Saturday, April 22, 2017

Marching For Science is countering "alternate facts"

SCIENTISTS argued among themselves whether or not to allow the March for Science political. It's not surprising that they would make that a debate - it is part of their nature - but the argument loses its weight when you consider it was politics in the first place that inspired the march.
Reluctant they may be, but scientists and their supporters came out by the 10s of thousands throughout the world, spurred by a U.S. administration that seems at odds with the work of scientists by denying their findings.

"We are at a dangerous moment in our nation's history when science and scientists are under attack, when the very words 'climate change' are being censored," artist and environmentalist Maya Lin told the crowd who attended the march in Washington D.C.

"To me, this march is important because it serves as a forum to address the many ways in which restrictions imposed on scientific research affect our lives" wrote Dhruv Arora on ScrollIn. Arora, who came to the U.S. from India, now lives in North Carolina where he helped organized the March For Science in that state.

"The march should not be about scientists stepping down from the ivory tower just long enough to defend it. As important as legislation and policy are, I would first like to see the creation of a space where the scientific community can be held accountable. As a queer, person of colour, immigrant, worker, it is important to me that the very real issue of a lack of visibility and representation in science gets addressed, that scientists’ rights are seen as workers’ rights. When science is stifled, it is always the most underprivileged who suffer. 
"The scientific community wishes to be part of the resistance, but where have we been all this while? What can we learn from those who have already been on the ground? How can we demonstrate solidarity? What do we have to offer? What is required of us, but also, how can we be of service above and beyond?"

Molly Jung, 29, a doctoral candidate at Johns Hopkins, echoed that view: “It’s time for scientists to get out of the ivory towers and get the message out.”

The most common sign at all the marches was, "Science, Not Silence."
Some of the marchers were able to combine two issues in one, the assault on science and the attacks against refugees and immigrants.

Thanks to Aysha S. Raza who was part of the London march. For you sci-fi fans of the BBC's Dr. Who ...

A word of encouragement from George Takei, AKA Star Trek's Mr. Sulu ...

Comedian Kumail Nanjani sums it all up ...

Supporters of science demonstrated at almost 600 cities or campuses, on all seven continents, including Antartica  where researchers had this message: “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less.”

... and the North Pole ...
and all the places inbetween. From Tokyo ...
... To Washington D.C., where rain may have dampened the turnout but not their spirit. 
“I’ve never thought I had to march, but things are so severe I had to be here,” May Ann Ti, an former engineer from Sterling, Virginia, said. “So severe, even the nerds are here,” her sign read.

Brenda Clough, a science fiction author, has the last word. She says she marches for science because without real science, there would be nothing for the imagination to use to write fiction.


Indian workers impacted by Trump's new executive order on H-1B visas


DONALD TRUMP'S executive order cracking down on the use of H-1B visas could greatly affect Indian workers.

According to The Indian Panorama, about 70 percent of the 85,000 H-1B visas handed out each year go to people from India. H1B visas are used to hire foreign employees for highly skilled jobs which could not be filled otherwise.

Trump said the H-1B system should never be used to replace American workers and the visa must be given to the most skilled and highest paid applicants, reported PBS.

“We are going to defend our workers, protect our jobs and finally put America first,” Trump said standing before an American flag.

The Trump administration also said they would enforce ‘Hire American’ rules that are designed to protect jobs and wages of workers in the United States.

According to the executive order, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Homeland Security will suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.

The pool of qualified Indian IT professionals also contributed to the global success of American companies.

But since the November elections, more Indian workers in the U.S. are now seeking jobs in India as Trump signed the order.

The number of Indians in the U.S. searching for jobs in India has increased more than 10-fold between December and March, according to an analysis by consulting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Pvt Ltd, shared exclusively with LiveMint.

Approximately 600 Indians in the U.S. were seeking jobs in India in December 2016. The number had gone up to approximately 7,000 by the end of March 2017, Deloitte analysis said.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Congress' minority caucuses unite to save treasured monuments

President Barack Obama used the Antiquities Act to create the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument off of Hawaii.which spans 582,578 square miles

FEARING THAT Donald Trump will seek to undo the work of previous presidents in preserving national monuments, members of Congress' minority caucuses gave a heads up to their leaders in the House and Senate.

