Monday, June 26, 2017

Court: Travel ban legality still up in the air; in the meantime, some restrictions will be allowed

The Supreme Court Monday breathed some life into Donald Trumps Muslim ban.

THE SUPREME COURT agreed Monday morning (June 26) to review Donald Trump's controversial executive order restricting travelers and refugees from entering the U.S. 

The court then allowed a watered down Trump's Muslim ban to go into effect by opening the door to the majority of travelers from the six targeted Muslim countries - family members, students, foreign employees, lecturers and business travelers. That includes refugees who are usually sponsored by a church or other human rights organization.

“Almost anyone coming to the U.S. who has a visa or who has been in the refugee program has some kind of tie to a U.S. person,” said Becca Heller, executive director of the International Refugee Assistance Project.

It is far from the "victory" claimed by a White House desperate for a "win" after being stymied by the courts and a Congress immobilized by infighting.  Two federal courts ruled that the Muslim ban was unconstitutional and questioned Trump's authority to order travel restrictions had ordered stays on Trump's executive orders.

"Most of the people who stood to be affected by the ban will still be allowed to come in," said Omar Jadwat of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. "So you know, I think it's significant that the court decided to take - to allow only this limited portion of the ban to move forward at this time. And of course, you know, the ultimate question about whether any of this is lawful or constitutional at remains to be decided. And all the court so far that have looked at it have - you know, there's kind of an overwhelming consensus among the courts that this cannot withstand that sort of scrutiny."

The Supreme Court voted unanimously to hear arguments for and against the travel ban during their next term which begins the first Monday of October. Historically, the court issues decisions in the spring. By then, the 90-120 day "pause" that the executive order asked for will be over and the court might just say the question is moot.

Despite the ACLU's assurances, that didn't stop travel ban opponents from expressing their concern.

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court ignores the anti-Muslim bigotry that is at the heart of the travel ban executive orders and will inevitably embolden Islamophobes in the administration to expand efforts to target the Muslim community with unconstitutional and counterproductive policies," said a statement from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). "It also ignores the almost-unanimous rejection of the Muslim ban by lower courts due to its religious intolerance and racial animus."

"The administration’s Muslim ban foments disturbing trends of anti-Muslim sentiments within the U.S. and abroad," agreed the Asian Americans Advancing Justice. "The Supreme Court should not have allowed any part of the Muslim ban to move forward while this executive order is under review.

"The Muslim ban restrains travel and freedom of movement for the communities affected without a rational basis. Any attempt to limit travel based on religion or country of origin is an egregious attack on the Constitution," says the AAAJ.

"From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II to the Muslim ban today, xenophobia has fanned the flames of fear and hatred, driving immigration policy in irrational ways."

Although disappointed that the court allowed part of the ban to be implemented, Rep. Judy Chu, chair of the Congruessional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said the real important decision will be inte court's next term. 

"The circuit courts, relying on President Trump’s own tweets, public statements during the campaign and the transition, and his conversations with his advisors, have established that the President acted in order to ban followers of the Muslim faith from entering our country," said Chu. "The decision today does not address these facts, but I am confident that when the Court reviews the merits of the challenge against the Muslim ban it will find that it violates both the spirit and the letter of our Constitution.”

The court's decision on the partial implementation won't be implemented until Thursday when demonstrations might occur at the airports as they did when the first travel ban was announced. 

"Reinstating any part of this ban could create chaos in the nation’s airports and tear families apart,” Margaret Huang, Amnesty International’s executive director, said in a statement.

JUNE 26: 20 years since Hawaiian legend Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwoʻole

TODAY is the 20th anniversary of the death of Hawaiian singer Israel 'IZ' Kamakawiwo'ole.

The sweet-signing crooner was popular throughout the world but in Hawaii, he was a legend. The State of Hawai’i came together and honored IZ when he died in 1997. The Hawaiʻi State Flag flew at half-staff on July 10, 1997, the day of Kamakawiwoʻole’s funeral. His koa wood coffin lay in state at the Capitol building in Honolulu. He was the third person in Hawaiian history to be accorded this honor, and the only one who was not a government official. Approximately ten thousand people attended the funeral. Thousands of fans gathered as his ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean at Mākua Beach on July 12, 1997.

