Friday, September 29, 2017

DHS plans to monitor social media activity of immigrants

LOST AMIDST the cyclone of issues swirling around the White House and its current occupant, mainstream media hasn't had time to focus on a policy that allows the government to monitor the social media accounts and internet search history of legal immigrants.

The Department of Homeland Security intends to launch this highly questionable and threat to privacy in October 18, the same day that the latest iteration of President Donald Trump’s travel ban is set begin.

This policy would mean the government will be able to delve into an immigrant's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts in hopes finding somewhere among the selfies and food porn a smidgen of anti-government sentiment such as "Trump (fill in the blank)."

"This chills and deters the free speech and association not just of these immigrants and visitors, but also of all the U.S. citizens who communicate with them," said Adam Schwartz in a statement from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates for free speech  rights online.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published the new rule in the Federal Register last week, saying it wants to include "social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results" as part of people's immigration file, according to Buzzfeed which first broke the story.

"DHS published this notice in the Federal Register on Sept. 18 to comply with the administrative requirements of the Privacy Act to help address these requirements, not launch a new policy initiative," the agency said. "DHS, in its law-enforcement and immigration-process capacity, has and continues to monitor publicly-available social media to protect the homeland."

The policy applies to not just immigration applicants, but also to naturalized U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

In a statement issued Thursday (Sept. 28), the ACLU said that the new rule “makes clear that the government intends to retain the social media information of people who have immigrated to this country, singling out a huge group of people to maintain files on what they say."

"This would undoubtedly have a chilling effect on the free speech that's expressed every day on social media. This collect-it-all approach is ineffective to protect national security and is one more example of the Trump administration's anti-immigrant agenda."” said Faiz Shakir, ACLU national political director.

The new policy will require immigrants during the vetting process for visas to disclose their social media accounts of the last five years . The agency will now collect inforation including “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results” on immigrants, including permanent residents and naturalized citizens.

Racist stereotypes run amok in this video game

By Tanvi Wattal
“To make the offbeat games we know you want to play, but you didn’t think anyone had the conjones to make”. This is the mission statement of Big-O-Tree Games. If you look closely enough, you may see that their logo resembles a Chinese man with exaggerated narrow eyes – a common stereotype.
The Markham, Ontario-based company prides itself in bringing "unique" games to consumers. Their first game release is Dirty Chinese Restaurant. Centered around the restaurant owner Wong Fu, the objective of the game is to run either a “prestigious oriental establishment” or “a real filthy dive”, according to the company’s website.
Wong Fu is seen dumpster diving for ingredients, chasing cats and dogs for meat, and turning a blind eye to employees being deported. Furthermore, the characters physically embody every Chinese stereotype that the community has worked to break; Wong Fu has a big belly, mustache, and angry expression.
The company's blatantly racist logo.
Although the trailer for Dirty Chinese Restaurant was released in October of 2016, Twitter users have just recently start avidly condemning the game.
“Our game in no way is meant to be an accurate representation of Chinese culture,” said the company.
In an attempt to shatter the mold, has Big-O-Tree Games gone too far? To understand the implications of this game politically and socially we spoke to a Twitter user who has actively spoken about his distaste for the game, Karlin Chan.
He argues that the “game is based solely on Chinese/Asian stereotypes” and that the “creator used every negative stereotype possible”. To Chan, every aspect of the game is offensive: from the “rice patty hats, to the names, to the coloration of the skin tone”.

