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National NewsBytes

Pacific Islanders power #1 prep football team

The national media focused in October on a high school football team in Euless, Texas, a Dallas suburb. The Trinity Trojans are renowned for winning the state championship in 2005 and 2007, and they’re currently on track to take the title again, with a perfect 2008 season (the final regular season game is Nov. 6).

But what makes the Trojans so fascinating to the national news media is the fact that its powerhouse players are primarily Tongan Americans. For decades, a steady influx of immigrants from the Pacific island of Tonga has fed into the athletic program. The Polynesian influence is all over the town, and Pacific pride is unmistakable – the team even does a Tongan warrior dance before every game. More about the team at:

Asian American Art goes on display

The de Young Museum, part of the Fine Art Museum of San Francisco, opened an exhibit on Oct. 25 that runs through Jan. 18, 2009, titled “Asian American Modern Art: Shifting Currents, 1900–1970.” This is the first comprehensive survey of Asian American artists. The exhibit will travel to the Paul Noguchi Museum in New York City next February.

The display includes modern art that runs the gamut from traditional landscape style by artists such as Japanese American Chiura Obata, who captured his years of internment on canvas, to Korean American contemporary video artist Nam June Paik’s conceptual art using television monitors as sculptural elements.

Amerasians fight for US citizenship
A group of Amerasians, mixed-race sons and daughters of US military from the Vietnam War, have been living in a social and cultural limbo all their lives. Many were left behind when the US pulled out of Southeast Asia and denied rights at home. But they’re also denied the rights of citizenship here in the US.

The New York Times last month reported on a group formed in 2007, which visited Congress in October to lobby for a citizenship bill sponsored by San Jose Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren. The bill, the Amerasian Paternity Act, affects children of US military born overseas during both the Vietnam and Korean Wars. It may not make it this session, but Lofgren says she’s committed to re-introducing it next year. Read the bill at:

Filipino vets still waiting for their bill
Meanwhile, Filipino veterans who fought alongside US troops in the Philippines during World War II are still waiting for passage of the Filipino Veterans Equity Act of 2008, which would authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to pay certain benefits for their valor, even though they were not citizens and part of the US military. The bill was approved by the House on Sept. 23, but is still waiting for a vote in the Senate before it can be signed into law by the President.

With time running out during the current session and an election looming that will make lame ducks out of some lawmakers, it looks like the bill will have to wait until next year, and a new Congress, for re-introduction.

R.I.P. Kim Chan, 1917-2008
Kim Chan, one of the most familiar faces of all Asian American actors in Hollywood, died on Oct. 5 in Brooklyn, NY. His best-known roles included Jerry Lewis’ butler, Jonno, in Martin Scorsese’s 1982 film, “The King of Comedy,” and later, “Uncle Benny” in the 1998 hit “Lethal Weapon 4.” One of his first roles was as a cashier in the 1970 movie “The Owl and the Pussycat.” He was in dozens of movies and TV shows.

Chan came to the US as a child from the Canton province of China, which is now called Guangdong, and his family ran a Chinese restaurant in Manhattan, which he credited with inspiring his interest in show business.

$54 million Pants Lawsuit Heads back to court
Former Washington DC administrative judge Roy Pearson, who made a national case out of an allegedly lost pair of pants when he sued a Korean American couple in 2007 for $54 million, was back in the news.
Pearson claimed that a local dry cleaner run by the couple, Soo and Jin Chung, lost a pair of his pants and tried to substitute a different pair. He pointed to a sign in the business that claimed “Satisfaction
Guaranteed” and took the couple to court, coming up with the $54 million in damages and court costs. He lost the original case and was ordered to pay the couple for their legal fees.

But he took the case to the DC Court of Appeals this year, and his appeal was scheduled to be heard Oct. 22. The Chungs closed their dry cleaning business last September due to the emotional stress caused by the lawsuit.

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