Sunday, September 30, 2018

Judge rules against adoptee; American foster parents will move to South Korea to keep family together

Lt. Col. Patrick Schreiber (Ret.) and his wife Soon Jin with their adopted daughter Hyebin.


A FEDERAL JUDGE in Kansas has ruled that a South Korea-born adoptee will have to leave the U.S. right after graduation due to a disparity between state and federal immigration laws regarding a child’s age at the time of adoption, reports USA Today.

Hyebin was legally brought to the U.S. in 2012 by her uncle, now-retired Army Lt. Col. Patrick Schreiber, and his wife, Soo Jin, when she was 15, according to The Kansas City Star.

Due to Schreiber’s service in Afghanistan in 2013 and 2014, the couple delayed Hyebin’s legal adoption. Schreiber was told by an adoption lawyer that the cutoff to complete the process, under Kansas law, was Hyebin’s 18th birthday.

But federal immigration law says that foreign-born children must be adopted before age 16 to derive citizenship from their American parents. Thus, Hyebin’s Kansas-issued birth certificate was practically null and void under federal law. She’s currently still a resident under her F-1 student visa. She will have to leave the U.S. once she graduates from Kansas University, where she’s a senior majoring in biochemistry.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree ruled in favor of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), stating that federal immigration law is “not ambiguous” and that USCIS “interpreted the statue in accordance with its plain meaning.”

RELATED: Korean adoptee faces deportation
Before the ruling, the family told KCTV that they would all move to South Korea if Hyebin was to be deported.

“It’s a family issue ... it’s everything we can do to keep our family together,” said Patrick Schreiber. “Whatever that means whatever that takes, that’s what we will do.”

“I’m going to go back to Korea too,"  Soo Jin Schreiber said, "
I can’t leave her.”

The father expressed his regrets in not completing the adoption process before time ran out, saying, “I should have put my family ahead of the Army.”

“Lt. Col. Schreiber is Hyebin’s father. No one, not even the Agency (USCIS, which denied the family’s applications) controverts this simple fact,” wrote lawyer Rekha Sharma-Crawford. “Nevertheless, the Agency wants this father to accept that the country he loves and serves has no room in its laws to protect his family.”

In March, Sen. Roy Blunt introduced a bill that, if passed, would extend U.S. citizenship to foreign-born children adopted by Americans before the age of 18.


Sunday Read: Cross country trip uncovers a country of fear ... and hope

TAKING A trip across the United States is something that I've always feared doing. It is not the unknown I was afraid of, it was what I know.

I know that most of the country is not like the San Francisco Bay Area where I make my home. 

Encounters with people of other races is an everyday thing in the Bay Area. And here, diversity means more than the black-and-white paradigm that dominates our national conversation. It is impossible in the Bay Area not to meet, work with, interact with Asians in everyday life: fellow commuters, your favorite barista's, doctors and nurses, lawyers, airport security, bus drivers, everywhere and in almost every line of work. We're just ... here.

When tourists wonder at the "diversity" of the region, what they really mean is "There're are a whole lot of Asians around here." Indeed. a walk down San Francisco's main drag, Market Street and you'd swear you're in some Asian metropolis. Visiting UC-Berkeley, the rumors of Asian and Asian American students dominating the campus turns out to be true - or so it seems. Whether it be Filipinos in Daly City, Hercules and Vallejo, Vietnamese in San Jose, South Asians in Fremont, Hawaiians in South San Francisco, and Chinese Americans everywhere, in the Mission, North Beach, the Sunset, East Oakland or in the suburbs of Pleasanton, Dublin and San Ramon.

The Bay Area is far from being a paradise, but compared to other parts of the country ... it's where I feel comfortable. My experiences in my few trips to the South -- Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Florida and Virginia -- was enough to increase my appreciation of the uniqueness of the Bay Area -- and coastal California, in general.

The Donald Trump era has brought my paranoia to a new level. Recent stories of border guards asking for ID's, increasingly gestapo-like tactics by ICE agents, and the growing boldness of white supremacists make me ask myself: is all that angst and increased blood pressure of a cross-country road trip be worth it?

