A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘diasporas

Devjyot Ghoshal’s article at The Atlantic profiles one of the few growth sectors of American journalism, in the ethnic press.

As commenters note, the barebones nature of these operations don’t bode well for even their future, never mind larger mainstream organizations.

There are close to a hundred ethnic newspapers in New York City with a combined readership of 2.94 million, almost a third of the city’s total population, according to the New York Press Association.

Together this collection of monthly, weekly, and daily newspapers are part of a larger ecosystem: More than 270 community and ethnic publications in 36 languages that are published in New York. In the last two years alone, at least 21 new ethnic newspapers have been launched. In contrast, the number of daily newspapers in the United States has dropped from 1,480 in 2000 to 1,382 in 2011.

But these small publications, often run out of basements such as Rehman’s, are surviving—and occasionally even thriving, riding the coattails of the city’s burgeoning immigrant population. More than 3 million of New York’s 8.2 million residents are foreign-born, the city’s planning department estimates—the highest percentage of immigrants since the European influx of the 1930s.

Javier Castaño is among them. The Colombia-born journalist started out as a reporter for the United States’s oldest Spanish-daily, El Diario La Prensa. Eventually, he rose to become the editor-in-chief of Hoy Nueva York, a free Spanish-language daily. In 2008, Hoy’s print edition was shuttered, and Castaño fired.

Instead of finding another job, Castaño decided to turn publisher. He started the Queens Latino, an online news outlet focusing on Queens’s Spanish-speaking community. It’s a huge demographic bloc: More than 27 percent of the borough’s 2.3 million residents are of Hispanic or Latino origin. A few months later, he launched a monthly newspaper.

“They say that Latinos use the Internet in a strong way and they go to see videos all the time,” explained Castaño, sitting at his home-office in Jackson Heights. “But I don’t think they are getting the news still via the Internet. So you need that newspaper.” The Queens Latino currently prints about 15,000 copies every month.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 27, 2014 at 7:11 pm

[LINK] “Expat voting: Court denies Ottawa’s fight for 5-year rule for voters abroad”

This news reported by CBC earlier this week is quite good, I think.

Canadians living abroad, regardless of when they left the country, will be able to cast ballots in next week’s federal byelections in Ontario and Alberta.

An Ontario Court of Appeal judge made the ruling today, denying the federal government’s request for a stay of a lower court ruling that would have extended voting rights to anyone who had lived outside the country for more than five years.

Monday’s decision comes just days before voters were to head to the polls on June 30 for four byelections — two in Alberta, two in Ontario.

It paves the way for about 1.4 million longtime Canadian expats to vote alongside others who moved abroad more recently.

An amendment to the Canada Elections Act passed in 1993 barred citizens abroad from voting in Canadian elections if they were out of the country for longer than five years.

But last month, Ontario Superior Court Justice Michael Penny found the five-year rule arbitrary and unconstitutional.

“The [government] essentially argues that allowing non-residents to vote is unfair to resident Canadians because resident Canadians live here and are, on a day-to-day basis, subject to Canada’s laws and live with the consequences of Parliament’s decisions,” Penny wrote in the May 2 decision.

“I do not find this argument persuasive.”

Written by Randy McDonald

June 27, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Posted in Canada, Politics

Tagged with , , , ,

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • James Bow mourns the loss of the Northlander train route connecting northern Ontario with the south.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes a Saudi Arabian announcement that it will be boosting military spending by 20%.
  • The Financial Times‘ The World blog notes growing Brazilian confidence in the outcome of the World Cup.
  • At A Fistful of Euros, Alex Harrowell notes the complexities of governance and procedure in the European Parliament.
  • Language Hat notes the long and changing history of ethnic identity in the Crimean peninsula.
  • Language Log’s Victor Mair notes from first-hand experience the complex language and script situation in Macau and Hong Kong.
  • The New APPS Blog features suggestions for institutional reform in the European Union.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that, to ingratiate itself with the European Union, Albania won’t accept transit fees for the impending Trans-Adriatic pipeline.
  • Spacing Toronto remembers the time when Toronto’s subway network was the best in North America.
  • Strange Maps’ Frank Jacobs notes how a steamship disaster helped erase the Manhattan neighbourhood of Little Germany from the map of New York City.
  • Torontoist fact-checks an Olivia Chow speech, finding it boringly accurate and unambitious.
  • Towleroad notes how a Dutch town proposed setting up a gay ghetto to call out local homophobia.
  • Window on Eurasia notes how Ukrainian Orthodox Christian leaders are rejecting the Russian church’s authority, and observes that the Ukrainian government is now demanding that ethnic Ukrainians in Russia receive good treatment as an ethnic minority.

