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New Delhi warns Indians in Canada to ‘remain vigilant’ amid increase in hate crimes, sectarian violence

  • New Delhi recently issued an advisory to Indian nationals in Canada, urging them to “remain vigilant” in the wake of the country’s sudden spike in “anti-India activities.”
  • The primary trigger for this advisory was Canada’s support for the “Khalistan referendum” — an unofficial campaign organized by thousands of Canadian Sikhs expressing support for the annexation of Punjab from India.
  • A spokesperson for India’s Ministry of External Affairs denounced the referendum as “politically motivated” and stemming from “extremist and radical elements in Canada.”
  • Recently, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, one of the largest Hindu temples in Canada, was vandalized last week by Khalistan supporters.
  • Overall, Canada has faced a 72 percent increase in hate crimes from 2019 to 2021, according to Statistics Canada.

New Delhi recently issued an advisory to Indian nationals in Canada in the wake of the country’s sudden spike in “anti-India activities.”

A statement issued by the Indian government on Friday urged Indians studying and working abroad to “exercise due caution and remain vigilant” due to “a sharp increase in incidents of hate crimes, sectarian violence and anti-India activities in Canada.”

Former Chicago graduate student found guilty of spying for China

  • Ji Chaoqun, 31, a Chinese national living in Chicago, was convicted of spying for the Chinese government after a two-week trial.
  • The former graduate student at the Illinois Institute of Technology worked under the direction of top intelligence officers in the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security, a provincial division of China’s Ministry of State Security.
  • Xu Yanjun, who was convicted in Ohio last year, tasked Ji with providing biographical information on possible recruits — such as Chinese scientists and engineers, including those with ties to U.S. defense contractors — to the Jiangsu division.
  • Ji managed to gather information on eight U.S. citizens who were all born in China or Taiwan.
  • Ji was found guilty of conspiracy to act as an agent of China, acting as an agent of China and making a false statement to the U.S. Army, which collectively carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

A Chinese national living in Chicago was convicted of spying for the Chinese government on Monday.

Ji Chaoqun, 31, a former graduate student at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government, one count of acting as an agent of China and one count of making a material false statement to the U.S. Army. He was acquitted of two other wire fraud counts.

S. Korean lawmaker proposes bill to allow BTS to serve alternative to military duty

BTS
  • Lawmaker Kim Young-bae of the Democratic Party of Korea has proposed a bill for K-pop superstars BTS to be granted an alternative to their upcoming mandatory military service.
  • The proposal made on Sep. 19 would revise the current provisions and expand the list of exceptions for military service to include pop artists who have made significant cultural contributions.
  • Currently, all able-bodied Korean men must enlist for two years of military service before age 30, but exceptions are made for award-winning athletes and notable classical musicians.
  • BTS member Jin is first up to enlist as he will turn 30 in December.

On Sept. 19, lawmaker Kim Young-bae of the Democratic Party of Korea proposed a revision bill which would extend exceptions to military service for pop artists like BTS. 

At present, the Military Service Act requires all able-bodied Korean men to enlist for two years of military service before age 30. An amendment dubbed the “BTS law” was made in late 2020 to raise the age limit from the previous 28. The law allowed K-pop entertainers to apply for deferment if they have received government medals for cultural impacts and contributions. All seven members of BTS received the Order of Cultural Merit award in 2018. 

South Asians in Queens say new redistricting maps divides their communities

  • A redistricting map set to be released by the New York City Districting Commission later this month has the South Asian community in Queens fearful of losing electoral power over the next 10 years.
  • Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park in Queens, which have large numbers of Punjabi, Indo-Caribbean and Bangladeshi residents, will be covered in the revised map.
  • Experts and advocates argue that the city’s redistricting process will further separate these populations.
  • South Asian immigrants in Queens could be adversely affected by the redistricting.

A new redistricting map set to be released by the New York City Districting Commission later this month has the South Asian community in Queens fearful of losing electoral power over the next 10 years.

