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NBC REPORTER: Trump Lowering Flags Tied to ‘Heil Hitler’ Message



NBC REPORTER: Trump Lowering Flags Tied to 'Heil Hitler' Message

President Trump’s determination to fly American flags half-mast till August 8 — in response to the lethal El Paso and Dayton mass shootings — might be seen as a nod to Adolf Hitler, in response to a brand new and wild liberal conspiracy principle shared on air by NBC Information contributor Frank Figliuzzi.

Figliuzzi, a former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence, shared the conspiracy principle throughout an MSNBC broadcast with Brian Williams. Trump issued the order on Sunday “as a mark of solemn respect” for the victims of the shootings.

The president’s both getting actually good recommendation and rejecting it, or he’s getting actually dangerous recommendation,” Figliuzzi stated. “We now have to know the adversary and the menace we’re coping with, and if we don’t perceive how they assume we’ll by no means perceive how you can counter them, so it’s the little issues and the language and messaging that issues.

The president says that we’ll fly our flags at half-mast till August  8, that’s 8/8. Now I’m not going to suggest that he did this intentionally, however, I’m utilizing it for instance of the ignorance of the adversary that’s being demonstrated by the White Home,” he continued.

The numbers 8/Eight are very vital within the neo-Nazi and the white supremacy motion. Why? As a result of the letter ‘H’ is the eighth letter of the alphabet, and to them, the numbers 8/Eight stand for ‘Heil Hitler.”

So we’re going to be elevating the flag again up at nightfall on 8/8. Nobody’s occupied with this. Nobody’s giving the recommendation, or he’s rejecting the recommendation,” he added.

Read More: Donald Trump Blackmailed By Jeffrey Epstein Saved Photos of Trump with Girls?

Fox reviews: Trump made remarks Monday condemning white supremacy and referred to as for reforms on the intersection of psychological well being and gun legal guidelines, together with so-called “purple flag legal guidelines” to take weapons from those deemed a public threat.

“Our nation is overcome with shock, horror, and sorrow,” Trump stated, in solemn remarks from the White Home. “We’re outraged and sickened by this monstrous evil.”

The president additionally condemned white supremacy, responding to reviews that the shooter in El Paso wrote a racist manifesto.

“In a single voice, our nation should condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” Trump stated, standing beside Vice President Pence. “These sinister ideologies have to be defeated. Hatred has no place in America.”

Read More: Obama May Loss Nobel Peace Prize, Given To Trump

Mahesh is leading digital marketing initiatives at RecentlyHeard, a NewsFeed platform that covers news from all sectors. He develops, manages, and executes digital strategies to increase online visibility, better reach target audiences, and create engaging experience across channels. With 7+ years of experience, He is skilled in search engine optimization, content marketing, social media marketing, and advertising, and analytics.

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Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis Are Determined to Sell Their $12.25 Million Beverly Hills Mansion



Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis Are Determined to Sell Their $12.25 Million Beverly Hills Mansion
Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis are looking for a buyer for their spare Beverly Hills mansion.

Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis are determined to find a buyer for their Beverly Hills mansion. The couple initially listed the home for nearly $14 million last May, but subsequently discounted the asking price before taking it off the market altogether six months later, in November 2020.

Now, they’re giving it another go, and have relisted the East Coast traditional-style estate for $12.25 million. It’s not quite the haul they were originally hoping for, but it’s still a profit from the $10.22 million they paid for the home in April 2014, shortly after announcing their engagement, as first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

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The five-bedroom, six-bathroom estate is located within the celeb-adored, guard-gated Hidden Valley enclave. There are oak floors, handcrafted mouldings and French doors throughout the 7,351-square-foot abode. The kitchen, which is open to a family room, is fitted with white cabinetry, a big center island and a wood-topped breakfast bar with counter seating, as well as an adjacent breakfast nook with two built-in banquets.

There’s also a formal dining room, a living room with a marble-framed fireplace and a mahogany-paneled office with another fireplace. The primary suite contains a fireplace, bay windows and two walk-in closets, as well as a marble-bedecked bathroom with a freestanding tub and a picture window, per the listing shared by Hilton & Hyland brokers Justin Paul Huchel and Drew Fenton.