When I was younger, I was too busy pursuing other dreams to embark on such an adventure. Alas, I wish I had, especially after reading the journey of Arvin Temkar, a Filipino-Indian-American, who took a cross-country trip on his motorcycle. The freelance writer and editor, who is of mixed heritage -- Filipino and Indian --  wrote about his journey that was published in the Washington Post, titled "How I fought fear and found faith ib a motorcycle trip across America."

Here's a sampling:
During my three-month journey across the United States, I noticed something unsettling about the American people. We are afraid.
On an Illinois freeway, I passed a series of gun-rights signs with dire messages like: “Dialed 911 and I’m on hold, sure wish I had that gun I sold.” In an Arizona suburb, as I circled a neighborhood block in search of a friend’s house, a man tailed me in his truck and took a photo of my license plate. In Alabama, a store owner told me that he’s afraid immigration will change the white, Christian culture of the nation.
As for me, at every gas station, motel and diner I entered, I couldn’t help but wonder whether the color of my skin was going to land me in some sort of trouble.
During my three-month journey across the United States, I noticed something unsettling about the American people. We are afraid.
On an Illinois freeway, I passed a series of gun-rights signs with dire messages like: “Dialed 911 and I’m on hold, sure wish I had that gun I sold.” In an Arizona suburb, as I circled a neighborhood block in search of a friend’s house, a man tailed me in his truck and took a photo of my license plate. In Alabama, a store owner told me that he’s afraid immigration will change the white, Christian culture of the nation.
As for me, at every gas station, motel and diner I entered, I couldn’t help but wonder whether the color of my skin was going to land me in some sort of trouble.
While I’ve always been self-conscious about my looks, now — as hate crimes against brown-skinned people are on the rise and white supremacy has returned to the spotlight — that awareness has turned into anxiety. How easily, I wondered, could that neighborhood incident in Arizona have turned into a Trayvon-Martin-like situation? Would I become the next Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was told to “get out of my country” before being shot and killed by an angry white man at a bar in Kansas?
This was my first time driving across the country, and my first time visiting most of the places I found myself in. I was alone and often afraid.
Noam Chomsky has said that fear is a characteristic part of the American identity.
“The United States is an unusually frightened country,” he said in an interview on the progressive website Alternet. The fear, he said, “goes back to the colonies.”
Americans have always been afraid of something — Native Americans attacking, slaves revolting, Mexican immigrants “bringing drugs” or “bringing crime.” The irony though, is that white Americans often brought this paranoia on themselves: The Native Americans were defending themselves from invasion, the slaves were fighting for their freedom. And new immigrants — including illegal immigrants — are less likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens.
Writer, editor and mmotorcyclist Arvin Temka

I know that in my reluctance to undertake such a journey, that I, too, live in fear.  

I know that playwright David Hwang wrote about the time he was attacked on a New York street -- steps from his home, minding his own business. He was stabbed in the neck for no other reason than he looked Asian.

I know two Indian Americans were just sitting in a restaurant -- as what happened in Kansas City -- when some random man began shooting at them -- fatally wounding one of them -- yelling at them to go back to their country.

I know that Syed Ahmed Jamal, a respected teacher in Lawrence, Kansas was getting in his car to bring his child to school when he's approaced by ICE agents and arrested for deportation. 

I know I could be driving down a street in any suburban town and someone can pull up alongside me and begin yelling epitets at me, or, "Go back to your country!" or pull their eyes back, or yell "Ching, chong ..."

I know I could be getting off a freeway exit ramp and a cop could stop me because I have a beard and I'm wearing a baseball cap ... and my skin is brown.

I know I could be riding a commuter train on my way to the city and someone could start cursing me for "taking over" "their" country.

I know I could walk into a restaurant and everyone, from the waiters to the customers, stop what they are doing and stare at me. Or, the host could simply don't acknowledge my presence, as I wait to be seated.

