Monday, October 15, 2018

California senators will oppose Trump's Asian American judicial picks


California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris vow to oppose the nominations of Patrick Bumatay,
 lower left, and Kenneth Kiyul Lee, lower right, to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

A POLITICAL HAND GRENADE was lobbed by Donald Trump at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals placing Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris in tough spot.

Trump nominated five appeals court judicial nominees are Joseph F. Bianco and Michael H. Park for the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals; Patrick J. Bumatay, Kenneth Kiyul Lee and Daniel P. Collins for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

All five were all recommended by the ultra-conservative Federalist Society, which approves candidates based on their adherence to conservative values. The two Trump newest picks for the U.S. Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh were on the list of candidates approved by and are members of the Federalist Society.

So, even though Park, Bumatay and Lee are Asian Americans, their nominations are problematic and viewed as Trump's attempt an end-round against Feinstein's and Harris' expected opposition.

In nominating this latest wave of would-be jurists, Trump continues his mission to remake the federal judgeships to reflect his radical agenda.

The nominations for the 9th Circuit, in particular, were seen as a slap at Senators Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harris, both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and outspoken to their opposition to the nomination of Kavanaugh.

Traditionally, the circuit court judges are approved by the home state senators prior to their nominations but negotiations between the senators and the White House couldn't come to an agreement. The California senators vowed to oppose Trump's nominees even though their opposition might appear to divide the Asian American and LGBTQ communities, which have largely thrown their support to the senators.

Bumatay, if appointed to the bench, would  become the second openly gay jurist on a circuit court of appeals but the first in the 9th circuit.

Bumatay, a Filipino American, is an Assistant United States Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, where he is a member of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Forces Section. He is currently detailed to the Office of the Attorney General Jeff Sessions, where he serves as advisor to Sessions on the national opioid crisis and transnational organized crime.

Bumatay has also served in other positions in the DOJ and graduating fromfrom Yale University and his earning his J.D. from Harvard Law School, he clerked for several judges.

He is a member of the National Filipino American Lawyers Association (NFALA), the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Tom Homann LGBT Law Association, and the Federal Bar Association. Bumatay is also a member of the Federalist Society.

Lee is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Jenner & Block LLP, where his practice focuses on appellate litigation and internal investigations, and where he serves on the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Lee provides pro bono, or free, legal representation to indigent and incarcerated clients, according to his bio.

Lee also once served as Associate Counsel to President George W. Bush.

After law school, Lee clerked for Judge Emilio M. Garza of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. Lee earned his A.B. from Cornell University, summa cum laude,and his J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School. The Federalist Society likes him for his position on the Affordable Care Act.

Nominated for the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, Park is a partner in the New York City office of Consovoy McCarthy Park PLLC where he focuses on securities, criminal, commercial, administrative, and constitutional law, The White House said. Park served as an Attorney-Adviser in the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel, where he advised the White House and other Executive Branch officials on a variety of complex matters, according to his bio.

Park earned his B.A. from Princeton University and his J.D. from Yale Law School, after which he clerked for Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito.

He’s an adjunct professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Supreme Court Historical Society, the Board of Directors of Operation Exodus Inner City, and the Asian American Bar Association of New York, which listed him one of the Best Lawyers Under 40’ in 2013.

Upon hearing about Trump's list of judges, Feinstein issued a sharp press statement:
I repeatedly told the White House I wanted to reach an agreement on a package of 9th Circuit nominees, but last night the White House moved forward without consulting me, picking controversial candidates from its initial list and another individual with no judicial experience who had not previously been suggested.
I met with Don McGahn (Trump's White House counsel) on June 27 to discuss the vacancies and explained that Senator Harris and I strongly opposed Daniel Collins. I also told him Kenneth Lee had problems because he failed to disclose to our judicial selection committees controversial writings on voting rights and affirmative action.
Last week, a reporter contacted my office stating that multiple sources close to the White House said I had rejected an offer that included Lucy Koh, James Rogan and Daniel Collins. This was false; no offer had been made or rejected—either formally or informally. In fact, as soon as I learned from the reporter about this alleged package I immediately wrote to Don McGahn saying I would accept this White House proposal of Lucy Koh, James Rogan and a third nominee from the White House’s list. There was no response to my letter.
The decision to move forward with these nominees without consultation or responding to my acceptance of the White House offer reflects President Trump’s desire to remake the court. I expect my blue slips to be honored as I was acting in good faith.
The “blue slip” refers to a gentleman’s agreement, not a hard rule, that allows a U.S. senator to reject judicial nominees for their home state by refusing to return a positive blue slip to the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman.