The lower level is comprised of a temperature-controlled wine room, a sauna, a gym and a guest suite with a private bathroom. Outside in the backyard, there’s a covered lounging and al fresco dining area, as well as various entertaining spaces, a pool and a spa.

Kutcher and Kunis, who have two children together, spent five years designing a custom farmhouse-style home elsewhere in Beverly Hills; they recently completed the project, and were finally able to move into the sustainably-minded property. They showed off their new six-acre estate, which they’ve dubbed Kuku Farms, in an Architectural Digest spread. Kutcher and Kunis also maintain a 3,100-square-foot beach retreat in Carpinteria, a small city in Santa Barbara, for which they paid $10.1 million in 2017.

Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis Are Determined to Sell Their $12.25 Million Beverly Hills Mansion

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Here’s How We’d Run a New Streaming Service



Here’s How We’d Run a New Streaming Service
Here’s how we’d run Hollywood’s hottest new streaming service. Pixabay

Let us take a stroll through time to the simpler days of 2019. Masks were for Halloween, we took human interaction for granted, and almost no one had heard of a telehealth and video conferencing platform called Zoom. Yes, 2019 feels uncomplicated in retrospect, particularly for the entertainment industry. Back then, theatrical movies still ruled Hollywood’s roost as the global box office set an industry record with $42.5 billion in ticket sales. Amid the record-breaking year, I picked apart Hollywood strategies with a story about how I’d run a new hypothetical film studio.

But these days, who wants to put on pants to go out? Both the pandemic and the launch of major new streaming services (hello, Disney+) have expedited Hollywood’s transition to couch-based entertainment. Every major entertainment company restructured in the pandemic to prioritize streaming and estimates project that streaming video on demand (SVOD) subscriptions could grow to 1.25 billion by 2024, or roughly 16% of the human population. With the entertainment industry’s hierarchy changing, so too must my hypotheticals. My old faux film studio needs to be reborn as a faux SVOD competitor.

So without further ado, here’s how I’d navigate the minefield of the modern streaming wars.

Amazon Apple Netflix Disney Hulu
How Observer will differentiate its streamer from the competition. Chesnot/Getty Images

Customer Focus

Before we jump into our content strategy, let’s think about which segment of consumers our new streamer will be targeting. Primary players such as Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ are largely competing for first generation streaming viewers—meaning both younger cord cutters and older, higher-income viewers. The cutters receive most of the attention, but the olds are a valuable and sizable demographic.

“I’d focus my efforts on the folks who haven’t cut the cord, for whatever reason,” former entertainment executive, digital media professional and current industry analyst Entertainment Strategy Guy told Observer. “What are they watching? Why does broadcast still fit their needs? And how can I serve those?”

The streaming industry is more robust and diverse than ever. Domestic subscriptions are up 26% year-over-year, according to transactional data firm Antenna. The pie is growing. But with so many premium SVOD platforms—Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+, Starz, Showtime, Discovery+, Peacock, and Apple TV+—a saturation point is inevitable. Targeting an undervalued customer base with growth potential, and reaching them in creative ways, will be a necessity.

“While it’s a little easier to raise awareness among existing subscribers (masthead banners, in-app trailers, etc), the bigger issue is connecting with new audiences and turning them into subscribers, a challenge all streamers will continue to face, and one that’s becoming more competitive,” Anjali Midha, co-founder and CEO of predictive content analytics platform Diesel Labs, told Observer. “As the broadest media channels (like traditional TV) continue to fragment, targeted campaigns become critical, as well as driving enough audience engagement on social and video channels to help augment awareness efforts.”

Netflix Ratings Most Watched Animated Series
Animation is hugely popular, but also readily available across all forms of entertainment already. Netflix

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Much like when you’re day drinking, when launching a new product in a maturing field it’s always helpful to ask “What not to do?” For our new streaming service, we want to avoid existing market overlap so that we’re not just offering a carbon copy of what’s already available. That means we’re not going out of our way to produce expensive prestige TV and movies on the off-chance we can sneak into the Emmys and Oscars. Accolades and attention are nice, but no substitute for cold hard viewership for an embryonic streamer, but there’s a way to claw your way to the top organically without over-spending upfront.