‘It has come to our attention that our small, independent game, Dirty Chinese Restaurant, has upset some people due to its content,” said Big-O-Tree-Games in a statement to AsAmNews. “Our game is mainly satire and comedy influenced by the classic politically incorrect shows we grew up watching, such as: South Park, All in the Family, Sanford & Son, Family Guy, Simpsons, and Chappelle’s Show. We also listen to Jay-Z.”
Other than the obvious surface level issues, Dirty Chinese Restaurant has a larger social impact. Chan exemplifies that the game can have a “negative impact on people who have limited exposure to Chinese people and restaurants by implying that Chinese restaurants source their ingredients from dumpsters and kill rats and dogs.”
The course of action that Chan recommends, and has followed himself, is to contact elected officials so that they can condemn the game. Furthermore, he urges everyone to contact the Apple and Google Play Stores and bring the flaws of the game to their attention. Taking away their platform will not only send out a strong message against bigotry, but also set a precedent for handling hateful media.
Dirty Chinese Restaurant has attracted the attention of Rep. Grace Meng. The Vice-Chair of the Democratic National Committee took to Facebook to reprimand the company and express her concern about what it signifies.
“I wish I could say that I was shocked that there is a new video game soon to be released called “Dirty Chinese Restaurant.” This game uses every negative and demeaning stereotype that I have ever come across as a Chinese American. From the names used for the characters of the game, to the types of food they cook, to the disturbing depiction of their faces, this game epitomizes racism against Asian Americans. I fear that prejudice against and othering of Asian Americans remainss a form of racism that is too frequently brushed off and tacitly accepted. Racism against Asian Americans is just as harmful and pernicious as racism against any other group, and we must call it out when we see it. How we portray people matters. I urge Google, Apple, Android, and any other platform to not carry the game Dirty Chinese Restaurant, or any other game that glorifies in hurting any community.”
One wonders if Markham, would have created an "offbeat" game featuring a Sambo eating watermelon. Or, are Asians fair game? WE might as well "unpun" the name of of the company and call it for what it really is - BIGOTRY!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Views From the Edge added the last paragraph to this report.

Air Force general to racists:"Get out!"

Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria made it clear that racism and racists will not be tolerated at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

AFTER RACIAL SLURS with the message "Go Home" were scrawled outside the doors of African/American students' at the U.S. Air Force Academy's prep school, Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria gathered all 4,000 cadets in a hall Thursday (Sept. 28) so they could hear his unequivocal denunciation of racism.

His message: Treat people with dignity and respect — or get out.

Racist slurs using the "n-word" were discovered on the doors of five African-American U.S. Air Force Academy Prep School cadets’ rooms earlier this week. The U.S. Air Force says it is investigating the incident.

The incident occurred one day following protests across NFL stadiums where some football players took a knee during the national anthem.

“The Academy’s Security Forces are looking into the matter. We’re unable to release any additional information at this time due to the ongoing investigation,” said Lt. Col. Allen Herritage, an Academy spokesman in a statement.

You could hear a pin drop as the general sternly made his point to the 5,500 in attendance. Towards the end of his speech, the Silveria said:

"Just in case you're unclear on where I stand on this topic, I'm going to leave you my most important thought today: If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you can't treat someone from another gender, whether that's a man or a woman, with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you demean someone in any way, then you need to get out. And if you can't treat someone from another race, or different color skin, with dignity and respect, then you need to get out."
In the speech he mentioned Ferguson, Charlottesville and the NFL protest. In an MSNBC interview he said that the cadets cannot separate themselves from the rest of the world.

The U.S. Air Force Academy Prep School is located on the same campus as the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The prep school is a one-year program for about 240 cadets who spend a year preparing to enter the U.S. Air Force Academy.

The Academy’s top officer said racism was a “red line” at the school, which produces nearly 1,000 graduates a year to serve as officers in the U.S. Air Force and vowed “significant repercussions.”

“It’s not who we are, nor will we tolerate it in any shape or fashion,” said Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy.

“The Air Force Academy strives to create a climate of dignity and respect for all — period — those who don’t understand that are behind the power curve and better catch up,” he added.

In conclusion, Silviera told the cadets to take out their smart phones and record his concluding statement so that they can have it with them always.

"If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out."

Trouble in paradise: DOJ sues Guam government for housing discrimination

Beach scene in Guam

THE U.S. Department of Justice Thursday (Sept. 28) filed a lawsuit alleging that the Government of Guam, as well as the Chamorro Land Trust Commission and its Administrative Director, have violated the federal Fair Housing Act by discriminating against non-Chamorros.

The case centers on how the territorial government enforces and implements Guam’s Chamorro Land Trust Act. “Chamorro” is a term often used to refer to descendants of the indigenous people of Guam.
“The Fair Housing Act prohibits states and territories of the United States from discriminating because of race or national origin in the provision of housing and housing-related benefits and services,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John M. Gore of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  

“The complaint filed today seeks to ensure that any land program implemented by Guam complies with these principles and does not unlawfully limit the availability of housing opportunities based on a person’s race or national origin.” 

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. 

Part of the Government of Guam, the Chamorro Land Trust Commission holds and administers approximately 20,000 acres, or 15% of Guam’s total land area. As part of its mission to administer this land, the Commission grants 99-year residential leases for one-acre tracts, at a cost of one dollar per year. Only “native Chamorros,” however, are eligible for these leases. 

