Geopolitics

Jerusalem Synagogue Attacked, Iran Nuclear Talks, Planet Of The Vapes

NASA is working on a new space telescope, 100 times more powerful than Hubble.
NASA is working on a new space telescope, 100 times more powerful than Hubble.
Worldcrunch

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

FINAL IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS BEGIN
The last round of talks on Iran’s nuclear program began this morning in Vienna with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif confident that a deal could be reached before next Monday’s deadline if the other six world powers don’t make “excessive demands,” AFP reports. The BBC writes, however, that “few people believe” an agreement will be reached, while Al Jazeera America reports that “naysayers in Washington and Tehran — not to mention U.S. allies such as Israel, the Gulf Arab states and even possibly France — demand a harder line from their respective sides.” A deal would lift sanctions against Iran that are crippling its economy and would theoretically ensure that it doesn’t develop nuclear weapons.

"Given the political capital that both sides have invested ... it would be foolish to walk away from the talks and throw away this historic opportunity," Arms Control Association analyst Kelsey Davenport told AFP.

JERUSALEM SYNAGOGUE ATTACKED
At least four Israelis were killed this morning and eight others wounded in a synagogue attack in western Jerusalem. Police shot and killed the two assailants, who attacked worshipers with knives, axes and guns, at the scene, Haaretz reports. According to The Jerusalem Post, a rabbi was among the four victims. It is the latest in a series of deadly escalations in the holy city and was later claimed by the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, contradicting the first statements of Israeli police that the two men were “lone wolves.”

Hamas praised the attack, calling “for the continuation of revenge operations” and stressing that “the Israeli occupation bears responsibility for tension in Jerusalem.” The organization said the attack was a response to the death of a Palestinian bus driver, although an autopsy concluded he had committed suicide. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the Hamas statement and “all violent acts no matter who their source is.” He blamed Israeli settlers and some Israeli ministers for their “provocative acts.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to “respond with a heavy hand to this brutal murder” and accused Hamas and Abbas for their “incitement,” which the international community was “irresponsibly ignoring,” he said.

13.5 BILLION
NASA is developing an infrared successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will be 100 times as powerful as its predecessor and should be able to reveal images of the first galaxies forming some 13.5 billion years ago.

STATE OF EMERGENCY IN MISSOURI
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency there yesterday, and the FBI warned of possible violence in anticipation of potential protests after the result of the investigation into the death of black teenager Michael Brown, The Washington Post reports. Darren Wilson, the policeman who shot the 18-year-old Aug. 9, is expected not to be charged despite witnesses saying that he fired his gun several times after Brown had surrendered. The National Guard will be deployed to dozens of locations around greater St. Louis. Internet activist group Anonymous, meanwhile, hacked the Ku Klux Klan’s Twitter account in response to death threats towards protesters.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
As Le Monde’s Laurent Carpentier writes, 5,000 people are hard at work to ensure that in a year’s time the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the new museum built under the aegis of the world renowned French museum, is ready to house acclaimed art and open its doors to visitors. “But just what goes into establishing a universal museum?” the journalist asks. “And how to design it? Is it even possible in view of the diversification of the arts today — painting, cinema, video, and so on? ‘When we started out, the scientific team was working with categories of works,’ says Louvre director Jean-Luc Martinez. ‘It led nowhere. We rethought the whole thing and decided to tell a story — that of the image as seen from a global point of view. It’s a way of addressing a double tension: on the one hand that of being both an art museum and a museum of anthropology and civilization, and on the other bridging the demand for cultural identity and a universal will. This more or less corresponds to the tension of today’s world.’”
Read the full article, Louvre Abu Dhabi, A French Museum Rising In The Dese

JAPAN PM CALLS SNAP ELECTION
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced he would dissolve the parliament Friday and called a snap election to be held next month. He is seeking a public mandate to push ahead with economic reforms, The Wall Street Journal reports. Abe also announced that a planned sales tax increase would be postponed for 18 months, which comes after yesterday’s news that the country was officially in a recession. But he brushed aside criticism that “Abenomics” and its aggressive quantitative easing program was a failure. As things stand, his party looks likely to win the election, as the main opposition party still hasn’t recovered from its massive defeat two years ago.

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD


HONG KONG PROTEST SITE CLEARED
Hong Kong court bailiffs have successfully cleared one protest site near government offices following a court order, eight weeks after the pro-democracy movement began. According to the South China Morning Post, protesters put up little resistance, with some carrying the barricades to the main Occupy Central protest site in the city.

PLANET OF THE VAPES
Oxford Dictionaries has unveiled the word of the year — successor to last year’s “selfie.” Behold “vape,” which can be a noun or verb to denote either an e-cigarette itself or inhaling the vapor from one. The word is not entirely new and was first used in 1983, back when smokeless cigarettes were just an idea. Read more from TIME.

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food / travel

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 food options, when interesting food options 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

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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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