Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Indian 'daredevil' couple plummet to their deaths at Yosemite overlook

Meenakshi Moorth and Vishnu Vishwanath
DESPITE WARNING their Instagram followers about the inherent dangers of daredevil selfies, the Indian couple who had just moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, apparently fell off the Yosemite cliff to their deaths.

Meenakshi Moorth, 30, and Vishnu Vishwanath, 29, plummeted to their deaths from Taft Point, a popular spot overlooking Yosemite Valley Oct. 25 while taking pictures of themselves.
Although the reason for their fall is yet to be determined, the couple was known to post daring cliffside pictures, both on their Instagram account and travel blog, Holidays and HappilyEverAfters.

In Instagram posts to their 12.9K followers, they had tragically written about the dangers of strong wind gusts at great heights, and their daring photos, or as they called it, "daredevilry" and "doitforthegram," on multiple occasions.

"A lot of us including yours truly is a fan of daredevilry attempts of standing at the edge of cliffs and skyscrapers, but did you know that wind gusts can be FATAL??? Is our life just worth one photo?" according to the post written on March 28, 2018.
On Instagram, where the software engineer couple had over 15,000 followers, Moorthy’s distinctive pink hair stood out against the scenic backdrops of the mountains and cliffs they climbed.

Meenakshi Moorth's pink hair stood out in the stunning vistas taken by the couple.
In this Instagram post on March 28 from the Grand Canyon, she issued a word of caution.

In a press release from the National Park Service, it was estimated that the couple fell approximately 800 feet.

Park rangers recovered their bodies last Thursday, using technical climbing, rappelling techniques and helicopter support from the California Highway Patrol to reach them.

"We still don't have any clear idea exactly what happened," Jamie Richards, a spokeswoman for Yosemite National Park, told The Mercury News, a Bay Area newspaper. "We are still trying to piece it together."

"There is a railing at the overlook, but there are plenty of places you can go near there without railings," she said. "Yosemite is an inherently wild place."

The two had recently moved to the Bay Area from New York City after Viswanath started a new job at Cisco Systems, based in Silicon Valley, according to an unidentified friend. They had studied computer science and engineering at the College of Engineering in Kerala’s Chengannur before coming to the US.

The travel-loving couple ran a blog where Meenakshi described herself as having an “insatiable wanderlust” and being “obsessed with all the beauty this planet beholds.” She also described herself as an “adrenaline junkie” who is not scared of “roller coasters and sky diving.

The couple was aware of the dangers of their risk-taking photos.


AAPI Vote 2018: Asian Americans could play key role in North Carolina election

North Carolina AAPI voters may influence outcomes in the Nov. 6 elections.


ASIAN AMERICAN VOTERS in North Carolina could make the difference in several key Congressional and state races, according to a new report from North Carolina Asian Americans Together.

The report found that Asian Americans are the fastest growing minority in the state, with the AAPI population growing 144 percent from 2000-2016. There are more than 89,000 Asian American voters in the state. Facing South reports that number has doubled in the last decade.

Those voters are concentrated in four counties-Wake (79,162), Mecklenburg (61,859), Guilford (27,306) and Durham (14,634) where they are in position to swing the election.

According to Facing South, there are three tight U.S. House Races in 2018 and a dozen close state races, as well as six proposed amendments to the state constitution. 52 percent of Asian American voters in the state are independent or unaffiliated.

“Asian American communities are a growing force in North Carolina,” Chavi Khanna Koneru, executive director of NCAAT, said to Facing South. “At a time when issues affecting immigrants and communities of color are in the national spotlight, it’s more important than ever to educate and motivate our families, friends and neighbors.”

Voter enthusiasm is said to be high among Asian Americans. A national survey from AAPI Data found 48 percent of Asian American voters polled say they are enthusiastic about voting this year versus 28 percent in 2014. NCAAT hopes this will help overcome the low voter turnout among Asian Americans in North Carolina. 56.5% of AAPI voters cast a vote in 2016 versus 69% statewide.

Almost one in three voting-eligible AAPIs in North Carolina are young adults between the ages of 18 and 29. They are even more independent, with 55.8% being unaffiliated. An APIAVote analysis from the 2014 election shows that although they are least likely to receive voter contact, AAPI young adult voters display greater voter enthusiasm than other age groups and are more likely to turn out to vote.

