Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Manny Pacquiao beats Broner in unanimous decision

Manny Pacquiao landed a clean blow against Adrien Broner but failed to knock him down.

Manny Pacquiao proved that he is in better shape at age 40 than most of the rest of us at whatever age.

The Filipino boxer beat Adrien Broner last Saturday (Jan. 19) in Las Vegas with a unanimous decision by all three judges. It was the 61st victory in the fighter's storied career.

Pacquiao landed 112 of 568 thrown punches. Broner threw only 295 punches and landed just 50.

Two judges favored Pacquiao by a 116-112 score, while the third had it 117-111.

There were no knockdowns, but Pacquiao landed the heavier punches — and lots of them.

For Pacquiao fans, it might have looked like a flashback to the the fighter's glory days when he held multiple crowns in various weight divisions. He showed he still has the speed that carried him over his 24-year career. Clearly, he was the better fighter in this match but he also showed that the power he was noted for has diminished with age. Despite some strong on-targe blows, he was never able to drop Broner.

Naturally, whenever Pacquiao fights, the subject of a rematch with unbeaten Floyd Mayweather came up.

"Tell (Floyd) to come back to the ring and then we will fight,” said Pacquiao. “I’m willing to fight him again, to fight Floyd Mayweather.”

In 2015, Mayweather easily handed Pacquiao a defeat in the much-ballyhood fight to determine who was the best pound-for-pound in the world. It had the richest purse of any fight in history and a repeat of that prize that may be the only draw to bring Mayweather out of retirement.

The 42-year old fighter was at ringside for the Pacquiao-Broner bout but refused to respond to inquiries about a possible rematch with the Filipino boxer, who when not training for a fight is a senator in the Philippines and still retains hero status among his countrymen in the Philippines and around the world.

Rosa Parks award given to Indian American


Indian American entrepreneur Gurinder Singh Khalsa was presented with the Rosa Parks Trailblazer Award for his campaign that pushed US authorities to alter their policies towards Sikh headgear, reports NDTV.

In 2007, 45-year-old Sikh was not allowed to board an airplane because of his turban. He was then motivated to take action and mobilized more than 67,000 people nationwide for petitions, eventually taking the issue to Congress, which forced changes in policy by the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA).

Thanks to his work, Sikhs are now allowed to wear their turbans through airport security in the US, and as long as they do not set off any alarms, security agents cannot force them to remove their turbans, according to The Times of India.

“I was prevented from boarding the flight because I refused to remove my turban,” said Khalsa, who heads Sikhs Political Affairs Committee in Indiana. “I took this stand for all those who believe in religious liberty and freedom of faith.

“This award is not about me. Change does not exist without the support of a community. I dedicate this award to more than 67,000 individuals from all walks of life across America, and to one of the largest Sikh advocacy group, Sikh Coalition. Without their countless efforts change in the TSA Turban policy would not exist.”

Attendees of the award ceremony included state officials and community leaders, according to The Tribune.

“Sometimes those who bravely protest for civil rights are stereotyped as somehow threatening figures – perhaps simply because of the raw courage required to fight for justice,” said Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill. “But in the personalities of both Gurinder and Rosa, we see the great power of quiet resolve.

“I know that Gurinder in his lifetime has experienced and witnessed certain perceptions and situations that have been unjust. But in his cheerful and dignified manner, he has stood for justice and free speech and freedom of religion and for so many truly American principles that make our nation great.”


Monday, January 21, 2019

Kamala Harris is running for president

View Sen. Kamala Harris' statement.

UPDATED, 12 a.m., Jan. 22.

"I'm running for President of the United States," said Sen. Kamala Harris in an email to her supporters sent early this morning (Jan. 21).

In declaring her candidacy on Martin Luther King Day, the ethnically mixed Harris becomes the first woman of African American descent to declare her candidacy for 2020 and also the first Indian American to run for the highest office in the country.

When asked at a press conference held at her alma mater, Howard University, later Monday, when asked about her ethnicity and how she describes herself, Harris laughed: "Did you read my book? I'm a proud American."

Her email to her supporters follows:

Decency. Justice. Truth. Equality. Freedom. Democracy.

These aren’t just words: they’re the values we, as Americans, cherish. Right now, they’re all on the line.

We face the greatest crisis of leadership we’ve seen in our lifetimes, and powerful voices are filling the void, sowing hate and division among us.