The Congressional Tri-Caucus – which is composed of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) – sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to oppose any efforts that would restrict the President’s authority under the Antiquities Act and that would eliminate or reduce the boundaries of any existing national monument.

Released on April 18, the International Day for Monuments and Sites, the letter urges the leaders to defend the Antiquities Act, a law enacted by Congress in 1906 that has preserved world-renown places like the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon. 

Used by the majority of Presidents since its enactment – eight Republicans and eight Democrats – the Antiquities Act is a time-tested, bipartisan tool that has helped tell our nation’s diverse story of struggles, hopes, and opportunities.

As the Tri-Caucus Chairs write: “A nation dedicated to the proposition that all of us are created equal must preserve and celebrate the full diversity of its rich culture and history. Any attempt to curtail the President’s authority to protect these places or to remove protections already put in place by other Presidents is an attack on our shared history. We urge you to stand against any proposal that would diminish existing national monuments or hamper the President’s ability to protect places that honor the contributions of all Americans.”

President Obama was criticized by Republicans for his use of the Antiquities Act to preserve places that are precious, irreplaceable resources for the American people.

Opposed by loggers, real estate developers and the big-business fishing industry, Republicans called Obama's actions to preserve these monuments "land grabs."

That Congress has utterly failed to do the right thing on behalf of communities, including the Asian/American and Hawaiian/American communities, clamoring for these places to be preserved is certainly not the president’s fault, nor is Obama’s subsequent intervention a sign that the Antiquities Act has spiraled out of control.

The letter is aligned with public opinion. In fact, a recent bi-partisan poll from The Colorado College State of the Rockies Project found that 80 percent of respondents supported keeping national monument designations. 

Sessions insults the entire state of Hawaii

HERE'S NEWS for Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Hawaii has been a state of the United States of America for the past 58 years; and Donald Trump is not a king

According to The Washington Post, in an interview on “The Mark Levin Show,” a conservative talk show, earlier this week, Sessions said, “I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.” 

As an Asian/American, here's how I interpreted Session's words: How can a brown-skinned judge in the barely civilized, foreign island of Hawaii populated by "others," stop the decree issued by the most powerful ruler on the planet?

Talk about throwing shade against an entire state! AG Sessions marveled at the ability of a judge on an island in the Pacific could stop the Executive Order of King ... er ... Mr. Donald Trump that sought to ban Muslims traveling to the U.S.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson, who was born and raised in Hawaii, issued an order staying Trump's second Muslim ban from being implemented. Sessions implication drew the ire of the state's two U.S. Senators.

Other members of Congress joined in:

In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Hirono, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee that vets and confirms federal judges, tweeted out a picture of the unanimous roll call vote confirming Watson. She called Sessions’ suggestion that Watson is somehow unable to carry out his duties impartially “dangerous, ignorant, and prejudiced.”

“I am frankly dumbfounded that our nation’s top lawyer would attack our independent judiciary,” she said. “But we shouldn’t be surprised. This is just the latest in the Trump Administration’s attacks against the very tenets of our Constitution and democracy.”

Sessions should know that the judiciary is a branch of the government that is CO-EQUAL to the executive and legislative branches. 

"Our Constitution created a separation of powers in the United States for a reason," said Hawaii's Attorney General Doug Chin. "Our federal courts, established under article III of the Constitution, are co-equal partners with Congress and the President. It is disappointing AG Sessions does not acknowledge that.”


TGIF FEATURE:'Time' magazine names two Asian/American women among 100 most influential people

Constance Wu
AMONG TIME magazines' 100 Most Influential People in the world were two Asian/American women: an actor and a scientist.

Actress Constance Wu doesn't fit your Asian female stereotype. She is outspoken, honest and sometimes brutally frank.

As one of the few Asian/Americans on television, she is best known for her role on ABC's Fresh Off the Boat, but it is what she does and says off the stage that she is gaining attention.

