Emil Guillermo: Earth Day--PODCAST Interview with Asian Pacific Environmental Network's Miya Yoshitani, Trump's 100 Days, and Bill O'Reilly's ousting
April 22, 2017 8:41 AM

While you're marching on Earth Day at a science march near you, take your earbuds and listen to Emil Amok's Takeout.

I mean, you're going to march, aren't you? 

If you've doubted that the environment is a racial justice issue, listen to Miya Yoshitani of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) talk about how the Laotian community in Richmond, California stood up and fought a big refinery that sent pollutants into their lives--for more than 20 years. It's been an ongoing battle, but how APEN fought Chevron and made it take the community seriously remains one of the truly inspirational stories of the environmental justice movement.

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oshitani said it's no mistake that people of color too often find themselves at the nexus of poverty, pollution, and racism.


Use the fast forward to hear the story of the Laotian refugee community's fight at 26:00 into the podcast. 

As we approach one of the more urgent Earth Days in recent memory, we can use all the inspiration we can get.

The Trump administration's aggressive climate-denial stance has the country going backwards, ignoring the science, and diminishing our leadership role as Trump slashes billions of dollars in global assistance funds. 

Don't leave it up to the scientists to fight your battles. You don't need to be an expert or a Ph.D to know your air and water are bad. 

As Yoshitani says, you just have to be willing to speak up and demand the quality of life you deserve. 

The Laotian refugees in Richmond did.

Listen to Episode 10 on Earth Day on the AALDEF podcast, Emil Amok's Takeout.

Show Notes:

:00 Hello!

2:50 Emil Amok's take on Trump's 100

5:19 On Bill O'Reilly's ousting

7:30 On Earth Day

8:00 Intro to Yoshitani interview

17:00 Fighting an incinerator in Chicago

18:40 Environmental Racism

21:00 Toxic waste and race

26:00 Richmond Success Story

27:15 Laotian Organizing Project

29:30 The need for multilingual communication

32:54 Environmental activism means engaging in democracy

56:00 How Asian Americans can fight the environmental racism in their lives.

1:11:00  The smelly dog food activist

1:11:20  Staying optimistic

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.



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Emil Guillermo: Dragged United passenger Dr. David Dao is no Rosa Parks, but he could be a poster boy for all consumers; PODCAST: Dr. Dao's case; Mimi Hwang
April 13, 2017 4:45 PM

When the U.S. drops the "mother of all bombs" on Afghanistan as a worldwide message, it's time for a little sobering perspective.

Maybe we could take a little more time to treat all people with a little more respect, fairness and dignity in our everyday lives. Person to person. And certainly, corporation to consumer. 

Which brings us to the viral bombshell of a story that won't die. 

If United, or anyone else, thought the dragging of Dr. David Dao was a short-term headline that would go away with a simple apology, they were sorely mistaken.

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Dao's tale is bigger than anyone thought. It's soon to become the last stand for the modern global consumer. 

Dao, the 69-year-old man dragged off a United flight so that the airline could seat its own employees, has hired Thomas Demetrio, a top-notch personal injury lawyer based in Chicago. At a press conference Thursday, Demetrio made it clear how he saw things.

Demetrio didn't think the case was about race, even though Dao in one of the now numerous cell phone videos could be heard asking if United was asking him to leave the plane because he was Chinese. (At the press conference, Dao's daughter, Crystal, clarified that Dao immigrated from Vietnam.)

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To further his point, Demetrio shared with the media an e-mail he'd received from someone suggesting that Dao was the "modern day Asian Rosa Parks."

"I don't think that's the case at all," Demetrio said. "What happened to Dr. Dao could have happened to any one of us."

Demetrio said Dr. Dao "has come to understand that he's the guy to stand up for passengers going forward."

In other words, he's the universal little guy. 

But race did come into play in one significant way when Dao told Demetrio how he felt about the dragging. On one of the phone videos released, Dr. Dao was seen crying out, "just kill me, just kill me." A reporter asked what Dao meant by that?
 
"I asked him that question; here's what he told me," said Demetrio. "He said that he left Vietnam in 1975 when Saigon fell. And he was on a boat. And he said he was terrified. He said that being dragged down the aisle was more horrifying and harrowing than what he experienced in leaving Vietnam."

If there's a lawsuit coming, and indeed there is, I don't think United stands a chance.

As a writer on race issues in America, I've often wondered what one factor in our society could become our common ground and end the pain of discrimination. Twenty years ago, I thought age would allow us to see beyond race. The ageists of the world have proved me wrong. In Dao, a 69-year old loving father with multiple grandchildren, I think we have the answer. 

