Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Thanks Marion Barry and the Dc chamber
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release October 14, 2009
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT AAPI INITIATIVE EXECUTIVE ORDER SIGNING
AND DIWALI EVENT
3:46 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, good afternoon, everybody. Please be seated. Welcome to the White House. I'm glad you could join us today as I proudly sign this executive order reestablishing the President's Advisory Commission and White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders.
Now, when we talk about America's AAPI communities, we're talking about the industry and entrepreneurship of people who've helped build this nation for centuries: from the early days, as laborers on our railroads and farmers tilling our land, to today, as leaders in every sector of American life, from business to science to academia, law and more.
We're talking about the creative energies of musicians like the singers Penn Masala -- we appreciate them -- who performed today. And we're talking about the competitive spirit of athletes like Wat Misaka, who played for the New York Knicks back in 1947 -- the first non-white player in the NBA -- and who served in the U.S. Army during World War II. Mr. Misaka is here as well today and -- where's Mr. Misaka? There he is. Thank you so much. (Applause.)
We're talking about the public service of leaders like Secretaries Gary Locke and Steven Chu and Eric Shinseki and the folks on stage with me today. And we're talking about the courage and the patriotism and sacrifice of heroes like the members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team who served in World War II, including Terry Shima. Please give him a big round of applause. (Applause.) Mr. Shima is the Executive Director of the Japanese American Veterans Association, and we are grateful that he took the time to be here today.
Some of their families had been interned. Some had been interned themselves. But they still insisted on fighting for America, and went on to become the most highly decorated unit of their size in history.
And one member of the regiment, Private Jake Kirihara, whose parents were held in a camp here in America while he fought overseas, later said: "… even though this wrong was done to us, there was never any question whether America was my country. If America needed me to help, I'll do it."
So this proud tradition of service continues today in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world, carried on by folks like Tammy Duckworth, my dear friend who's here today. (Applause.) Tammy is a decorated member of our National Guard, a passionate advocate for our wounded warriors, who is now serving as our Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Veterans Affairs Department. I'm proud to have her on board and pleased that she could join us today.
And on a personal note, when I talk about America's AAPI communities, I'm talking about my own family: my sister, Maya; my brother-in-law, Konrad; my beautiful nieces, Suhaila and Savita; and the folks I grew up with in Indonesia, and in Honolulu, as part of the Hawai'ian Ohana, or family.
Our AAPI communities have roots that span the globe, but they embody a rich diversity, and a story of striving and success that are uniquely American.
But focusing on all of these achievements doesn't tell the whole story, and that's part of why we're here. It's tempting, given the strengths of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, for us to buy into the myth of the "model minority," and to overlook the very real challenges that certain Asian American and Pacific Islander communities are facing: from health disparities like higher rates of diabetes and Hepatitis B; to educational disparities that still exist in some communities -- high dropout rates, low college enrollment rates; to economic disparities -- higher rates of poverty in some communities, and barriers to employment and workplace advancement in others.
Some Asian American and Pacific Islanders, particularly new Americans and refugees, still face language barriers. Others have been victims of unthinkable hate crimes, particularly in the months after September 11th -- crimes driven by ignorance and prejudice that are an affront to everything that this nation stands for.
And then there are the disparities that we don't even know about because our data collection methods still aren't up to par. Too often, Asian American and Pacific Islanders are all lumped into one category, so we don't have accurate numbers reflecting the challenges of each individual community. Smaller communities in particular can get lost, their needs and concerns buried in a spreadsheet.
And that's why I'm signing this executive order today, reestablishing the advisory commission and White House initiative created by President Clinton 10 years ago. Because when any of our citizens -- (applause) -- when any of our citizens are unable to fulfill their potential due to factors that have nothing to do with their talent, character, or work ethic, then I believe there's a role for our government to play. Not to guarantee anybody's success or to solve everybody's problems, but to ensure that we're living up to our nation's ideals; to ensure that we can each pursue our own version of happiness, and that we continue to be a nation where all things are still possible for all people. That's the impact that our government can have.
