Elaine Chao’s White House Resignation Falls Short – Despite Her Background As An Asian-American Immigrant, Activists Say She Leaves A Legacy Of Complicity With Anti-Immigrant, Racist Policies As A Loyal Trump Official

Some Asian American community leaders say Elaine Chao’s resignation as transportation secretary after the riot at the U.S. Capitol is inadequate after years of harm to marginalized groups and the immigrant community — of which she is a part.

Chao, who officially left her role Monday, is one of the few Asian American immigrants to have ascended to such heights in government. But activists say she leaves behind a legacy of complicity with anti-immigrant, racist policies as a loyal Trump administration official.

Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the social services nonprofit Asian American Federation, said that at this point, regardless of her exit, “damage has been done” to her reputation and credibility.

“Elaine Chao was complicit in creating a politics of toxicity and cynicism. Her decision can only be seen in that context,” Yoo said. “Her dissent was needed when Trump degraded, ostracized and isolated the Asian American community with his Covid-19 misinformation and outright racism or in any of the instances when Trump sought to hurt immigrants like herself.”

Chao, who said in her resignation statement that the violence at the Capitol last week had “deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside,” previously made history as the first Asian American woman to hold a Cabinet position. She hasn’t been afraid of opening up about her immigrant roots and her difficult early years in America. Chao, 67, came to the U.S. from Taiwan when she was 8 years old, speaking no English.

“I think you will understand when I say that our initial years in America were very challenging,” Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told the newly naturalized citizens. “We didn’t speak English, had no family or friends here, couldn’t get used to the food nor understand the customs here.”

Her rise from her immigrant roots has made her a role model for some Asian American families. In an interview with CNN in 2017, Chao said that those from the community would show up anywhere, from public events to the airport, to greet her and that she would feel an “instant bond.” Activists say her actions have proven anything but supportive to immigrant communities.

Chao came under fire several times during Trump’s tenure for staying silent as he tried to institute hard-line immigration policies. In 2017, several Asian American organizations called on Chao to oppose Trump’s termination of the Temporary Protected Status programs for several countries, including Sudan, Nicaragua and Haiti. Temporary Protected Status is typically given to countries where conditions prevent nationals from returning.

They also demanded that she speak out against Trump’s attempts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that year.

While the majority of so-called Dreamers hail from Latin America, about 16,000 undocumented Asian youths are protected under the act. And Asian Americans are the fastest-growing demographic of undocumented immigrants, their population tripling from 2000 to 2015. Chao, however, was mum about the subject.

She also remained silent about Trump’s public charge rule, which denies immigrants residency if they are deemed likely to need public assistance, among other controversial policies. More than 941,000 recent green card holders would have fallen under the rule had it been in effect when they applied, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonprofit policy organization. Of those, 300,000 are from Asian countries.

But Chao possibly drew the most criticism for migrant family separation. While she did not comment on her stance, she did fire back at protesters at Georgetown University who confronted her and McConnell about the policy in 2018 and asked, “Why are you separating families?”

Chao shouted back, “Leave my husband alone,” winning praise among conservatives.

“She effectively colluded with the Trump administration in increasing the separation of our families and rescinding of the DACA program, denying access to public benefits and much more,” said Becky Belcore, executive director of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium, an advocacy organization that was among the groups that previously called on Chao to speak out against the immigration crackdowns.

“Chao was in a position of power that she could have leveraged to support the most marginalized members of our community,” Belcore said. “Instead, she was often seen standing next to Trump as he signed anti-immigrant policies into law.”

Advocates also said that in a particularly damning moment, Chao, a woman of color, stood by Trump at a news conference at Trump Tower in New York City as he neglected to call out hate groups and claimed that there were “very fine people on both sides” after white supremacists descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

While her husband, McConnell, had been feuding with Trump at the time, Chao told reporters at the news conference that she stood “by my man — both of them.” While it’s unclear whether Chao actively supported Trump or was required to do so in the moment as a Cabinet member, John C. Yang, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, said he believes her inaction had consequences.

