Saturday, December 31, 2016

RIP Tyrus Wong: Legendary Chinese American artist dies at 106

Tyrus Wong, 1910-2016

LEGENDARY Disney artist Tyrus Wong has died at the age of 106.

Wong is best known for his work on the classic Disney film Bambi. In 1938, Wong heard that Disney was in preproduction on the film and went home to sketch pictures of deer in the forest. The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco says those sketches caught the attention of Walt Disney himself and became the basis for the film’s artistry, in particular how he rendered the forest background and the play of light through the trees.

As legendary animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston point out in their book about the making of the motion picture, “He set the color schemes along with the appearance of the forest in painting after painting. Paintings that captured the poetic feeling that had eluded us [artists] for so long. Ty Wong not only inspired the other visual artists, but he created a standard that was met by musicians and special effects too.”

Tyrus Wong's renderings inspired the style and mood of the animated classic 'Bambi.

Wong's background work allowed the woodland
characters Bambie and Thumper stand out.
Although he only worked for Disney for three years until 1941, the studio recognized him with its Disney Legends Award. The honor is given to a select few who made an extraordinary and integral contribution to the Walt Disney Company.

The Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles held an exhibition of Wong’s work in 2004. Among the work showcased were his colorful kites. The museum awarded Wong its CAM Historymakers Award in 2001.

Wong worked at the Warner Bros. studio from 1942 to 1968, creating concept images for many films including Rebel Without a Cause [1955] and The Wild Bunch [1969].

Wong’s life was documented by filmmaker Pamela Tom in the documentary Tyrus in 2015. The film played at numerous film festivals. 

He was born in Canton, China in 1910. He immigrated with his father in 1920, and never saw his mother and sister again.

After successfully passing a brutal interrogation on Angel Island, Wong joined his father in Sacramento, California. 

"In the years that followed, he endured poverty, discrimination and chronic lack of recognition, not only for his work at Disney but also for his fine art, before finding acclaim in his 90s," wrote the New York Times in his obituary.

Wong’s death was announced Friday, Dec. 30 
on his Facebook page.

“With heavy hearts, we announce the passing of Tyrus Wong,” the post read. “Tyrus died peacefully at his home surrounded by his loving daughters Kim, Kay and Tai-Ling. He was 106 years old." 


Pixar artist Ronnie del Carmen adds his comments below. (Views from the Edge contributed to this report)


Friday, December 30, 2016

115th CONGRESS: AAPI lawmakers will be in a familiar spot - in the minority

California's newest Senator, Kamala Harris, knows what it means to be a minority.

WITH 17 House Representatives and U.S. Senators, the 115th Congress will have the most Asian/American and Pacific Islander members ever. From the day they officially sit in their Capitol offices, they will face probably the most challenging session in modern history.

Two new AAPI candidates were elected to serve in the U.S. Senate and five in the U.S. House of Representatives. The new Congress will convene Jan. 3, 2017.

“The 115th Congress will include more women and minorities than ever before, which means that the people making decisions for Americans will better reflect the diversity of our nation." said said Rep. Judy Chu (D, CA), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). 

Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) won her Senate race and made history as the first Thai/American elected to the U.S. Senate. California Attorney General Kamala Harris also won her Senate race, becoming the first Indian/American elected to the U.S. Senate.

In the House, we have our first Vietnamese/American woman Representative-elect, Stephanie Murphy (D-Florida); first Indian/American woman Representative-elect, Pramila Jayapal (D-Washingont); Indian/American Representatives-elect, Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois) and Ro Khanna (D-CA); as well as returning member Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI).

"With these victories, CAPAC will have its highest AAPI membership in history, and I look forward to working with all of my colleagues to come together and move our nation forward,” said Chu.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Earlier versions of this post incorrectly counted 18 AAPI members of Congress.
In addition to welcoming newly elected members, Chu also thanked departing CAPAC Chair Emeritus Rep. Mike Honda for his service.

“CAPAC thanks Congressman Mike Honda for his tireless work to champion issues critical to the AAPI community and to all Americans during his 16 years of service in the U.S. Congress,” said Chu. “Our caucus would not be where it is today without his leadership, and his presence and commitment to advancing CAPAC’s mission and goals will be greatly missed.”

Democrats are also looking at reviving their party after the sound thrashing it received last November when Trump upset Hillary Clinton, were not able to gain enough seats in the House and the Senate, and lost heavily in the state legislators and among governorships.