Lena Dunham, who traveled with Wu during Hillary Clinton's campaign, got to know the actress. "She is tasked with being more than just an actor," writes Dunham, star and writer of Girls. "And she takes this second gig just as seriously."

Wu is not afraid to speak her heart, whether it be against violence against women, presidential politics or women's rights. But it her outspokeness against the lack of roles for Asian/Americans and they way they are depicted in the media that her voice speaks out loudly. She's not afraid to call out the studios or certain actors by name even though she has been warned that it might hurt her career.

"F- my career then, I'm a woman & human first. That's what my craft is built on," says Wu.

Natalie Batalha
That attitude doesn't appear to have affected her career. She was picked for the lead role in the movie adaptation of the best-selling novel Crazy Rich Asians, which will expose her to millions of new fans around the world.

Also on Time's list was Natalie Batalha, an astrophysicist at NASA Ames Research Center. She is the current lead scientist for NASA’s Kepler space telescope. "Human beings have long wondered whether they are alone in the universe. Now we are closer than ever to getting an answer," reads Time. Batalha was one of three astronomers named by Time. She has helped find approximately 4,700 new worlds since 2009.

The two shared Time's distinction with such luminaries such as Pope Francis, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un and Melinda Gates.

Other Asians from other countries were also included, including Philippine President Rolando Duterte of the Philippines, actor Rez Ahmed of Great Britain and dictator Kim Jong Un of North Korea. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

March for Science: Earth Day will be different this year

If a rally for science held in Boston in Feb. is an example, we can expect a plethora of creative of the signs during the March for Science next Saturday.

ON THE FIRST DAY of Donald Trump's presidency, the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Science and Technology Policy's website no longer lists “science” in the paragraph describing what it does.

With all the ballyhoo about the numbers who attended the inauguration and the historic Women's March the next day, it ALMOST went unnoticed.

Scientists and environmentalists saw it. In fact, it set off alarm bells. That's what inspired the organizing of the March For Science.

Earth Day, this Saturday (April 22) has taken a new - more urgent - meaning this year beyond cleaning up beaches and parks. Science-friendly individuals will gather on the National Mall, and in hundreds of satellite marches across the U.S. and around the globe. The Earth Day Network — the nonprofit that organizes Earth Day events every year — has taken the lead on programming for the march.
Amado Guloy, organizing the San Francisco Bay Area's
March for Science, gave a TED talk.
"On some level, [science] is already politicized with certain acts done by Congress, like increased oversight over what kinds of science we should be able to practice and pursue [using federal funds]," said Amado Guloy, a materials and inorganic chemist based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Guloy, a Filipino/American is spending all his spare time organizing the March for Science in San Francisco. His tech startup Rex uses technology to help veterinarians keep digital records as they provide clinical care at farms.
The March for Science will celebrate the scientific method and advocate for evidence-based decision-making in all levels of government. Though the event’s website doesn’t explicitly mention Trump, it’s a protest of his administration’s policies, including his proposal to cut billions in funding for scientific research.

The March for Science shouldn't be confused with the People's Climate March, which will be held the following weekend and whose emphasis will be on ... well, climate change. 


Organizers have tried to steer away from the appearance of being anti-Trump. Its website cites: "Anti-science agendas and policies have been advanced by politicians on both sides of the aisle, and they harm everyone — without exception."

"What we’re trying to do (with the March for Science ) is say, OK, the narrative of science has been politicized and nitpicked. Let’s go back to ..., ‘This is what the scientific method is and this is why it should not be nitpicked,’ so if you are going to make a narrative with data, it’s done in a scientific manner,'" said Guloy in an interview in The Scientist Magazine.

At any rate, like it or not, science has already been politicized. The Trump administration and the Republican majority in Congress are defunding research, politicizing grant making  diminishing science’s role in the agency rule making process, and flat out refusing to accept conclusions they don’t like.

Since Donald Trump became president, numerous climate change deniers have been confirmed to lead key scientific cabinets. What's more, the administration has cracked down on federal agencies' use of social media and access to reporters, demanded that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) submit research for political vetting before publishing, and deleted or hidden what were once public records from government websites.
RELATED: Every anti-science thing Trump has done in his administration's first 100 days
These efforts to discredit science have sparked a growing and historic resistance movement, from rogue Twitter accounts to scientists racing to archive climate change and other threatened data from government servers.

