Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Profiles in Disapppointment - Sen. John McCain

The John McCain memorial in Hanoi

IN A RECENT TOUR of Hanoi, our tour bus cruised past a memorial commemorating McCain's imprisonment. The bus didn't stop, didn't even pause for photographs. By the time the guide announced it, we were way pass the monument to see the details. 

Sitting in the back seat of the bus, I was able to get a better look than others on the bus and managed to click a few shots of the memorial. 

I couldn't believe what I saw. The memorial was of a man being hung by his arms, head bowed. That was John McCain and the reason the senator can't raise his arms above his shoulders to this day. The torture he endured in his six years as a POW during the Vietnam War is unimaginable.

McCain's heroism and patriotism cannot be questioned. But Donald Trump ridiculed the hero during the 2016 presidential campaign. "I like people who were not captured," he said.

Sen. John McCain giving his speech Tuesday.
I have had so much respect for the man since he first ran for office. That's why I'm disappointed in the John McCain of 2017.

Senator McCain gave one of his best speeches today (July25) when he spoke in front of the Senate after the vote to open debate on the House's Trumpcare bill that would have 22 millioin people lose their health insurance.

Just days after an operation, Arizona's senator gave an emotional speech seemingly rebuking the GOP's procedure that created a health plan behind closed doors. “I. Will. Not. Vote. For. This. Bill. As it is today," he pronounced emphatically. "It's a shell of a bill right now. We all know that.”

A few hours later, he inexplicitly voted in favor of repealing the ACA. Fortunately, the Republicans lost that vote, 43-57, far short of the to votes needed to pass. (It would be 50-50 and then Veep Pence would break the tie as he did in the vote to open debate.)

McCain has not hesitated to criticize Trump, especially in regards to the Russia connection. He has questioned Trump's knowledge on national security issues and foreign relations. McCain has even been the target of Trump's slings when Trump rediculed the former prisoner of war's service record.

But when it comes to a vote, as in the Obamacare repeal vote, McCain has consistently followed the party line, choosing party over country.

McCain's own state is one of 31 states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA, and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey is worried about tens of thousands losing their health insurance. His constituents would applaud him if McCain voted against any version of Trumpcare and instead helped the Democrats fix the flaws in the ACA.
His vote Monday to repeal the current health care law even though there is no plan to replace it, was in stark contrast to the inspirational words that he uttered earlier in the day.

McCain blasted the way Republican leaders conjured up the healthcare proposal, “coming up with a proposal behind closed doors in consultation with the administration, then springing it on skeptical members, trying to convince them that it was better than nothing.

“I don’t think that’s going to work in the end, and it probably shouldn’t,” he said

“I. Will. Not. Vote. For. This. Bill." proclaimed McCain. 

The senator will have a chance to redeem himself in the coming days when Trump and the GOP try to repeal Obamacare or make it so watered down it will be doomed to fail. Words - no matter how noble or eloquent -- ring hollow and mean absolutely nothing if they are not turned into action.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

U.S. mathletes finished fourth in the world

The 2016 matheletes went to Brazil for the international competition of high school students.

THE UNITED STATES Mathematical Olympiad team finished fourth this year at the International Mathematical Olympiads held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"We are very proud to be among the top five scoring teams again this year, highlighting our country's consistent mathematical talent and problem-solving capabilities among our high school students," said Michael Pearson, executive director of the MAA.

Five of the six members of the team were Asian/Americans. They were chosen from 3000 high school competitors from across the nation. The American team finished behind

Korea, China and Vietnam.
The members of the 2017 U.S. team sent to Rio de Janiero  are: Ankan Bhattacharya, Zachary Chroman, Andrew Gu, Vincent Huang, James Lin, and Junyao Peng.

Lin from Massachusetts, placed sixth out of more than 600 students who competed in the International Mathematical Olympiad. All six team USA members were in the top 103 scorers of the entire competition.

