Yale mourns death of Luchang Wang ’17 by apparent suicide

January 28, 2015
Luchang Wang, from a Facebook photo.
Luchang Wang, from a Facebook photo.

The Yale student community was rocked last night with news that sophomore Luchang Wang, ’17 — mathematics major and member of  Yale’s Silliman College — had died Tuesday of an apparent suicide. She was 20 years old.

Friends became concerned after Wang posted some worrisome messages to a public Facebook thread on Tuesday, prompting the rapid organization of a campus-wide search by students and friends. The search was coordinated online with friends posting places they had canvassed on Facebook — some ventured as far as East Rock, the park north of New Haven.

At 2 p.m., a public Facebook status authored by Tammy Pham ’15 told Yale students in New Haven to search high-rise buildings, school buildings and public areas for signs of Wang. Students began to comment, adding locations that they had searched, some even venturing to East Rock to look for their friend.

Students also contacted Silliman College and Yale Police to officially report Wang missing, launching a door-to-door search. They later reported to police the discovery that Wang had purchased airfare to San Francisco, California; the plane was scheduled to land Tuesday morning. Later that afternoon, police also discovered that the last time Wang had used her Yale ID to swipe into Silliman College was two days prior, and asked students to halt their frantic New Haven search under the presumption that she had boarded her flight and was no longer in the New Haven area.

By 6pm Tuesday, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway delivered the tragic news to the Yale student community by email that Wang’s body had been recovered in California.

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The Marvel Universe is ending; so, what about all that much-hyped diversity?

January 22, 2015


(with intellectual contribution from Snoopy Jenkins)

How long does Cowl Rental last for non-White, non-male superheroes in the Marvel Universe? Apparently, less than a year.

Marvel’s earlier diversity efforts — the introductions of the Ultimate Universe’s Miles Morales (Spiderman) and the 616 Universe’s Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) — have been well-received by fans. Last October, Marvel again made headlines — and even the Colbert Report — for its announcement of new diversity initiatives that would replace many of the Marvel Universe’s classic superheroes with non-White or non-male successors. Filling the void left behind when Steve Rogers was depowered, Sam Wilson would give up his mantle as the Falcon to be the “first” Black Captain America (although he wasn’t the first). Thor Odinson would lose the ability to wield Mjolnir, the source of his power, making way for a new, female Thor whose identity, after three issues, remains a mystery.

But, as I speculated in October of last year, diversity via Cowl Rental is always fraught, particularly for the minority character involved. Not only does it typically end poorly for the minority inheritor of a high-profile cowl, but, as artist Denys Cowan reiterated in an interview with the Washington Post yesterday (wherein the Post reported that he, Reggie Hudlin and Derek Dingle are interested in resurrecting Milestone Media), the entire tactic is also politically troublesome.

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Milestone Comics is being resurrected!

January 21, 2015
Dwayne McDuffie's character, Static Shock.
Dwayne McDuffie’s character, Static Shock.

More than three years after the untimely death of comics legend Dwayne McDuffie —  the man who can be rightfully pointed to as the pioneer of today’s diversity efforts in mainstream comics — Washington Post is exclusively reporting that McDuffie’s Milestone Media may rise again.

McDuffie, who died suddenly at the height of his career, is credited for co-founding Milestone Media, the parent company of Milestone Comics, in 1993 during a boom in the comic book industry. However, unlike other independent comic book studios started in the era (such as Top Cow and Image), Milestone was started with a very specific and political purpose: to promote a broader racial diversity within the comic book medium.  Recruiting top minority writing and artist talent, launched with a slate of comic titles focused on minority superheroes, including Static and Icon which introduced characters Static Shock, Icon and Rocket; all are now characters in the DC Comics mainstream pantheon.

Although many of Milestone’s earliest characters were Black, Milestone supported efforts to bring all forms of racial and sexual diversity to comics, which included the introduction of several Asian American superheroes. In 1994, Milestone launched Xombi, written by John Rozum and illustrated by Denys Cowan. The title focused on Korean American hero David Kim who becomes a technologically-advanced “xombi” after his body is infused with nanites; it remains one of the only comic book titles to ever focus on an Asian American male superhero protagonist.

That same year, Milestone also launched Shadow Cabinet, an Outsiders-esque team of covert superheroes. The team included several characters within the Middle Eastern, Asian and Asian American diaspora including: Blitzen, a Japanese speedster in a lesbian relationship with fellow Shadow Cabinet member Donner; Iron Butterfly, a Palestinian ferrokinetic; and the powerful and mysterious precog Dharma, leader of the Shadow Cabinet who appears to be of South Asian American descent.

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Murdered USC Grad Student Was Targeted Because He Was Chinese

January 20, 2015
USC graduate student Xinran Ji was murdered last year during a robbery attempt.
USC graduate student Xinran Ji was murdered last year during a robbery attempt.

Last July, 24-year-old USC graduate student in engineering, Xinran Ji, was walking home to his apartment after a late-night study session when he was brutally accosted by a group of unknown strangers just a few hundred feet off-campus, and beaten bloody with a baseball bat and a wrench in an attempted robbery. Ji survived the initial attack and stumbled to his apartment with multiple internal injuries, where his roommate found him dead in his bed the following morning.

Now, three teenagers —  Jonathan Del Carmen, 19; Alberto Ochoa, 17; and Alejandra Guerrero, 16 — are standing trial for murder. Two additional teenagers were also arrested in the incident, but one — 19-year-old Andrew Garcia — is currently awaiting a hearing to determine his mental competency, while the other unnamed teenaged girl is not being charged with Ji’s murder because officials say she was not involved in the attack; she was instead charged with robbery for a crime committed later in the night.

All four of Ji’s attackers confessed to the robbery and assault. Further, Andrew Garcia is quoted as saying that the teenagers targeted Ji for his race. Reports the New York Daily News:

Andrew Garcia, 19, told cops that he and four other friends saw the 24-year-old walking home alone on July 24. The group decided to mug him, he said.

“Because he was Chinese, he must have money,” Garcia told police.

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ISIS Threatens Two Japanese Hostages & Demands $200M Ransom in Latest Video

January 20, 2015
PMC CEO Haruna Yukawa in a photo from Syria dated two years ago.
PMC CEO Haruna Yukawa in a photo from Syria dated two years ago.

The latest video posted this morning by ISIS militants shows members of the extremist organization threatening the lives of two Japanese hostages, Private Military Company CEO Haruna Yukawa (above) and freelance journalist Kenji Goto; both Japanese citizens were captured by the extremist group last year. The macabre setting of this morning’s video is heartbreakingly familiar: the orange jumpsuit-clad hostages knelt in front of a rocky dune next to the same hooded spokesman who has been featured in earlier beheading videos.

In this morning’s video, ISIS demands that the Japanese government pay the group $200 million dollars for Goto and Yukawa’s safe return. This was apparently in reference to the recent decision by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe to commit $200 million in non-military aid to countries fighting ISIS; that decision was announced Saturday and was intended to support infrastructure projects. Abe also announced Saturday that his government is ready to commit an additional $2.5 billion humanitarian support. These monies are in addition to the country’s $2.2 billion dollar pledge two years ago to support humanitarian causes in the Middle East.

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