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The Latest: Spiral In Gaza, Bill Gates Probe, No To Homophobia

People form a human chain to raise awareness for discrimination against LGBTQI+ in Brussels, Belgium, on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia —
People form a human chain to raise awareness for discrimination against LGBTQI+ in Brussels, Belgium, on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia —

Welcome to Monday, where Gaza shelling intensifies, Bill Gates is under fire for a relationship with staffer and the Titanic is spotted in China. We also ask why Italy lags behind others in Europe in protecting LGBTQ from violence.

• Israeli air strikes hit Gaza as calls for ceasefire intensify: Israel conducted dozens of air strikes on Gaza early Monday, as Hamas intensified the rounds of rockets aimed at Israeli cities. International calls for a ceasefire have mounted as clashes enter a second week and the death toll on the Palestinian side multiplies, with 198 people killed, including at least 58 children and 34 women.

• Indian cyclone kills 12 and forces thousands to evacuate: Cyclone Tauktae has killed at least 12 people in Indian coastal states and left 150,000 people to evacuate their homes, in the Indian state of Gujarat.

• China lands spacecraft on Mars: China has successfully landed an uncrewed spacecraft on Mars on Saturday, making China the second nation after the United States to land on the Red Planet.

• 30 sentenced to death over anti-police clashes in DRC: After a one-day trial, 30 people were sentenced to death in the Democratic Republic of Congo for their participation in anti-police violence marking the end of Ramadan that left a policeman dead on Thursday.

• Surprise results in vote to pick Chile's new Constitution council: Chile's center-right ruling coalition did not secure a critical one-third of seats in the body that will draft the country's new constitution. Voters mostly picked independents among the 155 citizens to rewrite the nation's constitution, to replace the document written under the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

• Allegations against Bill Gates about past relationship with staffer: Microsoft Corp. board members pushed founder Bill Gates to step down from its board as they were investigating the billionaire's prior sexual relationship with a female staffer that was considered inappropriate, reveals the Wall Street Journal. This report as well as a New York Times article that cited questionable behavior toward female staffers come after the announcement that Gates and his wife Melinda French Gates were seeking a divorce.

• Titanic tourist park to open in China: A 260-meter-long Titanic replica will open as a Chinese theme park at the end of the year, six years after the construction began — longer than the construction of the original Titanic.


Pan-Arab daily newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi reports on the accelerating Israeli air strikes over the weekend in Gaza. The week of violence has left more than 200 people dead, including at least 58 children.​

主教


After a two-year delay due to Sino-Vatican frictions, Pope Francis has appointed Stephen Chow as the Roman Catholic Church's new bishop (主教, "Zhujiao") in Hong Kong to lead the 389,000 faithful in the special administrative region.

Why Italy is so slow in protecting LGBTQ from violence

Proposed Italian legislation to punish public acts of homophobia continues to be blocked by both the Catholic Church and right-wing politicians. But the country's most popular rapper has entered the debate, writes Clémence Guimier for Worldcrunch — as today marks International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia:

As reported in the Corriere della Sera daily, Christopher Jean Pierre Moreno, a 24-year-old from Nicaragua, was assaulted on a Rome metro platform in February after he'd exchanged a kiss with his boyfriend, Alfredo Zenobio, 28. These and other stories (with video evidence) have been widely shared by LGBTQ activists who continue to call for a better legal protection of gay people. Some 8,000 people turned out last Saturday for a demonstration urging senators to pass long-awaited anti-homophobia legislation, La Repubblica reported.

Italy remains one of the few European countries deprived of a law specifically punishing homophobic discrimination and violence — the Netherlands passed its Equal Treatment Act as early as 1994, while Britain and France respectively passed similar discrimination protections in 2003 and 2004. Over the course of the last 25 years, many attempts have been made by legislators to include LGBTQ rights in Italian law with the most recent being "Ddl Zan", a bill drafted last November by gay politician Alessandro Zan.

With the historical influence of the Catholic Church, too many in Italy still see gay people as a threat to the traditional idea of a family. Despite recognizing same-sex unions five years ago, Italy has the highest rate of social, political and institutional homophobia in Europe, according to the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA). Catholic organisations such as Courage continue to categorize homosexuality as a disease, reports Italian news website Linkiesta, proposing to cure it through so-called "conversion therapy," a practice still legal in Italy.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


398,000


An extensive study by the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization aimed to track for the first time the global health risks of working long hours. Citing the most recent available figures, from 2016, some 398,000 people died from a stroke after working more than 55 hours a week — 35% more deaths compared to those working 35-40 hours a week.

Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day.


— Myanmar's Miss Universe contestant Thuzar Wint Lwin said in a video message for the pageant, urging "everyone to speak about Myanmar" and against the military junta and its security forces which have killed hundreds of opponents since the Feb. 1 coup.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Emma Flacard & Bertrand Hauger

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Society

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

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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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