They were accompanied by coach Po-Shen Loh, professor of mathematics at Carnegie Mellon University, and deputy coach was Brian Lawrence, a graduate student at Stanford University.

The son of immigrants from Singapore, Po was on the team in 1999. But when he took over as coach three years ago, the United States hadn't won in 20 years.

When ranking students from 71 countries, the U.S. consistently tested in the bottom half.

"If you just constantly challenge and enjoy the love of doing better today than you did yesterday, then you will be on an onward march towards success," Po said.

Since Po has taken over as coach three years ago, the U.S. has placed first in 2015 and 2016 and fourth this year. 

The competition based its scores on the number of points scored by individual team members on six problems. The competition lasted two days and teams were given 4.5 hours to work three problems.

The U.S. team of the International Mathematical Olympiad prepares at a training camp at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

WTF!? Trump ignores little Asian girls

MAINSTREAM MEDIA missed this one completely but some eagle-eye Asian/Americans brought this to my attention. In the bigger scheme of things, the incident probably should go unnoticed, but as an Asian/American, I just couldn't let it go.

On Monday (July 24), Donald Trump gave a speech heavily criticizing the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, at the White House. His goal is to pressure Senate Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Just before delivering the statement, Trump met with families who described themselves as “victims of Obamacare.” They served as a backdrop to Trump's message, a not-so-veied attempt to pressure GOP Senators to vote to approve debate on the House proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

I should point out that of the 15 young people acting as that backdrop, two little girls were Asian, standing in the front row. 

As Trump was introduced by Vice President Pence, Trump started to greet the young people in the front. After shaking hands of the white kids on the right, he went directly to the white kids on the left --- BYPASSING the Asian girls standing the middle of the front row.

One can say that Trump didn't mean anything by ignoring the only children of color. But, that's just the point. The girls, politely waiting to greet the man their parents support, were not significant enough (to him) tor Trump to even notice them. To him, they were invisible.

Trump would be the first to say that he's not racist. Let me correct that. Trump sould be the first to tweet that he's not racist. He may actually really believe that.

But one wonders if deep down in his subconscious -- so deep he might not even know that he harbors these sentiments towards people of color. In moments like this one, where Trump isn't thinking about strategies, fake media, Russia and all the problems of the world, in a rather innocuous act, it just might reveal something about the White House occupant.

Am I making a mountain out of molehill?  In the context of his feelings towards Mexicans, Muslims, "the" Blacks, his speech in Poland where he declared himself the protector of the West, mocking Japanese businessmen's accent, the way he spits out "CHIna," his speech before 40,000 brown-shirted Boy Scouts -- if you get enough molehills together it becomes a mountain. 

Trump is not alone in having the inability to see Asians. Ever been passed over for a promotion? Have your comments ignored in a meeting? Have a clerk speak to the person behind you even though you've been waiting patiently to be noticed? Or, you're waiting in line and someone just cuts in front of you because ... you know ... they don't see you? 

You be the judge.

Mindy Kalling took part in a commercial a couple of years ago that makes fun of this phenomenon. Watch below.


LOL - Trump blocks Chrissy Teigen

CHRISSY TEIGEN has joined an exclusive club. Donald Trump has blocked her on Twitter!
This - apparently - was the last straw.

There's no love lost. The super model and social media queen is not losing any sleep over it.

The Lip Sync Battle hostess, who is part Thai, and her husband singer John Legend have been trolling Trump for years, even before he ran for president.

Speaking to USA Today in February, Teigen said she has "actually been a big Donald Trump hater [for a long time]. I've been trolling him for about five to seven years now. I've been doing this forever, and I take pride in that."

Things got serious for Teigen when Trump declared his candidacy for president.

And then, Donald Trump became the White House occupant.

Teigen is the latest high-profile star to be blocked by the POTUS, joining Rosie O'Donnell and Stephen King. Some Twitter users who've been blocked have filed a lawsuit in federal court, arguing that the president can't stop people from communicating with him, reports The Washington Post.

