Taiwan Asks China to Stop Blocking Its Websites

China’s practice of blocking Taiwan’s websites is an impediment to the goal of increasing information and cultural exchange between the two sides of the Strait, said Liu Te-shun, spokesman for the Mainland Affairs Council. “We’ve told them news exchange does not refer to the exchange of reporters only,” Liu said. “What is really important is the free exchange of information.” The improvement of ties since the Kuomingtang’s Ma Ying-jeou took power in 2008 has not resulted in Taiwan’s gov.tw sites being accessible to mainland internet users, reports the Associated Press.

Taiwan Asks China to Stop Blocking Its WebsitesThe Kuomingtang won the presidential election and a majority of seats in Taiwan’s legislature on a platform of improved relations with China. The blockage is even presenting difficulties for China’s own government officials who must access official Taiwanese data in order to process governmental interactions, said Liu. “They must face up to this issue if they hope to see further news and information exchange,” he said. In 2009, Taiwan eased restrictions on the stationing of reporters from China, and now allows each Chinese media outlet to deploy up to five reporters on Taiwan.

OC Authorities Crack Down on Vietnamese Cafes

The tinted windows at Cafe Miss Cutie in Garden Grove, Calif., are a giveaway that this isn’t your ordinary coffeehouse. At about 20 tables, men play cards and smoke, tossing cigarette butts onto the wood floor seconds before lighting up again. High-pitched pop music pulsates as waitresses dressed in sexy lingerie — and sometimes less — deliver the brew the customers crave: Vietnamese coffee, strong and sweet, in a small glass topped with whipped cream. The cafe is one of about 20 in this Orange County city, which includes part of Little Saigon, one of the largest Vietnamese American enclaves in the U.S.

It also is among those raided in March by more than 150 federal and local law enforcement officials, exposing an underbelly of what police say includes nudity, gambling and prostitution. Even the Garden Grove police weren’t prepared for what they found. “We were shocked,” Sgt. Tom Dare, with the department’s special investigations unit, said of the proliferation of arcade-like gambling machines. In the raid, police seized 186 arcade machines that they say can be turned into a keno or blackjack machine with the push of a button. Also confiscated was more than $145,000 in suspected gambling profits, including $35,000 from one cafe alone. The investigation is on-going.

Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei Faces Tax Evasion Charges

Ai Weiwei, the dissident artist whose arrest has prompted an international outcry, is being charged with evading “huge amounts” of taxes, Chinese state media reported on May 20. The brief dispatch on the New China News Agency was the first official disclosure of the charges being leveled against the 54 year-old artist, who was arrested without warning at Beijing’s international airport on April 3, reported the Los Angeles Times. The report also said that his company, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., had “intentionally destroyed accounting records” and committed other criminal acts.

Artist Ai Weiwei
Artist Ai Weiwei
China’s arrest of one of its most acclaimed cultural figures, an artist whose work is on display in New York and London, has led to demonstrations around the world. The announcement of tax evasion charges, coming almost seven weeks after his arrest, is unlikely to satisfy critics who say he was treated without due process of law. Ai had been “legally placed under supervised residence” and that “authorities have protected his rights to family visits.” Ai is the most prominent of dozens of artists, writers, lawyers, bloggers and activists swept up by Chinese authorities in recent months in a crackdown that many say is the most severe since the reaction to the 1989 student demonstrations at Tiananmen Square.

The Inventor of Bubble Tea?

1-Lin-Hsiu-Hui
Lin Hsiu Hui. Photo credit: Derek Chang, CNN.
According to CNN, the popular drink originates from the Chun Shui Tang tea house in Taichun, Taiwan, and a woman named Lin Hsiu Hui is generally accepted as the innovator behind the trend. Legend has it, Lin poured her tapioca dessert into her iced tea during a meeting in 1988. Lin Hsiu Hui, was sitting in a staff meeting and had brought with her a typical Taiwanese dessert called fen yuan, a sweetened tapioca pudding. Just for fun she poured the tapioca balls into her Assam iced tea and drank it.

