Monday, August 31, 2015

Bruno Mars: "Uptown Funk" goes downtown at Video Music Awards

Bruno Mars, center, and Mark Ronson, right, accept their Video for "Uptown Funk" Best Male Video.
"WHOA, whoa, whoa - Ye-e-a-a-ah!"

Last night, (Aug. 30) Filipino/American recording artist Bruno Mars won the 2015 Video Music Award for Best Male Video along with collaborator Mark Ronson for "Uptown Funk."
Mars' fans, the Hooligans were heating up the Twitterverse in 140-character spurts last night when the award was announced during the live broadcast.

"Fellas, if you're watching we did it, we did it," Bruno Mars said in his acceptance speech. "To my fans, the Hooligans, I love you so much."

The duo bested stiff competition from Ed Sheeran ("Thinking Out Loud"), Kendrick Lamar ("Alright"), The Weeknd ("Earned It") and Nick Jonas ("Chains") to take home the coveted Moonman, presented by Britney Spears.

I featured this video and song months ago as a TGIF FEATURE, but its worth a reprise, don't you think?. I dare you not to dance (or, if you're sitting at work - moving your shoulders with the beat) while listening to the catchy tune.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Has Lincecum pitched for the last time?

Tim Lincecum's slight frame and his skill on the mound earlier in his career, earned him the
 nickname, "The Freak."
HAS TIM LINCECUM thrown his last pitch in professional baseball?

UPDATE: Today, Sept. 3, the Giants announced that Lincecum is done for the season.

In an exclusive story, the San Jose Mercury News reports that the Filipino/American pitcher has continued difficulty in recovering from a hip injury that has had on the San Francisco Giants' disabled list after being struck on the arm by a line drive in a June 27 game against the Colorado Rockies. 

"The bad days are outshining the good ones," Lincecum admitted to a reporter.

The highly popular pitcher reached the zenith of his career in after winning consecutive Cy Young Awards for best pitcher of the year in 2008-2009 and led the Giants to the World Series championship in 2010.

In 2011, his pitching prowess declined rapidly and was never able to recapture his winning form.

Even if he was to have surgery during the off-season, it is doubtful the Giants would resign him since this is the last season of his current contract and he becomes a free agent. Before his current injury, he was the fifth starter in a 5-man rotation and that position was already shaky.

His inconsistency and inability to control his fastball made his starting position in doubt. There was talk among the coaches and fans that he might be moved to the bullpen, a position he was in last year during the post-season. Manager Bruce Bochy didn't have enough confidence in him to put him in, even in relief. It was most telling that in a 18-inning game with the Washington Nationals during the 2014 postseason, the Giants had to use all its pitchers but Lincecum remained on the bench. (Editor: Earlier versions had the wrong opponent vs. the Giants.)

Born and raised in Seattle, Lincecum's mother is a Filipina/American raised in Hawaii. He is the only Filipino/American baseball player currently on a major league baseball team.

While the story hints strongly that Lincecum's career may be over, we hope that he he regains the unique form that made him the game's most dominant pitcher in 2008 to 2010 ... even (gasp) if it is not in a Giants uniform.

Click here for the complete story.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

GOP's 2016 Southern Strategy has immigrants & "others" in the Willie Horton role

Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Sen. Barry Goldwater employed a Southern Strategy to woo disaffected whites to the Republican party.

ARE IMMIGRANTS and foreign-looking "others" like the Syrian and Central American refugees being used by Republicans in the dreaded 2016 version of Willie Horton?

It was 1988, Jeb Bush's father George H. Bush was polling behind Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis, who had built up a 17-percentage-point lead during the summer.

Willie Horton's mugshot

Something had to be done to shore up Bush's slipping campaign. The Bush campaign team, led by Lee Atwater, found Willie Horton. 

Horton was serving a life sentence without parole in Massachusetts for killing a man. He got a weekend furlough, fled and made his way to Maryland, where he broke into a home, tied a man up and slashed him with a knife, then beat and raped the man’s fiancée.

Horton was black. The couple was white.