Tiger only wonders - why did it take so long?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Gal Gadot comforts young Wonder Woman fan at Comic Con 2017

Gal Gadot comforts her young fan at ComiCon in San Deigo Sunday (July 23).

A YOUNG Asian/American girl was so overcome, she began to cry tears of joy at meeting the actress who portrayed Wonder Woman at ComicCon in San Diego last weekend.
Footage captured at the annual event showed Gal Gadot and the young girl, Ashley Keller, who met Gadot at an autograph session while wearing a Wonder Woman outfit.

When Ashley became overwhelmed and began to cry, Gadot reached across the table and held her hand. 
“There’s no reason to cry, all right?” says Gadot. “Here we are together.”

"These characters matter and can have a huge influence on young people.," wrote Ashley's mother Christine Keller. "What a great role model and genuine, nice person. My daughter will always remember this moment for the rest of her life. Thank you, Gal Gadot!"

Keller, author of “The Adventures of Danica Dreamer,” said the encounter had a big impact on her little girl.  She was so happy to meet her that she was tearing up,” her mother, tweeted.

“You’re a warrior,” added Ezra Miller, who plays the Flash in Justice League. “Your ability to cry is what makes you such a warrior. Come join the Justice League whenever you get ready.”

The empowering impact of Wonder Woman was on display throughout ComicCon. Wonder Woman and the Amazons were favorites of the cosplayers throughout the four-day event.

The movie, which is a blockbuster hit, is the first superhero movie featuring a woman lead. During the convention, it was announced that there would be a sequal starring Gadot.

Say goodbye to the Sand Snakes in GOT; we hardly got to know ye

Two Sand Snakes down. Obara (Keisha Castle-Hughs) left and Nymeria (jessica Henwick), were killed off in
Game of Thrones. Only Tyene (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers), center, remains.

IT WAS the best of times. It was the worst of times. (How's that for originality?)

Two of the unpopular Sand Snakes in Game of Thrones met their brutal ends in the second episode of Season 7.

The trio of deadly daughters called the Sand Snakes, a.k.a. the bastard daughters of Oberyn Martell, never really caught on with the audience. Their bad-ass and sexy attitudes couldn't overcome the general nastiness and mean-spiritness of Nymeria (Jessica Henwick), Obara (Keisha Castle-Hughes), and Tyene (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers) .

Henwick, part Chinese, and Castle-Hughs, part-Maori, two of the beautiful, but unlikeable trio died in an epic battle on the high seas in the fictional world of Game of Thrones created by George R.R. Martin. With their deaths, that leaves only the widow of Oberyn Martell, Ellaria, played by Indira Varma, (whose mother is Indian) left to represent the Asian and Pacific Island actors in one of the most popular TV series in the world.

Henwick, explains to Entertainment Weekly why her truncated role was difficult:

"They had to introduce three characters all at once and differentiate them. When you’re limited to an introduction of two lines per character and there are four characters in the scene—during our introduction scene in Season 5—it’s hard to create a lasting impression. You kind of have to shove a character down the audience’s throat and Game of Thrones’ success is in its multifaceted characters. At the time it was definitely frustrating feeling like there’s so much potential here, and a lot of the stuff that we shot didn’t make the final cut. It was hard."

Indeed, in the books, the Sand Snakes numbered seven (Oberyn fooled around a lot) and each of their characters were fully rounded out.

“It’s always fun playing Obara. It’s always fun and terrifying because she’s a psycho,” said Castle-Hughes reacting to Obara’s Season 7 fate. “So the thing is that I always get to do stuff that you never in your wildest dreams imagine with spears and fighting alongside my sisters. So there’s always an adrenaline rush.”

Getting Henwick back on the set of GOT was a feat in itself because, her Sand Snake role got her noticed by Hollywood and helped land her in what may be her "breakout" role in Netflix's series Iron Fist after an unremarkable few minutes in Star Wars: Rogue One.