We’ve witnessed an Administration that aligns itself with dictators and refers to white supremacists as “very fine people.” They’ve torn babies from their mothers’ arms and put children in cages.

They’ve slashed taxes for corporations and the wealthiest among us -- placing the burden on the middle class. They’ve actively fought against efforts to combat climate change. Time and again, they’ve sabotaged our country’s health care. And they’ve attacked our free and independent press at every turn.

We know America is better than this -- but it's on us to build it. We’re going to have to fight for it.

I’m ready to take on that fight alongside you. That’s why, today, I’m proud to announce that I’m running for President of the United States.
 I want to be clear: ours will not be a campaign against our current president. It will be a campaign FOR the very future of our country. FOR the people.
Together, we will fight FOR a country with strong public schools in every zip code. A country where one job is enough to pay the bills. A country with full, universal health care for every single American. 
Together, we will fight FOR a country where getting a college education doesn’t mean taking on a lifetime of debt. Where middle-class and working families are prioritized with tax breaks, not corporations or the wealthiest 1%. Where every single person can retire with dignity. Where every single person can breathe clean air and drink clean water. Where Black women aren’t three to four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. A country where for-profit prison businesses -- a billion-dollar industry -- are a thing of the past. We’re going to fight FOR an America where all our civil rights are respected.
We’re going to seek truth and speak truth. That’s my promise to you.
Ours is a fight born of optimism -- of the promise of what our country can become if we unite behind a common cause. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to earn your vote and -- most importantly -- your trust.
Let’s do this,
Kamala Harris
Harris fights an uphill battle against better known candidates. According to polls, she ranks below former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders and newcomer Beto O'Roarke, who ran a spirited, albeit unsuccessful, campaign against incumbent Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

However, she is higher ranked among the women candidate that includes Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Hawaii's Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and New York's Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand -- all who have declared their candidacies or launched exploratory committees earlier this month.

The men who have declared their candidacies thus far, include: Texas' Julian Castro, the former HUD Secretary under Obama, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, who declared his intentions in June last year and entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who declared about a year ago.

All-in-all, about two dozen Democrats have expressed an interest in being the Democrats' nominee for president. The number of candidates -- including the most women to run for president -- will be a gauntlet for whoever the nominee will be. The debates and likely negative attacks could weaken or expose weaknesses for whoever the Democrats choose in the Democratic National Convention in the summer of 2020.

Harris will officially launch her campaign next Sunday, 12 noon on July 27, at Frank Ogawa Plaza in her hometown of Oakland, Calif.


Kamala Harris says .... 'no' to Barr

Sen. Kamala Harris questions AG nominee William Barr.

By the time you read this, California's Sen. Kamala Harris may have released a statement about her intentions for 2020 presidential elections.
UPDATE 10 a.m., Jan. 21: Kamala Harris is running for president
The Indian American lawmaker said last month that she would announce her decision about 2020 after the holidays. Earlier this month, it was announced that she will make her intentions known on MLK Day - today.

While the government remains shut down, Harris has been doing her job tending to other matters.

In a statement, Harris became the first prominent Democrat to say she would not vote for William Barr, Donald Trump's nominee for Attorney General.

She criticized Barr for his support of a wall along the Mexican border and his record on civil rights while attorney general under President George H.W. Bush.

Harris also said she was concerned about Barr's refusal to recuse himself from overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into election meddling.

“While I respect Mr. Barr’s past public service, I do not believe he will defend independent investigations from attacks, embrace a smart approach to public safety, and ensure equal protection under the law for every single American,” she said.

As a member of the Senate's Judiciary Committee, Harris took part in questioning Barr. In response to Barr’s insistence that he would not recuse himself if he personally disagreed with ethics officials’ recommendation, Harris sought clarification on why precisely he might disregard that guidance:

Harris: Let’s imagine it’s a judgment call and the judgment by the career ethics officials in the agency are that you recuse yourself. Under what scenario would you not follow their recommendation?

Barr: If I disagreed with it.

Harris: And what would the basis of that disagreement be?

Barr: I came to a different judgment.

And on other matters ...

If Sen. Harris makes an announcement about th 2020 presidential campaign, check back later.

