ISIS Video Confirmed, Ukraine Ceasefire Hopes, Hippo On Thames

Florentijn Hofman's "HippopoThames"
Florentijn Hofman's "HippopoThames"

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The U.S. Intelligence Community has authenticated the video published yesterday by ISIS which purported to show the beheading of another journalist, Steven Sotloff of dual American-Israeli citizenship, two weeks after similar footage of James Foley was released, The New York Times reports. Speaking from Estonia where he will hold security talks with Baltic countries over the Ukraine-Russia crisis, Barack Obama condemned the video as a “horrific act of violence.” “We will not be intimidated,” he said before vowing that “justice will be served.” Yesterday, Obama ordered the deployment of 350 extra troops in Iraq to protect the embassy in Baghdad.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is holding an emergency meeting to decide on what course to follow after a British hostage was threatened at the end of the Sotloff video.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says the executions of Foley and Sotloff are “unlikely to be the last” and warns of an “accelerated risk.”

Writing in The New York Times, two members of the European Council on Foreign Relations argue that the key to defeat ISIS lies in an alliance with Bashar al-Assad, while demanding that Iran and other allies to the Syrian President push him to accept “real power-sharing.”

The possibility of a ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine appears closer than ever before since the beginning of the crisis after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had agreed by phone on a “permanent ceasefire in the Donbass region,” the BBC reports. Minutes after the report, the Kremlin watered down Poroshenko’s statement and explained that “Russia cannot physically agree on a ceasefire because it isn’t a party in the conflict.” Nonetheless RTreports that Putin’s spokesman indicated that the two leaders had “largely agreed” on steps towards an end to the violence in Eastern Ukraine.

A leader of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic said that the decision of a ceasefire was taken without them and denounced what he sees as “some sort of a game by Kiev,” Ria Novosti reports. Guardian journalist Alec Luhn also expressed doubt on the feasibility of a ceasefire, writing on Twitter that “Rebels in Donetsk say they don't think all Ukrainians will follow it.”

Russian investigators confirmed this morning the death of photojournalist Andrei Stenin, who had been missing since early August. According to the report, the car he was traveling in came under fire amid a Ukrainian army attack on pro-Russian rebels near Donetsk.

As Ebola keeps spreading in West Africa, humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders warned yesterday that “the world is losing the battle to contain it” as the response offered so far has been “too little, too late,” The Washington Post reports. The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also sounded the alarm and said that the “window of opportunity” to bring the epidemic under control was closing. At least 3,069 people have already been infected and more than 1,500 have died. This comes amid good news from London, where the first British patient to contract Ebola has been discharged from hospital after making a full recovery. He was treated with the experimental drug ZMapp, which has shown positive results on monkeys. Read more from Bloomberg.

In Cairo-based Madr Masr, writer Moritz Mihatsch offers some hard thinking about the reach of ISIS, arguing that the Islamist group presents a challenge to the most basic way the world has been organized for hundreds of years. “While all these developments were mere modifications of the Westphalian system, the Islamic State wants to eliminate the system completely. Reflected in its name change from the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" to simply "Islamic State," the movement does not aim to establish governance within specific borders, but rejects borders as such.”
Read the full article: A Post-Westphalian Caliphate? Deconstructing ISIS Ambitions.


Israel is about to receive its fourth German-built Dolphin-class submarine, which Arutz Sheva describes as a “state-of-the-art vessel” that can carry nuclear warheads. Two more submarines are on the way, with the sixth expected to be delivered in 2017. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Israel is “lobbying world powers anew” ahead of the next round of talks on Iran’s nuclear capabilities later this month. Israel fears that Tehran will use its nuclear programs for weapons and opposes the negotiations. The Minister for strategic affairs Yuval Steinitz said he would go to Washington with a delegation next week.

Japan announced its intention to resume the hunt of minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean next year, despite an order from the UN International Court of Justice banning such activities in the area, AFP reports. According to an official from the Japan Fisheries Agency, whaling ships will collect "data necessary to calculate the number of whale catch allowed.” Minke whales are believed to be more numerous in the Antarctic than other whales, which have also been targeted by Japan in the past.

Valérie Trierweiler, jilted ex-companion of French President Francois Hollande, has published a tell-almost-all memoir about their relationship.

This September marks a tipping point for the changing face of American schools.

Florentijn Hofman, the Dutch artist behind the giant rubber duck that sailed down the Thames in 2012, has done it again, unveiling a 21-meter-long hippo float as part of London's Totally Thames festival.

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The Food Truck, A Sign That The White And Wealthy Are Moving In

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.

Balboa Park Spring Fling Food Truck festival

San Diego Food Trucks via Facebook
Pascale Joassart-Marcelli

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.

Food vendor at outdoor international marketplace called Fair@44.

Fairat44 via Instagram

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?

Food vendor at outdoor international marketplace called Fair@44.

Fairat44 via Instagram

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 Conversation


Pascale Joassart-Marcelli is a Professor of Geography and Director, Urban Studies and Food Studies Programs at San Diego State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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