Additionally, the Commission makes numerous housing-related benefits available exclusively to Chamorro lease holders, including below-market-rate loans. Among those harmed by this policy are non-Chamorro spouses of Chamorro beneficiaries. 

As alleged in the complaint, for example, one African/American man was evicted from the home he and his wife built on land administered by the trust after his wife, who was Chamorro, passed away. 

Guam’s approximate demographics, based on Census 2010 data, are: Chamorro 37.3% (plus an additional 6.1% who identify as two or more races/ethnic origins including Chamorro); Filipino 26.3%; Native Hawaiian and non-Chamorro Pacific Islander 12.0%; non-Filipino Asian 5.9%; White 7.1%; and Black or African American 1.0%. 

The lawsuit notes that Guam has compared the Chamorro Land Trust to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, which created homesteads for eligible native Hawaiians.

However, the Hawaii program was created by an act of Congress, the lawsuit states, to provide benefits to a native community.

“In contrast, the (Chamorro Land Trust Act) was neither enacted by Congress nor implemented pursuant to authority established by Congress,” the government states.

The complaint seeks a court order that would: 

1. Declare that the Chamorro Land Trust Act and its implementing regulations are invalid to the extent that they require or permit any action that would be a discriminatory housing practice under the Fair Housing Act;

2. Prohibit the defendants from discriminating on the basis of race and national origin in providing residential land leases and other real estate-related benefits under the Chamorro Land Trust Act;

3. Award monetary damages for any persons harmed by the defendants’ discriminatory conduct, and 

4. Require the defendants to pay civil penalties. Any individuals who have information relevant to this case are encouraged to contact the Civil Rights Division at 1-800-896-7743, Option 8.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Govt. allows visa for women to help save sister via transplant procedure

Helen Huynh waits for her sister arrival from Vietnam.
A CALIFORNIA WOMAN should now be able to get the life saving treatment that immigration authorities had denied her the chance to get.
KABC reports Helen Huynh of Orange County near Los Angeles has leukemia and needs a stem cell transplant. Her sister is a perfect match, but she is in Vietnam and immigration authorities had refused to grant Thuy a visa.

Wednesday (Sept. 27), after pressure from the media and support from Asian American Advancing Justice-LA, Sen, Kamala Harris, D-CA, and Representatives Alan Lowenthal, D-CA, and Lou Correa, D-CA, the government granted Thuy a temporary stay to let her come to the U.S. for the treatment.

Yvonne-Aivan Murray, Huynh’s oldest daughter, told AsAmNews she’s on her way to Vietnam to escort her aunt to the US.

“Everything happened so fast. We are so excited,” she said. “The battle is only half way over. At least now we are not fighting the US government anymore. Now we can concentrate on fighting cancer.”

This happened less than a week after the State Department told AsAmNews’ Brittney Le that would not be possible.

“U.S. visa law is clear. When a person is not eligible for a U.S. visa, consular officers have no choice but to deny the visa,” said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert to Le. “Since visa records are confidential under the Immigration and Nationality Act, I am not able to discuss specific visa cases such as this one.”
RELATED: Woman denied visa and chance to save her sister’s life
“We are so relieved by today’s decision and commend the U.S. Department of Citizenship & Immigration Services for doing the right thing, the humane thing, in granting humanitarian parole,” said Sylvia Kim, Advancing Justice’s Orange County regional director. “We hope it is in time to save Helen Huynh’s life, which has been hanging in the balance for months.”

The family is naturally overjoyed with the news.

“My family is so relieved that my aunt Thuy will now be able to enter the United States. This is half the battle — now we can finally focus on fighting the cancer,” said Ai-Van Murray, one of Helen Huynh’s daughters.

“We have also heard from so many families who have faced similar hurdles in the visa process and we hope our family?s story will help shed light on much needed changes for bi-national families facing grave illness and death.”


'Bye Johanna & Chip: Couple picks family over fame

The Gaines family at their ranch in Waco, Texas.

ONE OF the most beloved Asian/Americans on TV is ending her popular show Fixer Upper on HGTV.

Joanna Gaines and her husband Chip are calling it quits after five seasons of showing America how to make your home more efficient, beautiful and comfortable.

The Korean/American designer and her husband announced their intention to end their popular show on her blog At Home on Tuesday. They say that this coming season, their fifth, will be their last.

They intend to "take a breather" from the hectic lifestyle and their empire the show has helped spawn, including their Magnolia Home line, the Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco (which brings in thousands upon thousands of visitors per week) or their New York Times best-selling book, The Magnolia Story. They also just announced a new line with Target coming this fall, called Hearth & Hand, among other projects.

