CA Secretary of State Building to be Renamed for March Fong Eu

March Fong Eu (Photo credit: Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times)

California’s first female Secretary of State and the first Asian American woman publicly elected to a state constitutional office, March Fong Eu, will be memorialized when the California Secretary of State building complex is renamed in her honour.

Eu died last week at the age of 95 after a long and storied career in public service.

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BREAKING: US Representative Mark Takai Dies of Pancreatic Cancer at 49

US Representative Mark Takai

US Representative Mark Takai, a first-term Democratic Congressman from Hawaii, has died of pancreatic cancer. He was 49.

Takai had spent ten years as a State House Representative in Hawaii before successfully winning his Congressional seat over Republican incumbent former Rep. Charles Djou in the 2014 elections. As a congressman, Takai served on the Committee on Armed Services and on the Committee on Small Business. Takai was also a decorated Lieutenant Colonel of the Hawaii Army National Guard, and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Earlier this year, Takai announced that after he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer  in 2015, he would not be seeking reelection, choosing instead to serve out the remainder of his term until January 2017 before focusing on his battle against the disease. Today, his office issued a statement saying that the Congressman had passed of the disease. It read:

The Takai family thanks the people of Hawaii for their support during this difficult time. Information regarding a service will be available at a later time. The Takai family politely asks for the continued respect of their family’s privacy.

Cancer is the leading cause of death for Asian Americans in the aggregate, and for most Asian American ethnic subgroups. It is the second leading cause of death for Japanese American men. Pancreatic cancer is a particularly aggressive form of cancer that accounts for approximately 3% of all cancer diagnoses, and about 7% of all cancer deaths. Although pancreatic cancer incidence rates are lowest for Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders compared to other racial groups (and highest among Black patients), this type of cancer still occurs in 8.8 of every 100,000 AAPI patients. By contrast, several other forms of cancer — including stomach, liver and thyroid cancer — have unusually high incidence among the AAPI population.

Among Takai’s many legislative priorities was fighting for improved cancer research. Last year, Takai issued a statement applauding a boost in funding to the National Institutes of Health, which includes the National Cancer Institute that is devoted specifically to cancer research. Nonetheless, funding remains woefully inadequate: the National Cancer Institute has an annual budget of approximately $5 billion dollars to develop approaches to improve outcomes for the roughly 15 million people currently living in the United States with a cancer diagnosis. That calculates out to less than $340 spent by the government per cancer patient to develop new and effective treatments for this devastating and deadly disease. As a country, we can and must do better.

This post will be updated as more information on Takai’s passing becomes available.

Rest in power, Representative Takai.

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A True American Revolutionary: Rest in Power, Grace Lee Boggs (1915-2015)


Grace Lee Boggs — revered civil rights activist and scholar and Asian American feminist hero — passed away this morning. She was 100.

Founder of the Boggs Center and co-founder of Detroit Summer, Boggs lived a life dedicated to activism and social justice, with her efforts focused in particular on inner city Detroit. However, her work extended far beyond Detroit’s city limits in terms of influence: she has inspired (among others) several generations of Asian American activists and feminists — including myself.

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Rest in Peace, Leonard Nimoy


Leonard Nimoy, actor best known for his role as Spock in the original Star Trek series, has passed away of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 83.

It should be noted that in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world; a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish. He did not feel this sacrifice a vain or empty one, and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings. Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most… human.

Yale mourns death of Luchang Wang ’17 by apparent suicide

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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