China Neck Deep in Pollution

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Algal blooms saturate the trash-laden waters of China. Industrial and agricultural waste is vastly unregulated and allows the toxic runoff to flow freely through Chinese currents and waft through the dense air. According to factsanddetails.com, one-third of industrial waste goes unregulated in addition to nearly 90% of household waste flowing into limited water sources. Contamination is widespread across every major city, without any backup water sources or filtration and treatment solutions in sight. Almost half of state rivers are so polluted, that the government had to report that they were unsafe for human contact.

Bodies of water in China come in all colors of the rainbow, from the deep bluish purple of indigo dyes to bright pinks and reds, to the fuzzy greens of algal blooms. People are exposed to high concentrations of arsenic and sulfates, as well as radiation. Almost half of the water available in the northern part of China is unfit for human consumption. Measures have been taken by the Chinese government, as well as other private institutions, to help combat the epidemic of water pollution.

However, even with the closing of several offensive factories and nearly 132 billion dollars allocated to aid the cleanup, China’s situation grew worse. Acid rain is now a prevalent problem in the country, affecting roughly half of the cities in the country, which could lead to loss of crop yield, erosion, and further acidification of their already tainted waters. Officials have tried to brush off the issue by saying it was mostly caused by the waste of citizens, ignoring the impact that private companies, pollutant industries, and agriculture have on their environment.

The damage shows not only in their surroundings but in the health of their people, which has seen a sharp rise in cases of cancer due to the pollution. An estimated 5.5 years are taken off of the life expectancy of a person born in Northern China due to air and water pollution. It seems that nobody is willing to take responsibility for the crisis, at the cost of the people’s well-being, the safety of the environment, and global health and prosperity. With China’s primary focus being economic growth, their government has little time or money allocated to funding Chinese civil rights such as healthcare, safety regulations, and environmental health. Fiscal prosperity can only last if there are resources and a place for them to grow. China’s economy has seen exponential growth, why can’t its environmental health, too?

Featured Photo by Redd Angelo on Unsplash

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Wait, A-Line isn’t the only Asian-interest magazine alive?

You know what, I’m just going to say it.

I LOVE ASIANS and everything Asians do (yes, including those at nail salons, cooking at restaurants and running “99 Cents” stores). Disclosure: I am an Asian American—Chinese to be exact. We do a lot more than the average Asian stereotype; but what we do best is breaking stereotypes, and perhaps creating new ones.

I discovered a slew of magazines one afternoon. While my professor was describing a colossal of magazine genres from fashion to architecture, and food to parenting, I jotted down magazine titles beyond Elle, Vogue, Newsweek, and Good Housekeeping. I was in awe looking at the many hundreds of unfamiliar magazine titles, and then I heard it. The words “Asian American women’s magazine” came out of my professor’s mouth, ‘lo and behold, an image of the Audrey Magazine’s winter issue appeared on the projector.

Audrey Magazine is an Asian American women’s lifestyle magazine based in Gardena, California. This English-language magazine publishes bi-monthly and covers topics on Asian American issues and culture, as well as fashion and beauty. Audrey has featured celebrities such as Kelly Hu, Tabu, and Elaine Quijano. Audrey Magazine even doubles as an online boutique on its website. After probing the site, I immediately ordered a 1-year subscription.

I still find it hard to believe there is a medium for the Asian and Asian American community in America. Props to you Californians, you’ve created something revolutionary that just isn’t getting enough attention.

But there are Asian American magazines out there in the U.S., we just don’t know about them. And I’m not talking about college-run Asian-interest magazines. I’m talking about mainstream: reader subscriptions and single-copy sales on newsstands. It comes to no surprise that some of the most prominent Asian-interest magazine names come from California. According to the 2009 U.S. Census Bureau, Asians make up 7.1% of New York state population and 12.7% of California—collectively, they make up only 4.6% of the whole U.S. population.

One of the most popular Asian American magazines hails from California: Hyphen Magazine.

A small group of young journalists and artists came together and envisioned a publication that covered more than celebrity news and interviews. Hyphen is a magazine that “covers arts, culture, and politics with substance, style and sass,” according to its Facebook page. On May 5, 2010, Hyphen and the Asian American Action Fund (AAA-Fund) announced a cross-posting partnership. The brains behind the magazine want to feature Asian Americans from across the nation—not just the prolific mass living in California and New York. Hyphen wants to feature emerging artists and explore cultural issues beyond identity. According to AAA-Fund, the collaboration will help further Hyphen’s mission to politically empower Asian American leaders and to fight the “misrepresentation and underrepresentation of Asian Americans with smarter and more nuanced coverage.” It’s no wonder AAA-Fund chose to partner with Hyphen magazine. Its media impressions are off the wall. In 2004, it was nominated for an Utne Independent Press Award for Best New Title. In 2006, Hyphen’s “body issue” won the Independent Press Association’s Best Cover award for an image of an Asian American man, Yusuke Miyashita, bathing (and eating?) in a tub full of edamame. In 2007, it received its second nomination for an Utne Independent Press Award for Best Design.