If the Republicans on the Judicial Committee ignore Feinstein's objections, they could also see their "blue slips" ignored when they are in the minority.

The 9th Circuit Court is the largest in the nation with 29 judges. Largely seen as a liberal court, it has rejected or stayed several of Trump's attempts to make his executive orders into law, including the Muslim ban, the end of DACA and the withdrawal of federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities.

“Instead of working with our office to identify consensus nominees for the 9th Circuit, the White House continues to try to pack the courts with partisan judges who will blindly support the President’s agenda, instead of acting as an independent check on this Administration,” Lily Adams, Harris’ communications director, said in a statement.

Harvard's admission policies on trial; anti-Asian bias claimed



A LAWSUIT designed to alter the admittance policies at the nation’s elite universities will be heard beginning today (Monday, Oct. 15) in Massachusetts.
The discrimination case backed by the Trump administration puts Asian Americans at the center of the case, alleging that Harvard’s policies put Asian American applicants at a disadvantage.

RELATED: A closer look at affirmative action and Asian Americans
The case has many Asian American parents talking.

“They’ve heard about this lawsuit or they’ve heard through the grapevine that it’s harder to get admitted if they’re Asian,” said college counselor Alyson Tom to PRI. “I have some families that strongly believe that Asian American families are discriminated against in highly selective admissions. And I have other families who are not concerned about that and have faith in the system. It runs the full spectrum.”

The case, however it is decided, is expected to head to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. The court took a decided turn to the right with the addition of Brett Kavanaugh to the bench this month.

The Chronicle also reported that Harvard has a “dean’s interest list” that includes a list of applicants from donor families. There’s also a “Z list” that allegedly includes applicants from well connected families who would otherwise not be admitted.

“Obviously there are some factors that seem to be against Asians or at least make it tougher for them to get into these universities,” says parent Sanjay Dave to PRI.

Since 2016, the percentage of Harvard admits who are Asian American has risen from 17 percent to 22.9 percent.

According to a 2018 survey by AAPI Data, 58 percent of all Asian Americans support affirmative action.

Seventeen-year old Becca, who asked PRI not to use her full name, sees the benefits of affirmative action in her classroom.

“A lot of the classes I’m in, we have people of all different backgrounds,” she says. “When we have discussions about literature or historic events, a lot of these people can bring in stories about their own grandparents who have lived through a war in Asia or Europe.”

She says using affirmative action to achieve that is worthwhile.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Sunday Read: New banners stake out Filipino American district in San Francisco

New banners in San Francisco's SOMA Pilipinas say 'Filipinos live here.
EVEN THOUGH FILIPINOS are the largest Asian ethnic group in California, they are often mistaken for Chinese,  Vietnamese, Burmese, Malaysians, Thai or Latino.

The Giants fans, the employees at Twitter, Amazon, Google and the other tech companies, the millions of tourists and conventioneers, shoppers and museum goers may not know it, but they work and play in a Filipino American neighborhood.

To increase visibility and to pronounce to the world that the South of Market (SOMA) neighborhood is the the Filipino Cultural Heritage District, banners have been placed on street posts earlier this month, Filipino American History Month. 

On the banners are pictures of the Filipino American residents of SOMA Pilipinas, the community activists, artists, the students, the elderly, and the thousands of service workers who work in the city's hotels, restaurants and offices.

“SoMa has kids and families, in spite of what others say, we live and thrive here and the banners represent that.” 
SoMa resident Mary Ann Magsaca, told the Philippine News. She is featured in the campaign with her two young daughters that attend Bessie Carmichael Elementary.

The design team that created the artwork for the campaign saw it as an opportunity to send a humanizing message.

