From the L.A. Daily News
L.A. County supervisors to repeal 1942 resolution supporting internment of Japanese Americans
by Christina Villacorte
George Takei was only 5 when, during World War II, soldiers rounded up his Japanese-American family and sent them to internment camps.
The man iconic as Mr. Sulu on "Star Trek" now looks back on that time with anger and sorrow.
"We were imprisoned behind barbed wire fences when there were no charges, no trial," he said. "Our only crime was looking like the people who had bombed Pearl Harbor."
Seventy years later, a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors hopes to make amends.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas will move Wednesday to repeal a board resolution passed a month after the attack on Pearl Harbor that urged President Franklin Roosevelt to proceed with internment.
The 1942 board resolution warned Japanese-Americans might be a "potentially dangerous fifth column enemy" - those who would betray the country from within - and added it was "difficult if not impossible to distinguish between loyal and disloyal Japanese aliens."
When Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 a month later, 120,000 people of Japanese descent - including 37,000 in Los Angeles County - were sent to internment camps for up to three years.
Though President Gerald Ford proclaimed in 1976 that the executive order terminated when the war did, and President George H.W. Bush issued an apology in 1989, the resolution has remained on the county's books.
Ridley-Thomas believes it's about time that mistake is corrected.
"I don't see repealing this error as merely a gesture of goodwill to Japanese-Americans," he said. "It is an essential step toward redemption for all Americans.
"Some may wonder `Why now? Isn't it too little, too late?"' he added. "The answer is no. Government endures, and it is only by acknowledging the mistakes of the past that we can take pride in our progress."
The board is expected to approve his motion.
A symbolic gesture
Floyd Mori, national executive director of the Japanese American Citizens League, appreciates the symbolic gesture.
"This is a very long overdue action by the Board of Supervisors," he said.
"JACL is happy to have this motion rescinded, and that there is recognition that those actions were really unbecoming a government body here in the United States."
Soldiers with bayonets
Takei, now 75, remembers the morning he, his infant sister, toddler brother, and both parents were forced out of their home near downtown Los Angeles.
"I was looking out the window and saw two soldiers with bayonets march up the driveway, stomp up the front porch and bang on the door," he said.
The family was housed in a stable at the Santa Anita racetrack for about three months, until internment camps could be built to hold them and other Japanese-Americans.
"It still stank of horse manure," Takei said of the stable. "My mother said it was her most humiliating and degrading experience up to that point, but more were to follow.
"I remember the barbed wire fences and the sentries with the machine guns pointed at us, and the searchlights that followed me when I made the night runs to the latrines," he said, summoning boyhood memories of internment camps in Arizona and northern California.
Takei is developing a musical set during the internment. Called "Allegiance," it will premiere in San Diego in September.
Philip Shikeguni, 78, of Northridge recalls his fear when he, his older sister, mother and grandmother were rounded up.
He was 8, and worried that the label on his grandmother's suitcase - "Heaven is my destination" - meant they were being taken to their death.
The family was also taken to the Santa Anita racetrack and later transferred to what Shikeguni refers to as a "concentration camp" in Colorado.
"It was freezing cold. We lived in part of a barrack that had nothing on the floor, and only one bulb hanging from the ceiling," he said.
"We slept on army cots, ate in a mess hall, had only one restroom for men, and had open showers - it was a very dehumanizing process."
Shikeguni hopes people won't forget the lessons of the past.
"I think it's important the board is doing this because it brings to mind the violation of civil rights that can happen when people are fighting and afraid for their own safety," he said, noting the backlash against some Muslim Americans in the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
"This causes us to think right now about what we're doing to innocent people."
From the Washington Times
Vietnam opens 3 MIA search sites
Move announced at exchange of U.S.-Viet soldiers' personal effects
HANOI, Vietnam — In a poignant postscript to war, the writings of an American soldier describing the carnage and exhaustion surrounding him before he was killed more than 40 years ago were seen for the first time when Vietnamese officials traded his letters for the diary of a Vietnamese soldier.
Vietnamese Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh delivered the letters to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta in Hanoi on Monday. Mr. Panetta, in turn, gave Mr. Thanh a small maroon diary that had been taken from the body of a Vietnamese soldier by an American soldier who then had brought it back to the United States.
Defense officials said the Vietnamese had used the letters by Army Sgt. Steve Flaherty as propaganda.
“I felt bullets going past me,” Sgt, Flaherty, from Columbia, S.C., wrote to someone named Betty. “I have never been so scared in my life.”
To his mother he wrote, “If Dad calls, tell him I got too close to being dead but I'm O.K. I was real lucky. I'll write again soon.”
To a Mrs. Wyatt, he nevertheless suggested he believed in the mission.
“This is a dirty and cruel war but I'm sure people will understand the purpose of this war even though many of us might not agree,” he wrote in excerpts released by U.S. defense officials.
Officials said this is the first time such a joint exchange of war artifacts has occurred. The two defense leaders agreed to return the papers to the families of the deceased soldiers.
Sgt. Flaherty, who was with the 101st Airborne, was killed in the northern section of South Vietnam in March 1969. According to defense officials, Vietnamese forces took his letters and used them in broadcasts during the war.
