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The midterms

A midterm election in the US are those that take place halfway through a president’s four-year term. The president himself (so far always a him) is not up for re-election, but most of Congress is: a third of the Senate and all of the House. So are many governors and state lawmakers.

The 2010 midterms saw the rise of the Tea Party and the takeover of many states by Republicans. That allowed them to gerrymander the voting map and prevent President Obama from getting much done for six years (2011-17).

The 2018 midterms, on November 6th, is the first nationwide election since the rise of Donald Trump in 2016. Both Barack Obama (former president, centre-left) and Sean Hannity (cable news blowhard, far-right) agree that this is the most important US election of our lifetime. It will determine what becomes of Trump.

Blue Wave: If enough Democrats come out to vote, they could gain control of the House or the Senate. Either one would allow them to block Trump’s policies and look into his business dealings.

  • The House: Because of gerrymandering, Democrats will need 5 to 6 million more votes than Republicans to gain control of the House. A huge Democratic turnout would put them over the top.
  • The Senate: The Republicans barely control the Senate, but of the 35 senators up for re-election, 25 are Democrats and 10 of those are in red states (states that Trump won in 2016). So control of the Senate looks unlikely, unless the Blue Wave turns into a Blue Tsunami.

Red Wave: If Republicans keep control of Congress then their faith in (or fear of) Trump will be confirmed. Anything that comes out of Robert Mueller’s Russiagate investigation will be dismissed. It would mean at least two more years of Crazytown – if not six. It will help to normalize Trump – he will become “what America is.”

Impeachment: For Congress to remove the president it requires a majority of the House and two-thirds of the Senate. A crushing Republican defeat might make that possible – not because Democrats would gain enough seats outright (even if they won every Senate race they still would not have enough), but because enough Republicans will start to see Trump as a threat to their political futures and work to remove him. Mueller’s findings, if damning enough, could give them a face-saving way to do that.

Russia: As in 2016, there is no reason to believe that Russia will not be using its hackers, trolls, and bots to help President Trump, who seems to be a Russian puppet.

Advice:

  1. Vote! Trump won because many sat at home while White Evangelical Protestants came out in droves. Elections are won or lost on turnout, not opinion polls. If voting did not matter, Republicans would not be trying to suppress Black, Latino, and Millennial votes.
  2. Stick to news sources you trust. Understand that some amount of what you see on the Internet is probably fake Russian propaganda, even if it seems to be coming from a Black person.

– Abagond, 2018.

See also:

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Irene Cara: Flashdance … What a Feeling

Remarks:

This was the #1 song of the year worldwide in 1983. It hit #1 on pop charts throughout the Anglosphere except for Britain, where it “only” made it to #2. The video shows scenes from “Flashdance” (1983), a US film starring Jennifer Beals. Like with “Home”, it is hard for me to separate the song from the film it came from, so I do not know how the song seems on its own.

The music was written by Italian composer Giorgio Moroder. He appeared in this space before as the composer of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” (1977). He produced most of her disco hits.

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Lyrics: the radio version:

First when there’s nothing
But a slow glowing dream
That your fear seems to hide
Deep inside your mind

All alone, I have cried
Silent tears full of pride
In a world made of steel
Made of stone

Well, I hear the music
Close my eyes, feel the rhythm
Wrap around, take a hold of my heart

What a feeling
Being’s believing
I can have it all
Now I’m dancing for my life

Take your passion
And make it happen
Pictures come alive
You can dance right through your life

Now I hear the music
Close my eyes, I am rhythm
In a flash, it takes hold of my heart

What a feeling, being’s believing
I can have it all
Now I’m dancing for my life

Take your passion
And make it happen
Pictures come alive
Now I’m dancing through my life

What a feeling

What a feeling (I am music now)
Being’s believing (I am rhythm now)
Pictures come alive
You can dance right through your life

What a feeling (I can really have it all)
What a feeling
(Pictures come alive when I call)
I can have it all (I can really have it all)

Have it all (pictures come alive when I call)
(Call, call ,call, call, what a feeling)
I can have it all (being’s believing)
Being’s believing (take your passion)
(Make it happen) Make it happen
(What a feeling) What a feeling

Source: AZ Lyrics.

 

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Ralph Elrod

Ralph Stanley Elrod Jr. (1959- ), a White American electrician in Georgia, shot dozens of rounds at police officers, killing two of them – but was still taken alive. And, instead of getting the death penalty, he got life in prison.

His guns: Elrod likes guns. He did not have an “arsenal”, but he had at least a Glock 43 pistol, an AR-15 rifle, and his beloved 12-gauge shotgun. He has military training, having served in the Navy. He is hot-headed and when he is angry he has a history of threatening people with a gun: his wife, his parents, his neighbours.

He has been arrested and put in jail before, but not for that, but on a rape charge in 1994 (he was later acquitted).