The couple never wanted their children Drake, 12, Ella, 10, Duke, 9, and Emmie Kay, 7, to grow up in the spotlight.

“They’re so young, and we want to give them the chance to have a normal childhood,” said Joanna, 39. “Family is the most important thing in the world.”

Fixer Upper has been a smash hit for HGTV since it debuted in 2013, earning 3.4 million viewers for the Season 4 premiere last year. This announcement will surely come as a shock to many fans, who have religiously followed Chip and Jo’s design work, marriage and family life with their four children in Waco, Texas.

Chip and Joanna Gaines are ended their show 'Fixer Upper' on their own terms.
Below is their announcement:
“Though our ‘Fixer Upper’ chapter is coming to a close, we aren’t done with Waco. We aren’t done renovating homes. We aren’t done designing things to make your home your favorite place on earth. We aren’t done working towards restoration in all things or helping out those who could use a hand. In fact, in all of these of things, we are just getting started,” they added in the statement.
It is with both sadness and expectation that we share the news that season 5 of Fixer Upper will be our last. While we are confident that this is the right choice for us, it has for sure not been an easy one to come to terms with. Our family has grown up alongside yours, and we have felt you rooting us on from the other side of the screen. How bittersweet to say goodbye to the very thing that introduced us all in the first place. 
This has been an amazing adventure! We have poured our blood, sweat and tears into this show. We would be foolish to think we can go and go and fire on all cylinders and never stop to pause. Our family is healthy and our marriage has honestly never been stronger. This has nothing to do with a fraudulent skincare line or anything else you’ll inevitably read. This is just us recognizing that we need to catch our breath for a moment. Our plan is to take this time to shore up and strengthen the spots that are weak, rest the places that are tired and give lots of love and attention to both our family and our businesses. 
We are really, really proud of season 5. We laid it all on the field and didn’t hold anything back. We think it’s the perfect finale to this amazing journey we’ve been on. Season 5 begins in November and Behind the Design will follow shortly after. There’s so much good, new stuff coming your way!
Though our Fixer Upper chapter is coming to a close, we aren’t done with Waco. We aren’t done renovating homes. We aren’t done designing things to make your home your favorite place on earth. We aren’t done working towards restoration in all things or helping out those who could use a hand. In fact, in all of these things, we are just getting started.
Who knows what the future holds, but we’re excited for whatever is around the bend and in the meantime, we will definitely be staying in touch.
We will forever be thankful for HGTV and this opportunity of a lifetime. We are also thankful to our production company, Highnoon Entertainment and our amazing producers and crew on the ground here in Waco. We are grateful for them and for you. Thank you for sharing life with us and for the continued support. Thank you for having our backs! Thank you for caring about these homes and these families and the things that we care so much about. 
Really, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you. 
Chip and Jo
One of the endearing qualities of their show and helped boost its popularity is that viewers saw their home remodeling as a metaphor for marriage. They demonstrated this in the way they tease each other followed by looks of disbelief at the other's decisions or actions. The way they resolve differences and in the end compliment each other's work was a guidebook to having a successful, working marriage with respect and love.

 In a secondary statement, they said they don't want their legions of fans to misconstrue their actions and want to put to rest rumors that their marriage is in trouble. If anything, they say, their marriage "has never been stronger," the couple said.

And if their fame and fortune suddenly came to a halt, well, they’d be OK with that too. “We’ve got everything that our hearts desire,” Chip said. “I don’t see how we could be happier.”

TGIF FEATURE: Josh Chan is in for a nightmare season on 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend'

CW/ Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Josh Chan (Vincent Rodrigue III) and Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) try their best to be a happy couple.

I HOPE JOSH CHAN doesn't have any pet rabbits. Josh, our good ol' Filipino/American bro starring in the CW's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, is in the crosshairs of his vengeful ex-girlfriend ready to go into full Fatal Attraction mode.

The character, Josh Chan, American TV's only Filipino leading man, is played by Vincent Rodriguez III. Josh walked out on his wedding with Rebecca, superbly portrayed by award-winning actress Rachel Bloom. 

In the motion picture Fatal Attraction, the spurned love interest boiled the pet rabbit of the detective who was attracted to her and then rejected her.

The last time we saw our hapless hero Josh Chan, he had just freaked out over his upcoming wedding to Rebecca and he was entering a monastery to consider becoming a priest.

