifying debate on the role of media coverage of the events. French news outlets have begun to ask whether spreading the identity of terrorists, who often are seeking some twisted sense of glory, feeds the problem. Reporting on the latest attack on a church Tuesday in northern France, where two 19-year-olds killed an 86-year-old priest, some major French newspapers, radios and television networks, including Le Monde, Le Figaro, La Croix, RFI, France 24 or BFM TV have chosen to â€" parsimoniously â€" reveal the killersâ€™ names and ages, but not their photographs.
â€œWe donâ€™t necessarily want to take part in this form of posthumous glorification,â€ Jérôme Fenoglio, the director of Le Monde, was quoted as saying. As for RFI, France 24 and the radio network Monte Carlo Doualiya, they said in a press release yesterday that they will be â€œmaking efforts not to pass on terrorist propaganda or systematically call "group" or "organization" terrorist movements that claim to belong to a state that doesnâ€™t exist.â€ Not all French news outlets however agree: Libération, Le Parisien, Lâ€™Express, 20 Minutes, for instance, just like the BBC, decided to publish pictures of the attackers. Demonstrating the intensity of such a debate, the French secretary of state for assistance to victims Juliette Méadel announced she would make proposals in September to implement a single ethical code for media.
Meanwhile, on the other side of Europe, the Turkish government is reminding us in a very different way the power of information â€" or lack thereof. A decree last night ordered the closure of no less than three news agencies, 16 television channels, 23 radio stations, 45 daily newspapers, 15 magazines and 29 publishing houses, which the government accuses of having supported the July 15 failed coup attempt. Ankaraâ€™s deepening authoritarian streak is a blow to freedom of information, even if we know how complicated that freedom can be.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY
- Hillary Clinton acceptance speech at Democratic National Convention.
- Lollapalooza festival kicks off in Chicago.
- World Hepatitis Day, with goal of eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030.
SCORES KILLED IN SYRIA ISIS BLASTS
At least 50 people were killed and dozens wounded in two blasts that struck the predominantly Kurdish town of Qamishli, Syria, yesterday, Al Jazeera reports. The attack was claimed by ISIS.
â€" ON THIS DAY
From Austria-Hungary to Jerry Lee Lewis, hereâ€™s your 57-second shot of History!
â€œThere has never been a man or a woman more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America,â€ U.S. President Barack Obama said in a speech last night at the Democratic National Convention, which also saw speakers focus on national security, foreign policy and harsh criticisms of Donald Trump.
â€" MY GRAND-PEREâ€™S WORLD
Extra Plump â€" Kelaniya, 1992
ALL CHARGES DROPPED IN FREDDIE GRAY DEATH
Prosecutors in Baltimore dropped all charges against the three remaining police officers awaiting trial in the case of Freddie Gray, a black man who died while in police custody last year. As The Baltimore Sun writes, this brings â€œto an end one of the highest-profile criminal cases in the city's history with zero convictions.â€ State attorney Marilyn Mosby acknowledged there was â€œreluctanceâ€ and â€œobvious biasâ€ among officers investigating the case.
As part of Worldcrunchâ€™s Rue Amelot series of international essays, we present the second episode of Brazil-born travel writer Alex Correaâ€™s Palestinian odyssey: â€œFollowing a poorly kept path, we reach an oasis with colored Ferris wheels and meters-high slides. And water, loads of water. At the entrance of the swimming pool we're asked where we're from and what our religion is. Samuel is American and Jewish, which doesn't help, and I'm an atheist. We both say we're Catholic (I'm still wondering what's best in Palestine: to say you're an atheist or Catholic) and the workers ask to see our passports. That's unusual in public swimming pools, even here. They want to make sure we're not Israelis.â€
Read the full essay, Couchsurfing In Palestine, Part 2: Where Are You From?
STARVING VENEZUELA ZOO ANIMALS
Chronic food shortages in Venezuela have left animals in zoos around the South American country starving to death, as Reuters reports. In Caracas, at least 50 animals in the capitalâ€™s main zoo are reported to have died of hunger these past six months. Government officials have denied these deaths were due to a lack of food.
The number of tourists travelling to France has dropped by 5.8% since January, including 11% to Paris, Radio France International quotes officials as saying. The aviation company Air France-KLM warned yesterday that recent terror attacks in the country and in Europe are having an impact. The South China Morning Post reports that Chinese travelers to France, for instance, have dropped 15%.
MORE STORIES, BROUGHT TO YOU BY WORLDCRUNCH
- What To Say To A Child When Terror Attacks Become Routine â€" Hürriyet
- The Risks In Syria Of Falling In Love With The Wrong Man â€" Syria Deeply
- Why Plato Would Hate Instagram â€" Les Echos
SKYPING THE KNOT
Italyâ€™s highest court has ruled that a wedding between a woman near Bologna and a man in Pakistan, which took place over Skype, counts as a valid marriage. La Repubblica reports. Just hope it doesnâ€™t lead to a Snapchat divorce.
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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