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I’m Asian American, and this weekend’s Peter Liang’s protests show that Asian Americans too are marginalized against whites and majority

This weekend, New York cop Peter Liang was convicted for killing Akai Gurley, an unarmed black man, while on duty, which carries a possible 5-15 year prison sentence. As a result, many Asian-American groups have gone out to the streets of NYC and Philadelphia to protest in solidarity with Peter Liang. The issue at stand is that while Peter Liang was convicted of murdering an unarmed person while on duty, while  white policemen, like Daniel Pantaleo, veteran police who killed Eric Gardner with a chokehold, Darren Wilson, who shot Michael Brown, or Ryan Zimmerman, in the infamous Trayvon Martin case, are regularly acquitted of these killings.While many may say that the bigger issue is racial discrimination and racial profiling, as well as the disproportionate amount of people of color who are often targeted by police and also often serve longer sentences than whites for nonviolent crimes, one must note that it does not answer the fact that why Peter was convicted and the other white cops weren’t for their killings. The issue of racial profiling is an issue that all cops in America face, which lends itself to the side conversation of gun control, racial tolerance, and criminal justice reform as a whole. For it is with the vast proliferation of guns in America that threaten the safety of not only cops but also anyone when on duty and investigating cases.

However, one must also understand that Asian-Americans stand at a unique and somewhat awkward position in the US. With cultural stereotypes of Asians as “tributes to hard work, strong families and passion for education” and Asian-Americans as on the upper-echelons of the economic strata, Asian-Americans have been viewed as the “model minority” and thus looked upon with different lenses–Characterized as ‘privileged’ and not really considered minority, yet with unique Asian-American cultures, are not considered exactly mainstream as white Americans.)

Aside from the sheer disparity and competition that Asian students have to score on SATs (which in itself is already unfair to Asian students versus students of other races), the facts are still facts: Asian-Americans still only make up about 5.4% of the US population. Thus, many have certainly overlooked the struggles of Asian-Americans. For instance, Southeast Asian-Americans drop out of high school at an alarming rate: nearly 40% of Hmong-Americans, 38% Laotian-Americans, and 35% Cambodian-Americans do not finish high school. These groups, along with Vietnamese-Americans, earn below the national average. “Sweeping generalizations of Asian-Americans as the ‘privileged’ and ‘successful’ minority cannot replace unnerving disaggregated data that bring truth to the inequalities that many Asian-Americans face daily.” [2]

In addition, because of such “model minority” stereotypes overlooking the real struggles of Asian-Americans as well as other generic Asian-American stereotypes often not as the ‘toughest’ but rather more passive group, the US too is a new, unfamiliar, and daunting place for Asian-Americans. So with these stereotypes, in the midst of the “Black Lives Matter” and the racism/violence between whites and blacks, Asian-Americans have often been seen as not a minority. And as a first-generation Asian-American to Taiwanese immigrant parents myself, such violence and racial instability lately certainly keeps me on my toes and threatening of my well-being. In essence, as Asian-Americans with foreign culture and our parents often with language barriers, we too are victims of indirect racism and discrimination yet are not recognized nor our voices heard as much.

According to investigation sources, Peter Liang discharged his weapon in a “dark stairway” while “the bullet [merely] bounced off the wall” to hit the unarmed father and son, Akai Gurley. Meanwhile, for instance, Daniel Pantaleo with the chokehold of Eric Gardner had done it in broad daylight. Similarly, the police shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina also in broad daylight. Same with Darren Wilson. Clearly, he can see their “suspects” more clearly, presenting less of a threat to their lives than if it were done at night, as in Peter Liang’s case. Yet Daniel Pantaleo has yet to be tried, and Darren Wilson acquitted? While that contributes to the 2nd-degree nature of the murder than 1st-degree, Peter Liang was threatened, both as a police on duty conducting investigation as well as being an Asian-American amid the recent racially-charged climate of the US. He had to act in self-defense.

I stand in solidarity with both Peter Liang and Akai Gurley. Both were simply at the wrong place, wrong time. Both Asian-Americans and African-Americans experience racism and discrimination. Both are minorities with different struggles to overcome in the US. Therefore, what we should focus on is not to use Peter as a punishment, a precedent to cops killing unarmed people. Rather, we should focus on reaching out and even the playing field for all races, religious groups, for all people in general. We should focus on tackling criminal justice reform, dealing with the issue of urban and minority poverty (that is a significant cause of the disproportionate amount of people of color behind bars and their disproportionately longer sentences) through extra funding in education and welfare.