[LINK] “Can Fast-Food Chains Get Americans to Try Middle Eastern?”

Vanessa Wong’s Bloomberg BusinessWeek article takes me somewhat by surprise. The idea that Middle Eastern food might not be commonly eaten almost doesn’t seem right. Likely it’s because of my background in Atlantic Canada, where as this Saltscapes article describes, one of the most noteworthy elements brought by the non-trivial Lebanese immigration to the region was their food. Shawarma not being an option is almost implausible.

The original Halal Guys in Manhattan is a thing of local legend: a food cart that became a word-of-mouth phenomenon with long—and occasionally violent—lines day and night. Now the purveyors of chicken and rice in Styrofoam containers are trying to turn the sidewalk stand into a national franchise concept. After signing with consulting firm Fransmart, Halal Guys now plans to grow into a chain of 100 brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S. and overseas in about five years.

Halal Guys isn’t the only one trying to create a market for Middle Eastern fast food in the U.S. Just Falafel, based in the United Arab Emirates, plans to open 160 outlets in North America and has already signed franchise agreements in New York City, New Jersey, Kentucky, San Francisco, and Toronto. Amsterdam’s Maoz Vegetarian already has a chain of falafel restaurants in the U.S.

While starting a “Chipotle of Middle Eastern food” may seem seductive, Darren Tristano, executive vice president at restaurant consultancy Technomic, sees certain challenges that did not confront the successful fast-casual Mexican restaurant. The average American, he argues, lacks basic familiarity with Middle Eastern cuisine. Only 0.5 percent of the U.S. population is of Arab ancestry, according to U.S. Census data.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 18, 2014 at 3:09 am

[LINK] “Canada’s young men joining foreign jihad: Are we doing enough to stop it?”

CBC News reacts to the news that a growing number of Canadians–young Muslim men of a variety of backgrounds, converts and otherwise–are volunteering to fight in foreign wars and even become terrorists. Recent events in Calgary, where a number of young Muslim men have joined up, have highlighted the issue. “What is to be done?” is the question of the hour.

An alarming number of radicalized Canadians are joining foreign jihadi groups abroad, prompting calls for intervention as other Western nations boost efforts to stop their citizens from waging attacks at home or on foreign soil.

CBC News has learned of as many as two dozen Calgarians who, in the last two years, departed for Syria to join extremist rebel groups.

France intercepted four people suspected of trying to recruit militants to fight in Syria last week, following the arrest of a French citizen who joined a militant group in Syria and then returned to carry out a deadly shooting at a Jewish museum in Brussels last month.

In April, Bosnia introduced a 10-year prison sentence for citizens caught fighting in foreign wars — a move aimed at curbing recruitment for the Syrian conflict.

‘Nobody is internally motivated to die. It’s going to be externally motivated, so you can prevent that by understanding the motivations behind it.’— Mahdi Qasqas, Calgary Muslim youth leader

That same month, British counterterrorism police appealed to Muslim women in a national campaign to dissuade male relatives from going to Syria to fight alongside extremist Islamist groups there. Some suspected jihadis have been detained at the airport upon landing in the U.K.

But critics say there has been little public outreach in Canada to stop the radicalization from happening here, before young men leave these shores. Such pre-emptive measures may be overdue.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 6, 2014 at 7:18 pm

[LINK] “The Woman Who Saved Syria’s Jews”

Back in March, The Daily Beast‘s Emma Beals had a nice article about Judy Feld Carr. A Canadian Jewish musicologist, Carr was responsible for the successful flight of Syria’s remnant Jewish community to safety. (Her prediction that, if Syrian Jews had stayed, they would have risked slaughter seems sadly correct.)

In the late 1970’s, Feld Carr, a Canadian mother and musicologist, was reading a newspaper when she was struck by an article about 12 SyrianJewish men who tried to escape into Turkey overland from Qamishli, in the north of the country. They stepped on a land mine and Syrian border guards watched them die.