I know that fear can manifest itself in any number of ways, anywhere, anytime ... by anyone.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Cubs' Addison Russel might be ineligible for the post-season playoffs.

Addison Russell's baseball season may be over.

THE ALL-STAR shortstop for the Chicago Cubs, Addison Russell, might not be allowed to play in the post-season, which ends Sunday (Sept. 30).

The Filipino American baseball player was placed on leave last week by Major League Baseball following allegations that he was physically and verbally abusive during his marriage.

The Athletic reports that the MLB has “additional credible information” to support allegations by ex-wife Melisa Reidy-Russell that she endured physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband during their marriage, which lasted less than two years.

Russell says the allegations were completely false and that he expects any “full and fair” investigation to exonerate him.

The odds of Russell returning to the Cubs in time for the MLB playoffs appear slim, as every previous case of a player going on administrative leave resulted in a suspension without appeal.

The most notable recent case was then-Blue Jays close Roberto Osuna, who eventually received a 75-game suspension for a breach of the league’s domestic violence policy, reports Yahoo.

According to MLB's domestic violence policy, to punish a player does not require the “beyond a reasonable doubt” burden of proof seen in criminal courts, where domestic violence cases are more difficult to nail down, even in today's #MeToo environment. Instead, MLB only needs enough evidence to conclude that the player likely committed the abuse, with the player having the right to appeal any suspension in front of an independent arbitrator.

The MLB placed Russell on a week of administrative leave on Sept. 21, which would have ended Friday (Sept. 28). During Russell's absence the Cubs have since been losing ground in the last week of regular season games before the playoffs.

The estranged couple began divorce proceedings in 2017 after two years of marriage, in which Reidy alleges she faced constant emotional abuse that turned physical multiple times. She also alleged Russell frequently cheated on her, something she alluded to in an Instagram post celebrating a new beginning.
Russell, 24, made the All-Star team in 2016 when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time since 1908. Russell's glove and bat were key reasons the team were able to break the 110 year World Series drought.
Russell’s status with the Cubs is still in question and it is doubtful he will return to the team if the Cub's plays an extended post-season.

Hyatt Hotels ban hosting of anti-Muslim organizations


ONE MONTH after being blasted for hosting an anti-Muslim group, Hyatt Hotel CEO Mark Hoplamazian has announced the chain will ban such groups in the future.
“If a group is primarily focused on disparaging a group by virtue of their identity…that’s really where we need to draw the line. We’re going to apply our values to making these decisions along the way,” Hoplamazian said.

Protestors condemned the chain this summer when it hosted an anti-Muslim group at its hotel in suburban Washington, D.C.

This month, Hoplamazian met with Donald Trump to discuss the Trump administration's Visa waiver policy and urge him to send a welcoming message to international travelers.

“We talked about extending a message of warm welcome to the rest of the world which we feel is critical, Hoplamazian told Skift, an industry website. “Our pitch is that that’s actually most effective when it comes from the top. We didn’t get any commitments on that but we think we made our case.”

Two GOP senators join Democrats asking for FBI probe of sex allegations vs. Kavanaugh

Senators Kamala Harris, center, and Mazie Hirono, right, spoke to the media after the Senate committee hearing.

HOURS AFTER Donald Trump gave into the intense pressure to look into allegations of sexual misconduct of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the FBI has already scheduled interviews with at least one of the two women who came forward with additional iinformation after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford claimed that Kavanaugh assaulted her.

The FBI's supplemental investigation would look into allegations of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh. Besides the allegation of Blasey Ford, which the Senate Judiciary Committee heard Thursday, two other women have come forward as victims and/or witnesses to the drunken, aggressive behavior by Kavanaugh.

Blasey Ford “welcomes” the FBI investigation into her allegations that she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, one of her attorneys confirmed Friday.

“A thorough FBI investigation is critical to developing all the relevant facts,” Debra Katz said in a statement. “Dr. Christine Blasey Ford welcomes this step in the process, and appreciates the efforts of Senators Flake, Murkowski, Manchin and Collins — and all other senators who have supported an FBI investigation — to ensure it is completed before the Senate votes on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. No artificial limits as to time or scope should be imposed on this investigation.”