His most famous performance was his hit of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," was a simple song - just IZ and a ukelele - that had an emotional wallop. The video accompaniyng this post includes scenes from his funeral.

In May 2002, producer John Wells selected IZ’s music for the top-rated television show ER. Wells placed it in the season finale that was viewed by 50 million people. Following the exposure of his music in “ER,” IZ was featured in People Magazine and Parade Magazine.

Again, more exposure brought more loyal and passionate fans. The result – even further exposure when the music was used in the hit film 50 First Dates starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. The music served to highlight the final emotional scene, drawing raves from viewers.

Bruddah Iz died of respiratory failure at the age of 39. His spirit lives on in Hawaii's  mountains, beaches, waters and forests. When the gentle trade winds dance through the palms, you can still hear his singing. 

Bruno Mars dances up a storm before winning Best Male $&B Artist at BET Awards

Bruno Mars kicked off the BET Awards show

BRUNO MARS was named the Best Male R&B Artist of the year at the 2017 BET Awards last night (June 25.)

The Filipino/American singer opened up the show with a rousing performance of his song “Perm” with his band, The Hooligans, there to back him up, never missing a step in the choreography. There's nothing like a Bruno Mars number to start a party!

It's the first time the singer won a BET award despite being nominated eight times previously and I'm willing to bet, the first Asian/American to win a BET award in that category.

All told, the 31-year old Hawaii-born performer was nominated for five awards – Album of the Year for 24K Magic, Video of the Year for “24K Magic,” Coca-Cola Viewers’ Choice Award for “24K Magic,” Best Male R&B/Pop Artist, and Video Director of the Year for “That’s What I Like.

Except for the male R&B category, Mars was up against Beyonce and her album "Lemonade."

Watch his energetic performance here. Bet you can't stay seated.

Rapper and hip-hop artist Changmo made history as the first South Korean artist to be nominate for a BET Award. He was nominated in the Best International Viewers Choice category, which was won by Stormzy.

Iranian/African/American Yara Shahidi, who stars in the sitcom Blackish, won the Best Young Artist Award.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

It's a wrap for 'Crazy Rich Asians', the movie

The remaining cast members of Crazy Rich Asians gather for the last day of shooting in Singapore

FRIDAY (June 23) was the last day of filming in Singapore for the movie adaptation of Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians. 

Director John M. Chu created a congenial environment for bonding for the cast members so the end of Singapore shooting was bittersweet - more like the last day of high school. A great experience, new friendships made and being part of something historic coming to and end.

It is the first Hollywood motion picture with an all-Asian cast since the Joy Luck Club 25 years ago.

Comedian Ronny Chieng of The Daily Show summed it up in a social media posting:

From their social media postings, you can tell the cast members from around the world were having a good time in Singapore. Judging by some of the gorgeous photos of the production, this movie will be an ode to Singapore, much like Woody Allen did films centered around Paris, New York City and San Francisco.

In many of the scenes of Crazy Rich Asians, Singapore will be a star.

Kris Aquino and lead actress Constance Wu.
Several of the supporting actors were sworn to secrecy to not reveal what roles they would be portraying. Such is the case with Ken Jeong and Manila's "Queen of All Media" Kris Aquino, the latter rumored to be playing a member of Burmese royalty.

As author Kevin Kwan said, part of the fun is guessing who will be playing certain characters. Jeong could be one of the patriaarchs of one of the super wealthy Singaporean families or he could be the role of "Eddie," one of the innumerable cousins trying to live up to family standards. The frantic character could make use of Jeong's physical comedic skills.

Anyone who's read the novel knows that the cast of characters is huge including numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins and the clusters of friends.