Key findings include:

  • In a state where major elections have been decided by just tens of thousands of votes, eligible Asian American voters now number 103,000. 
  • Asian American registered voters have largely opted out of the partisan divide, with 51 percent of them unaffiliated with any political party.
  • Asian American voters are concentrated in the state's major metro areas, where they could play a key role in close races.
  • The Asian American voting bloc is extremely diverse, with over 20 nationalities and ethnicities and over 40 languages represented.
  • A range of issues concern Asian American voters from jobs, education and health care to immigration, racism and police accountability.
  • HB 589, North Carolina's restrictive 2013 voting law, could have disproportionately affected Asian American voters around measures like same-day voter registration and voter ID if a court hadn't blocked enforcement of the law for the 2016 general election.
Read the full report at


FilAm History: SF monument to tell truth about start of Philippine American War

The Dewey Monument in San Francisco's Union Square will be corrected to reflect the true history of the historic battle that ended one war  and launched another.

FOR A LONG TIME, the monument to Commodore George Perry and the Battle of Manila Bay has been a sore point with the Filipino American community. It was like a slap in the face.
Placed in Union Square, it is also the place where the Filipino American community stages one of its largest celebrations of June 12, Philippine Independence Day, the presence of the Nike the Goddess of Victory atop the tall column added insult to injury even though most attendees never took the time to read the four panel inscription at the monument's base.

Seen as a military victory for the United States, Dewey's defeat of the Spanish Armada and the end of the Spanish American War was also the start of the Philippine American War, but there was no mention of the role of the Philippines independence movement, the betrayal of the American allies and the resultant war that took hundreds of thousands lives of combatants and civilians.

Earlier in October, the Visual Arts Committee of the San Francisco Arts Commission endorsed the idea to tell "the rest of the story."

“First Philippine President General Emilio Aguinaldo made sure that we are already independent even before the Americans came to our country after he followed international protocol in declaring Philippine independence. So we were already independent by the time Commodore Dewey defeated the Spanish fleet and not be granted independence by the Americans,” explained Rudy Asercion, one of most persistent advocates for the historical correction. 

“Some people celebrate the Filipino American History Month but we are part of making history today with this unanimous approval. It was a big help that the Filipino community, not just by one person or one organization but the whole community, showed and up and spoke in behalf and in favor of the plaque,” Asercion beamed. “Basically we are doing this thing for our children so that they know that rich history of the Filipinos with regards to the Filipino American war.”

The full SFAC will formally confirm the visual arts committee recommendation of the proposed on the Dewey monument inscription, including the text and historical accuracy of what is written there, in their November 5 meeting. It is hoped that the new inscriiption will be formally dedicated in time for Filipino American History Month in October of 2019.

“This is obviously a great step in Filipino American History Month. The intergenerational collaboration you really paved the way for young people to really step up,” said National Federation of Filipino American Association executive director Jason Tengco.

“How many of us have gone to Union Square, seen this monument not knowing what it means or what it stands for but again you have paved the way for us and to so many future generations to learn what it is," said Tengco.

The current inscriiption reads:

Ironically, work on the monument began in 1901 and it was dedicated in 1903 while the Philippine American War was still taking place.

Robert Ingersoll Aitken was hired to sculpt a 9-foot (2.7 m) statue representing Nike, the ancient Greek Goddess of Victory in honor of President William McKinley and Dewey. The statue holds a trident that represents Dewey and a wreath that represents McKinley.

Architect Newton Tharp designed the base and column within a budget of $45,000. The column, over 5 ft (1.5 m) in diameter and over 85 ft (25.9 m) in height, was assembled from individual blocks weighing 40,000 lb (18,144 kg). 