“President Trump’s statement following the events in Charlottesville were reprehensible,” Yang said. “It is clear that his remarks were building to the insurrection we saw on Wednesday, and the failure of those around him to call out his behavior emboldened him. It is irresponsible and unconscionable for a sitting president of the United States to not only condone but to incite the behavior of people who are only concerned with holding on to white supremacist power.”

Belcore said she felt that Chao, who also served in a Cabinet position as labor secretary under former President George W. Bush, did not sufficiently protect vulnerable workers, including immigrants. But Yang said he felt that Trump’s “racism and xenophobia is toxic and dangerous, at a level not seen in recent presidencies,” taking more precedence compared to the Bush administration. He said that while immigrants and people of color were “under constant attack in dangerous ways” during Trump’s tenure, Chao was in a position in which she could have stood up more for marginalized people. He said it was “disappointing that she did not do so publicly.”

Yang acknowledged that Chao’s ascendance to a Cabinet position as an Asian American, a member of a community that continues to struggle with representation in the political sphere, was an accomplishment, but he said that doesn’t mean her conduct represented the community well. He said, moreover, that as Chao painted herself as a hard-working immigrant while supporting the administration’s anti-immigrant policies, she fed into the “good immigrant versus bad immigrant” myth.

Source: NBC News

How Tomato Sauce Is Made In Italy | Regional Eats

Every summer, Isabella, her mother, Dina, and her daughter, Federica, honor the family tradition and make tomato sauce in their garden. The process is a laborious one that takes several hours, from handpicking each tomato to adding basil leaves into jars one by one. This year, the family has turned more than 200 kilos of tomatoes into sauce.

1952 Mickey Mantle Baseball Card Sells For $5.2 Million, An All-Time Record For Trading Cards

A 1952 Mickey Mantle — one of baseball cards’ holy grails — has sold for a whopping $5.2 million, setting a record for the most expensive trading card ever and nearly doubling its value since a 2018 sale.

The card is one of nine known in existence in its condition. It sold to Rob Gough, an entrepreneur and actor, who started the DOPE clothing and CBD line and whose credits include the 2018 film “Billionaire Boys Club.”

This particular card is graded as Mint 9 by PSA — the go-to grading service for cards — and sold for $2.8 million in 2018 to an unidentified buyer, who then sold it to Gough in a deal brokered by PWCC Marketplace, a leader in the trading card investment market.

“Based on our research, this is the nicest looking 1952 Topps Mantle PSA 9 in existence,” Jesse Craig, director of business development at PWCC Marketplace, said in a press release.

The sale further illustrates the trading card boom that has hit the industry in recent years, with 2020 being a particularly strong year for sports cards. Cards these days aren’t just a hobby — they’re seen as investments, in the way people play the stock market.

It’s now a playground for the rich to either invest or live out their childhood dreams.

“I’ve dreamt of owning a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle since I was a kid collecting cards,” Gough said in a statement. “It’s the Mona Lisa of sports cards and I’ve been searching for this high graded example talking to industry experts, dealers, auction houses, friends and I’m ecstatic that I’m now the proud owner of this iconic card.”

A combination of factors led to a red-hot sports card market in 2020: ESPN’s “The Last Dance” made the market boom for Michael Jordan-specific products. The pandemic led many fans and collectors to rediscover cards. In many cases, even normal modern sports-card products were hard to come by at big-box retailers like Walmart and Target.

Source: Yahoo Sports

The Martian Diet – What Will Humans Eat On Mars? Planetary Scientist Kevin Cannon Talks About The Logistics Of Feeding A Population Of One Million On The Red Planet

What inspired you to consider feeding one million people on Mars?

I’ve been working on a lot of projects related to space resources, so using local materials on the moon or Mars to support exploration and development of space. If you think about the consumables you would need for humans, you’re looking at oxygen, water, construction material and food. And what we realized is that the food is one of the most challenging things to produce on the surface of Mars and that it’s going to take a lot of processing. In our opinion, people really weren’t thinking big enough.

How did you come up with numbers—like number of people and caloric intake—for the study?

The million people, that’s kind of an arbitrary figure based on some stuff that Elon Musk has talked about for his aspirational goals, so we just chose that as a baseline. For the specific numbers in the study, we took a lot from data on Earth. For example, we looked at how many calories the average person eats per day and then scaled that based on a person’s age and activity level. In this computer model, we actually represent a population of people, so we had a 50/50 mix of males and females and we had an age structure. Of course, children consume a lot less calories than older people. That’s all taken into account in our modeling.