MLK's monument's Chinese designer: 'King's vision is still living, in our minds; ..., we still need him'"

The likeness of Martin Luther King emerges out of the Stone of Hope

Like the Vietnam War Memorial designed by Maya Lin, the sculpture at the centerpiece of the memorial to civil rights leader Martin Luther King was sculpted by an Asian artist.

Today (Jan. 21) we remember the assassinated American hero who inspired a movement that changed the course of the United States tand benefited all Americans but chiefly ensured the rights of people of color and immigrants. His inspiration broke the boundaries of intolerance and even national borders, as he became a symbol, recognized worldwide of the quest for civil rights of the world's citizens.

The winning MLK monument design is by Master Lei Yixin, a citizen of China. His sculture, chosen from an international competition, was inspired by the line from King's "I Have a Dream" speech, "Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope."

Visitors walk through two massive white granite halves of the "Mountain of Despair" to reach the "Stone of Hope," from which the sculpture of King emerges. 

"Dr. King's vision is still living, in our minds; we still miss him, we still need him," said Yixin through a translator, calling the sculpture the most important of his life, technically and emotionally. "I am trying to present Dr. King as ready to step out ... this is King's spirit, to judge people from their character, not race, color or background." 

Lei's selection in an international competition was not without controversy. The Chinese sculptor's monumental works in China caught the eye of Ed Jackson, the executive architect of the Martin Luther King Foundation, who named Lei the head sculptor for the "Stone of Hope" monument in 2007.

Lei Yixin sculpts a large size model that expresses thoughtful hope.

African American sculptor Ed Dwight was quoted by the Washington Post at the time as arguing that because Lei is not black, "he doesn't know how black people walk, how they stand, how their shoulders slope." In May 2008, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts called the artist's design "too confrontational," and recommended that the monument be rethought.

Lei has clearly sought to sensitively portray his subject. Lei said that "you can see the hope" in King's face, according to the Tribune Chronicle. "But his serious demeanor also indicated that he's thinking."

The 30-foot sculpture, which was done in China and shipped to the U.S., depicts the civil rights leader emerging from a block of white granite. Standing stiffly to attention with arms crossed and a serious expression on his face, King is depicted as stern and authoritative.

Lei intends the visitor to walk through the mountain of despair to the stone of hope. The memorial’s stone of hope appears to be quarried (hewed) from a larger stone, a slow a laborious process, much like the process to end racial segregation and discrimination in the U.S. The stone has been pushed forward, symbolizing the forward progress in the achievement of civil rights in America.

The unfinished likeness of King is intentional ; just as his life was tragically cut short at just 39 years of age, and just as the movement for civil rights he helped lead is unfinished today. King is looking south toward the horizon, paper, possibly a speech or sermon in hand, in a defiant pose, symbolizing his defiance of injustice.

The ROMA Design Group, the San Francisco architecture firm that designed the project before Lei was picked as sculptor. The monument's official address is 1964 Independence Avenue SW, in honor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the landmark legislation in which King played an important role.

The dedication had been planned for Aug. 28, 2011, the 48th anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream" speech. But it was delayed by Hurricane Irene, which swept through Washington with high winds and rain. It was finally unveiled in October 16, 2011 by President Barack Obama, the country's first black President.

The MLK Memorial opens to the National Mall Tidal Basin.
The following quotations are engraved on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial:


"Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope."
From the "I Have A Dream" speech in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963. The quotation serves as the theme of the overall design of the memorial, which realizes the metaphorical mountain and stone.

South Wall

"We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
Washington National Cathedral, March 31, 1968.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."
Strength to Love, 1963.

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."
Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Oslo, Norway, 1964.

"Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a better person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in."
March for Integrated Schools, April 18, 1959.

Martin Luther King's words are an inspiration for all Americans.

"I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against it not in anger but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as a moral example of the world."
Anti-War Conference, Los Angeles, California, February 26, 1967.

"If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective."
Christmas sermon, Atlanta, Georgia, 1967.

North Wall

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."
Letter from Birmingham, Alabama jail, April 16, 1963.

"I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits."
Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Oslo, Norway, 1964

"It is not enough to say 'We must not wage war.' It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but the positive affirmation of peace."
Anti-War Conference, Los Angeles, California, February 25, 1967.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience and comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
Strength to Love, 1963.

"Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies."
New York City, April 4, 1967.

"We are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs 'down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.'"
Montgomery, Alabama, December 5, 1955. Here, King borrows a verse from the Bible, the Book of Amos, which he frequently reused in speeches.

