Monday, October 16, 2017

Found bodies believed to be missing Asian American couple

Joseph Orbeso, left,  and Rachel Nguyen have been missing since July 28.

The bodies are believed to be Joseph Orbeso, 21, of Lakewood and Rachel Nguyen, 20, of Westminster.

Although the confirmation of the identities await an autopsy report and DNA tests, which could take up to several weeks, Gilbert Orbeso is certain they are his son and his son's girlfriend.

"I feel that we have closure and we know we found them. That was our main goal was to find them ... Hope they can rest in peace now," Gilbert Orbeso said.
The couple had been missing since July 28. Their car was found parked near the entrance to the Maze Loop trail, a 4.5 mile trail that winds through the desert rocks, shrubs and ravines and features several elevation changes as it winds through the remote canyon of the park.
In late July, the temperature reached over 100 degrees.
Sunday, Gilbert Orbeso was part of a search team exploring a wash a few miles from Maze Loop, where he found pieces of clothing, water bottles and food wrappers.
“We know we found them. That was our main goal, to find them,” said Gilbert Orbeso, who frequently joined the months-long search efforts that involved family members, friends, volunteers and law enforcement on the ground and in helicopters.
“I believed that I was going to find them. I didn’t know when, but I had my answer,” he told KESQ.

Jessica Sanchez took a knee at Raiders-Chargers game

Jessica Sanchez did a beautiful rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" before the NFL game between the
Oakland Raiders and L.A. Chargers last Sunday

By Louis Chan

SPEAKING IN A SOFT TONE, Filipina and Mexican American Jessica Sanchez took to Facebook to defend her decision to take a knee at the end of her performance of the National Anthem before the Oakland Raiders-Los Angeles Charges games in Oakland Sunday (Oct. 15).

The season 11 runner up on American Idol seemed unconfortable explaining her decision. She appeared to be speaking off the top of her head. The 22 year old spoke haltingly and struggled to find the words to explain her actions.

Sanchez went down on her knees while singing the words “home of the brave”at the end of the song.

Raiders Marshawn Lynch sat during the anthem, while Chargers Russell Okung raised his fist.

Sanchez told the Associated Press that Lynch said to her, “You did your thing girl.”

The singer described reaction to her protest as “crazy stuff on the internet.”

“I can’t sit here and help them understand why I did it…but it’s something I stand for and believe in,” she said on her Facebook post. “I don’t know. I’ve always been quiet about how I felt and my opinions about things like this, like big things like this.”

She explained that she did not mean to be disrespectful.

“I was not,” she said while holding her hand to her heart.

“I don’t want to be quiet anymore. This is how I feel. It’s what I stand for. I encourage you guys, if you feel a certain way, don’t be afraid to be part of the conversation. Stand for what you believe in.”

This is not the first time Sanchez has gotten involved in a political issue, but it’s by far her most controversial. She released a song during the Presidential campaign in support of Hillary Clinton.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Samoan hotshots are a source of inspiration fighting California wildfires

The hotshots from America Samoa emerge from the forest.

ONE OF THE MANY AMAZING STORIES coming out of the devastating wildfires in northern California is the inspirational presence of the hotshots from American Samoa.

As the worst fire in California history continues to burn, firefighters have come from across the country and as far away as Australia to assist in controlling the fires that have claimed more than 40 lives and thousands of homes.

The crew of five veterans and 11 rookie firefighters from the National Park of American Samoa joined the Northern California wildfire force.
The Samoans were equipped with gear when they arrived in Redding, Calif., and they, in turn, said thanks with celebratory songs and a haka.

Later, a bone-chilling video captures the American Samoan hotshots coming down from the mountains after a hard days work. The video was filmed at the Helena-Fork Fire on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in northwest California.

It shows a trail coming out of the forest. In the distance you hear a song. Then, one by one in single file the fire crew emerges out of the dark forest sounding like a choir. With their strong, powerful, harmonizing voices it's a scenes that sends chills up the spine. 

They are singing a Christian hymn, acapella, in Samoan with some of the firefighters singing harmony. 
Even though you don't know the words, you can feel the power emanating from the men and women.

The video was posted Sept. 27, 2017 by Lori Light and has gone viral. The videographer said in his post on You Tube, “Take a break from the depressing national news and watch the best thing you will see today.”

Will Kumail Nanjiani's SNL gig break down stereotypes?

Kumail Nanjiani hosted "Saturday Night Live."
KUMAIL NANJIANI made the most of his stint as guest host on Saturday Night Live, last night (Oct. 14) let's hope it opens the doors for other Asian American performers.