Democrats, and hopefully a few like-minded Republicans who still revere country over blind party affiliation, will face an attempt to do away with the social programs instituted by President Franklin Roosevelt that have helped millions survive hard times, solidified a middle class and brought our country to become the most powerful, admired and influential country in the world.

The new AAPI members of the House of Representatives and Senate are all Democrats, which will be the minority party in both houses, so they will have their work cut out for them, not only to pass their own legislation, but to fight back against GOP attempts to bring the country back to pre-Great Depression conditions by ...
  • weakening the safety net of social services and housing, 
  • doing away with the Affordable Care Act, 
  • privatizing Medicare, 
  • weakening Social Security,
  • eliminating any government watchdog agencies that would prevent Wall Street and Big Businesses from running amock.
Plus, they will be fighting back some contemporary proposals from the GOP majority, including:
  • weakening of the Climate Change strategies advocated by the Obama administration,
  • fighting Trump's frightful immigration policies that includes building a wall between Mexico and the U.S., 
  • deporting millions of undocumented immigrants and their families, 
  • imposing restrictions for Muslim immigrants or people from countries known to have a Muslim presence such as Indonesia, India, Pakistan and the Philippines, and 
  • creating a Muslim Registry.
  • vetting the controversial nominees for Trump's cabinet
The freshman class of Capitol lawmakers are aware of the hurdles in front of them and some have made it clear that they won't set aside their ideals just to get along with their more conservative members of Congress. 

Already, some big donors are looking at Sen. Kamala Harris as someone to consider for the as a potential presidential candidate. Among the newcomers to the nation's capitol, she probably has the closest ties to the outgoing president. She chaired Obama's campaign in California in 2018 and 2012. 

The fledgling senator, whose immigrant parents hail from India and Jamaica, has made it clear that she will not be holding back to preserve the progress made under the Obama administration. 

Asked to react to Trump’s statement on 60 Minutes that he wants to focus on potentially deporting immigrants with criminal records, Harris, the former Attorney General for California, cited her own experience.

"I have an experience with this kind of approach and what I have seen is when you say criminal, that’s a very broad term. It’s not a monolith. There’s a whole range of behaviors that can qualify as being called a crime. A DUI is very different from rape. And as a career prosecutor I have constantly and consistently seen that one of the best tools in the tool belt of a predator of an undocumented immigrant, be it rape, be it domestic violence, be it fraud, one of the best tools that the predator has is to look at the victim and tell the victim, ‘if you report this it is you who will be treated like a criminal.'”

“I have deep concerns about Sen. (Jeff )Sessions' nomination," Harris said in a statement. "Particularly, I am concerned with his support for policies that would undermine core Department of Justice functions and his views that are incompatible with constitutional guarantees.”

"I will oppose a Muslim registry with every fiber of my being. That is not the American way of conducting afairs and violates every principle we stand for," said Rho Khanna, who unseated Honda and who will represent the mainland's only Asian/American dominated congressional district. "And it's going to be increasingly important at this time in history to make the case that our very founding principles mean that every person should be judged on their merits not based on their race, religion or their last name."

"We have fought and won before," Jayapal told NBC News. "We have been through some incredibly dark times in the history of country, and we have moved forward. It hasn't been as quickly as we want, but we are extremely powerful when we are united."

The Muslim Registry and restricted immigration  "are the kinds of things that being Asian American, having recognized what happened to the Japanese internment, how every time there's a different type of crisis, it's people who are recognizable; in other words, people of color, people who are different, who are the ones that are singled out and how we have to protect against it. That's what it means to me," said Hawaii's Hanabusa.

This graphic  from 'The Hill' does not include the two representatives of  American Samoa and Guam.

Except for fourth-generation American Hanabusa, the new AAPI members of Congress are all first- or second-generation immigrants, so we would expect that the memories of the immigration experience is still fresh with them.

Being members of the minority party shouldn't be anything new to the AAPI legislators, they've survived the hard knocks of being minorities before in their private and public lives, so that experience will serve them in good stead.

Eighteen doesn't seem like a whole lot of influence, but there is cause for some hope. The 115th Congress is the most racially diverse Congress in our history. It would seem that the AAPI contingent would find natural allies with the African/American, Latinos, and those who identify themselves as LGBTQ, another minority whose rights are endangered. 

Women, too, no matter what race, could provide an opening among Republicans. There are some women Republicans (not a lot, but some) who are open for dialogue around family-planning and health issues.

