The New York Times has launched a project called the 1619 Project. ‘The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are’.
Here is an excerpt from an essay written by Matthew Desmond, professor of sociology at Princeton University for the Times’s 1619 Project.
‘Those searching for reasons the American economy is uniquely severe and unbridled have found answers in many places (religion, politics, culture). But recently, historians have pointed persuasively to the gnatty fields of Georgia and Alabama, to the cotton houses and slave auction blocks, as the birthplace of America’s low-road approach to capitalism.
Slavery was undeniably a font of phenomenal wealth. By the eve of the Civil War, the Mississippi Valley was home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the United States. Cotton grown and picked by enslaved workers was the nation’s most valuable export. The combined value of enslaved people exceeded that of all the railroads and factories in the nation. New Orleans boasted a denser concentration of banking capital than New York City. What made the cotton economy boom in the United States, and not in all the other far-flung parts of the world with climates and soil suitable to the crop, was our nation’s unflinching willingness to use violence on non-white people and to exert its will on seemingly endless supplies of land and labor. Given the choice between modernity and barbarism, prosperity and poverty, lawfulness and cruelty, democracy and totalitarianism, America chose all of the above’.
Wow .. it is Tuesday in Hong Kong and protesters are again flooding into Hong Kong airport. (The airport was brought to a standstill on Monday).
Who will ultimately win the public’s support, and will it matter once the Chinese army moves in? Hong Kong law states that the People’s Liberation Army (the Chinese armed forces) stationed in the Hong Kong region cannot interfere in local affairs, but the law does allow for their deployment at the request of the Hong Kong government to ‘maintain public order’.
What started as protests against changes to Hong Kong’s extradition laws to China, have now morphed into protests against police brutality (against the protestors), and against the Hong Kong government and Chief Executive Carrie Lam in general.
The massacres continue unabated here in the United States.
Saturday at an El Paso Walmart: 20 dead, dozens wounded.
Early Sunday in Dayton, Ohio: 9 dead, 27 wounded.
Both are acts of domestic terrorism, committed by home-grown white nationalist Americans.
The Republicans and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell have repeatedly blocked laws passed by the House in the Senate.
The New York Times notes: “In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate,” Dan Hodges, a British journalist, wrote in a post on Twitter two years ago, referring to the 2012 attack that killed 20 young students at an elementary school in Connecticut. “Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.”
It should be noted, though, that in 2013, Connecticut State lawmakers did make sweeping changes to the state’s gun laws. It did not impact gun sales very much, but today Connecticut has one of the lowest gun death rates in the nation. (‘Lowest gun death rates’ is still a problem).
It was a gray Sunday, with a little rain, here in the city today.
I did run out to go check on the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s gradual disappearance (on-going demolition), and the new buildings under construction nearby.
It’s America’s 243rd birthday.
I plan to ignore the TV coverage of the military parade in Washington DC, and the ‘Salute to America’ speech by Trump! .. but here’s a little impromptu artwork, done with the help of a 1967 Spirograph set that I had recently bought on EBay.
A series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations were made by members of the gay (LGBTQ+) community, against a police raid that had begun in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City.
The Stonewall riots are widely considered to constitute the most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States.
Time marches on, and here we are, 75 years from the day in World War II, on which the Allied Forces had landed on the beaches in Normandy.
After sunset on June 5th, an enormous fleet of some 6,900 Allied vessels made their way to the French coastline. The first Allied soldiers set foot on the five beaches at about 6.30 am. (The five beach-heads would only be connected by June 12th, much later than planned, though). An estimated 4,400 Allied soldiers died on D-day, and an equal number or more German soldiers.
By the end of June 1944, some one million Allied soldiers were on the ground on French soil. The casualties for both sides during Operation Overlord that lasted until Aug. 30, 1944, would come to some 450,000 dead.
I had a picture from twenty years ago, of a New York City street corner somewhere in Times Square, and I stubbornly used Google Street View until I finally found the place that I had taken the 1999 picture from. It looks very different today!
P.S. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he is running for President in 2020 today. The count of Democratic candidates is now at 23.
