Alan Waldman :
Britain’s ‘Bad Girls’ is a gripping, gritty gals-hehind–bars series

Strong English cast and writers make this popular prison series compelling television.

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Bad Girls. Lots of them.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | September 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.]

I am very interested in the topic of female incarceration, and I write a blog article about it every third week at Human Exposures. I loved both seasons of Netflix’s powerful women-in-prison drama Orange is the New Black, and a dozen or so years ago I watched and enjoyed the first riveting season of the dramatic British TV series, Bad Girls. Here’s the first part of an episode (and from it you can access the remaining parts).
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Mercedes Lynn de Uriarte :
Ferguson: Living through the replay

We seem repeatedly surprised by the anger generated by educational inequity, vanished jobs, income disparities, lost affordable housing, and racial and ethnic profiling.

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Police confront demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 18, 2014. Photo by Lucas Jackson / Reuters.

By Mercedes Lynn de Uriarte | The Rag Blog | August 26, 2014

Like many other Americans, I’ve followed events in Ferguson, Missouri, since Officer Darren Wilson gunned down unarmed 18-year old Michael Brown. So many visual accounts of that action brought back a lot of personal memories — most specifically of the 1992 reaction in Los Angeles when police who beat Rodney King III were acquitted of wrong doing in the near fatal attack

That was before cell phones made everyone a potential documentarian of police aggression. But there were video cameras and a nearby resident caught the action on tape through his apartment window. That film clip sparked local, national, and international outrage. So when the verdict came in, that outrage first ignited tempers and then Central Los Angeles as residents turned to protest that soon became violent.
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Murray Polner :
SPORT | Former Dodger GM’s exile from baseball: Was justice done?

Despite Al Campanis’ historic racist remark, he was a proud and honorable man who was mistreated by pro baseball’s self-righteous moral guardians.

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Al Campanis interviewed by Ted Koppel on Nightline, April 15, 1987. Treatment of image from ABC archives.

By Murray Polner | The Rag Blog | August 26, 2014

I often think of Al Campanis, a true baseball old-timer I knew, who was drummed out of the game he so loved in 1987 because of his foolish remark on the ABC news show, Nightline,  about black players lacking “the necessities” to be managers or front office executives.

He’d been a Montreal Royal shortstop in 1946, playing alongside Jackie Robinson at second base, had barnstormed off-season with a racially integrated squad, and was a Brooklyn Dodger scout who unearthed Roberto Clemente and Sandy Koufax.  He reached the apex of his profession as General Manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and took them to four pennants and one World Series title. He even prevented a former black Dodger from killing himself.
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Harry Targ :
The forms of violence and the meanings
of Ferguson

From police violence to economic despair, to lack of political representation, to cultural rationales for state violence, the basic characteristics of American society are uncovered.

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The militarization of police in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo by Scott Olson / Getty Images.

By Harry Targ | The Rag Blog | August 21, 2014

In addressing violence, researchers, educators, journalists, and religious leaders have usually concentrated on its most visible forms: murder and war. The central features of such violence include physical assault and killing. In our own day terrorism has joined war as the most popular common subject for study.

Over the years, peace educators have developed intellectual tools to uncover more diverse meanings of violence, their differences and their connections. Structural violence has been distinguished from direct violence. Researchers continue to analyze direct violence, physical assault and killing, but also study structural violence, the various forms of human suffering that take more time, impose pain and suffering on populations, and are perpetuated by leading institutions and relationships in society.
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Steve Russell :
The third time in Iraq is not the charm

The do-nothing Congress has to date done nothing. In better and more rational times there would already be a roaring debate.

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Coming or going? Last U.S. soldiers leave Iraq in December 2011. Photo by Martin Bureau / AFP / Getty Images.

By Steve Russell | The Rag Blog | August 20, 2014

In my clearest memory of Iraq War I, I was in a graduate school dorm at the University of Nevada, where the rooms had no televisions. Just about every student I knew in Reno was gathered in the lounge down the hall for most of the night around a communal TV. Ten p.m. in Reno was 8 a.m. in Baghdad and the son of one of my fellow students was commanding a flight in an early wave of the air war.

In my clearest memory of Iraq War II, I was chatting on line with my son in a FOB north of Baghdad, when the light fixture behind him started gyrating and the screen shook.
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Ron Jacobs :
BOOKS | The pacification that never ends

Patrick Cockburn looks at the non-state forces in the region, who they are backed by, the motives of those backers. and the sectarian desires of the jihadis.

jihadis return

The book addresses the reemergence of Sunni fundamentalist militancy.

By Ron Jacobs | The Rag Blog | August 19, 2014

[The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the Failures of the Global War on Terror by Patrick Cockburn (October 2014: OR Books); Paperback; 150 pp.; $15.00.]

The sense of déjà vu in Iraq is not imaginary. With U.S. bombers attacking positions held by Sunni militants and a client Iraqi government apparently unable to fight on its own, the detritus of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq is creating what could end up being the third phase of direct U.S. involvement in at the bloody sinkhole it did plenty to create.

The air strikes and special operations undertaken by the U.S. have a greater likelihood of dragging the U.S. further into this war than they do of furthering a long term solution. The Islamic State (IS or ISIL) fighters are the progeny of Washington’s bloody mischief in the region. They are even using weapons provided by the CIA to rebel forces in Syria, of which IS is but one element. Like Afghanistan’s Taliban in 2003, IS could very likely gain strength once U.S. forces engage its fighters.
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Michael James :
Stepping into America to see family, comrades & friends, then a return to Mexico, 1976-’78

After opening the Heartland Café in 1976, trips bolstered my positive outlook about life, and probably kept me sane.