Jessica Henwick's popular character in 'Iron Fist' is a bad-ass martial artist.
She had to shoot her fight scenes in a couple of weekends and over the Christmas break in order to fit it into the actress' now-busy schedule.

Henwick agrees that she and her sister Obara meet rather “brutal” ends. The sisters end the episode draped or strung up on the prow of a ship.

Their "mother" Ellaria and surviving sister were taken captive and it looks pretty grim for them in the show known for killing off major characters.

Henwick acknowledges she owes her rising star to her time on GOT. “Overall, given the size of the character, I’ve been very happy with how it’s come out. It is what it is. There’s nothing I can say, really.”

It's sad to see the two actresses leave the show but they don't have time to moan their characters' demise. 

Henwick will continue her Iron Fist character in the upcoming Defender series and Iron Fist got the approval for a second season and she has a thriller-type movie coming in 2018, Underwater, with Kristen Stewart.

Castle-Hugh's already has a project set to debut Aug. 1, Manhunt: Unabomber. The scripted miniseries is based on the true story of how the FBI caught terrorist Ted Kaczynski, who managed to send over a dozen bombs through the mail over two decades, killing three and injuring 23. Castle-Hughes plays FBI agent named Tabby who is based on several real women who worked in the San Francisco FBI office on the Unabomber case.

Immigrants continue to make America great

IF NOT for immigrants, Silicon Valley could still be filled with fruit orchards and U.S. hospitals would lose over a quarter of its workforce

Without immigrants and their families, there would be no Tesla, no Yahoo, no EBay and no Apple. Hospitals would be dangerously short staffed. Research and development, which creates jobs and the economy of the future, would be impaired and the United States would lose its position as the world's economic powerhouse.

Forty-two percent of California’s workers in science, technology, engineering and math occupations were born in a foreign nation, according a recent analysis by the American Immigration Council, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.

“The importance of foreign-born workers in STEM occupations cannot be overstated,” according to the same report. “As the demand for STEM workers continues to increase, foreign-born STEM workers will play a key role in U.S. productivity and innovation.”

The study, “Foreign-born STEM Workers in the United States.” looked at the occupational, gender, educational and geographic distribution of foreign-born STEM workers in the U.S., using 2015 survey data by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Most of Donald Trump's immigration measures have been focusing in securing our borders and adding further restrictions against Muslims and refugees from six countries. His rhetoric and the actions taken by his administration have given rise to an anti-immigrant sentiment from his supporters resulting in acts of hate, from beatings, shootings and burning of mosques.

Nationally, about one-quarter of the nation’s STEM workforce is foreign-born, according to the report. It has grown significantly in recent years, doubling from 11.9 percent in 1990 to 24.3 percent in 2015, according to the AIC, which studies immigration to the United States.

STEM employment varies a great deal by state. For example, in 2015, using the narrow definition, the foreign-born made up more than 40 percent of all STEM workers in New Jersey (43.8 percent) and California (42.4 percent). In 16 other states, the foreign-born make up 20 percent or more of all STEM workers.

When the health and social science occupations are added, foreign-born STEM workers make up slightly smaller shares of the STEM workforce in all but four states. In Alaska, Hawaii, North Dakota, and Wyoming, the share of STEM workers that is foreign-born is higher when using the broader definition of STEM occupations, indicating that foreign-born workers are more numerous in health care and education occupations.

In 2015, using the broader definition of STEM, foreign-born workers made up more than 20 percent of the STEM workforce in 12 states. The states with the highest shares of foreign-born in STEM occupations were: California (36.8 percent); New Jersey (35.8 percent); and New York (29.4 percent). Foreign-born STEM workers made up at least 2.8 percent of the STEM workforce in all 50 states.

More than 40 percent of companies in the Fortune 500 in 2010 were founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant employing thousands of U.S.-born workers and spurring employment in related businesses.