“The concept to us behind the pole banners is to show the complex vibrancy of our SOMA Pilipinas neighborhood: a beautiful spectrum of layered stories of who the people are that have defined this part of the city. We are happy, fun-loving, fearless, strong. Being visible in this way is our way of saying, if you see us– truly see us, displacement is not an option.” said An Otherwise Co. Co-Founder I
rene Faye Duller to the Philippine News.

SOMA Pilipinas was designated as a cultural heritage district in 2016, and last year received a state designation by the California Arts Council.

Sabrina Pacheco of Gold Metropolitan Media, the city light pole banner company that applied the banners said, “The SOMA Pilipinas Community Pride Campaign marks a step towards placemaking for the Cultural Heritage District and offers a powerful new way to enhance the spirit, energy, pride, and vibrancy of the community.”

The apartment building owned by the Filipino fraternal organization Gran Oriente, was bought by Mission Housing Development Corp. to keep it's tenants from being evicted.

Four families who have lived for generations at 657-659 Natoma St., in the heart of SOMA Pilipinas, are facing eviction by Michael Chung, founder and managing principal of Caerus Investment Advisors, LLC. Ironically, Chung and his family live in one of the newer high-rise condominiums located in the district emphasizing the income gap between district residents.

Supervisor Jane Kim has striven to ensure that affordable housing be built into the massive new developments that are in the planning process so that some residents can stay in the neighborhood, but some question if efforts by Kim and housing advocates are enough to assure the continuing character of the Filipino district.

The banners are a small step, but it sends a strong message to all would-be interlopers, "Don't forget we live here. This is our home!"

“When I looked up and saw {the banners} on the way to work, I felt proud yet melancholy because it was a hard struggle to get to this point. Two years for me but 100 years for the community,” said Desi Danganan, executive director of Kultivate Labs, a SoMa based nonprofit.

Olympic gold medal winner Vicki Manolo Draves grew up in the SoMa Pilipinas neighborhood.

A Year Later: Heroic Filipino American family recalls the California wildfire

The Robles family: Alica Tanael, Yoehan, Cristaly and Charlie.

A YEAR after the devastating wildfires that swept through northern California's wine country, neighborhoods are slowly starting to rebuild their homes from the ashes. 
Residents are also rebuilding their lives including the Robles family: Charlie, Cristalyn, their 7-year-old son, Yoehan, and his grandmother, Alicia Tanael. 
The heroism of the Filipino American family was recounted by a KQED podcast. The Robles family lived at a care facility where they cared for the four wheelchair-bound  elderly residents.
Charlie and Cristalyn Robles were awaken around 1 a.m. on Oct. 8, 2017. Charlie answered it and the only word he heard was "Evacuate!"
He and his wife looked outside of the home in the city of Santa Rosa, smack dab in the middle of the picturesque Sonoma Valley. "We saw the bright mountain, and we knew it was fire approaching,” recalls Charlie.
He loaded up each resident, and each family member -- including 7-year old Yoehan -- pushed a wheelchair out to the road.

Embers were flying everywhere, the wind whipping fast, the flames edging just feet from the assisted living home. Charlie loaded up each resident into their wheelchair and pushed the Robles wheelchairs out to the road.

With three residents on the roadside, there was still one more resident left inside: 76-year old retired CalFire Captain Ferrol Mead.

It never occurred to the Robles to just save themselves. The elderly residents were just as important to them.

“We wanted to save lives together,” Cristalyn says. “We would go together, alive.” 

Charlie went back inside.

Read the rest of the harrowing story or listen to the podcast by clicking here.

Former Asan crime expert pleads guilty to taking bribes


A WELL KNOWN retired Oakland, California police officer and organized Asian crime investigator has pleaded guilty to taking bribes to help a confidential informant avoid prosecution, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Federal court documents show that Harry Hu received free trips to Reno and Las Vegas complete with paid escorts while protecting his informant from double murder charges in Mendocino County. Hu served as an investigator with the Alameda County District Attorney’s office until last month.