It's the impact of a Small Business Administration that offers loans to Asian American and Pacific Islander entrepreneurs whose small businesses sustain so many communities around the country. It's the impact of a Department of Health and Human Services that funds research on the diseases that disproportionately affect Asian American and Pacific Islander families. It's the impact of a Justice Department that upholds the Voting Rights Act and its promise of language assistance and equal access to the polls. And it's the impact of evidence-based research and data collection and analysis on AAPI communities -- so that no one is invisible to their government.
All of that is the mission of this initiative and commission -- to work with 23 agencies and departments across our government to improve the health, education, and economic status of AAPI communities. The initiative and commission will be housed in the Department of Education, and they'll be co-chaired by Secretaries Arne Duncan and Secretary Gary Locke, both of whom have devoted their lives to promoting opportunity for all our citizens.
And I think it's fitting that we begin this work in the week leading up to the holiday of Diwali -- the festival of lights -- when members of some of the world's greatest faiths celebrate the triumph of good over evil.
This coming Saturday, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists, here in America and around the world, will celebrate this holiday by lighting Diyas, or lamps, which symbolize the victory of light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance. And while this is a time of rejoicing, it's also a time for reflection, when we remember those who are less fortunate and renew our commitment to reach out to those in need.
While the significance of the holiday for each faith varies, all of them mark it by gathering with family members to pray and decorate the house and enjoy delicious food and sweet treats. And in that spirit of celebration and contemplation, I am happy to light the White House Diya, and wish you all a Happy Diwali, and a Saal Mubarak. (Applause.)
(The White House Diya is lit.) (Applause.)
Now I'm going to sign this bill -- sign this order.
(The executive order is signed.)
All right. There we go. (Applause.)
3:56 P.M. ED
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Here is what my friend Vijay Bhasker chef of the LE Meridien hotel wrote:
To write about a journalist friend – who wrote into people’s heart is some task that too for a Chef, Any way I am trying a bit.
Our dear friend, Allen Mendonca, who left us late last month not only wrote his way into peoples’ hearts but every action of his was always that way. I knew Allen from mid 80’s and can’t forget the movies at Plaza, Rex et al. Not to forget the lunches at the Chefs’ cabin in Ashok hotel or at the Airport Restaurant.
The last two months were memorable for me as I had met Allen many a time and all the time it was filled with heart. He was at the Bangalore Dive club launch event where in he had commended the Biryani Chef in his own inmitable way, and his interaction with my Junior Chefs was one proud moment for me as he would heartily mention that ‘your boss is my good old friend’. Couple of more meetings were for 080 and as usual they were always heartily charged.
The next one was for the Le Meridien coffee challenge contest, and Allen was invited to be the Judge. He did not just judge and leave which normally is the practice. He spoke to each of the contestants very passionately and gave them a lot of ideas and tips and his motivating talk to the participants was from the heart , the only place where Allen always spoke from.
Then came the meeting at my residence over a cup of tea. I had earlier casually mentioned to Allen that my daughter Sandhya was into music. He heard her play the piano and his advice and encouraging words for her came straight ,thick and fast from the usual place – His Heart.
Next one was at a dinner and he enquired about my daughter’s music and offered to lend some classical western piano CDs and we had innumerable discussions on Gucci, Armani and Music, and as always Allen spoke his heart out.
And that he isn’t among us now wrenches our hearts, but you know, he lives on in so many peoples’ hearts; and for me,the loss of another dear friend is hard to describe in words but I know he is in my Heart.For folks who do not know Vijay Bhasker and me were colleagues at one time and I was a chef in this former life. When my assignment was a posting to Moscow I sent all my friends a good bye letter and among the recipients was TJS George whom I have met at the Ashok Hotel where I worked. George called Allen and asked him to do a story. Since Allen and me were friends he could not stop laughing when he told me the story of he came to Interview me. The article got published on the front page of Indian Express with the headline " King of the Kitchen" . I have been to Allen's house and met his parents, brother and sister and they are a wonderful family and will miss Allen a lot. Sandhya, Allen's wife is also a good friend and my condolences to her, son Aditya and the rest of the mendonca family and friends.