Friday, December 14, 2018

A father's pride: Jason Momoa performs a haka at 'Aquaman' premiere

Actor Jason Momoa, left, was joined by his children, right, in performing a haka at the premiere of Aquaman.

FOR ALL you fans of Maori haka's, this one's for you.

Jason Momoa, star of the Aquaman movie, performed a haka, a traditional Maori war chant, at the red carpet premiere yesterday (Dec. 12) in what's got to be a Hollywood first.

The Hawaii-born actor was joined by members of his cast in the Haka, but the most notable participants were his son, Nakoa-Wolf, 9, and daughter, Lola, 11. 

His two children that he had with his wife actress Lisa Bonet, were not bashful as they took their places among a squad of grown men from the movie's crew and cast and began chanting in unison and performing right alongside their father, reports USA Today."

The movie, directed by James Wan, has its general release Dec. 21.


California's Chief Justice leaves the Republican Party


THE U.S. SENATE confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was the last straw for California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye. She
 is no longer a Republican.

“I’ve been thinking about it for some time,” Cantil-Sakauye  told CALmatters, The  consensus of her husband and frieds she said, was that “you didn’t leave the party. The party left you.”

The 59-year-old Filipina American is a rarity in California -- a moderate Republican of color. She was appointed to court's top post in 2011 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, 

The news has not been good for the state's GOP, which lost seven Congressional seats in the midterms, including four in conservative Orange County. Republicans hold only seven House seats out of 53. Republicans is the third largest political entity in California, after the Demorats and non-affiliated. Cantil-Sakauye will join the latter.

During the Kavanaugh hearings, the nominee denied allegations by Christine Blasey Ford, a Palo Alto professor, that he assaulted her when they were high school students in Maryland. The Republicans approved his nomination despite Blasey Ford's convincing testimony.

Prior to the hearings, she wrote a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions criticizing ICE agents arresting undocumented immigrants at courthouses.

“Enforcement policies that include stalking courthouses and arresting undocumented immigrants, the vast majority of whom pose no risk to public safety, are neither safe nor fair,” she wrote.

Sessions blew her off. Instead, he told her to talk to California's Gov. Jerry Brown and his support for sanctuary cities and opposed Donald Trump's attacks against immigrant communities.

 At an event at the National Press Club for judges and justices who discussed attacks on the judiciary by Donald Trump, she said, “I don’t believe the attacks are going to stop. I do not believe the undermining and marginalizing of the branch will ever stop. And it is people’s right to speak up,” according to CALmatters.

Cantil-Sakauye, who was appointed in 2011 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, 

“I felt compelled to make a choice now,” said Cantil-Sakauye, the second woman to serve as California’s chief justice. “It better suits what I do and how I approach issues.”

TGIF Feature: SAG nominations cite Crazy Rich Asians cast, Darren Criss, Sandra Oh

The cast of 'Crazy Rich Asians' was nominated for the SAG awards.

DARREN CRISS continued to reap accolades for his performance as Andrew Cunanan in the Assassination of Gianni Versace.
He was nominated by the Screen Actors Guild in the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries.

Awkwafina and Laverne Cox announced the nominees Thursday.

The actors of Crazy Rich Asians were also nominated in the category of Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

Sandra Oh, who last week was nominated in the Golden Globes as Best Acress in a Television Drama, rwas nominated by SAG in the same category.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Homeland Security targets Cambodians, Vietnamese Americans for deportation

Cambodian Americans protest the deportations.
UPDATED Dec. 14 to include comments from NAPAWF.

WHILE MOST OF THE ATTENTION has been focused on Trump's Damn Wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and blocking Central American asylum seekers, the administration has been quietly been pushing to deport more refugees from Southeast Asia, primarily Vietnamese and Cambodians.

“We are horrified by the Trump administration’s announcement of intent to deport Southeast Asian immigrants. This stunning attack on Vietnamese and Cambodian immigrants means that many who have called the United States home for years and may have no memory of living elsewhere will be sent to a country they no longer recognize,” said Dorothy He of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. 

“Like millions of other Asian immigrants, most of these individuals fled from war, hoping to rebuild their lives in a country they thought would respect their agency and right to make choices about their bodies, their lives, and their families. Now, they are being penalized for simply having dared to envision a better life — one without violence or fear,” she said.