“In my data, most Oscar-winning films do little to bring in new customers and deliver viewership,” Entertainment Strategy Guy said. “So I’d focus very little on trying to win awards, but let that happen as a by-product of making great shows that can drive lots of viewership.”

This also means bypassing high-upside genres that work for other streamers. Horror films are abundant across the entertainment landscape, with Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and Shudder all investing heavily in that blood-soaked bailiwick. Animation is a major battleground of the streaming wars, but so saturated across the main combatants (plus CrunchyRoll) that it doesn’t make much sense for us to chase that rainbow. YouTube looms large as the king of kids content (particularly in AVOD), Disney remains the prestige kids brand, Universal commands the eyeballs of young and old with DreamWorks Animation and Illumination, and Netflix has spent more money than most millennials will earn in several lifetimes to become a go-to destination in animation. The harsh reality is that we’re too behind the ball to compete at this point (a struggle Peacock and Paramount+ are facing) and are better served directing our resources elsewhere.

Lastly, it’s become en vogue for streaming services to guard ratings and viewership data like it was the Chamber of Secrets. It’s true that this walled garden approach offers the advantage of keeping the media and the competition in the dark while enabling a streamer to control the narrative. But it also infuriates creative partners as well as interested audiences. We want to foster an environment of trust. So in the spirit of transparency, we’re offering a techno-utopian approach where we’ll share the viewer data we collect with creators. This should help attract talented writers, directors, producers, and stars while greasing the wheels for future overall deals.

Content Focus

So how do we go about building out our library? That’s the multi-billion dollar question.

“On the topic of catalog composition, we also see Netflix and Disney+ on opposite sides of the spectrum here as well, with Netflix favoring drama and comedy (together 47% of this years originals) and Disney+ favoring comedy and action/adventure (together 43% of this years originals),” Midha said.

Netflix, Amazon, Disney+ Shows
Catalog composition: Genre breakdown for Netflix, Amazon, and Disney+ originals year-to-date. Diesel Labs

We want to zig while other streaming services are zagging rather than run the same exact rat race. But there’s a way to do this while still attacking the high-upside genres—such as comedy, drama, action and adventure, and sci-fi—that have proven to be the streaming industry’s bread and butter. We already have a handful of unmade sci-fi and fantasy intellectual property that is ripe for adaptation.

“Frankly, I’d see what was working on broadcast TV for the last few decades and copy that much more seriously,” ESG said. “Meaning sitcoms and procedural dramas. Meaning cops, doctors and lawyers. If I were a major streamer, every quarter, I’d have a drama featuring a police officer solving a crime, lawyers putting a case together and/or a medical team solving emergencies. And I’d put them on twice a year, rotating to always have episodes.”

Not the most creatively ambitious small screen strategy — but if we learned anything from Quibi (RIP) or even Yahoo Screen (RIP x 2), it’s there’s a limited window to reach safe cruising altitude as a young SVOD service. Once we build a baseline subscriber foundation, we’ll have the freedom to unearth the next Sopranos or Breaking Bad. Until then, we’re going to focus on what works. And procedurals work.

According to Nielsen data provided to Observer, shows like NCIS, Criminal Minds and Grey’s Anatomy have all ranked among the top-10 most-watched programs across U.S. SVOD services for four straight weeks. These are Netflix’s most valuable library series following the departures of Friends and The Office. Entertainment Strategy Guy also points out that two of Prime Video’s longest running series are Bosch, a cop show and Goliath, a lawyer show.

Netflix vs Disney+
2021 original content releases for Netflix and Disney+ Diesel Labs

Speaking of valuable library additions, we’d make aggressive attempts to partner with Sony, Hollywood’s premiere arms dealer, in a licensing deal. While Sony Pictures Television hits such as Seinfeld, Breaking Bad, Community, and Mad Men are all currently tied up in existing streaming deals, we’d put ourselves in pole position to be next in line the moment they expire. We also recognize the value of reality television, which is inexpensive and highly addictive to audiences. With Discovery joining forces with WarnerMedia, we’d try to turn to A&E, which is half-owned by Disney, for some juicy true crime documentaries which have proven to be highly effective for HBO, Netflix, etc.