The worldwide search for actors proved dating for director Chu, who opened up casting calls on the internet, hoping to find the perfect actors for each role. The search netted Henry Golding, a Singaporean TV personality who has never appeared in a motion picture before being cast as Nick Young, the male lead in the novel and movie.
RELATED: How would you cast Crazy Rich Asians?
Actors, many of whom had to be able to speak with the Singaporean accent, a bit British, came from as far away as London (Gemma Chan), Australia (Ronny Chieng, Chris Pang, Remy Hill) and the United States (Constance Wu, Nico Santos, Jimmy O. Yang, Harry Shum Jr., Ken Jeong, Awkwafina).

The cast went out to dinner together and had a thing about Karaoke. They apparently had pretty much had a good time, according to their social media feeds and Singapore's gossip columnists.

What happens on the last day of filming and you host of people who are definitely not camera-shy? You end up with this photo.

What actors do when a camera is pointed their way.
The cast, as you can tell from the Instagram and Twitter photos, is one of the most attractive-looking casts ever - no matter what ethnicity.

The scene now moves to Hollywood for editing, scoring and marketing. No date has been announced for its premiere.

By the time filming ended, stars Constance Wu was back in the U.S.  preparing for the fourth season of Fresh Off the Boat and Michelle Yeoh was filming the CBS product, Star Trek: Discovery. that will debut this fall.

Kevin Kwan is making the rounds promoting the concluding novel of the Rich Asians trilogy, Rich People's Problems that was published last month. Will there be a second movie in the franchise based on the middle novel, China Rich Girlfriend.? Stay tuned.


World's religious leaders ask us to "Make Friends"

WHEN I was a newspaper editor, I'd often field calls and get letters complaining about how the media seems to focus only on the bad news.

Back then, being a bit defensive, I'd explain that the "news" - as defined by the media of the day - consisted of stories that were out of the ordinary.

Stories about the kids who made the honor roll or firemen saving a kitten stuck in a tree would get reported but they didn't merit front page or prominent headlines. The so-called "good news" was the normal state of affairs so they didn't merit the attention given to the unordinary or extraordinary. Dog-bites-man is not a story, I'd explain, but man-bites-dog is considered "news."

With so much of today's news seems tilted towards the outrageously stupid things coming out of Washington, like disguising a tax break for the ultra rich as health care reform or trying to direct the former FBI director's testimony by lying about tape recordings, or simply ignore the facts about climate change in favor of making a buck, or having Russian President Putin pick the U.S. president, it appears that "good news" or heartwarming news is now "out-of-the-ordinary."

Many Views From the Edge readers will have heard by now of the appeal by some of the world’s most prominent religious leaders, calling for making friends across religions. Elijah, together with the Havas Lemz advertising agency and, were the driving forces in creating this landmark appeal.

Members of the Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders, along with other prominent religious leaders, issued a call to get to know one another, and to cultivate friendship across religions.

Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Chief Rabbis David Lau and Jonathan Sacks, Sri Sri Ravi Sankar, Amma and many other prominent religious leaders affirm that friendship is the antidote to hatred, fear and violence.

The appeal trailer was released on Twitter as a joint video message, using technology to translate the common purpose and common vision of the religious leaders to a visual of unity.

The appeal was launched June 14 at a press conference in London. The presentation included sociological analysis of attitudes and values of different religious groups across the world, their expectations and how friendship ranks on their scale of values.

The background to the release of the appeal trailer was a presentation of common attitudes of fear and ignorance, balanced by the recognition of common hopes and aspirations, as studied by Martijn Lampert of the Amsterdam based values research company, Motivaction.

Elijah director, Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein, introduced the project highlighting its theological significance. Values that had previously been preached only to the in-group (friendship) are now being extended by major faith leaders beyond the narrow circle of the faithful. This is not only an important moment of social collaboration. It is a moment of religious teaching, that is carried out jointly by leaders in a collaborative moment of teaching and advancing the spiritual vision of the traditions. 

Differently put: By signing on this appeal, these leaders are affirming a particular way of practicing their religion, as distinct from other ways that religions are often associated with.