“Everyone at the meeting loved the drink and it quickly outsold all of our other iced teas within a couple of months — even after 20 years on the menu, bubble tea makes up 80-90 percent of our sales and Taiwanese are proud of this home-grown drink,” says Lin.

Today, bubble tea shops occupy nearly every corner of Taiwan’s streets. They spread to neighboring countries like Japan, South Korea and China and then to the rest of the world.

Oakland: Redefining Sex Trade Workers as Abuse Victims

The New York Times published an article on Asian American youth in Oakland, Calif., who are being lured and forced into the sex trade, and the organizations, like Asian Health Services, that are trying to help these young girls. The numbers are staggering. Once viewed as criminals and dispatched to juvenile centers, where treatment was rare, sexually exploited youths are increasingly seen as victims of child abuse, with a new focus on early intervention and counseling.

In Oakland, a handful of organizations have developed new programs for Southeast Asian minors that take into account the complex culture of foreign-born parents and their American-born children. An estimated 100,000 to 300,000 American-born children are sold for sex each year. The escalating numbers have prompted national initiatives by the F.B.I. and other law enforcement agencies, and new or pending legislation in more than a dozen states. The Oakland health clinic is confronting an underground within an underground — the demand for Asian American girls, with Cambodian Americans among the most vulnerable. According to the article, a stable of four girls can earn over $600,000 a year in tax-free income for a pimp. That kind of money motivates abusers to recruit and kidnap girls from the streets and even from their own families.

Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Law Penalizing Businesses For Hiring Illegal Immigrants

OrangeCountySupportArizona033The Supreme Court has sustained Arizona’s law that penalizes businesses for hiring workers who are in the United States illegally, rejecting arguments that states have no role in immigration matters. By a 5-3 vote, the court said May 26, that federal immigration law gives states the authority to impose sanctions on employers who hire unauthorized workers, reports the Huffington Post. The decision upholding the validity of the 2007 law comes as Arizona appeals a ruling that blocked key components of a second, more controversial Arizona immigration enforcement law. The decision applies only to business licenses and does not signal how the high court might rule if the other law comes before it.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, all Democratic appointees, dissented. The fourth Democratic appointee, Justice Elena Kagan, did not participate in the case because she worked on it while serving as President Obama’s solicitor general. Breyer said the Arizona law upsets a balance in federal law between dissuading employers from hiring illegal workers and ensuring that people are not discriminated against because they may speak with an accent or look like they might be immigrants. Employers “will hesitate to hire those they fear will turn out to lack the right to work in the United States,” he said. Business interests and civil liberties groups challenged the law, backed by the Obama administration. The measure was signed into law in 2007 by Democrat Janet Napolitano, then the governor of Arizona and now the administration’s Homeland Security secretary.

Top Supreme Court Lawyer Says WWII-Era Predecessor Hid Key Information on Japanese Internment

Nearly 70 years after the Supreme Court upheld the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the U.S. Department of Justice has finally admitted it made mistakes and acted dishonorably in defending the convictions of Gordon Hirabayashi and Fred Korematsu. The “confession of error,” posted by acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal on the Justice Department’s website recently, is the first such admission of wrongdoing since the 1940s, when the Supreme Court ruled against Korematsu and Hirabayashi, who challenged the incarceration and related curfew orders that compromised the civil rights of Japanese Americans.

Fred Korematsu
Fred Korematsu
In his statement, Katyal cites evidence that the Solicitor General at the time, Charles Fahy, suppressed evidence in the Korematsu and Hirabayashi cases that clearly stated the minimal threat posed to the nation by Japanese Americans. Fahy, who died in 1979, also neglected to tell the court that information that Japanese Americans “were using radio transmitters to communicate with enemy submarines off the West Coast had been discredited by the FBI” and the Federal Communications Commission, Katyal wrote. “And to make matters worse, he relied on gross generalizations about Japanese Americans, such as that they were disloyal and motivated by ‘racial solidarity.’” Both convictions were overturned in the 1980s, Congress apologized for the treatment of Japanese Americans and the government paid reparations to those who were interned and their heirs.

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