Tying it all together, we’d look for fresh talent with potential to keep initial costs down and form productive relationships with the next generation of storytellers.

“Also, I’d aggressively hire new showrunners,” ESG said. “That feels like the market inefficiency. Everyone focuses on writers who have already run a show, because it’s safer. But since they’ve worked before, their rates tend to be higher.”

Release Strategy

“Building a streaming platform requires a very different approach to catalog curation than most traditional media companies are used to,” Midha said. “It’s no longer about needing a new drama to fill a slot on 9 PM on Tuesday—the challenge has shifted to architecting a catalog that continually builds audience subscribership and mitigates churn.”

Netflix and Disney+, the two dominant streamers at the moment, approach this issue from opposing starting points. Netflix floods the market with original content (with about $1 billion worth of content in active development alone), while Disney is more selective, opting to lean on its famed vault of content — stocked for a near century — with the mega-franchises it’s acquired from Marvel, Pixar and Lucasflim providing new titles. It’s clear that no matter where you are on the catalog composition spectrum, having a healthy mixture is critical to success. But we need to generate buzz in order to entice prospective audiences, which means raising awareness among viewers.

Netflix’s endless sea of content is great for reducing churn, but Disney’s content succeeds more in generating conversation and engagement. A black diamond mountain of television doesn’t do much good if everyone consistently opts for the bunny slopes instead.

Disney vs Netflix
Share of voice analysis: media company content releases* vs. engagement. Diesel Labs

As part of this effort, we’re not going to lock in a reductive uniform release strategy. There’s no binge versus weekly debate. We’ll tackle shows on a case-by-case basis, similar to how HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu all experiment with rotating release strategies. For example, HBO dropped the final five unaired episodes of finance drama Industry on HBO Max on Nov. 27 even as they continued to air weekly on the premium cable channel. Streaming offers the freedom to get creative.

We’ve seen shows from both binge and weekly releases transform from little-hyped upcoming originals with muted pre-release buzz to full-fledged phenomenons after gaining steam. We’re trying to generate similar post-release breakout hits as well.

Netflix, HBO Max, Disney
2021 post-premiere breakout hits, proportion of total engagement after launch. Diesel Labs

The Bottom Line

Okay. So we’ve laid out a techno-utopian approach to data sharing, the better to attract the young showrunners who’ll keep our costs down as we amass a rotating slate of new procedurals, existing true-crime docs, reality TV and eventually Sony Pictures Television properties. Is this a guaranteed strategy for success? Far from it, otherwise every we — and every single studio executive — would be sipping grande lattes atop golden jet-skis. But by examining the common mistakes to avoid, honing in on proven genres, carefully constructing talent relations, and staying open to creative innovation, we believe we can launch a hot new streaming service. Just don’t expect a “+” at the end of our name.

Movie Math is an armchair analysis of Hollywood’s strategies for big new releases.

Here’s How We’d Run a New Streaming Service

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Facebook Enters ‘Metaverse’ in Full Force as AR/VR Chief Takes Over as CTO



Facebook Enters ‘Metaverse’ in Full Force as AR/VR Chief Takes Over as CTO
Mark Zuckerberg, speaks at an Oculus developers conference while wearing a virtual reality headset in San Jose, California on October 6, 2016. GLENN CHAPMAN/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook will have a new chief technology officer next year to help transition the social media giant into Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of a “metaverse company.”

The company’s current CTO, Michael Schroepfer, announced Wednesday that he will step down in 2022 and be replaced by Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, who heads Facebook’s hardware division, including the AR/VR group, Reality Labs.

“After 13 amazing years at Facebook, I have made the decision to step down as Chief Technology Officer and transition to a new part time role as Facebook’s first Senior Fellow at the company sometime in 2022,” Schroepfer announced in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

The C-suite shakeup marks a crucial step in Facebook’s shift from an advertising-central social media business model to creating a next-generation “metaverse” company.

Metaverse is a virtual world where large numbers of people can live, work and socialize just like in the real world, except that it’s completely built upon virtual reality and augmented reality technologies. The concept is considered by technologists as the next big thing after smartphones and the mobile internet.