He wasn't afraid to make the primarily white viewership a bit uncomfortable touching on topics other comedians have not gone:

  • He's Muslim;
  • He's an immigrant;
  • He married a white woman;
  • The Koran on women drivers;
  • Sikhs mistaken as Muslims

SNL has gotten so comfortable in the Trump era; it needs to shake things up, like having an Asian American hosting the venerable satiric show.

Nanjiani is the second Muslim and South Asian to host SNL after Aziz Ansari did the job earlier this year. In its 42-year old history, Lucy Liu and Jackie Chan are the only other two Asian Americans to do the show's  opening monologue and Samoan/American Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson did the job last May.

What?! SNL can't find any AAPI performers? Why hasn't Margaret Cho ever been called? Or, Ken Jeong? Or, Constance Wu? Or, Randall Park? All of the aforementioned entertainers have proven comedic acting resumes.

Is there a clause in the Comedy Central contracts that prevent's SNL from calling on Hasan Minhaj or Ronny Chieng?

Here's thinking out of the box: John Cho. Remember, he got his first big break starring as a stoner in the stereotype buster Harold & Kumar comedy franchise.

Since we' brought up Harold & Kumar, what about Cho's costar and fellow stoner Kal Penn, whose credentials include working in the White House.

Hailee Steinfeld and Vanessa Hudgens, both singers and actors, have proven themselves as more than capable hosts, doing the emcee chores for Billboard's Women in Music last year and the Billboard Music Awards this year respectively. Both have substantial fan bases  in that critical Millennial age bracket and they go beyond the just the Asian American community.

At any rate, let's hope that Nanjiani's and Ansari's successful stints opens some eyes at Saturday Night Live that AAPI performers can be funny, hip and express themselves beyond being "inscrutable."

Bruce Lee's dream project is coming to television

Andrew Koji and Olivia Cheng will head the Warrior cast

THE LATE BRUCE LEE's idea for about a martial arts expert in the Old West is on its way to becoming a TV series thanks to Justin Lin, who has been working on the project for four years.

“As Warrior comes together, I can’t help but feel the pride of correcting a wrong and helping bring Bruce Lee’s dream project to life,” Lin said. “We have assembled a cast of incredible actors from all over the world including our talented lead, Andrew Koji, an exciting discovery out of the UK. 

Cinemax has given a 10-episode straight-to-series order to 19th century crime drama titled Warrior, according to Deadline.  Inspired by the writings and work of martial arts icon Bruce Lee, the series is slated to begin production on Oct. 22 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Warrior is described as "a gritty, action-packed crime drama set during the brutal Tong Wars of San Francisco’s Chinatown in the second half of the 19th century. The series follows Ah Sahm, a martial arts prodigy who immigrates from China to San Francisco under mysterious circumstances, and becomes a hatchet man for one of Chinatown’s most powerful tongs (Chinese organized crime family)."

The cast includes Koji as Ah Sahm, a martial arts prodigy who travels from China to San Francisco and ends up becoming a hatchet man for the most powerful tong in Chinatown; Olivia Cheng as Ah Toy, Chinatown’s most accomplished courtesan and madame; Jason Tobin as Young Jun, the hard-partying son of a powerful tong boss; Dianne Doan as Mai Ling, a beautiful and ruthless Chinese woman who, through sheer force of will, has achieved a position of power in one of the tongs.

Justin Lin
The show was developed based on handwritten notes from Bruce Lee that were brought to light by his daughter, Shannon Lee.

“As a show that proudly bears the imprimatur of Bruce Lee, it’s our intention to deliver not only explosive martial arts action – which we will – but also a powerful and complex immigration drama that is as relevant today as it was in the 1870s,” Jonathan Tropper told Deadline in a statement.

“I’ve always admired Bruce Lee for his trailblazing efforts opening doors for Asians in entertainment and beyond,” said Lin. 

Growing up as a Bruce Lee fan, I've heard the stories that the martial artist had a concept for TV that would have starred Lee. As I heard the story, Hollywood decision makers didn't think U.S. audiences would accept an Asian leading man. As the story goes, Lee's concept was intriguing enough that someone "thought up" a show starring a white actor pretending to be Asian. The result was Kung Fu starring David Carradine.

“When Shannon shared with us her father’s writings: rich with Lee’s unique philosophies on life, and through a point of view rarely depicted on screen – Danielle and I knew that Perfect Storm had to make it," said Lin. 