His neighbours: In 2016 he lived just outside of Byron, a town in the middle of Georgia just off of I-75. He did not get along with his (Black) neighbours and was thinking of moving. He has tried to get them in trouble with the authorities. He blames them for two of his trees dying.

On Sunday November 6th 2016, two of the neighbours’ nephews were driving a dirt bike and four-wheeler and, as he put it, “popping wheelies up and down my road.”

A little after 4.00pm he calls the police on them. When the police arrive they cannot find him and leave.

At 5.00pm he is standing at the end of his driveway with a shotgun. He tells the nephews:

“You can’t run this (expletive, expletive) up and down … (in front of) my house. I’m gonna kill your (expletive) ass!”

One of the nephews caught that on video.

His neighbours call the police and show them the video.

Officers Daryl Smallwood and Patrick Sondron (pictured above) meet Elrod in his driveway and tell him he is under arrest for making a death threat. When Officer Sondron places his hand on him, Elrod whips out his Glock and guns them both down in three seconds flat. Smallwood got off a shot but missed.

Elrod goes inside to put on his bulletproof vest and get his AR-15. He leaves a voicemail for his son, a police officer in nearby Jones County:

“Hey, Jarrod, this is my last day on this planet. I’ve just killed two police officers from Peach County. I’m sorry, son. But, uh, this is probably it for me. Love you. Bye.”

More police drive up. There is a Thin Blue Line sticker on his mailbox.

Elrod on dashcam video.

Elrod starts shooting at them too! In the shoot-out he gets hit only once, in the side, but a bit later it makes him give up. They take him alive.

The next day at the hospital he confesses to the whole thing – but cannot say why he did it. He is pro-police and pro-military and never dreamed he would ever be shooting at the police. But before he knew what he was doing, two police officers were lying in his driveway dying.

Last week he got life without parole in a plea deal.

– Abagond, 2018.

See also:

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Welcome to Hispanic Heritage Month 2018

Amara La Negra (via NPR)

Welcome to Hispanic Heritage Month, which in the US runs from September 15th to October 15th. On this blog it generally runs till October 31st. During this month (and a half) I try to do some posts having to do with Latin America, especially Latin Americans in the US.

Some post ideas (with the number of those requesting it):

  • 3 Afro-Hispanics
  • 3 Puerto Rico and race
  • 2 Moors
  • 2 Puerto Rico
  • 2 El Salvador
  • 2 Dominican Americans
  • 2 Dum diversas
  • 2 Cape Verde
  • 2 Bolsonaro
  • 1 citizenship fraud
  • 1 chocolate
  • 1 Steve Canals
  • 1 Santeria
  • 1 Sammy Sosa
  • 1 Oscar Romero
  • 1 Olmecs
  • 1 Nestle
  • 1 Mj Rodriguez
  • 1 Maria of “Sesame Street”
  • 1 Mexifornia
  • 1 Mexican American deportations, 1848 to 2018
  • 1 Mendez v Westminster
  • 1 Mayans
  • 1 Mayan calendar
  • 1 Day of the Dead
  • 1 Columbian Exchange
  • 1 Coco
  • 1 Caroline P Cook: Forbidden Passages
  • 1 Bartolome de Las Casas

Here are the posts I have done so far:

  • (none so far)

Suggestions are welcome, especially musical ones! Otherwise “De Colores” is going to be ringing in my head the whole time.

– Abagond, 2018.

See also:

 

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Botham Jean

Botham Shem Jean (1991-2018) was an unarmed Black man killed in Dallas, Texas by an off-duty White police officer on September 6th 2018. The officer, Amber Guyger, entered his apartment and shot him dead. She says she thought it was her flat, that he was a burglar.

She says: She came home after working 15 hours and was still in uniform. When she tried to unlock the door it was partly open. She came in, saw a looming figure in the dark and gave “verbal commands”. When the figure did not obey, she shot two times. Only when she turned on the lights did she see that it was not her apartment. (The next-door neighbour did not hear any “verbal commands”.)

He says: …

Jean had a red welcome mat in front of his door – one of the few doors with any kind of welcome mat. People who knew him said he was “meticulous” and was not the sort to leave the door partly open.

One witness heard Guyger saying, “Let me in! Let me in!”

Jean was by all accounts a wonderful man, a devout Christian with a degree in accounting and a smile for everyone. He worked for PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

The mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings, called him “a model citizen”.

The prime minister of St Lucia, where Jean is from, had to fight back tears of anger.

Benjamin Crump, who was a lawyer for Trayvon Martin’s and Michael Brown’s family and now for Jean’s family, said:

“Black people in America have been killed by police in some of the most unbelievable manners. You know, driving while black in our cars, black people have been killed walking while black in our neighbourhoods, and now here we are being killed living while black in our apartments.”

The press swallowed Guyger’s “wrong apartment” story with that sickening childlike trust of theirs for the police. But at least we know he did not have a police record because they would have quickly pointed that out. Anything to excuse police brutality.