According to NBC Bay Area , the gang member he protected, Wing Wo Ma, aka “Fat Mark, is now facing an indictment for the murders of Jim Kat Kong and Cindy Chen. Prosecutors say the murders were ordered by Asian gang leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow.

Hu served in the Oakland police department from 1981 to 2007, when he joined the DA’s office.

“Former Inspector Harry Hu has brought shame on himself, on the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and the Oakland Police Department, as well as on the justice system,” District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said to the Mercury News

“When a public official, especially one entrusted with upholding the law as Harry Hu was, breaks that trust, it strikes a hard blow against the hard working and ethical professionals of the District Attorney’s Office.”

Saturday, October 13, 2018

First teaser for 'Aladdin' released

Mena Massoud and Naomi Smith star in the remake of Aladdin.

THE RELEASE of the first teaser of the live-action Aladdin conjures up the mythical tale that sparked my imagination as a young boy.
The teaser was wonderfully mystical and magical and was as effective as a teaser is supposed to do.

Casting was not easy for Disney, which was sensitive to the fears of whitewashing the characters.

The 2019 Aladdin remake stars Mena Massoud (Jack Ryan) as Aladdin, and Naomi Smith (Power Rangers) as Jasmine, and Marwan Kenzari (Murder on the Orient Express) as Jafar, the evil sorcerer and Will Smith as the Genie.

Today's Aladdin is a remake of the 1992 Disney cartoon version, which was a ripoff of a 1940's film, which was based on an 18th century French translator's story collection, which was a ripoff of a Persian tale, which was a ripoff of a Chinese fable. It is so far removed from its original source material that any controversy surrounding the current telling of Aladdin should be moot.


Kamala Harris campaiging for Democrats sparks speculation about 2020

Sen. Kamala Harris questions judicial nominees as a member of the Senate Judicial Committee.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, D-CA, will make a trip to South Carolina next week, campaigning for the first time in the early primary state amid rumors of a 2020 presidential run, reports Politico.

According to an advisor, Harris will be looking to appeal to South Carolina Democrats in Columbia and Greenville, with a likely fundraiser and public events for the state party and candidates.

Harris appeared in Ohio this past weekend and is expected to make a trip to Iowa later this month as well. The California Democrat, of Indian and Jamaican descent, has not confirmed whether she will run for president in 2020 but said she is “not ruling it out.”

Harris has helped raise/donated more than $6.5 million for Democratic candidates and causes so far this year.

She said she will “seriously take a look at” 2020 after November elections.

“I haven’t been thinking of it that way,” Harris said, when asked whether her campaign schedule could put her behind 2020 presidential potentials who have already visited Iowa.

According to The State, Harris is the latest of a multitude of Democrats visiting South Carolina ahead of the contest for the party’s presidential nomination in 2020. The southern state will hold a key early primary that will help decide the nominee.

Friday, October 12, 2018

HBO developing comedy of K-Town family

Greta Lee, left, and Jason Kim are the creative minds behind the proposed HBO series Ktown.

CRAZY RICH ASIANS' critical and box office success continues to send ripples throughout Hollywood, ground zero for America's pop culture.

HBO is the latest network to jump on the bandwagon. The network is developing a dark comedy featuring all Asian American leads.

The network that is home to Game of Thrones, The Sopranos and True Detective is developing a comedy series that takes place in Los Angeles' Koreatown titled - naturally - K-town. It is the creation of Jason Kim and Greta Lee,

Lee will also play Yumi, a self-proclaimed Brentwood Barbie who has rejected her Korean roots. She is part of the Kang family, K-town's power brokers.

Lee said, “Jason and I both have a lot of experiencing working with them [HBO], it’s a very comfy place for us,” according to Vulture.
Kim currently serves as a producer on HBO’s comedy series Barry. He recently was a consulting producer for “Love” on Netflix, and prior to that was an executive story editor on HBO’s Girls, where Lee and Kim met when Lee had a role as Soojin.

If HBO likes the pilot and decides to make it part of their stable, K-town would become the first  series by the network starring Asian Americans.

TGIF Feature: Rapper, Lin Manuel Miranda drop an ode to Rufio, leader of the Lost Boys

Filipino American actor Dante Basco played Rufio in the movie 'Hook.'