Unfortunately, because we are in the digital age, our most precious tangible treasures are transforming into web bytes and pixels.

What happened to pure print—you know, those glossy inked pages? Gourmet, a food magazine owned by Condé Nast, folded last year after 70 years of print. In fact, in 2009, Blender folded, Domino folded, and Fortune Small Business folded, among others. I understand we are in the digital age and sure, there are a lot of Asian and Asian American e-zines scouring the web like asiaMs.net and jademagazine.com (Jade Magazine sells print PDF versions upon request). But what about our precious prints?

A Magazine, now defunct, was a well-known and influential magazine in the Asian American community. Three undergraduate students from Harvard University founded it in 1989. They expanded the then campus magazine and exceeded a bimonthly readership of 200,000 in North America. It was never profitable in its 13 years existence. And in February 20, 2002, it folded. In fact, Hyphen Magazine was created in spite of A Magazine’s misfortune.

Yolk magazine was another premier of Asian American magazines. Yolk—a pop culture magazine for Asian Americans—folded in 2003 after 10 years of struggling to stay alive. The magazine had reached a circulation high of 50,000 in 2000 and targeted English-fluent college-educated Asian Americans coming from various cultures. Yolk covered topics from humor articles to serious pieces. Yolk maneuvered into articles about sex and adopted art inspirations from racy men’s magazines such as Maxim and FHM.

Despite the calamities, there are Asian-interest magazines that are still alive and in print.

Asian Fusion Magazine, based in New York City, covers fashion, food, health, entertainment and travel with a focus on the Asian community in New York City. In its latest issue, Asian Fusion profiled MoCA, an Asian Bistro, located in Forest Hills, New York. It also covered Ten Ren, a tea brewery and beverages shop, with locations in Chinatown (Manhattan); 8th Ave in Brooklyn; Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing; and 83-28 Broadway in Elmhurst. Although, Asian Fusion is more prevalent in the food and drink industry while lacking in the other areas, to me it’s a start.

I have discovered that there are over hundreds and hundreds of magazines distributed throughout New York beyond Elle, Vogue, Entertainment Weekly, Ms., Newsweek, and all that good stuff. There’s more than just Lady Gaga and Marc Jacobs plastered over V Magazine. Hearst Corporation owns magazines other than Cosmopolitan and Esquire; it also owns Redbook, Popular Mechanics, Town & Country, and Food Network Magazine, among others. Condé Nast owns magazines other than Glamour and Vanity Fair; it also owns Bon Appétit, Reddit, Golf Digest, Epicurious, and Concierge among others.

I cannot wait to receive my first issue of Audrey in my mailbox. Soon, I will get my daily dose of fashion fix and read in awe at admiration. I think my next step is ordering a subscription of Hyphen Magazine. All I really want to do is dissect the quality of Asian-American magazines with the upmost respect, research what other Asian-American magazines are published and circulated in America, and compare them to the success of many top-name titles. I want Asian American magazines to surpass stereotype expectations. I want Asian American magazines to conquer and succeed. At the end of the day, I only have two words for you all:

ASIAN POWER

– Karen Hor

Asian Pacific-Islander Students in Struggle (APSIS)


In struggle with who and what?

  • our lack of political activity on campus and in Amerikkka
  • the lack of critical research on Asian Amerikans
  • the lack of collaborative work with other student organizations
  • the institution and authority figures
  • ourselves because not everyone will develop politically at the same pace

The Asian/Asian American Studies minor passed during March of last school year. While that is a victory in itself, the fight for the minor is not over yet. There are many professors teaching courses in Asian Studies, but we do not have any qualified professors who can teach Asian American Studies. The school has been slow to hire someone to fulfill that job and, most importantly, students’ needs.

Because on this injustice (reminder: tuition is over 50k), students have formed a study group that meets bi-weekly to teach and learn from each other the radical history of Asian/Asian Amerikans.

Aside from learning the radical history of Asian/Asian Amerikans, we are learning to think critically and analytically – and not so we can just regurgitate any of the material we come into contact with.