As governor of Massachusetts, Dukakis approved the furlough program that gave Horton weekend freedom. The mainstream media played right into Atwater's hands, repeatedly using a menacing photo of Horton.

Susan Estrich, the Dukakis campaign manager, looking back on the campaign, wrote: “There is no stronger metaphor for racial hatred in our country than the black man raping the white woman. If you were going to run a campaign of fear and smear and appeal to racial hatred you could not have picked a better case to use than this one.”

Bush beat Dukakis handily.

Presidential hopeful Donald Trump appears to have taken a page out of the elder Bush's campaign strategy. And it appears that several of the other Republican candidates have jumped on the bandwagon, including Jeb Bush, the youngest of George Bush's sons.

The intended target is the white America fearful of the demographic trends changing the face of the United States. When Republicans use the rallying cry to "Take back our country," who do you think they are "taking" it back from?

The goal is to energize their base, southern whites and disaffected, white males who although poor, in the past could always fall back on their privileged status above the "coloreds" to ease any discomfort. That top spot is tenuous nowadays.

Demographic evidence and white pundits keep reminding them that the day of the white majority is slipping away. By 2040, whites will just be another under-50% ethnic group in a nation of minorities.

The white south, has always been used by the Republicans since Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential bid when he railed for "state's rights" and was implicitly against the Federal orders to desegregate schools. The calculated move to shift the normally Democratic South by winning over whites, who were angry at the Federal desegregation orders - the Dixiecrats.  Goldwater's campaign formed the basis of what was to become known as the Republican's Southern Strategy. 

Since then, every Republican candidate has built on the Southern Strategy and the white South, has voted for Republicans in the presidential campaigns. Ronald Reagan solidified the GOP South by launching his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, a town where three civil rights workers were murdered in the 1960s. Standing beside a known segregationist, Reagan replayed Goldwater's "states' rights" theme, a code for stopping African-American advances. By combining anti-government sentiment with a religious message, he appealed to the evangelical movement and laid the groundwork for the birth of the Tea Party.  

Lee Atwater, who in 1981 worked in Reagan's White House, laid out the basic foundation of that strategy in an interview:
"You start out in 1954 by saying, 'Nigger, nigger, nigger.' By 1968 you can’t say 'nigger'—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than 'Nigger, nigger.'”
Trump made it clear in his opening salvo when he announced his candidacy when he denounced Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists. Jeb Bush joined in when he linked "anchor babies" to the Asian community without specifying the "birth tourism" phenomenon in which Chinese nationals would give birth to their children in the U.S. to guarantee American citizenship.

Thursday (Aug. 27) Carly Florina joined in the anti-Asian attacks against so-called "birth tourism," wherein foreign nationals visit the U.S. on tourist visas to give birth so their babies can claim U.S. citizenship. Birth tourism is a bogus issue - a distraction, really - as if ending this practice would solve the immigration problems that America faces.

The accidental fatal shooting of a white woman this sumer in San Francisco by a dark-skinned undocumented immigrant who had been deported several times, was perfectly timed for the 2016 campaign season and occurred right after Trump's tirade against immigrants. Trump continues to recall "beautiful Kate Steinie" in his campaign speeches.

Add to this toxic stew the Tea Party and their sympathizers, pushing their Christian values and railing against big government, feminists and Planned Parenthood. That's much more easier for the mainstream media to report and repeat and repeat and repeat; and a whole lot more socially palatable than shouting, to quote Atwater again: "Nigger, nigger, nigger!"

