Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Anthony Bourdain, Rest in Peace

It is sad to hear that the famous chef, author and most of all a gifted story teller who took TV viewers around the world to explore cultures through cuisines has died.  He apparently committed suicide in his hotel room in France.

In his famous TV series " Part Unknown", he traveled in many places worldwide to film about food dishes and the people and cultural the dishes came from.  But his first love as he would fondly called it is the once capital city of Vietnam  - Hue.   Matter of facts he would made two more episodes about Vietnam and its cuisine.  He would say that Vietnam is a place he would visit again and again for the food and people.    In the 2016 season premier, he visited Hanoi and sat down President Obama for a beer and ate the popular Hanoi noodles with grilled pork.  It was an instant classic.

President Obama tweeted about the meal he shared with the chef:

“Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer.” This is how I’ll remember Tony. He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him. 



Here are some of the links of his Vietnam visits

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMrgQ_dOyhk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzO9NITmd84

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKGMyb6VRfE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPneFmnXfrM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUMlwNHNXp0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nh9VEmJRUlo


Friday, August 3, 2018

The Lottery Golden Triangle of America

Within 9 months of 2014,  three Northern California residents hit some of the largest lottery jackpots in history. 

In January,  Steve Tran, a truck driver, split $648 million with Ira Cury from Atlanta.  He bought the ticket at a gift shop in East San Jose.  A few months later in April, retiree Raymond Buxton won $425 million.  The winning ticket was bought at a gas station in Milpitas which is less than 10 miles from the gift shop.  Vinh Nguyen bought the winning $228 million jackpot ticket at grocery store in San Mateo which is about 30 miles from San Jose.

The total value of all three tickets are $977 million.  And now 4 years later in July 2018, a winning jackpot of $543 million will be shared by 11 co-workers at a financial institution.   The ticket, as you guess it, was bought at a liquor store in San Jose, less than 2 miles form the gift shop that sold the $648 million jackpot ticket. 

Just for the last 4 years, over $1.5 billion of lucky money has won here in the Bay Area.  If all other winning jackpots are considered for the last 12 years,  the Bay Area has captured almost $1.8 billion of lottery jackpot.   Not too bad for a place that are already rich with dot.com multi-millionaires.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Unofficial Election Results

 San Jose City Council, D7
  Precincts Reporting:  100%

Tam Nguyen                        31.85%       2,275
 Maya Esparza                      22.51%     1,608
 Van T. Le                             14.17%      1,012
Thomas Duong                     12.14%         867
Jonathan Flemming              10.68%         763
Omar Vasquez                       5.59%          399
Hoang Chris Le                      3.05%          218
                                                                 7,142

MEMBER OF THE STATE ASSEMBLY 72nd District
Completed Precincts: 231 of 231
Vote CountPercentage
JOSH LOWENTHAL (DEM)20,76136.8%
TYLER DIEP (REP)16,68329.6%
GREG HASKIN (REP)11,51220.4%
LONG PHAM (REP)4,4918.0%
RICHARD LAIRD (REP)2,9455.2%

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Election Early Results



City Council District 7, San Jose

TAM NGUYEN                                        36.64%      1,942

MAYA ESPARZA                                    18.98%       1,064

VAN T. LE                                                15.93%          893

THOMAS DUONG                                 12.65%          709

JONATHAN BENJAMIN FLEMING     9.67%            547

OMAR VASQUEZ                                  4.69%             263

HOANG ''CHRIS'' LE                             3.35%             188

                                                                                       5,606



Member of State Assembly 72nd District  (23 of 231 Precinct)

Josh Lowenthal (D)        34.1%    10,678
Tyler Diep (R)                33.2%    10,411
Greg Haskin (R)             19.5%     6,124
Long Pham  (R)              9.0%       2,808
Richard Laird  (R)           4.2%      1,316


Thursday, May 31, 2018

San Jose D7 City Council Race


Here we go again, another hotly contested race pitting 4 Vietnamese-Americans against each others and 3 other candidates ( 2 Hispanic and 1 White candidates)
 

Current Councilmember Tam Nguyen is having a time of his life in fending off three Vietnamese-American challengers for that crucial Vietnamese voting bloc that makes up about 33% of the overall  registration. 