“The martial arts genre a lot of times has been relegated to B-level action," said Lin, who is best known for his work the Fast and Furious franchise and Star Trek Beyond movie.  "And that’s not something we wanted to do. Going off of Bruce Lee’s original material, we wanted to build something that is character-driven, that has important themes and that also takes place in a part of American history that rarely gets talked about. That to me makes it something you haven’t seen before.”

A premiere date for Warrior has not been announced, but it’s expected to launch in late 2018/early 2019.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fil-Am History Month: The impact of the U.S.-Philippines bases agreements

Subic Bay in the Philippines has, from time to time, been the source of friction between the Philippines and the U.S.

THE FRATERNITY of Filipino servicemen who were part of the U.S. Armed Forces came to the U.S. after WWII raised their families and established FilAm communities throughout the U.S. They made up the so-called Second Wave of immigration from the Philippines.

While much as been written about the manongs of the First Wave and praise has been heaped upon the Third Wave as beneficiaries of the loosened 1965 immigration reforms, the Second Wave's impact on our American communities has been largely skipped over.

Living out their version of the American dream, these men and their families gave birth to stable Filipino American communities that have survived for generations. 

Their children and children's children and their great grandkids are rooted in far-flung U.S. communities working in every capacity at every level in a multitude of professions. 

The U.S. has had a love-hate relationship with the Filipinos who volunteered to fight in its behalf and the close military alliance that was born during the Philippine-American War, and blossomed ruing WWII and matured through subsequent years and Asia-based wars: From the immigration restrictions and anti-Asian laws, to their abiding loyalty to the U.S.; from the broken promises of the Recission Act to the unswerving dedication to all that is America, from their struggles for equality and recognition to the Congressional Gold Medal.

My father-in-law served as a mess man and steward in the U.S. Navy, one ship after another and not getting a land assignment until late in his Navy career. My wife's godfather served on the Presidential yacht and cooked for President Calvin Coolidge.

Filipinos flocked to join the U.S. Navy. This photo was taken in 1923.
The following is from the website of the Filipino American National Historical Society website, marking its own 35th anniversary this year:

For its 2017 Filipino American History Month theme, the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) commemorates the 70th Anniversary of the 1947 Military Bases Agreement between the United States and the Philippines, the monumental effect it had on US-Philippines relations and the larger Pacific Rim, and the profound effect the law had upon the Filipina/o American community nationwide. 

The Agreement provided for continuation of the imperial relationship between the United States and the Philippines, and the proud service and settlement of thousands of Filipinos who were enlisted in the US military, particularly US Navy sailors, and their families across the United States in the post-World War II period.

On July 4, 1946, the Philippines became an independent nation after almost 50 years as a colony of the United States (1902-1946) and more than 300 years as a colony of Spain. As the Cold War deepened, the United States sought to maintain its military presence in the Philippines, particularly Clark Air Force Base and Subic Naval Base. The 1947 Military Bases Agreement allowed the United States access to these and almost two dozen other sites for 99 years. Article 27 provided for the recruitment of Filipino citizens into the U.S. Armed Forces. In 1991, the Philippine Congress voted to end the bases agreement and closed the bases. From the Bases Agreement to 1992, more than 35,000 Filipinos had served or were serving in the U.S. Navy.

Though several thousand Filipinos had been recruited into the US Navy and other branches of the military during the American colonial period, the Military Bases Agreement ushered in a period of several decades of aggressive recruitment of thousands of Filipino citizens into the U.S. Armed Forces, primarily by the U.S. Navy, with smaller numbers in the Army, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marines. 

As a result of increased need for personnel as a result of the Korean War, the Navy began recruiting Filipinos at a rate of 1,000 a year in 1952; this was increased to 2,000 annually in 1954. Hundreds of Filipino men rushed to enlist daily to Sangley Point Naval Base, the Naval Headquarters in the Philippines, due to the deteriorating economic and political environment of the Philippines (the Navy offered higher pay than they could expect in any occupation in the Philippines, so even college-educated Filipinos sought to join the Navy). Additional incentives included the promise of adventure and to travel the world, and the potential opportunity to obtain United States citizenship. Only a small percentage of applicants passed the grueling physical and language entrance exams.

Selection for the Navy transformed the economic fortunes of the recruits’ poverty-stricken families. These men sent more than half of their monthly $80 salary back home for decades. “This is the opportunity of my life,” remembered Exequiel Maula Atienza, of his successful application for the Navy. “I wanted us to have a better life. I wanted to help my parents.” 