Good luck to oru AAPI representatives in Congress! They must know that besides their constituents in their respective states and districts, they will be our voice, too. They will need luck - and our support.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

TGIF FEATURE: In the Tournament of Roses Parade - Philippine Scouts, Sikhs and Louganis

The Philippine Scouts Heritage Society, seen here in the Huntington, Calif. parade, will be be part of the
Tournament of Roses Parade for the first time.
GREG LOUGANIS will be one of the grand marshals for the 128th Tournament of Roses Parade on Monday, Jan. 2. He is the first American of Pacific Island heritage to have the honor of leading one of the most-watched parades in the world.

Asian and Asian/American watchers of the parade will also enjoy seeing the United Sikh Mission float and the equestrian unit of the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society of the U.S. Army's 26th Cavalry Regiment.

This will be the first time that the Philippine Scouts will participate in the parade but it is the third yearn for the Sikhs.

The Philippine Scouts were formed after the Philippine-American War (which some history books incorrectly think is the same as the Spanish-American War) after which the Philippines became a colony of the United States. As with other racially segregated units in the U.S. military at the time, it was led by white officers. The Scouts were among the first American units to fight in World War II against the Japanese Imperial Army. With Gen. Douglas MacArthur as their supreme commander, they were sometimes referred to as "MacArthur's Soldiers."
The society was formed in 1984 to educate the public on the heroism and legacy of the Philippine Scouts. The group was formed to honor a gallant Group of Filipino soldiers and their American officers who seriously affected and delayed Japanese Imperial Army plans on conquering the Pacific Far East and invade Australia in 1941.

The riders are current or retired military or descendants of the original group of Filipino veterans. In the parade, they will be wearing WWII-sylte cavalry uniforms, khaki riding breeches and green (Smokey-The-Bear) campaign hats.

Sikhs entered this flower bedecked float in last year's Rose parade..
For the third year, United Sikh Mission, a nonprofit, will take part in the 128th Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, with a float to share Sikh-American history and culture with attendees and viewers at home.

The 2017 float will depict the Golden Temple — Sikhism's most important temple, located in the Indian state of Punjab — and four white peacocks, the state bird of Punjab, where most of the religion's adherents are from.
Organizers hope that building these floats and participating in the parade will help educate the public about Sikhism and Sikh Americans and help dispel harmful stereotypes, especially in today's climate of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment.
"The Rose Bowl Parade has welcomed us with open arms, and we're honored to be a part of the festivities," Singh said. "Through this project, we're starting new conversations, engaging new audiences, and showing many Americans for the first time how beautiful the Sikh experience is. Every year, our children love putting the flowers on the float and parents serve hangar to all the Rose Bowl Parade volunteers."
RELATED: Greg Louganis finally gets his cereal box and that's a big deal
Louganis is acknowledged as one of the greatest Olympic divers of all time. He is a four-time Olympic champion and U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame member.

Louganis, a Samoan/American from El Cajon, CA. earned a total of five Olympic medals, won five world championship titles and 47 national titles (more than anyone in U.S. history).
He is not the first AAPI person to serve as Grand Marshall. That distinction belongs to Thanat Khoman, one of Thailand's most noted diplomats, who was chosen for the 1967 parade.
Louganis is sharing the Grand Marshall honor this year with former Olympians, swimmer Janet Evans and sprinter Allyson Felix.
One more Asian American angle to the parade, which is broadcast throughout the world, it is sponsored by Honda.
Greg Louganis, left, will be co-Grand Marshall of the Rose Parade along with fellow Olympic athletes Janet Evans, center, and Allyson Felix.

3 teens rescued from capsized boat

Brent Shishido, left foreground, used his cell phone to reach rescuers, who took the picture of the boys.


TWO BROTHERS and a quick-thinking Asian/American teenager are back on dry land after being rescued Tuesday  (Dec. 27) from a sinking fishing boat two miles off the Florida Keys.

Their small vessel began to take on water and the three who describe themselves as strong swimmers quickly abandoned ship jumping into the water, reports ABC News.

Brent Shishido, 18, managed to keep his cell phone dry, keeping his hand above the water.  They used the phone to call 911,

“We’re in the middle of the ocean. We flipped the boat,” the boys calmly told the emergency dispatcher.

“Are you staying on top of the water?” the dispatcher asks.

“We’re staying on top, but I’m not sure how long we can last, though,” Zach replies.

A picture taken by one of the Marine Deputies who rescued them showed the boys sitting atop the flipped boat.

