Friday, November 27, 2015

Exploration of Teen Suicides

Join us for a special screening of "Unmasked", a documentary exploring youth suicide and mental health. Created by a group of high school seniors, "Unmasked" was nominated as "Best Short Documentary" for an LA Film Festival. After the film there will be a Q&A Panel with some of the filmmakers. To reserve your FREE tickets click here!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Profiling Not OK

The following information was brought to my attention by Jack Peng, President of the Chinese American Forum. It was written by S.B. Woo, President of the 80-20 Initiative. People are asking that this information be shared.

Gathering Momentum
The US Commission on Civil Rights, a bipartisan commission, has by a 
majority vote decided to request DOJ for an investigation regarding the
questionable prosecution of Sherry Chen, Prof. Xiaoxing Xi and others.   
Click here to see the Media report.  

1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Suite 1150 
Washington, DC 20425 
November 18, 2015 
The Honorable Loretta E. Lynch Attorney General U.S. Department of Justice 
950 Pennsylvania Ave. NW 
Washington, DC 20530-0001 

Dear Madame Attorney General: 
On behalf of the United States Commission on Civil Rights we write to urge you to examine whether, in the government’s efforts to stop espionage by the Chinese government and Chinese institutions, it may be rushing to judgment in investigations involving Asian Americans, primarily of Chinese descent. We are concerned that the government is failing to exercise sufficient due diligence when targeting Asian Americans for investigation, surveillance, and arrest, due to their race or national origin. Recent news reports have detailed embarrassing attempts by the federal government to prosecute Chinese Americans for spying and economic espionage, only to drop the charges “in the interest of justice” after it became clear that serious errors had been made that were fundamental to the charges. 
A Temple University physics professor, Xi Xiaoxing, was arrested for allegedly sharing confidential schematics of laboratory equipment with scientists in China. FBI agents raided his home with guns drawn and he was taken away in handcuffs in front of his wife and children. The charges against Dr. Xi, a naturalized citizen, were dropped after scientists, including the co-inventor of the equipment in question, informed the government that the blueprints he shared were not for the equipment.
Another American citizen, Sherry Chen, was a hydrologist for the National Weather Service when she was arrested for spying for China. She was arrested at her workplace and led away in handcuffs past her coworkers. The evidence in her case was weak and prosecutors dropped the charges a week before trial. According to a former federal prosecutor who specialized in computer crimes and industrial espionage, “it’s clear there was a little bit of Red Scare and racism involved.”
We are concerned these and other examples may show a pattern of overzealous targeting of Chinese Americans. Members of Congress and national Asian and Chinese American organizations have raised similar concerns with you, but the Department of Justice’s response has been to dismiss these concerns without addressing the underlying policies and practices that led to mistakes which precipitated these wrongful prosecutions of American citizens. This is not the first time a person of Chinese descent was arrested for spying with flimsy evidence and suspicions based on the suspect’s race. Dr. Wen Ho Lee was a federal nuclear scientist who was arrested for spying and held without bail in solitary confinement for over nine months. Unable to prove its accusations, the government dropped its spying charges and charged him with one count of mishandling sensitive documents, which did not require solitary confinement. 
Dr. Lee received an apology from a federal district court judge for his denial of bail and solitary confinement and for the government’s misconduct in investigating and prosecuting the case. While these Chinese Americans were able to eventually have their charges dropped, they—and their families—suffered tremendously because of, at best, lack of diligence on the part of the investigators, and at worst, racial bias. Temple University demoted Dr. Xi as chair of its physics department and the government recently informed Dr. Chen it plans on firing her for many of the same reasons for which she was prosecuted. They watched their professional reputations get tarnished and incurred debt to defend their innocence. They endured months of being labeled traitors to their country, and were ostracized by neighbors, friends, and professional colleagues. Not only is there personal loss, but the nation loses promising and productive scientists when improper investigations foster anxiety in the Asian American scientific community over fears of unfair treatment. 
Similar to the recent request of 42 members of Congress4 calling for an investigation, we urge you to investigate whether federal investigators and prosecutors improperly over-relied on race in recent prosecutions, and to increase training and oversight over ongoing and future investigations and prosecutions against Chinese Americans for spying and espionage. As the Department of Justice states in its 2014 guidance on the use of race, biased law enforcement practices “have a terrible cost, not only for individuals but also for the Nation as a whole.” Very truly yours, 
Martin R. Castro, 
Chairman Patricia Timmons-Goodson, 
Vice-Chair Robert Achtenberg, Commissioner 
Commissioner David Kladney,Commissioner 
Karen K. Narasaki, Commissioner

Monday, November 16, 2015

Life is short. Enjoy your tea and company.

V.P. Winny helps our speaker serve tea

The treasured tea set from Taiwan
Restaurateur and Tea aficionado Kenny Lin brought his 25–year-old dragon tea set (which he had brought with him from Taiwan in 1996) to Teresa O’Neill’s for our November gathering. Kenny explained that the art of drinking tea dated back almost 5000 years. In 2737 there was an Emperor who was also known as a researcher and scientist. He liked trying different plants and herbs. He also had a practice of drinking boiled water. As legend has it , one time he accidentally ate an herb that made him deathly ill. At the same time, a leaf—Camelia sinensis—fell into his cup of boiled water. This leaf-flavored water counteracted whatever bad thing he had eaten, and besides, it tasted very good. Thus tea drinking was borne.
Kenny said that according to modern research, drinking tea can avert heart disease, keep your weight down by stimulating your kidneys, and prevent gallstones. It stimulates your brain and cleanses your digestive system. While tea has caffeine, it is better than coffee as tea also has antioxidants. Also, if you chew the tea leaves, it helps get rid of bad breath.
There are many types of tea (green, yellow, red, white). Some teas are best for the morning (Longjing, Yellow needle) and some are best for the night (Iron Goddess, Pu’er). But no matter the tea, it is also important to have good equipment. Kenny has a purple sand teapot from Yixing, China, a gift from when he and Winny visited as part of a USCPFA delegation. The pot can keep water hot for two hours.
Kenny put a pouch of loose tea leaves into the pot and poured 100C water on top. “The first brewing I don’t serve,” he said as he dumped what looked good enough to many of the rest of us. “I need to wake up the tea leaves. The 2nd brewing is the best.” Vice President and wife Winny Lin helped serve small cups of the tea, which indeed did taste like the best.
“Life is short,” concluded Kenny. “Enjoy your good tea and company.” That evening we certainly did that.
***And as a special treat, Billy Lee who had just returned from a trip to China, brought several lucky members a tin of tea to take home.***

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cut Out The Eyes

Join Asia Society Northern California and the Center for Asian American Media for a special screening of Cut out the Eyes, a documentary by Chinese film director Xu Tong, shown as part of the Cinema on the Edge Film Festival in San Francisco. Q&A with Karin Chien, the President and Founder of dGenerate Films, will follow the film
Where: 145 Ninth Street, First Floor, San Francisco 
When: November 20, 7-9pm