He is being accused of being a communist sympathizer, unethical lawyer and now false campaign advertising.  The Vietnamese-American community is divided and without a united voting bloc, CM Tam Nguyen has no hope of winning the race outright in the primary.

So what is the conventional wisdom now that we are 5 days away?

CM Tam Nguyen so far has raised the most money.   Here is the breakdown of the top three money raised (not including the money that candidates loan to themselves) -  Tam Nguyen (~$91,000),  Maya Esparza (~$78,000) and Van Le (~$48,000). 

CM Tam Nguyen also has a very dedicated group of 20 volunteers who have been walking the precinct for him since the beginning  of the year.   And he has a strong name recognition in D7. 

Despite his shortcomings, he is actually well liked for his humility and easy going personality. 

His opponents are strong and will split the votes within the Vietnamese-American community.  Van Le has her supporters and she has shown in 2014, she can attract votes.   However, this is her 5th try; will the voters just feel tire of her and her many failed attempts?

Chris Le admitted that he is spoiler.  He did not even bother to raise money or precinct walking.  Thomas Duong is new kid on the bloc with no records of community activism or participation.   Despite such inexperience and lack of record, the Mercury News and SVO (the other name for Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce) are endorsing him just to further splinter the Vietnamese-American voting bloc. 

Maya Esparza is being pushed to run by  South Bay Labor Council.  Does she really want to give up a cushy union job that she cannot be fired from and that pays more than $150,000 a year?  Not really.

Labor is doing all the walking, mailing and fund raising.  They just want to get back at CM Tam Nguyen for not voting for low income housing and other Labor's related agendas.

With such a low turnout expected (with less than 1/3 of the registered voters will cast their ballots), CM Tam Nguyen and Maya Esparza will likely be the top two candidates to go on to the general election.  However,  the wild card factor has always been, will the Hispanic voters go to vote?  If not, we might have two Vietnamese-American candidates in the general election.








Goldman Prize Winner - Nguy thi Khanh



The Goldman Environmental Prize was established in 1989 by late San Francisco civic leaders and philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman. Prize winners are selected by an international jury from confidential nominations submitted by a worldwide network of environmental organisations and individuals.   The prize is considered to be the Nobel Prize for environmental conservation and protection activism.






The 2018 Goldman Prize winners include the first Vietnamese ever to receive the award - Nguy thi Khanh.


The other winners are Francia Márquez, a leader of the Afro-Colombian community; Claire Nouvian, a tireless defender of the oceans and marine life; Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid who built a broad coalition to stop South Africa’s massive nuclear deal with Russia; Manny Calonzo who spearheaded an advocacy campaign that persuaded the Philippine government to enact a national ban on the production, use, and sale of lead paint; and LeeAnne Walters who led a citizens’ movement that tested the tap water in Flint, Michigan, and exposed the Flint water crisis, compelling the local, state, and federal governments to take action to ensure access to clean drinking water.

See excerpt below from an article written by Do Minh Tam and Lars Blume for Energy Transition.


https://th.boell.org/en/2018/04/30/nguy-thi-khanh-changing-world-better



"...Ms. Nguy Thi Khanh was nominated for her work to slow down coal power expansion in Vietnam. For Khanh, Vietnam’s energy future is at a crossroads and every decision and every dollar invested today will be felt in Vietnam and in our earth’s climate for decades to come. When the Vietnamese National Assembly decided not to pursue nuclear power in 2016, Khanh and GreenID saw that changes for the better are achievable.
Born into a rural family in Bac Am, a village in northern Vietnam, and growing up near a coal plant, Ms. Khanh experienced the pollution and dust from coal operations firsthand and witnessed many people in her community developing cancer as a result. She was always passionate about the environment and after graduating from college began working on water conservation issues and community development for a small Vietnamese nonprofit organization.
In 2011, Ms. Khanh founded Green Innovation and Development Centre (GreenID) in order to promote sustainable energy development in Vietnam, as well as good water and air governance and green development. She also established the Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance (VSEA), a network of 11 Vietnamese and international environmental and social organizations that collaborate on regional energy issues. GreenID helped develop local energy plans to both support the uptake of renewable technologies and manage pollution.
This helped households and entire communities to minimize pollution of rivers, turn waste into energy, and acquire new, affordable technologies such as solar lights and worm farms. The success of the work has shown that there are very real, effective and affordable alternatives to energy from large hydropower and coal-fired power...."