How did you determine which food sources would be well-suited for life on Mars?

We looked at this in a very general way. We thought, okay, let’s start from plants, because that’s what most people assumed in the past when they thought about what people would be eating on space missions. And let’s go a little bit beyond that to some protein sources. So, we looked at what’s being done on Earth and we honed in on insect-based foods that turned out to be very efficient for Mars, as well as what’s called cellular agriculture. That’s this idea of growing meat from cells in these large bioreactors. It’s something that’s actually coming a lot sooner than people think on Earth, and it’s very well-adapted for producing food in space.

How does cellular agriculture work?

The way it works is that you take cells from an animal—you can really use any animal, but people are starting with chickens, cows, the familiar things. You extract those cells and then you basically grow them in a nutrient solution. This could be done in a big, stainless steel tank and it almost would look more like brewing beer than a traditional farm. What people are really working on now is to try to get the texture right by building up those cells in some kind of scaffold that gives you the texture of different meats. But the whole point is it’s a much more sustainable way of producing animal protein, and it’s much more ethical because it doesn’t involve raising animals in questionable conditions.

Could you elaborate a bit more on the insect protein?

In North America and in Europe, it’s not really part of our culture or diet. But if you look more broadly, I think something like 2 billion people eat insects as part of their diet on a regular basis. It turns out to be a very good source of protein and again, it’s much more sustainable. It doesn’t require a lot of land or a lot of water compared to factory farming practices. Of course, there is a little bit of a gross factor. But people can, for example, grind up crickets into flour and then put them into cookies or chips or things like that, so you can hide them and get away from just chomping down on whole insects.

What kind of fruits or vegetables would be on the menu?

If you look at what’s being done in space right now, the astronauts have a little garden where they’re able to grow things like lettuce, tomatoes and peppers. Of course, those foods are valuable for things like vitamins and the psychological benefit of being able to grow your own vegetables. But you’re not going to be able to feed a large population on those very low-calorie vegetables, so you’re really going to have to look at things like corn, wheat and soy that are dense enough in calories to support a growing population.

What kinds of technologies did you find were best suited for food production on Mars?

One of the important things is that you would want your food production to be as automated as possible because that would free up people’s time to do more important things. A lot of companies are working on that on Earth, trying to integrate robots into farming and insect production. I think the other thing that’s going to be important is genetic modification, particularly with the plant species, to find ways to improve strains of crops and make them more resilient to grow in a harsh environment on Mars. Right now, the most promising thing would be something like CRISPR, which has kind of taken over the biology world. Already, there’s been a few studies that have used CRISPR to rapidly modify the genomes of specific plant species. So, I think that in particular has the most promise for making Mars-specific strains of crops.

What are some other challenges posed by the conditions on Mars?

One thing we looked at was whether it makes sense to grow plants in greenhouses on the surface. Whenever you see an artist sketch of a Mars base, you always see greenhouses everywhere. But what we found is that you really just don’t get enough sunlight at the surface of Mars because it’s farther away from the sun. Your incident sunlight is basically what you would get in Alaska, and there’s a reason why we don’t grow corn and wheat in Alaska. They’re growing at more southern latitudes. So, it turns out that something like a greenhouse might actually not make sense on Mars. You might be better off growing the plants and producing other foods in tunnels underground, for example.

Where would the water come from?

We have a pretty good handle on where the water is on Mars. It’s mostly locked up as ice underground and it’s also found in certain minerals. For things like clays and salts, where the water is actually embedded in the mineral structure, you could heat those up and evaporate the water off. Once you extract that water, it’s pretty easy to recycle water fairly efficiently. I think on the space station, something like 97 percent of the water is recaptured and reused. It’s obviously an engineering challenge to mine that water in the first place, but then once you have a reservoir built up, you should be able to recycle it fairly efficiently in this closed ecosystem that you construct.

Based on the results of the study, would you advocate for a human settlement on Mars?