We are at a crossroads of 2016. We have had too much shootings and racial-profiling around the country. We’ve seemed to have forgotten the progress that we had built during the Civil Rights Movement. African-Americans have most definitely come a long way. But while there is still a long way for them to go, let us remember that there are others as well who are also in the void, beneath the shadows. While incidents like Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, while heinous and racially-charged which certainly requires the unity of the African-American community to protest, the same should be with Asian-Americans as well. Our voices too should be heard, and heard loudly across the nation. The US is a land of diversity, we must accept each and every racial group in America, and treat each and every one of the same. I hope that through this entire experience (and, the protests), my fellow Asian-American friends would start to challenge our silence and call attention to our struggles. 亞裔美人萬歲!華人萬嵗!正義何在!

 

Sources:

[1] https://www.facebook.com/NowThisNews/videos/998175980272526/?pnref=story

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/10/16/the-effects-of-seeing-asian-americans-as-a-model-minority/model-minority-seems-like-a-compliment-but-it-does-great-harm

[3] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steph-yin/peter-liang-protests_b_9289990.html

MIT Hyperloop Competition

This past weekend, a team of MIT students won the first round of the SpaceX Hyperloop Design competition which was held at Texas A&M University. The hyperloop design consisted of a high scale transportation design, a concept originally developed by Elon Musk a few years back. Through this design competition, these MIT grad students came one step closer to fulfilling Elon Musk’s vision.

The vehicle that these students created will travel inside the hyperloop which will connect various cities to one another. This pod that the team developed will hover above the ground and will travel at a very high speed to transport people across various cities included in the route. In order to make the pod hover, the MIT students used magnets above a conducting plate.

The team will now build a miniature prototype to test in California this summer. In the past, MIT has been a part of several technological breakthroughs and now it’s appropriate that they contribute to progress in transportation as well. The team has strengths in areas such as mechanical and electrical engineering which helped them win the first round of the competition. The team is being supported by all of MIT and everyone awaits to see what happens in California this summer.

The “Turing” of Tables

Back in September of 2015, the pharmaceutical industry was in complete uproar over the 5,000% price increase of a life saving drug. And just a month ago, the infamous “pharma bro,” Martin Shkreli, who was responsible for this price hike, was arrested. Ironically, his arrest was not on the basis of the unfair price increase; rather, Shkreli was arrested on fraud charges on his previous companies.

Taking a step back, Martin Shkreli, dubbed the “morally bankrupt sociopath,” “a scumbag,” “a garbage monster,” and “everything that is wrong with capitalism,” once was a rap music-loving and hedge fund manager; with one move overnight, he became the ridicule and criticism of people across the Internet and country.

Under Turing Pharmaceuticals, one of the many companies he founded, Shkreli acquired the rights to the drug, Daraprim. Previously only costing $13.50 a dose, this drug is a treatment for the relatively rare parasitic infection toxoplasmosis, and a drug that patients of weakened immune systems, such as AIDS, have come to depend on. What came to be the most controversial move in pharmaceutical history, Shkreli raised the price of this drug to $750 a dose, a 5,000% increase from its original price. Although such actions of raising drug prices for profit are commonplace in the pharmaceutical industry, seldom has any individual company dared to do so so publicly and unapologetically.

Following the public’s response, he later conceded that his only mistake, unapologetically, was not raising the price more. For a person to make a tremendous profit off a critical and devastating life situation evoked backlash from people, both morally and economically. And just overnight, Shkreli was propelled into the criticism and disdain of the public (although not as much as Trump, who knows?) and became the symbol of greed in the industry.

However, despite all this controversy, Martin Shkreli was not arrested on charges of this scandal that had made headlines. He was instead arrested for using money from a biopharmaceutical company, Retrophin, which he started as a hedge fund manager, as his own personal source of funds to pay off investors who lost money at his previous hedge fund. Shkreli’s previous business expenditures were not all that clean, and he had experienced many bankruptcies and failures. With every failure, debt accumulated and his liabilities to the investors of his hedge funds grew significantly.

And his way of paying off this debt? Even more startups.

Shkreli began a vicious cycle of creating new startups to pay off previous debt, but then having that startup fail and add to his existing debt. Using his startups to pay his private debts, his practices were soon found out and he was consequently arrested.