She was so moved by the story that she decided to track down members of Syria’s Jewish community. She began cold-calling numbers in Syria until she eventually hit upon a contact. “I sent a telegram to the Rabbi in Damascus asking if he needed religious books and prepaid [for his response].” she explains. “Who would have ever believe, an answer came back with a shopping list! That was the beginning, the first opening since 1948.”

In the decades following the creation of the state of Israel, Syria’s Jewish community had become isolated, says Sarian Roffe, a historian of the Syrian Jewish community. “After Israel’s creation that was it. They shut the doors because they didn’t want people to go to Israel and fight against them,” she says. “So the doors to leave Syria were closed and there was increased persecution.”

There was also enforced segregation—Jewish residents of Damascus, Aleppo and Qamishli were forced to live only in certain neighborhoods and initially had to seek permission to travel further than three kilometers from their homes.

Feld Carr’s relationship with the Damascus Rabbi started to develop into more frequent coded telegrams and secret messages written into religious books. Eventually, she says, some members of the community managed to leave the country and meet with her. To do so, they had to leave family members behind as ‘collateral’. “This one older couple came to meet me and told me what was happening in Syria.” she explains. “Then somebody went to Aleppo in the north and asked me, ‘Is there any way to get my brother out?’ And that’s how I started. It was crazy. I ransomed him. I started buying people!”

Written by Randy McDonald

May 30, 2014 at 8:32 pm

[LINK] “Playing with Fire”

Transition Online’s Martin Ehl reports on the ill-timing of Hungary’s push for self-government for the Magyar minority in Ukraine.

Last week, leaders of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland competed at a security conference in Bratislava in the political categories of cynicism and hypocrisy. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban proved himself the master. He defended his call, several days old, for the 200,000-strong Hungarian minority in Ukraine to be granted autonomy. At a time when some of that country’s eastern regions are attempting to secede, such comments were considered, to say the least, inappropriate and playing to Russian efforts to make Ukraine as chaotic as possible before the presidential elections there on 25 May.

[. . .]

On 16 May, Orban added a few more things during a television interview. He said in the European Union there are many types of autonomy, from which Hungarians living in Ukraine can simply choose. And any government in Ukraine must be aware that the Hungarian state will support the request of the Hungarian minority. Now is a good time for such a request, he said, when a new Ukraine is being built. Only at the end did Orban say, in so far as Russian actions are considered, that of course Hungary supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

In Bratislava Orban called on his Polish counterpart, Donald Tusk, to be equally hard on Ukraine. Tusk nearly blew up right then and there, in public. The Polish approach to its troubled neighbor has been the exact opposite, because the Poles are not playing with fire like the Hungarians. Even if they could, the Polish government is well aware of the direct threat flowing from an unstable Ukraine. Warsaw is thus trying to help the Ukrainians on the European scene – without opening up old wounds. Officially 150,000 members of the Polish minority live in Ukraine and historians are still analyzing the details of their mutual massacres, which are only 70 years old.

On the sidelines of the conference, Hungarian government officials tried to defend the prime minister by saying that his words were meant primarily for a domestic audience. But it did not occur to them that this is exactly the danger threatening Europe as the European Parliament elections approach: the extent to which politicians concentrate more on the domestic audience and omit, intentionally or not, the broader context – the importance of the stability and prosperity of neighboring countries and, accordingly, of the entire continent.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 28, 2014 at 7:53 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Fair Play for Sikh Pioneers?”

On the weekend, Torontoist’s Kevin Plummer wrote about the efforts of a Sikh in Toronto a century ago to overcome racist Canadian immigration policies. Apparently he was quite well-liked at the time.

“We are subjects of the same Empire; we have fought, we have sacrificed. We have fought for the Empire, and we bear her medals; we have an interest in this country; we have bought about $2,006,000 of property in British Columbia; we have our church and pay our pastor, and we mean to stay in this country,” Dr. Sunder Singh said in a speech before Toronto’s Empire Club on January 25, 1912. One of the leaders of the South Asian community in British Columbia, Singh spent that winter in Toronto, campaigning for the easing of highly restrictive immigration regulations for South Asians. He continued: “To others you advance money to come here, and yet to us, British subjects, you refuse to let down the bars. All we are asking of you is justice and fair play.”