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My grandma Anne and my grother Beau, Dinner at the family home, Westport, Connecticut, December 1976. Photos by Michael James from his forthcoming book, Michael Gaylord James’ Pictures from the Long Haul.

By Michael James | The Rag Blog | August 19, 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 like to travel. I like leaving Chicago — and I love coming home to the Windy City of Big Shoulders. I call Chicago the “Heartland Capitol, a sometime Paradise.”

My Dad was born in St. Joseph, Missouri, but grew up in Chicago. The city’s wonderfulness was ingrained in my consciousness early on. I’ve been in and out of my beloved city since December 1942, when I was almost a year old and first came to the place the Potawatomi called the land of wild onions.
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Tom Hayden :
There are alternatives to more war in Iraq

To reject the ‘Long War’ doctrine, the American Left first has to understand it.

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Hawk Hillary flaps her wings. Photo by Win McNamee / Getty Images.

By Tom Hayden | The Rag Blog | August 16, 2014

Hillary Clinton’s flapping of her hawkish wings only intensifies the pressure on President Barack Obama to escalate U.S. military involvement in the sectarian wars of Iraq and Syria. Domestic political considerations already are a major factor in forcing Obama to “do something” to save the Yazidis, avert “another Benghazi,” and double down in the undeclared Long War against Islamic fundamentalism.

Clinton certainly was correct in arguing that Obama’s statement “don’t do stupid stuff” is not an organizing principle of U.S. foreign policy. Instead of offering a new foreign policy, based for example on democracy, economic development, and renewable energy however, Clinton lapsed into the very Cold War thinking she once questioned in the Sixties.
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Alan Waldman :
‘Love/Hate’ is a very dark but highly compelling Irish crime drama

Despite its violence, this Dublin gang war saga is well written, performed, and produced, with strong characters and dialogue.

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Love/Hate is gritty Irish mobster series.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | August 14, 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.]

Britain’s Guardian newspaper praised the award-laden Irish gang-war drama Love/Hate, comparing it to The Wire and The Sopranos, saying “what makes Love/Hate distinctive is the way in which the scripts root the mobster genre in the trends and tensions of contemporary Irish culture.” On the eve of the third of its five seasons, The Irish Times hailed the show as “the best drama RTÉ [the Irish broadcasting company] has produced.”
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Lamar W. Hankins :
REPORT | Child murder in Texas

Is the Church of Wells, considered by many to be a cult, sacrificing children at the altar of religious belief?

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Wells, Texas, is home to the controversial Church of Wells which many consider to be a cult.

By Lamar W. Hankins | The Rag Blog | August 11, 2014

WELLS, Texas — The death of three-day old Faith Shalom Pursley in Wells, Texas, more than two years ago was a result of child neglect and satisfied the criteria for injury to a child, criminally negligent homicide, and manslaughter under the Texas Penal Code. The latter two charges, if applied to the case, would make the child’s death a form of criminal homicide — what most people call murder.

Faith’s parents — Kristin and Daniel Pursley — and their religious leaders — “elders” in the Church of Wells — decided their religious beliefs took precedence over seeking medical treatment for the Pursleys’ new baby. As a result, Faith died of a routinely treatable condition. The Pursleys and their religious group, at the insistence of the “elders” of the sect (three 20-something young men — Sean Morris, Ryan Ringnald, and Jacob Gardner), chose prayer, rather than the services of a competent doctor, to “treat” Faith’s obvious medical distress.
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Thorne Dreyer :
PODCASTS | Listen to Rag Radio interviews with Chris Tomlinson and David Bacon

Award-winning journalist Tomlinson discusses his acclaimed new book, ‘Tomlinson Hill,’ and photojournalist Bacon addresses the role of U.S. policies in causing the current immigration crisis.

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Chris Tomlinson, left, with Rag Radio host Thorne Dreyer in the studios of KOOP-FM in Austin. Photo by Roger Baker / The Rag Blog.

Interviews by Thorne Dreyer | The Rag Blog | August 11, 2014

Journalist and author Chris Tomlinson discusses his new book, Tomlinson Hill,  and photojournalist David Bacon addresses the border immigration crisis on these two Rag Radio podcasts.

Rag Radio is a weekly hour-long syndicated radio program produced and hosted by long-time alternative journalist and Rag Blog editor Thorne Dreyer. The show is produced in the studios of KOOP 91.7-FM, a cooperatively-run all-volunteer community radio station in Austin, Texas. It is broadcast live on KOOP every Friday from 2-3 p.m. (CST) and streamed live on the web.
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Rachel Roth :
Are Texas jails safe for pregnant women?

Jails in the state are endangering pregnant women and their fetuses, despite the state’s professed interest in ‘unborn babies.’

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Jessica De Samito. Image from National Advocates for Pregnant Women / #JusticeforJessica

By Rachel Roth | The Rag Blog | August 7, 2014

What’s going on in Texas? Jails in the state are endangering pregnant women and their fetuses, despite the state’s professed interest in “unborn babies.”

In May, a woman named Nicole Guerrero filed a lawsuit against the Wichita County Jail for ignoring her when she was in labor. Locked alone in a cell, Nicole gave birth on a mat on the floor to a premature baby who died.
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