Now that Trump is the GOP frontrunner and his rivals are trying to keep pace with his ridiculous statements, the rhetoric will most likely heat up even more than it has already. It will agitate their base, embolden their supporters such as the two men who beat up a Latino in Boston last week because they believed Trump's message. Trump initially shrugged his shoulders and called them "passionate" followers. He later denounced the violence.
RELATED: Anchor babies blowback continues 
In an article in the New Yorker last week, white power advocate Richard Spencer gave writer Evan Osnos an excellent, albeit scary, analysis of the Trump ascendency:
“'Trump, on a gut level, kind of senses that this is about demographics, ultimately. We’re moving into a new America.' Though Spencer doesn’t think Trump himself is a white nationalist, he believes he channels “an unconscious vision that white people have—that their grandchildren might be a hated minority in their own country. I think that scares us. They probably aren’t able to articulate it. I think it’s there. I think that, to a great degree, explains the Trump phenomenon. I think he is the one person who can tap into it.
"Jared Taylor of the white supremacist American Renaissance agrees. 'I’m sure he would repudiate any association with people like me, but his support comes from people who are more like me than he might like to admit.'”
It's clear that the old-line moderate Republicans have lost control of their party with its dramatic shift to the right. Republicans may even be thinking that courting the Asian, Latino and African/American vote may be a lost cause and put all their chips on the old reliable, trusted and tested Southern Strategy that has worked so well for them in the past. If that's the case, we can expect more of the hateful, race-baiting displayed by GOP candidates last week.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. 

All the GOP's 2016 presidential candidates went after the same angry, fearful white voter base.


Friday, August 28, 2015

TGIF FEATURE: On the day he was supposed to get married, groom was buried

SOLOMON CHAU was supposed to get married to Jennifer Carter on August 22, 2015. Instead, it was the day he was buried.

You could view this story as a tragic tale, but you can also choose to see it as a story about true love. It's also about Toronto, a city which rallied around a couple to surprise Solomon and Jenn with a lavish wedding.

After being diagnosed with cancer in December, 2014, Solomon thought he had licked the disease after a surgery. In March of this year, Solomon was given the news about cancer's return. The doctors said he wouldn't live to see his wedding day.

The Toronto couple decided to go through the matrimonial ceremonies anyway. They bumped up their wedding date. Friends and family started a GoFundMe campaign which raised over $50,000 in just three days. Expensive wedding vendors (such as the makers of this video, Boundless Weddings) donated their services and the reception was held in Toronto's picturesque Casa Loma castle. 

Although they knew the date of their wedding, the couple were kept in the dark about all the details including the glamorous reception. Bridesmaids did a short reprise of Solomon's flashmob dance proposal. Everyone smiled.

The wedding video released by Boundless Weddings is trending on social media sites.

Solomon and Jenn were married for 128 love-filled glorious days. You already know the end of the story. Click here for the whole story at

Sol is survived by his wife, Jennifer Carter, and his family has asked for any donations to be made to the Tim Horton's Children's Foundation or Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care.

Jennifer Carter & Solomon Chau on their wedding day.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Made in America: Lindy Li, 24, seeks to be the youngest member of Congress

Lindy Li has won the endorsements of  
WATCH OUT, Lindy Li is running for Congress because ... why not? She's all of 24 years of age.

"The granddaughter of illiterate Chinese farmers is running for Congress," she exults proudly.

If elected, she would be the youngest representative in Congress. But the minimum age for Congress is 25, you say? Li has perfect timing, She will turn 25 this December and if she makes it to Nov. 2016 and wins, she'll be 26 when she is sworn in in January, 2017. At present, the youngest member of Congress is an ancient 30. That would be New York's Rep. Elise Stefanik. The average age of Congress is 57.

"There is going to be a lot of skepticism because of my age but patriotism, love of country, has no age," she was quoted by Princeton's web portal.

Li is running for a seat in Pennsylvania's 7th District, which includes Delaware County and other Philadelphia suburbs. It is an uphill battle in her bid to unseat 3-term incumbent Rep. Patrick Meehan, a Republican and former U.S. attorney. 

She immigrated to the U.S. with her parents when she was 5-years old. She grew up here.