No matter what your religious or spiritual inclinations may be, (or, even if you are an agnostic or atheist), it's a simple message more people should hear.

Asian American population growing fastest among U.S. ethnic groups

Asian/Americans are the majority in Hawaii.
Asian/Americans continue to be the country’s fastest growing racial group, now numbering 21.4 million nationwide, according to population estimates released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau. 

The data also shows that Hawaii is the only state where AAPI are in the majority. California has the distinction of being the country's most diverse state.

In the six years following the 2010 Census, the country’s Asian/American population grew 21%; in contrast, the nation’s total population grew less than 5% over the same period. The country added 3.7 million Asian/Americans between 2010 and 2016 and 629,813 between 2015 and 2016 alone.

Immigration is the primary reason for the rapid increase. The majority of new immigrants to the U.S. come from Asian countries, led by China, India and the Philippines.

Sam Garrow, a Census Department demographer, said Asians have been the fastest-growing race group since about 2000, and the main driving force is international migration. In 2013, China replaced Mexico as the top sending country for immigrants to the United States, officials said.

Approximately 65% of the Asian/American population growth nationwide between 2010 and 2016 was attributable to immigration; in contrast, 23% of Latino population growth over the same period was due to immigration. According to the U.S. State Department, over 87% of immigrant visas issued in 2016 to those from Asia were issued to the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens or under family-based preferences.

According to the new data, Asian/American populations are growing both in traditional hubs like California, Texas, and New York and in states with emerging communities, like North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa. 
Between 2010 and 2016, California (+904,589), Texas (+401,081), New York (+298,308), Washington (+163,864), and Florida (+147,819) saw the greatest numeric increases in Asian American population. Over the same period, Asian American populations grew fastest in North Dakota (+63.10%), South Dakota (+58.02%), Iowa (+42.82%), Nebraska (+39.83%), and Indiana (+39.00%).

“We already knew our communities were growing outside California, New York, and Hawai’i”, said Daniel Ichinose, Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles’ Demographic Research Project and head of its Census Information Center (CIC). “While the 2000s brought Asian/American population growth to places like Nevada, Arizona, and North Carolina, the 2010s are bringing new growth to the heartland of America.”

California has the largest number of most racial and ethnic groups, with more Hispanics, whites, Asians and American Indians than any other state. New York state has more blacks than any other state, and Hawaii has the largest numeric population of Native Hawaiians than any other state.

Other highlights of the report, "Detailed Population Estimates by Age, Sex, Race and Hispanic Origin," can are: be found here.

  • The Asian population grew by 3.0 percent to 21.4 million.
  • The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population grew by 2.1 percent to 1.5 million.
  • California had the largest Asian population of any state (6.6 million), and the largest numeric increase (152,400). Hawaii had the highest percentage for this group (57.0 percent).
  • Among counties, Los Angeles County, Calif., had the largest Asian population of any county (1.7 million), as well as the largest numeric increase (22,400). Honolulu County, Hawaii, had the highest percentage in the nation for this group (61.3 percent).
  • Hawaii had the largest Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population of any state in 2016 (381,000). Since 2015, this group increased the most in California (4,900). Hawaii had the highest percentage of its population in this group in 2016 (26.7 percent).
  • Among counties, Honolulu County, Hawaii, had the largest Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population (245,600) in 2016, and Clark County, Nev., had the largest increase during the last year (1,500).
  • Among states, more people who identified as being of two or more races lived in California (1.5 million) than in any other state, with an increase of 32,900 from 2015. Hawaii had the highest percentage for this group (23.7 percent).
  • Among counties, Los Angeles County, Calif., had the largest population of two or more races in 2016 (305,000). Maricopa County, Ariz., had the highest numeric increase since 2015 (5,300). Hawaii County, Hawaii, had the highest share for this group (30.1 percent).

Friday, June 23, 2017

Texas man charged with hate crime for burning mosque

The Islamic Center in Victoria, Texas was completely destroyed by the alleged arsonist.