In the end, Shkreli was not caught legally for the crimes we know him best for, but for something we probably would never have known about had we not paid so much attention to his conducts. Martin Shkreli’s decision to drastically raise the price of the drug garnered him lots of attention, and because his action was not legally wrong, there was no way the public could throw him in jail. It’s ironic how Shkreli’s plans for profit only led him to his downfall. It was revealed that previous companies had flagged Shkreli on fraudulent charges, but had no results and conclusive findings. Yet after people paid more attention to him, were prosecutors able to find these fraudulent practices. We can only say, how the tables have turned.

 

New Year, New Views

Many of us have probably heard of the intelligent young teenager, Ahmed Mohamed, who built a clock and was arrested because his teacher thought it was a bomb. How ironic, that this 14 year old wanted to impress his teacher, and was instead incarcerated for his exceptional abilities. Of course, Ahmed is now meeting influential figures like Obama, and his life has been changed for the better. But is this incident a unique example of religious discrimination, or is it just one of many discriminatory incidents? Let’s take a look.

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The US population, especially in recent months, is all too aware of Donald Trump’s views on immigration and religion. He recently declared that he wanted to forbid the entry of all Muslim people into the country, because he believes it will lower the chances of terrorist acts. Beverly Swanburg, a Trump sympathetic, stated “We should not let any more in, any more immigrants from Mexico or Muslim.” Is it fair to ban all Muslims from entering the country, when there are only a select few who commit terrorist acts? Even those who practice the Islamic religion are scared of those who engage in terrorist activity.

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Real estate tycoon Donald Trump speaks during the prime time Republican presidential debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Moreover, there is also racial discrimination present in the US. The idea of affirmative action that is used in college admissions is just one example. Although the purpose of affirmative action is to ensure a diverse population within the student body, it is harder for Asian students to get into a college than Hispanic students with the same test scores or accomplishments. This means that Asian students have to work much harder in order to get into top schools than other minorities or Caucasian applicants. In order to prevent selection based on ethnicity and gear them towards intellect and accomplishments, admissions should be race blind.

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There are obviously more incidents of discrimination that occur world wide. However, listing all of them would take far too long. A change to a more inclusive society is possible if people learn to be more accepting of other religions and races, rather than just tolerant. It’s now 2016, and a new year may be just what we all need to change our attitudes towards others’ differences.

Chipotle’s Stock Crisis

A recent outbreak in October 2015 has captivated everyone’s attention as hundreds of news reports dominate in about every news network. Chipotle, a franchise known for having the healthiest organic ingredients, has depreciated its stock price after several cases of E-coli were disclosed in numerous consumers. Reports reveal information about fifty-three customers who were infected with E-coli in nine states including Oregon, Washington, California, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Marchipotle-2yland, and Pennsylvania. As a result, forty-three Chipotle restaurants closed for cautionary purposes. Although the commotion has ended with the solution of officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigating the issue and intensifying food safety procedures, Chipotle is still suffering through an immense decline in sales.
Customers discontinued the consumption of meals from Chipotle in fear that they would become infected with the virus. As seen in the image, profits plunged throughout the last four quarters. The chipotle.jpgpublic has lost faith in the quality of the food produced by Chipotle, causing them to abominate the restaurant for putting them at the risk of severe disease. The stock price has plunged to a disappointing $480 when it was originally $730 before the E.coli chaos. Investors have also lost faith in the company so they have sold stocks that they have invested earlier in the year. For this reason, the market value of the company has plummeted leaving the company at a loss. Merrill Lynch and CRT Capital, credit rating agencies, both downgraded Chipotle and five analysts cut their price targets for the company. As you can see, there are several factors that contribute to the slump of Chipotle’s wealth. While Chipotle is in a crisis to recover their sales, rivals celebrate as the previous Chipotle fans revert their preference to alternatives.