The boys said they kept calm, making jokes to each other about cannibalism.

"They were lucky they had a cell signal,” said a statement from the Sheriff's Office.

Shishido and the Sowder brothers, Zack and Jacob, are from the Yorba Linda area of Southern California.

Philadelphia revives Commission on Asian American Affairs

Violence against Asian/Americans in Philadelphia sparked protests last October.
A SPATE of burglaries against Asian/American businesses and acknowledgement of an strategy to attract more high-tech firms has prompted Philadelphia's mayor to revive the Commission on Asian American Affairs.

"We're about 6 percent of the population here," said John Chin, executive director of Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corp. and chairman of the new committee. "So I guess, if we're out of sight, sometimes we're out of mind. And I want to change that dynamic."

Mayor Jim Kenney said the panel's goal is to advise him on issues and policies pertinent to that community. That includes exploring ways to expand jobs for Asians in the city.

The new committee has 25 members and will be housed within the Mayor's Office of Public Engagement. Nina Ahmad, head of that office, in a statement said the commission would "play an important role as a conduit" between the community and government while making policy and program recommendations to Kenney.

The Commission was originally formed in 2009 under a former mayor but in recent years had grown inactive.

"Currently two industries that our city is known for — information technology and biotechnology — are seeing an increased need for a diverse workforce," Kenney said. "We can help them meet these needs while also setting our Asian/American communities up for success."

Chin called on professionals to join together to help their community. "We are in a new time with new challenges, and it behooves all of us to raise our expectations and do a little bit more," he said. "And we're going to find out what that little bit more is."

He brought attention to the recent series of burglaries and home invasions against Asian Americans.

The arrest last summer of two men suspected of robbing no fewer than 13 Asian businesses didn't  end of fear of crime targeting the community, said Chin.

“There’s even rap music about how easy Asian/American homes are as targets of burglaries.”

In October, about 700 people held a rally in Center City to decry violence against members of the Chinese/American community. "We cannot let people just use culture and language as an excuse for things not working," Chin said. "We actually have to come up with really creative solutions."

Chin said that will be an item on the Commission’s agenda and Kenney tied it to the Philadelphia's status as a sanctuary city, where law enforcement is not bound to report undocumented immigrants to federal agents.

“Making Philadelphia an arm of the federal immigration force will make it even worse because people will not come forward,” Kenney said.

Chin said the commission intends to hold a citywide meeting to gather input.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Largest gathering of Hmong expected at New Year's celebration

Hmong performers entertain the large crowd celebrating the Hmong New Year in Fresno, California.
MORE THAN 100,000 attendees are heading to Fresno this week for the three-day-long Hmong International New Year celebration, reports ABC30 News. The event began Dec. 26 and will last until Jan. 1.

Throughout the Fresno fairgrounds, people will be playing games and wearing formal Hmong costumes, traditions brought from overseas that the celebration hopes to keep intact over the generations. More than 200 vendors can be found selling traditional garb, food, music, flowers, crafts, and much more. There are also multiple competitions for sports, singing, dance, and the Miss Hmong International Beauty Pageant.

Hmong from all over the U.S. will attend this
week''s celebration in Fresno, CA.
In the middle of the fairgrounds sits a statue of General Pang Vao, an important political figure in the Hmong community. Christina Vang said of the statue, “Without him, we wouldn’t have this opportunity to be here.”

Now the largest Hmong/American celebration, the Hmong International New Year was founded in 1999, reports NBC News.

“It is the largest assembly of the Hmong ethnic group in the United States and perhaps in the world,” said Elk Grove, CA Mayor Steve Ly, the first Hmong/American mayor in the U.S.

The Hmong International New Year celebration in Fresno caps off the long chain of celebrations across the nation that began in October.

“It is a significant cultural celebration for families and clan members to celebrate the New Year privately — often referred to as ‘Eating 30’ — and public festivals that include song, poetry, and courtship games for youth,” said Seng Alex Vang, professor at UC Merced and CSU Stanislaus, told NBC News.


Injured police officer home for the holidays

Officer Robby Chon

THE POLICE OFFICER who suffered a skull fracture when he was allegedly hit in the head with a skateboard Thanksgiving Day was released from the hospital just in time to be home for Christmas

Officer Robby Chon, 49, was released Dec. 20 and is in stable condition. Despite his return home, he faces a long bout of rehabilitation, according to police.

Doctors are optimistic that the 12-year veteran of the South San Francisco Police Department will continue to make progress in his recovery.
“His family and the South San Francisco Police Department are extremely grateful for the continued outpouring of support and prayers being received from the community,” police said in a press release.