A FEDERAL GRAND JURY in Victoria, Texas, has returned a three-count superseding indictment against Marq Vincent Perez, 25, for allegedly burning down the Victoria Islamic Center on Jan. 28, 2017.

I'm not sure why they had to have a grand jury to figure out torching a mosque was a hate crime, but maybe Texans just want to make doubly sure.

Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez made the announcement along with a bevy of local and federal law enforcement agencies Thursday, June 22.

"Intentionally defacing, damaging or destroy a house of worship, such as the mosque here, is a federal crime," said Martinez. "Such crimes will not be tolerated."

Perez was previously indicted for possession of an unregistered destructive device for an incident that occurred on Jan. 15, 2017. The superseding indictment returned today, June 23, now charges him with a hate crime – damage to a religious property as well as use of a fire to commit a federal felony in relation to the arson at the mosque.

Perez was initially arrested and charged March 3, 2017, in connection with an attempt to blow up a car with a destructive device. At a detention hearing held the following week, court heard evidence linking Perez to a Jan. 22, 2017, burglary of the Victoria Islamic Center as well as a Jan. 28, 2017, burglary and arson of the same mosque. Perez is in custody pending further criminal proceedings. 

If convicted, Perez faces up to 20 years in federal prison for the hate crime. He also faces up to 10 years for possessing an unregistered destructive device. If convicted of use of a fire to commit a felony, the penalty is a consecutive and mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison. All of the counts also carry a potential $250,000 penalty.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

ATF and FBI conducted the investigation along with the City of Victoria Fire Marshal’s Office, Victoria Fire Department, Victoria Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety - Criminal Investigations Division and Texas Rangers with assistance of Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office and sheriff’s offices in Victoria and Nueces Counties. 

Martinez said his district, the southern District of Texas, which includes the city of Houston and Brownsville, has the second largest Islamic population in the U.S., second only to Lansing, Michigan.

The alleged hate crime occurred a week after Donald Trump was installed as President and was cited by media as an example of the growing Islamaphobia in the country. Trump critics claim the rise in anti-Muslim acts are due to the anti-Muslim rhetoric employed by Trump and his campaign.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sharad S. Khandelwal and Kate Suh are prosecuting the case along with Trial Attorney Saeed Mody of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

TGIF FEATURE: United Shades of America visits Chinatown, July 2

W. Kamau Bell talks about the touchy subject of race.
W. KAMAU BELL is a big, black man, anathema to many non-blacks, but he is so easy-going and disarming he can get the racist Richard Spencer and the KKK to open up to him.

The comedian is also host to one of the best shows that nobody has heard of, The United Shades of America. The double-entendre of the title should tell you a lot about the show.

In the finale episode of his second season, airing July 2, Sunday on CNN, 10 p.m. EDT, he ventures into San Francisco's Chinatown to get the Asian perspective on the underlying theme throughout every episode - racism.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Earlier versions of this post had an incorrect date of the Chinatown episode. July 2 is the correct date.
In his show, at least, he's talking about a topic that is so hot-button, many networks won't touch. People shy away from the subject when the topic comes up. It's just too uncomfortable for them. Well, then, what about us people who deal with it everyday?

The controversial topic of race is handled deftly by Bell. With his dry sense of humor, the Bay Area resident, often finds himself and his subjects laughing together - not AT each other. He is not mean or demeaning.

One topic he touches on that is not often talked about outside of the Asian American community is the spill-over effect Donald Trump's China-bashing and demonizing of Chinese might have on the Chinese/American and overall Asian/American communities. 

To most of America, there is no distinction between China and the Chinese/Americans. We don't have to go back too far in American history to a period of the Yellow Peril and the racist sentiments that rose up against the different waves of Asian immigrants - The Chinese, Japanese, Filipino and now, South Asians and Muslim/Americans.

If you miss his shows on CNN, you can always catch up on HULU or the United Shades of America website. His earlier episodes this season included "Immigrants & Refugees" "Native Americans," "What I Learned Talking to Muslims," and "Treatment of Native Americans."