"We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience."
Montgomery, Alabama, March 25, 1965.

"True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice."

Stride Toward Freedom, 1958

First look at Henry Golding, Emilia Clark in 'Last Christmas'

Ready for romance? Is it too early to start looking forward to next Christmas?

Henry Golding released a peek at Last Christmas, a romantic comedy he plays a lead in opposite Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke. He writes that Last Christmas is "going to be special."

Golding is a hot commodity right now with the wild success of Crazy Rich Asians. Everybody wants him for their romantic lead. The boyish charm he exudes and good looks has led to comparisons to Hollywood's leading men such as Cary Grant or Clark Gable.

"Mark my words, this one is going to be special ..." Golding wrote on Instagram. "First official look at Kate and Tom from @lastchristmasthemovie. November could not come any sooner!!"

According to The Daily Mail, the film — which takes its name from Wham!'s iconic holiday single — centers around Clarke's character, Kate, who works as an elf in a Christmas shop. Noting that Kate is "not quite fully formed as an adult," Clarke told the outlet that her character, "hasn’t got her act together, she’s just lost ... (Kate is) this hopeless young lady carrying her belongings in a wheelie bag. She’s always on her phone, always on Tinder, always getting drunk."

"He's out of sync with the modern world," Golding tells the Mail about his character. "I think he sees (Kate) as a bit of a lost soul and tries to bring her out of herself."

"It’s first and foremost a love story set in 2016, against a backdrop of Brexit and Trump," director Paul Feig said about the plot of Last Christmas. "And a chance to go against so much intolerance and see what a melting pot London, and the world, is."

Written by Emma Thompson, the rom-com also stars Golding's Crazy Rich Asians costar Michelle Yeoh.

Universal Pictures says in the film's logline: "As London transforms into the most wonderful time of the year, nothing should work for these two. But sometimes, you gotta let the snow fall where it may, you gotta listen to your heart ... and you gotta have faith."

Christmas came early Friday morning.

Henry Golding shared the first look at the Universal Pictures film Last Christmas, co-starring Emilia Clarke. Directed by Paul Feig, from a script by Bryony Kimmings and Emma Thompson, the British romantic comedy also stars actresses Rebecca Root, Thompson and Michelle Yeoh.

"Mark my words, this one is going to be special..." Golding wrote on Instagram. "First official look at Kate and Tom from @lastchristmasthemovie. November could not come any sooner!!"

Slated for a Nov. 15 release, Last Christmas takes its name from the Wham! hit of the same name. "I'd met with George Michael. He was concerned about the homeless, which is a large part of this story," Thompson told The Daily Mail. "We spoke a lot about life and death, and there's a lot of that in this film as well." The movie will not be a glossy musical like Mamma Mia! or dramatic like the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody: "It's inspired by the songs and inspired by him."

Set in 2016, against the backdrop of Brexit and Donald Trump being elected President of the United States, the director said the film is "first and foremost a love story"—one that provides "a chance to go against so much intolerance and see what a melting pot London, and the world, is."

Clarke, whose character works as an elf in a Christmas shop, is "not quite fully formed as an adult," the actress admitted. "She hasn't got her act together." In fact, until Kate meets Tom (Golding)—who's her polar opposite—she's "always on her phone, always on Tinder, always getting drunk." As for Tom? "He's out of sync with the modern world," Golding explained to The Daily Mail. "I think he sees [Kate] as a bit of a lost soul and tries to bring her out of herself."

Ready for romance? As Universal Pictures says in the film's logline: "As London transforms into the most wonderful time of the year, nothing should work for these two. But sometimes, you gotta let the snow fall where it may, you gotta listen to your heart...and you gotta have faith."

Clarke, Feig, Golding and Yeoh recently held a contest via Omaze in support of RAICES. The winner, who will be named on or around Jan. 25, will meet the stars on the film's set in London.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Hammer-wielding attacker kills Asian American chef


A MAN using a hammer attacked employees at a Brooklyn, killing at least one.

The alleged attacker, Arthur Martunovich, told detectives he was inspired by a movie about Chinese mistreatment of women.

After watching the movie - whose title Martunovich couldn't recall - he told police that he had "no choice' but to attack the workers at the Seapprt Buffet.

