George Takei was 5 years old when armed U.S. soldiers came to his house and escorted him and his family to an internment camp for Japanese Americans in the swamps of Arkansas, he told Jon Stewart on Wednesday night's Daily Show. The actor/gay-rights activist/social media star is promoting a new documentary about his life, To Be Takei — and Stewart, instead of asking him about Star Trek or his push for same-sex marriage, brought up Takei's World War II experience.
That experience, as Takei tells it, has shades of the Roberto Benigni film Life Is Beautiful — "My parents told us that we were going on a long vacation, to a place called Arkansas," he told Stewart. "And that sounded exotic." There were armed guards on the train, but "I thought everyone took vacations with guards like that."
Takei's retelling of his first-hand experience with this dark period in U.S. history is full of interesting details (watch the video below). But he also talked about how, years later, when he was a teenager, he asked his father about the internment camp. What he remembers about those conversations, Takei said, is this bit of wisdom from his father:
Our democracy is a people's democracy. And it can be as great as the people can be, but it's also as fallible as people are. [Takei, Daily Show]
Takei's father, and on Wednesday night Takei himself, illustrated this point with the story of an ambitious California politician who became a three-term governor on the then-wildly-popular platform of locking up Japanese Americans, then went on change the country for the better as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. "A great man, but a fallible human being," Takei said. That describes a lot of people in the U.S., not just Earl Warren. When our better angels are in ascendency, that's a real strength of American democracy. --Peter Weber
Only in America: Man complains about NBC changing logo to 'colors of gays,' doesn't realize it hadn't changed
A Little Rock, Arkansas, man lodged a complaint with the local NBC affiliate over its peacock logo, charging it included "colors of gays" to show support for the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling. Don Stair said the logo was "a disgrace" and vowed to switch to ABC. The station responded that its multicolored NBC peacock — which dates from 1956 — is the "same logo as always."
As America continues its slow, miserable climb out of the 2008 recession, wage stagnation is becoming a bigger concern. On Thursday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' jobs report showed that wage growth effectively remains flat. It's a trend that has actually defined most of the 21st century — and, at least in comparison to one particularly well-off group, the depressingly slow growth of worker compensation goes back further still:
Since 1978, CEO compensation has risen 90 times faster than the average worker's, the liberal Economic Policy Institute shows in the above graph. That's not CEO pay vs. worker pay; that's just rates of growth.
The average CEO made $1.5 million, after adjusting for inflation, in 1978, EPI says. He or she now makes $16.3 million. The salary of the average worker, however, has risen from $48,000 to just $53,200. CEOs at top firms now make over 300 times more than the average worker. Nico Lauricella
The Solar Impulse made history on Friday when it landed without incident in Hawaii. Flying about 5,000 miles from Japan and spending 118 hours in the air, the Impulse set records in distance and time for manned, solar-powered flights. The pilots Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, who switch off flying legs, are on a quest to circumnavigate the globe. Next stop: New York. Read more at BBC News. Nico Lauricella
In a short televised address Friday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras asked Greece to vote "no" on Sunday's bailout referendum. "I ask you to say no ultimatums, blackmail, and fear-mongering," he said. "No to divisions, no to those who want to spread panic." Polls show both sides neck-and-neck, and many Greeks are reportedly confused by the technical language of the referendum, which is over a bailout deal that is reportedly off the table. Tsipras tried to clear up the confusion, saying the vote is over a bad deal, "not Greece's participation in the euro." Read more at The New York Times. Nico Lauricella
A Jewish political action committee hired several Mexican day laborers to dress as Orthodox Jews and protest at the Gay Pride parade in New York City. After a reporter noticed that the men in Orthodox garb were clearly Hispanic, the Jewish Political Action Committee admitted it hired substitutes for its members "because of what they would see at the parade."
Nguyen Phu Trong will become the first leader of Vietnam's Communist Party to ever visit the United States when he meets with President Obama at the White House next week. They will reportedly discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that would foster closer relations between the U.S., Vietnam, and 10 other Pacific Rim nations, as well as security concerns with China. The meeting is seen as a sign of growing ties between the two countries, and will mark the 20th anniversary of the opening of diplomatic relations following the Vietnam War. Read more at AFP. Nico Lauricella
You can't erase history, but maybe you can paint it over? Golf champ Bubba Watson announced on Thursday that he'll swap the Confederate flag atop his General Lee, the iconic car from the TV show Dukes of Hazzard, for an American one. In 2012, he purchased the car used in the first episode of the TV show.
All men ARE created equal, I believe that so I will be painting the American flag over the roof of the General Lee #USA
— bubba watson (@bubbawatson) July 2, 2015
Watson's tweet comes on the heels of TV Land's announcement that it would stop airing Dukes of Hazzard reruns because of the prominence of the flag in the show. After the murders at Emmanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina — allegedly by Dylann Roof, who has a history of white supremacy — the Confederate flag has been increasingly shunned. Nico Lauricella