The proposed new inscription reads:
The Battle of Manila Bay and the Philippine American War
The people of the Philippines struggled against Spanish colonial rule for over 300 years. At the outbreak of the Spanish American War, Filipinos joined with American forces and rejoiced in Commodore George Dewey’s decisive defeat of the archipelago’s Spanish fleet in May 1, 1898 Battle of Manila Bay.
Within a month of that naval victory, the Philippines declared its freedom from Spain, marking June 12, 1898 as Philippine Independence Day. Filipinos took the historic occasion to declare their national sovereignty and to establish the first republic of record in Southeast Asia.
The Spanish American War ended with the Treat of Paris in December, 1898. However, the United States’ continued military presence in the Philippines led to the conflict later known as the Philippine American War. In that dark period, 4,400 American soldiers died, together with 20,000 Filipino combatants. Civilian lives lost numbered in the hundreds of thousands. The Philippines remained a colony of the United States from 1899 to 1935, and granted commonwealth status thereafter.
The crucible of World War II bonded together the United States and the Philippines as never before against a common enemy. The extraordinary sacrifice and heroism of Filipinos in that struggle for freedom led to the United States’ acknowledgement of Philippine Independence on July 4, 1946.

Take On America talks to 100 Asian American Millennials, Nov 2

IT'S NOT OFTEN Asian Americans are given the opportunity to talk about themselves. Speaking out is not something usually associated with Asian Americans but this program breaks that stereotype.

This Friday, 100 Asian American Milennials will have a chance to sound off on issues like affirmative action, workplace discrimination, stereotypes and more in PBS' Take On America.

Based on the trailers, the conversation might get pretty explosive.

The young Asian Americans gathered in San Francisco to meet and talk to moderator Carlos Watson, who brought with him celebrity chef and raconteur Eddie Huang, actor Harry Shum Jr. and fashion designer. Kimora Lee Simmons and attorney Harmeet Dhillon.

The most heated conversation centered around affirmative action with Dhillon, Republican National Committee member taking on the more liberal Bay Area audience.The trailer chose to focus on that debate but the audience and panel also talked about dating, identity and Asian male stereotypes.

Take On America airs on PBS on Friday, Nov. 2. Check local listings for show times.

History lesson for Trump: Chinese American's case set prescedence for 'birthright citizenship'

Wong Kim Ark's case set precedence bor 'birthright citizenship.' 

WONG KIM ARK must be turning over in his grave.

As if there aren't enough reasons to vote Democrat on Nov. 6, Donald Trump on Monday (Oct. 29) announced that he wants to make birthright citizenship illegal.

In brief, birthright citizenship, as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, says that if a person in born in the United States, that person automatically is considered a legal citizen of the U.S.

“The president cannot erase the Constitution with an executive order, and the 14th Amendment's citizenship guarantee is clear," said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. "This is a transparent and blatantly unconstitutional attempt to sow division and fan the flames of anti-immigrant hatred in the days ahead of the midterms.”

“Not only is (Trump's proposal) unconstitutional, it is un-American and unapologetically a scare tactic a week before the elections. We are not fooled," said Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance Executive Director, Alvina Yeh. "We will continue defending the 14th Amendment as the Supreme Court did in 1898, when white nationalists tried to revoke 14th amendment rights for Chinese people." 

Prior to 1898, birthright citizenship, embedded in the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, was applied to those of European descent.

Wong's case was the first instance when it was applied to an Asian American. It became the law of the land in the case involving Wong Kim Ark, who was born in San Francisco and whose parents were non-citizens living and working in the U.S.

At the age of 18 he visited China, the land of his parents, and upon his return was refused entrance because officials said he was not a U.S. citizen.

Wong was forced to wait on a ship in San Francisco harbor for months as his attorney pursued his case for citizenship. He was a test case, selected by the Department of Justice in an attempt to prove that people of Chinese descent weren’t citizens. 

His case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled on behalf of the Chinese American in 1898. “The Fourteenth] Amendment, in clear words and in manifest intent, includes the children born, within the territory of the United States, of all other persons, of whatever race or color, domiciled within the United States,” wrote associate justice Horace Gray in the precedent-setting opinion.

"The Constitution’s meaning could not be more clear. And the Supreme Court has agreed, ruling multiple times to uphold birthright citizenship," said Rep. Judy Chu, D-CA, who is chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, made up of AAPI senators and House members and those whose districts have AAPI communities.

Trump says he can change the Constitution through executive order. Legal scholars disagree. There is a long and complicated process for changing the U.S. Constitution and it doesn't involve presidential decrees. 

Trump hopes to stem the practices that gives preferences to the relatives of U.S. citizens, a process employed by legal citizens to bring over family members, including children and parents.