The same day that Chon left the hospital, the suspect accused of hitting Chon with a skatboard, Luis Ramos-Coreas, was in court on Wednesday. Two doctors were appointed to determine whether he is fit to stand trial, San Mateo County prosecutors said.

On Thanksgiving Day, Chon was responding to a report of a man acting irate toward customers at a business in South San Francisco, police said. The suspect refused to obey officers then rode away on a skateboard.

Chon chased the suspect who was acting irrationally when Chon was hit in the head with a skateboard. Chon went down immediately, say witnesses. The suspect was apprehended by a second officer who arrived as backup.

Ramos-Coreas, who is a South San Francisco resident, has been charged with attempted murder among other offenses, prosecutors said.

He is scheduled to be back in court on Feb. 2 when the doctors submit their reports.

In the assault, Chon lost consciousness and suffered "traumatic head injury." He required brain surgery to stop some bleeding, prosecutors said.

Police said that Chon has been inspired by all the thoughts, prayers and support he's received during his recovery.

He is thankful to be home for the holidays and for the community of people who have made that possible..

Monday, December 26, 2016

Canada's Anastasia Lin finally has her day and say in Miss World contest

Anastasia Lin testified in U.S. Congressional hearings about China's repression of Falun Gong followers.
IT TOOK an international controversy and a year's time, but Miss Canada, Anastasia Lin, finally got to participate in the Miss World contest after being denied by Chinese sponsors last year.
After the Chinese authorities blocked the Canadian beauty queen Anastasia Lin from attending the 65th annual Miss World pageant in China last year, the event’s British organizers offered her a consolation prize, of sorts: They allowed her a chance to compete in the 2016 finals, which was held in Washington, D.C.
Her participation hinged on the condition that she not be allowed to speak to the media during the contest. Pressure from international media is what finally prompted the pageant to let Anastasia speak.
“It was very scary and startling,” Lin said of her silencing. “I now feel more for the people who can’t speak up in repressive countries.”
Lin gained international attention last year because of her affiliation with Falun Gong, a practice not allowed in China. She was declared persona non grata by the Chinese government and barred from entering China when she tried to travel there to represent Canada in that year’s Miss World pageant.
Lin said it was her outspokenness about China's persecution of Falun Gong followers that led to her being blocked from participating int he 2015 pageant.
Using the Miss World stage to criticize the Chinese government didn’t go without consequence, however, especially since the pageant is sponsored by Chinese corporations
“Public pressure works. We have way more leverage than we think we do,” she said. “We might think that China is this big, tough bully that just doesn’t listen to anyone. But that’s not true.”

“Despite 60 years of censorship, people don’t believe everything they hear on the news,” she said, referring to Chinese reports over the past year that have sought to demonize her. “I may end up standing in the last row this year, but if they are able to see me, I hope people will be encouraged.”
“My one goal was not the tiara,” Lin said. “I just wanted to be on Chinese television. … If they can see me on stage they will know (I have not given up), so neither should they.”

Lin, a classical pianist and actress, also wanted to be seen by her father, who she said has been barred from leaving China because of her activism.
Various media outlets sought comment from the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C. but their requests were not granted.

Miss World 2016 wrapped up Dec. 18, with the contestant from Puerto Rico taking the crown.

As for her pageant career, the University of Toronto grad says she’s “totally done” with it.

“It destroyed me,” she told Fashion magazine. “I’m moving on.”

Instead, Anastasia will focus on her acting career, and continue to raise awareness on human rights issues.

Reality series 'Generation KKK' renamed, then - finally - canceled

Members of the KKK raise a cross before setting it on fire in a scene from "Generation KKK."
A&E found a way to back off its decision to air a controversial reality series about the white supremacists in the Ku Klux Klan.

The documentary, which was initially titled "Generation KKK," drew accusations of "normalizing" the white supremacist beliefs and lifestyle. The KKK and other white supremacist or white nationalist organizations have seen a surge in membership and activity because they endorsed the campaign of Donald Trump.

Yesterday (Dec. 25), the network said the 8-part series would be cancelled after the network learned that some of the subjects had been paid, a contradiction of A&E's policies.