Her district is not a bastion of Asian/Americans, or even people of color, but that doesn't deter her. On her website, the slogan, "Made In America" blunts any xenophobia that may lurking out there. In a letter she wrote to voters in her district, she says:
America is a land of promise and new beginnings, a beacon for the rest of the world. Arriving with nothing but a suitcase of dreams, my family and I have spent fifteen years in beloved Pennsylvania. I became the woman I am today, walking its soothing slopes and reading beneath its gentle trees. That America welcomed us with nurturing arms is a debt that I can never fully repay, though my bid to serve you is the first step on a lifelong journey: to revive that “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” 
The 7th District is severely gerrymandered.
What does it say about who we are as a nation that the highest bidder so often prevails? We don’t elect our leaders to fundraise all day or to be sucked into the vortex of the perpetual campaign. We don’t elect them to serve special interests at your expense or to strategically posture in front of the hungry camera lens. Nor do we send them to Washington so they can grow rich in office, scaling the ladders of power. Rather, we seek leaders with integrity, moderation, and unwavering confidence, knowing that compromise is necessary in a democracy but unbending ideology is not. Herein lies the difference between a stateswoman and a politician.
I refuse to give up on our country and ask you to join me today as we breathe fresh life into the great American promise ...  I’m thankful that life has not been easy and that I’ve struggled for my American dream. Just as a tree can only grow as tall as its roots, so the measure of my ability is the measure of the challenges that I’ve overcome. ...
Being so young, this is her first try to run for a public office. Her previous experience was  getting elected as the class president, four-years straight, at Princeton University, where she graduated with a major in Philosophy. She quit her job on Wall Street to concentrate on her campaign.

It would be a mistake to discount her on the basis of her age or ethnicity. Li has already received endorsement and support from Democrats politicians, including former vice-president Albert Gore, and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, since she announced the bid. If passion and energy won elections, Li would win in a landslide. But her lack of experience - political and real-life - may be her Achilles heel.
First, there is the Democratic primary in 2016 where she faces In  two other experienced Democrats: Mary Ellen Balchunis, a  political science professor who ran for the seat in 2014, and Dave Naples, a database administrator who was a write-in candidate for governor. 

Even if she is unsuccessful, she told an interviewer from the Washington Post"Congressional elections are every two years." Lindy Li hates to lose.

Everyday thoughts of people of color

THANK YOU Buzzfeed. 

If you are not a person of color, this is a peek into the thoughts that run through the minds of people of color in what you might consider simple, everyday encounters.

I can reassure you, this is real life. I've thought all those thoughts, especially the one at airports because I have a mustache and goatee. Every single time, I get pulled aside and individually scanned or patted down.

Are people of color just too sensitive? Should we just chill? We'd love to do just that but we can't act relax like white people because ... well, we're not.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Using broken English, Trump mocks Asian negotiators: "We want deal"

NO! NO! NO! He didn't say that, did he? Did he? Unfortunately, he did.

At an Iowa campaign stop, businessman Donald Trump, frontrunner in a crowded Republican field may as well have said "Ching, chong!" 
Author of the book, "Art of the Deal." Trump played out an imaginary negotiation with Asians if he was elected President.

The Mocker
"Negotiating with Japan, negotiating with China, when these people walk into the room, they don't say, 'Oh hello, how's the weather, so beautiful outside, isn't it lovely? How are the Yankees doing? Oh they are doing wonderful, great,' " Trump said in his speech. Using broken English, he continued, "They say, 'We want deal.'"

Unbelievable! In my entire life, I have never seen a presidential candidate be so blatant and unapologetic with his racism against Asians.

“Over the past two weeks, we’ve seen Asian Americans portrayed as the perpetual foreigner – dismissing our strong American roots, ignoring our contributions and treating us as expendable,”  said Carl Hum of Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

In the last few days, with the "anchor baby" controversy and now this, Republicans have demonstrated how much they value the Asian/American vote. The answer is: Not much!

Anchor babies: The blowback continues

YOU KNOW you're in trouble when Donald Trump starts making fun of you for something you said. Trump wasted no time turning his attention on Jeb Bush, his rival for the GOP presidential nomination.

"In a clumsy move to get out of his 'anchor babies' dilemma, where he signed that he would not use the term and now uses it, he blamed ASIANS," Trump tweeted. Trump then wrote, a few minutes later, "Asians are very offended that JEB said that anchor babies applies to them as a way to be more politically correct to Hispanics. A mess!" 