As soon as next Monday (Dec. 17), 46 Cambodian American refugees are slated to be deported to Cambodia. It will be the largest deportation of Cambodians in U.S. history. The previous record of 40 was only eight months ago. One hundred Cambodian Americans have been deported this year, almost three times the number deported in 2017.

Between 1975 and 2000, the U.S. accepted 145,000 Cambodian refugees as part of an influx of Cambodians displaced by war.

In April, Cambodia told Washington that they would no longer accept deportations of Cambodian Americans after the Cambodian government witnessed the inhumane impacts of the deportations. Since then, the U.S. bullied Cambodia by threatening to impose travel sanctions on Cambodian officials looking to travel to the U.S.

The transition for Cambodian and Vietnamese refugees who resettled in the U.S. in the years following the Vietnam War was not easy. Due to ad hoc resettlement practices, they were often placed in resource-poor and economically deteriorating neighborhoods, where they lacked a supportive community or access to mental health services to cope with war-related trauma. 
Under these challenging conditions, some made mistakes leading to criminal convictions and ultimately deportation orders. Despite these early challenges, after serving their sentences, many have gone on to live productive lives, started families and found jobs.
Gov. Jerry Brown has pardoned a few of the young men so that they no longer were priorities for deportation, The San Francisco-based Asian Law Caucus has appealed to the California governor to pardon the Cambodians to prevent their deportation.
Also eligible for deportation are the Vietnamese immigrants who arrived in the country before the establishment of diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Vietnam and Cambodian Americans who fled the Khmer Rouge regime.

“We are seeing increased enforcement efforts, not just to detain those who are already vulnerable to removal but to pressure countries to expand how many people they are willing to accept overall,” said Katrina Dizon Mariategue, director of national policy at the nonprofit Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC). “It is clear that they are not taking into account factors such as impact on families and communities, nor the humanitarian implications of deporting refugees.”

A State Department spokesperson confirmed the U.S.-Vietnam negotiations to HuffPost but declined to divulge the full details of the “private diplomatic conversations.” The spokesperson noted, however, that “the U.S. Government and the Vietnamese Government continue to discuss our respective positions relative to Vietnamese citizens who are now subject to final orders of removal.”

Florida's Rep. Stephanie Murphy opposes Donald Trump's efforts to deport Southeast Asian refugees.

“My family fled Communist Vietnam when I was a baby because they would have rather died in search of light than to have lived in darkness,” Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., stated today (Dec. 12) on Twitter. “Thanks to a program under President Carter, we resettled to the U.S., and I became a proud citizen of this great nation.”

Murphy, the first Vietnamese American woman to serve in Congress, added in a second tweet, “As an American, I’m deeply concerned by [Trump’s] attempts to renegotiate the 2008 MOU between Vietnam and the U.S., which would potentially deport Vietnamese refugees who arrived in the U.S. before 1995.”

“This debate is about keeping our promises and honoring this country's longstanding humanitarian spirit,” Murphy said. “I urge [Trump] to be mindful of this proposed policy's impacts on thousands of families. We can keep America safe and continue to uphold our fundamental American values.”

Fifteen community organizations and over 50 state and local elected officials from 9 states joined Advancing Justice and SEARAC in sending letters to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Donald Trump, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging them to halt any changes to the agreement that would make "pre-95" immigrants subject to deportation or weaken any of the humanitarian considerations reflected in the agreement.
Modifications to the agreement could potentially make over 8,500 individuals immediately vulnerable to deportation. Many of these community members came to the United States as refugees, fleeing war and persecution, and have lived here peacefully for decades.
"For many years now, the repatriation agreement between the U.S. and Vietnam has afforded thousands of former Vietnamese refugees the opportunity to move past mistakes they've made and rebuild their lives in the country that they call home," said Phi Nguyen, litigation director at Advancing Justice - Atlanta. 

"The agreement recognizes the inhumanity of forcing refugees to return to a country that they fled many years ago in the aftermath of a U.S.-backed war. Our government should not turn its back now on the very people it felt a responsibility to take in."

in the April issue of Foreign Service Journal Ted Osius, the former U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, said he was told to pressure the Vietnamese government to take back more than 8,000 people ― most of whom were refugees who had “fled South Vietnam on boats and through the jungle” after the Vietnam War. Osius said he quit the State Department last year over the Trump administration’s plans to deport the refugees.

