In Vietnam, capitalism is winning

Forty years afer the war ended, it’s Apple, Facebook, and American TV


By Andrew Lam

MAY 5, 2015 — Forty years have passed since the Vietnam War ended, and a parade was staged in Ho Chi Minh City, formally Saigon, to commemorate that date. Yet despite the fanfare debates rage on both sides of the Pacific as to who really won and who lost that war. While the hammer and sickle and Uncle Ho’s image may still adorn T-shirts it sells to foreign tourists, Vietnam’s heart throbs for all things American, especially Apple. In 2014, in fact, Vietnam became its hottest market. In the first half of the 2014 fiscal year alone, iPhone sales tripled in this country, far surpassing sales growth in India and China.

But it is not just iPhones, of course, that exemplify America’s powerful presence in Vietnam 40 years after the war ended. Facebook entered Vietnam’s market four years ago and at one point was adding a million signups a month. As of October, it had 30 million users, and that’s out of 40 million Vietnamese who have access to the Internet.  Continue reading

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The Agenda, May 4-10: Housing protests, housing policies, and housing politics

When is it “political games” and when is it political reality? And it’s fun to see the mayor praising Chris Daly, who did exactly the opposite of what the Lee administration has done (and it worked)

Sup. Julie Christensen doesn't want "political games" with housing -- but there is also political reality

Sup. Julie Christensen doesn’t want “political games” with housing — but there is also political reality

By Tim Redmond

MAY 4, 2015 – I like it when Ed Lee is out there praising Chris Daly.

Well, not directly, of course, but the mayor had to acknowledge the role the former supervisor played in making it possible for a youth organization that fights violence (and like most nonprofits of its sort, doesn’t have a lot of money) to buy a building and create a more stable future.

Here’s the key point, and it’s one that the mayor ought to be taking to heart: Daly forced big developers to kick in money – quite a lot of money – to create a Community Stabilization Fund in Soma. The deal allowed for the construction of the Rincon Tower highrise luxury condos, which are an ugly plague on the skyline and part of everything that it wrong with the city’s housing policy. But at the time, Daly told me he didn’t think he could halt the project – so he shook the developers down for everything he could get. In the name of doing what is so important these days – stabilizing existing communities.

Here’s the Chron report:

At the celebration [Lee] said that the stabilization fund, which was set up by former Supervisor Chris Daly was an acknowledgment that small community groups like United Playaz could easily become victims in a rapidly rising real estate market.

“We realized that change was coming about, and if the neighborhood nonprofits were going to prevent themselves from being victimized by the market they would have to figure this out quickly,” Lee said.

No: Ed Lee had nothing to do with the stabilization fund. In fact, he did the exact opposite.

The Twitter tax break allowed at least one company to avoid more than $30 million in city taxes. There was no “community stabilization fund” in the package, just some largely bogus “community benefits agreements.”

As a result of the tax break, nonprofits who have made their homes for years in mid-Market, and who serve populations in mid-Market, are facing displacement as rents soar. Tech companies can pay a lot more than community-based organizations. Continue reading

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The Tom and Tim Show: Nepal, Baltimore, the news media — and WTF is up with the Supreme Court anyway?

Tom Ammiano and Tim Redmond discuss the events of the week — and tell you why all the cave men were gay


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Tech Office Creep comes to Chinatown

Community leaders worry that neighborhood-serving businesses will be forced out by offices that violate local zoning laws

The second floor of this building is being used as office space, in violation of local zoning rules

The second floor of this building is being used as office space, in violation of local zoning rules

By Tim Redmond

APRIL 30, 2015 – The creep of illegal tech offices into neighborhood commercial districts, which we have been tracking in the Mission, has arrived in Chinatown.

At a press conference yesterday, members of the Chinatown Community Development Center and the Chinese Progressive Association pointed to a building at 950 Grant – where restaurant space has been converted to offices.

The zoning laws don’t allow general office use in the area.

Among the tenants of the new office space is the tech company Whil, which offers “a digital training platform for mindfulness and Yoga.”

But Gen Fujioka, the policy director for CCDC, told reporters that since 1986, central Chinatown has banned this sort of commercial office use. The Chinatown Area Plan, he said, “was created to protect Chinatown from office encroachment.” Continue reading

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Opinion: From Kent State to Baltimore

State-sanctioned violence, 45 years later
Troops fire tear gas at protesters. Kent State University photo

Troops fire tear gas at protesters. Kent State University photo

By Tommi Avicolli Mecca
APRIL 30, 2015 — The slaughter of four students at Kent State 45 years ago made me realize that I could never be proud to be American. Not that I was. 
I grew up with images on our small-screened black and white television, which my aunt bought at a discount at GE where she worked on an assembly line, of black children blown up in churches and civil rights marchers hosed down and beaten by vicious cops in the South. I learned from the news that all men and women were not created equal in this so-called land of the free. My Papa wasn’t. He was a poor Dago who barely made enough to feed his famiglia
I wasn’t created equal, either. I knew that if I told anyone I was attracted to other boys I’d end up ostracized or dead. A nun told my mother at open house one year that I was too much like a girl. Sometimes I fantasized about visiting that bride of Jesus and telling just her how much like a girl I was. 

Continue reading

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