He's the battered consumer in this angry, short-tempered society, standing up to the corporation. 

Race? Not primary. It may have helped the Chicago Airport cops to see him as an "other" so they could drag him away with zeal. But basically, race is irrelevant.  

Dao was a seated ticket holder, a profit center to the corporation. And when it didn't need him anymore, it violently bullied Dao and treated him like crap. 

We can all relate to that. It's what I thought on Monday when I first heard the story.

Now Dao is poised to become the one who fights for what all consumers deserve. 

Demetrio said there were three things every consumer should demand:  fairness, respect, and dignity. "That's it," Demetrio said. "I hope [Dao] becomes the poster child for all of us." 

It's not the position that most Asian Americans willingly seek out. Most hold on to the stereotype--unless you are chosen, and it's beaten out of you.

And then there's no other option but to speak up. You take a stand, and become what I've long called since my Asian Week days: a "Public Asian."

Dr. Dao wasn't at the press conference. 

Demetrio said he was at a secure location and appreciated if the media would leave him alone. Ultimately, Dao will return to Louisville, but probably by car. Said Demetrio: "He has no interest in ever seeing an airplane." 

Hear bits of the media conference in Ep. 9 of the AALDEF podcast, Emil Amok's Takeout.

I also interview an Asian American from Kentucky, Mimi Hwang. She talks about the local reaction to Dao, who lives in the Louisville area, and gives her own perspective as a business owner and as someone who has experienced what it feels like to be bullied due to her Asian background. It happened to her family in 2015. She also says that while the Dao story is empowering, the micro-community of Asians has little voice and no support from social justice organizations.

I even mention if the community has heard from Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation, who happens to be the wife of Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell.

No, Hwang said. But she'd welcome Chao's support in the community.

Listen to Episode 9 on the Dao case on the AALDEF podcast, Emil Amok's Takeout.



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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.


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Emil Guillermo: United must treat Asian Americans--or any other passengers--as human beings with dignity
April 11, 2017 2:00 PM

It is the unmistakable screech heard round the world.

By now, you've surely seen that looping video, strung together from the good citizens with cell phone cameras who have learned that video doesn't lie (below via Washington Post).

It loops on all your newsfeeds and on TV like a modern Zapruder film. Or a Rodney King video.

If you haven't seen the video, then maybe you've heard it? 

While the video shows how a 69-year-old Asian American doctor named David Dao was forcibly removed from his seat on United Express Flight 3411, it's the sound he makes that, for me, is the most alarming. 

The pictures may lure your eyes, but the screech is what haunts and makes the video so much harder to watch.

Even when TV reporters talk over the looping video, the sound never goes away. Even when muted.

I can hear it as I type--it's that shrieking cry of agony. 

Anyone who has experienced a transgression of any kind--racial, sexual, personal--has heard it.

Maybe you've made the same sound yourself.

And, of course, my heart dropped when I first saw Dao's bloodied Asian American face. 

United's CEO reportedly said Dao was "disruptive and belligerent."

Actually, it looks and sounds like he was in agony.

But the CEO's remark sets up the antagonistic stance the company wants with the American consumer. 

Already, news reports are circulating putting Dao in a bad light, setting up a typical "he's no saint" defense.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reported this morning on Dao, an Asian immigrant who went to medical school in Vietnam in the '70s and worked in a Louisville-area hospital. 

According to the news report, Dao was arrested 14 years ago in Kentucky in 2003 and convicted of drug-related offenses after an undercover investigation. He was placed on five years of supervised probation in 2005 and allowed by the state board to resume practicing conditionally in 2015. 

And that's where life found him Sunday night. A good doctor eager to get home to deal with patients. 

Of course, it must be noted, Dao's past has absolutely no relevance to the present.

The relevant facts are that Dao was on an overbooked flight and was "bumpable." He was entitled to up to $1,350 in compensation. 

Dao wasn't entitled to the physical abuse meted out by airport police, who indelicately pulled him out of his seat and dragged him through the aisle.

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It looked like police dragging off a protester at an act of civil disobedience.   

Then there was Dao's loud shriek, his painful cry for help. 

Or as an alarm to all consumers? 

On Twitter, I wondered if Dao would have been treated differently if he were white? 

Would he have been allowed to walk off with dignity? Or did the Chicago aviation security officers bully him and use force because they saw him as a slight, older Asian male, who could be taken out with force?

I have no doubt that it would have been worse if he were African American or Latino, or even South Asian or Muslim. 