“The majority targeted for deportation — sometimes for minor infractions — were war refugees who had sided with the United States, whose loyalty was to the flag of a nation that no longer exists,” Osius wrote in the Journal. “And they were to be ‘returned’ decades later to a nation ruled by a communist regime with which they had never reconciled. I feared many would become human rights cases, and our government would be culpable.”
“America is my home now. All my family is here. My life is here," said Dai Diep, who came to the U.S. as a refugee in May 1995. "I hope that the U.S. government will act with honor and compassion—not just for myself but for the thousands of others who are in the same situation as me.”

Family pleads guilty to stealing tax refunds

THREE FAMILY MEMBERS of Las Vegas, Nevada, pleaded guilty this week to conspiring to steal more than $2 million in tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 

Chanh V. Trinh, Cannedy Trinh, and Elizabeth Trinh each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to defraud the United States by fraudulently obtaining the payment of income tax refunds. Chanh V. Trinh also pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft involving the use of his deceased brother’s identity.

According to documents filed with the court, Chanh V. Trinh, Cannedy Trinh, and Elizabeth Trinh, residents of Las Vegas, conspired to file federal corporate and individual income tax returns reporting false income tax withholdings and payments, which fraudulently caused the IRS to issue income tax refunds.

The Trinhs filed the fraudulent returns in the names of fictitious business entities, their own names, and the names of other individuals, including a long-deceased family member. Chanh V. Trinh prepared and filed the returns.

All three defendants deposited or cashed the fraudulently obtained refund checks using bank accounts and check-cashing businesses in Las Vegas. The defendants regularly concealed the funds by purchasing cashier’s checks, which they used to obtain gambling chips at Las Vegas casinos.

The conspiracy resulted in false claims of more than $6 million, and more than $2 million in fraudulent refunds paid out by the IRS.

Sentencing for all three defendants was scheduled for April 10. Chanh V. Trinh is set to be sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison under his plea agreement. Cannedy Trinh is set to be sentenced to 2 years in prison under his plea agreement. Elizabeth Trinh faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison under her plea agreement. Each defendant also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Ken Jeong 'desperate' to host Oscars

Ken Jeong and Kevin Hart teamed up to present an award at the 2016 Golden Globes awards show. The two comedians were costars in 'Ride Along 2.'
KEN JEONG has made it abundantly clear that he wants to host the Academy Awards next year after Kevin Hart, who was previously tabbed to do the emcee duties, was let go.

"In my opinion, if I don’t get the host of the Oscars — like divorce — I would consider myself a failure," Jeong joked as a guest on The View Tuesday (Dec. 11). "It's so important to me. I have to do this."

I'm not sure if Jeong's quest to host the movie industry's most prestigious awards show is half in jest or it's a serious  lobbying effort, but it certainly earning the comedian/actor a lot of press. As one of stars of the hit movie Crazy Rich Asians, Jeong has been highly visible as the movie continues to receive accolades since its August premiere.

The View's Whoopi Goldberg endorsed the idea and took Jeong's dream to The Late Show later that day. Late Show host Stephen Colbert asked Goldberg if she had been asked to host the awards show.

"I want Ken to do it," she said about Jeong. "He would be brilliant. He would also constitute the first Asian American to host the Oscars. It would be a whole series of firsts and he also loves film and I think that's what you need in a host."

"You need somebody who actually gets why films are great and can tell you the ins and outs and the silliness of movies," she continued.

Variety included Jeong as a possible replacement for Hart along with a list of other celebrities including Ellen DeGenrous, who hosted the show once before. Jeong's CRA costar Awkwafina was also on the list.

Ken Jeong explains to Seth Meyers why he should host the Oscars.

Striking while the iron was hot, Jeong repeated his quest as a guest on Late Night where he explained to host Seth Meyers why he wanted to pursue what some might consider a long-shot.
"I was always taught when you set goals, make sure you keep them very high," said Jeong. "If I do not become the host of the Oscars, I will consider not only my career, but my life, a failure."
"Any goal that's out of your control, that doesn't really make sense whether you do it or not, I want it so bad," he continued.
Meyers then asked if Jeong is worried that his determination to host the ceremony might make him come off as desperate. "My whole career is desperate," he joked. "That is my brand. I came out of the womb as like, 'Hello!'"

Asian journalists among Time’s 2018 Person of the Year'

Time magazine made four covers for its Person of the Year issue. Two of them featured the wives of imprisoned
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and Maria Ressa. right.