"Trump’s action isn’t about what’s good or moral or legal or even effective. It’s just President Trump’s latest attempt to fuel anger in order to win votes. I can imagine no lower aspiration in government," said Chu. "What he wants is a debate on who does and does not belong here, because he knows xenophobia helps him win elections. But xenophobia also creates tension and increases the risk of violence."

Make no mistake, the Midterm Elections is all about Donald Trump and his attempt to reduce immigration from Asia and Latin America and Africa. Everywhere, in fact, except immigration from Europe.

I won't mince words: The election is about Donald Trump and the racism and white nationalism that he uses to divide our country into white supremacists against everybody else.

Don't kid yourself: The election is about the social contract between the people of the United States and the government's social service net retaining Social Security, Mediare and Veterans Affairs, be

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:

“With one statement, Donald Trump displayed the bigotry and the ignorance that have made his presidency so dangerous.

“I implore the President to read the case U.S. v. Wong Ark. In this case, despite the Chinese Exclusion Act being in place, the Supreme Court upheld birthright citizenship for an individual who was born to immigrants. ‘All persons’ means ‘All persons’. The Constitution’s meaning could not be more clear. And the Supreme Court has agreed, ruling multiple times to uphold birthright citizenship. But Trump’s action isn’t about what’s good or moral or legal or even effective. It’s just President Trump’s latest attempt to fuel anger in order to win votes. I can imagine no lower aspiration in government. What he wants is a debate on who does and does not belong here, because he knows xenophobia helps him win elections. But xenophobia also creates tension and increases the risk of violence.

“Like all prejudice, this proposal is not rooted in logic or reality, but that does not make it any less dangerous.”

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), CAPAC Immigration Task Force Chair:

“President Trump should take a high school government class before so confidently claiming he can eliminate the 14th Amendment though executive action. Constitutional scholars and even members of his own party agree – this simply isn’t possible. This is nothing more than a desperate attempt to fan the flames of anti-immigrant rhetoric, sow division and distract voters from this administration’s very real infringements against working families. To Senator Lindsey Graham and anyone looking to encroach on basic citizenship rights legislatively: we will fight tooth and nail against any kind of regressive action, in the streets, in Congress and beyond. Our country’s fabric is stronger because of the protections provided in the 14th Amendment. These efforts are nothing more than attempts to harm children who are just as American as any other child born in the United States of America.”

In a 6–2 decision issued on March 28, 1898, the Supreme Court held that Wong Kim Ark had acquired U.S. citizenship at birth and that "the American citizenship whichWong Kim Ark acquired by birth within the United States has not been lost or taken away by anything happening since his birth."

Harvard on Trial: Admission guidelines clarified just days before lawsuit went to court, says Globe

AFTER TWO WEEKS of the plaintiffs presenting evidence and testimony alleging bias against Asian American applicants to Harvard, the school's lawyers continued their counter argument with their supporters and experts.

As the trial entered the third and final week, The Boston Globe published a story saying that new guidelines surrounding the use of race were given to its admission evaluators.

"Harvard’s updated guidelines for seemingly the first time explicitly tell admissions officials evaluating the crop of students for the class of 2023 in what instances they should consider an applicant’s race. And they provide far more detailed information on how to measure personal qualities such as courage, leadership, and resiliency. Harvard’s use of these attributes in the admissions process is at the center of the complaint by the Students for Fair Admissions," reported the Globe.

The guidelines, issued about 10 days before the start of the current trial addressed those unquantifiable qualities that are under the microscope in the lawsuit, also told admission officers to not lean favorably to only outgoing students, but also to consider introverts, as well.

Harvard's lawyers presented one of Harvard's alumnae, Ruth J. Simmons, president of Prairie View A&M University and the former president of Brown University, endorsed Harvard's practice of giving points or preferences for legacy students or children of rich donors.

“It is entirely appropriate for them to believe that it would be wonderful if their children could also enjoy the same benefits that they enjoyed as students,” Simmons said of alumni of Ivy League institutions. “We’ve been made stronger by benefit of that [alumni] involvement... one way for us to signal how important that is to us is that we consider their children in the context of our admissions process.”

Under cross-examination, she clarified that students who didn't qualify or meet Harvard's academic standards should not be admitted simply because they have the privilege of privilege.