Data proves that Chipotle’s rivals are benefiting through Chipotle’s struggles. Many rivals had growth in sales as customers turned to alternative fast foods/restaurants. Some of these businesses include Taco Bell, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Qdoba, all of which had a growth ranging from 4%-8%. Taking advantage of what has happened, sales increased with no extra marketing necessary because they have similar choices as the poorly repudiated, Chipotle. In addition, Chipotle lost market share to Qdoba, being its biggest rival and Meditteranean restaurant, Zoe’s Kitchen. Although Chipotle and Panera are said to be the two leading fast food chains for their healthy food choices, Panera may be taking the lead because of the E.coli outbreak.chipte stock.jpg

Not only is their reputation damaged, but profit margin may also be affected. The chain of restaurants may need to reduce their prices in the future so people start to buy their food once again. On top of low sales, the business will have a lower margin which may barely exceed their costs. The entire corporation is put at risk as it is possible for it be at default in the near future. Although these are only possibilities, Chipotle must take action to acquit their name. All in all, the erupted conflict resulted in improved cautionary procedures by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention which is one of the few beneficial impacts of the event that occurred. Going forward, other companies and Chipotle itself will be attentive so such action does not occur again.

HOLLY HOLM DETHRONES ROWDY RONDA ROuSEY

In the past 25 minutes, the world may have witnessed one of the biggest upsets in UFC history, as the famous Rowdy Ronda Rousey, the previously undefeated 12-0 bantamweight champion was dominated in a fight that went to the second round.

I watched this fight myself, and on a personal review of the fight, Rousey relied too much on her grappling experience as a Judo master, and left herself completely vulnerable to Holm’s wrath of punches and kicks. It was as if Ronda forgot how to block.

Rousey-Holm

This teaches a valuable lesson about life: don’t refuse the glove touch in the beginning of the fight. If anyone asks you to touch gloves, touch them.

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Pray for Paris

On November 13, 2015 a series of attacks unfolded in Paris that left the whole city and the rest of the world in devastation. It is reported that 3 separate teams carried out these attacks leaving nearly a 129 people dead.

The first attack took place around 9:20 PM outside the Stade de France where a soccer match between Germany and France was under way. Play was halted after the players and spectators heard a loud explosion outside the stadium. Two bodies were found, one who was believed to be that of the suicide bomber and the other, that of a nearby civilian.

The second attack took place just minutes later at a restaurant in Paris, Le Petit Cambodge. The restaurant was attacked by shooters driving by in a black van. This incident was followed by another explosion outside the stadium near a second entrance.

The attack on Le Petit Cambodge was just the beginning of a series of shootings at other restaurants in Paris including La Belle Equipe and La Bonne Biere. Into the later hours of the night, the Bataclan, a concert hall, was besieged by terrorists. This resulted in a major hostage situation and multiple deaths inside the Bataclan.

A few minutes past midnight, French forces fought back to take control of the Bataclan and freed the 100 hostages inside. Three of the terrorists are believed to have been killed by their own explosive devices.

The description of what the hostages witnessed while being held captive inside the concert venue is enough for one to realize that this night will never escape the minds of Parisians who became involved in this disaster. Across the world countries turned red, white, and blue to share the grief and solidify their support for all of France. President Obama rightfully so described the incident as an “attack on all humanity.” In these dark times, it is important for each of us to stand in solidarity with the French people and pray for their wellbeing.

Recap of ‘The Exodus’

Disintegrated clothing, trails of tears, turbulent childhoods- this is an everyday reality for the multiple Syrian refugees witnessing a war fought in front of their humble homes. The solution is escape. According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 3 million Syrians have fled to Syria’s neighbors Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. However, the continent of Europe did not fully respond to this ‘exodus’ until the end of September, and many are beginning to question why.

Europe has closed its eyes far too long to the bloody civil war, and tried to keep the suffering of millions of Syrians outside of its iron doors. However, the forces of political and moral conscience suddenly knocked on these doors seeking for a response- a response to the 3-year old Kurd, whose life was claimed by the plight of this crisis. The image of this toddler reached the trenches of our hearts as it acted as a wake-up call to those who take freedom for granted. Nevertheless, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, displayed her political role during this movement by setting aside a common fear of these migrants and replacing it with compassion and empathy. This was fulfilled when German crowds welcomed the resilient migrants with effervescent cheering and chanting. Hence, Germany, during this moment in history, remains an exemplar of hope and courage.

Although this triumphant moment is heart-warming, it raises serious economic and social problems within Europe. For example, Germans and other European nations will have their culture and traditions violently shaken by these ‘aliens’, and  have burdening economic outcomes, as well as sparks of dissonance within the populaces. However, there is heated debate on whether or not Europe should continue to build more barriers, or manage the pressure and risk of handling these migrants with hope for peace in society.The answer comes with a sense of a new perspective towards the migrants and their hosts.

