Monday, January 5, 2015
AIRASIA BLACK BOXES MAY NEVER BE FOUND
The AirAsia flight QZ8501 recovery mission has resumed today with improved weather conditions. The Indonesian navy found what could be the jet’s tail section, but officials have warned that the aircraft’s black boxes may never be recovered. Meanwhile, leaked documents published in The Jakarta Post reveal that the company violated procedures by allowing pilots to take off without having obtained a weather report. Indonesia’s Transportation Ministry announced a severe crackdown on everyone involved in the unlawful decision. But The Malay Mail reports that families of the victims will be compensated whatever the result of the investigation.
DEADLY CLASHES IN BANGLADESH
Two activists from Bangladesh’s opposition Nationalist Party were killed in clashes with supporters of the ruling Awami League, one year exactly after a disputed general election that the Nationalist Party boycotted, Al Jazeera reports. Police reportedly locked opposition leader Khaleda Zia in her office as she called for mass anti-government protests. Several people have been injured in fights in the capital Dhaka and in cities across the country.
TOMB OF UNKNOWN EGYPTIAN QUEEN DISCOVERED
Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered the tomb of a previously unknown Pharaonic queen from the Old Kingdom’s Fifth Dynasty, dating back nearly 4,500 years, Mada Masr reports. It comes just days after a separate team unearthed a multi-level funerary complex honoring the Ancient Egyptian god of the dead and the underworld, Osiris.
BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING TRIAL BEGINS
Jury selection will begin today in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 21-year-old who together with his dead brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev are believed responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013. Dzhokhar has pleaded not guilty to all 30 charges against him but faces the death penalty if convicted. According to The Boston Globe, no verdict is likely to come until late spring or early summer.
ON THIS DAY
Jan. 5 was an important day for Panama’s independence and so much more. Get your 57-second shot of history in our daily video feature.
“GREXIT” FEARS SEND EURO TO NINE-YEAR LOW
The euro sank to a nine-year low against the dollar this morning with investors betting on a quantitative easing program by the European Central Bank. But the slip is also being heavily linked to a report published in German magazine Der Spiegel that Berlin is ready to see Greece leave the single currency if the far-left and anti-austerity party Syriza wins a snap Jan. 25 election there. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government denied the claims while an opposition leader described the conflicting reports as a strategy to “influence the election in Greece.” Oil prices, meanwhile, hit five-year lows.
As Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Violetta Simon writes, modern feminism is too focused on the image of feminists themselves rather than renewing debate about the movement's core principles. The result is feminism fatigue. “The (self-)criticism that feminism is going in circles, getting itself entangled in academic debates, and is way too elitist in its discourse isn't really new. What's new is the pace, undoubtedly one of the reasons for the exhaustion known internationally as ‘activist burnout,’” Simon writes. “Like every other form of activism today, feminism can be an energy-sapping business. The Internet has become a tireless political space that can be intellectually and spiritually challenging,
Read the full article, No More Bras Left To Burn? The Spectre Of Feminism Burnout.
LEBANON RESTRICTS FLOW OF SYRIANS
Beginning today, Syrians fleeing war zones and seeking to cross into neighboring Lebanon must apply for a visa at the border. The new requirement is an attempt from the government in Beirut to stop the influx of refugees in a country that already hosts more than 1.1 million of them. The United Nations refugee agency expressed its concern at the decision, though Lebanon’s Social Affairs Minister explained that borders would remain open and that refugees already in the country would not be deported. A report in The Daily Star describes the refugees’ dismal living conditions in makeshift camps, made even worse by cold weather and heavy rainfall.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
PALESTINIANS RESUME STATEHOOD BID
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas announced yesterday that the Palestinian UN delegation would resume a statehood bid despite “pressure” and a failed attempt last week, The Jerusalem Post reports. “We did not fail at the Security Council. Rather, it’s the Security Council that failed,” Abbas said. Israel is reportedly pressuring the U.S. Congress to stop funding the Palestinian Authority after it filed a request to join the International Criminal Court, a move that could eventually see Israel tried for war crimes. Israel has already frozen $127 million worth of tax revenue to the Palestinian Authority.
O’ LUNA MIA
We all share the same sky, but each of us gazes up from a unique place on earth. Check out this week’s "O Luna Mia, the weekly horoscope of Simon, Italy's most trusted astrologer.
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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