Trump's administration is planning a 17 percent cut to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the agency tasked with monitoring oceans, preparing for potentially dangerous storms and assessing the dangers of climate change, according to a leaked memo obtained by the Washington Post.

Of all the government agencies set for cuts, the EPA would be the most severely gashed. If Congress were to enact Trump's budget proposal for the fiscal year 2017-2018, the EPA would lose $2.6 billion out of its current $8.1 billion in funding — a 32.1 percent slash to the agency that would pay for 5 percent of the boost to the Department of Defense.

Trump has yet to name a top White House science adviser, and it’s unclear if he ever will. A man who doesn't believe in climate change, Scott Pruitt, has been named head of the EPA, an agency that he's sued nine times as the former Attorney General of Oklahoma.

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a theoretical physicist at the University of Washington, told the Washington Post that science has always been influenced by politics.
She cited the example of Albert Einstein, who, in addition to illuminating the fundamental laws of physics, advocated for civil rights, socialism, and nuclear arms control. His politics made him a target of the FBI, which tracked his phone calls and went through his trash until his death in 1955.

“Those are the same scientists we are taught to look up to as science students,” she said of Einstein and other physicists who advocated for arms control. “They very much understood that physics had a role to play in the unfolding of highly polarized political events.”
The fact that she is only the 63rd African/American woman in American history to get a PhD in physics — a degree that has been awarded to tens of thousands of researchers. That's no accident, she said.

Her statement brings up one of the key issues that developed during the planning of this march was the issue of diversity. It got so muddled the organizers issued four different statements that still didn't satisfy everyone. The lack of women and people of color in the research labs is something that needs to be discussed further. 

"We cannot ignore issues of racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, xenophobia, or any other form of discrimination in the discussion and implementation of science," says the website. "Nor can we ignore the ways in which science has been misused to harm marginalized communities. The lack of inclusivity and diversity in STEM thwarts scientific advancements not only by limiting who conducts the research, but also by influencing what topics are studied, who participates in the research, and who will benefit from or be harmed by it."

The march is open to everyone who believes in facts, the value of research. scientific vetting and the value of facts ... and against the policies that seek to belittle those tenets.

Guloy, the San Francisco scientist and entrepreneur, said that he hopes the march is not a one-and-done event. The issues raised by the march will continue to be worked on in the months and years ahead.

Theorems are basic to science but there comes a time when practical matters can supersede theory. The days when scientists and researchers stay hunkered down in their labs separate from the rest of society are over. Politics has punctured that wall. From the vaccines that protect billions of lives to the ubiquitous smart phone, there can be no doubt that society has benefited from science. But science, too, can benefit from joining the public square with the rest of us. That's why scientists need to march. That's why we need to join them. 

FOOTNOTE: During a Rally for Science held in Boston last Feb. participants made some creatively appropriate signs, some of which are shown below.. Organizers are encouraging participants to do the same in the March for Science.


L.A. seeks to save Asian/American's historically significant sites.

Photograph: Wapacman at English Wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
This monument for L.A.'s Filipinotown could be listed as a historic site of significance.

WITH ASIAN AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH  just a few weeks away, Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources has launched an initiative that could help preserve the history of the city's Asian/Americans.

The OHR is working on a historic context document that will identify sites of importance to Filipino-American, Chinese-American, Japanese-American and Thai-American groups, all of whom are currently underrepresented among official historical and cultural landmarks. 

To help fill that gap, the OHR was recently given a $72,000 grant by the National Park Service to fund the research. 
At the meeting of the Filipino/American community - held at the Edendale Branch Library, near historic Filipinotown - city officials explained their hope that community members would  help them identify the business, religious institutions, residences and other physical landmarks that should be nominated for preservation.
“I don’t think many people realize how impactful Filipinos were and are in Los Angeles, and it’s nice to see [the city] make some kind of account of our history here,” community member Ronald Bonilla told the Asian Journal

One of the City of Angel's original founders is Antonio Miranda Rodriguez, who was born in Sonora, Mexico and whose father is a "Manila Man."