The location of district lines determines which voters can vote in each representative race. The U.S. Constitution requires legislative and congressional districts to be redrawn every decade based on new census data.

Gov. Newsom signs No Place for Hate Bills to combat hate and harassment in California

  • The No Place for Hate Bills — SB 1161 and AB 2448 — were signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in California on Tuesday.
  • The Increase Safety for Public Transit Riders bill (SB 1161), authored by State Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine), will require the Mineta Transportation Institute to create a community survey for California transit operators as a way to gather data in creating solutions and strengthening passenger safety.
  • The Protect Customers’ Civil Rights at Businesses bill (AB 2448), authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), will direct the state’s Civil Rights Department to create a pilot program that will incentivize businesses to create safe and welcoming environments.
  • The bills will be effective starting Jan. 1, 2023.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed two Stop AAPI Hate-backed bills aimed at combating hate and harassment in public spaces in California. 

The No Place for Hate Bills — SB 1161 and AB 2448 — were signed into law by Newsom in California on Tuesday. The bills will be effective starting Jan. 1, 2023.

Sri Lanka’s president says government will not oppose bill to decriminalize homosexuality

  • Newly elected Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe announced Sunday his government would not oppose the motion submitted by Member of Parliament and attorney-at-law Premnath C. Dolawatte to decriminalize LGBTQ-plus rights.
  • “We are for it, but you have to get the support of individual members. It’s a matter of their private conscience,” Wickremesinghe said, addressing Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Samantha Power.
  • The bill, titled “Penal Code (Amendment) (19th Act) bill to amend the Penal Code,” was first submitted by Dolawatte on Aug. 24.
  • Under sections 365 and 365A in Sri Lanka’s Penal Code, those who are caught having voluntary intercourse with the same sex can face a prison sentence of not less than 10 years and up to 20 years with fines.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who took office in July, said Sunday that the Sri Lankan government would not oppose the motion to decriminalize consensual sexual relations between same-sex couples in the country.

Speaking to Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Samantha Power, Wickremesinghe said the bill, which would amend sections 365 and 365A of the Sir Lanka Penal Code, will still require support from parliament members.

A Washington state park dedicated to Chinese goddess Mazu is finally in progress after years of effort

  • The effort to build a Washington state park dedicated to the Chinese Goddess of the Sea, Mazu, took a step forward on Aug. 30 when King County and the North American Mazu Cultural Exchange Association signed an agreement for the plan.
  • Describing Mazu as a “compassionate mother figure,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said the agreement would “explore the feasibility of creating” the park in King County.
  • “As new Chinese immigrants traveled to new lands, they would erect structures to honor Mazu for bringing them across the sea safely,” Constantine said. “And many now appeal to Mazu for other blessings.”
  • Before becoming the Goddess of the Sea, Mazu was believed to be born Lin Mo Naing. Described as a very intelligent child with a photographic memory, Lin Naing learned the art of healing before her training as a Buddhist and later a Taoist monk.
  • She was reportedly known for saving fishermen and died in the process of rescuing people.

The Asian community in King County, Washington, recently celebrated the proclamation of Mazu Day in King County on Sept. 9 and the moving forward of the plan to build a park dedicated to the Chinese goddess in the county.

Addressing a crowd of 110 people, mostly consisting of groups affiliated with China and Taiwan with strong ties to China, at the China Harbor Restaurant in Seattle on Aug. 30, Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce Director Felicity Wang described the Chinese Goddess of the Sea as someone like Jesus.