I also tweeted that maybe a competing airline would start a "No Drag, leave with dignity" bump fee.

But that's just me thinking that customer service still counts in our corporate-infested, money-first society.

Nothing from United indicates it understands anything about that old adage, "The customer is always right." 

So what is to be done?

A lawsuit? That's what the corporation seems to be gearing up for.

For me, nothing short of free or discounted flights for a certain period for all, or maybe a lifetime for one passenger in particular, will redeem the corporate bosses at United for its transgression against Dao, who would not go gently off that plane. 

That's my free crisis PR advice. 

Any amount of free travel would still be dirt cheap for United/Continental, whose actions against Dao on Sunday sent its stock tumbling 3.7% Tuesday morning, on a pace to wipe out $830 million in market capitalization. It's a relatively small amount for a company reported to have a $22.5 billion market value. (A fraction of what Apple's worth.) But that's the bottom line corporations understand.

United needs to understand more than that. 

If it doesn't apologize and soon, United risks handing over a few airplanes, if not the airline itself, to Dr. Dao. That's how bad this is.

I'm personally avoiding United until I hear something different. And I recommend you take that action too. 

Maybe United feels emboldened by the pro-corporate nature of these Trump times, that backs insurers over people and doesn't blink about putting 24 million without health care; that puts shareholder profits over all; and values a person's success only by his bank account.

More important than money is the real capital that gives life its meaning--people. 

United is about to find out that it would make more money simply by treating customers like Dr. Dao as human beings worthy of respect and dignity.

Until it does, we all need to keep screeching.

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.



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Emil Guillermo: Trump's Cruise Missile Viagra; Gorsuch; and a PODCAST: Bataan Death March--75 years later; and beyond whitewashing of "Ghost in the Shell"
April 7, 2017 8:48 AM

Mr. America First, Donald Trump, the man who never met a wall he didn't like, has no compassion for the undocumented. Same for the 24 million people he'd gladly lop off Obamacare, or the countless others impacted by his pro-military budget. He's never shown any real concern for Syrian refugees.

But show him pictures of the latest victims of Syria's Bashar al-Assad's sarin gas attack in Syria, and Trump is a different guy--at least, that's what we're supposed to believe.

Like a guy who'd cry at Mike Flynn's going away party.

If you buy that, I have a set of Trump University DVDs I'd like to sell you.

In a video statement Thursday night from Mar-a-Lago, Trump spoke of the "slow and brutal death for so many, even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack." Said Trump:  "No child of God should ever suffer such horror."

A touch of humanity?

Sorry. Not buying it.


It's just his way of soft-selling nearly 60 tomahawk cruise missiles into Syria.

Trump didn't even seek Congressional approval, although some were told beforehand.

It may not be needed, if it's just a signal to the world that the U.S.--despite Trump's inaugural message--was still going to be the moralistic big dog in the fight against chemical weapons.

Trump implied the strikes were retaliation for Syria's violations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, calling for "all civilized nations to join us."

So maybe this will be a limited action.

But maybe not.

Syria is as complicated as the Middle East gets. More complicated than health care. More complicated than putting together a travel ban. And you know how good Trump's been with those.

One strike may not be good enough in a land where wars last forever.

It's easy to rail out against a brutal dictator like Assad. But I have a hard time believing Trump is staying up late at night crying for the innocent.

Trump is an opportunist. And a showman.

Consider what a few cruise missiles do for a limp presidency.

On the night he entertains China's President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, Trump flexes a little muscle for his guest and interested parties in places like North Korea. Tomahawks anyone? Message delivered.

This is also the week his approval ratings have dipped to 35 percent. Nothing like flashes of humanity and military strikes to goose up the numbers.

And with all Trump's problems concerning Russian meddling, a military attack works wonders for all that. Devin Who?

Although news reports say the U.S. did not consult Syria's enabler, Russia, "for approval" prior to the attacks, CNN reported that Russian ground forces were tipped off to "reduce Russian casualties." Courtesy call?

There's enough to suggest to Trump's doubters that he's not 100 percent beholden to Putin. Maybe just 40 percent.  

All that this week, plus the Senate goes nuclear to assure that by Friday afternoon, the next Supreme Court justice is Trump's pick, Neil Gorsuch.

That will be no cause for celebration, considering the humanity Gorsuch showed in dealing with the case of Grace Hwang.

So much is happening that it's spoiling the joy of seeing Steve Bannon demoted to millionaire toady and hanger-on. It's a comedown for a man who just in January was seen as the de facto president.