Yes, and I think if we look at what particularly SpaceX is doing, they’re already building the ships that are going to take cargo and then people to Mars. We’re already kind of set down that path, and the question is going to be: who goes? Is this going to be space agencies? Is it going to be tourists? And how is a settlement or a city going to build up? But I think it is definitely something that’s feasible in the near term.

Source: Smithsonian

The Hypocrisy Of The MF DOOM Fan

MF DOOM deserves a college course dedicated to him. He feels like a puzzle, trapped in an enigma, bear-hugged by metaphor. Since the 1999 release of what can be considered his solo debut album, Operation Doomsday, MF DOOM has lived in a self-created mystical world on the opposite side of the universe from contemporary Hip Hop. He’s impossible to pigeonhole and incredibly tough to describe, because he assumes different characters constantly. His music is the best kind of bar-heavy, astoundingly vivid. Almost always unconventional song structure. Few hooks allowed. Let’s break it down…

A Racial Slur, A Viral Video, And A Reckoning – White High School Student Mimi Groves Withdrew From Chosen College After Three-Second Video Causes Uproar; Classmate Who Shared It Publicly Has No Regrets

LEESBURG, Va. — Jimmy Galligan was in history class last school year when his phone buzzed with a message. Once he clicked on it, he found a three-second video of a white classmate looking into the camera and uttering an anti-Black racial slur.

The slur, he said, was regularly hurled in classrooms and hallways throughout his years in the Loudoun County school district. He had brought the issue up to teachers and administrators but, much to his anger and frustration, his complaints had gone nowhere.

So he held on to the video, which was sent to him by a friend, and made a decision that would ricochet across Leesburg, Va., a town named for an ancestor of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee and whose school system had fought an order to desegregate for more than a decade after the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling.

“I wanted to get her where she would understand the severity of that word,” Mr. Galligan, 18, whose mother is Black and father is white, said of the classmate who uttered the slur, Mimi Groves. He tucked the video away, deciding to post it publicly when the time was right.

Ms. Groves had originally sent the video, in which she looked into the camera and said, “I can drive,” followed by the slur, to a friend on Snapchat in 2016, when she was a freshman and had just gotten her learner’s permit. It later circulated among some students at Heritage High School, which she and Mr. Galligan attended, but did not cause much of a stir.

Mr. Galligan had not seen the video before receiving it last school year, when he and Ms. Groves were seniors. By then, she was a varsity cheer captain who dreamed of attending the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, whose cheer team was the reigning national champion. When she made the team in May, her parents celebrated with a cake and orange balloons, the university’s official color.

The next month, as protests were sweeping the nation after the police killing of George Floyd, Ms. Groves, in a public Instagram post, urged people to “protest, donate, sign a petition, rally, do something” in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“You have the audacity to post this, after saying the N-word,” responded someone whom Ms. Groves said she did not know.

Her alarm at the stranger’s comment turned to panic as friends began calling, directing her to the source of a brewing social media furor. Mr. Galligan, who had waited until Ms. Groves had chosen a college, had publicly posted the video that afternoon. Within hours, it had been shared to Snapchat, TikTok and Twitter, where furious calls mounted for the University of Tennessee to revoke its admission offer.

By that June evening, about a week after Mr. Floyd’s killing, teenagers across the country had begun leveraging social media to call out their peers for racist behavior. Some students set up anonymous pages on Instagram devoted to holding classmates accountable, including in Loudoun County.

The consequences were swift. Over the next two days, Ms. Groves was removed from the university’s cheer team. She then withdrew from the school under pressure from admissions officials, who told her they had received hundreds of emails and phone calls from outraged alumni, students and the public.

The use of the slur by a Heritage High School student was not shocking, many said. The surprise, instead, was that Ms. Groves was being punished for behavior that had long been tolerated.

Leesburg, the county seat of Loudoun County, lies just across the Potomac River from Maryland, about an hour’s drive from Washington. It was the site of an early Civil War battle, and slave auctions were once held on the courthouse grounds, where a statue of a Confederate soldier stood for more than a century until it was removed in July.

Mr. Galligan recalled being mocked with a racial slur by students and getting laughed at by a white classmate after their senior-year English teacher played an audio recording of the 1902 novella “Heart of Darkness” that contained the slur.