Asian American senators blast GOP health plan, search for 3 GOP senators to vote conscience over tax breaks for the rich

Protestors blocked entry to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office after text of the GOP Senate health care bill was released Thursday. They were forcibly removed by capitol police.

SENATE REPUBLICANS today (June 22) unveiled their secret proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, AKA Trumpcare, and it ain't pretty.

The Better Care Reconciliation Act in a nutshell: Poor people will pay more for less health care. 

"The Senate Republican plan gives massive tax cuts to Trump’s billionaire friends while forcing millions of working Americans to pay more for less care," said Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois.

The Senate version was done in secrecy by 13 male senators with no input from Democrats or women senators. Senate leader Mitch McConnell said he would try to pass it before the July 4 recess. In contrast, Obamacare was passed only after a year of hearings and Republican amendments.

"It also guts Medicaid funding that new mothers, children, seniors, Veterans and people with disabilities rely on to lead full, happy and healthy lives," stated the Thai/American senator. "Does the President—do Republicans—truly believe this is the ‘single greatest health care plan in the history of the world?’ The American people certainly know it isn’t.”

“Health care is a right, not a privilege reserved for those who can afford coverage. Particularly for people living with serious diseases, Trumpcare sends a clear message – you’re on your own,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii. “Americans with pre-existing conditions would suffer under Trumpcare. That’s why we will do everything we can to fight this mean bill.”

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., listed the disastrous impact of the proposed health plan. "This bill jeopardizes protections for those with health insurance through their job, putting nearly half of the country back at risk of going bankrupt if they get a serious illness or injury. It guts Medicaid, and threatens services for children with disabilities. It allows seniors to be charged more, making it harder to retire with dignity. It discriminates against survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. It limits access to tax credits for Californians to make health care more affordable. And Republicans passed this bill even while admitting they do not know how much it will cost, or how many tens of millions of Americans will lose coverage.

Although there are 52 Republican senators, It's not certain that Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnel has enough votes to pass the BCRA. The proposal needs 51 votes to pass but already some senators have expressed strong concerns about the bill. At least four senators representing the extreme right (Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin) said the proposal doesn't go far enough in dismantling the proposal. At least two GOP women senators (Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska) have said they would not vote for a plan that would defund Planned Parenthood.

Two Republican defectors would end up in a tie setting up the scenario where Vice President Mike Pence would cast the deciding vote. One guess which way he would vote.

Assuming Collins and Murkowski vote against the BCRA, there is need for one more brave Republican to break from party ranks. Is there one more GOP senator who would vote in favor of the people and not for tax breaks for the 1% and profit for Big Pharma and the healthcare insurance business? Just one more who will put country before party? Just one?

“This bill is not just about medicine or math— this is about morals," continued Indian/American lawmaker Harris. "Americans are counting on us to make their health care more affordable and accessible."

Sen. Brian Schatz (below) gave a convincing speech against the GOP proposal. He represents Hawaii, the state with the highest percentage of AAPI residents in the U.S.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Earlier versions of this post did not include comments from Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii.
There will be more updates as we further study the GOP proposal. We'll give the last word to former President Obama, who continues to be the object of senseless hatred from the far right, whose name is attached to his signature piece of legislation -- Obamacare. One of Obama's flaws was his willingness to bend over backwards to appease conservatives. 
"I hope that our Senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did.
We didn’t fight for the Affordable Care Act for more than a year in the public square for any personal or political gain — we fought for it because we knew it would save lives, prevent financial misery, and ultimately set this country we love on a better, healthier course."