Kavanaugh has also said he would cooperate fully with the investigation.

The key vote was cast by Republican Sen. Jeff Flake who placed a condition on his yes vote, giving the GOP the majority on the committee. For his yes vote, he wanted an FBI investigation of the allegations before the Senate vote.

Shortly after Flake's position became known, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, expressed her support for an investigation. Without the two GOP senators,  any attempt by the GOP to push a vote through purely on party affiliation and without an FBI probe, would have died.

Democrats have been pushing for an FBI investigation of the sexual misconduct allegations ever since Balsey Ford's assertions became known last week.

Trump's green light to the FBI probe came after intense pressure from women who sympathized with Balsey Ford and believed her allegations. The American Bar Association this morning and the Jesuit Order, withdrew their endorsements of Kavanaugh pending an FBI probe.

“I’ve ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file,” Trump said in a statement on Friday. “As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week.”

"It certainly should cover the three credible reports that have come forward, and it has to be complete,"said Sen. Mazie Hirono to CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room."

Friday morning as the judiciary committee was voting to send the nomination to the Senate floor, Hirono and Sen. Kamala Harris walked out of the meeting room in protest to the vote.

"Republicans are rushing Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation with a sham hearing this morning, less than 24 hours after Dr. Ford had the courage to tell her story in front of the entire country. This is a disgrace," said Harris in a letter to her supporters.

"So, instead of sitting through this farce... I walked out," she continued.

"I know this week has been exhausting," said Harris, "but we cannot stop marching and speaking out against this nomination."

TV cameras didn't show this: Dozens of House members stood in silence as Sen. Chuck Grassley,chair of the Senate Judiciary  Committee openedthe hearing to listen to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony alleging the nominee assaulted her when both were teenagers. Among those members were AAPI Representatives Jamila Jayapal, Judy Chu, Colleen Hanabusa and Grace Meng. They left  the room as soon as guards approached them.

Symposium launches drive for Carlos Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies

WITH FILIPINO AMERICAN History Month just days away, a fundraising drive to create the country's first Center for Filipino Studies is being launched today (Sept. 29).
Though Filipinos have had a presence in the state since 1587 when the first Asian, an "indio" of Luzon, stepped onto California shores as a crew member of a Spanish galleon and have grown to become the largest Asian group in the state, little is known or taught, studied or research about their history, contributions, issues and their ongoing evolution through immigration.

The Carlos Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies Initiative (BCFSI) aims to continue Bulosan’s legacy by advancing researcheducation, and advocacy for historical and contemporary issues faced by Filipinos in the United States, the Philippines, and abroad. 

Under the direction of Dr. Robyn Rodriguez (Professor and Chair of the UC Davis Department of Asian American Studies) the BCFSI seeks to establish both a physical and digital institution at the UC Davis campus. The Center’s focus will stretch across multiple disciplines and fields, such as public policy, sociology, cultural studies, history, public & economic health.

Other ethnic groups have created study centers in other parts of the country, but a center for Filipino studies has been lacking. There is a Philippine Studies Center at the University of Hawaii, but its focus on the Philippines.

The Carlos Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies and LEAD Filipino are co-leading an inaugural Filipino Policy Symposium on Saturday, September 29 from11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. at  Wellman Hall on the campus of the University of California, Davis.

"Our goals for the Symposium are to build coalitions with Filipino organizations across the region, advance and develop a 2019 Policy Agenda pushing for progressive policies that will better our community's well being, and organize the first-ever Filipino Legislative Advocacy Day in Sacramento in 2019," states the symposium's website.

With California's General Election coming up on Nov. 6, the symposium will emphasize the importance of civic engagement and participation with an eye to making an impact on the 2020 Presidential race and Census.

After the symposium, a benefit dinner with entertainment will be held starting at 6:30 p.m. featuring DJs, hip-hop and spoken word. The dinner is sold out but tickets for the sympsium are still available: $20 for the public and $5 for students.

