VOLUME 28 NO. 6 | JANUARY 31 - FEBRUARY 6, 2009

Two nonprofit organizations merge

Last updated 1-29-09 at 12:35 p.m.

On Dec. 30, 2008, the Seattle Japanese Language School (SJLS) and Nikkei Heritage Association of Washington (NHAW) took a big step toward building a new Japanese cultural and community center when they signed legal documents to merge the two organizations.

The signing ceremony was held at the historic SJLS, located at 1414 South Weller St., where the new center will be built. The board of directors, staff, volunteers, and attorneys of both organizations attended the signing.

SJLS board President Kenichi Sato and NHAW Co-Vice Presidents Lori Matsukawa and Kip Tokuda signed the official merger contract. Under the terms of the agreement, a new board, consisting of representatives from both organizations, will assume responsibility for developing the new center. It will provide a central home for a language school, various martial arts schools, cultural groups, and other Japanese and Japanese American organizations. (end)

For further information, please contact Barbara Mizoguchi, executive director of NHAW/JCCCW, at 206-568-7114 or barbaram@jcccw.org.

Asian Americans disapprove of Bush’s policy

Last updated 1-29-09 at 12:38 p.m.

In Washington D.C., the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) and its affiliates discussed their concerns about the policy created by the Bush administration just prior to Bush’s last day in office . This policy was alarming for many Asian Americans because of its effects on immigrants and legal permanent residents.

Just before the presidential inauguration, Attorney General Michael Mukasey declared that “neither the Constitution nor any statutory or regulatory provision entitles an alien to a do-over if his initial removal proceeding is prejudiced by the mistakes of a privately retained lawyer.”

“We strongly oppose this ruling,” said Karen K. Narasaki, president and executive director of AAJC. “This decision is an eleventh hour blow to the civil and human rights of individuals in extremely vulnerable circumstances.”

Members of Asian American organizations found this ruling to be problematic due to the language and legal barriers that a number of immigrants have to face. “Immigrants and asylum seekers must have a right to a fair hearing,” said Stewart H. Kwoh, executive director of APALC.

This decision has a large influence on the Asian American community. Nearly two-thirds of the nation’s 15 million Asian Americans are immigrants. According to the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, China, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines were among the top 20 nations of origin for individuals in immigration court proceedings in 2007.

These countries ranked similarly in appeals of decisions in removal proceedings. Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security’s records show that in 2007, applicants from China represented the largest share of 35 percent of individuals requesting asylum as a defense against deportation. (end)

For more information, visit advancingequality.org, aaichicago.org, asianlawcaucus.org, or apalc.org.

‘Slumdog Millionaire’ snags more accolades

Last updated 1-29-09 at 12:40 p.m.

By Erika Kinetz
The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Slumdog Millionaire” scored the top award from the Producers Guild of America on Jan. 24, building more momentum for the rags-to-riches drama in the Oscar race for best picture.

The film, a gritty yet heartwarming drama about a game-show contestant from the slums of Mumbai, beat contenders “Milk,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Dark Knight,” and “Frost/Nixon.”

The film is set amid the fetid alleys of Mumbai’s notorious slums. It is continuing its surprising run of success since it swept four categories at the Golden Globes, including the prize for best drama.

The movie received the second highest number of Oscar nominations, including best director for Danny Boyle, best picture, and — generating the most buzz in India — three music nominations for Indian composer A.R. Rahman.

A front-page headline in the Times of India trumpeted “RAH RAH RAHMAN.”

“I’m on top of the world,” Rahman told the Times of India. “Everything is a blur.”

“Slumdog Millionaire” tells the story of Jamal Malik, a poor youth who becomes the champion of India’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” television program as he searches for his lost love.

The gritty movie, which features prostitution, religious violence, and maimed beggars, has sparked great debate over whether it strikes a blow to India’s international reputation.

About two dozen slum residents protested the film outside the Mumbai home of Anil Kapoor, one of the film’s stars, saying the title of the movie was an insult.

However, not everyone feels this way. “I am very excited for this movie because I am also from a slum,” Mohammed Hamid, 19, said outside a New Delhi movie theater. “I want to meet Danny (Boyle) and star in ‘Slumdog 2.’”

Cast members could hardly believe their success.

The Academy Awards will be airing Feb. 22 on ABC. (end)

Associated Press writers Sam Dolnick in New Delhi and Erin Carlson in New York contributed to this report.

City invests in neighborhood arts and cultural events

Last updated 1-29-09 at 12:42 p.m.

The Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs announces funding awards to 37 neighborhood arts councils and community organizations through its Neighborhood & Community Arts program.

The Neighborhood & Community Arts program will provide $44,400 ($1,200 per organization) to public festivals and events taking place throughout the city this year. The varied slate of events includes The Georgetown Super 8 Film Festival, 2009 Arab Festival, Korean Cultural Celebration, 15th Annual Brazilian Carnaval, and many more cultural offerings.

“We are proud to support creativity at a grassroots level. Seattle’s diverse neighborhoods are brimming with cultural events and festivals, which build community and offer a common language,” said Michael Killoren, director of the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs.

The program supports neighborhood groups that produce recurring festivals or events that promote arts and cultural participation, build community and enhance the visibility of neighborhoods through arts and culture.

Neighborhood arts councils and community groups that have been in existence for at least one year may seek annual support for an event that has a significant arts and culture component, is open to the public, and takes place in the city of Seattle.


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