The statement from the network said:
"A&E learned last night from the third-party producers who made the documentary that cash payments — which we currently understand to be nominal — were made in the field to some participants in order to facilitate access. While we stand behind the intent of the series and the seriousness of the content, these payments are a direct violation of A&E’s policies and practices for a documentary. We had previously provided assurances to the public and to our core partners – including the Anti-Defamation League and Color of Change – that no payment was made to hate group members, and we believed that to be the case at the time. We have now decided not to move forward with airing this project."
Producers and A&E claim the series was intended to serve as a close look at anti-hate extractors focused on helping people leave the Ku Klux Klan—the racist hate group with a long history of violence against African-Americans and others. "Our goal with this series has always been to expose and combat racism and hatred in all its forms," A&E said in a statement.

Last Friday, in an attempt to mollify critics by rebranding the series, network executives announced that the series would be changed to "Escaping From the KKK."

A&E takes the authenticity of its documentary programming and the subject of racism, hatred and violence very seriously. Just because this particular show goes away, the issues of hate in America do not. We will still seek to fight hate in America through on-air programming including town halls and documentary programs produced in partnership with civil rights organizations, as well as continue to work with the civil rights community to facilitate a deeper dialogue on ending hate through comprehensive educational and outreach campaigns.”

In defending the series, A&E's general manager Rob Sharenow insisted to The New York Times that the network "certainly didn't want the show to be seen as a platform for the views of the KKK." 

The network also said it “will still seek to fight hate in America through on-air programming” and that it will “continue to work with the civil rights community” to end hate.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Dec. 25 is a busy day for Chinese restaurants


ONE OF THE BUSIEST DAYS of the year for Chinese restaurants is over.

The reason why so many Jews eat at Chinese restaurants on Christmas may not be what many people think.

The popular belief is that Jews had very little other options because only Chinese restaurants were opened on Christmas.

This ignores the fact that there are plenty of other eateries open Christmas day ranging from Indian to Thai.

Yet many Chinese restaurant owners say the tradition of Jews gathering at their businesses on Christmas can’t be overstated.

“Big is an understatement, said Wilson Tang. the owner of Nom Wah Tea Parlor in New York City, told Munchies. “It’s huge—easily one of the busiest days of the year.”

Some go as far as stating the tradition is even stronger today than yesteryear when perhaps there were less options.

“Christmas was a busy day, but not like it is now,” said Michael Solomonov, the award-winning chef who used to run Shun Lee in New York. “Now, Christmas in the New York City market, if you’re an upper-scale Chinese restaurant—it’s almost like you’re having the biggest sale of the year.”

Theories of why this tradition remains so popular are as varied as items on a Chinese menu.

Some say Jews who don’t follow strict kosher diets point out the pork in Chinese food is often hidden, chopped up in small pieces amidst a plate full of equally chopped up vegetables.

Others explain Jews appreciate the family style dining at Chinese restaurants. Smaller, but numerous dishes, are shared at the table. Often those dishes are placed on a lazy susan

“Families that felt they wanted to be American, but weren’t highfalutin, loved it. You didn’t have to have great manners—you could share. And Jews have always like sharing food,” explained Joan Nathan, a Jewish culinary expert.

The tradition, it seems, is purely Jewish American. The custom hasn't expanded to other Jewish communities in other parts of the world, Others believe that it started when Jews moved out into the suburbs and out of their urban neighborhoods where kosher food is readily available.

Still others say Jews and Chinese have bonded over that feeling of “otherness,” that feeling that they are not fully accepted in mainstream America. How and why, may be debatable but it has definitely become a tradition that both Jewish and Chinese/Americans look forward to each year.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Family seeks shelter, become refugees

MANY, MANY YEARS ago, so the story goes, in a far off land, a family sought shelter. But they couldn't find a place to stay. They went door to door only to be turned away. To top off their problems, the woman was pregnant and could deliver her baby at any moment.

Finally, a sympathetic man offered the refugee family shelter in the place where his animals stayed. It was dirty and it smelled like the animals and sanitation was nonexistent. There was no bed or bedding so they gathered straw together and made themselves as comfortable as they could.

It was in that humble place that their baby was born. 

Visitors - we are told - came bearing gifts.

Every newborn changes the world. 

The oppressive ruler of their country, fearing the prophecies, ordered all the male infants and toddlers killed.

The baby and his parents made a late-night escape from their home country in the Middle East. As refugees, they sought safety in a far away foreign country. 

Fortunately, they were not turned away. The refugee family stayed there until the mad king died and it was safe to return to their home country.