He told his story to oral historians writing the book, In Our Uncles’ Words: ‘We Fought for Freedom,’ a book project of FANHS Hampton Roads, VA chapter. “You know when we joined the Navy at the time, you were almost the salvation of the family, economically speaking,” Armando Pili Placides told the interviewers. He was able to send family members on to college. “That was a blessing to the family back then … to be accepted into the U.S. military. When you joined the U.S. Navy at that time, it’s almost like you won the lottery because it was a big economic help.”

Discriminatory practices in the Navy barred Filipinos from rising above the rank of messman/steward, regardless of education or skills. The Messman Branch was created specifically in the late 19th century for people of color: various Asian immigrants, African Americans, and Filipinos. 

African Americans were barred from enlistment altogether from 1919-1932, and the Navy turned to using their colonial subjects, Filipinos, as messmen during these years. From 1932 until the military was desegregated in 1948, black sailors were limited to the messman branch. The Messman Branch was renamed the Steward Branch after World War II. After desegregation of the Armed Forces in 1948, black sailors could rise within the Navy and were not limited to the Steward rank.

However, this was not the case for Filipinos, who were limited to the steward rank until 1971, when an agreement was reached with the Philippine State Department to discard the practice. Stewards were responsible for providing cooking and cleaning for the ship and domestic service to officers and their families: food service, cleaning, laundry, and chores. Work as a steward was grueling and monotonous. 

President Harry Truman and members of his party pose with their Filipino stewards.
“The job of a steward is honorable,” recalled Timoteo Medina Saguinsin in In Our Uncles’ Words. “We cleaned the dishes, the silverware, the kitchen, the pantry, the staterooms, the wardrooms, and the bathrooms. We mopped the decks or floors.”

The work could also be humiliating. Stewards were essentially domestic servants, and they endured extreme racism in the Navy, where they were called “boy” by officers and forced to perform domestic service for even the wives and children of officers. These seamen were blocked from promotion and only endured these indignities in order to support their families in the Philippines and the United States. 

The plum assignments for many Black and Filipino stewards included served high-ranking officers at the Pentagon and the President of the United States as stewards, on presidential yachts and at Camp David well into the 1990s. For example, through most of the 20th century, the White House domestic staff consisted of African American and Filipino Navy Stewards, who cooked and cleaned for the nation’s leaders. These seamen traveled the nation and world with their officers. Stewards like Jose Monge Montano spent years in the White House. Montano traveled alongside Presidents Johnson and Nixon all over the nation and globe.

During their service and upon retirement, these servicemen and their partners (many of whom were also immigrants from the Philippines) became American citizens, created families, settled in Navy towns, and petitioned for the immigration of family members. 

In so doing, they and their partners and families created large new communities or built upon existing Filipina/o American communities in places as diverse as Chicago, IL; Providence and Newport, RI; Norfolk/Virginia Beach, VA; Saint Mary’s County, MD; Jacksonville, Pensacola and Key West, FL; Corpus Christi, TX; Honolulu, HI; Kitsap and Seattle, WA; Charleston, SC; Long Beach, San Diego, Oakland and Vallejo, Calif. 

After their service, retired Filipino seamen engaged in a wide diversity of occupations. Many opened their own restaurants or catering businesses using the cooking skills they learned in the Navy. Others continued their military service as civilians or transitioned to other governmental positions such as for the Post Office.

Both men and women served with honor and distinction. Rear Admiral Dr. Eleanor Mariano, the daughter of a Navy Steward, became the highest ranking Filipino American naval officer. She attended two American presidents and was the longest-serving White House physician in United States history. She served as the first woman commander of the White House Medical Unit.

Thousands of Filipina/o Americans trace their roots to the Filipinas/os who served in the U.S. military and settled in the United States as a result of the Military Bases Agreement. We urge every American to learn more about the significant role these Filipino military servicemen and women played in service to the United States during the Cold War, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and in dignified service as stewards on the Presidential Yachts, at Camp David, in the Pentagon and White House. They and their families breathed new life into communities across the United States and helped to build the nation we know today.

FANHS encourages organizations and communities across the United States to incorporate this theme in their Filipino American History Month events, to visit our website in late September for curriculum and lesson plan resources, and for all to share their stories of their family’s military stories at #FAHM2017 on Twitter, @fanhs_national and our Facebook page @FANHSnatl.

