NEWSBITS


Anti-Muslim Sentiment on the Air

Apparently Rush isn't the only bigot on the airwaves today. ABC Radio Network commentator Paul Harvey contributed to last week's xenophobic hysteria regarding the federal building bombing in Oklahoma City by emphasizing that only a few months ago, there was a Muslim convention in the area. Of course, like most early press coverage of the bombing, Harvey failed to note the strong presence of white nationalists in the region, choosing instead to exploit anti-Muslim sentiment. Sketches of the suspects in the crime, released hours after the bombing, which clearly marked them as white men, were ignored by the mainstream media in their furor to find the Muslim extremists responsible for what has turned out to be the single largest violent "domestic" attack in US history. [Resisting and Organizing Against Prop 187 email list]

Asian American Encyclopedia

Historian Franklin Ng, a Hawaii-born Asian American, has edited the first ever Asian American Encyclopedia, released last February by New York publisher Marshall Cavendish. The 1,900 page, six volume set contains more than 2,000 entries on a range of subjects like the "model minority" image, Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, and a demographic profile of Hmong people. Ng notes that the encyclopedia is for non-Asian, as well as Asian American readers saying, "It might answer the questions of people on the street, but even Asian Americans have a lot to learn about their own backgrounds." Collaborators on the project included Elaine Kim, professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California at Berkeley; Him Mark Lai, adjunct professor at San Francisco State University and former president of the Chinese Historical Society of America; and Don Nakanishi, director of the Asian American Studies Center at the University of California at Los Angeles. Asian Americans are the fastest growing minority group in in the US, and the encyclopedia notes that they are a multicultural, multilingual people whose experiences are unique and complex. [San Francisco Examiner]

Gingrich Sibling Rivalry

Candace Gingrich, House Speaker Newt Gingrich's lesbian half-sister, has a new job as the new spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign Fund's (HRCF) National Coming Out Project, which urges gays and lesbians to tell people about their sexual orientation as a method for defeating discrimination. On a 34-city speaking tour, Gingrich will tell audiences, "Your brother doesn't have to be Speaker of the House for your voice to be heard." In addition, she will work as an intern at the HRCF's Washington office, shaping the Fund's lesbian health policy. Previously, Gingrich was a computer technician and box-sorter at United Parcel Service in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She had very little political involvement, trying to ignore what her brother was doing, admitting that she may have missed an opportunity to shape his thinking about homosexuality. Newt Gingrich opposes federal legislation to prohibit job or housing discrimination against gays and lesbians. [AP, Reuter]

Asian American Hunger Strike

As a last resort, students agitating for an Asian American studies program at Northwestern University began a hunger strike. For the last three years, the Asian American Advisory Board (AAAB) has led a fight against the administration to address Asian American experience in its courses. Last February, the AAAB wrote a two-hundred page proposal that would implement an Asian American studies program over a ten year period, which was turned down by university president Bienen. Attempting to compromise, the AAAB then requested the hiring of a visiting professor to teach an Asian American studies-type course, and a tenure-tracked professor for the following year, but the administration again refused, offering no new options. The AAAB plans to continue the hunger strike until the university relents, rotating hunger strike participants if necessary. In the 1970s Northwestern created an African American studies program only after students had a sit-in, forcing the administration to take their demands seriously. [Asian American Advisory Board]

Remember Haiti?

On April 6, the Coast Guard cutter Confidence stopped a fifty-foot sailboat 25 miles east of Miami, which was carrying 128 passengers from Haiti and 12 from the Dominican Republic. According to the State Department, the boat was intercepted because it was dangerously overcrowded and it was believed that the people on board sought to immigrate illegally to the US. They were taken to Port-au-Prince on April 14. Aboard the cutter, the passengers were allowed to speak with interpreters about whether they were seeking refugee status because they feared persecution in their home countries. Two Haitians were flown to Florida by helicopter for medical treatment. This was the first time since October of last year that such a boat had been picked up by the Coast Guard en route. [New York Times]

JACL with PFLAG at Gay Pride Parade

At a recent board of directors meeting, the New York City chapter of the Japanese American Citizen's League (JACL) decided to march in the Gay Pride Parade with Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). The topic of the meeting was coalition building, and the JACL had two speakers come to talk about the experiences of Asian lesbians and gays. According to Valerie Kameya, who spoke at the meeting, there is "the tendency for some aplbs [Asian Pacific lesbians and bisexuals] to choose to identify by sexual orientation over ethnicity when they have been rejected by their ethnic group." The decision to march at Pride came about because the chapter wanted to show their support for queer people in a more visible way. The JACL has been extremely supportive of gay and lesbian issues by taking a positive stand on the issues of gays and lesbians in the military and same-sex marriage rights in Hawaii. [Asian Pacific Lesbian and Bisexual Network email list]

First Asian and Latino Judges in INS

Earlier this month, the Executive Office for Immigration Review got its first Latino and Asian judges for Northern California, twelve years after its establishment. Phan-Quang Tue and Alberto Gonzalez now serve under the Immigration and Naturalization Service, a branch of the US Justice Department, reviewing appeals from foreigners who want to live in the United States. An Immigration Review office spokesperson said there was no particular reason why no Asian or Latino judges had been appointed previously. Tue fled Saigon in 1975 to Washington, DC as a refugee, washing dishes and delivering newspapers to support his family and rebuild a career in law. Gonzalez was born in Texas, but as a child lived in Juarez, Mexico and attended school across the border in El Paso. Commented Mary Hernandez, president of the Hispanic National Bar Association, "It is absolutely incredible that Alberto Gonzalez is the first Latino immigration judge in an area where more than half of the matters presented to the court concern persons from Latin America. It is also shocking that there has never before been an appointment of an Asian American." [San Francisco Chronicle]

Los Angeles Janitors Win Contract

Justice for Janitors, the four month long campaign of the Los Angeles Service Employees Local 399, won a tentative agreement for a master contract with twenty janitorial firms. At 5am on April 3, two hours before the group planned to take over the Harbor Freeway in downtown Los Angeles, they won a tentative 5-year contract including phased-in fully paid family health care, wage parity throughout the city, and protection against staffing reductions. Janitors will receive immediate raises of between four and fourteen percent, depending on their current salary. Local 399 represents 8,500 janitors, about 70 percent of those who clean large commercial buildings, 95 percent of whom are Latina and Latino. Women make up a large part of the leadership of the Justice campaign. On March 8, International Women's Day, thirty women janitors went to jail for having a sit-in on Wilshire Blvd. At a subsequent demonstration on March 29, attended by 1500 janitors and supporters, fifty janitors and supporters were arrested for sitting in the intersection of Wilshire and Rodeo Drive in protest, among the luxury boutiques of Beverly Hills. [L.A. Labor Review] {body}

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