Friday, May 25, 2018

Phong La for Alameda County Assessor



Of all the Vietnamese-American  candidates running for offices in California, Phong La is running a rather quiet campaign within the Vietnamese-American community.

His county covers a 14 cities including Oakland with a population of  over 1.6 million.   The county assessor  is not usually a highly contested seat.  It is not unusual for an incumbent to serve decades in office.  The seat is open after the incumbent decided to retire after 17 years.

Phong La is running against two other candidates.  He has the backing of Alameda County Democratic Party and over 50 elected officials from US representatives, state-elected officials, county-elected officials to mayors and council members.

He is both a tax lawyer and a co-owner of a machine  & metal shop (with his family). 

With the demographics of 43% White, 27% Asian-American, 12% Black and 22% Hispanic, his chance of winning is very high since the other two candidates will split the White vote.


https://votephongla.com/


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

SB 895 - Establish a Vietnamese-American Refugee Experience Curriculum in School







About 300  Vietnamese-Americans showed up in Sacramento for the State Senate hearing on the SB 895 sponsored by State Senator Janet Nguyen and co-author by Assembly Member Ash Kalra.  

This bill would require the commission to develop and submit to the state board, on or before December 31, 2022, and the state board to adopt, modify, or revise, on or before March 31,2023, a model curriculum relative to the Vietnamese American refugee experience, as specified, for use in elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. The bill would encourage a school district, charter school, or county office of education that maintains any of grades 1 to 12, inclusive, that does not otherwise offer a standards-based Vietnamese American studies curriculum relative to the Vietnamese American refugee experience, Vietnamese boat people, and the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces, to offer a course of study based on the model curriculum. 




CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

SENATE BILLNo. 895


Introduced by Senator Nguyen
(Principal coauthor: Assembly Member Kalra)

January 12, 2018


An act to add Section 51207 to the Education Code, relating to pupil instruction.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 895, as amended, Nguyen. Pupil instruction: Vietnamese American refugee experience: model curriculum.

Existing law requires the adopted course of study for grades 7 to 12, inclusive, to include, among other subjects, the social sciences. Existing law encourages instruction in the area of social sciences that may include instruction on the Vietnam War, including a component drawn from personal testimony of Southeast Asians who were involved in the Vietnam War and men and women who contributed to the war effort on the homefront, as specified. Existing law requires the State Board of Education, with the assistance of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, to establish a list of textbooks and other instructional materials that highlight the contributions of minorities in the development of California and the United States. Existing law establishes the Instructional Quality Commission and requires the commission to, among other things, recommend curriculum frameworks to the state board.
This bill would require the commission to develop and submit to the state board, on or before December 31, 2020, 2022, and the state board to adopt, modify, or revise, on or before March 31, 2021, 2023, a model curriculum relative to the Vietnamese American refugee experience, as specified, for use in elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. The bill would encourage a school district, charter school, or county office of education that maintains any of grades 1 to 12, inclusive, that does not otherwise offer a standards-based Vietnamese American studies curriculum relative to the Vietnamese American refugee experience, Vietnamese boat people, and the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces, to offer a course of study based on the model curriculum. The bill would require the model curriculum to be developed with participation from specified entities, including, among others, Vietnamese American refugees and Vietnamese American cultural centers and community groups located in California. The bill would provide that implementation of its provisions is subject to the receipt of grants, donations, or other financial support from private or public sources for its purposes, including, but not limited to, an appropriation in the annual Budget Act or another statute.