For once, he was right.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush tries to clear up his controversial statements about "anchor babies."
Bush, claimed birthright citizenship was “the specific case of fraud being committed where there’s organized efforts–and frankly it’s more related to Asian people–coming into our country.” This follows his earlier statement that the term "anchor baby," a derogatory term used to describe the children of undocumented immigrants, was not offensive. In his attempt to clarify his statement, he also said he is NOT for the abolishment of the 14th Amendment and the use of the birthright citizenship clause, which he called "noble."

Despite his awkward attempt to mollify the Latino American community by claiming he meant in reference to Asians. It didn't take long to get a reaction. Asians/Americans almost blew up the social media networks talking about Bush's statement. One student, Redondo High (California) student Jason Fong, started #MyAmericanStory which has taken off in the Twitterverse. and among others chimed in with scathing critiques.

The Organization of Chinese Associations – Asian Pacific American Advocates issued a statement condemning Bush’s comments.

“Our immigrant communities have consistently been painted as an invasion force and the use of the term ‘anchor baby’ is a clear example of this,” said Michael W. Kwan, OCA National President. 

“Governor Bush has now doubled down on his original insensitivity with the use of the derogatory term ‘Anchor Baby’ by characterizing ‘Asian People’ as a whole as non-citizens looking to take advantage of the system. This faulty rhetoric makes millions of law-abiding Asians a target for anti-immigrant and xenophobic attitudes, which will help spread the myth that Asian Americans are somehow less American than white Americans.”

Lawmakers in the 48-member Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) are “strongly condemning” former Bush for linking the derogatory term “anchor babies” to Asian immigrants.

On Monday, when told in Spanish that many Latinos consider the term “anchor babies” to be an offensive slur, Bush defended himself, saying that his critics should “chill out.” The GOP presidential candidate added, “Frankly, it’s more related to Asian people coming into our country, having children, and taking advantage of a noble concept, which is birthright citizenship.”

Bush’s comments come at a time when the Republican presidential candidates are taking on more extreme and anti-immigrant positions to describe undocumented immigrants. Donald Trump was the first candidate to fully embrace the term “anchor baby,” while Bush has maintained that it isn’t offensive and he’ll keep using it until someone gives him a better word.

Several members of Congress aren’t pleased that Bush is trying to downplay the offensive nature of the term, which suggests that undocumented immigrant parents use their U.S. born children as an “anchor” to prevent them from being deported, by pivoting to the Asian community.

“As the representative of the only Asian American majority district in the continental United States, and as a proud American of Japanese descent, I strongly condemn these statements,” CAPAC Chair Emeritus and Rep. Mike Honda told ThinkProgress in an emailed statement. Honda and his family were thrown into a Japanese internment camp while his father served in the U.S. military during World War II.

Honda also stated that he considered the language to be a “slur against all immigrants” and that “The 14th Amendment of our Constitution guarantees citizenship to all people born or naturalized in the United States, and we cannot stand by and let anyone diminish that right.”

“In Silicon Valley – one of the most diverse areas of our country – we celebrate people from all backgrounds and their contributions to our nation. As the representative of the only Asian American majority district in the continental United States, and as a proud American of Japanese descent, I strongly condemn these statements.”

Rep. Mark Takano of Riverside, CA considers Bush’s remarks to be “offensive, whether he is referencing Hispanic Americans or Asian Americans.” He emailed statement to ThinkProgress, saying, “This type of language is being carelessly used by not just Governor Bush, but by a number of Republican presidential nominee front runners. The GOP needs to realize this is not about being politically correct. It is about treating American citizens with the respect they deserve.”

“No matter which ethnic group you’re referring to, ‘anchor babies’ is a slur that stigmatizes children from birth,” CAPAC Chair and Rep. Judy Chu said in a statement. Chu is the first Chinese/American women elected to Congress. “We need a conversation that leads to a solution on visas and naturalization and seriously considers how we can integrate the 11.5 million undocumented immigrants already living and contributing here. All that is accomplished through talk of anchor-babies — be they from Latin America, Asia, Europe, or Africa — is to use xenophobic fears to further isolate immigrants.”