Later in the day, taking the stand was economist David E. Card, a University of California at Berkeley professor whom Harvard employed to analyze its admissions data ahead of the trial.

Card challenged the conclusion of anti-Asian discrimination in Harvard's admissions policies that were presented by the expert of the Students for Fair Admissions, which brought the lawsuit to trial. 

"My conclusion is that the statistical evidence does not support the claim that Harvard discriminates against Asian-American applicants," said Card. "There is no statistical evidence that Harvard has engaged in racial balancing."

He also said, "Race is a factor in admissions to Harvard. It is a factor that is valued in some candidates," he said. "There is never a situation where race alone is determinative."

Michelle Yeoh getting Oscar buzz


COULD IT HAPPEN? Could Michelle Yeoh be honored with an Oscar nomination for her role as Eleanor Young in Crazy Rich Asians?

At least two articles out say the answer could be yes.

Forbes says “rule out (Yeoh) at your peril” and puts the veteran actress in the long shot category for best supporting actress.

Gold Derby, however, makes a strong case that Yeoh’s nomination should be more than a long shot. Rather it should be a sure thing.

Reviewer Kevin Jacobsen describes Yeoh’s performance as a “tough yet vulnerable take on a character who could easily verge into two-dimensional villainy.”

If nominated, Yeoh would be the first Asian actress to be nominated since Rinko Kikuchi for Babel in 2006. Kikuchi is one of five nominated in the past. The others include Jennifer Tilly for Bullets over Broadway in 1994,Meg Tilly for Agnes of God in 1985, Miyoshi Umeki who won for Sayonara in 1957, and Maori Merle Oberon for The Dark Angel in 1935.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Harvard on Trial:Students tell their stories - and talk about race

Thang Diep was one of the eight students to testify at the trail questioning Harvaard's admission practices.

EIGHT STUDENTS offered moving testimony about the benefits of diversity and the need to consider a student's race when applying to Harvard.

“I personally benefited from affirmative action,” said Harvard senior Thang Q. Diep. “It allows my immigration history to be taken into account, my own experiences taken into account.”

The trial examining if there is an anti-Asian bias built into the Harvard admission process entered its third week with the much-anticipated testimonies from the students.

The eight current and former Harvard students took the witness stand Monday (Oct. 29) to argue for race-conscious admissions — and against a race-blind process. Speakers included:
  • Sally Chen 
  • Margaret M. Chin
  • Sarah F. Cole
  • Thang Q. Diep
  • Catherine H. Ho
  • Cecilia A. J. Nuñez
  • Madison A. Trice
  • Itzel L. Vasquez-Rodriguez
U.S. District Court Judge Allison Burroughs offered plaintifffs who accused Harvard of discrimination a chance to describe their experiences but they apparently opted not to testify and remain anonymous out of fear of harassment and retaliation, according to their lawyers.

After Diep's 40-minutes on the witness stand during which the bspectacled senior told his life story, the audience broke into applause.

The eight students and alumni of color drew on personal experiences — including tales of childhood bullying, fears over Harvard's whiteness, and comfort found in College affinity groups — to defend the need for diversity on campus.

Many said their racial or ethnic identity shaped their early life and that the Harvard application process allowed them to take pride in their heritage. Some said they would not have applied to Harvard if the College did not consider race as a factor when evaluating applicants, according to the Harvard Crimson.

Sarah Cole, who graduated in 2016, said  that she faced “casual racism” from classmates at the prestigious and majority-white high school she attended. She said she could not possibly have applied to Harvard without writing about her race and the way it shaped her early life.

“Race-blind admissions is an act of erasure,” said Cole, who is African American. “To not see my race is to not see me.”

Margaret M. Chin, a sociologist at Hunter College and the City University of New York Graduate Center, testified that she felt the same way as an undergraduate in the 1980s.

“I never had met so many rich, white people in my life,” Chin said. “I was intimidated, especially in the classroom.”

The current admission process under attack has provided a modicum of diversity. Admission officers are instructed to evaluate applcants holistically with racebeing  just one of the factors, but not the main factor. A Crimson survey of the Class of 2022 found that respondents are roughly 46 percent white, 18 percent Asian, 11 percent black or African American, and 7 percent Hispanic or Latino.