In recent years, Facebook has introduced multiple hardwares designed to simulate a virtual living experience, most notably the Oculus VR headset and Portal video-calling device.

“Today Portal and Oculus can teleport you into a room with another person, regardless of physical distance, or to new virtual worlds and experiences,” Bosworth wrote in a company blog post in July. “But to achieve our full vision of the Metaverse, we also need to build the connective tissue between these spaces—so you can remove the limitations of physics and move between them with the same ease as moving from one room in your home to the next.”

As CTO, Bosworth will continue to oversee the Facebook Reality Labs division as well as the company’s AR/VR efforts, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post on Wednesday.

“If we do this well, I think over the next five years or so, in this next chapter of our company, I think we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company,” Zuckerberg said in an interview with The Verge in July.

Facebook Enters ‘Metaverse’ in Full Force as AR/VR Chief Takes Over as CTO

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The café pigeon ‘Animal Crossing’ fans all know and love is coming back to the series



Animal Crossing Brewster

Brewster, a much-loved character from the “Animal Crossing” video game series, was confirmed to be returning to the Switch entry in the series during the most recent Nintendo Direct presentation.  

“Coo”: The coffee-loving pigeon, who first appeared in the video game “Animal Crossing: Wild World” for the Nintendo DS in 2005, has been confirmed by Nintendo to reappear in the newest content update for the Switch’s “Animal Crossing New Horizons,” according to Polygon

  • While the presentation didn’t give away much information, a video played at the event showed an unidentified room that fans recognized as Brewster’s café “The Roost.” A message laid over the room read: “More details on new content! Airing in October.” 
  • The teaser video also showed a player character walking through the museum to a sign that read “The Roost,” which led many to speculate that the café will be a part of the museum, like in “Wild World.” 

  • The game was released in 2020 and has been updated periodically throughout the past year. Brewster is expected to come to the game in the November update. 

“You know the price: 200 bells”: “Animal Crossing” fans have been asking for the fan-favorite to return since “New Horizon’s” release. 

  • The shy pigeon is one of only two characters that is not a villager that the player can gradually befriend, with the seamstress hedgehog Sable being the other. 
  • Some fans have speculated on whether  the newest version of Brewster and his café will be similar to the one contained in the “New Leaf” version of the game. 
  • In “New Leaf,” once the player develops a close relationship with Brewster, they are able to work “part-time” at the café and can get takeout coffee. 
  • Many are focusing on the “house” symbol on “The Roost” sign from the teaser and trying to dissect what the symbol might mean. Some believe players will be able to deliver coffee to their villagers on their island. 
  • In any case, “Animal Crossing” lovers are ecstatic about the confirmation and are wondering if other fan-favorite NPCs will eventually come back to the franchise. 

Featured Image via IGN

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Taiwanese star Chang Chen impressed with Timothée Chalamet speaking Mandarin lines ‘perfectly’ in ‘Dune’



Dune star Chang Chen impressed by Timothee Chalamet

Chang Chen, who rose to fame in Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” is praising one of his co-stars for their Mandarin skills in the upcoming science-fiction epic, “Dune.”

Speaking Mandarin: Chen told CNA Lifestyle in an interview that accepting the role of Dr. Wellington Yueh, the personal physician for the Atreides family, in the latest live-action adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel was an “easy decision.”

  • On the idea of having Dr. Yueh speak Mandarin, the Taiwanese actor said, “Part of it came from director Denis since he made it such that Paul (Timothée Chalamet), the main character, can speak many languages.”
  • “It then followed that Dr. Yueh might be able to speak Mandarin, since he represented someone from Asia. Therefore, the two characters might be able to converse in simple Mandarin, and this also acted as the foundation on which Paul and Dr Yueh built their relationship.”
  • Chang, who is also known for director Wong Kar-wai’s “The Grandmaster” and “Happy Together,” applauded 25-year-old Chalamet for perfectly pronouncing his Mandarin lines in the Denis Villeneuve-directed film.
  • The 44-year-old actor did not want to take credit for Chalamet mastering his lines, however. “He is very talented in languages, and he pronounced Mandarin perfectly.”