Friday, October 13, 2017

IluminAsia: Beyond egg rolls and sushi - a fesitival of Asian art, food and cultures this weekend

IF YOU'RE in the Washington D.C. area this weekend and you're tired of all the fast food outlets and nondescript food franchises, you should drop by the Washington Mall to get a taste of Asia.

"It's really important that we broaden the definition [of Asia]," says Simone Jacobson, food curator of the Smithsonian Institution's IlluminAsia festival. "All these different regions show the great diversity in Asian food, so it's really 'cultures,' in plural."

She's asking us to think outside of the box of the east Asian, south Asian and southeast Asian cuisines that American foodies are familiar with - beyond egg rolls and sushi.

Asia is the Earth's largest continent, extending from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean and from the Suez Peninsula to the Ural Mountains to the Black Sea. With 48 sovereign states, including Armenia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan and Sri Lanka, plus six states not recognized by the United Nations, such as Northern Cyprus and Taiwan, the region is far more vast than many Americans might realize.

Even for Jacobson, whose mother is Burmese, there was a learning curve. "I'd never even heard of Uighur cuisine," she admits.

The food offerings are part of IluminAsia, an event organized by the folks from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival to mark the reopening of the Freer/Sackler museums. 

Following a nearly two-year renovation of the Smithsonian's Asian art museums — the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art — director Julian Raby wanted to highlight the culture of food in the grand reopening event.

lluminAsia: A Festival of Asian Art, Food, and Cultures

Saturday, October 14, 5 pm–12 am
Sunday, October 15, 11 am–5 pm

Museums will be open 6 pm - 12 am on Saturday, October 14 and 10 am-5:30 pm on Sunday, October 15

Freer|Sackler, National Mall, and Haupt Garden | Free and open to the public

A festival of Asian art, food, and cultures to celebrate the grand reopening of the Freer|Sackler. The IlluminAsia festival will transform the museums’ grounds with an Asian food market, interactive cooking and art demonstrations, live music by members of the Silkroad Ensemble, and creations by local and international artists. Inside, visitors can experience the reimagined galleries and innovative exhibitions, as well as performances, conversations, and other immersive activities.

IlluminAsia kicks off on Saturday, October 14, with a night market featuring food and art and a stunning animated projection on the Freer Gallery façade. On Sunday, October 15, the food market will continue alongside cultural programming for all ages throughout the museums and outdoor gardens.

IlluminAsia is cop resented with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Registration: No tickets are required – just show up. This event is open to the public and all are welcome including children, families and groups.
Weather: The event is both indoors and outdoors and will take place rain or shine. If it’s on the calendar, then we’re proceeding as scheduled.
Metro Station: Smithsonian
Parking: There is parking throughout the area.
Stroll through an open-air food market to discover new and familiar culinary treasures. Created locally and inspired by Asian and Middle Eastern recipes, each delicious bite will transport visitors to destinations around the world. Come hungry to experience a wide variety of fragrant spices and handcrafted eats, and peek inside the kitchen during exclusive food talks and demonstrations.
Representing diverse traditions, DC-based chefs will each bring something special to share and taste. These food vendors will offer small, curated menus that tell a story about how their families have cooked and eaten for generations. In this lively atmosphere, IlluminAsia food stalls pay homage to bustling street markets worldwide.

Besides the culinary adventure, there will be live performances, demonstrations and tours of the renovated museums.

For a more complete schedule of all the activities, click here. Did I mention that the exhibits, entertainment and demonstrations are all free? Food needs to be purchased though.

Vandalism hits Little Manila Center in Stockton

THE LITTLE MANILA CENTER in Stockton was vandalized Monday (Oct. 10) sending an ugly reminder the bigotry the Filipino American community has had to endure.

Even though police have not labeled the incident hasn't been a hate crime, the fact it happened during Filipino American History Month only served to emphasize that the fight against ignorance and prejudice is still ongoing and may be growing in the Donald Trump era.

“At one point, Stockton was home to the largest Filipino population outside of the Philippines. However, attacks on immigrant communities isn’t anything new,” said Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs in a statement to KQED.

An incoherent racist message was scrawled onto the front windows of the center and banners were torn down. Damage estimate is around $800. The content of the graffiti is unclear, with some news sources reporting that it reads, “White property, you’re a brainwashed bigot.” states that the graffiti reads, “You the prop whittie (sic) your (sic) a brain washed (sic) bigot (sic).”

The vandalism was done sometime before the center opened Monday. It was discovered by young students arriving for a dance rehearsal.