Obama makes it more difficult for Trump's proposed Muslim registry

Protestors voiced their opposition to Donald Trump's proposal for a Muslim registry.
By Louis Chan

ASIAN/AMERICANS are praising a move by President Obama that would make it more difficult for President-elect Trump to set up a Muslim registry.

“We stand ready to oppose any policies that target or profile AMEMSA (Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, South Asian) communities, which the new Administration may put in place, said Elica Vafaie, Staff Attorney, National Security and Civil Rights, Asian Americans Advancing Justice. 

“Regardless of how such policies are packaged, their discriminatory anti-Muslim intent has been well-established by the President-elect’s campaign rhetoric, that was intended to undermine our bedrock Constitutional commitment to religious pluralism and divide us as a nation.”

President Obama has ordered the dismantling of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration Systems (NSEERS) program beginning today. The program was set up after 9/11 as a way to keep track of travelers to and from mostly Muslim countries. President Obama discontinued the program in 2011 arguing it failed to snag a single terrorist. The framework for the program, however, remained in place.

By taking it apart, President Obama is forcing Trump to begin the entire lengthy rule making process all over again. Congress would have to have hearings and debates on the issue during which the stakeholders could air their views.

“I am incredibly relieved that President Obama has taken this step to dismantle NSEERS and make a Muslim registry that much harder to implement,” said Rep Judy Chu (D-CA), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. This is a program that was deemed so flawed that it was ultimately canceled for isolating the Muslim community while failing to make our country more secure. It should not remain on our books.”

Many Asian Americans have expressed fears a Muslim Registry is a step towards opening up incarceration camps similar to those that imprisoned Japanese Americans during World War II. President-elect Trump made such a registry a cornerstone of his campaign.

Friday, December 23, 2016



It's not the words you say that matter so much but the sentiment when you say them.

I'll be cooking up a storm and eating a lot the next few days so I'm taking some days off. See you all next week.


TGIF FEATURE: Who is Jane Zhang?

WHO IS Jane Zhang and how did she get on the Billboard charts?

In October, there was Jane amidst the pop stars Bruno Mars, The Weekend and The Chainsmokers on the Billboard charts. The video of her hit "Dust My Shoulders Off" was in the top five for YouTube views.

Seemingly, out of nowhere, there wes this Chinese woman the world began asking about.

In 2005, Jane was the second runner-up in “Super Girl,” a TV singing contest in China. She didn't win but her singing style captured a huge fan base. Since then, she has launched albums and performed around the globe, including a guest stint on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 2009.

But it was her hit "Dust My Shoulders Off" that broke into the American charts that introduced her to the U.S. market, one of the few artists from Asia to do so. It's not an impossible feat, but she's off to a great start.

Recently, she was chosen to sing the song "Battlefield" from the controversial movie The Great Wall starring Matt Damon that will undoubtedly give her more exposure and maybe an Oscar nomination.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Muslim American YouTubers kicked off of flight for speaking Arabic


TWO MUSLIM/AMERICAN YouTube stars claimed that the captain of a Delta Airlines flight at Heathrow Airport had asked them to leave due to their use of Arabic, reports The New York Times.

Delta said they were frightening some of the British passengers on the plane.

Adam Saleh said he spoke to his mother in Arabic on the phone on the plane and then briefly spoke to fellow star Slim Albaher in Arabic afterwards, but their conversation was interrupted by a woman nearby who asked them to speak in English.

Saleh claimed they responded unaggressively, but other passengers soon joined in and asked that the two Muslim/Americans be removed. Not everyone agreed with the woman, however; passenger Chris Ashford said, “She heard somebody speaking in Arabic and assumed the worst.”

The captain eventually came to ask the two men to leave, during which Saleh began to video record, on his phone, him and Albaher being escorted from the plane by Delta Airlines staff.

The video recorded on the plane, along with Saleh’s and Albaher’s commentary on the situation after the matter, can be viewed on YouTube.

In the video, some passengers can be seen waving and saying goodbye to Saleh and Albaher. Saleh called out some of the passengers.

“Six white people against us bearded men.” Another man can be seen and heard trying to defend Saleh and Albaher. Saleh has shared the video on Twitter, and it has also already been uploaded to his Facebook page and YouTube channel as well, where he has over 2 million subscribers. Many have responded to the video with criticisms of Delta, some even claiming that they will refuse to patronize Delta Airlines any further.