One study of workplaces found that adding 100 foreign-born workers in STEM fields with advanced degrees from U.S. universities led to an additional 262 jobs for U.S.-born workers.

The AIC study also found that the nation’s foreign-born STEM workers are more highly educated than their U.S.-born co-workers. Almost half, or 47 percent, of foreign-born STEM workers had five or more years of college, compared to 26 percent of all STEM workers.

As demand grows in these fields, so will the need for an educated workforce. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that STEM occupations will increase about 13 percent from 2012 to 2022, compared to 11 percent projected for all occupations.

“While increasing the number of native-born Americans in STEM fields is critical,” the report concluded, “foreign-born STEM students and workers may still be needed if the United States is to be prepared for future labor needs and excel globally.”


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Hawaii soldier Indicted for attempting to provide material support to ISIS

A federal grand jury in Honolulu indicted a U.S. soldier Friday (July 21) for allegedly attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State group.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Kang was arrested by an FBI SWAT team on July 8. Kang was ordered held without bail.

An indictment was returned July 21 charging Sgt. First Class Kang, 34, stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Sgt. Ikaika Kang
The grand jury indictment, which was filed on July 19, charged Kang with four counts of attempting to provide material support to ISIS, based on events that occurred in Hawaii between June 21 and July 8. 

The indictment and an earlier criminal complaint allege that Kang met with undercover agents of the FBI whom he believed to be affiliated with ISIS and provided military information, some of which was classified at the SECRET level. 

Kang is also charged with providing property (a drone,s military clothing and equipment) and training (instruction on combat techniques and weapons training which was videotaped for future use by ISIS) to undercover agents whom he believed to be affiliated with ISIS.

Kang will appear in court on July 24, for an arraignment and plea on the charges, at which time a trial date will be scheduled.

Kang's court-appointed attorney, Birney Bervar, told The Associated Press Friday that the indictment was expected. Bervar said his client was "a decorated American soldier for 10 years, goes to Afghanistan and comes back and things start going off the rails.” He said his client will plead not guilty on Monday when a federal judge will set a trial date.

Bervar said he is working on getting Kang a mental health evaluation and that his client may suffer from service-related mental health issues.

Kang enlisted in the Army in December 2001, just months after the Sept. 11 attacks. He served in South Korea from 2002 to 2003. He deployed to Iraq from March 2010 to February 2011. 

Sgt. Ikaika Kang had been trained as an air traffic controller and was one of the army's highly trained combat instructors.

The Army said it was aware of Kang's pro-Isis sentiments in 2011 but kept him in the service to build a case and to see if he was connected to a terrorist group. The FBI said that Kang acted on his own accord.

Kang's father told Honolulu television station KHON and the Star-Advertiser newspaper his son may have had post-traumatic stress disorder. Kang told the newspaper he became concerned after his son's return from Afghanistan. He said his son became withdrawn after Afghanistan.

"He was reprimanded on several occasions for threatening to hurt or kill other service members, and for arguing pro-ISIS views while at work and on-post,” according to the affidavit. “Due to these remarks and threats, Kang’s security clearance was revoked in 2012, but reinstated the following year after Kang complied with military requirements stemming from the investigation.”

He was assigned to duty in Afghanistan in 2013-2014.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. If convicted of the charges, 

Kang faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine for each count. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Taryn Meeks of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ken Sorenson and Marc Wallenstein.


Judge upholds injunction vs. Trump punishing 'sanctuary' local governments

IN ANOTHER SETBACK to the Donald Trump administration, a federal judge in California has denied the Department of Justice's request to remove an injunction halting the withholding of federal monies from local governments not assisting the enforcement of immigration policies.

On Thursday (July 20) U.S. District Judge William Orrick III in San Francisco upheld the injunction preventing any withholding of federal funding to those government entities not cooperating with immigration officers. The judge said the narrower interpretation released by Sessions did not alter the court's initial April decision to impose the block on Trump's executive order.