Rodriguez added that the center was named after Carlos Bulosan, the famed Filipino American author, because of his work as one of the most prominent figures in the labor movement and because of his commitment to lifting up the experiences, stories and issues of the most marginalized of the Filipino community.

She hopes sometime in the next year to get the state of California, which just passed a bill requring ethnic studies in its public schools, to formally adopt Bulosan's semi-autobiographical novel "America Is in the Heart" as recommended literature through the California Department of Education.

“What was quite disturbing was the fact that Carlos Bulosan, who really has become really central to Filipino American studies at the college level is nowhere to be found when it comes to the recommended literature list for K-12 education in our state,” she said. “It’s not even that he’s missing, but there is actually very little in terms of Filipino Americans so we’re hoping to change that.”

If you wish to donate to the Carlos Bulosan Filipino Studies Center, click here.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

FBI to reopen Kvanaugh probe; Hirono and Harris play key roles

Christine Blasey Ford was sworn in before being questioned in the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing.
UPDATED Sept. 28, 3:15 pm: To include breaking news.

THE HYPOCRISY of the Republican Party was on full display … and now the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court could be in trouble.

The Senate’s Judiciary Committee voted early today to advance Brett Kavanaugh to the full Senate. The committee voted despite riveting and credible testimony from Prof. Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused the justice-to-be of sexual assault when both were in high school 36 years ago.

But here’s the surprise.

Senator Jeff Flake, R-AZ, threatened to vote Kavanaugh’s confirmation down unless the FBI begins a time-limited one week investigation into Ford’s allegation. The Republican leadership has agreed.
Shortly after the judiciary committee vote, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she supports Flake's condition. Without the two Republican senators support, any attempt to rush a vote on Kavanaugh without the probe, would likely be defeated.
 This afternoon, Donald Trump has ordered a one-week FBI investigation pushing back the vote in the full senate on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

In the middle of the Washington cultural and political brouhaha were two Asian American senators, Kamala Harris, D-CA, and Mazie Hirono, D-HI.

During the committee’s vote to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination, both Harris and Hirono were among those Democratic senators who walked out in protest.

“Democrats are not being heard. They’re pushing through this process. This is a failure of this body – to do what it has always said it’s about, which is be deliberative,” said Harris.

“I’m here standing with my colleagues because it’s very clear that the Republicans will break every norm, every rule, to get this person on the Supreme Court,” said Hirono. “Where he will be there with a cloud – he will weaken the court, and this has got to stop. So I walked out. I’m not going to participate in this charade anymore
For a full year, the GOP-dominated Senate refused to hold a hearing on Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court, but are now willing to rush to a vote to seat Kavanaugh despite the dark cloud of sexual misconduct still hanging over his head.

By the time you read this, the Senate's Judiciary Committee will likely have approved Brett Kavanaugh to be voted on the full Senate. The committee is slated to vote on Kavanaugh's nomination Friday (Sept. 28) morning after hearing from Kavanaugh and Prof. Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused the justice-to-be of sexual assault when both were in high school 36 years ago.

“The credibility is there for her. So I believe her,” Hirono told The New York Times earlier this week.

“This whole idea that the Republicans have, that women just sit around making these things up, that is not borne out by the reality,” she added, referring to the dozens of comments from Republicans questioning Blasey Ford’s story.

On Thursday, Hirono chastised sex-crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell brought in specially to grill Blasey because the 11 Republican men on the committee didn't want it appear that they were ganging up on the woman victim. Hirono criticized the Arizona prosecutor for "asking these questions all to undermine the memory and basically the credibility of" the accuser.

"Mr. Chairman. is it your intent to cede all Republicans' time to your prosecutor rather than they themselves ceding their time to her?'" Hirono asked as she targeted committee chair Chuck Grassley.

"Yes," Grassley replied.

Hirono then said, "We all know that the prosecutor, even though this clearly is not a criminal proceeding, is asking Dr. Ford all kinds of questions about what happened before and after, but basically not during the attack," Hirono said.