Los Angeles is home to the largest Filipino population outside of the Philippines, and now that influence on local culture is being recognized as part of a city program to create an archive of things that are historically significant to the Filipino-American community in L.A. as well as other Asian-American groups in the city.
Identifying these landmarks for preservation now is particularly important to many activists because they’re concerned that, as gentrification continues to push through the city, the physical landmarks of immigrant communities may make way for high-end residences or shopping enclaves.
After the Asian/American historic context document is complete, OHR will work with all the communities to capture and preserve locations important to the themes of civil rights, labor history, segregation and cultural development.

While the meetings have already been held with the Chinese/American, Filipino/American and Thai/American communities, there are still opportunities to provide input or gather more information. The remaining meetings include:

Korean American Historic Context meeting - April 22
Japanese American Historic Context meeting - May 6


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

AAPI environmentalists invite you to join the Peoples Climate March, April 29

The Trump Administration's position towards climate change.

DID YOU MISS the Tax Day March last weekend when tens of thousands of people marched in the nation's cities, suburbs and small towns demanding that Donald Trump make his tax returns public?

There are more marches ahead. Join them!

With Donald Trump's first 100 days occupying the White House fast approaching, the American people are not giving in to his proposed policies. 

In response to the Trump administration’s latest executive order that begins to repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP) and environmental protections, the Peoples Climate Movement (PCM) is planned on April 29 on the 100th day since he took office.

Rhea Suh
(A few days later, International Workers' Day on May 1, demonstrations, rallies and marches  will draws hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world protesting the Trump policies that harm workers and benefit the people at the top who are already rich.)

“The Clean Power Plan is the strongest measure we’ve taken to protect future generations from the growing dangers of climate change," explained Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.  

"It would cut the climate-disrupting fossil fuel pollution from the power plants that account for 40 percent of the nation’s carbon footprint. By promoting efficiency, the plan would save our families money on their power bills. 

"It would spur job growth," says Suh. "And it would help prepare our workers for success in the global clean energy boom projected to draw more than $7 trillion in investment over the coming 25 years. 

"If (Trump is) serious about creating more good-paying middle-class jobs, why would Trump want to kill that plan?”

Scott Pruitt, Trump's Secretary of the EPA said he does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming.

"I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see," he told CNBC.

In contradiction to the EPA website and most climate scientists (not weather prognosticators) and NASA, Pruitt said, "... we don't know that yet. ... We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis."

The Peoples' Climate March is a broad-based ground-breaking coalition of hundreds of faith-based, labor unions, indigenous, civil rights and environmental justice groups based around the country working together to build bold solutions that tackle climate change, rooted in economic and racial justice.

Invalidating the Clean Power Plan will undo hard-won protections that allow the EPA to meet its legal requirements to regulate pollutants, including carbon dioxide and more.

“This action, by an administration that favors corporate profits over clean air and water, puts our country, our communities and our people at great risk. It also sends a dangerous message to the world that the United States does not care about climate change or protecting frontline communities,” said Paul Getsos, National Coordinator, PCM.

This move, along with past comments and actions illustrates the Trump administration’s continued commitment to undermining any progress in addressing environmental and economic justice. The CPP is a critical component in curbing climate change and an important step in transitioning to a clean energy economy that creates family sustaining jobs in a variety of growing industries.

To combat these continued attacks on climate action and protecting front-line communities, the PCM is gearing up for a mass mobilization to March for Climate, Jobs and Justice, on April 29. Tens of thousands of people have already signed up to converge in Washington, DC to push the Trump administration and Congress to do their jobs – protect our planet.

Some Pacific island nations will be severely affected by the rising waters caused by climate change.
Other marches are being planned throughout the country.

Contrary to the perception that AAPI are not involved in the environmental movement, Suh's prominence in the NRDC and the environmental movement belies the perception that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders don't care about the environment. More and more AAPI are stepping forward:

Kali Akuno, Cooperation Jackson Co-Founder/ Co-Director and Climate Justice
Alliance Member, said: “This is nothing short of a declaration of war against humanity and all complex life. The question is what are we going to do about it? How do we strengthen the climate justice movement in this era, under these circumstances?”