In ruling against the Trump administration's motion, Orrick said that "that the Counties have standing, that their claims against the Executive Order are ripe, and that they are likely to succeed on the merits of those claims."

Trump issued the order in January directing that funding be slashed to all jurisdictions that refuse to comply with a statute that requires local governments to share information with immigration authorities.

The so-called sanctuary jurisdictions generally do not offer assistance to ICE when the immigration officers conduct their enforcement duties. Dozens of local governments and cities, including San Francisco, Santa Clara County, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, have joined the growing “sanctuary” movement.
The Trump administration contends that local authorities endanger public safety when they decline to hand over for deportation undocumented immigrants arrested for crimes.

However, research and studies have shown that developing trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities make those communities safer. If local law enforcement is used to enforce immigraiton laws, that trusting relationship would be replaced by distrust, suspicion and fear.

After Trump issued the sanctuary cities executive order earlier this year, Santa Clara County — which includes the city of San Jose and several smaller Silicon Valley communities — sued, saying it was unconstitutional. San Francisco filed a similar lawsuit.

In a ruling in April, Orrick said Trump’s order targeted broad categories of federal funding for sanctuary governments and that plaintiffs challenging the order were likely to succeed in proving it unconstitutional.

"If there was doubt about the scope of the Order, the President and Attorney General have erased it with their public comments," Orrick wrote. "The Constitution vests the spending power in Congress, not the President, so the Order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds."

“Once again, the District Court has sent a message to President Trump that he cannot use the threat of withholding funds to coerce local governments into becoming federal immigration operatives—an unconstitutional effort that puts at risk vital services for millions of people across the country,” said Dave Cortese, President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

TGIF FEATURE: A glimpse of Kelly Lee Tran in 'The Last Jedi'

Kelly Marie Tran will star in the 'The Last Jedi.'

WE'RE GETTING more excited about The last Jedi, the 8th installment in the Star Wars nine-movie swashbuckling space saga.

The behind-the-scenes clip released recently guves us a glimpse of Star Wars latest heroic figure played by Vietnamese American Kelly Marie Tran, 28, who is a relative unknown. But fr the part, she had to beat out some of Hollywood's big names such as Tatiana Maslany, Olivia Cooke, Anna Kendrick and Gina Rodriguez 

Not too much is known about Tran's character's role in the Resistance, except that her name is Rose and she is not one of the more glamorous fighter pilots or mysterious jedi. She's just a maintenance person. Somehow, she gets pulled into playing a bigger role in upending the evil Empire.

"I was geeking out," said Tran upon seeing the clip. "It's so cool."
From the clip, we can see that she is very much involved in the plotline and will play a significant role in the telling of the story.

During the 5-month audition process, casting directors were looking for an actress who had chemistry with key character Finn played by John Boyega, hinting that there might be some interaction between the two. A love interest, perhaps?

“The dynamic between them is very interesting,” Boyega told ET. “Finn sees a lot of himself in her, and she’s still trying to figure out her place. She’s not a soldier. She’s not a pilot. She’s trying to figure out what can she impart that’s important to the good fight. And so they both have to figure that out together.”

As for Tran, she told ET that she couldn’t believe that she’s now part of the Star Wars world. “Part of me was like, ‘Is this a dream? Pinch myself. Is this a dream?’ That’s kind of been the last two years of my life, a dream,” the actress said.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is set to be released in December, 2017,

Hollywood Reporter: AAPI celebrities most popular on social media

Dwayne Johnson maintains a close connection with his fans through social media

ASIAN AMERICANS and Pacific Islander celebrities lead The Hollywood Reporter's Top Actors chart for a third week and regained the No. 1 spot for Top TV Personalities.

