Chairperson Mireille Fanon Mendes France (centre) and other members of the UN Expert Group on People of African Descent brief the press in Washington, D.C., on their fact-finding mission to the United States. Photo: UNIC Washington/Liam Murphy.

Chairperson Mireille Fanon Mendes France (centre) and other members of the UN Expert Group on People of African Descent brief the press in Washington, D.C., on their fact-finding mission to the United States. Photo: UNIC Washington/Liam Murphy.

The “Report of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent on its mission to the United States of America” (August 18th 2016) was reported by the Washington Post under the headline:

“U.S. owes black people reparations for a history of ‘racial
terrorism,’ says U.N. panel”

But only two of its 36 recommendations had to do with reparations.

In January 2016 the United Nations sent Frantz Fanon’s daughter and two other human rights experts (from South Africa and the Philippines, pictured above) to the US to study the human rights of Black Americans. From the 19th to the 29th they visited the cities of New York, Washington, Baltimore, Chicago and Jackson, Mississippi. They talked to government officials, lawyers, judges, scholars, the Chicago police and hundreds of people from Black suburbs. Some government officials refused to talk to them. They were not allowed to visit Parchman Farm, an infamous prison in Mississippi.

In the 22-page report, they lay out their findings, conclusions and recommendations. They note the progress made since their first visit in 2010. The report is an excellent summary of anti-Black racism in the US in 2016.


The United States.

Some of what they found out about the US (links go to posts of my own):

Among their conclusions:

“Despite the positive measures, the Working Group remains extremely concerned about the human rights situation of African Americans. In particular, the legacy of colonial history, enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the United States remains a serious challenge, as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent. Contemporary police killings and the trauma that they create are reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching. Impunity for State violence has resulted in the current human rights crisis and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

Among their recommendations:

  • Get rid of:
    • solitary confinement,
    • police in schools,
    • debtor prisons,
    • voter suppression laws.
  • Sign into law:
    • international treaties on human rights,
    • End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA),
    • Second Chance Reauthorization Act,
    • Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015,
    • H.R. 40 (see below).
  • Put into practice:
    • The recommendations of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
  • Strengthen:
    • Executive Order 12898 (against environmental racism).

Reparations: Like Ta-Nehisi Coates, they urge the passage of H.R. 40, which would set up a commission to study the matter. They see reparations along the lines of the Caribbean Community’s Ten-Point Action Plan on Reparations:

“which includes a formal apology, health initiatives, educational opportunities, an African knowledge programme, psychological rehabilitation, technology transfer and financial support, and debt cancellation.”

– Abagond, 2016.

See also:


Clinton-Trump Debate III


The Clinton-Trump Debate III (October 19th 2016) is the last debate between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton before the election for US president on November 8th, three weeks away.

The big bombshell came when Trump was asked whether he would accept the outcome of the election if he lost. Trump:

“I’ll keep you in suspense. OK?”

Trump has been dogged by a sex scandal, but for the past few days he has been saying the election is rigged. He had no proof, but the press went nuts all the same. Subject changed!

At the debate Trump continued his Black outreach:

“Our policemen and women are disrespected. We need law and order, but we need justice, too. Our inner cities are a disaster. You get shot walking to the store. They have no education. They have no jobs.”

and his Latino outreach:

“And once the border is secured, at a later date, we’ll make a determination as to the rest. But we have some bad hombres here, and we’re going to get them out.”

and his outreach to women:

“Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody.”

and later said of Hillary Clinton:

“Such a nasty woman.”


President Vladimir Putin of Russia with his puppet?

Trump continues to talk like a Putin puppet, especially when denying the truth of what Clinton said of the hacked emails coming from WikiLeaks:

“We have 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin and they are designed to influence our election.”

Hillary Clinton’s weakest moment came when asked about pay for play, where she hooked up those who gave money to her favourite charity, the Clinton Foundation. She said it was all above board, but the question made her uncomfortable.