"[I]t remains my fervent hope that we step back and try to deliver on what the American people need.That might take some time and compromise between Democrats and Republicans. But I believe that’s what people want to see. I believe it would demonstrate the kind of leadership that appeals to Americans across party lines. And I believe that it’s possible — if you are willing to make a difference again. If you’re willing to call your members of Congress. If you are willing to visit their offices. If you are willing to speak out, let them and the country know, in very real terms, what this means for you and your family."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Addison Russell's wife files for divorce

Addison Russell, trouble on and off the field.
IT HAS not been a very good year for Filipino/American Addison Russell, the Chicago Cub's All-Star shortstop. Although he hasn't performed well in the field and at the plate, it is his off-field troubles that may have a deeper impact.
After allegations of domestic abuse leaked to the public, Russell's wife, Melisa, has filed for divorce. She also will not meet with Major League Baseball to discuss the investigation into domestic abuse claims against Russell.

Beermann Pritikin Mirabelli Swerdlove LLP, the law firm representing Melisa Russell, announced the divorce proceedings in a statement released Wednesday (June 21).

RELATED: The Cubs' Filipino/American All-Star shortstop
MLB began its investigation earlier this month after Melisa Russell, in an Instagram post, accused her husband of cheating and implied that the couple was breaking up, according to ESPN. A comment related to the post from someone she identified as a close friend accused the player of physically abusing his wife.

Melisa Russell has not publicly commented on the abuse allegation, but her law firm did release this statement:

Mrs. Russell has declined the invitation from Major League Baseball to be interviewed relative to social media postings and allegations of domestic violence. It is her desire to pursue a resolution that is, first and foremost, in the best interest of the parties’ son, and which occurs in a swift, amicable and private fashion.
Even if Melisa Russell does not cooperate with MLB officials, Addison Russell could still face a punishment from the league. 

Major League Baseball and the players' union agreed to a new, more rigorous domestic violence policy in 2015. Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman was suspended 30 games under the policy last season. Mets closer Jeurys Familia, infielder Jose Reyes and Braves outfielder Hector Olivera have also received lengthy suspensions under the policy.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Commission on Civil Rights to look over Trump's shoulder

Catherine Lhamon was elected chair of the Civil Rights Commission in Dec. 2016.

MEMBERS OF THE U.S. Commission on Civil Rights must have a death wish.

Or maybe with all the hullabaloo surrounding Russia's hacking of the U.S. elections and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, the commission thought their little action would go unnoticed.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, a watchdog agency in the federal government 
that monitors civil rights law enforcement, announced last Friday that it would launch a two-year assessment of the executive branch. In other words, they would look into  Donald Trump's fledgling record on civil rights.

If the Donald doesn't fire them first. We all know how Trump hates being investigated. He fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former FBI director James Comey. He's contemplating firing the federal prosecutor assigned to investigate Russian involvement in the last election and rumors have it that he is not happy with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“The Commission, by majority vote, expresses concern with the Administration’s proposed budget cuts to and planned staff losses in numerous programs and civil rights offices across the federal government that enforce our nation’s federal civil rights laws,” the commission said in a statement.

“Along with changing programmatic priorities, these proposed cuts would result in a dangerous reduction of civil rights enforcement across the country, leaving communities of color, LGBT people, older people, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups exposed to greater risk of discrimination.”

“For 60 years, Congress has charged the commission to monitor federal civil rights enforcement and recommend necessary change. We take this charge seriously, and we look forward to reporting our findings to Congress, the President, and the American people,” Commission Chair Catharine Lhamon said in a statement.

Other members of the OCR are Debo Adegbile, Gail Heriot, Karen Narasaki, Patricia Timmons-Goodson, David Kladney, Peter N. Kirsanow and Michael Yaki.

The Commission expresses concern with the administration's proposed budget cuts to and planned staff losses in numerous programs and civil rights offices across the federal government that enforce our nation's federal civil rights laws. 

The proposed cuts, says the commission, would result in a dangerous reduction of civil rights enforcement across the country, leaving communities of color, LIGBT people, older people, people with disabilities and other marginalized groups exposed to greater risk of discrimination. 

The Commission is particularly concerned with the following: Department of Justice actions indicate it is minimizing its civil rights efforts. The DOJ is slated to lose about 150 positions.

Other departments that will come under the scrutiny of the commission study are the Departments of Education, Labor Environmental Protection, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Legal Services Corporation.

