Wednesday, January 14, 2014
NEW CHARLIE HEBDO ISSUE SOLD OUT
One week after the terrorist attack on the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, thousands of people lined up at newsstands to get a copy of the much-awaited “survivors’ issue” of the satirical magazine. As many as one million copies were distributed today and every single one of them has reportedly been sold, with many having been reserved ahead of time. The magazine’s publisher announced it would print an extra 2 million copies, on top of the 3 million initially planned, which will be distributed over the next few days, Le Figaro reports. Copies were already auctioned on eBay, with some bids reaching hundreds of euros. But not everybody rejoiced at the latest issue, which features a caricature of the prophet Muhammad on its front page. An ISIS radio station said it was “extremely stupid” to publish another drawing, while a spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry branded the cover as “insulting” and “provocative.” Here are 7 things to know about the survivors’ issue.
The leader of al-Qaeda in Yemen claimed responsibility for last week’s deadly attack in a video posted online. Calling the killings a “vengeance for the Messenger of God,” he said that the organization’s leadership “chose the target, laid the plan and financed the operation,” Reuters reports.
Meanwhile, the crackdown on alleged “terrorist sympathizers” continues in France with Le Monde reporting that 50 people have been identified, and some 20 ongoing investigations.
A high-profile arrest was also made this morning in the person of comedian and political provocateur Dieudonné, who made headlines last year after his show was shut down for featuring anti-Semitic material. His arrest on the charges of sympathizing with terrorism came after the showman attended Sunday’s march and wrote on Facebook that he felt like “Charlie Coulibaly,” a mixed reference to the “Je suis Charlie” campaign and Amedy Coulibaly, who killed a policewoman and four hostages at a kosher shop in Paris. In a letter he later wrote to France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, Dieudonné said he has been hunted down by the state and the media for more than a year and argued that he wasn’t “so different from Charlie” in that he tested the limits of freedom of speech. He hinted that despite calls to defend it even when it’s offensive, the principle was applied with a double standard.
The effect of last week’s attacks meanwhile continue to affect France’s Muslim community, with at least 60 documented Islamophobic attacks since last Wednesday. Read more from AP.
JAPAN APPROVES RECORD DEFENSE BUDGET
The Japanese cabinet announced its biggest ever defense budget worth $42 billion in response to China’s growing military influence in the region, AP reports. Tokyo is planning to bolster its surveillance equipment with new drones and amphibious vehicles, as well as fighter jets. This marks a new step in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s move away from the country’s pacifist stance since the end of World War II. For more on this topic, here’s a Le Monde/Worldcrunch piece: Japan's Quiet Return To Global Weapons Market.
HAITI PARLIAMENT DISSOLVED
Negotiations to end an ongoing political standoff in Haiti have failed, resulting in the decision late Tuesday to dissolve the country’s Parliament, the BBC reports. President Michel Martelly, who had been trying to secure backing for a U.S.-sanctioned plan to again postpone elections initially planned for 2011, now rules the country by decree. Opposition groups meanwhile have vowed to continue protesting for Martelly to resign.
MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
Cancer will virtually kill no one aged under 80 by 2050 due to continued advances preventing and treating the disease, a new study says, showing that a daily low-dose of aspirin is the most effective action against cancer.
EBOLA OUTBREAK IN LIBERIA COULD END BY JUNE
U.S. researchers believe that Liberia, one of the West African countries most affected by the Ebola outbreak, could see an end to the epidemic as early as June of this year if a current trend of better hospitalization and preventive care continues, Time reports. According to figures from the World Health Organization, more than 8,200 people have died from the virus, including almost 3,500 in Liberia.
After the Paris attacks, French authorities are looking for new tools to combat terrorism. But the risk is high for undermining basic democratic liberties, write Le Monde’s Jacques Follorou and Franck Johannès: "The legislation undeniably needs some updating. A new intelligence bill is in the pipeline and should be voted on before the end of Hollande's mandate. It can go two ways. It can either be a French Patriot Act, or it can grant extra powers to the fight against terrorism but keep the changes far more moderate.”
Read the full article, In France, The Patriot Act Temptation.
ITALY’S NAPOLITANO RESIGNS
Giorgio Napolitano, Italy’s longest-serving president, has resigned with fatigue and his advanced age of 89 the main reasons for him to step down before the end of an unusual second mandate, Corriere Della Serra reports. In comments at an event Tuesday, Napolitano said he was “happy to go back home,” adding that the presidential palace was “a bit of a prison.” The loss of a crucial ally like Napolitano will be a blow for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and finding a replacement that gets the necessary Parliamentary support won’t be an easy task, according to Bloomberg.
ON THIS DAY
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Yesterday’s announcement that Woody Allen had signed a lucrative TV deal with Amazon to pen a comedy show did not go down well with everybody. As the controversy over Bill Cosby’s rape allegations continues, The Daily Beast argues that Hollywood brushing aside similar accusations regarding Woody Allen is wrong, though not necessarily surprising.
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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