Vote: majority   Appropriation: no   Fiscal Committee: yes   Local Program: no  

BILL TEXT


THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) The State of California is committed to providing excellent educational opportunities to all of its pupils.
(b) There are 92 languages other than English spoken throughout the state, with the primary languages being Arabic, Armenian, Cantonese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.
(c) There is a growing body of academic research that shows the importance of culturally meaningful and relevant curriculum.
(d) The state’s educational standards should be guided by core values of equity, inclusiveness, and universally high expectations.
(e) The state is committed to its obligation to ensure its youth are college prepared and career ready, while graduating 100 percent of its pupils.
(f) The implementation of various culturally relevant courses within California’s curriculum that are A–G approved, with the objective of preparing all pupils to be global citizens with an appreciation for the contributions of multiple cultures, will close the achievement gap, reduce pupil truancy, increase pupil enrollment, reduce dropout rates, and increase graduation rates.
(g) For the past 40 years, Vietnamese American refugees have enriched the social, cultural, and economic landscape of California and have achieved success in many professional fields, including business, politics, law, science, education, literature, journalism, sports, and entertainment.
(h) The state encourages the participation of pupils, community members, and members of California Vietnamese American communities in the development of a model curriculum that recognizes the importance of survivors, rescuers, and liberators of the Vietnam War, including Vietnamese-American Vietnamese American refugees, Vietnamese boat people, and members of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces.
(i) The state currently encourages the incorporation of survivor, rescuer, liberator, and witness oral testimony into the teaching of human rights, the Holocaust, and genocide, including the Armenian, Cambodian, Darfur, and Rwandan genocides.
(j) Currently, the instructional resources available for use in California public schools do not include sufficient oral testimony from survivors, rescuers, and liberators of the Vietnam War, including Vietnamese American refugees, Vietnamese boat people, and members of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces in the United States and especially in California.
(k) The state acknowledges the need to elevate tragic personal stories like those of the Vietnamese boat people who, after the fall of Saigon in 1975, risked their lives escaping communism only to spend weeks or months at sea battling storms, diseases, starvation, and pirates.
(l) The state acknowledges the importance of the history and experience of the more than 250,000 members of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces who were sent to reeducation camps after the fall of Saigon, where many spent up to 17 years in captivity and more than 20,000 died before they were released.
(m) The state acknowledges that oral histories can help pupils better relate to and understand different perspectives in curriculum by providing first-person accounts from individuals who have experienced some of the most tragic times in international history, helping the subject become more than statistics on a page.
(n) The County of Orange, along with the City of San Jose, are home to the largest Vietnamese populations outside of Vietnam.
(o) It is in the best interest of all people and the future of this state to ensure that each school district, charter school, and county office of education has access to a model curriculum and culturally accurate instructional materials relative to the Vietnamese American refugee experience, including the experiences of the Vietnamese boat people and the members of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces.

SEC. 2.

 Section 51207 is added to the Education Code, to read:
51207.
 (a) The Instructional Quality Commission shall develop, and the state board shall adopt, modify, or revise, a model curriculum relative to the Vietnamese American refugee experience, that began with the fall of Saigon in 1975, including oral testimony of survivors, rescuers, and liberators of the Vietnam War, including Vietnamese-American Vietnamese American refugees, Vietnamese boat people, and members of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces, to ensure quality standards and materials for this area of study. The model curriculum shall be developed with participation from Vietnamese American cultural centers and community groups located in California, survivors, rescuers, and liberators of the Vietnam War, Vietnamese American refugees, and a group of representatives of local educational agencies, a majority of which are kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive, and teachers who have relevant experience or education backgrounds in the study and teaching of Vietnamese American history. The model curriculum developed pursuant to this subdivision shall include curriculum appropriate for use in elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools.
(b) The model curriculum shall be written as a guide to allow school districts, charter schools, and county offices of education to adapt their related courses to best meet the educational needs of their communities. The model curriculum developed for use in high schools shall include examples of courses offered by local educational agencies that have been approved as meeting the A–G admissions requirements of the University of California and the California State University, including, to the extent possible, course outlines for those courses.
(c) When teaching about the Vietnam War and the postwar period, the Legislature encourages the incorporation of writings that represent all perspectives of the refugee experience, including oral testimony by survivors, rescuers, and liberators of the Vietnam War, and Vietnamese refugees.
(d) The model curriculum shall include discussion of the Vietnamese boat people and members of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces, the reasons behind the exodus, the hardships faced by the Vietnamese people attempting to flee who were apprehended by the communist government, and the conditions that led to the resettlement of Vietnamese people in America.
(e) On or before December 31, 2020, 2022, the Instructional Quality Commission shall submit the model curriculum to the state board, and the state board shall adopt, modify, or revise the model curriculum on or before March 31, 2021. 2023.
(f) The Instructional Quality Commission shall provide a minimum of 45 days for public comment before submitting the model curriculum to the state board.
(g) Beginning in the school year following the adoption of the model curriculum pursuant to subdivisions (a) and (e), each school district, charter school, or county office of education maintaining any of grades 1 to 12, inclusive, that does not otherwise offer standards-based Vietnamese American studies curriculum relative to the Vietnamese American refugee experience, Vietnamese boat people, and the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces, is encouraged to offer to pupils a course of study relative to the Vietnamese American refugee experience based on the model curriculum. A school district, charter school, or county office of education that serves pupils in any of grades 7 to 12, inclusive, that elects to offer a course of study in the Vietnamese American refugee experience pursuant to this subdivision, shall offer the course as an elective in the social sciences or world history and shall make the course available in at least one year during a pupil’s enrollment in grades 7 to 12, inclusive.
(h) It is the intent of the Legislature that local educational agencies that maintain high schools submit course outlines for studies relative to the Vietnamese American refugee experience for approval as A-G A–G courses.
(i) For purposes of this section, “oral testimony” means the firsthand accounts of significant historical events presented in a format that includes, but is not limited to, in-person testimony, video, or a multimedia option, such as a DVD or an online video.
(j) The implementation of this section is subject to the receipt of grants, donations, or other financial support from private or public sources for its purposes, including, but not limited to, an appropriation in the annual Budget Act or another statute.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Once Again, Ao Dai Festival in San Jose, May 12