The jilted bride, the mentally unbalanced Rebecca, is out for revenge as we can see in the just released trailer for the show's third season.

"My hair is dark, so I look evil, and I'm wearing white, which is ironic," Rebecca tells a conference table of her co-workers in the new season 3 trailer, after swirling around in her office chair in an on-the-nose movie-villain move.

"I have a plan to destroy Josh Chan," she tells her girlfriends, who clap with approval.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, described as a romantic-comedy musical, is one of the most unusual series on television. Not only is it's heroine slightly off-balanced, in its first two seasons, it featured Josh's Filipino/American family - an historic first.

The show, which features original musical productions advancing the plot, will turn from a quirky romantic comedy to something more dark, releasing for full display Rebecca's unbalanced mental nature.

Pray Josh Chan. Pray.

#Takeaknee goes viral

AFTER the weekend's dramatic display of solidarity when over 200 NFL players took a knee during the playing of the national anthem, it was not surprising that people do the same.

The company of Broadway's Miss Saigon took their final bow from their knees last night in to demonstrate their solidarity with the players.

Directed by Laurence Connor (the recent hit revival of Les MisĂ©rables, School of Rock), the Broadway return of the musical stars Filipino/Americans Jon Jon Briones as The Engineer, Eva Noblezada as Kim.

Cameron Mackintosh's acclaimed production of Boublil and Schönberg's legendary musical Miss Saigon continues its limited engagement at The Broadway Theatre (1681 Broadway) through Sunday, Jan. 14.

Celebrities such as John Legend, Stevie Wonder, Pharell, knelt during their concerts. The entire cast of Grey's Anatomy joined in as did the X-files leads Gillian Anderson and David Duchovney.

#Takeaknee went viral online.

Colin Kaepernick, the former 49er quarterback who started the demonstration, did it to bring attention to the racial inequality in American society and the police shootings of unarmed African/Americans.

When Donald Trump lambasted Kaepernick and other football players during a political rally in Alabama on Friday implying that they were disrespecting the flag and the U.S. militariy, it didn't take long for the NFL players and owners to react.

The unprecedented and powerful display by the NFL for the right to protest was on national TV Sunday and Monday.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Medal ceremony for Filipino WWII vets on Oct. 25

Filipino WWII veterans chained themselves to the White House fence while seeking recognition and benefits.
THE U.S. CONGRESS will honor Filipino World War II veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal, at a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 25. 
“The United States is indebted to the service, bravery, and perseverance of Filipino veterans of World War II.  Their sacrifices were left untold in the United States for decades, as they fought for recognition by the country they served," said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-HI. "I am proud that we can correct the record today, and finally honor the service and sacrifice of these heroes and their families, and ensure they are never forgotten.”
“The presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal to our Filipino World War II veterans is the culmination of decades of work to honor these veterans for their service to our country,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-HI. “These veterans and their families overcame many challenges in their fight for compensation, family reunification, and verification of wartime service.  I look forward to participating in the ceremony to provide this long overdue recognition next month.”
The medal, Congress' highest civilian honor, and ceremony are a result of the bill introduced by the two Hawaii lawmakers to honor the over 260,000 Filipino and Filipino/American soldiers who fought in the Pacific Theater.
The ceremony will take place on Oct. 25 at 11 a.m. EST in Emancipation Hall and will be live-streamed on 
Filipino World War II veterans and their families who are interested in participating in the ceremony and receiving a bronze replica medal should register through the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project at
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will take part in the bipartisan, bicameral ceremony.
Hirono and Gabbard’s law, the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act (Public Law 114-265), was signed into law by President Obama and awarded the medal collectively to the over 260,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers who responded to President Roosevelt’s call-to-duty and fought under the American flag during World War II.
"I urge all eligible veterans and their families to register with the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project to be included in this honor,” said Hirono. 


Veterans or their surviving relatives must register with the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project if they wish to participate in the ceremony and receive a bronze replica medal. Applications can be found online through the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project at


Trumpcare deader-than-a-doornail - AGAIN!

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not been able to garner enough votes to repeal the Afrodable Care Act.

WHAT'S THE DEFINITION OF INSANITY? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

The Republicans' and Donald Trump's attempts to remove President Obama's legislation creating the Affordable Care Act failed for the 60th-something time.

The Senate will not vote on the latest attempt to replace and repeal Obamacare said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Tuesday (Sept. 26). The deader than a doornail Graham-Cassidy bill failed to get enough senators to vote for it.