The Little Manila Board of Directors issued the following statement:
If you’ve ever been to our Little Manila Center in Downtown Stockton, you’d know that we have beautiful recreations of our historic banners surrounding the Little Manila Historic Site on our windows.

It is with a heavy heart to tell you that on Monday, someone defaced our windows and ripped our historic photographs that bore the words: Community, Culture, Empowerment, Arts, History, and Heritage. The first people to find our center in the condition it was in were our youth dance students who stood heartbroken in front of our center.

As we celebrate Filipino American History Month this October, we know that discrimination against Filipino Americans is nothing new. The street our Little Manila Center is on is Main St. in downtown Stockton which was the dividing line for people of color in this city in the 1920s and 1930s. People of color were not welcomed north of Main St. and signs saying “Positively no Filipinos allowed” were displayed openly. It was illegal for Filipino men to marry White women in California. Later on, state and local officials would decide to destroy the Little Manila and Chinatown neighborhood by the building of the Crosstown Freeway.

This event has reminded us about the importance of the work we do. Through the Little Manila After School Program and Us History program we teach ethnic studies to high schoolers. Our advocacy helped Stockton Unified School District to adopt Ethnic Studies at our high schools just this year. Our Little Manila Dance Collective and Kulintang Academy teaches the art and culture of the Philippines to new generations of young people seeking identity and a sense of belonging to our roots.

Little Manila was destroyed in the 1960s and 1970s by misguided policies. Our advocacy for the preservation of the Little Manila Historic Site is a result of the worst case scenarios of racist federal, state, and local public policies that prioritized freeway construction, urban redevelopment, and suburbanization over our communities.

Little Manila Foundation and our Little Manila Center will continue to be a space for understanding and love, bringing together diverse communities. This incident only strengthens our resolve and reaffirms the work that we are already doing.

If you would like to help us recover and continue the educational, arts, cultural, and community strengthening work we are doing, please support us by clicking here.
Filipino/American children learn about their culture in classes at the Little Manila Center.

Stockton's Little Manila used to be a bustling historic and cultural center for the Filipino American community throughout California. Most of it was torn down when Stockton built a freeway through the neighborhood.

Eventually, only three original buildings remain of what used to be a six-block district.

In the last ten years, an effort led by Dawn Mabalon, San Francisco State University professor, has brought new life to the area including the Little Manila Center.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

DOJ gives sanctuary cities final chance to comply with Trump's immigration rules

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions
IN THE ONGOING war between the Trump administration and a host of cities, counties and the State of California, the Justice Department today (Oct. 12) fired off another salvo against those jurisdictions that have refused to comply with the questionable immigration policies.
Initially, the DOJ is targeting seven jurisdictions following a preliminary assessment of the jurisdictions’ compliance with 8 U.S.C. 1373. These jurisdictions were identified in a May 2016 report by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General as having laws that potentially violate 8 U.S.C. 1373. 
The following jurisdictions have preliminarily been found to have laws, policies, or practices that may violate 8 U.S.C. 1373: 
  • Cook County, Illinois; 
  • Chicago, Illinois; 
  • New Orleans, Louisiana; 
  • New York, New York; and 
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 
The Trump administration has taken a hardline position against so-called "sanctuary cities" claiming they leave violent criminals on the streets. The assessment is its latest effort to force "sanctuary cities" to comply with federal immigration orders.
RELATED: Judge upholds injunction vs. federal actions against 'sanctuary' jurisdictions
Proponents of "sanctuary cities," like Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, say they create trust between police and immigrants, who otherwise might be afraid to report crimes.

Mayor Kenney said Philadelphia welcomes immigrants and supports its immigrant communities.

"We're doing smart policing and, as a result, we had the lowest level of crime in 2016 that we've had in 40 years," Kenney said before the latest DOJ warning. "We will not let this administration interfere with our longstanding efforts to bring members of Philadelphia's immigrant community from the shadows."

Philadelphia has filed a lawsuit against the Session's policy tying federal funds to compliance with immigration rules alleging that new JAG funding requirements that force cities to abandon "sanctuary city" policies are unlawful.

Two federal judges, in California and Chicago, have ruled that the Trump administration's new requirements for receiving a key law enforcement grant that hinged on immigration enforcement could cause "irreparable harm," adding that the city had shown a "likelihood of success" in its case that Attorney General Jeff Sessions exceeded his authority in requiring local jurisdictions to comply with the new standards.