WHO WOULD have predicted that Lost Boys leader Rufio would become such an inspirational figure for young Asians and Asian Americans?

Rufio, a central figure in the children's story Peter Pan, was played by Filipino American actor Dante Basco in the movie Hook, which starred the late Robin Williams.

Following the drop of his single “Vanity”, Utkarsh Ambudkar has just released his animated music video for “Rufio” via Rolling Stone. The track is an epic collaboration with Lin- Manuel Miranda, Basco, and The Olympics. Directed by Tayen Kim, the video shines a light on being an outcast, race, the first generation immigrant experience, politics, Hollywood and more with his raw and melodic hip-hop sound.

Ambudkar remembers his exact reaction to seeing Basco play Rufio in Hook. “Badass,” said the young actor-rapper, known for his roles in The Mindy Project and Pitch Perfect. Soon, he’ll be known for his role as con artist Skath
 in the live-action remake of Mulan, which he’s currently training for and filming in New Zealand.
“I never related to Peter Pan,” Ambudkar tells Rolling Stone. But the fictional character of Rufio – the leader of the Lost Boys – struck a personal note for Ambudkar, who is Indian American. It was the first time he saw an Asian actor cast as the tough guy – in the movies or on TV.
Utkarsh Ambudkar, right, working with Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Ambudkar has dropped an animated video for “Rufio,” one that drives home those superhero qualities that strengthened his own identity. He even includes a shout-out to the Basco's Philippine roots, casting out the sun of the Philippine flag. Basco's part (at the 2:38 mark) includes the line "for all the brown boys and brown girls - yo, that's me! We're not the sidekick, or the butt of a joke ..."

Ambudkar worked with Lin-Manuel Miranda in a the criticlly acclaimed hip-hop group Freestyle Love Supreme before Miranda hit gold with Hamilton. 

Ambudkar and Miranda remained close over the years. They have matching tattoos of the Freestyle Love Supreme microphone that stood for their crew from the early days of their music careers in New York. Ambudkar says he even helped create the Aaron Burr character in "The Hamilton Mixtape," long before it hit Broadway. 

Basco’s contribution was a pivotal one on Ambudkar’s debut album, Vanity, which he feels is aligned with a wave of Asian and Asian American-empowerment with the recent groundbreaking success of films like Crazy Rich Asians and Searching. The goal of the album is to inspire brown people, he says. “The themes are: ‘What is it like to be brown in America? And how do we empower each other?'”

Ambudkar never dreamed that one day he would sit down to write about that moment with Rufio, his childhood hero.  He asked his Blindspotting costar, Indian American actress Janina Gavankar, to introduce him to Basco, who lives in L.A. (“She knows everybody,” he explains). 

Basco was game. He worked on the song, called “Rufio,” with Ambudkar and even brought his gold sword from Hook for inspiration. They both held it while rapping their bars into the microphone.

On "Vanity," Ambudkar made sure he was not “the only Indian in the room” by including a variety of South Asian artists such as Das Racist’s Heems, Brooklyn Shanti, Kaly and Samora Pinderhughes. Plus, his old battle-rapping buddy, Lin-Manuel Miranda.


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Popular 'Top Chef' contestant writes she has a year to live.

Fatima Ali on 'Top Chef'

POPULAR Top Chef contestant Fatima Ali said Tuesday (Oct. 9) is trying to live a lifetime in the year left to her.

The 29-year old Pakistani American chef's cancer cells “are back with a vengeance.”

Ali, voted fan favorite on Season 15 of the Bravo cooking reality show that finished airing in March, wrote her dire diagnosis for Bon Appetit.

“My oncologist has told me that I have a year to live, with or without the new chemotherapy regimen,” she wrote. “I was looking forward to being 30, flirty and thriving. Guess I have to step it up on the flirting. I have no time to lose.”

'Top Chef' host Padma Lakshimi, left, visits Fatima Ali.
“I am desperate to overload my senses in the coming months, making reservations at the world’s best restaurants, reaching out to past lovers and friends, and smothering my family, giving them the time that I so selfishly guarded before,” she added.