Samoan/American actor Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson maintains his popularity in social media and Korean/American Joanna Gaines of HGTV's Fixer Upper kept her crown among  TV personalities.
The Top Actors and Top TV Personalities charts are a ranking of the most popular actors on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Google Plus, with global data provided by social media analytics company MVPindex. The chart's methodology blends social engagement on the platforms along with weekly additions of followers/subscribers. The latest tracking week ended July 11.
Priyanka Chopra, Gal Gadot, Kevin Hart and Hugh Jackman also vault into the top 10, behind Johnson and Zendaya, who remain at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively. Filipino/Canadian  actress Shay Mitchell moved to the No. 4 spot.
See the top 5 below (and for the full 25-position chart, check out the Hollywood Reporter issue dated July 12), and for more charts on The Hollywood Reporter, check out the Top Comedians and Top TV Personalities charts.
1. Dwayne Johnson
2. Zendaya
3. Priyanka Chopra
4. Shay Mitchell
5. Jennifer Lopez
After leading the inaugural Top TV Personalities chart on The Hollywood Reporter, Joanna Gaines returns to No. 1 for a second week overall.

Gaines takes over the top spot from Tyra Banks, who had led the previous two weeks. Meanwhile, Anthony Bourdain and Anderson Cooper both enter the top 10.

Social media has emerged as a new way to promote films and TV programs and events. It allows people like Johnson and Gaines to promote their products and reach out to an audience in a more intimate and direct manner.

Johnson, for example, a former professional wrestler, has a fan base all over the globe—evident from his 45.6 million Instagram followers and 54.6 million Facebook fans

He has a personal relationship with his followers. The actor, who is part African/American and part Samoan, is only happy to share glimpses into his own life, such as the birth of his new daughter, with his fans, making him all the more three-dimensional and ‘lifelike’ to loyal followers.
Johnson is not the best actor nor does he appear in Oscar-worthy projects, but he wholly accepts his role in Hollywood. He’s happy making popular movies, “popcorn flicks” if you will, that his fans will enjoy, and he knows exactly how to sell them.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Grandparents exempt from travel ban, says Supreme Court

GRANDPARENTS can breathe a bit easier today. The Supreme Court ruled today (July 19) that they are still part of the family.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Hawaiian court's ruling that widened the definition of family members of six Muslim-dominant countries who would still be allowed to enter the U.S.

The order issued Wednesday leaves in place the action of U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Kahala  Watson, who extended the administration's definition of close family to also include categories such as the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins of a person in the U.S.
RELATED: Judge expands 'family' to include grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins
One aspect of Watson's order did not pass muster with the Supreme Court though. People who have a formal relationship or sponsorship with a refugee resettlement are not eligible to enter the U.S. That portion of Watson’s decision is stayed pending an appeal to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

While waiting for the 9th Circuit ruling, 24,000 refugees the government says has been given such assurances will not be able to get into the country. Another 175,000 refugees are in limbo waiting to be connected with a resettlement agency. In effect, Hawaii argues, “many of those refugees…will be unable to demonstrate any other form of bona fide relationship with an American party, meaning that they will be absolutely barred from entering the country in the next several months.”


Hawaii Five-0: CBS announces replacements for Kim and Park

New to Hawaii Five-0: BEaule Koaala, Meaghan Rath and Anthony Dale.

THREE LEAVE, THREE COME IN: When Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park left Hawaii Five-0 coupled with the earlier departure of recurring regular Masi Oka, CBS had three roles to fill and a huge PR problem to overcome.
Hawaii Five-0 producers today (July 19) announced new cast members to replace the three Asian/American and Pacific Island actors who left, Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park and Masi Oka.
After being roundly crushed in the media and social media for their shoddy handling of the AAPI stars, it was not surprising that the three new cast members are Asian/American and Pacific Islander: Ian Anthony Dale is half-Japanese, Meaghan Rath is half-South Asian and Beulah Koale is of Samoan descent.