During that school year, Mr. Galligan said, the same student made threatening comments about Muslims in an Instagram video. Mr. Galligan showed the clip to the school principal, who declined to take action, citing free speech and the fact that the offensive behavior took place outside school. “I just felt so hopeless,” Mr. Galligan recalled.

For the University of Tennessee, the outrage over Ms. Groves followed a string of negative publicity over racist incidents at its flagship campus in Knoxville. Last year, Snapchat photos of students wearing blackface and mocking the Black Lives Matter movement went viral, shortly after a student was suspended by her sorority for referring to Black people with a racial slur in an online video. In 2018, swastikas and other hateful messages were painted on campus, months after white supremacists hosted an event during Black History Month.

Public universities are limited in their ability to expel students for offensive language. They have more leeway with incoming students, who are not yet enrolled, though many state schools try to avoid officially revoking admissions offers over speech issues.

The day after the video went viral, Ms. Groves tried to defend herself in tense calls with the university. But the athletics department swiftly removed Ms. Groves from the cheer team. And then came the call in which admissions officials began trying to persuade her to withdraw, saying they feared she would not feel comfortable on campus.

Ms. Groves’s parents, who said their daughter was being targeted by a social media “mob” for a mistake she made as an adolescent, urged university officials to assess her character by speaking with her high school and cheer coaches. Instead, admissions officials gave her an ultimatum: withdraw or the university would rescind her offer of admission.

In the months since Mr. Galligan posted the video, he has begun his freshman year at Vanguard University in California and Ms. Groves has enrolled in online classes at a nearby community college. Though they had been friendly earlier in high school, they have not spoken about the video or the fallout.

At home, Ms. Groves’s bedroom is festooned by a collection of cheer trophies, medals and a set of red pompoms — reminders of what could have been. Her despair has given way to resignation. “I’ve learned how quickly social media can take something they know very little about, twist the truth and potentially ruin somebody’s life,” she said.

For his role, Mr. Galligan said he had no regrets. “If I never posted that video, nothing would have ever happened,” he said. And because the internet never forgets, the clip will always be available to watch.

“I’m going to remind myself, you started something,” he said with satisfaction. “You taught someone a lesson.”

Source: NY Times

Houston Rockets Player Christian Wood Admits Girlfriend Left Him After Going Undrafted, Now Has $41M Contract

Houston Rockets star Christian Wood has revealed that his girlfriend left him the same night he went undrafted as a 19-year-old in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Christian Wood is enjoying life in Houston now but the story was different five years ago in 2015. The then 19-year-old sophomore out of UNLV had anticipated hearing his name announced during the 2015 NBA Draft, and later celebrating with loved ones at Caesar’s Palace. However, things did not pan out well, and it was a night to forget for young Christian Wood who went undrafted. 

In an interview with The Ringer, Christian Wood spoke about his career so far and the horror night in which he went undrafted five years ago. Wood was pegged as a late first-rounder during the 2015 NBA Draft by most mocks, but those hopes soon faded as he went undrafted. He had rented an event space at Caesar’s Palace and had invited a few dozen family and friends. His worst fears came true when he went uncalled in the second round. 

And while Christian Wood went undrafted, his despair that night reached a tipping point when he was dumped by his girlfriend. Wood reveals that he dropped her off at the airport after the draft and never saw her again. In the years that followed, Wood became an NBA journeyman and even signed with the Chinese Basketball Association in 2017. He was later waived by the Fujian Sturgeons which Wood reveals was a ‘new low’. 

Five years since the fateful night saw Christian Wood undrafted and dumped by his girlfriend, the 25-year-old has redeemed himself and has become one of the rising stars in the league. After bouncing around and playing limited minutes for the Charlotte Hornets, New Orleans Pelicans and Milwaukee Bucks, Wood finally had a chance to make his mark in Detroit. Wood averaged 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in 62 games for the Pistons but was eventually let off.

Christian signed with Houston Rockets in the off-season, signing a three-year, $41 million contract. While it is still early days, the 25-year-old has already shown signs that the Christian Wood contract could be a steal by Houston, having averaged 27.0 PPG and 8.0 RPG in 40.0 MPG for a depleted Rockets squad.

Source: Republic World