According to her Top Chef bio, Ali immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan at age 18, attended the Culinary Institute of America and made a name for herself in the competitive New York City restaurant scene.

Ali was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma in late 2017. After undergoing chemotherapy and surgery she was declared cancer-free. However, she wrote, "The cancer cells my doctors believed had vanished are back with a vengeance in my left hip and femur bone."

A day after Ali announced her diagnosis, her friends and fellow chefs launched a GoFundMe campaign to support her dream of eating her way around the world.

One of the members of Team Fati, as they’re calling themselves, is chef Adrienne Cheatham, who competed against Ali in the same season of Top Chef. In an Instagram post, Cheatham wrote that the group created the campaign in an effort to help Ali experience her “dream to live to the fullest” in the time she has left.

"I was always deathly afraid of being average in any way, and now I desperately wish to have a simple, uneventful life," Ali concluded in her poignant essay.

FilAm History: Who will play 'Chino' in the 'West Side Story' reboot?

Pioneer actor Jose de Vega never got another role as big as Chino in 'West Side Story.'

ONE OF MY FAVORITE FILMS, West Side Story, is getting a
remake 57 years after the 1961 premiere of the Oscar-
winning musical based on Romeo and Juliet.
Helming the project is another Oscar winner, Steven Spielberg. It will be his first musical but you can be sure the master moviemaker will create a movie that will live up to the groundbreaking Oscar winning original.
Only one role has been cast so far, that of Tony, the OG of the white gang, the Jets. He will be played by Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver). Casting for other roles is ongoing. Filming is slated for the summer of 2019.
One of the legitimate criticisms of the 1961 adaptation of the Broadway hit, was the lack of Latino actors playing the Sharks, the street gang rivals of the white Jets. 
The actors, including Russian American Natalie Wood as Maria,  had to have their skin darkened, a practice that would be frowned upon in the current climate of inclusion spurred by the #OscarsSoWhite social media campaign. Latino actors, like their Asian American peers, are among the most under-represented ethnicities on television and the movies beyond their stereotypes, according to a USC study.
One role that Asian American actors and activists will have to keep their eye on is that of Chino, a role played by Filipino American pioneer actor Jose de Vega on Broadway and in the film. He was the one Shark whose skin didn't need to be darkened.
(Chino, by the way, is a common Latino nickname for anyone who has, or appear to have, Asian ancestry in their heritage, but that's another story.)
The character Chino Martin is the best friend of Bernardo (played by George Chakiris in the movie) the leader of the Sharks. Chino character kills Tony Wyzek (played by Richard Beymer), leader of the Jets in an act of rage after Tony accidentally kills Bernardo in a gang fight. Chino is one of the few Sharks we know by name or has many lines. Chino is in love with Maria, and her brother Bernardo wants the two to get married. When Chino realizes Maria loves Tony, Chino tells Maria that Tony killed her brother.

Born Jan. 4, 1934, in San Diego to a Filipino father and Colombian mother, De Vega's role should have been a launching pad for bigger and better roles, but Hollywood, being Hollywood during that era, only had supporting roles for him in the Elvis starrer Blue Hawaii. His TV roles were in Bonanza, Dynasty, Mission Impossible and Hart to Hart.
For the last nine years of his ilfe, De Vega had choreographed, directed and performed in concerts and productions of Great Leap, a Los Angeles group of Asian-American artists working to end entertainment stereotypes.

The Sharks was supposed to be a Puerto Rican gang but didn't have a single Latino in the movie.

Cinematically, production-wise and musically, the West Side Story was a landmark movie. It won 10 Oscars in 1962 including, Best Director (Robert Wise), Best Supporting Actress (Rita Moreno), Best Supporting Actor (George Chakiris) and Best Movie. It earned a special  Oscar for its choreography by Jerome Robbins.

It's a movie Ive seen countless times and each time I watch it, I learn something new about filmmaking, from editing (ah, the dance at the gym), production values (filmed in the real streets of New York), cinematography and directing to its tremendous score and songs ("America," "Maria," "Somewhere").

That's quite a legacy that Spielberg has to live up to. Let's hope he gets the casting right this time with the Sharks, including a shoutout to Jose de Vega by casting another Filipino American.