Vietnamese Col. Nguyen Phu Dat kept the letters. It was not until last August, when he mentioned them in an online publication, that they started to come to light.
Early this year, Robert Destatte, a retired Defense Department employee who had worked for the POW/MIA office, noticed the online publication, and the Pentagon began to work to get the letters back to Sgt. Flaherty's family.
At a news conference, the Vietnamese government also announced its agreement to open three new sites in the country for excavation by the United States to search for troop remains from the Vietnam War.
The two defense chiefs also said their countries want to work together, regardless of whether the enhanced relationship troubles China.
Beijing has expressed concern over America's new defense strategy of putting more focus on the Asia-Pacific region, including plans to increase the number of troops, ships and other military assets in the region.
Mr. Panetta said the U.S. goal is to help strengthen the capabilities of countries across the region.
“Frankly the most destabilizing situation would be if we had a group of weak nations and only the United States and China were major powers in this region,” Mr. Panetta said.
Defense officials reviewing the packet of papers given to Mr. Panetta said there appear to be three sets of letters, including the four written by Sgt. Flaherty. It was not clear how many other service members' letters were there, but officials were going through them Monday.
Ron Ward, U.S. casualty resolution specialist at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hanoi, said there are at least four U.S. troops believed to have been lost in the three areas that were opened by the Vietnamese Monday. Mr. Ward said the Vietnamese are still restricting access to eight other sites.
Nearly 1,300 troops are still unaccounted for, and officers briefing Mr. Panetta said the remains in about 600 of those cases could be recoverable.
Cuomo proposes reducing pot penalty
Seeks to reduce number of arrests on stop-and-frisk
ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday proposed cutting the penalty for public possession of a small amount of marijuana, a change in state law that could defuse some criticism of the New York Police Department's “stop-and-frisk” policy in minority communities.
With three weeks remaining in the legislative session, the Democratic governor said his bill to reduce the criminal misdemeanor to a violation with a fine up to $100 would save thousands of New Yorkers, disproportionately black and Hispanic youths, from unnecessary arrests and criminal charges.
“There's a blatant inconsistency. If you possess marijuana privately, it's a violation. If you show it in public, it's a crime,” Mr. Cuomo said. “It's incongruous. It's inconsistent the way it's been enforced.”
The stop-and-frisk policy, he noted, could force those detained to display even small amounts of marijuana to the police officer, Mr. Cuomo added.
“The marijuana is now in public view. It just went from a violation to a crime,” he said.
New York City prosecutors and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, whose offices handled almost 50,000 such criminal cases last year, endorsed the governor's plan. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said the bill largely mirrors the city police directive issued last year for officers to issue violations, not misdemeanors, “for small amounts of marijuana that come into open view during a search.”
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said it will help his office redirect limited resources to serious crime, and key Assembly Democrats expressed support. Some opposition is expected in the state Senate's Republican majority, where a spokesman said they will review the measure once Mr. Cuomo submits it.
Possession of less than 25 grams was reduced in state law to a violation in 1977, subject to a ticket and fine. If the pot is burning or in public view, it rises to a misdemeanor that leads to an arrest. Mr. Cuomo's proposal differs from pending Assembly and Senate bills because it leaves public pot smoking as a criminal misdemeanor.
Mr. Cuomo acknowledged the existing approach disproportionately affects minority youths, with 94 percent of arrests in New York City, more than half of those arrested younger than 25 and 82 percent either black or Hispanic. He also defended keeping smoking pot a crime.
“I believe the society does want to discourage the use of marijuana in public, on the street. Smoking a joint, I think, is a different level of activity than just being in possession of it,” he said.
According to advocates for decriminalizing it, 14 states, including Oregon and Massachusetts, have lowered penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana to civil fines in a movement that began in the 1970s. Since 1996, 16 states, including California, have legalized its use for medical conditions, though New York has not.
Chief Kelly said he faced criticism from the City Council last year about too many arrests for small amounts of marijuana. He responded that they need to change the state law because officers can't simply turn a blind eye to it.
Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, a Brooklyn Democrat and sponsor of the Assembly bill similar to Mr. Cuomo's proposal, said the racially disparate arrest numbers are a consequence of both the statute and the police stop-and-frisk policies. “The unlawful arrests have declined but not at the level that many had hoped would take place,” he said.
From Google News
Albemarle County Police to Switch to Community Policing Approach
In efforts to take a more proactive approach to dealing with crime, the Albemarle County Police Department will be switching to community policing.
The Albemarle County Police Department wants you to get to know your local policeman. The county is switching how it assigns police officers to daily shifts by moving to a geo-policing or community policing approach.
The idea is to get officers more deeply involved in a small community, building trust with residents, and to prevent crime before it happens.
“Instead of a reactive approach to fighting crime and addressing crime issues, this is a more proactive way of looking at crime problems and dealing with criminal activity and crime trends,” said Lt. Peter Mainzer of the Albemarle County Police.
The switch won't begin until later in the summer and police are hoping the switch it fully implemented by the end of the year.
Roanoke and Richmond have both switched to the community based approach and have reported significant drops in violent crime