Wednesday, November 19, 2014
NORTH KOREA COULD FACE HUMAN RIGHTS PROBE
The United Nations’ human rights committee has called on the Security Council to refer North Korean leaders to the International Criminal Court over allegations of crimes against humanity, the BBC reports. The resolution approved late Tuesday was based on a report published earlier this year which documented state-sponsored abductions, forced labor, starvation, rape, forced abortion, infanticide, torture, and summary executions. According to CNN, Russia and China, who hold veto powers in the Security Council, said the measure was politically manipulated and could set a bad precedent.
NETANYAHU VOWS TO WIN “BATTLE FOR JERUSALEM”
After yesterday’s attack on a synagogue in West Jerusalem that left 4 worshippers and a policeman dead, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country was engaged in a “battle over Jerusalem, our eternal capital,” and vowed to “settle the score with every terrorist and their dispatchers,” The Independent reports. His Economy Minister, Naftali Bennett, who is also the leader of the far-right Zionist party Jewish Home, went further and urged Israel “to move from defense to attack” and to launch a military operation in the West Bank, The Jerusalem Post reports.
Two Palestinians, including a 16-year-old boy were seriously injured in separate attacks in Ramallah and North Jerusalem, while Israeli forces arrested 12 relatives of the two perpetrators of the synagogue attack. Security forces also destroyed the family home of the man who ran over and killed two people last month at a tram stop in Jerusalem.
Spanish lawmakers meanwhile voted a symbolic motion urging their government to recognize a Palestinian state, though it would only happen after the two parties have found a solution to the conflict. Israel’s Foreign Minister responded in a statement, saying that the motion “only pushes away further the chances of reaching an agreement.”
Thirty-three years after Bob Marley's death, the Jamaican singer's family is launching Marley Natural, which they hail as "the world's first global cannabis brand."
SENATE BLOCKS KEYSTONE PIPELINE BILL
One vote is all it took for U.S. Senate Democrats to defeat legislation that would have forced President Barack Obama to approve the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, an important victory for environmental activists, The Washington Post reports. The rebuff is however a dangerous defeat for one Democrat Senator, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who was counting on the measure’s approval to boost her reelection campaign ahead of a Dec. 6 runoff. But with the GOP vowing to return to the fight when it takes control of the Senate next year, The New York Times writes that Obama might use the pipeline project as a “bargaining chip” for one of his own policies. A bill that would have greatly restricted the NSA’s data collection programs was also blockedin yesterday’s session.
According to Reuters, Obama is planning to protect from deportation millions of undocumented immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens or of permanent legal residents in an executive order that could come as early as this week.
BY THE NUMBERS
As the Second International Conference on Nutrition begins today, a report by a UN nutrition expert reveals that 805 million people across the globe are undernourished.
The possibility of war between the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" and Kiev becomes ever more likely with each passing day, writes Martin van Creveld in Die Welt: “As Putin is reported to have said, his forces are strong enough to occupy all of Ukraine, or at least its major cities, in a matter of weeks. Such an occupation is possible but unlikely because, as Putin certainly knows, it would lead to years of war similar to the Russian wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya, but on a much larger scale. If he were to lose the war, it could mean the dissolution of the Russian Republic.”
Read the full article, Putin Would Risk Everything In A War With Ukraine.
Japanese film legend Ken Takakura, of Black Rain fame, has died at age 83.
EBOLA CRISIS CONTINUES IN WEST AFRICA
A doctor a Sierra Leone infected with Ebola died yesterday, becoming the seventh doctor killed by the virus in the West African country, Reuters reports. At least 128 medical staff has been infected so far in Sierra Leone, one of the worst affected countries alongside Guinea and Liberia, with the death toll in the three countries now above 5,000. Reporting from Guinea, The Guardian explains that the outbreak is forcing agencies to change their roles, with the World Food Programme now building treatment centers instead of delivering food. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation meanwhile announced a $5.7 million pledge for the production of experimental treatments.
PROTESTERS STORM HONG KONG LEGISLATURE
Dozens of masked protesters in Hong Kong stormed the city’s Legislative Council early this morning, with the police responding with pepper spray, batons and riot shields. Four men were arrested. According to the South China Morning Post, Occupy Central leaders and pan-democratic lawmakers denounced the protesters’ actions, saying it had “violated the principle of peace and nonviolence underlying the umbrella movement.”
FLY ME TO THE MOON
Surfing on the success of the Rosetta mission, a UK-led consortium is launching a crowdfunding campaign to land a robotic probe on the Moon in 10 years. In exchange for their pledge, donors will be able to send their own pictures, videos and even DNA in a memory box that will be buried there.
STICK THESE IN YOUR EARS
In a much closer-to-home new project, with its own crowdfunding drive, this new device touted as a way to hear your music more loudly without the ever increasing risk of hearing loss from traditional earphones.
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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