U.S. District Court Judge Harry D. Leinenweber blocked the DOJ from enforcing the new measures, which it introduced earlier this summer, meaning cities applying for the funds this year will not have to comply.

"The harm to the city's relationship with the immigrant community, if it should accede to the conditions, is irreparable," Leinenweber wrote. "Once such trust is lost, it cannot be repaired through an award of money damages."

The DOJ also found no evidence that the following jurisdictions are currently out of compliance with 8 U.S.C. 1373: 
  • Milwaukee County, Wisconsin; and 
  • the State of Connecticut. 
The department also previously sent letters to the following jurisdictions notifying them that the department found no evidence that they are currently out of compliance with 8 U.S.C. 1373: 
  • Clark County, Nevada; and 
  • Miami-Dade County, Florida. 
Jurisdictions that were found to have possible violations of 8 U.S.C 1373 will have until Oct. 27, 2017 to provide additional evidence that the interpretation and application of their laws, policies, or practices comply with the statute. 
“Jurisdictions that adopt so-called ‘sanctuary policies’ also adopt the view that the protection of criminal aliens is more important than the protection of law-abiding citizens and of the rule of law,” said Sessions. 
“I commend the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office and the State of Connecticut on their commitment to complying with Section 1373, and I urge all jurisdictions found to be out of compliance in this preliminary review to reconsider their policies that undermine the safety of their residents. We urge jurisdictions to not only comply with Section 1373 but to establish sensible and effective partnerships to properly process criminal aliens.”

Supreme Court dismisses one case vs Trump travel ban

THE U.S. SUPREME COURT, with a conservative majority, is going to haunt America's march into the 21st century for decades to come.

As expected the High Court dismissed one of the challenges to Donald Trump's attempts to impose a Muslim ban. The justices ruled that the complaint was moot because the administration had replaced the travel ban with a new version that included two non-Muslim countries.

On Sept. 24, the Trump administration replaced the temporary travel ban on six predominantly Muslim countries with new restrictions that included the countries of North Korea and Venezuela.

The decision basically dismisses the ruling issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit of Maryland. The complaint that came out of Hawaii via the 9th Circuit is still pending but it is expected SCOTUS will issue a similar ruling.

Hawaii asked a federal judge in Honolulu Tuesday (Oct. 10) for permission to challenge the newest version of the Trump's travel ban, scheduled to go into effect Oct. 17. 

Hawaii said the latest ban, like the earlier versions, is unconstitutional. It will also harm the state’s tourism industry, prevent the University of Hawaii from recruiting qualified individuals and undermine its refugee resettlement program.

The latest attempt to restrict travel to the U.S. issued Sept. 24, limits or bans entry into the U.S. from eight countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Chad, North Korea and Venezuela. It supersedes a ban that had affected six mostly Muslim countries and is indefinite, while the previous travel ban was for only 90 days.

The Island State is challenging the president’s “continuing efforts to impose a sweeping policy banning the entry of refugees and nationals of Muslim-majority countries,” according to the proposed amended complaint, which seeks to block the executive order from taking effect.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Asian American author, historian named 2017 MacArthur 'genius' Fellows

Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of 'The Sympathizer' was named a MacArthur 'genius'

WHAT DOES it take to be a genius?

Two Asian/Americans were among the 24 individuals named as recipients of 2017 MacArthur Fellows awards, sometimes referred to as the MacArthur "Genius" awards.
Of the 24, 11 were people of color

This year's award winners officially announced today (Oct. 11) represent a wide array of fields, from social activists and scholars to artists, writers and community organizers.

Included in this year's class of geniuses are:

Sunil Amrith, 38, historian living in Cambridge, Mass.:
Illustrating the role of centuries of transnational migration in the present-day social and cultural dynamics of South and Southeast Asia.

Viet Thanh Nguyen, 46, fiction writer and cultural critic living in Los Angeles:
Challenging popular depictions of the Vietnam War and exploring the myriad ways that war lives on for those it has displaced.

The awardees are given a stipend of $625,000 over five years — no strings attached.

Families of Asian American pioneers come to the defense of Muslims

Fred Korematsu


THE FAMILIES of Gordon Hirayabashi, Minoru Yasui and Fred Korematsu are carrying on the legacies of these courageous Japanese American pioneers.

All three men challenged the constitutionality of the evacuation orders that lead to the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII.

All three men paid a personal price for their activism.

Now their children are speaking out against the Muslim travel ban, drawing parallels between incarceration camps and the travel ban today.

They’ve filed amicus briefs opposing the executive order in the U.S. Supreme Court. The case was scheduled to be heard today, but was cancelled.