BD Wong marries his long-time partner

Actor BD Wong and John Frederickson Schnorr tied the knot in New York City.


EMMY-NOMINATED and Tony Award-winning actor BD Wong has married his longtime partner of eight years, Richard John Frederickson Schnorr.
Schnoor posted a picture of their nuptials on his Instagram page.

Wong is best known for his roles in the Jurassic Park franchise and as the voice of Li Shang in Mulan.
He also received an Emmy nomination last year for his role as Whiterose in Mr. Robot on the USA Network.

The actor is currently featured in Law & Order: SVU.

In 1988 he rose to national prominence after winning a Tony for best featured actor in David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Nikki Haley resigning from her UN post

Donald Trump announced Nikki Haley's resignation as the UN Ambassador.

NIKKI HALEY, perhaps the the best known Asian American in the Trump administration, has handed in her resignation letter. She plans to leave her position as Ambassador to the United Nations by the end of the year. 

Her resignation took most people by surprise and raised speculation about her future plans, which might include a campaign for president. 

Sitting next to Donald Trump in the Oval Office, Haley said she has no plans to run for president in 2020. In fact, she said, she would be campaigning for "this one," pointing at Trump.

"it has been an honor of a lifetime" serving as UN ambassador, but that it was time to depart the administration, reports said.

"There's no personal reason," she added. "It's very important for government officials to understand when it's time to step aside," the CNN report quoted her as saying.

"I want to make sure this administration, this president, has the strongest person to fight," she said.

The daughter of immigrants from India, Haley favored free markets and global trade and earned international attention for speaking out against the Confederate battle flag after nine black churchgoers were massacred in 2015 in Charleston.

Compared to other members of Trump's team, Haley nurutred the image of a moderate Republican. During the 2016 presidential campaign, she campaigned for Marco Rubio and was strongly critical of Trump.

Although she disagreed with the White House on some issues, she was also Trump's stanchest defenders to the global, sometimes embrassingly so. Most recently, when the UN envoys laughed at Trump during the UN General Assembly, Haley said the laughter was a sign of respect Trump.

The former governor of South Carolina often used the big stick, threatening that the U.S. was "taking names" of those countries opposed to U.S. interests, while at the same time using her southern charm to disarm other diplomats.

Haley was a strong critic of Russia despite Trump's apparent chumminess with Russia's leaders and also fiercely critical of what she believed was the diplomats' anti-Israel bias.

She also supported shutting off US funding for the UN's Palestinian refugee agency and revelled in defending the Trump administration's decision to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in the face of an acid show of international criticism.

Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Human Rights Program, didn't mince word in his comments: “History books will remember Nikki Haley as a key player in the Trump administration’s campaign to undermine universal human rights and international bodies. During her tenure, the Trump administration withdrew from the U.N. Human Rights Council and UNESCO, pulled out of the negotiations leading up to the Global Compact on Migration, and attacked a U.N. independent human rights expert investigating poverty in the United States…”

"Now, the United States is respected," said Haley

Survey: AAPI voters lean towards Democrats but GOP has made inroads

AAPI voters like Sen. Bernie Sanders over other possible presidential hopefuls.
Most Asian American and Pacific Islander voters are shifting away from the Republican Party and leaning more towards the Democrats, according to a new survey released today (Oct. 9). Immigration, affirmative action and health care appear to be key reasons for the preference by AAPI who traditionally has been up for grabs or evenly split between the two major political parties in the U.S.

A survey released today by Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) and AAPIData reveals many insights into the fastest-growing racial group in the United States, including their voting plans for House and Senate races in 2018, and various issue

Interestingly enough, almost all AAPI ethnic groups have a strong preference to progressive positions to the point where Bernie Sanders comes out on top of all the possible presidential contenders for 2020. Sen. Kamala Harris, who is part South Asian, came in second.

In addition to election-related topics, the survey also contains key opinion data on affirmative action, labor protections, and immigration policy, including the administration’s recently announced plans to revoke the legal status of immigrants with green cards who have used government assistance.