Luisa Blue, a Filipina/American and Executive Vice President, Service Employees International Union, said: “Working people from coast-to-coast are already feeling the devastating health impacts of toxic air and water caused by corporate polluters who for too long have gone unchecked. By undoing the Clean Power Plan, President Trump is reverting our communities to unhealthy and unsafe living conditions to benefit corporations over our communities. We can have a vibrant economy and vibrant communities with clean air and water.”

Vien Truong, National Director, Green For All, said: “We fought long and hard to make the Clean Power Plan a reality. By cutting carbon pollution from power plants, it aims to spark innovation, drive investment and energy efficiency to create jobs and save families money. Most importantly, it has the potential to address power plant pollution in the communities most vulnerable to asthma and other health impacts,” Vien Truong, director of Green For All. “It’s clear that Trump is determined to protect the fossil fuel industry, no matter the cost. Green For All will continue to stand with frontlines families and our most vulnerable to enact policies that create jobs and cut carbon pollution to protect the health of our kids.”


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Voice 2017 Anatalia Villaranda - Live Playoffs: "Stand by Me"

Anatalia Villaranda's journey ends on 'The Voice.'
ANATALIA VILLARANDA couldn't make it into the Top 12 so her journey on The Voice has come to an end.

The Filipina/American with the powerful voice couldn't garner enough of America's voice to move on to the next stage of the singing competition.

For her final number, the California teen chose the oldie-but-goodie, "Stand By Me". Anatolia gave it all using her gravelly voice to great effect by giving new life to the hit new.

RELATED: Watch Anatalia's Blind Audition
Even though her coach/mentor Alicia Keyes complimented her performance and called the diminutive singer "my little firecracker," Keyes chose not to save the California songstress.

Trump's granddaughter seals the deal with China; Ivanka benefits

REPUTED DONALD TRUMP-whisperer Ivanka Trump Kushner just won approval of three trademarks from China on the same day that she dined with Chinese President Xi Jinxing and his wife at Trump's opulent resort Mar-A-Lago in Florida.

Coincidence? I'm not sure if any conflict-of-interest laws were broken, but the timing sure is funny, right? Oh, to be sure, she doesn't receive a salary for her job as the Donald's advisor. From their position of privilege, the Trumps just don't see or understand how her job as chief advisor to the White House occupant and her businesses might intersect. And what's wrong that?

To seal the deal, Trump brought out his secret weapons: Ivanka and Jared Kushner's children, Arabella and Joseph, to sing to China's First Couple in Mandarin.  Showing off your children or grandchildren is the sort of thing proud parents do in front of visitors. (I remember having to recite the name of all the planets for relatives when I was really, really young.) 

It was really cute and the Xi's were certainly impressed. So - apparently - was the nation of the Peoples' Republic of China where the video went viral.

It is not the first time Arabella has demonstrated her Mandarin skills. A clip of the 4-year old reciting Chinese poetry also went viral in China just before Chinese New Years.

Ivanka Trump Kushner is said to be the most popular of the Trump family in China. Ivan Trump, who has her own clothing and beauty line, is known as “baifumei” – white, rich and beautiful – in China.

Ivanka Trump resigned from management at her clothing and accessories company to take the job as her father's senior advisor with an office in the West Wing. But she still has an ownership stake in the business.

Ivanka Trump's lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, told CNN, "Ivanka has had no involvement with trademark applications submitted by the business" since she resigned her post. "The federal ethics rules do not require you to recuse from any matter concerning a foreign country just because a business that you have an ownership interest in has a trademark application pending there."


Twitter-sation: A Muslim/American father's advice to his teenage daughter goes viral

Muslim/American teenager Lamyaa shuts down hateful Tweeter but starts an important conversation.

PENNSYLVANIA teenager Lamyaa (She refrained from publishing her last name) destroyed a stereotype about Muslim men with her posting of a conversation she had with her father about wearing a hijab.