The tea: This is not the first time Chalamet has impressed people from Asia, where he is known as “Tian Cha” or “Sweet Tea” in China, according to the Jakarta Post.

  • In one popular video, he is seen trying to get the pronunciation of his nickname just right for his Chinese fans.

  • During a virtual Chinese press conference for “Dune,” which featured Chen and Villeneuve, Chalamet brought out a tea cup with him as a nod to his nickname.

“Dune” hits theaters and will be released on HBO Max on Oct. 21. Check out the Chinese trailer for the film below:
Featured Image via Secrets of Dune
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Patriots-Saints Week 3 Pregame Report: Can Jameis Winston bounce back? Can Mac Jones take New England to 2-1 ahead of Week 4?



Patriots-Saints Week 3 Pregame Report: Can Jameis Winston bounce back? Can Mac Jones take New England to 2-1 ahead of Week 4?

Before New Orleans ugly Week 2 performance — they’d most likely be the favorites heading into Week 3. But after the Panthers smackdown — and a Patriots 25-to-6 win over the Jets — New England is now the nearly 3 point favorites — the game over/under set at 43-points. Herald reporter Alexi Iafrato is at Gillette with the Week 3 pregame preview report:

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Fairview wide receiver Grant Page is latest Colorado steal for Nebraska Cornhuskers



Fairview wide receiver Grant Page is latest Colorado steal for Nebraska Cornhuskers

Fairview senior wide receiver Grant Page understands his college commitment won’t be celebrated by many longtime fans from his home state.

He doesn’t blame them.

“I’m from Colorado,” Page said. “So, growing up, everybody hates Nebraska.”

Need another reason to despise Big Red?

Page is set to become the ninth high-profile Colorado prep football recruit since 2010 to spurn in-state schools for the Huskers. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound wideout committed in June and is rock solid in his pledge — despite another uneven Huskers start to the college football season.

“I think Nebraska is on the edge of getting back to the top,” Page told The Denver Post.

He is on a mission to join a recruiting class that helps Nebraska turn the corner. It’s easy to understand why the Huskers were intent on landing his talents.

The hype surrounding Page dates back to the summer before his sophomore year. Page had yet to take a single varsity snap when Colorado State became his first Division I scholarship offer. Over the next two seasons, Page went on to record 134 receptions for 2,065 yards and 24 touchdowns. Fairview coach Tom McCartney credits much of that production to skills Page developed on the basketball court..

Last November, it culminated in a dominating effort against Castle View with 13 catches for 224 yards and four receiving touchdowns.

“(Page) can stem you. He can sell one thing and do another. With his basketball skill set, he’s about 6-3 and he’s going to go up and get the ball,” McCartney said. “He’s got the ability to get off press (coverage) be physical and run by people.”

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How one UK educator convinced a publishing company to redo their flashcards depicting Asians with slant-eyes



cards get changed by Oxford

During his fourth year of teaching in the U.K., primary school educator John Luk noticed something concerning about his classroom resources. While looking at a set of phonics flashcards produced by Read Write Inc., he realized that the Asian characters were illustrated with slits for their eyes.

Instead of staying silent, Luk took action. He wrote a letter of complaint, noting that the flashcards in question — a revamp of a previous set of cards that depicted fewer POC characters —  are currently being used in schools worldwide. According to Luk, children aged 4 to 7 in the U.K. must learn phonics, and only a few organizations create phonics schemes to be distributed to schools across the U.K., with Read Write Inc. Phonics being one of them. Their popular phonics cards, which are published by Oxford University Press, are used in more than 5,000 schools in the U.K., as well as in nine states in the U.S. and hundreds of schools around the world.

Assuming Good Intent

In his letter, Luk — who was born in England but considers himself to be “primarily and fundamentally wholeheartedly Chinese” — wrote about his confusion as to why Read Write Inc. published two versions of the flashcards. He acknowledged Read Write Inc.’s attempt to reflect more diversity and inclusiveness in its newer version by replacing some of the cards’ white characters with characters of color.