Three senators have voiced their opposition to the GOP health care bill. Senators John McCain and Susan Collins said they could not vote for the Graham-Cassidy bill, the GOP's latest attempt to remove any vestige of the Obama legacy. 

Sen. Rand Paul, one of the leaders of the radical right, had said earlier he could not vote for the bill because it didn't do enough to undo the ACA.

Two million Asian/Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders gained health coverage or are eligible for coverage by the ACA. 

"In our community, uninsurance decreased by 57% for Asian Americans and by 47% for NHPIs," said Chris Lu, who served as the Deputy Secretary of Labor during the Obama Administration, and Ko Chin is the President & CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum in an opinion piece for Time magazine.

Insurance for those who have pre-existing condition could skyrocket, they wrote.The AAPI community, which suffers disproportionately from chronic hepatitis B, liver and stomach cancer, diabetes and tuberculosis. Half of Asian Americans and NHPIs are estimated to have diabetes or pre-diabetes – conditions that could lead to premium increases of $5,600 under Graham-Cassidy. The premium increase for a pre-existing condition of cancer would exceed the annual income of most Asian American families, they said.

One of the reasons the GOP was trying to ram this measure through without proper vetting was because of special budget rules that protected the legislation from a Democratic filibuster, allowing the Republicans to pass it with just 50 votes, plus a tiebreaker from Vice President Pence, instead of the 60 often required. Those special rules expire Sept. 30.

Just because the GOP will probably not introduce another repeal-and-replace bill this year, that doesn't mean some of the more conservative Republicans and the White House will try to undermine the program through the budget process by cutting funding for certain elements of the ACA, such as outreach efforts and insurance reimbursement payments. Already the Republicans' repeated attempts to repeal the ACA has made the market so uncertain that insurers have pulled out of some markets.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Ohio voter purge will hit Asian Americans

IF YOU can’t beat them, get rid of them. That may be the philosophy of the Trump administration and the Republican party who are moving to purge the voter rolls in Ohio.
Poll after poll shows Asian/Americans and Latinx overwhelmingly vote Democratic.
They are also less likely to vote in an election.
In the swing state of Ohio, political leaders are “purportedly” purging the voting rolls of people who may have moved, but groups such as Asian Americans Advancing Justice and Latino Justice PRLDEF say in reality the practice targets voters who fail to vote.
The case has gone to the U.S. Supreme Court where oral arguments will be heard.

In a statement, People for the American Way says “Asian American and Latino registrants vote at lower rates than the rest of the U.S. population. Because of their lower voting rates, Asian/Americans and Latinos are more likely to be subject to Ohio’s Supplemental Process and purged from the registration lists than any other racial group.”
According to the Toledo Blade,a former Justice Department official says the support of the purge by the Trump White House is unprecedented.
“It’s been the long-standing position of the Department of Justice that it is unlawful under the National Voting Registration Act to start a voter purge process based on a failure to vote,” said Sam Bagenstos, former principal deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights who has served under both Democrats and Republicans.
“The Supplemental Process thus does not violate (the law) because it does not remove registrants solely for their initial failure to vote,” the Trump administration wrote in its brief filed in August. “Registrants are sent a notice because of that initial failure, but they are not removed unless they fail to respond and fail to vote for the additional period…”
The case is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court November 8.

Trump's new order is still a Muslim ban

DRESS IT up anyway you want, but If it looks like a Muslim ban, sounds like a Muslim ban and acts like a Muslim ban; it's a Muslim ban.
The Trump administration's attempt to disguise their travel restrictions to countries by adding three more countries  can't hide the fact that the original six countries, predominantly Muslim, are still on the list.

"Let us not be fooled by the Administration's guise of 'Making America Safe.'" said Monica Thammarath, national president of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance. "This order is yet another attempt of a Muslim Ban and does the exact opposite of making us safe."

Opponents of Trump’s immigration policies have announced plans for a NoMuslimBanEver rally on Oct. 18.

As Travel Ban 2.0 expired Sunday, the administration issued a new order - Travel Ban 3.0 - to take its place. Sudan, which was on the original list, was dropped from this expanded list. Besides Iran, Libya, Somalia Syria and Yeman, North Korea, Chad and Venezuela has been added.

As a result, the U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it has postponed the oral arguments on Trump's Muslim Ban 2.0 to determine the constitutionality of the executive order. Arguments were supposed to be presented Oct. 10.