According to witnesses, Martunovich, 34, allegedly entered the restaurant around 5 p.m. Tuesday (Jan. 15) and struck owner Kheong Ng-Thang, 60, over the head. He then entered the kitchen where he supposedly attacked Tsz Mat Pung, 50, and killed chef Fufai Pun, 34. Thang died at the hospital Saturday (Jan 19) but Pung remains in critical condition.

The construction worker was charged with two counts of murder, attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon, sources said.

“He had problems with Asian men,” one law enforcement source told the New York Post. “He talked about how Asian women are being treated by their men.”

People Acting Stupid: Customer attacks Sikh American store clerk



A WHITE OREGON MAN, Andrew Ramsey, 24, is facing hate crime and assault charges after he attacked a local Sikh business owner over cigarette rolling papers, reports HuffPost.

Harwinder Dodd, the owner of the Salem market, told the local news organization FOX 12, KATU off-camera that the incident arose when Dodd refused to sell cigarette rolling papers because Ramsey did not have his ID.

Justin Brecht, a legislative policy advisor in the Oregon State Capitol and a former Marine, was one of the bystanders who intervened and witnessed the build up to Ramsey’s attack. Similar to Dodd’s comment, Brecht said that Ramsey grew increasingly aggressive when Dodd said he could not sell him the rolling papers.

“The guy ran up to the store owner. He grabbed him by the beard and started punching him, threw him to the ground and started kicking him,” said Brecht to KATU.

Police also say that Ramsey threw his shoe at Dodd before attempting to steal his turban—a religious headwear holding both political and spiritual significance to practicing Sikhs.

Ramsey, who can be seen smiling in an undated photo released by the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, will also face charges of assault in the fourth degree, disorderly conduct and criminal trespass, reports Seattle Times.

“We believe it had to do with the worker’s ethnic background and possible religious beliefs,” said Lieutenant Treven Upkes of the Salem Police Department.

While Brecht and other witnesses held Ramsey down until police arrived, Dodd did receive numerous cuts on his arms and hands as well as a large scrape on his elbow.

Catherine Van, a reporter at KATU, tweeted that the store owner told her has experienced discrimination in the past, but this is the first time it led to physical violence.

“That is something I certainly hate to see in Salem, and it doesn’t belong here; there’s no place for that kind of behavior here,” said Brecht.

Trump names 12 to AAPI advisory commission

After two years in office, Donald Trump is getting around to nominating new members for  the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Trump announced Friday (Jan. 17) his intent to appoint the 12 following individuals to be members of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
  • Michelle Park Steel of California, and upon appointment to be designated co-chair
  • Paul Hsu of Florida, and upon appointment to be designated co-chair
  • Jennifer Carnahan of Minnesota
  • David B. Cohen of California
  • Grace Y. Lee of Michigan
  • George Leing of Colorado
  • Jan-Ie Low of Nevada
  • Herman Martir of Texas
  • Prem Parameswaran of New York
  • Amata Coleman Radewagen of American Samoa
  • Sean D. Reyes of Utah
  • Chiling Tong of Maryland
The majority of the President Obama-appointed members resigned en masse almost two years ago in protest to Trump's policies and rhetoric that they interpreted as anti-immigrant.

The new commissioners will join the five members who did not resign. They are 
Trump also announced his intent to designateTransportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao to be Co-Chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The other co-chair is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. 

The office of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders works with the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs and Interagency Working Group on AAPI issues including data disaggregation, language access, workforce diversity, and capacity building.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Waiting for Kamala Harris


AS OF THIS WRITING, Sen. Kamala Harris has not announced her decision about running for POTUS in 2020.

She said last month that she would make her announcement after the holidays. As Christmas and then New Years rolled along, the California Indian American senator began a book tour for her just published book.

She danced around the question every interviewer asked her and then word came down that she would make an announcement during the Martin Luther King weekend.

Despite all the signs indicating a willingness to plunge into the presidential contest, still nothing official. 

But, still no word. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Sen. Kirsten Gilliebrand all said they would start exploratory committees. But, still no word from Harris.

Then, this was posted on the Twitter account "Kamala Harris For President:"

An oped was published in the New York Times questioning her progressive credentials based on her work as the Attorney General for San Francisco and California. Instead, Choosing not to respond, Harris tweeted:

It looks like a decision has been made, but nothing official ... yet. 

