What the Hell Was Larry Agran Even Thinking Trying to Befriend a Vietnamese City?

Apparently, a horrible politician

Last night, hundreds of Vietnamese Americans beset Irvine City Hall to voice their distaste at Larry Agran's suggestion that the city of Irvine start a friendship city relationship with Nha Trang, Vietnam. They filled the seats and the parking lot, overflowing around the building as anti-communist Vietnamese Americans in Orange County have done since Vietnamese Americans have been in Orange County.

By the end of the night (really, before the meeting even began), Agran relented, and pulled the Vietnamese city the vote. He still lost his vote to befriend two other cities, one in China and one in Pakistan, 2-3 along party lines.

And so, Larry, a simple question: WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?!

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Thanh Van Quang Is Our "Citizen of the Week!"

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Little Saigon's wild Thanh Van Quang arrived at Wasco State Prison on Wednesday and, after an evaluation, corrections officials eventually will bus him to a more permanent home at a different California penitentiary, where he'll reside while serving a tough sentence.

You may remember my colleague Matt Coker reported earlier this month on Quang's sentencing hearing for committing one of Orange County's more bizarre crimes.

In Nov. 2012, he used a lighter to ignite a one-gallon container of gasoline inside Room 25 at the Pueblo Motel on Harbor Boulevard. The explosion blew him out of the door, risked the lives of the other motel occupants and caused more than $177,500 in damage. He wore embarrassing evidence of his stunt. Flames burned a portion of his hair and skin on his upper back.

Quang's defense lawyer claimed his client momentarily lost his mind and intended to burn clothes he'd placed outside of the second-floor motel room shortly before the blast, but accidentally lit the gas inside the room.

A prosecutor argued the defendant committed arson as a route to revenge against the motel manager, who'd intervened earlier in a shouting match Quang had with his guests.

Whatever the truth regarding motive, a superior court judge handed a convicted Quang a term of 33 years to life.

But before we close the book on this character it's only fitting to acknowledge all of his contributions to society.

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Immigration Official Who Allegedly Demanded Egg Roll & Cash Bribes Faces June Trial

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This is what it's come to: egg roll bribery?
In November 2011, Mai Nhu Nguyen--a federal official in Orange County with power to grant or deny citizenship applications--forced a Vietnamese immigrant to buy and deliver 300 egg rolls to her government building for an office party, according to a three-count indictment.

Investigators in the public-corruption unit of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also claim in their criminal filing that, in November 2012, Nguyen told another Vietnamese immigrant facing a green card interview she would "take care" of her case for a $1,000 secret payment.

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Vietnamese LGBT Groups Successfully March in Tet Parade

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Photo by William Vo

After multiple votes for exclusion and inclusion, city council meetings, impassioned speeches, private meetings, lawsuits, boycotts, and a several-hour delay, Viet Rainbow of Orange County (VROC), the non-profit organization dedicated to empowering the Vietnamese LGBT community, successfully marched in the Orange County Tet parade.

"We feel great," Hieu Nguyen said afterwards. "There's a sense relief. Everyone's fears were unfounded. We were able to show that we are a part of the Vietnamese American community and that we can't be denied."

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LGBT Orgs Cleared to March in 2014 Tet Parade

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Photo by Charles Lam
Federation members counting the votes

The Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California voted earlier today to allow LGBT organizations to march in the 2014 Tet Festival in Westminster, the same parade such groups were banned from last year and had been demonized in previous years. The vote comes after an earlier vote banning the organizations from this year's festival. However, a re-vote was scheduled following a meeting moderated by Westminster Mayor Tri Ta and Councilmember Sergio Contreras between members of the federation and Viet Rainbow of Orange County (VROC), a non-profit organization working towards equity and unity in the Vietnamese diaspora.

"I think the outcome was great," said Phong Ly, former president of UVSA (Union of Vietnamese Students Association of Southern California, the group that holds the largest Tet festival in the country) and president of Phan Boi Chan Youth Association. "Some people have called it a victory, but I don't think it's a victory for one group or individual. It a victory, a big step forward for our community that we can open our hearts to love."

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2014 Tet Festival Moves to OC Fairgrounds

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Photo by Eric Hood

The 2014 Tet Festival's not going to be in Garden Grove this year.

After months of uncertainty, failed negotiations, and accusations of bad faith, the Union of the Vietnamese Students Associations Southern California (UVSA) has found a new home for the festival that's been hosted in Garden Grove for over a decade -- the Orange County Fairgrounds.

"In Vietnamese culture, they say that every twelve years (which is a full cycle of the zodiac), something new will occur," reads a UVSA press release published late Dec. 26 announcing the new location. "The relocation to the OC Fair and Event Center is an exciting opportunity for the festival to grow and become an even more enjoyable event for the general public."

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Judge Issues Injunction Against Fake iPhone 5 Protective Case Counterfeiter

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OC counterfeiter sold fake cases for iPhone 5
A federal judge in Orange County has issued a permanent injunction against a Little Saigon man who used eBay and other Internet store fronts to sell counterfeit products.

According to an October complaint filed by Element Case, Inc., defendant Allen Tran of Garden Grove duped "consumers throughout the United States" by leading them to believe they were buying the company's authentic products, including its 2011 federally-registered trademark EC Element Case for the iPhone 5.

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Kicking and Screaming, Westminster City Council Grants Tet Parade to LGBT-Excluding Group

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Photo by Charles Lam

They preached, they yelled, they banged the tables, but ultimately, the five members of the Westminster City Council voted unanimously yesterday to grant the (for now) LGBT-excluding Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California a permit to host the 2014 Tet Festival.

Each member made separate impassioned speeches for inclusion before the vote, but eventually heeded the advice of their city attorney and approved the request.

"This city council has gone on the record to indicate that it does not in any way condone any form of discrimination," said City Attorney Richard Jones. "It supports the LGBT communities' right to participate in this parade. ...Having said that, we are in the unique situation that the event in front of the council this evening is not a city-sponsored event. It's an event proposed by a private organization, and they have the right to exclude whoever they please."

It may be the most disdained unanimous vote in Westminster's history.

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Federal Judge: Orange County Satellite Pirates Owe Dish Network $5.3 Million

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Dish Network wins another piracy case
A federal judge is ordering Orange County stores and two corporate officials to pay nearly $5.3 million to Dish Network for selling more than 25,000 devices that break the satellite broadcaster's encryption codes.

Inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana, U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter sided with Dish Network lawyers, who accused defendants Johnny Tran, New Era Electronics Corp., Satellite Dish Expert, Inc., Swyft Products LLC, Rene Valdez and FTA Republic of selling decryption devices such as Sonicview, iHub, SV Lan and WizHub.

Federal law allows victims of satellite piracy to recover as much as $2,500 per act of theft, but Dish Network lawyers said they would agree to the statutory minimum of $200 per violation, a move that resulted in Carter determining the defendants owe approximately $5.3 million.

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Group That Banned Gays From Tet Parade Officially Apply To Organize Next Tet Parade

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Photo by Mary Bell
LGBT organizations participating in the 2011 Tet Parade

The Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California, the community coalition that famously banned LGBT organizations from participating in the 2013 Tet Parade and then legally defending their decision by showing Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Glass pictures of mostly-naked men, have officially applied to organize the 2014 Tet Parade, according to documents acquired by the Weekly dated Nov. 15.

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