At the request from the administration's Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco, the justices request supplemental briefs from both sides by Oct. 5 because of the new version of the travel ban. In the letter, the Filipino/American attorney emphasized that part of the March travel ban had expired, and the administration is putting in place the new restrictions after a worldwide review.

“Six of President Trump’s targeted countries are Muslim," said Anthony D. Romero, executive director for the American Civil Liberties Union. "The fact that Trump has added North Korea—with few visitors to the U.S.—and a few government officials from Venezuela doesn’t obfuscate the real fact that the administration’s order is still a Muslim ban,” he said in a statement. “President Trump’s original sin of targeting Muslims cannot be cured by throwing other countries onto his enemies list.”

The U.S. receives almost zero applications from North Korea. In fact, its government bans travel to the United States.

I don't understand why Venezuela  made the list. When was the last time that South American country sent terrorists to the U.S? The restrictions for Venezuela  only apply to about 100 people closely associated with its current rulers.

"Adding new countries to a ban that baselessly vilifies whole populations does nothing to change the fact that this is still government-sanctioned discrimination," said Naureen Shah of Amnesty International USA. "These restrictions will likely introduce further uncertainty for ordinary people who rely on the ability to travel, study and work in the US. Amnesty will be monitoring to see the effects of this revised ban on the lives of men, women and children around the world."

Elica Vafaie of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, called the new travel ban “nonsensical” and “unconstitutional at its core.”

“Despite the president’s attempt to obscure this latest Muslim ban’s discriminatory intent, the newest policy remains discriminatory, unlawful, and unconstitutional at its core and deeply impacts our communities,” Vafaie said.

“This new nonsensical ban continues to discriminate against immigrants, refugees, and visitors from a group of majority Muslim countries.”

Monday, September 25, 2017

Modern day sweat shops prey on aspiring tech workers from India

By Louis Chan
WHEN YOU HEAR the words body shop, you likely think of workers in overalls restoring your car to its original physical condition.
For thousands of mostly Indian workers, body shops may be the equivalent of the modern day sweatshop. They are employers who may be taking advantage of desperate immigrants looking for a way to stay in the United States.
An article by Nikhil Swaminathan in Mother Jones details how many body shops exploit these workers and how a little known federal program may be the enabler, along with universities raking in big bucks by attracting foreign students on the hope the program can lead to a job in the United States.
A federal guest worker program called OPT or Optional Practical Training is attracting literally tens of thousands of Indian students to the United States. At the University of Central Missouri, the Indian international student population exploded from 152 in 2012 to 2500 in 2015. That’s 17 percent of the school’s student body.
According to Mother Jone’s, OPT allows foreign students who earn degrees to work in their field for a year after graduation. You can stay up to three years if you majored in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. That’s as long as the much harder to get H1B visa. There are now 300,000 OPTs in the US.
“One student I spoke to, who appears in my Mother Jones piece, said that people back in India think of someone who lives in America as “a god,” said reporter Swaminathan to AsAmNews. “Also, for some Indian parents, I think there’s a sense that sending their kids to the U.S. is a sort of retirement plan for them. If the kids come here and earn in dollars, they can send enough money home for the parents to live comfortably into old age. Or they can even send for them to come live in the States with them once they’re set up. I also heard that men who work in the U.S. get higher dowries when they look to marry.”
The OPT program may be working for students who go to better known schools with good reputations, but those at lesser known schools often find themselves struggling with little prospect of getting jobs at top tech firms such as Google, Microsoft, Intel, Apple, Amazon. Once shut out of that job market, these students find themselves targets of body shops.
One student talked about his experience on You Tube.
Body shops can pay $50,000, slightly higher than an internship at a top tech firm, according to Swaminathan.
“As I detail in the story, going the body-shop route often means lying on your resume, having other people take technical interviews for you, signing restrictive employment contracts, and basically involving yourself in a host of unethical practices,” said Swaminathan. “It’s a real-life catch-22 for prospective immigrants desperate to stay in America.”
Several body shops have been coached to lie to the government about their work to obtain H1B visas. Some companies have also been accused of failing to pay their workers. There are no regulations that require universities to vet the employers they allow to recruit on their campuses.
“These institutions that are just spewing out these degrees aren’t making any attempt to give them a career path,” said Prathiba Kalyan, a recruiter who spoke to Mother Jones.
Students for the most part are left feeling vulnerable and to fend for themselves.
“Students who get involved with body shops are scared — both because they think they have to do whatever their employer says to keep their immigration status (not to mention make money) and because, for those who join body shops, they eventually figure out they’re complicit in a sketchy situation,” said Swaminathan.
“Until the government can figure out how to incentivize these kids to come forward — and that might mean offering amnesty to OPT students who have participated in unethical behavior — this problem could conceivably continue.”