Dale has recurred on Hawaii Five-0 since season two as the husband to Park’s Kono — Adam Noshimuri, a former Yakuza and trusted resource for the team who will now be recruited by McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) to work for Five-0. The casting keeps Dale in the CBS family after his lead role on the network’s little-watched summer drama Salvation. He is also starring in this summer's sci-fi show Salvation.

Rath (Being Human, Rogue, New Girl) will play Tani Rey, who McGarrett recruits after finding her working as a lifeguard at a hotel pool after she was kicked out of the Police Academy, despite being a first-rate candidate.

Koale (the upcoming Thank You For Your Service) will portray Junior Reigns, a former Navy SEAL who just returned from serving his country and asks McGarrett, a fellow SEAL, for a job, hoping to repurpose his skills as a member of Five-0.

Aloha, (from left) Daniel Dae Kim, Masi Oka and Grace Park. 
The absence of the characters played by Kim and Park, Chin Ho Kelly and Kona Kalakaua will be explained in the show's season 8 premiere in September.

CBS said that Kim and Park were offered "substantial raises," but even with the raises, they were still not on parr with their costars, who also were receiving a portion of the profits of the show's profits and revenue from reruns, which is basically offering them a lifetime revenue stream.

Kim and Park could easily have accepted the contract terms and lived a comfortable life, but at some point they decided to take a stand. While Kim has been outspoken about the need for representation in the entertainment industry, Park has yet to issue a statement and has remained silent since her departure was announced.

On his Facebook page, Kim issued a statement thanking his fans and CBS. "As an Asian American actor, I know first-hand how difficult it is to find opportunities at all," later adding, "The path to equality is rarely easy."

Costar Oka, who decided to leave the show in January, emailed a statement to NPR:

"I was as saddened as anyone to learn of Daniel and Grace leaving Hawaii Five-0 but I, probably more so than most, understand their reason for doing so. Sometimes you have to draw the line in the sand for something you believe in and something for which you stand. While pay equality was not my personal primary decision to leave ... I support [Kim] and [Park] in their decision to stand up for what they believe is right."

The Kim/Park departures also put a spotlight on CBS paltry efforts to reflect America and the tendency for the white decision makers to always put white characters in the lead and - if we're lucky - actors of color playing second fiddle.

Of CBS new shows being presented this fall, only one - S.W.A.T. - will feature an actor of color in a lead role. No women will headline a new show.

Dale, Rath and Koale are all talented actors and I wish them well. CBS and the show's producers think that replacing the departing actors might placate Hawaii Five-0's critics and dampen the uproar and stem a growing movement to boycott the show. What the CBS execs must learn is that the issue wasn't simple a salary dispute. It was about respect and equality.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hollywood eyes movie about Dan Inosanto, Filipino American martial artist

Dan Inosanto, left, was Bruce Lee's best student.

A MOVIE is in the works about Dan Inosanto, reputedly Bruce Lee's best student, who also introduced Lee to the Philippine martial arts escrima and kali.

The Mark Gordon Company, the veteran production banner whose credits range from Saving Private Ryan to the upcoming remake of Murder on the Orient Express, is developing the story of the Filipino/American master of several martial arts, including jeet kune do and escrima.

Dan Inosanto on the cover of 'Black Belt.'
Jeet Kune Do - derived from kung fu - was developed by pop culture icon Lee. Escrima is a Filipino weapons based martial art, often relying on two sticks.

Lee and Inosanto were best friends as each taught the other their martial art. Lee often used escrima techniques in his movies, most notably in Lee's best known movie, the classic Enter the Dragon.

Inosanto has been a fight coordinator on several movies and appeared in Enter the Dragon. Inosanto, in his 70s, continues to teach. Among his students are several movie stars including Denzel Washington and Forest Whitacker and MMA's Anderson Silva.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, MGC’s Mark Gordon and Matt Jackson will produce the film along with Diana Lee Inosanto, Inosanto’s daughter and Lee’s goddaughter.

No information about casting for this motion picture.