“It doesn’t matter which community the term is applied to,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, a California Latina, issued an emailed statement, “Throwing around dehumanizing insults is unworthy of those seeking our nation’s highest office. ”

Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, who came to the United States as a young child, tweeted tersely: “Really Jeb? This is still remarkably offensive and out of touch, regardless of which group you’re referring to.”

RELATED: Anchor babies: Bush targets Asians
The so-called “birth tourism” to which Bush tried to divert attention — in which immigrant women travel to the United States to give birth so their babies will have U.S. citizenship — does happen, though infrequently and shouldn't be used to muddle his original reference to anchor babies.

A  2009 Pew Research Center study said that about 350,000 children are born to families where at least one parent is undocumented. However, 61 percent of those parents arrived in the U.S. before 2004, 30 percent arrived from 2004 and 2007, and only 9 percent arrived from 2008 and 2010. U.S. citizens can only sponsor their parents at age 21, two decades of uncertainty for undocumented parents who could still be flagged for deportation. 

Asian immigrants in the United States have long been characterized as an invasive force or a menace to whites. Laws were passed denying citizenship was directed at Asians in the Chinese Exclusion Acts of the 19th century. Anti-Asian laws forbidding land ownership and inter-racial marriage were in the books up to the mid-20th century.* No matter how long we've been in America, Asian Americans have always been seen as foreigners, strangers and outsiders.

*UPDATE: Earlier versions of this post said that the Chinese were the only people denied U.S. citizenship. The U.S. Supreme Court's Dredd Scott Decision denied citizenship to anyone of African ancestry - free man or slave.

Bush's gaff does nothing to correct that impression of foreigness among the fearful followers of Bush and the rest of the GOP presidential wannabes.

Ironincally, several years back, Bush warned the Republicans to engage the Asian American electorate. He said in 2013:

"Asian-Americans are actually the canary in the coal mine, I believe, for Republicans ... If we have lost connectivity to emerging voters, not because of our policies so much, but because we are not engaged in issues of importance to them, then I think we pay a price."

Right, Mr. Bush.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Anchor babies: Bush switches target from Latinos to Asians

UH ... I guess we're supposed to feel better that presidential hopeful Jeb Bush's use of the term "anchor babies" is referring to Asian babies, not Latino ones.

What?!? Thank you, Jeb. I'm so relieved you cleared that up.

Over the weekend, Jeb got into trouble trying to match rival Donald Trump's outrageous statements on immigration supported perhaps abolishment or weakening of the 14th amendment. The Citizenship Clause of the amendment states:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

Wong Kim Ark's 1898 passport photo.
Thought the centuries, that clause has been widely interpreted to mean that if you were born in the U.S., you are automatically an American citizen, even if your parents are not.

Does he have advisors or is he making this up on his own? I guess he feels it's alright to insult Asians rather than Latinos. Perhaps, his wife had a good talking to him when he got home. As a Mexican/American, his wife was probably very offended with Bush's original use of the term.

He - and/or his staff - most likely is not aware of the history of the amendment and its why the Asian/American community may be sensitive to any weakening of 14th Amendment.

Originally intended to put an end to the debate whether or not recently freed slaves were full-fledged American citizens, the 14th was widened to include all people in an 1898 case involving Wong Kim Ark, who was born in San Francisco and whose Chinese parents were not allowed to have citizenship because of the country's racist laws in effect at the time. 

The question of Wong Kim Ark's citizenship went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark that “the amendment, in clear words and in manifest intent, includes the children born within the territory of the United States of all other persons (except children born to enemy aliens and diplomats), of whatever race or color, domiciled within the United States.”

What Bush is referring to are the babies born to tourists from China in an illegal activity called "birth tourism." In most of those cases, the babies return to China with their mothers. Their hope is in the future, if things get dicey in China or the child wants to go to college in America, citizenship will make returning to the U.S. easier. Entering the U.S. on a tourist visa and giving birth is entering the U.S. on false pretenses by lying on your visa application. That violation shouldn't be lumped in with the children of undocumented parents, who are referred to with the derogatory term "anchor baby." 