TIME MAGAZINE named three Asian journalists along with slain Saudie columnist Jamal Khashoggi and the staff of the Capitol Gazette, victims of a mass shooting, as its 2018 Person of the Year Tuesday (Dec. 11).

"The Guardians," says Time emphasizes the important role of journalists and press freedom in today's world where reporters and editors are threatened, killed and jailed for doing their job -- reporting the news. 

They are journalists from different parts of the world who are "taking great risks in pursuit of greater truths, for the imperfect but essential quest for facts, for speaking up and for speaking out," writes Time.

The three Asian journalists were Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, who was threatened with jail for criticizing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's deadly war on drugs in her online news site; and Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who have been jailed in Myanmar for a year.

"As we looked at the choices it became clear that the manipulation and abuse of truth is really the common thread in so many of this year's major stories, from Russia to Riyadh to Silicon Valley," said 
Edward Felsenthal, Time's editor-in-chief.

"So we chose to highlight four individuals and one group who have taken great risks in pursuit of greater truth ..."

"In the Philippines, a 55-year-old woman named Maria Ressa steers Rappler, an online news site she helped found, through a superstorm of the two most formidable forces in the information universe: social media and a populist President with authoritarian inclinations," Time wrote in its cover article. 

"Rappler has chronicled the violent drug war and extrajudicial killings of President Rodrigo Duterte that have left some 12,000 people dead, according to a January estimate from Human Rights Watch. The Duterte government refuses to accredit a Rappler journalist to cover it, and in November charged the site with tax fraud, allegations that could send Ressa to prison for up to 10 years."

On the day Time honored her, Ressa paid her bail to avoid jail on charges of tax fraud, which Ressa says is a harassment tactic of the administration.

"Rappler's fearless journalism has helped to expose the deadly reality of the so-called 'war on drugs' – and the thousands of unlawful killings of poor and marginalized people perpetrated in its name," Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International's East and Southeast Asia regional director, said in a statement.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are a pair of young Reuters journalists who were placed behind bars by the government of Myanmar because of their reporting on the killings of Rohingya Muslims human rights advocates call "ethnic cleansing."

“For documenting the deaths of 10 minority Rohingya Muslims, Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone got seven years,” TIME reported. “The killers they exposed were sentenced to 10.”

The magazine went on to say: "As the government and military offered full-throated denials of wrongdoing against the Rohingya, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were uncovering information about the bloodshed Myanmar has tried to shield from the world. The Reuters investigation, which was published in February, documented with photographic evidence the slaughter and mass burial of 10 Rohingya men. In return, they were accused of providing information that could be useful “to enemies of the state.”

Khashoggi was killed by Saudi henchmen because of Washington Post articles about the Saudi Arabia regime.

The Gazette was targeted by a gunman who went to their office in Annapolis, Maryland and killed fiveof the newspaper's employees.

The Washington Post applauded Time for its message of support for journalists.

"We hope this recognition will prompt our nation's leaders to stand up for America's values and hold accountable those who attempt to silence journalists who cover our communities or in Jamal's case, an oppressive authoritarian government," said Fred Ryan, the Post's publisher and CEO.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Lea Salonga receives first Grammy nomination

Lea Salonga, center, played theh part of one of the Immortal Gods in the Broadway musical 'Once On This Island.'


FILIPINA AMERICAN singer-actress Lea Salonga has received her first Grammy nomination, The Philippine Star reports.
According to Philippine Canadian Enquirer, Salonga received the nomination for her work on the Broadway musical album Once On This Island. The album is nominated for Best Music Theater Album.

Salonga took to Twitter last Friday (Ded. 7) to share the good news with her fans. She said that she actually had to check the Grammys website to confirm the news.

“Has to actually go to to see if it was true. And it’s true! I am officially a Grammy nominee!!! It may be a while before I get any sleep tonight! So thrilled to share this with my Island family. And that at 47 years old, one can still have a first!” she wrote in one tweet.

In another tweet, Salonga shared her excitement.

Pardon me for screaming but... THE ONCE ON THIS ISLAND CAST ALBUM JUST GOT NOMINATED FOR A GRAMMY!!! OHHHHH MYYYYYY GODDDDDDDD!!!!!!!! We did it, Island Family!!!!!!!!!! Once On This Island Broadway

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