“I haven’t given up hope,” Karen Korematsu, 67, said to USA Today. “My father waited 40 years for justice.”

More than 40 years after World War II, the criminal records of all three men were thrown out after it became known the government withheld evidence that contradicted their rational that the camps were needed for national security.

According to the International Examiner, the briefs state

“Rather than repeat the injustices of the past,” the Court “should heed the lessons of Korematsu, Hirabayashi, and Yasui: Blind deference to the Executive Branch … is incompatible with the protection of fundamental freedoms.”

“Clearly it was an issue of ‘racial prejudice, wartime hysteria and a failure of political leadership,’” Holly Yasui said. “We haven’t learned the lesson that the Japanese American internment gave to us.”

Filipina at the center of allegations against Harvey Weinstein

Ambra Battilana Gutierrez claims she was groped by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

BEFORE THE New York Times story last week alleging Harvey Weinstein's sexual harassment of actresses, two years ago, a Filipina model was the first woman to bring his behavior to light.

Two years ago, Ambra Battilana Gutierrez was just 22 when she told authorities that Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, one of the most powerful men in the motion picture industry, groped her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt.

Her story is recounted by the New Yorker magazine in light of the NYTimes recent revelations by over a dozen women of Weinstein's sexual abuse and harassment. Among the actresses who have come forth include A-listers Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie.

Based on Guitierrez's accusations and under police guidance, she wore a wire to obtain further evidence of Weinstein' sexual abuse of several actresses including some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry.

Gutierrez met Weinstein in 2015. Weinstein repeatedly told the Miss Italy finalist that she resembled actress Mila Kunis and arranged a meeting for the next day.

Harvey Weinstein
According to Guterriez, she arrived at Weinstein’s office early the next evening with her modelng portfolio. In the office, she sat with Weinstein on a couch to review the portfolio, and he began staring at her breasts, asking if they were real. Gutierrez later told officers of the New York Police Department Special Victims Division that Weinstein then lunged at her, groping her breasts and attempting to put a hand up her skirt while she protested.

The Filipino-Italian model said he asked her for a date later for that evening. Instead of going on the date, she reported the assault to the NYPD.

In the chilling recording that was reported by The New Yorker magazine,  Weinstein tried to get Guttierrez to go up into his hotel room 'for five minutes' while he took a shower.

When Gutierrez refused and confronted him about touching her breasts, Weinstein said he was 'used to that.' He swore on his children that he would not touch her again.

He accused her of embarrassing him and making a scene in the hotel where he stayed 'all the time', adding: 'I'm a famous guy.'

During the encounter, she then asked him why he grabbed her breast the day before.

“Oh, please, I’m sorry, just come on in,” Weinstein can be heard saying. “I’m used to that. Come on. Please.”

After a two-week investigation, the Manhattan district attorney decided not to file charges, The New Yorker reported.

The DA's office said at the time: "This case was taken seriously ... After analysing the available evidence, including multiple interviews with both parties, a criminal charge is not supported."

“If we could have prosecuted Harvey Weinstein for the conduct that occurred in 2015, we would have,” Chief Assistant DA Karen Friedman-Agnifilo said in a statement.

“While the recording is horrifying to listen to, what emerged from the audio was insufficient to prove a crime under New York law, which requires prosecutors to establish criminal intent.”

After the story was published, reports about Gutierrez's past began to emerge in the tabloids and social media painting her as naive starry-eyed actress or as a gold-digger taking advantage of older men. Her credibility was essentially ruined.

The New York Post said: “The young, beautiful, wide-eyed woman who falls prey to Hollywood’s lusty male elite is a tale we know all too well ― and Battilana’s camp knows that, too...,” the article reads. “Her claims against Weinstein can’t be accepted as legitimate unless she is seen as either naïve and doe-eyed at one extreme, or aggressive and grasping at the other. It serves not only the media, but both Battilana’s and Weinstein’s camps to portray her as either Gone Girl or Snow White.”

Since then, over a dozen of actresses have come forward telling about their nightmare encounters with Weinstein. Most of them have reportedly accepted financial settlements, including Guitierrez. 

Some, such as Asia Argento say they were forced into performing sex acts despite their protestations.

“Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein,” a spokeswoman told the New Yorker, adding that he never retaliated against women who refused his sexual advances. “Mr. Weinstein obviously can’t speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual.”

As a result of the allegations, the once-powerful Weinstein was fired from his position in his own company.