At a campaign event in Colorado  today (Aug. 25) a voter asked Bush if he regretted "scapegoating" Asians by suggesting they are most at fault for entering the country illegally to give birth so that their children can be U.S. citizens.

"I was talking about a very narrowcasted system of fraud where people are bringing ... pregnant women in to have babies to have birthright citizenship," Bush answered.

Bush's backtracking on the use of "Anchor baby" was awkward and obviously an attempt to blunt the outrage from the Latino communities. All he's done is offend another constituency; a constituency, I might add, that has a faster rate towards citizenship (ie. new  voters) than any other immigrant group.

Thanks, Jeb, but, no thanks!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Were Chinese explorers in America 3,300 years ago?

American Southwest petroglyphs is ancient Chinese script, says researcher.
RESEARCHER JOHN RUSKAMP has found evidence that Chinese explorers may have visited North America 3,300 years ago, centuries before Christopher Columbus landed on a Caribbean island thinking he had discovered a route to China. If his evidence survives scientific scrutiny, our country's historic turn towards Europe may do an about face.

He presents as evidence a series of petroglyphs that he says is actually ancient Chinese writings in the American southwest. He claims they indicate Asians were present in the Americas around  1,300 BC - nearly 2,800 years before Italian explorer Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

He said: "These ancient Chinese writings in North America cannot be fake, for the markings are very old as are the style of the scripts. 'As such the findings of this scientific study confirm that ancient Chinese people were exploring and positively interacting with the Native peoples over 2,500 years ago.

"The pattern of the finds suggests more of an expedition than settlement."

The 82 petroglyphs he discovered in scattered sites in New Mexico, California, Oklahoma, Utah, Arizona and Nevada appear to be an ancient script that was used by the Chinese after the end of the Shang Dynasty.

Ruskamp published an academic paper on the subject on his website in April and that is being peer reviewed.

One of his supporters is MacArthur Foundation Genius Award recipient Dr. David Keightley, an expert on Neolithic Chinese civilization at the University of California, Berkley. He has been helping to decipher the scripts found carved into the rocks.

Translation: “Set apart (for) 10 years together.”(Courtesy of John Ruskamp)
One of the series of ancient rock writings in Arizona indicates that the expedition may have been exploring America for ten years. It translates: "Set apart (for) 10 years together; declaring (to) return, (the) journey completed, (to the) house of the Sun; (the) journey completed together."

Dr. Michael Medrano, chief of the Division of Resource Management for the Petroglyph National Monument, has also studied the petroglyphs found by Mr Ruskamp. He told the Epoch Times: "These images do not readily appear to be associated with local tribal entities ... they appear to have antiquity to them."

There is a school of thought that maintains that Asian mariners arrived in the Americas before Columbus based on DNA similarities of Asian and native peoples and the pottery style of the indigenous people in Central and South America that resemble Asian pottery. 

However, barring archaeological evidence of a settlement or pottery shards, historians are reluctant to change their Eurocentric views of who "discovered" a land already populated by the original peoples who most likely, everyone agrees, journeyed to the Americas during one of the Ice Ages when there was a land bridge between Asia and Alaska. 
RELATED: Maps show we're a nation of immigrants
But consider what an ancient Chinese expedition might have looked like over 3000 years ago. (About the time that King Tutankhamen ruled ancient Egypt.) The explorers far from their home  would not have heavy equipment or pots with them. Besides the clothing they wore, they would carry wooden implements and weapons. All of it perishable or subject to deterioration over time. They would travel as light as possible therefore not leaving the "hard evidence" that would confirm their presence.

It also shows that contrary to popular belief, Europeans were not the only one with brave people willing to go into the unknown and that Asians were also also explorers, curious and daring.

If the petroglyphs are accepted as authentic, Ruskamp's findings could force another round of fierce debates among historians, archaeologists and other scientists over who really "discovered" America.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

USC report: Movie industry lacks diversity. So, what's new?

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II is coming to Netflix with Michelle Yeoh
HO-HUM! Another study showing the lack of diversity in the movie industry. This one is put out by the University of Southern California.