PressTV reports that Saleh has stated that he plans on filing charges against Delta Airlines. It is likely that further investigations will be made into Saleh’s claims and the incident as a whole. Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) spokeswoman Zainab Chaudry said, “More and more reports have been made by Muslims or Arabs, or people who were perceived to be Muslim or Arabs, who were removed from planes by airline personnel.” In April of this year, a UC Berkeley student attempting to fly out of Los Angeles International Airport was removed from his flight after he was reported by another passenger for speaking Arabic.

Delta said it takes charges of discrimination seriously, but also defended its action.

“What is paramount to Delta is the safety and comfort of our passengers and employees,” the airline said. “It is clear these individuals sought to violate that priority.”


Disney donates $500,000 towards scholarship for AAPI students

Auli'i Cravalho and Neil Horikoshi hold the check from Disney.

THE WALT DISNEY Company announced that they will be making a $500,000 commitment to the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) which will go toward supporting high-achieving Asian and Pacific Islander college students. 

These funds will provide 150 scholarships to students over the course of three years starting with the fall 2017 semester. Auli‘i Cravalho, who voices the title character in Disney's animated film Moana, made the announcement at an APIASF gala along with Disney executives and APIASF President and Executive Director Neil Horikoshi.

“Disney is proud to support young Asian and Pacific Islander leaders in achieving their dreams of a higher education. By giving these promising students the resources and tools they need to earn a college degree, we enable them to create a better, brighter future for us all,” said Disney’s chief diversity officer Paul Richardson.  

“Speaking on behalf of Auli‘i and all of us at Disney Animation, we are extremely honored to be part of this important scholarship commitment," said producer Osnat Shurer. "We thank APIASF for their extraordinary work and Disney for its support of these initiatives.”

“The Walt Disney Company’s generous support will make a significant difference for some of the nation’s most underserved students,” Horikoshi said. “With many Asian American and Pacific Islander families facing financial barriers, The Walt Disney Company/APIASF Scholarship has the potential to be life-changing for students.”

The Walt Disney Company/APIASF Scholarship will be available for the 2017-2018 school year. In order to be eligible, applicants must:

  • Be of Asian and/or Pacific Islander ethnicity, as defined by the U.S. Census;
  • Be a citizen, national or legal permanent resident of the United States (citizens of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau are also eligible to apply);
  • Be enrolling in a U.S.-accredited college or university as a full-time, degree-seeking, first-year student in the 2017-2018 academic year; 
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.7 on a 4.0 scale (unweighted) or have earned a GED and
  • Apply for federal financial aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by February 1, 2017.
Based in Washington, D.C., APIASF is the nation's largest nonprofit organization devoted to providing college scholarships for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and developing their leadership skills. For details about APIASF and the new scholarship, visit APIASF's website at

California's schools chief encourages districts to become 'safe havens'

AAPI students fight for immigration rights.
IN A LETTER, California's top school official released a letter Wednesday (Dec. 21) encouraging all public schools in the state to be declared “safe havens” for students and their parents and to remind families about existing laws that protect students’ records from questions about immigration status.
“Unfortunately, since the presidential election, reports of bullying, harassment, and intimidation of K-12 students based on immigration status, religious, or ethnic identification are on the rise,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in his letter to county and school district superintendents, charter school administrators, and principals.
“As State Superintendent of Public Instruction, safety is my top priority. And my strongest commitment to you, your students, and their families is that schools remain safe places to learn. California serves more than 6.2 million kindergarten through twelfth grade students with the most diverse population in the nation,” said Torlakson. 

Citizenship status is not a condition for enrollment in California K-12 schools. All kids must go to school, regardless of their paperwork. Citizenship is also not a condition for enrollment in California's system of community and four-year colleges. It is estimated that one in ten California students are "unauthorized."
While the majority of California's unauthorized students are from Mexico and Latin America, the next biggest group is from Asia.
The California Department of Education (CDE) will continue to provide local educational agencies (LEAs) with guidelines about existing laws that protect student records, including the 1984 Plyler v. Doe U.S. Supreme Court decision that requires schools to enroll all eligible children regardless of immigration status.
Schools must verify a student’s age and residency, but they have extensive flexibility in what documents are used and do not need to use pertaining to immigration status. No records can be released to law enforcement without a parent’s written permission, a court order, or subpoena. Schools should not collect or maintain any documents pertaining to immigration status, Torlakson said.
Some California schools districts, including the Los Angeles Unified School District and Sacramento City Unified School District, have already declared themselves safe havens and let their communities know they will maintain a welcoming environment for all students and parents.
The full letter is available on the California Department of Education (CDE) Public Schools Remain Safe Havens Web page.