The Texas Rangers, the state police, are investigating the crime. They are independent of the Dallas police, so that seems promising, but it took them three days to arrest Guyger – and only after protests and a heated exchange with the district attorney. And they booked her not in Dallas County, where she lives and where the crime took place, but in neighbouring Kaufman County. They charged her with manslaughter.

The Dallas police department put her on paid leave – even though she was off duty. She has been with them four years. She shot Uvaldo Perez in 2017.

The police union seems to be backing her: she had no trouble making her $300,000 bail.

The district attorney, Faith Johnson, does not seem to be bending over backwards for Guyger. Johnson is a Black Republican appointed by the governor in 2016 and faces an election in two months (November 6th 2018). She is carrying out her own investigation and will take it before a grand jury to possibly seek a charge of murder.

– Abagond, 2018.

Update (September 14th): The police and the press have begun to assassinate his character. Shortly after his funeral the press reported that the police found 10.4 grams of marijuana at his apartment. If the shooting was just a tragic accident as Guyger claims, then why are they doing this?    

Sources: mainly Google Images, BBC, Heavy, The Grio.

See also:

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Stevie Wonder: Send One Your Love

Remarks:

This is one of my favourite Stevie Wonder songs. It came out in 1979 and went to #5 on the US R&B chart. I know it might be too schmaltzy for some. Stevie Wonder knew it too  – listen to the lyrics.

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Lyrics:

Send her your love
With a dozen roses
Make sure that she knows it
With a flower from your heartShow him your love
Don’t hold back your feelings
You don’t need a reason
When it’s straight from the heart

I’ve heard so many say that the days of romance are no more
And people falling in love is so old fashioned
But waiting are they the day they once let slip away
Hiding need to fulfill their heart’s desire for love’s passion

Send her your love
With a dozen roses
Make sure that she knows it
With a flower from your heart

Show him your love
Don’t hold back your feelings
You don’t need a reason
When it’s straight from the heart

I know that people say two hearts beating as one is unreal
And can only happen in make believe stories
But so blind they all must be that they cannot believe what they see
For around us are miracles of love’s glory

Show him your love
Don’t hold back your feelings
You don’t need a reason
When it’s straight from the heart

Source: AZ Lyrics.

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North America: a brief history

North America circa -11,000.

North America circa +2000. (Marathon, Texas)

North American history in 500 words or less, from the first known humans to this blog post:

  • -13,000:
    • Palaeo-Indians in Wisconsin (by -12,500), Florida (-12,400), Oregon (-12,350), etc. The Bering Land Bridge was open but Canada was still a solid sheet of ice. The first Palaeo-Indians probably came down the Pacific coast hunting seals.
  • -12,000:
    • The ice age is ending: as the glaciers melt an ice-free corridor opens up in Canada allowing Siberian hunters to follow mammoths into North America.
  • -11,000:
    • Mammoth hunters at their height. Clovis spear points appear from coast to coast. Mammoths are dying out. Trees spread. Naia dies in Mexico (-10,800), the Anzick child in Montana (-10,600). We have their DNA!
  • -10,000: dogs
  • -9000:
    • The Plains become a sea of grass with bison. Native Americans hunt them on foot with spears: there are no horses and the bow and arrow is still 9,000 years in the future!
  • -8000:
    • Shoes: the world’s oldest shoe is made in Oregon. Haplogroup X of western Eurasia has arrived!
  • -7000: 
    • The first Manhattanites.
  • -6000:
    • Horses die out. The Red Paint People.
  • -5000:
    • Settling down: houses and graveyards begin to appear in the archaeological record. Maize and maybe cassava are grown by this time.
  • -4000:
    • The Three Sisters: maize, beans, squash; turkeys raised, popcorn.
    • The Mayan Long Count begins on August 11th -3114.
  • -3000:
    • Pottery appears.
  • -2000:
    • Meso-American civilization. Olmec heads, villages, chiefdoms, chocolate, tobacco, rubber balls.
    • Eastern Agricultural Complex: chestnuts, hickory nuts, marshelder, knotweed, sunflowers, maygrass, little barley, and squash (Cucurbita pepo). The Three Sisters will not arrive in eastern North America till after -200 and not grow well till +800.
  • -1000:
    • Olmecs at their height, zero, writing, states, Zapotecs, hammock.
  • +1:
    • Mayans at their height, Teotihuacan, Toltecs, bow and arrow, Vikings.
  • +1000:
  • +2000:

Maize: The Olmecs, Mayans, Mound Builders, and Anglo Americans all built their civilizations on maize (corn). Anglo American maize came from Mound Builder maize, which probably came from Zapotec or Mayan maize, which in turn came from Olmec maize. It was not till the Olmecs got the yield up to 0.2 tons per hectare in -1500 that civilization became possible.

The last 500 years are way better known than the other 14,500, of course, but to keep it consistent I stuck to things that should be archaeologically knowable in the far future.

A huge hole in my education (and this post): Arctic history.

– Abagond, +2018 (Mayan Long Count 13.0.5.14.6).

See also:

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