Don't get me wrong. We always need to be reminded about the inequities that exist in the portrayal of people of color in popular media, it's just that we all know what the problem is. What we need is a solution that will get acted upon.

The study from the Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism offers comprehensive data that evaluates gender, race/ethnicity and LGBT status in movies.

“The picture that film presents is one that bears little resemblance to our nation’s demography,” said USC Annenberg Professor Stacy Smith, author of the study and founding director of the initiative, in a press release. “By examining the trends over time, it is clear that no progress has been made either on screen or behind the camera when it comes to representing reality. This report reflects a dismal record of diversity for not just one group, but for females, people of color and the LGBT community.”

Nevertheless, it might be worth reiterating what some of the report's findings:

  • Gender. Only 30.2% of the 30,835 speaking characters evaluated were female across the 700 top‐grossing films from 2007 to 2014. This calculates to a gender ratio of 2.3 to 1. Only 11% of 700 films had gender‐balanced casts or featured girls/women in roughly half (45‐54.9%) of the speaking roles
  • A total of 21 of the 100 top films of 2014 featured a female lead or roughly equal co lead. This is similar to the percentage in 2007 (20%), but a 7% decrease from the 2013 sample (28%).
  • In 2014, no female actors over 45 years of age performed a lead or co lead role. Only three of the female actors in lead or co lead roles were from underrepresented racial/ethnic backgrounds. No female leads or co leads were Lesbian or Bisexual characters. 
  • Less than a quarter of all speaking characters were female in the top animated films of 2014, which is a 7.4% decrease from 2010 but no change from 2007. Only 21.8% of speaking characters in action/adventure films were female, which did not differ from 2010 or 2007. 34% of characters in 2014 comedies were female.
  • Across 700 films, a total of 9,522 characters were coded 40‐ to 64‐years of age. Less than a quarter (21.8%) of these characters were women. Only 19.9% of the middle‐aged characters were female across the 100 top films of 2014. This is not different from the percentage in 2007. 
  • Of those characters coded for race/ethnicity across 100 top films of 2014, 73.1% were White, 4.9% were Hispanic/Latino, 12.5% were Black, 5.3% were Asian, 2.9% were Middle Eastern, <1% were American Indian/Alaskan Native or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and 1.2% were from “other” racial and/or ethnic groupings. This represents no change in the portrayal of apparent race/ethnicity from 2007‐2014. 

Only 17 of the 100 top films of 2014 featured a lead or co lead actor from an underrepresented racial and/or ethnic group. An additional 3 films depicted an ensemble cast with 50% or more of the group comprised of actors from underrepresented racial/ethnic backgrounds.

Just over a quarter of characters in action and/or adventure (26.1%) and comedy films (26.5%) are from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups across the 100 top films of 2014. This represents no change from 2007 or 2010.

Only 19 Asian directors worked across the 700 top‐grossing films. This is an overall percentage of 2.4%. Only 1 Asian director was female across the films analyzed and was listed as a co‐ character. This is the same number of movies without Black characters across the 100 top films of 2013. Over 40 movies across the 2014 sample did not depict an Asian character with any lines.

To me, what the study shows that in the seven years of data, much breast-beating from the major studios and influential producers and directors, not much has changed,

There are some signs that 2015 might be the year where people of color might see some progress in the movie industry. Never the less, I can't wait to see next year's report.

With the exception of Justin Lin' Star Trek Beyond, most of the action for Asian talent seems to be on television with Netflix's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II, the epic Marco Polo with - literally - a cast of thousands. Both of those productions will most likely eventually will have theatrical releases (in the lucrative Asian market). In addition, there are a handful of new series which will feature Asian/American  leads which I'll write about in another posting.

Below is a Buzzfeed video that is kind of an amusing "what if." about movies that could have been cast with actors of color. (I'm giving this idea free to anybody who wants to write the script, imagine Breakfast Club with an "urban" - code for black, Asian, Latino - cast. I think that would give the film so much more depth than the original.  Anybody interested?)  

The commentary below the video is very troubling though, indicating how so many people just don't get people of color or the point of this video. 


People Of Color Recreated Iconic Movie Posters And The Results Are Stunning