This will the 6th Ao Dai Festival in San Jose.  This elaborated biannual tradition was started 12 years ago by San Jose long time legal maven, Jenny Do.

The cultural extravaganza is on May 12 at Fairmont Hotel.

www.aodaifestival.com

Free Outdoor Opening Ceremony – Come early to get good view of the spectacular event
4:00 pm San Jose City Hall, 200 East Santa Clara, San Jose, CA
4:30pm Circle of Palm, 127 S Market St, San Jose, CA (in front of the San Jose Art Museum)
4:00 pm- For everyone wearing Áo Dài, walk procession from San Jose City Hall to Circle of Palm.  The public is welcomed to join us.
4:30pm Outdoor Opening Ceremony presenting SJMA’s Ao Dai: Weaving Community (free), Circle of Palm, 127 S Market St. San Jose, CA
Be a guest at our outdoor opening ceremony, a presentation of colors, sound, and opulence. Stilt walkers, drummers, and models in colorful Áo Dài will adorn the Circle of Palms next to Fairmont Hotel.  San Jose Art Museum will also present an Áo Dài woven by the community.  The children of Vietnam will invite Mother Âu Cơ (the mother of Vietnam) to Ao Dai Festival’s home to bless all participants.  This portion is open to the public.



5:30pm Evening Event/Program (Ticket Required)
Fairmont Hotel Foyer (second floor), 170 S Market St, San Jose, Ca 95113
5:30 PM Cocktail Hour: Music, gourmet wine, hors d’oeuvres, and meeting the all the artists/designers. You will be welcomed to an elaborately decorated reception hall featuring the three regions of Vietnam.  You will hear the sexy sounds of saxophone and monochord.  Witness a calligraphy artist and his brush create a unique experience for our guests.  You will feel all that makes up the Fabric of Silicon Valley.
5:35 PM Ao Dai Calligraphy
5:45 PM Fabric of Silicon Valley presented by Chopsticks Alley Art. Presenting traditional outfits from different ethnicities.
 6:30 PM  Evening Show & Dinner.  Enjoy our dinner show extravaganza inside the Fairmont Hotel Imperial Ballroom.  This year’s theme title is Confluence of the Rivers (Hội Trùng Dương), promising attendants an evening to remember.
9:00 PM – 11:00 PM EVENING DANCING. Our celebration continues after the show.  Join us and dance to the depth of joy, and to celebrate another Ao Dai Festival anniversary.




Anthony Bourdain, Rest in Peace

It is sad to hear that the famous chef, author and most of all a gifted story teller who took TV viewers around the world to explore cultur...