Fact check: Statements that PolitiFact rated as Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire:


  1. He said, well, if we have them [nuclear weapons], why don’t we use them
  2. There’s only one of us on this stage who’s actually shipped jobs to Mexico


  1. [under Clinton] we will have a Second Amendment which will be a very, very small replica of what it is right now.
  2. She wants to have open borders.
  3. ICE last week, endorsed me.
  4. The NAFTA deal signed by her husband is one of the worst deals ever made of any kind, signed by anybody.
  5. Wrong [disputing Clnton’s claim that he “went after a disabled reporter, mocked and mimicked him on national television.”]
  6. that this election is rigged … I say it’s rigged
  7. Wrong [disputing Clinrton’s claim that he was for the Iraq War]
  8. [Obamacare is] destroying our country. It’s destroying our businesses, our small business and our big businesses.
  9. when you ran the State Department, $6 billion was missing. How do you miss $6 billion? You ran the State Department, $6 billion was either stolen – they don’t know.
  10. [Clinton’s] plan is going to raise taxes and even double your rate.
  11. those stories [of women accusing Trump of forcing himself on them] have been largely debunked.

– Abagond, 2016.

Source: mainly PolitiFact.

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“Hitler was democratically elected” (1975- ) is something you hear, at least in the US, at least since the 1970s. Strictly speaking it is wrong: when Hitler ran for president of Germany in 1932, he lost. He only got 37% of the vote (compare that to Donald Trump’s current 42%). But in a more general sense it is true: the rise of Hitler came through democratic means.

Bernie Sanders:

“A guy named Adolf Hitler won an election in 1932. He won an election, and 50 million people died as a result of that election in World War II, including 6 million Jews. So what I learned as a little kid is that politics is, in fact, very important.”

In 1932 there were four nationwide elections in Germany: two for the Reichstag (parliament) and two for president. By the end of it all, Hitler lost the presidential election to Paul von Hindenburg, 53% to 37%, but the Nazis, his party, won a plurality in parliament of 33%.

That 33% for the Nazis might not sound like much, but it was way better than any other party. On top of that, the Nazis were the only party with broad support, from both Catholics and Protestants, rich and poor, young and old, men and women, town and country. They had strong support from business and the middle class. That made Hitler the natural choice to become chancellor (prime minister) to form a majority coalition.

So in January 1933, Hindenburg, as president, made Hitler chancellor. Those on the right had assured Hindenburg that they would be able to control Hitler: he needed them to have a majority in parliament. But in practice they were not able to control him.

Hitler moved on limiting civil rights almost right away, particularly rights of protest and free speech. Then, when a fire broke out at the Reichstag in February, he blamed the communists. He got enough people afraid of a communist uprising – unfounded fears as it turned out – that he got President Hindenburg to agree to an emergency decree: the Decree for the Protection of the People and the State. In the name of national security Hitler was able to silence the press and throw anyone he wanted in prison. He was now, in effect, dictator, and he never let go.

So is Trump like Hitler?

Like Trump, Hitler:

  • played on people’s fears and racism;
  • promised to make his country great again;
  • had little regard for civil rights;
  • presented himself as a strongman;
  • was dismissed as a clown who could be controlled.

Unlike Trump, Hitler:

  • had a strong, united party behind him with broad national support;
  • faced no strong opposition party;
  • had already tried to overthrow the government (in Bavaria in the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch);
  • had a master of propaganda (Joseph Goebbels).

Also, Germany in 1932 was in way worse shape than the US in 2016: it had lost the First World War and was sunk in the Great Depression with high rates of unemployment and poverty. It was a far more desperate country.

– Abagond, 2016.

Sources: mainly Deutsche Welle and the US Holocaust Museum.

See also:




Mixtec day names.

The Mixtecs (since -5000), who call themselves the Ñudzahui, are the fourth largest Indian (Native American) ethnic group in Mexico, the largest after the Aztecs, Maya and Zapotecs. Like them, they were part of the Mesoamerican civilization founded by the Olmecs.


Mixteca (in green).

By -5000 they were living in Mixteca, their present homeland in southern Mexico. The heart of it is made up of dozens of valleys high in the mountains of western Oaxaca state. Each valley is almost a world unto itself.

By -1500 they had become settled farmers.


Map of Mesoamerica, showing the Olmecs (orange), Aztecs (yellow) and the Maya (green).


Timeline of Mesoamerica showing when and where different peoples reached the height of their powers.

By +650 the Mixtecs had irrigation, towns, nobles, craftsmen and peasants. They were ruled by the Zapotecs to the east.

By the 900s the Zapotec empire had fallen. That led to the War That Came From Heaven (963-969) and, in time, the rise of 8-Deer Jaguar Claw (1063-1115), who brought all of Mixteca under his rule.


4-Jaguar, a Toltec leader, meets Mixtec warlord 8-Deer in the year 1097. Notice 8-Deer’s name above his head and 4-Jaguar’s at his feet. Mixtecs named people after the day they were born on.