What a terrible Easter Sunday for Sri Lanka (pop. 21 million) – a relatively small, poor country, with tropical rainforests and tropical savannah, and mountain slopes that produce the cleanest tea in the world.
From the New York Times: ‘Sri Lanka endured a decades-long civil war that killed tens of thousands of civilians before it ended in 2009. Five years earlier, some 30,000 Sri Lankans had died in the Indian Ocean tsunami’.
The government shut down Facebook and WhatsApp afterwards (to prevent the spread of misinformation). So far no one has publicly claimed responsibility. It seems the attackers were mostly locals, but an international terrorist organization was probably behind all of it.
Wow! A shiny quarter, I thought, spotting a coin on the floor in the grocery store.
Oh! It’s not a quarter, I realized when I picked it up.
It was 20 cent coin, all the way across the globe from New Zealand.
So Brexit is now delayed until Oct 31 this year (yes, Halloween).
Will it be a trick or a treat?
The UK must participate in the upcoming elections to the European Parliament (if it fails to do that, the UK will leave the EU on June 1). The European Council also reiterated that there can be no reopening of the withdrawal agreement negotiations.
Wow .. not good, the riots in the streets in Caracas over the disputed presidential elections of 2018. By many accounts, interim president Nicolás Maduro stole the 2018 elections with widespread fraud and support from the military. He and his supporters are refusing to let the National Assembly’s declaration & swearing in of Juan Guaidó stand.
The Trump Administration declared support for opposition leader Guaidó (so not the dictator Maduro – a surprise. Why is that? wonder observers, given that Trump fawns over and supports dictators Putin, Erdoğan, Duterte & Kim Jong-un).
In the meantime, the citizenry has to deal with an utterly destroyed economy. Nine out of ten Venezuelans live in poverty, despite the country’s vast oil reserves. Inflation in 2018 was 1,300,000%. So your money there is not worth the paper it is printed on.
My day trip to Nagoya went well, but man! there was an icy wind blowing in the city today. I was so glad I had packed my woolen skull cap.
Here’s the Tōkaidō Shinkansen (bullet train line) that runs from Tokyo to Nagoya, that I took. It continues its run from Nagoya on to Osaka. A more direct line to Nagoya will open in 2027, and be extended to Osaka by 2045*.
*Assuming Earth had not been utterly destroyed by humans, by then.
A someone on Twitter says, this summary of Trump & his presidency heading into 2019, from the Washington Post (by Robert Costa and Philip Rucker), reads like a Star Wars opening crawl: ‘Facing the dawn of his third year in office and his bid for reelection, Trump is stepping into a political hailstorm. Democrats are preparing to seize control of the House in January with subpoena power to investigate corruption. Global markets are reeling from his trade war. The United States is isolated from its traditional partners. The investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russian interference is intensifying. And court filings Friday in a separate federal case implicated Trump in a felony’.
It’s a very special Veterans Day: we can celebrate the 100 year mark since the end of World War I.
Says the New York Times, though: After more than four years of fighting, 8.5 million soldiers had been killed, including more than 100,000 Americans, and 7 million civilians were dead. In that time, modern warfare was born, and the trenches of Western Europe became a charnel house*. Just 20 years later World War II would start, bringing vastly greater destruction, and numbers of casualties.
*A building or vault in which corpses or bones are piled.
I am still adding to my old South African bank note collection. My latest addition is the R2 note issued in 1966. It arrived in the mail today, sent by an Ebay seller – from Istanbul, Turkey, no less.
The Gariep Dam on the back of the note is South Africa’s largest, by far (cap. 5.7 cubic km /1.4 cubic mi)* . Its turbines can contribute some 360 MW of electricity to the national grid.
*By comparison, the Hoover Dam in Nevada can hold a vast amount of water, some 32.2 cubic km (7.7 cubic mi). It has not been filled to capacity since 1983, though. Then there is the Three Gorges Dam in China that is bigger still (the world’s largest), with a capacity of 39.3 cubic km (9.4 cubic mi).