News Briefs, Feb 20, 2020

In the coming week, it is highly anticipated that the California state assembly will vote to issue a formal apology to Japanese Americans for the state’s role in constructing Japanese internment camps during World War II. This bill, introduced by Democratic State Assemblyman Albert Muratsuchi, comes almost 80 years after President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans to give up their homes and jobs and move to internment camps. They plan to apologize for the “unjust inclusion, removal and incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II, and for [California’s] failure to support and defend the civil rights and civil liberties of Japanese-Americans during this period.” Policy makers said that the apology comes at a meaningful time, as the Trump administration separates families and espouses racist rhetoric regarding immigrants and the border. “While our nation’s capital is hopelessly divided along party lines and President Trump is putting immigrant families and children in cages, the California Legislature with HR 77 will be issuing an official, bipartisan measure for its own actions taken that led to the incarceration of over 120,000 loyal Americans of Japanese ancestry behind barbed wire.” Muratsuchi previously introduced a bill to make February 19 a remembrance day for the Japanese internments, but he hopes that this bill will go beyond remembering this injustice and will bring peace of mind to those whose ancestors were impacted by the creation of the camps (New York Times, “California Plans to Apologize to Japanese-Americans Over Internment” 02.18.2020) (CNN, “More than 75 years later, California will officially apologize for mistreating Japanese Americans,” 02.17.2020). 

Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) has taken a double digit lead in the race for the Democratic nomination in anticipation of the Nevada caucus, with an NBC News poll reporting he has 27 percent support. “There is one clear and inescapable set of results: Bernie Sanders is the definitive front-runner, and the current numbers do not represent his ceiling, but instead his base with room to grow,” said Democratic pollster Peter Hart. He continued, “His downsides are there, but they’re yet to be exploited by his opponents.” Biden falls behind him with 15 percent support, a nearly 26 percent drop in votes from January. Bloomburg falls behind him with 14 percent support, up five points from previous polls. Senator Elizabeth Warren is in fourth with 14 percent support, with Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in fifth with 13 percent support and Senator Amy Klobuchar in sixth place with 7 percent support. A NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll shows Sanders leading in votes from women, college students and people without college degrees. Biden leads among African-Americans, with Sanders coming in second. However, according to an NBC News poll, Biden’s lead with African-Americans has dropped from 52 percent to 38 percent since January, and Sanders’ support continues to grow (NBC News, “NBC News/WSJ poll: Sanders opens up a double-digit national lead in primary race,” 02.18.2020” (Politico, “Sanders surges to double-digit lead in new nationwide poll” 02.18.2020); (Newsweek, “Sanders leads by double points in 2 national polls, Biden loses ground with African American voters ahead of Nevada, 02.18.2020). 

Last Thursday the Senate voted 55 to 45 to require Trump to get Congressional authorization to take further military action against Iran, in a surprising bipartisan move to check President Trump’s power. This vote comes in response to Trump’s Jan. 3 drone strike to assassinate Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, which brought the U.S. and Iran to the brink of war. Several democrats have voiced approval of this bill, including Senator Bernie Sanders, who tweeted, “We cannot allow Trump to send working-class kids to fight and die in another endless war.” However, although eight Republicans joined the Democrats in this vote, most Republicans opposed this resolution. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said even if the bill were passed, Trump would ignore it: “I want the Iranians to understand, when it comes to their provocative behavior, all options are on the table.” In addition, Trump has promised to veto this bill if it comes across his desk and the bill currently lacks the two-thirds majority vote required to override it. However, Democrats hope that this bill could influence Trump’s future decisions towards Iran. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) said, “[Trump’s] got an election that he’s focused on and he wants to win. . . He could well veto it and then adjust behavior” (New York Times, “In Bipartisan Bid to Restrain Trump, Senate Passes Iran War Powers Resolution,” 02.13.2020); (Washington Post, “Senate passes resolution to limit Trump’s power to order military action against Iran,” 02.13.2020).

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