Will the weekend promise even more? More strikes? A response from other countries? An opportunity for the Philippines' Duterte, in the same way Bush got the very first support from the Philippines for his Iraq war? As you'll learn in the podcast, the Philippines has always been there for the U.S.

And then there's the visit of China's Xi Jinping. Will he be impressed by any of what he's seen? He's a non-golfer with Trump in Mar-a-Lago. Will it be a working weekend? Maybe they'll do takeout? 


PODCAST--Emil Amok's Takeout 
Trump is mushy about the brutal killings in Syria.

I wonder if he'll mention the brutal treatment and war crime that was the Bataan Death March.
 
Sunday, April 9th is the 75th anniversary of that historic event. The American Filipino community is commemorating it at the Presidio in San Francisco on Saturday. 

Few people seem to know much about the significance of Bataan in World War II.

For example, did you know 10,000 Filipinos died, compared to 650 Americans, during the march?

Maybe that's why it is often left out of high school history books. 

In California, a new initiative has succeeded in getting Bataan back in the 11th grade curriculum. 

So while MacArthur returned, maybe we will see Bataan return to the history books.

Here's one thing I learned. Many of the Filipino vets were members of the United States Army Forces in the Far East. The USAFFE. They were Filipinos in the Philippines answering President Roosevelt's call to serve. They made up most of Bataan veterans. They also made up the bulk of the Filipino WWII vets who fought for benefits denied by the Rescission Act. 

The Filipino vets from the Philippines were different from those Filipinos already in the U.S., who arrived as "American nationals." Bataan affected them differently. It inspired them to join the war effort. 

On the podcast, I speak to Daniel Phil Gonzales, Asian American Studies professor at San Francisco State University, to put Bataan into context 75 years after.
 
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For many people, all they know about Bataan is likely from the 1945 movie, "Back To Bataan," starring John Wayne.

There was one other main character in that movie. 

General Masharu Homma helmed the death march for the Japanese Imperial Army. He was convicted and executed for his war crimes on April 3, 1946.

But the height of indignity may be the portrayal in "Back to Bataan."

He was played by Leonard Strong, a white man, who made a living in Hollywood playing
"Orientals." 
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Playing Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans was his bread and butter.
 
In fact, Jenn Fang, author of the Reappropriate blog, said the director of "Ghost in the Shell" mentioned "Back to Bataan" as an example of Hollywood's love of whitewashing Asian characters. 

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On the podcast, I talk to Jenn about how Hollywood destroyed the inspirational manga film of her youth in the live action remake of "Ghost in the Shell." 

She said "whitewash" is too benign a term for what it does to Asian women in particular, and Asians in general.

It's all on Episode 8 of Emil Amok's Takeout.

Listen to that episode and all the others in the player here:



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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.


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Emil Guillermo: Military necessity? Japanese Latin Americans say U.S. owes an apology for WWII kidnappings; Also on the PODCAST, Trumpcare's defeat
March 28, 2017 10:58 PM

Art Shibayama, 86, was in Washington, DC and stood by the "Unfinished Business" display at the National Museum of American History. He was there with his friend, Blanca Katsura, also 86. 

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Both were just 12 when they became part of a shameful and little-known episode of U.S. history. Shibayama and Katsura were born and raised in Lima, Peru--Latin American citizens. But in WWII, they were the foreigners the U.S. needed in the name of "military necessity."

Hear their stories on the podcast here.

About 2,200 Japanese Latin Americans were rounded up and sent to the U.S., where they were imprisoned in camps waiting to be used as pawns of war in two major prisoner exchanges.

On Emil Amok's Takeout, I talk to Shibayama, a key survivor. This month, under his official name, Isamu Carlos Shibayama, he brought his case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) at the Organization of American States. 

He hopes the IACHR can compel the U.S. to give him, his brothers, and survivors like Blanca a proper apology and reparations equal to the Japanese Americans who were interned during WWII. Because of their foreign status, Japanese Latin Americans were offered a fourth of the monetary compensation that Japanese Americans received.

Hear the stories of Shibayama and Katsura, and their fight for justice on this episode of Emil Amok's Takeout.

Show Notes:
2:00 Emil's take on Trumpcare defeat

5:00 How to Fix Obamacare

8:00 Art Shibayama calls it kidnapping.

14:20 Blanca Katsura felt she was without a country.

16:11 Phil Tajitsu Nash, civil rights activist and AALDEF board member talks about the significance of the case before the IACHR. 

Listen to the AALDEF podcast, Emil Amok's Takeout, on the player below. Subscribe for free on iTunes and never miss an episode! Hear them all on your phone on demand, 24 hours a day.



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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.


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