The trial is expected to conclude on Friday. No matter whatever ruling is handed down by Burroughs, the decision would probably be appealed -- either by the university or by Students for Fair Admissions, a conservative, anti-affirmative action nonprofit which represents the Asian American plaintiffs -- all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Through the first two weeks of the trial, Harvard has continued to take a public relations beating over some of its admission policies, particularly those that favor alumni children and children of rich donors. The plaintiffs have focused on affirmative action as the reason more Asian Americans are not admitted. Although widely believed to be practiced, Harvard's admission of giving preference to applicants on the "special list," was still a surprise.
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who opposes the anti-affirmative action lawsuit, wrote this weekend of his anger over legacy preferences. "We progressives hail opportunity, egalitarianism and diversity. Yet here’s our dirty little secret: some of our most liberal bastions in America rely on a system of inherited privilege that benefits rich whites at the expense of almost everyone else," he wrote.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Hasan Minhaj kicks off his show with a bang

Hasan Minhaj tackles affirmative action and conservative Asian Americans in the premiered of his Netflix show

By Louis Chan,

HASAN MINHAJ'S NEW SHOW on Netflix debuted Sunday, and if the premier episode is an indication, the former correspondent for The Daily Showwon’t hesitate to speak from his perspective as an Asian American and Muslim.
“Affirmative action as we know it, is about to die, and guess what Asian Americans, we are the ones who can kill it,” Minhaj says in the premiere episode of Patriot Act speaking about the lawsuit alleging discrimination against Asian Americans by Harvard.

“I find it hilarious that this is the hill were willing to die on,” Minhaj said continuing to speak to Asian Americans.

Born in Davis, California, Minhaj comes from a Muslim family. His parents were born in India.

With a graphic behind him, he points out Asian Americans are 5.8 percent of the population, but 22 percent of Harvard admits.

“In classic Asian-parent fashion, we’re like 22 percent, why not 100 percent?”

He goes on to address Yukong Zhao, the head of Asian Americans Coalition for Education, who took on Harvard after his two kids were rejected by the Ivy Leagues. Minhaj called Zhao the “Chinese Joe Jackson.”

Minhaj then talked about Ajay Kothari, who’s challenged affirmative action from his perch as a leader in the American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin. Minhaj labeled Kothari an “Indian uncle” who confused the movie Akeelah and the Bee with “blackwashing” an Indian story.

He painted Edward Blum, who filed the lawsuit against Harvard, as a White guy who failed in his effort to challenge affirmative action in Abigail Fisher v University of Texas. Fisher, Minhaj said, was a White student with bad grades.

You can watch the episode below:

Offensive stereotype on 'Simpsons' might be near its end


SOME are already writing the obituary of Apu, the stereotypical and racist character on the Simpson’s.

Indie Wire reports that producer Adi Shankar has been told by multiple sources on the show that the character is being written out of the long running series.

Shakar has been running a contest to crowd source a script about Apu that would evolve the character into a realistic portrayal of Indian Americans.

He expressed disappointment that the character voiced by Hank Azaria may be eliminated, calling the news disheartening.

“I got some disheartening news back, that I’ve verified from multiple sources now: They’re going to drop the Apu character altogether,” said Shankar to Indie Wire. “They aren’t going to make a big deal out of it, or anything like that, but they’ll drop him altogether just to avoid the controversy.”

The Apu character was the subject of a nationally televised documentary by comedian Hari Kondabolu called The Problem with Apu. He too expressed disappointment about Apu’s probable demise.

“I don’t find Apu offensive, I find him annoying and insulting,” Kondabolu said to NBC. “But for me, one: It’s inaccurate. Two: It’s insulting to my parents. And three: When that’s the only depiction you have, that’s how the world sees you.”

Fox, which airs the long running animated series, told Indie Wire that Apu appeared just two weeks ago in the October 14 episode, but only in a crowd shot of dozens of people.

Broadway stars sing in a Get-Out-The-Vote video

Marc de la Cruz performed in the get-out-the-vote video with other Broadway stars.