Image via John Luk

“I can only assume that there are good reasons to have two versions of some cards,” Luk wrote to the company. “Maybe you realized that the diversity of the imaginary world of Read Write Inc. Phonics was somewhat lacking and wanted to diversify, show that you were in solidarity of the BAME [Black, Asian and minority ethnic] communities and to be more inclusive than all the white characters that you had previously.”

1632664441 269 How one UK educator convinced a publishing company to redo
Image via John Luk

“I kind of understand the direction you went towards and the thought process behind it and I respect the fact that you wanted to be part of the change,” he continued. “What I do not understand is how this was considered an appropriate image to be drawn for the South East Asian community (I don’t want to sound too presumptuous and say that the characters involved are Chinese, but I honestly have no idea).” 

A Mini Victory

Luk addressed his letter to Ruth Miskin, who developed Read Write Inc. Phonics. He included images of the old flashcards with white characters, as well as images of the new ones with characters of color.

He then identified his main issue with the cards’ Asian characters: “We. Have. Eyes. They might look different to other races, but one’s race might find it a bit offensive if their most defining feature is the shape of their eyes. In light of everything that’s been happening over the last few years, with [the] BLM movement, racial equality and discrimination, Islamophobia, a push for tolerance and acceptance of other cultures and races, I feel like there are double standards in terms of how other races are portrayed compared to Chinese/Korean/Japanese/other South-East Asians.” 

Luk provided examples of Asian characters without slits for eyes, such as Luo Bao Bei, “Big Hero 6”’s Tadashi Hamada and “The Name Jar”’s Unhei, to show that there are illustrators who have found more appropriate ways to portray Asian eyes. 

To address the severity of the issue, the U.K. educator explained why a children’s illustration could influence students from an early age. “Children’s minds are malleable, mouldable, and easily swayed by whatever information they are given,” he wrote. “They will subconsciously take in whatever racial bias or stereotype that is thrown at them and if they have the unfortunate fate of doing RWI (the scheme is fine, I’m talking about coming across these specific cards), then they are subject to these images at least twice a day.” 

 “If you still don’t agree,” he continued, “think of the position that I have been put in. What happens if a 5-year-old asks me (and it’s a perfectly valid question): ‘Sir, why do these people have funny looking eyes?’: how am I meant to respond? To take it further, how would a Chinese, Korean, Malaysian, or any Asian child feel if they are in the class when this question is asked? In school, we try our best to teach them that they are special and unique and different and to embrace these differences, but I imagine it’s quite hard to do that as an Asian child if school resources are illustrating caricatures of Chinese people.” 

Luk received a reply the following day. After a few email exchanges with representatives from Ruth Miskin Training and Oxford University Press, a “mini victory” occurred. Luk was given an apology, as well as an offer to receive replacement copies of the cards with amended illustrations for his school. In these new drawings, the Asian characters no longer have slits for eyes, and certain attire — such as a hat that “loosely resembles a straw hat that one might link with to a paddy field” —  has been altered to look less stereotypical. 

How one UK educator convinced a publishing company to redo
Image via John Luk

Moving Forward

Despite his small win, Luk has decided not to accept the new cards for his school. I respectfully declined the free replacements, due to the fact that it was only offered to my school even though over 5,000 schools across the U.K. are using their resources and would still have the racist images,” he told NextShark.

NextShark contacted Oxford University Press for a statement and received the following emailed response: We take any concern raised about our content very seriously, and as a result acted swiftly to address John Luk’s initial complaint about the depiction of South East Asian characters on some of our RWI Phonics Flashcards. We immediately corrected the artwork, involving Mr Luk in reviewing and approving the new illustrations, and did everything within our immediate control to ensure that RWI trainers and customers had access to updated content as soon as possible. We corrected the downloadable versions of the flashcards available as part of the RWI Phonics online subscription and, in addition, had a quantity of cards locally printed and supplied to Ruth Miskin Training Ltd, to ensure that their trainers were equipped with an up to date set of physical Flashcards when working in schools. 

We have committed to further action to amend and distribute updated content in print form to all RWI Phonics customers, working to the best of our ability within an incredibly challenging global production and supply chain context. We have kept Mr Luk informed at each step and remain committed to action as soon as this is feasible. We thank Mr Luk for bringing this matter to our attention, and for his patience and understanding with regard to the logistical delays impacting further action at this time.”