Being "different" as a high-schooler is just about the biggest curse you can have when negotiating your way through those tumultuous teen years.

That's why I admire the young girls who choose to wear a hijab in high school despite the fact that it makes them targets for ignorant bullies and haters.

According to Fusion, Lamyaa, 17, was in a heated group chat discussing politics when she called out Donald Trump’s treatment of Muslims. Shortly after, a friend of a friend asked her to stop defending her religion.

“Stop defending Islam Bitch,” the message (here's a screenshots) that Lamyaa reposted on Twitter. “You couldn’t take that scarf off or your dad would beat your ass.”

To prove how ignorant that assumption was, Lamyaa texted her father and told him she wanted to take off her hijab.

She placed her father's message and the original tweet and posted it. It went viral across the world. Other social media and news sites picked it up and the responses came pouring in.

While the majority of the responses have been supportive and positive, some people pointed out that her father is just one man and doesn't represent the majority of Muslim men. Lamyaa answered:

Others felt compelled to point out that in some Muslim countries, women are given no choice but to wear a hijab. 

“Yes, a lot of women are forced to where the hijab. That’s horrible and I have [been] one to point that out numerous times,” Lamyaa said in a follow-up tweet. “That oppression however is not what the hijab symbolizes, it’s not why women wear it. I personally chose to wear the the hijab, for myself and for god.”

“I will always stand up for others and it breaks my heart to know that some women do not get to make a choice in what they do with their OWN bodies,” she added.

And - if you haven't guessed already - Lamyaa is NOT taking off her hijab.

To read more of this important and on-going Twitter-sation (I made that word up.) click here.

Philippine actress wins role in 'Crazy Rich Asians'

Kris Aquino

RUMORS WERE RIFE all weekend that Kris Aquino, an actress and TV hostess from the Philippines, had been offered a role in the movie adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians, the best-selling novel by Kevin Kwan.

The Manila rumor mill hit fever pitch Sunday when Aquino, got on a flight to meet with her agent in Los Angeles.

Well, the rumors were turned out to be true. She spent Easter Sunday flying across the Pacific to meet her agent. Before she left Manila, she couldn't say anything about the "project" she was being considered for because of non-disclosure agreements.

Only five roles have been cast by director Jon M. Chu. Which character will Kris portray? She told her friends that she willl play the role of a princess. That doesn't tell us much but here are some possibilities.
  • Cassandra Shang: AKA "Radio One Asia", Cassandra is Nick Young's gossip-hound cousin who seems to hear the juiciest gossip first and broadcasts to her firends and family half-way around the world. Aquino's experience in the Philippines earned her the nickname, "Queen of All Media." This character sounds right up Kris' alley.
  • Francesca Shaw: Nick Young's vain and snobbish ex-girlfriend. A poor little rich girl? Hmm, does this sound familiar?
  • The Sultana of Borneo: She is a  Malay princess "covered head to toe in diamonds." This sounds just like the description Kris told her friends.
The major roles have been filled by Constance Wu, Gemma Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding and Sonoya Mizuno. Wu and Golding play the pivotal couple of Rachel Chu and Nick Young. The biggest roles that have not been cast are that of Nick's best friend, Colin Khoo and the matriarch of the Young clan, Rosemary.

Of all the people cast in the movie, Aquino, 46, is the one who might be the most familiar with the lifestyle of the super-rich families depicted in Crazy Rich Asians. On her mother's side, the Cojaunco's are "old money" and is among the most powerful and richest families in the Philippines. 

She is the youngest daughter of the assassinated Philippine senator Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., and Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, who served as the 11th President of the Philippines right after dictator Ferdinand Marcos was ousted. Her brother is Benigno S. Aquino, III, who served as the 15th President of the Philippines.

The Cojuanco's are descended from a Chinese immigrant to the Philippines. The family fought with Filipino patriots against the Spanish and the Americans. How the family acquired their initial wealth and made the big jump to super-rich is rather cloudy. Growing sugar cane was the source of their wealth, however, as in the Kwan novel, marriages with other old families, increased their wealth and influence even more.