Alan Waldman :
‘Foyle’s War’ is a smart English mystery series set during and just after WWII

Michael Kitchen is an unflappable British top cop who solves wartime crimes and post-war
spy shenanigans.

foyles war

Michael Kitchen is Chief Superintendent Foyle.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | November 19, 2014

[In his weekly column, Alan Waldman reviews some of his favorite films and TV series that readers may have missed, including TV dramas, mysteries, and comedies from Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Scotland. Most are available on DVD and/or Netflix, and some episodes are on YouTube.]

Set in the South English coastal town of Hastings during World War II, and in London shortly thereafter, Foyle’s War is a compelling crime drama that follows police inspector Christopher Foyle and his team as they solve a range of military and civilian crimes.
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Johnny Hazard :
From the streets of Mexico: ‘Fue el estado’ (‘The government did it’)

President Peña Nieto has decried incidents of inconsequential or fabricated violence by
protesters without mentioning government-perpetrated atrocities.

fue el estado crop

Graphic from La Pinche Canela / Tumblr.

By Johnny Hazard | The Rag Blog | November 19, 2014

“We have been tolerant — excessively tolerant, according to some critics. But everything has its limit.”
— then-president Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, one month before orchestrating the massacre of October 2, 1968

“We have worked through dialogue, but this too has its point of tolerance, and that is when the rights of others are affected.”
— Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, lead cabinet official,
November 14, 2014

MEXICO CITY — The drama of the police murder of six students and others in Iguala, Mexico, the disappearance of 43 education students and the subsequent cover-up at all levels of government continues.

The federal government’s attempt to provoke a catharsis and an end to the controversy by releasing certain (unverified) details of the atrocity has not had the desired effect. The Friday afternoon (November 7, 2014) release, timed so that people would just go on with their weekend, didn’t work, either; supporters of the students in Guerrero responded by setting fire to the headquarters of various political parties and government agencies.
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Paul Krassner :
The six dumbest decisions of my life

We’re talking really dangerous dumb decisions that continue to make me humble.

tiger by tail 2

And then there’s this…

By Paul Krassner | The Rag Blog | November 12, 2014

I’m talking here about seriously dumb decisions, not those minor regrets like that time in 1970 when Esquire magazine assigned me to fly to New Mexico where director Monte Hellman was filming Two-Lane Blacktop, about street-racing. Among the actors was a pair of musicians, James Taylor as a driver, and Dennis Wilson as a mechanic. They both agreed to be interviewed, besides screenwriter Rudy Wurlitzer and others.

During a conversation with Taylor about not laughing at jokes, he said, “My brother once told me a joke that made me laugh.”
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Michael James :
Spreading the word and the love with ‘The Heartland Journal,’ 1979-2005

I was in a phase of life when I was trying to integrate radical politics, spirituality, and personal growth and development.

james heartland journal 1 sm

Heartland Journal comes off the presses at Newsweb, Chicago, 1984. Photos by Michael James from his forthcoming book, Michael Gaylord James’ Pictures from the Long Haul.

By Michael James | The Rag Blog | November 11, 2014

[In this series, Michael James is sharing images from his rich past, accompanied by reflections about — and inspired by — those images. These photos will be included in his forthcoming book, Michael Gaylord James’ Pictures from the Long Haul.]

I love the motto “educate to liberate” and am no wallflower when it comes to sharing my opinions, especially on political issues and current events. Through the ’60s and ’70s I was involved in spreading the word by working on and starting several publications, notably Rising Up Angry from 1969-1975. And not so long after opening the Heartland Café in 1976 I began to feel the urge to return to the presses. Thus in 1979 I was back at it, and began publishing The Heartland Journal: A Free American Journal of Heath, Sport, Culture and Change.
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Thorne Dreyer :
PODCAST | Cesar Chavez biographer Miriam Pawel with poet-critic Gregg Barrios

Gregg Barrios, a veteran of the original Rag, moderated a conversation with author Miriam Pawel at the 2014 Texas Book Festival.

miriam pawel and gregg barrios sm

Miriam Pawel and Gregg Barrios on Rag Radio in the studios of KOOP-FM, Austin, Texas, October 24, 2014. Photos by Roger Baker / The Rag Blog.

Interview by Thorne Dreyer | The Rag Blog | November 10, 2014

Our guests featured on this Rag Radio podcast are Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Miriam Pawel, author of The Crusades of Cesar Chavez, and poet, playwright, and critic — and contributor to the original Rag — Gregg Barrios.

Miriam Pawel was a featured author at the 2014 Texas Book Festival in Austin, where she appeared in conversation moderated by Barrios. On Rag Radio, we discuss Pawel’s latest book, the first biography of Cesar Chavez, the iconic founder of the United Farm Workers Union. Barrios addresses the history of the Chicano movement — with which Chavez did not identify — and reads from his collection of poetry, La Causa.
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Tom Hayden :
Message to the president

Now is the time to fight for a legacy you can be proud of, and to lay down a path to victory for your
coalition in 2016.

obama photo

Plotting the post-election path. Photo by Spencer Platt / Getty Images.

By Tom Hayden | The Rag Blog | November 6, 2014

The Congressional losses which are being blamed on you by the Republicans and mainstream media were actually not as bad as they would have us believe. Ignored in the commentary are the huge losses, for example, suffered in off-year elections by Bill Clinton, Dwight Eisenhower, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Those presidents came back and are remembered well.