As the Asian American electorate continues to grow, the group will continue to play a significant role in political races at the national, state, and local levels. Of importance is the increase in voter enthusiasm, with 48% polled indicating they are “more enthusiastic about voting this year” compared to only 28% in 2014.

Of note, the Democratic Party holds a sizable advantage on most issues, with the greatest gaps found on the environment, racial discrimination, health care, and gun control. 

At the same time, the Republican Party fares stronger on issues like taxes, jobs and the economy, and national security. The Republican Party’s issue advantage among Asian American voters is stronger than in 2014, where it held an advantage only on issues of national security.

Sponsored by Civic Leadership USA and conducted in partnership with Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA), and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, the survey presents the results of interviews conducted by telephone and online from August 23 – October 4, 2018 of 1,316 Asian American registered voters.  

Other highlights in the survey include:

  • Party Prospects in 2018 Midterms: Democratic Party candidates enjoy strong advantages among Asian American voters when compared to Republican candidates, both in U.S. Senate races (52%-28%) and in House races (50%-28%). However, the AAPI community is not monolithic. Vietnamese American voters prefer Republican candidates in House races, and Filipino voters outside of California have a slight preference for Republican Senate candidates.
  • Party Favorability: Asian American registered voters hold a net unfavorable view of the Republican Party, with 52% viewing the party unfavorably and 34% viewing it favorably. At the same time, Asian American registered voters give the Democratic Party a large net favorable rating (58%-28%).
  • Government Services: Asian Americans continue to support bigger government providing more services, including health care access for undocumented immigrants, over smaller government providing fewer services (44% versus 24%, see Table 6). And this support is consistent across ethnic groups, including among groups like Vietnamese Americans who are Republican-leaning.
  • Pathway to Citizenship: 64% of Asian Americans support, and 20% oppose, a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Support for this policy is consistent across the board, including among Asian American Republicans

  • Affirmative Action: 58% of Asian Americans think affirmative action programs designed to increase the number of black and minority students on college campuses are a “good thing,” and an even larger 66% favor affirmative action programs designed to help African Americans, women, and other minorities get better access to higher education.
  • Gun Control: Gun control has strong and consistent support among Asian Americans. By a nearly a 7-to-1 ratio, Asian American registered voters favor stricter gun laws in the United States, with net support strongest among Chinese Americans and the foreign born. And, while Democrats show the strongest support, even Asian American Republicans favor stricter gun laws.
The report notes that despite the poor voting record, AAPI communities are getting more politically active. AAPI civic engagement has increased as the group's numbers have grown. In 2008 their were eight AAPI running for Congress to 80 candidates in 2018. As the number of AAPI candidates getting involved in the political system grows, he or she gets a network of family, friends and supporters involved.

The tilt towards Democrats was mirrored in the approval rating of Trump. Three out of five respondents  gave Trump a thumbs down. However, Vietnamese approved Trump's performance while Filipinos were evenly split. In regards to Trump, the disapproval ratingit didn't matter if the respondent was born in the U.S. or a recent immigrant.


Korean American football player becomes Notre Dame's leading scorer


PLACEKICKER Justin Yoon has become Notre Dame’s all-time leading scorer, breaking a record that has stood for 33 years.

NBC Sports reports Yoon’s extra point giving the Irish a 38-16 lead Saturday over Virginia Tech set the record. He went on to kick another point after attempt giving him 322 career points-a record that is sure to grow as long as he stays healthy in this his senior season.

Yoon told the Indy Star that it wasn’t that long ago that he knew nothing about football.

“I didn’t know Tom Brady or anything. Like nothing,” he said. “I was clueless.”

Yoon grew up playing hockey, soccer and lacrosse. It wasn’t until high school when a coach saw him kick a soccer ball that he was urged to try football. When he did, he started hearing whispers he could play football in college.

“I’m like, ‘What are you talking about? I just started doing this,’ “ Yoon recalls saying back then.

Yoon was born in Cincinnati, but raised in Seoul until the age of 10. He is thankful for the opportunities given to him.

“It’s a blessing. I mean not many people get this opportunity, and the fact that I even have a chance is all thanks to everyone here,” he told WSBT.