Trump's attack against pro athletes moves Filipino American football player to speak out

A majority of the Oakland Raiders chose to remain seated during the National Anthem.

SCORES OF professional football players literally and figuratively took a knee Sunday. 

Last week there were four players taking a knee and a couple of others raising their fists. Yesterday, there were hundreds of players taking a knee, locking their arms in a show of unity or staying in the locker room while the anthem played.

The players were responding to Donald Trump's mocking the players who do not stand during the playing of the National Anthem as a form protest against the inequality in the U.S. criminal justice system.

 At a rally in Alabama last Friday, Trump said, "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired!"
RELATED: Asian American doctor takes a knee against Trump
His remarks was met with a storm of criticism from players, owners and sportscasters, including Filipino/American Doug Baldwin, the Seattle Seahawks' wide receiver. In a prepared statement, Baldwin said:

"I'm not surprised by Trump's comments. He has shown since the beginning, his dehumanized nature. To think he would be anything different ti to not know the reality of his presidency ... He acts like a child craving attention and any attention will do."

Doug Baldwin in a post-game press conference.
The Seahawks were playing at the home of the Tennessee Titans. When the "Star Spangled Banner" was sung, they chose to remain in the locker room.

During a post-game press conference, Baldwin continued to elaborate: "This is a dangerous time. We (players) recognize that.

"We're hoping to unite all people, of all races, all religions, all beliefs to come together; to realize the severity of the situation."  He went on to say that the U.S. was founded in protest and that the freedom of expression is one of the country's core beliefs.

"I'm calling on our people and our country (to realize) that this is greater than just football. This is greater than this Sunday evening's entertainment."

The protest against Trump's racist and anti-immigrant remarks spread beyond football. Over the weekend, catcher Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland Athletics baseball team began kneeling on one knee to express his views. He was the first baseball player join the protest.

Last Friday, during the NBA's media day, Stephen Curry, one of the star basketball players in the NBA's World Champion Golden State Warriors, expressed that if Trump followed tradition and invited the championship team to the White House, he would not visit because he did not agree with Trump's views on race, his reluctance to condemn the white supremacists demonstrating in Charlottesville and his policies against immigrants.

In response, Trump tweeted that he would not invite the team to the White House because of Curry's comments.

The African/American basketball players in the professional basketball league, including some of the biggest names in the sport responded almost unanimously in their criticism of Trump and his views on race. 

Cleveland Cavaliers player LaBron James, who some say is the best basketball player in the world, was particularly outspoken and didn't mince words in expressing his distaste for Trump's positions on race.

A few hours after his tweet, James, expanded his comments in a video. "I think it's basically at a point where I'm a little frustrated, man, because this guy that we've put in charge has tried to divide us once again" James said via his digital company platform Uninterrupted. "Obviously we all know what happened with Charlottesville and the divide that caused. Now it's hit home more for me because he's now using sports as the platform to try and divide us."

The Warriors' management, on Saturdaya in support of its star and in response to Trump's decision to not invite the team, said, “In lieu of a visit to the White House, we have decided that we’ll constructively use our trip to the nation’s capital in February to celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion — the values that we embrace as an organization.”

Derrick Coleman, Atlanta Falcon's fullback, reminded his followers that the controversy is not about the flag or the anthem. Kaepernick

What about Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback that started the kneel down during the national anthem? He still remains unsigned because of a suspected blackballing for NFL owners.

When he began the protest last year as a member of the San Francisco 49ers, he explained:
I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change and I feel that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.
This stand wasn’t for me. This is because I’m seeing things happen to people that don’t have a voice, people that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard, and effect change. So I’m in the position where I can do that and I’m going to do that for people that can’t.
It’s something that can unify this team. It’s something that can unify this country. If we have these real conversations that are uncomfortable for a lot of people. If we have these conversations, there’s a better understanding of where both sides are coming from.
I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country. I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. That’s not happening. People are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding their end of the bargain up, as far as giving freedom and justice, liberty to everybody. That’s something that’s not happening. I’ve seen videos, I’ve seen circumstances where men and women that have been in the military have come back and been treated unjustly by the country they fought for, and have been murdered by the country they fought for, on our land. That’s not right.