SIX AAPI BROADWAY STARS joined some of their fellow artists to encourage people to make a difference by casting their ballots in the Midterm Elections on Nov. 6.
The AAPI artists are Vishal Vaidya (Groundhog Day), Diane Phelan (The King and I, School of Rock), Celia Mei Rubin (Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812, Matilda), Marc de la Cruz (Pacific Overtures, If/Then),
 Kimberly Immanuel (Heartbreak House, Pacific Overtures) and Arielle Jacobs (Aladdin, In the Heights, Wicked).

They were joined by former Saved by the Bell star Mario Lopez, who starred in the revival of A Chorus Line on Broadway and hosts Extra to provide the call to action to vote this November. 

They performed "Enough Already!" from the musical, The Diamond as Big as the Ritz, based on the satiric 1920s F. Scott Fitzgerald's novella of the same name. It was originally written as an anthemic epilogue about a story that’s almost 100 years old. Only recently, did the relevance of the message to the current highly-charged political climate.

The other performers are: Daphne Rubin-Vega (Rent, Anna in the Tropics, The Rocky Horror Show), Lauren Molina (Rock of Ages, Marry Me a Little, Desperate Measures), Caesar Samayoa (Come From Away, Sister Act), N’Kenge (Motown the Musical, Sondheim on Sondheim), Reji Woods (Rocktopia), Kristy Cates (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Finding Neverland, Wicked), Sumayya Ali (Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812, The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess), Brooke Moriber (Threepenny Opera, Follies, The Wild Party, Parade), Jelani Remy (The Lion King, Smokey Joe’s Cafe) and composer Seth Bisen-Hersh.

Earlier this month, Elsie Fest co-founder Darren Criss lent his support to Show Up 2018, encouraging young people to register to vote at Elsie Fest 2018, in New York City's Central Park. Criss, a Filipino American, won an Emmy this year for playing Andrew Cunanan in TV's American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace.

Darren Criss helped register voters during the Elsie Fest earlier this month.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Sunday Read; Three AAPI women who might be running for president


2020 COULD BE A LANDMARK year for Asian Americans with the tantalizing prospect of having an Asian American on the campaign trail for President of the U.S. -- not one, but perhaps three AAPI candidates could possibly enter that contest.

No one has formally declared her candidacy, but their names are being bruited about as potential candidates.

The rumors swirling around Sen. Kamala Harris, D-CA, keep her name on almost everyone's list of potential Presidential wannabees. She has garnered a higher profile with her position in the Kavanaugh hearings as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and she has maintained a hectic schedule criss-crossing the country lending her ability to excited audiences, stumping for Democratic candidates and increasing her name recognition in important early primary states such as Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire and leaving markers throughout the country through her impressive fundraising efforts and her endorsements.

Perhaps, most importantly, Harris represents a state with the most electoral votes and is the source of almost limitless funds from the entertainment and tech industries.

She is half-Indian and half-black potentially giving her an edge in both important communities. Let's not discount the African American vote which has overwhelmingly supported the Democrats for decades. And the Asian American vote is one quickly gaining influence in key parts of the country.

Harris went from a definite "no" in 2017 to "keeping her options open" in 2018 when questioned about her future political plans. She will probably make an announcement after the Midterms.

And wouldn't it be interesting if Indian American Harris went up against former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, another Indian American? Haley, a Republican, resigned from her UN post earlier this month for reasons still unclear.

While announcing that she will NOT be running against fellow Republican Donald Trump, her recent statements critical of Trump and the Republican Party as it is now composed, positions herself well among more Republican moderates and keeps open the door for more conservative Democrats who might not be satisfied with their party's choice.

Brian Hicks, political columnist for The Post and Courier, Charlotte's newspaper, has been following Haley's political career since she was in the state legislature to her time as South Carolina's governor. He writes:
Haley is tough, shrewd and a better leader than anyone in the GOP right now. Admittedly, there’s not much competition. But she’s making her most of this new gig, collecting allies and markers, expanding her influence and support. 

Haley will walk away from this train wreck with an attractive resume of foreign policy and executive-level experience. Next to the rest of these bozos, she looks like Winston Churchill. And when — not if — she decides to run for president, the national press will swoon.
Her recent statements separates her from toxic Trump and places her closer to the middle-ground that Americans (before Trump) prefer. She said:

"In our toxic political life, I've heard some people in both parties describe their opponents as enemies or evil. In America, our political opponents are not evil. In South Sudan, where rape is routinely used as a weapon of war, that is evil. In Syria, where the dictator uses chemical weapons to murder innocent children, that is evil. In North Korea, where American student Otto Warmbier was tortured to death, that was evil. In the last two years, I've seen true evil. We have some serious political differences here at home. But our opponents are not evil, they're just our opponents."