In contrast to the hired prosecutor's attempts to weaken Blasey's claims, Harris used her five-minutes to sooth the "terrified" California psychology professor. "You are not on trial," Harris told Ford. "You are not on trial."
"You are sitting here before the United States Judiciary Committee because you had the courage to come forward because as you have said you believe it was your civic duty," Harris said bringing Ford on the verge of tears.
"You have passed a polygraph and submitted the results to this committee. Judge Kavanaugh has not. You have called for outside witnesses to testify and for expert witnesses to testify. Judge Kavanaugh has not. But most importantly you have called for an independent FBI investigation into the facts. Judge Kavanaugh has not and we owe you that," Harris said.
Christine Balsey Ford, 'you are a true profile in courage at this moment in time in the history of our country." 
- Sen. Kamala Harris
In her powerful closing statement, Harris told Ford, "You have been a true patriot in fighting for the best of who we are as a country. I believe you are doing that because you love this country, and I believe history will show that you are a true profile in courage at this moment in time in the history of our country."
In the afternoon, Kavanaugh didn't give any ground, giving an angry, tearful statement, almost shouting his statement in stark contrast to the Blasey's sincerely emotional and soft-spoken statement and responses.
Kavanaugh took the Trumpian approach to controversy by doubling down and going on the offensive, rudely interrupting the senators' questions and throwing the question back to the Democrats. 
He strongly denied the allegations of Blasey Ford and the three other women who claim to have seen Kavanaugh dead drunk and belligerent. Except for Blasey Ford, none of the other women, including a key witness, Mark Judge, to the alleged assault on Blasey Ford, were brought in by the senate committee for questioning and/or corroboration of either Blasey Ford's or Kavanaugh's statements.
He consistently avoided answering Democrat's questions if he would ask for an FBI investigation to move the incident(s) beyond the he-said, she-said situationi facing the committee members.
In the end, probably no votes of committee members changed, Blasey Ford came off sounding sincere and credible and Kavanaugh came off as emotionally unstable, petulant and a sure bet his nomination will go to the full Senate as quickly as possible before another woman might come forth with a story of Kavanaugh's earlier days ... and before the Midterm elections when the GOP might lose the majority in the House and/or the Senate.

TGIF Feature: Exhibit on Asian American hip-hop, rappers and DJs

Gajin Fujita's "And What!" is part of the exhibit.

"DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE: LA Asian Americans in Hip Hop" examines the genre’s influence of resistance, refuge, and reinvention for Asian American living in the greater Los Angeles region through art. 

The exhibit, which opened in May at the Chinese American Museum, includes site-specific immersive spaces created by graffiti artists and muralists. Paintings, photographs, audio/video installations and historical ephemera are also on display.

Participating visual artists: DEFER, Gajin Fujita, Hueman, Kenny Kong,  Farah Sosa, Shark Toof, SWANK, and Erin Yoshi. Featuring media and documents from B+ for Mochilla, Beat Junkie Institute of Sound, Culture Shock, organizers of the Firecracker music series Daryl Chou and Alfred Hawkins, and the performing artists Jason Chu, DJ Rhettmatic, DJ Babu, and SET.

Writes Sarah Lin for KCET: "The show examines hip-hop as a tool for 'resistance, refuge and reinvention' through the perspectives of Asian-Pacific American iconoclasts such as Filipino American DJ Babu, known for his work with World Famous Beat Junkies; Indian-American artist Nisha Sethi, whose henna-inspired works quote A Tribe Called Quest; and Japanese-American painter Gajin Fujita, whose gilded pieces blend graffiti, pop culture and centuries-old art."

The exhibit is being curated by Justin Charles Hoover and Ninochka “Nosh” McTaggart, 

“It wasn’t about being Filipino American or being Chinese American or being Japanese American. It was about being a musician,” says Hoover.

“We are not just our racial background… We’re not just our race or our gender,” McTaggart added. “We take influence and inspiration from our community, our environment, our city.”