Trump administration appeals ruling blocking Census question on citizenship

AS EXPECTED, the Trump administration is appealing a court ruling that blocks plans to add a controversial citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The Department of Justice wants the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the decision about the question that was delivered only two days earlier in a New York court.

In that case, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman concluded the decision by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, to add a question about U.S. citizenship to census forms was "unlawful" and made "a veritable smorgasbord of classic, 
clear-cut" violations of the Administrative Procedure Act.

The appeal sets up the likelihood that the case will proceed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In anticipation of that happening, the High Court suspended scheduled oral arguments on the controversial citizenship question that was originally scheduled for Feb. 19.
in a brief order on Friday (Jan. 18), the justices decided to put matters on hold after a federal district court judge on Jan. 15 ruled the government could not proceed with its plans. Challengers to the census question then asked the justices to dismiss the related pending appeal, saying the issue was moot.
Later Friday, the justices removed it from the court's calendar and filed a docket entry noting that the "briefing schedule is suspended pending further order from the court."
Civil rights groups and several state Attorneys General say including the question regarding citizenship would dampen responses from legal and undocumented immigrants, resulting in an inaccurate talley, which would affect congressional representation and allocation of federal funds.

TGIF Feature: Vanessa Hudgens returns in another TV live musical - 'Ren: Live't

Vanessa Hudgens' next production in in 'Rent: Live'

AFTER THE RAVE reviews that she richly deserved for her performance in Grease Live, Vanessa Hudgens will return to television to star in Rent: Live

The 29-year old Filipina American will play the role of Maureen Johnson in Rent:Live, a bisexual performance artist. The character is a major part that involves a lot singing and fans will likely be most excited to see Hudgens belt out Maureen's biggest song, "Take Me or Leave Me."

Interestingly, this is not the first time Hudgens starred in Rent. Back in 2010, she starred in the Hollywood Bowl's staging of the musical playing Mimi Márquez, the erotic dancer who is addicted to drugs and is HIV-positive. In the live TV produciton, the pop singer Tinashe will play Mimi.

The rest of the Rent: Live cast includes Hamilton breakout Jordan Fisher as Mark Cohen, The X Factor contestant Brennin Hunt as Roger Davis, recent Jesus Christ Superstar show-stealer Brandon Victor Dixon as Tom Collins, RuPaul's Drag Race star Valentina as Angel Dumott Schunard, former Disney Channel star Kiersey Clemons as Joanne Jefferson, and R&B singer Mario as Benjamin Coffin III.

Hudgens' breakout role was starring in the Disney Channel hit musical movie franchise  High School Musical, which, of course, involved a lot of singing and dancing.

She shone in 2016's Grease Live as tough girl Rizzo. She dedicated her performance in the live telecast to her father, who died a day before the broadcast. 

The Salinas-born California actress starred in NBC's short-lived Powerless, in which she made sure that her character was identified as a Filipina American. Alas, the sit-com was not picked up for a second season.

Most recently, Hudgens was a judge on So You Think You Can Dance. In her first season on the show, she helped select the first Filipina American winner in 2018, Hannahlei Cabanilla.
For the Fox production, Hudgens will tackle the charming yet narcissistic lesbian performance artist Maureen. “Vocally, emotionally, it's a tough part,” says Hudgens,

When Rent first appeared on Broadway, it was a revelation: a contemporary musical tackling today's issues with a cast of actors of color.

It's message that is just as relevant today: The way to overcome a time of adversity is to unify, to address it together. That's a lesson that we need to learn today. 

'Rent: Live' airs on the Fox network, Sunday, Jan. 27. Check local listings for time.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Tulsi Gabbard on the defense; Mazie Hirono won't be endorsing her for President

Sen. Mazie Hirono, left, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

IT APPEARS that there's trouble in paradise and a limit to the spirit of aloha.

Tulsi Gabbard  issued Thursday (Jan. 17) a new apology for her past views on LGBTQ rights after CNN reported Sunday that she worked for her father’s anti-gay organization, the Alliance for Traditional Marriage, in the late '90s and early 2000s.

On Monday, Gabbard lost the support of an influential leader in Hawaiian politics. Sen. Mazie Hirono said that she is not endorsing Congressmember Tulsi Gabbard for U.S. President even though they are both Democrat, they both represent Hawaii and Gabbard is the first Samoan American to run for President.