Now is the time to fight for a legacy you can be proud of, and to lay down a path to victory for your coalition in 2016.
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Jack A. Smith :
Bury the bomb before it buries us

The U.S. and Russia are modernizing, improving, and extending the longevity by decades of the three prongs of their nuclear war triad.

nuclear test no. 1

“Ivy Mike”: The mushroom cloud from the first test of a full-scale thermonuclear device, November 1952. Creative Commons photo.

By Jack A. Smith | The Rag Blog | November 5, 2014

A quarter century after the Cold War ended, the people of the world are now entering a dangerous era of improved and more accurate nuclear weapons and faster, more precise delivery systems at a time of growing antagonism between Washington and Moscow and potential antipathy between the U.S. and China.

All nine nuclear countries are upgrading their atomic weaponry, led by the United States and Russia — the two main nuclear states by far with 7,300 and 8,000 warheads of all kinds between them respectively, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The actually deployed weapons, long-range and strategic, are 1,600 for Moscow and 2,100 for Washington. Most of the rest are in storage for future use, upgrading, or are being dismantled.
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Harry Targ :
What to make of the elections – and what we should do next

Progressives must engage in education, agitation, and organization around social and economic justice issues while fighting the politics of fear.

mitch mcconnell celebrates

Mitch McConnell celebrates in Louisville. Photo by J. Scott Applewhite / AP.

By Harry Targ | The Rag Blog | November 5, 2014

I am looking at exit poll data and, as in prior election seasons, more Democratic votes came from the young, women, African Americans, Latinos, voters with post-graduate degrees and educational levels at or below high school, and low income citizens. This national polling data comports with results from many individual Congressional and state races. These groups of voters (or comparable groups of non-voters) will stay the same or increase as a percentage of potential voters in 2016 and beyond.

This data speaks to the necessary expansion of electoral and “street heat” strategies that prioritize several issues. Progressives need to continue to combat racism and sexism in all its forms. This translates into reversing voter suppression laws and other tactics to stifle voting, renewing the Voting Rights Act, pursuing equal pay for equal work legislation, opening the doors for citizenship to all migrants to the United States.
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Harvey Wasserman :
The GOP/corporate coup d’etat is nearly complete

Our electoral apparatus is thoroughly compromised by oceans of dirty money, Jim Crow registration traps, rigged electronic voting, gerrymandering…

people have spoken

Image from Texas Editor.

By Harvey Wasserman | The Rag Blog | November 5, 2014

The GOP/corporate coup d’etat is nearly complete.

The Republicans now control the major media, the Supreme Court, the Congress, and soon the presidency.

Think Jeb Bush in 2016.

All throughout America, right down to the local level, buried in a tsunami of cash and corruption, our public servants are being morphed into corporate operatives.
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Ron Jacobs :
BOOKS | ‘Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence’

This collection of essays, poetry, and art, much of it from the pages of CounterPunch, is provocative
and enlightening.

killing trayvons

Much of the writing in Killing Trayvons was first
published in
CounterPunch.

By Ron Jacobs | The Rag Blog | November 3, 2014

In 1771 in the North Carolina colony, Justice Martin Howard condemned a grand jury that refused to consider a murder charge after a white man was accused of the murder of his African slave. Apparently, the grand jury did not consider the killing by a white man of a Negro slave to be murder.

In 2012, the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman followed by Zimmerman’s subsequent acquittal of the crime took much of white United States by surprise. These Americans had convinced themselves that Black men were treated the same as every other resident of the United States and, if they were killed for no apparent reason other than a white person’s fear, then justice would be done in the name of the wrongly murdered African-American. However, the murder of a Black man in the U.S. by a man considered white is apparently still not murder.
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Alan Waldman :
Britain’s ‘DCI Banks’ is a smart, engaging cop series set in the North of England

Stephen Tompkinson leads a solid cast in this well-written skein.

dci banks

Stephen Tomkinson and Andrea Lowe in DCI Banks.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | November 1, 2014

[In his weekly column, Alan Waldman reviews some of his favorite films and TV series that readers may have missed, including TV dramas, mysteries, and comedies from Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Scotland. Most are available on DVD and/or Netflix, and some episodes are on YouTube.]

In the 2010-2014 British crime drama series DCI Banks, tenacious Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks (Stephen Tompkinson) unravels disturbing murder and other serious crime mysteries aided by his feisty, ambitious young assistant, DS Annie Cabbot (Andrea Lowe) and other police.

To date, 20 episodes (10 two-parters) have been shot. Two of the four seasons are on Netflix and several episodes recently aired on 166 PBS stations and can probably still be seen at their website for free. PBS aired the two-parters as 90-minute single episodes.
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James McEnteer :
Just passing through

Three human beings, who have given my own life color and joy, are gone now, fallen like leaves from deciduous branches.

just passing through

Lone horseman riding through Tucson, circa 1880. Photo by Ricardo Small. Image from Anywhen.com.

By James McEnteer | The Rag Blog | November 1, 2014

My brother died last year. He was a gentle soul, devoid of personal ambition. He led a quiet life, leaving few footprints. When he could, he assisted people who sought his help. When he was no longer financially or physically able, none of those he helped came to his aid, but others did. His friends supported him lovingly, just because he needed it. Their generosity illuminated his final days. When those friends and I have passed on, all memory of my brother will disappear. Then he will be truly dead.

My friend Bill died eight years ago at age 60. It was amazing he lived so long because at nineteen he broke his neck. After two years in the hospital, he spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. From his mid-chest downward, his body was numb, useless flesh. He had limited use of his arms and couldn’t make a fist.
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