Western Journalists Attacked, South Sudan Starves, Saturn's Ocean

A village in South Sudan. One third of the country's population is facing severe famine risks.
A village in South Sudan. One third of the country's population is facing severe famine risks.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized the fact that Ukraine ignored “independent ” expert assessments in its investigation of the deaths of more than 100 protesters and police officers in the last days of Kiev’s Maidan standoff Voice of Russia reports. Lavrov also said that a leaked conversation between EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton and Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, in which the two were discussing the possibility that snipers could have been provocateurs among the protesters, had fallen “on deaf ears.” This comes after Ukrainian authorities yesterday blamed Russian security agents and former President Viktor Yanukovych for the February deaths.

  • McDonald’s Ukraine announced yesterday that it would “temporarily” close its three restaurants in Crimea, citing “manufacturing reasons not dependent on McDonald's,” Ria Novosti reports. In Moscow, the leader of Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party Vladimir Zhirinovsky, commented, “We will close them all over the country, and then we’ll deal with Pepsi.”

A gunman dressed as an Afghan police officer shot two Western journalists, both women, killing one and leaving the other in critical condition on the eve of the country’s presidential election, AFP reports. The gunman entered the police station in the small town of Khost, near the border with Pakistan, and shot the two women. Last month, a Swedish journalist was shot dead in the capital of Kabul, where an Afghan reporter for AFP was also killed with his family in the attack of a luxury hotel.

Israel launched a series of 15 overnight air raids on the Gaza strip, targeting 10 sites after the Israeli military said four rockets had been fired towards the south of the country, Haaretz reports. According to Ma’an news agency, two Palestinians, including a 1-year-old baby, were injured during the airstrikes. This comes amid increasing tensions between Israel and the Palestinian authorities, after Tel Aviv refused to release the last batch of prisoners it had agreed to free as part of U.S.-backed peace talks. The Palestinians replied by threatening to push for membership on the International Criminal Court and other international bodies, a move Israel strongly opposes. According to The Guardian, Israel yesterday “scrapped” release of the prisoners and called for the negotiations to be “reviewed.”

At least 16 people have died and more are feared missing after devastating flash floods in the Solomon Islands, an archipelago located northeast of Australia, news agency Fairfax reports. Local newspaper The Solomon Star described the floods as “the worst disaster the nation has seen,” with thousands of homes destroyed, as well as bridges and power lines. The governments of New Zealand and Australia have already pledged aid.

South Korea has summoned the Japanese ambassador after issuing scathing criticism over Tokyo’s approval of revised school textbooks that describe disputed islets as “illegally occupied by South Korea,” Xinhua reports. In a statement, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry denounced the decision as a “provocation” and said it “strongly censures the Japanese government.” Meanwhile, Daniel Russel, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asia, warned China not to “contemplate the Crimea annexation as a model” to pursue its claims in the East China Sea, and said Washington would not hesitate to defend its Asian allies if necessary. Read more from Reuters.

Reporting on the Egyptian military’s recently announced Complete Cure device, Madr Masr’s Mostafa Hussein notes that the country is hardly the first to claim unproven cures for AIDS and other diseases that have ravaged millions of lives. “In 2000, the Nigerian army’s chief of staff and the army’s chief medical officer announced that 30 soldiers returning from Liberia were cured of HIV by a vaccine developed by a doctor named Jeremiah Abalaka. The military then ordered a large supply,” the journalist writes. “Several months later, the Nigerian presidency banned the drug after medical professionals raised concerns about the methods Abalaka used. It was already too late. Hundreds had paid their hard-earned money for the $1,000 cure, and Abalaka made a fortune.” Read the full article: Africa's Bad Habit Of Claiming False Cures For AIDS.


“I believe the government knows more than us,” Malaysia’s chief opposition leader said, accusing the government of concealing information about missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370.

Nearly one-third of South Sudan’s population — 3.7 million people — is at risk of starvation in what could be the worst African famine since the 1980s, The New York Times reports.

Scientists have found evidence of what could be an ocean beneath the icy surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, raising the possibility that primitive forms of life can be found there.


Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

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.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!