In 1100:

  • Size: maybe 1.5 million people.
  • Location: Mixteca.
  • Language: Mixtec languages, written in pictographs.
  • Religion: priests talked to the gods and the dead. The highest priest was the Sun made flesh. Everything, living or dead, had a spirit. Sweat lodges. War was a human sacrifice to the earth, sun and rain.
  • Dress: heavily class-coded. Nobles dressed in cotton, peasants in ixtle (maguey fibre).
  • Food: maize, beans, squash. Tamales. Turkey with spicy chocolate sauce. Rabbit. They grew avocados, tomatoes, chili peppers, etc.
  • Drugs: tobacco, ololiuqui (from Turbina corymbosa, which produces LSA, a weak cousin of LSD).
  • Family: patriarchal: the father is the main breadwinner and decision maker.
  • Land: communal.
  • Technology: writing, calendar, farming, irrigation, terraced fields, use of copper, gold, silver, turquoise, jade. By the 1400s, they made some of the best pots, books and jewellery of Mesoamerica. No beasts of burden and therefore no wheels! Spears, atlatls (spear throwers), shields and axes used in warfare.

Aztec Empire.

In the 1400s the Aztecs took over, but did not force their culture on them. In the 1500s the Spanish took over. They used massacres to cow them, but did not wipe them out to take their land (the Anglo American practice). The Spanish burned all but eight of their books, among them:

  1. Codex Colombino-Becker
  2. Codex Bodley
  3. Codex Selden I
  4. Codex Vindobensis
  5. Codex Nuttall-Zouche (pictured below)

Codex Zouche-Nuttall at the British Museum, one of the eight Mixtec books (and 16 Mesoamerican books) not burned up by the Spanish. Notice that it folds out. Only 4 of its 94 pages are showing.

In the 1800s the land was becoming worn out. Many left Mixteca seeking work, in Mexico City (late 1800s), north-west Mexico (early 1900s) and the US (late 1900s). Most are farm workers.

They face racism from Mexicans because they are Indian and from Anglo Americans because they are Mexican!


Mixtec family.

In 2016 (latest figures):

  • Size: 1 million
  • Location: Mexico and US, especially Mixteca (67%) and California (13%).
  • Language: Mixtec languages (50%), written in Latin letters; Spanish, English.
  • Religion: Catholicism, laid on top of older beliefs and practices.
  • Dress: mainly Western.
  • Food: both Mixtec and “mestizo”. Also beer, soft drinks, junk food – and grasshoppers!
  • Drugs: some grow marijuana and opium poppies.
  • Family: less patriarchal since many men are away for months or years at a time working.
  • Land: Mexican government land titles, which the Mixtec interpret as communal farming rights.
  • Technology: trucks, television, wheelbarrow, donkey.


– Abagond, 2016.

Sources: especially Mixtec.org; “The Legend of Lord Eight Deer” (2002) by John M.D. Pohl; and “The Song of Oaxaca” in National Geographic (November 1994).

See also:




Despite all her many hits, my favourite Whitney Houston song never charted – this one! It came out on her soundtrack album for “The Preacher’s Wife” (1996).

See also:


I love the the Lord, he heard my cry
And pitied every groan, long as I, I live
And troubles rise, I hasten to his throne

Oh, I love the Lord
I sure do, surely do love the Lord
He heard, he heard my cry
And pitied every groan, yes he did
Every groan
Long as I live, long as I, I live
And troubles rise, troubles rise
I hasten to to to to to
I’ll hasten, I’ll hasten to his throne
I’ll hasten to his throne hold on hold on
Tears are streaming down my eyes
I’ll hasten, I’ll hasten to his throne

Yes I will, I’ll run
I know I can go to his throne
I know I can go, I know I can go
I’ll hasten, I’m gonna run
I know I can go, I know I can go
I’ll hasten, I’ll hasten to his throne

See I can run, Lord you know I will
When there is nowhere to go I know I can go to you
I know I can run to you oh
I’ll hasten, I’ll hasten to his, his throne
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
I’ll hasten, hasten to his throne
Surely gonna be here

Source: A-Z Lyrics.

Trump’s sex scandal


(Photo: International Student Services at Bowling Green State University; Getty Images; Facebook)

Donald Trump’s sex scandal (2016- ) has been all over the news in the US this past week. Trump says it is a plot “orchestrated by the Clintons and their media allies.” He is running for president against Hillary Clinton.