At the Al Smith Dinner, a light-hearted affair attended by a who's who in New York politics, she was introduced as the "next President of the United States." She took the intro in stride and landed some zingers aimed at personalities within the Trump administration.

After the introduction, which had the audience tittering nervously, she quipped without missing a beat, "Two years ago Trump was here and made some waves with his remarks, so last year you went with Paul Ryan, who’s a Boy Scout and that’s fine, but a little boring. So this year, you wanted to spice things up again,"

“I get it, you wanted an Indian woman, but Elizabeth Warren failed her DNA test,” joked Haley, whose parents emigrated from Punjab, India. “Actually, when the president found out that I was Indian American, he asked me if I was from the same tribe as Elizabeth Warren,” taking a jab at a potential opponent.

Haley insists she is not running against Trump in 2020, which makes her prime for a run in 2024. But ... and here is where the rumors get started; what if Trump decides he's had enough and decides to  not run for President in 2020? If the Democrats take the House, impeachment proceedings are very likely and they can call for his tax returns made public. I can see Trump just say, "The hell with it." If that unlikely scenario were to come into reality, that would open the door to Haley.


One more name to the list of possible candidates is Rrep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.  She has not made any annoncement but Politico reports that Rania Batrice, an adviser to the progressive congresswoman, has been putting out feelers for digital and speechwriting staff for Gabbard. One person approached about the positions say that 2020 wasn’t mentioned explicitly, but it was heavily implied.

While most of the national media focused on Harris's possible candidacy, Gabbard has taken on the dark horse role, quietly making the rounds to the early primary states to meet with local Democrats and what's left of the Bernie Sanders supporters still looking for a progressive candidate to latch on to.

“I think everybody is focused on 2018, but we will see what happens after that,” Batrice said in an interview. “Someone like Tulsi, with her experience, is an important voice in the party and the country.”

An another sign that the 37-year old Iraqi war veteran is considering a White House run is the fact that she's writing a book, always a precursor to a presidential campaign. The book is due out in 2019 titled, “Is Today the Day?: Not Another Political Memoir.”

There will be a crowded field running for president in 2020. Among the other Democrats whose name keeps being mentioned are Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Corey Booker,  former Vice President Joe Biden and former Senator John Kerry,

People Acting Stupid: Anonymous driver harasses Boston motorist

Out of nowhere, a woman drove up next to an Asian American woman and held up this sign.

By Louis Chan

AN ASIAN AMERICAN woman near Boston had to look twice, apparently stunned by the ignorance of a passing driver.

Ryl Lei looked over to her right and saw a woman holding up a sign that read “show me your green card.”

It was the perpetual foreigner stereotype personified. I mean why else would you assume someone had a green card? Why else would you even ask for one?

The woman didn’t stop there. She flashed several other signs as well. There were so many Ryl said she wasn’t fast enough to capture all of them in a photo.

One read “homosexuality is a sin.”

Can she spell “make America great again?”

Ryl wrote on Facebook, “I NEVER in my life thought i would encounter someone like this. I’m not naive and clearly know “they” exist.. but I never thought while sitting at a stop light enjoying the fact it’s the end of the week….I’d turn my head and see the ignorance IN MY FACE… LITERALLY WITH PURE INTENT!! I almost lost myself and followed her… but because my son and his friend was in the back seat I had to educate them about what type of society we actually live in despite what I try to protect him from.”

This isn’t the first time this woman has done this.

AsAmNews found a brief news item from 2016 published by Universal Hub.

The article included a photo of what appears to be the very same sign or at least one very similar that reads “show me your green card.”

The woman she flashed the sign to said “Maybe she saw my dark hair and laborer clothing and made an assumption . She was also pulling up next to pick up trucks and such on highway and shaking her sign at them . There was no action I could take on the highway – and frankly, she scared me as you can’t be right in the head to incite such bigotry . So I snapped her photo while sitting in traffic but I couldn’t get her plate!!”