GuerillaWe also must not forget why there was a movement for ethnic studies. students who were involved with ethnic studies went beyond trying to establish an asian american studies program at their school and taking control of what they were learning. They were conscious of what was happening around the world. And, they were condemning the US for attacking “third world” nations. There was international solidarity. They also formed ethnic studies to give back to their community. “Giving back to the community” is such an overused phrase nowadays. What does it mean to give back to the community? The students involved in the ethnic studies movement (and the Asian Amerikan Movement) were also involved with community organizing. When tenants – the majority being Filipino and Chinese- from the International Hotel (known as I-Hotel) were evicted, students were one of the many contingents that fought against the eviction. Where do you see that today? The work and energy put forth by asian amerikan students and activists during this time period is what inspires me to continue with my work, particularly with APSIS.

The first two meetings have been on two topics: Revolutionary Womyn and the Liberation of Womyn. Beginning with topics about Asian womyn is especially important because we are doubly oppressed. Doubly oppressed in that (1) we live in a patriarchal society and  (2) we live in a white supremacist settler colony. There is also this idea of Asian men being more oppressed than Asian womyn. That idea needs to be abolished and this is exactly one of the things that APSIS is trying to do.

If you’re interested in getting involved, here are the topics of the last three meetings of the semester:

(1) Theory of Womyn’s Liberation
(2) Broad History of 1960s/1970s
(3)  I Wor Kuen

You can also contact me at afeng@syr.edu.

–Alice Feng

Sayonara

News sources all over the world covered Japan Airlines declaring bankruptcy, but the more interesting part of the story may lie in the aftermath as two competing companies vie for its coveted routes to Asia. This piece also appeared in the Spring 2010 issue.

By Andrea Wangsanata

Japan Airlines’ (JAL) recent decision to retain its partnership with American Airlines and the Oneworld Alliance ended a long and arduous struggle between Delta Air Lines and American Airlines over the Japanese carrier.

After JAL declared bankruptcy on January 19 of this year, the battle between Delta and American began over who would claim JAL’s four coveted flight routes to Haneda Airport located in Tokyo, Japan.

Not only is Haneda Airport the fourth-busiest airport in terms of passengers handled, but the Japanese government has closed U.S. flights to Haneda since 1978 — making this opportunity of significant importance — according to The Dallas Morning News.

Continue reading “Sayonara”

Foundations to Burn and Build: Compelling Stories That Give Shape to Asian Identity

This piece also appeared in the Fall 2009 issue.

By Cristina Balitaan

In a globalizing world, Asians — Thai, Indonesian, Hmong, Indian, Pakistani, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean — are all over the world, looking for opportunities to build their lives upon.  They are in every continent.  So how does one define who is Asian?

The term describes groups of people who are different in physical looks, history, culture — but then each group also shares many other similarities.  Here at Syracuse, some are Asian American students while others are international students.  We may share similar physical features, but we have grown up in different worlds — different countries, different states, different towns.  Although the world constantly tries to arrange us into one group, we are extremely diverse.  As we struggle to find our identities and roles in society as young adults in college, we often find misrepresentation or lack of representation in the media.  However, here are some news stories to enlighten our past, present and future.

We do have a rich history on U.S. soil despite the fact that society often portrays Asians as foreign and un-American.  In the outskirts of New Orleans, La., Filipinos were the first Asians to set foot and settle in America in 1763.  In 1790, Indian immigrants began to arrive as maritime workers after American colonists won independence from Great Britain.  In the early 1800s, the Chinese were the first Asians to arrive in large numbers.  And in 1869, the Japanese established the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony in California.  As a result, there are Asian families that have been in the U.S. for countless generations.

As of 2008, Asians in America make up five percent of the U.S. population.  We may be small in numbers, but we are the fastest growing immigrant population with more than 15 million currently residing in the U.S.  Nevertheless, minorities are taking the hardest hit during the current economic downturn.

Continue reading “Foundations to Burn and Build: Compelling Stories That Give Shape to Asian Identity”

Wacky News Around the World

Think you’re a news junky?  Well, here are nine odd stories that you may not have heard about. This piece also ran in the Spring 2009 issue.

By Uyen Nguyen

Be My World-Record-Setting Valentine
Feb. 14, 2009
Mexico – Valentine’s Day activities usually range from candle-lit dinners to cheesy romance flicks with that special someone.  In Mexico City, this past Valentine’s Day was a little different.  Nearly 40,000 people gathered in the main square of the capitol to display their affection for one another.  They also happened to set the Guinness World Record for largest group kiss.  Whoever said that PDA was frowned upon?

White-bearded Trespasser Finds a New Home
Dec. 24, 2008
Canada – Children will no longer be addressing their “Dear Santa” letters to the North Pole; the white-bearded, jolly giver-of-gifts is now a Canadian citizen.  On Dec. 24, 2008, Santa Clause was declared a citizen, with fully-authorized re-entry rights, by the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.  So, after a long night of flying around the world, Santa Clause can automatically return to his humble abode – and he won’t have to go through customs.

Continue reading “Wacky News Around the World”