The election is three and a half weeks away. Trump is dropping like a rock in the polls, especially among women voters. But wait:

Just after the scandal broke, WikiLeaks started putting out emails from the Clinton campaign. The FBI suspects WikiLeaks is getting the emails from Russian hackers. Some of the emails seem to be real, but some might be doctored. So far nothing has come out that can equal the tsunami of Trump’s sex scandal and his amazing mishandling of it. But WikiLeaks might be saving the best for last.

The scandal broke on October 7th 2016: the Washington Post made public never-before-aired video from the NBC television show “Access Hollywood” in 2005. On it Trump is talking to Billy Bush, cousin of former President George W. Bush. Trump does not know he is being recorded:

tic-tacsTrump: Yeah that’s her with the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful… I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.

Bush: Whatever you want.

Trump: Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.

“Pussy” is a vulgar word, but worse, he is boasting about a sex crime.

Trump is famous for “telling it like it is”, but this he says is just “locker room talk”, not something he has ever done. But now women are coming forward, one after another, saying that he was telling it like it is! He says they are lying.

It is a he-said-she-said thing, but the he has told so many lies that his words hold little weight. And some of the shes have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post and People magazine, which would be careful to avoid lawsuits for libel.

Trump, in his classic tone-deaf fashion, said of one of the women:

“Look at her. Look at her words. Tell me what you think. I don’t think so.”

He is not getting it.

He also uses the thief-thief technique, bringing up Hillary Clinton’s husband Bill’s sex scandals from the 1990s. That is a red flag pointing to Trump’s guilt.

Some Republicans are now distancing themselves from him. Apparently they draw the line at White women, not Muslims or Mexicans or Blacks.

Most Republicans, though, are sticking with him, even much of the religious right, people like James Dobson, who said of Bill Clinton in 1998:

“As it turns out, character DOES matter. You can’t run a family, let alone a country, without it. How foolish to believe that a person who lacks honesty and moral integrity is qualified to lead a nation and the world!”


– Abagond, 2016.

Sources: BBC, Daily Beast, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, New York Post, Christian PostAL.com,

See also:



Alexander the Great and his army of the -300s as pictured by Westerners in the 1400s.

The medieval view of history (fl. 600-1600) is the view of the past commonly held during the Middle Ages (500-1400) by Westerners, at least among those who could read and write. Parts of it lasted into the 1700s. Since 1800 the Western view of history has changed considerably.

The medieval view of history was:

  • Christian – the main events were Creation, the Fall, Redemption and Judgement Day. That was the framework. Beyond that, history did not have any kind of deep meaning, no “lessons of history”.
  • static – things do not change much from age to age. The big changes come from God, and we are not due for another big one till Judgement Day. Till then the great wheel of Fortune rules the world, not the march Progress. History did not come in stages that build on each other, making things steadily better. If anything, sin was making things steadily worse. That is why the past was more glorious than the present. A science fiction future of great inventions was unthinkable till the 1800s.
  • anachronistic – because there is little change from age to age, people throughout history wear the same clothes, eat the same food, fight with the same weapons, and so on. There was no sense of how one period was different from the next. History did not become a costume drama till the 1800s.
  • legendary – “history” and “story” used to mean the same thing in English: an account of events, true or false. History, for the most part, was not pieced together by scholars through recovered facts. Instead it was passed down through old stories, like those of Troy or King Arthur. They were believed to be true, more or less, but it is not a point people gave much thought to. The word “history” in English did not mean a branch of knowledge till the late 1400s.
  • heroic – history was not seen as the play of great forces or unfolding stages, but as the march of great men and women, their words and deeds, their valour and villainy, their good and bad luck. The purpose of history was to entertain and tell of the past, to honour great deeds, and to set an example for the living through its great lovers, saints, wise men and warriors. History’s greatest heroes were:
    • The Nine Worthies:
      • Three Pagans: Hector, Alexander, Julius Caesar;
      • Three Jews: Joshua, David, Judas Maccabaeus;
      • Three Christians: Arthur, Charlemagne, Godfrey of Bouillon.
  • more epic and more romantic – since there was little difference between history and story, they were told much the same way. That made the history of the Dark Ages (500-1000) seem epic because that is the way people liked to tell stories back then. Likewise, the High Middle Ages (1100-1400) became romantic in its telling. Writers were not so much stretching facts or making them up, as choosing those that would best fit their style of storytelling.

Note that not everyone believed all of this, but it seems to have been the general, default view.

– Abagond, 2016.

Sources: “The Discarded Image” (1964) by C.S. Lewis; Etymology Online (2016).

See also:



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