As a result, Babu echoed, “I’m more proud than ever to be a Filipino American doing what I’m doing.”

The exhibit runs through November at the Chinese American Museum at 425 North Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Non-Voters Anonymous PSA features Darren Criss, Randall Park and Kumail Nanjiani

A scene from the turn-out-the-vote PSA, 
LEADING UP TO THE MIDTERM ELECTIONS,  there's been a lot being written about the Asian American and Pacific Islander vote and how influential it can be in key Congressional districts and states. 

"Voting is the most powerful way to have a voice in the future of your community,” said Rhea Suh, President of the National Resource Defense Council. “We want to show people how easy it is to register to vote and motivate them to exercise their right on November 6th. It’s never too late to be a first-time voter.”

Perhaps it's no coincidence that one of the first PSAs about voter registration included  three Asian Americans: Randall Park, Kumail Nanjiani and Darren Criss, because Asian Americans also have the reputation for not showing up at the polling stations. The AAPI community has the poorest turnout among voters.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is teaming up with Funny Or Die, Park, Nanjiani and Criss along with Mandy Moore and Billy Eichner for the latest iteration of their “Glam Up The Midterms!” campaign. Together, they are releasing a new video dispelling commonly used excuses by nonvoters. The campaign will make it easy to register to vote, find the right polling site and pledge to vote in the upcoming election.

“There's nothing more important right now than encouraging young people to vote in the Midterm Election on Nov 6th,” said Billy Eichner. “This is without a doubt the most important election of our time. That's why I started the Glam Up the Midterms campaign with Funny or Die. I'm so grateful to NRDC for partnering with us and to Mandy Moore, Kumail Nanjiani, Darren Criss and Randall Park for joining me in our latest Glam Up video."

(Watch the PSA vdeo, below.)

To motivate participation in the midterm elections, from now until November, NRDC and Funny Or Die will engage the public through online video and social media. A recently released poll from the Public Religion Research Institute and the Atlanticshowed that at this stage in the 2018 election cycle, half (50%) of Americans report that they are absolutely certain to vote in the upcoming midterm election. 

NRDC was founded in 1970 by a group of law students and attorneys at the forefront of the environmental movement. Today's leadership team and board of trustees makes sure the organization continues to work to ensure the rights of all people to clean air, clean water, and healthy communities.

Learn more about NRDC's efforts to get out the vote here: more information about Funny Or Die’s ‘Glam Up the Midterms visit:

To register to vote, go to

Padma Lakshimi: "I was raped at 16" and didn't report it

Food critic and television host Padma Lakshi
THE SENATE CONFIRMATION hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanagh has turned into an extension of the #MeToo debate and demonstrates once again, the huge gulf between men and women.

Padma Lakshimi, host of Top Chef and international model, has come forward in an New York Times oped today (Sept. 26) and a series of follow-up tweets to explain why she didn't report the three sexual assaults in her life that she ddn't report.

 The model-actress said she was motivated to speak out in the wake of two women accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of inappropriate sexual conduct. Kavanaugh has denied both women's accusations. She said she decided to make the incidents public as a show of support for Prof. Christine Blasey Ford, who is alleging that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years ago when he was 17 and she was 15.

She relates in her oped that she was raped at age 16 while dating a 23-year old co-worker. But besides getting raped, she told of two other incidents in which she was sexually assaulted. The first incident was when she was just 7-years old.

"When I was 7 years old, my stepfather's relative touched me between my legs and put my hand on his erect penis," wrote Lakshmi, who also recently tweeted about the incident as part of #WhyIDidntReport. "Shortly after I told my mother and stepfather, they sent me to India for a year to live with my grandparents. The lesson was: If you speak up, you will be cast out."

Since Ford's revelation, two other women have come forward about being sexually victimized by a drunk Kavanaugh, who has strongly denied all of the assertions.

Donald Trump and other senators who support Kavanaugh couldn't fathom why someone wouldn't report those assaults to the police right away instead of keeping quiet about them for decades.