According to Luk, the representatives from Ruth Miskin Training and Oxford University Press will not issue a public apology nor replace the flashcards that are currently in use by thousands of schools. It has been more than two months since the representatives last emailed the U.K. educator, but he still hopes to find possible alternatives and spread more awareness about this particular issue. 

When asked what he would say to anyone willing to battle injustice like he did, Luk said, Every individual, no matter how insignificant you feel you are, can make a difference as long as you decide to speak up… I spoke up not expecting anything great to come from it except to voice my concerns, but now I’ve managed to provide better and more appropriate resources for a quarter of the primary schools in the UK, which would never have happened if I suffered in silence.” 

Featured Image via John Luk for NextShark

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‘Squid Game’ is the first Korean series to rank No. 1 on Netflix in the US



Squid Games is number one

The new K-drama thriller “Squid Game” is the first Korean series to rank No. 1 in Netflix U.S. most-watched and also occupies one of the top two spots in more than 70 other countries and territories’ Netflix platforms.

Topping the charts: According to the streaming analytics company FlixPatrol, the hit series beat out the popular British teen drama “Sex Education” which previously maintained the top position on the U.S. chart for its season 3 premiere, reported Korea JoongAng Daily

  • On the global chart, “Squid Game” has secured the No. 2 spot overall. 
  • The drama leads with the No.1 position in 21 other countries and territories and is No. 2 in 50 others, according to Manila Bulletin
  • While “Squid Game” has become the streaming giant’s most popular K-drama, the drama “Sweet Home,” came close in December, taking the third leading position on the U.S. chart.

About the drama: Starring top South Korean actors and models including Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Jung Ho-yeon, Wi Ha-joon and Lee Byung-hyun, with a cameo appearance from Gong Yoo, the drama follows the story of 456 players fighting for the top prize of 45.6 billion Won in a deadly game.

  • Director Hwang Dong-hyuk said he’d started working on the show in 2008 after being “mesmerized” by survival games and wanting to create a Korean version. 
  • He told The Korea Herald that the project was initially shelved before picking it back up for Netflix. “The idea of a game winner who strikes it rich was unwelcomed [back then]. The brutality and cruelty of the games were of concern.”
  • With the show’s release, the director hoped that viewers would be able to seek relief from the competition and pressures of everyday life.
  • The show has received critical acclaim from all over the world despite some accusations of plagiarism, scoring 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.3 out of 10 rating on IMDB.

Featured Image via Netflix

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April Koh, 29, becomes youngest woman to run a multi-billion-dollar startup



Spring Health company

April Koh, CEO of Spring Health, has become the youngest woman to lead a multibillion-dollar company after the startup raised a $190 million Series C round, or $300 million total funding.

“Unicorn” services: The Series C round of funding raised Spring Health’s valuation to more than $2 billion, which makes it reach “unicorn” status, or a valuation of at least $1 billion, according to Fierce Healthcare.

  • The behavioral health startup provides employers a way to give mental health benefits, including online therapy, counseling, coaching and self-guided exercises. 
  • Its services are marketed as a supplement to employee assistance programs (EAPs) or as entire replacements for them.
  • Koh, 29, told MedCity News that what makes Spring Health different is it focuses on employees from all kinds of socioeconomic backgrounds and health needs instead of just those from wealthy tech companies.
  • The recent funding will go towards “the company’s efforts to integrate these existing offerings into the first cohesive mental health experience for families, where both individuals and relationships within families can be supported through one central solution.”
  • Spring Health also plans to expand to over 200 countries worldwide.

Five years in the making: In 2016, Koh joined forces with Adam Chekroud and Abhishek Chandra to launch Spring Health, which now works with over 150 startups and multinational Fortune 500 corporations.

  • The company also plans to accelerate its growth by partnering with health plans, beginning with Guardian Life, a leading life, disability and employee benefits provider.
  • Koh told Forbes in an interview that Spring Health is preparing for an initial public offering (IPO). 
  • “It’s less about IPO-ing and more about establishing Spring Health as a long-lasting company of consequence that has the biggest impact on mental health possible,” she said.

Featured Image via Business Insider

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