Throughout history we can see that Syrians have “a well -founded fear of persecution”, and to help them is an evident moral duty Europe and the world must fulfill. Although Europe is enveloped by poverty and chaos across its borders, they must acknowledge the need for workers to pay and provide for the retirement of its citizens. The fundamental solution is the influx of migrants. However, to reach this grandiose goal of economic stability in a socialist society, Europeans need to start with the creation of a safe environment for the migrants. This means protected havens, funded UN agencies, and properly functioning education systems- not just roofs in the desert.

Regardless of the blurring social boundaries, the new dimension of morality Europe is witnessing everyday calls for significant changes in the world as a whole. However, this global reality cannot be achieved without adversity. Although many will say it has been more than a month since this crisis broke out, and the refugees are retreating back, we must not forget their profound suffering, their undeniable spirit, and their unconditional sadness leaving home. Along with the pain that is crushing, exquisite, and infinite, the pain causes them to tremble with fear. I deeply hope that when you look at another post of a Syrian refugee on “Humans of New York”, you will have the temerity to understand how it feels to be born in a different way than you are. One individual, European, African, or American can alter or even save a Syrian refugee’s life. Hence, we must acknowledge that human empathy fused with action can change lives in ways you can never imagine.

Is America in Danger?

There is a lot of talk about terrorism. After 2001, when the war on terrorism was declared, security in the U.S. had dramatically increased, and continues to do so.
But now it is reaching new extents. The U.S. has to be on the lookout for ISIS. Although this is well-known, recently, it is said that this aggressive group has been trying to breach through American cyber defense and attack the energy grid. There had been hack attempts at a conference of American energy firms on Wednesday. Although the exact details are not known, it is said that ISIS is behind it.
But looking at the positive side, the attempted break-ins have been completely unsuccessful. As of now, the ISIS group lacks the capabilities to do this kind of job. They hardly have the necessary sophisticated technology.
But what they lack in tools, they could very well make up in intent.
There is undoubtedly an option that they could simply buy the abilities.  The FBI is anxious over this idea. This terrorist organization, or its allies, could buy detrimental software to execute the plan. And of course this attack could range from minor to pretty severe. An attack on a power grid could very well shut down progress and businesses. This “mess-up” could interfere the flow of energy to our homes as well.
Unfortunately, this situation is not restricted to such radicals. Domestic groups could very well do the same. At the same time, it is important to remember the low probability of such events. It is difficult to go through with such a plan. It would take a very large group of advanced, knowledgeable, and highly qualified technicians as well as finesse in such matters to hack  the energy grid. And even if this does happen, it would most likely be in a small section of the area.
 Source:

Jock vs. Nerd

For the answer to the eternal question “Is it better to be a ‘jock’ or a ‘nerd’?”, consider the following:

When Michael Jordan played basketball he made over $300,000 a game. That equals $10,000 a minute, at an average of 30 minutes per game. With $40 million in endorsements, he made $178,100 a day, working or not. If he sleeps 7 hours a night, he makes $52,000 every night while visions of sugarplums dance in his head.

If he goes to see a movie, it’ll cost him $7.00, but he’ll make $18,550 while he’s there.

If he decides to have a 5-minute egg, he’ll make $618 while boiling it. He’ll make $3,710 while watching each episode of Friends. If he wanted to save up for a new Acura NSX ($90,000) it would take him a whole 12 hours.

If someone were to hand him his salary and endorsement money, they would have to do it at the rate of $2.00 every second.

He probably pays around $200 for a nice round of golf, but will make $33,390 while playing that round. Assuming he puts the federal maximum of 15% of his income into a tax-deferred account (401k), he will hit the federal cap of $9,500 at 8:30 am on January 1st of each year.

If you were given a penny for every 10 dollars he made, you’d be living comfortably at $65,000 a year.

He’ll make about $19.60 while watching the 100-meter dash in the Olympics.

He’ll make about $15,600 during the Boston Marathon.

While the common person is spending about $20 for a meal in his trendy Chicago restaurant, he’ll pull in about $5,600.

In his last year, he made more than twice as much as all U.S. past presidents did for all of their terms combined.

However, if Jordan saves 100% of his income for the next 250 years, he’ll still have less money than Bill Gates has today.

Game over.

Nerd wins.