The seemingly growing schism in Hawaii's usually tight-knit congressional delegation has the state's Democrats in a tizzy.

Gabbard announced her candidacy for President two weeks ago and last week criticized Hirono and other Democrats in an op-ed published in The Hill of having “weaponized religion for their own selfish gain” in their questioning of judicial nominee Brian Buescher.

In an interview with MSNBC Hirono said she'd be looking to endorse someone "who has a long record of supporting progressive goals."

"I certainly wish all of our candidates the best because it is going to be a long, hard race, and so I wish everyone well, but for myself in these times of what I would call not normal times, I want someone who has very much been on the page in terms of supporting equal opportunity, choice, all of the kinds of issues that I've been fighting for for decades," Hirono added. "I wish her well, though, as I do all of the other candidates."

Hirono's neutral stance (for now) may stem from Gabbard's criticism of Hirono's questioning of the judicial nominee Brian Buescher to he U.S. District Court in Nebraska.

As a member of the Senate's Judiciary Committee, Hirono, along with Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker asked Buescher about his membership in the Knights of Columbus, a fraternal organization for Roman Catholics. As a Catholic group, members supposedly follow the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, which includes - among other issues - apposing abortion, or in political terms, opposing Roe v. Wade. Hirono labeled some of those positions "extreme."

Hirono asked Buescher if he would resign from the Knights and if he would be able to support precedents if they went against the church's beliefs.

It was obvious Buescher had been prepped for any questioning that might reveal opinion on the landmark Roe v. Wade by dancing around the question by answering variations of this response:

"The Judicial Oath in 28 U.S.C § 453 requires judges to swear or affirm that they 'willadminister justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to therich, and ... faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent . .. under the Constitution and laws of the United States.' If confirmed, I will abide by this oath. I will faithfully apply all United States Supreme Court and Eighth CircuitCourt of Appeals precedent on all issues."

In her Hill oped, Gabbard, made it clear that she too opposes Beuscher's nomination. "While I oppose the nomination of Brian Buescher to the U.S. District Court in Nebraska, I stand strongly against those who are fomenting religious bigotry, citing as disqualifiers Buescher's Catholicism and his affiliation with the Knights of Columbus."

Former Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who served 19 years in Congress, told The Hill. “People who support (Gabbard's) presidential campaign probably think it will be helpful, but I’m not sure.”

Gabbard's entry into the 2020 presidential campaign may not be her real goal, but if she does reasonably well in the primaries, she might be a helpful running mate to a presidential aspirant who wants to reach out to the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party and/or to Catholics, who were pivotal votes in 2016 and could possibly play the same role in 2020.

Colin Moore, director of the Public Policy Center at University of Hawaii Manoa, said Gabbard could be trying to distance herself from the rest of her delegation. 

“You could characterize her as an independent thinker or a bit reckless,” he said. “It may also be personal to her. She’s a Hindu and her father is quite religious.”

Gabbard's father, Mike Gabbard, was an anti-gay activist that inculcated in his daughter the conservative social values that condemned the LGBTQ lifestyle. She says that through the years, her views have evolved.

As a state legislator, he sponsored a law that defended traditional marriage.

"While many Americans may relate to growing up in a conservative home, my story is a little different because my father was very outspoken. He was an activist who was fighting against gay rights and marriage equality in Hawaii – and at that time, I forcefully defended him," she wrote on Twitter Thursday afternoon. 

"But over the years, I formed my own opinions based on my life experience that changed my views – at a personal level in having aloha, love, for all people, and ensuring that every American, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, is treated equally under the law."

Her record supports her claim. She voted for and supported the Equality Act, the repeal of DOMA, Restore Honor to Service Members Act, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Equality for All Resolution.

In a follow-up video released almost simultaneously as her tweet, Gabbard apologized once more for her past views.  Gabbard had first apologized for her earlier views back in 2012 when she first ran for office.

“Many years ago, I apologized for my words and more importantly for the negative impact that they had," she said. "I sincerely repeat my apology today. I’m deeply sorry for having said them.”

"I know that LGBTQ+ people still struggle, are still facing discrimination, are still facing abuse and still fear that their hard-won rights are going to be taken away by people who hold views like I used to," the Hawaii Democrat wrote online. "I regret the role I played in causing such pain, and I remain committed to fighting for LGBTQ+ equality."