Envoys from Japan, S. Korea, US commit to stronger security ties amid fears of N. Korean nuclear test

Japan US south korea trilateral meet
  • On Wednesday, a trilateral meeting in Tokyo attended by envoys from Japan, the United States and South Korea resulted in an agreement to strengthen security ties between the nations amid fears of potential nuclear tests from North Korea.
  • The concerns stem from the alarming number of missile launches that North Korea has conducted this year.
  • "North Korea is continuing and even accelerating its nuclear and missile capabilities, and there is a looming chance of further provocation, including a nuclear test," said Japanese Foreign Ministry's Director-General for Asian and Oceanian Affairs Funakoshi Takehiro. "At the same time, we remain open to entertaining dialogue with North Korea."
  • “Our bottom line has not changed,” the U.S. Special Representative for the DPRK Ambassador Sung Kim said. “Our goal remains a complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

Senior officials from Japan, the United States and South Korea have committed to strengthening security ties between the nations amid fears of potential nuclear tests from North Korea.

The agreement was made in Tokyo on Wednesday during a trilateral meeting hosted by the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Director-General for Asian and Oceanian Affairs Funakoshi Takehiro.

Judge John Z. Lee becomes the first Asian American judge on the Seventh Circuit

  • Judge John Z. Lee made history by becoming the first Asian American judge confirmed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
  • On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Lee in a 50-44 vote to the Chicago-based court, which handles appeals from Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.
  • He also previously made history when he became the first Korean American to serve as an Article III judge in Illinois.

Judge John Z. Lee made history by becoming the first Asian American judge confirmed to the Seventh Circuit.

Lee previously made history when he became the first Korean American to serve as an Article III judge in Illinois. Since 2012, he has served as a federal judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Chinese duo arrested for trying to start their own micronation in US-defended Marshall Islands

  • Cary Yan, 50, and Gina Zhou, 34, were extradited to New York on Friday in connection with a series of bribery and money laundering practices they allegedly committed to influence the creation of a semi-autonomous region in the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI).
  • A former U.S. territory, the RMI is now an independent state but continues to be defended by Washington under a 2004 agreement.
  • Yan and Zhou allegedly paid RMI officials to push for a bill that would create their proposed region, which they called the Rongelap Atoll Special Administrative Region (RASAR).
  • If created, Yan, Zhou and their associates would attract foreign business and investors to help with its economic and social development.
  • The pair, both Chinese nationals, have been charged with conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), violating the FCPA, conspiring to commit money laundering and committing money laundering.

A Chinese pair has been extradited to New York for allegedly bribing lawmakers in the U.S.-controlled Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) into passing legislation that would create a semi-autonomous region for their financial benefit.

Cary Yan, 50, and Gina Zhou, 34, ran their scheme between 2016 and 2019, according to a Justice Department release. Yan allegedly posed as president and chairman of “the NGO,” while Zhou presented herself as his assistant.

Anti-Asian hate bills unanimously passed in California now await Gov. Newsom’s approval

Anti-Asian hate bills
  • Stop AAPI Hate’s No Place for Hate Bills — AB 2448 and SB 1161 — have passed the California’s State Legislature on Tuesday.
  • The Public Rider Transportation Safety bill (SB 1161) promotes safe ridership by gathering data on street harassment of women and other vulnerable communities.
  • The Expanding Civil Rights Protections at Businesses bill (AB 2448) calls on businesses to train their employees against discrimination.
  • The bills now advance to Governor Gavin Newsom, who will either sign them into law or veto them.

Two anti-Asian hate bills will advance to Governor Gavin Newsom after passing the California State Legislature.

The Stop AAPI Hate-backed No Place for Hate Bills — AB 2448 and SB 1161 — passed the California’s State Legislature on Tuesday without any opposition.

Education Secretary Cardona: student loan relief and Inflation Reduction Act ‘really cancels itself out,’ naysayers are ‘un-American’ [interview]

Cardona Interview

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona spoke with NextShark on Thursday to discuss student loan relief, inflation and the future of higher education.

President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday a historic three-part plan to cancel up to $20,000 of student loan debt for people with annual incomes under $125,000. The proposal has divided Democrats and Republicans, with lawmakers, economists and social media users voicing their opinions from across the political spectrum.