“Many people have been telling me that it is useless my trying to bring this question before the Canadian people,” the speaker concluded, “but I am firmly persuaded that, if the question is properly brought before right-minded Canadians, that they will say that the same rights should be given to the Sikh people as are given to any other British subjects.”

A reasoned argument persuasively delivered, Singh’s speech that day was interrupted by spontaneous applause no fewer than six times, an indication of the reception he received in Toronto initially. For a brief moment, it appeared that he might succeed in rousing Ontario’s Protestant and pro-Imperialist sentiment to the cause of loosening immigration restrictions. But ultimately, the justness of his argument couldn’t overcome the vociferous outcry from British Columbia or the personal attacks launched on his character.

Born near Amritsar, Punjab in 1882, Dr. Sunder Singh (also frequently spelled Sundar) was educated at Punjab University, then studied medicine in Glasgow, Scotland. After qualifying as a doctor before the license board in Britain, he worked as a ship’s medical officer on the mail line for two years, travelling between Liverpool, Brazil, and New York. Singh arrived in Canada at Halifax in March 1909, where immigration restrictions against South Asians were much less stringently enforced than on the West Coast.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 20, 2014 at 8:48 pm

[LINK] “Russia’s Ukrainian minority under pressure”

Al Jazeera’s Ian Bateson reports on the pressures faced by many Ukrainians in Russia. This is a large population, numbering perhaps two million people and well-embedded in Russian society, some descending from border communities and some from Soviet-era and post-Soviet labour migrants.

It makes the depressing argument that, apparently, the simple fact of self-identifying as Ukrainian with a distinctive and separate identity and language is perceived by many Russians–certainly by the Russian state!–as a declaration of hostility. What this augurs for Russian-Ukrainian relations in the future I leave to the reader.

One day last month Roman Romanenko, a Ukrainian living in the Russian city of Vologda, came home to find a swastika painted on his door and flyers stuffed in his neighbours’ mailboxes.

The flyers read: “Living in your building is a piece of Lviv scum”, referring to a western Ukrainian city with a strong sense of national identity, many of whose residents supported the protest movement that led to the ousting of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.

The flyers warned that Romanenko supported the protest movement, and that his apartment could become a centre for anti-Russian Ukrainian extremists.

Romanenko, who is originally from eastern Ukraine and not Lviv, is the editor of a local newspaper. He recently wrote a popular Facebook post asking Russian President Vladimir Putin to send Russian troops to Vologda, as he had done in Crimea – but this time, to protect local Russians from corruption.

Recently questioned by the local prosecutor’s office, he said the situation has become harder for Ukrainians in Russia over the past few months. “I don’t really talk about Ukraine anymore – not because I don’t have anything to say, but because the topic is just too hot.”

Many Russians were euphoric at their country’s takeover and annexation last month of the Crimean peninsula, which had belonged to neighbouring Ukraine. But Russia’s sizeable Ukrainian minority has remained conspicuously silent. “If you try and talk about Ukraine, they just call you a Banderite [a follower of Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera] or a Maidan protester,” Romanenko told Al Jazeera.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 29, 2014 at 1:36 am

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • At the Financial Times‘ The World blog, Gideon Rachman is skeptical about Tony Blair’s Middle Eastern vision.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that five men recently arrested for a gay-bashing in Brooklyn were part of a Hasidic Jewish group involved in policing their neighbourhood.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that budget cuts will make travel around Seattle on mass transit difficult.
  • John Moyer engages with the idea of non-binary gender in science fiction.
  • The New APPS Blog rightly observes that Tennessee’s proposed bill SB 1391, which would make women criminally liable if anything happens to their fetuses, is outrageous.
  • Otto Pohl observes that the former Soviet German diaspora has collapsed in numbers hugely became of mass emigration.
  • The Signal reports on a personal digital archiving conference. People need to know what to do, why, and how.
  • Towleroad notes a study suggesting that, if beards become too popular, they may start becoming less attractive.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy engages in discussion as to how people should respond to opponents of same-sex marriage, as bigots or not.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Lithuania, apparently by offering refuge to Crimean Tatars, is now being accused of sponsoring Islamic extremists.
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