"I have nothing to gain by talking about this," Lakshmi wrote in the NYTimes. "But we all have a lot to lose if we put a time limit on telling the truth about sexual assault and if we hold on to the codes of silence that for generations have allowed men to hurt women with impunity."

Lakshimi's representative that the television personality would not make any further comment on her oped or the iincidents in her life, but she continued to post on twitter in response to her article.

Lakshimi tweets about the toll the telling of her hidden story has taken on her and her family, including her own 8-year old daughter, who she has instructed to speak out if anyone inappropriately touches her.

Professor Ford is scheduled to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday (Sept. 27) along with a rebuttal from Kavanaugh. The 11 GOP members of the committee have hired a woman prosecutor to question the California psychology professor because of the optics that would present of 11 men ganging up and attacking a woman assault victim. 

Instead of a full investigation by the committee or the FBI on the allegations against the nominee, a vote on Kavanaugh will be held on Friday according to committee chair Sen. Chuck Grassley. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you or someone you know are a victim of sexual assault, you are encouraged to seek help at the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE. It is free and confidential, 24/7 or click here.


Legal immigrants could be penalized for using government assistance

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial in Washington D.C.


A new rule proposed by the Trump administration would make it more difficult for legal immigrants to get a green card if they apply for food stamps or Medicaid, reports Vox.

Experts warn this change could cause individuals to disenroll from public benefits for fear of losing their opportunity to get a green card, leading to worse health and poverty outcomes for millions of children and families. 

“This plan is outrageous. The goal of the Trump administration’s new ‘public charge’ plan is clear: to drive undocumented and immigrant communities into the shadows and tear apart families who live and work here," said Monica Thammarath, president of Asian Pacific Americans Labor Alliance. (APALA).

“There is no justification for this rule change outside of bald-faced xenophobia," said Rep. Judy Chu, D-CA and chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. "The change applies to immigrants who are here legally and have done nothing to merit punishment. Immigrant families are no less entitled to food or housing support than any other person trying to get by in this unequal economy."

The proposal, long expected, were released quietly over the weekend and received minimal news coverage because most media were emphasizing coverage of teh sexual assault charges against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 presidential elections.

"This change creates a rigged immigration process that makes it impossible for all but the wealthiest to have a secure, permanent future here. Green Cards shouldn’t go to the highest bidder," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-WA. "Your actions, not your wallet, should define you in the United States. This just the latest ploy from Trump and Republicans to distract Americans from their efforts to bulldoze working families. We won’t play their games and are ready to fight tooth and nail to stop this rule.”

More than 1.5 million Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) immigrants are in families that u se public benefits to feed and sustain their families.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice immediately moved to denounce the idea.

“This is a wide-reaching and incredibly depraved attack from the Trump Administration on our families. This proposed rule could discourage families from accessing the basic assistance they need in order to survive in our communities. More than 1.5 million Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) immigrants are in families that use public benefits to feed and sustain their families,” AAAJC said in a statement.

According to the civil rights law group, immigrants are already prevented from accessing most federal programs during their first five years of living in the United States.

“The proposed regulation greatly expands the federal government’s ability to reject applications for lawful permanent residency, attacking our family-based immigration system through backdoor methods,” AAAJ statement continued.

The Center for American Progress joined in the condemnation.

“It jeopardizes children in the school cafeteria lunch line, people in need of lifesaving medical care, and immigrant parents working two jobs just to put food on the table,” CAP said. “This move goes around Congress to tear families apart and reverse immigration policies and practices that have lasted for nearly a century—through Republican and Democratic administrations alike.”

The Department of Homeland Security defends the proposal, saying it will save tax dollars.

Once the rule is officially published on the Federal Register, the public will have 60 days to comment on the proposed rule before the Department of Homeland Security proceeds with final rulemaking.

“You don’t kick the cane away from a person and criticize them for not standing. But that’s what this rule is doing," said Chu. "I’m deeply worried that immigrant families who are here legally and are doing their best to get by will now go hungry because they fear being punished for using the resources our country has made available to them.”