Psst. Don't tell Trump.


There’s a Ken doll for almost everyone ...

YOU CAN'T  really fault the Barbie doll manufacturer with its attempt to diversify its products.

Like many other companies, Mattel learned that diversity is good for business since its market is growing increasing diverse. The blond, unrealistic proportions of its original Barbie doll were damaging to many young girls' self-images, most of whom were not blond and none of whom could match the skinny waist and generous bosom of Barbie.

Mattel says the diversity movement in its doll products, the "Fashionistas" line — of which the new Ken doll is now a part — has seen double digit growth globally since its roll-out.

The first step, of course, was creating a bunch of new Barbie dolls reflecting the different races, ethnicities and a variety of more realistic body types.

Step two: Doing the same thing for the Ken doll, Barbie's boyfriend(s). There's the lineup: blacks, blonds, Latinos, a couple of blondes, short ones, tall ones and even one sporting a man-bun wearing a Hawaiian shirt (I can only surmise he's Polynesian.) 

One question though. Where's the Asian version of Ken? 

We're told he's this one:

Uh. Why does the Asian doll look so caucasian? Nothing against hapas, but if we're talking about diversifying the Ken line, why not really show the differences? Again, not disparaging mixed race Asians like Darren Criss, but wouldn't actors Steven Yeun or John Cho been better models for the "Asian" doll?

And why - oh, why - is the purported Asian version of the Ken doll the only one wearing horn-rimmed glasses?

"We are redefining what a Barbie or Ken doll looks like to this generation," Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and general manager, Barbie, said in a press release. McKnight says the new Ken, "allows girls to further personalize the role they want him to play in Barbie's world."

The new "Kens" - the gang's all here.


3 Asian American sailors among those killed in ship accident

Damage to the USS Fitzgerald was shown to the media.

 THREE of the seven sailors who were killed when a container ship collided with the U.S.S. Fitzgerald were Asian Americans: 

Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass
Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, California was Japanese/American; Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Conn. was Vietnamese/American; and Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, Calif. was Filipino/American.

With their four shipmates who also died, they represented the diversity that is America.

The other victims were Gunner's Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia; Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland; and Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio.

Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos
Victor Ganzon Sibayan,
All of the container ship ACX Crystal's 20-member Filipino crew were safe, according to Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen K.K., which operates the ship, which was much larger than the destroyer.

The cause of the collision is still under investigation.

Acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley said in a statement, "We are all deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our fellow shipmates. ... As details emerge, we can all be proud of the heroic effort by the crew to tend to the needs of those injured and save the ship from further damage while returning safely to port."

Douglass' family said Shingo was proud of his Japanese heritage. He was born at the naval hospital in Okinawa and spent many summers as a boy in Japan, where to learned how to speak Japanese fluently.

Sonar Technician 3rd Class
Ngoc T Truong Huynh
Sibayan, most recently of Chula Vista, was a 2012 graduate of Chaparral High School, in Temecula, Calif. where he was active in the school's Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program for four years, according to City News Service.

“If you never met my son, you missed a whole lot. In every sense of the word he is my hero… The way Carlos is, when you need help, he’ll help you with his whole being,” said Sibayan's mother, Carmen.

Lan Huynh said her brother was quiet, yet had the "brightest smile" and was the "sweetest human being" she knew.

The family moved to Connecticut when Ngoc Huynh was in the eighth grade, she said. Her brother graduated from Watertown High School and also attended Naugatuck Valley Community College before enlisting in the Navy in 2014.

"I just want everyone know that he was the best brother ever," she said.

The collision occurred in the early morning hours of June 17 when most of the crew was asleep. The victims were found in a compartment flooded with sea water. The sailors might have been killed by the impact of the collision or drowned in the flooding, said Navy spokesman Lt. Paul Newell.

The bodies of the victims were flown back to the United States.

Donald Trump didn't tweet condolences until June 19 and when he finally did, the Internet let him know what they thought about the delay.