Murray Polner :
MEDIA | A very very loud silence

How is it that for 11 long days of the Gaza War, the New York Times editorial board chose to remain voiceless?

New York Times-Mover

The mighty New York Times: Where was their voice?

By Murray Polner | The Rag Blog | July 23, 2014

Respect them or not, it is undeniable that The New York Times remains preeminent among its competitors and over the many decades has displayed courage in publishing the Pentagon Papers and in the high quality of its many investigative reports. No issue, however controversial, seemed untouchable.

So I ask: How is it that for 11 long days, its editorial board chose to remain voiceless during the Gaza War, with its pitiless air war, soaring rockets, a growing army of refugees, and ever-increasing civilian deaths? You can name virtually every conflict since the end of WWII and be absolutely certain that the Times’ editorial writers were on the job, advising, cajoling, criticizing, and commending — even apologizing after its initial support for the Iraq War.
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Alan Waldman :
Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry are hysterical in P.G. Wodehouse’s droll ‘Jeeves and Wooster’

A sagacious butler helps his rich twit master Bertie and his nincompoop pals out of all kinds of ridiculous jams.

jeeves & wooster

Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry are Jeeves & Wooster.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | July 22, 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, and Scotland. Most are available on DVD and/or Netflix, and some episodes are on YouTube.]

Some of the funniest and most brilliant writing and acting in decades were seen on the Jeeves and Wooster series, broadcast on PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre and available on DVD and Netflix. It consists of four priceless seasons (1990-1993) and 23 episodes, all written by Clive Exton and adapted from 19 P.G. Wodehouse novels and stories (published from 1919 to 1974). You Tube has many free episodes, including this one.
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David McReynolds :
In opposition to Israeli actions, and to anti-Semitism

It is a grave error to attack Jews anywhere based on the actions of the Israeli government.

lyon gaza demo

Protest in Lyon, France, July 16, 2014, against Israel’s bombing of Gaza. Demonstrations in Europe, especially in France, are becoming increasingly anti-Semitic. Photo by AFT.

By David McReynolds | The Rag Blog | July 20, 2014

In recent days there has been a flurry of anti-Semitic outbursts in France and elsewhere, clearly triggered by Israel’s military actions against the Palestinians in Gaza. I’m depressed enough about the whole situation that I have not yet written my own views on the tragedy of Gaza, but it is crucial that no one, anywhere in the world, should take out on a local Jewish community center or synagogue their justified anger against the Israeli regime.

Many Jews outside of Israel do support the Israeli actions, and many have openly opposed those actions. Indeed, some of the leading and sharpest critics of Israel have come from the Jewish community.
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dreyer's big 6-9
METRO EVENT | Beverly Baker Moore says ‘party like it’s 1969′ at Thorne’s 69th Birthday Bash, Aug. 1, at Maria’s in Austin.
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Harry Targ :
The Central American refugees are 21st century descendants of imperialism

The popular narratives about the horrific migration ignore the history of U.S.-inspired violence in the region and the economic devastation caused by neoliberal economic policies.


A Guatemalan family crossing the border from Mexico. Photo by Omar Torres / AFP / Getty Images.

By Harry Targ | The Rag Blog | July 20, 2014

A military coup in Honduras

On Sunday, June 28, 2009, the Honduran military carried out a coup, ousting duly elected President Manuel Zelaya from power. Almost immediately leaders of Western Hemisphere nations condemned the actions taken in Tegucigalpa, the capital city. For example, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Lula) asserted that the days of military coups as a mechanism of the transfer of power were over in Latin America.

President Obama said on the following day that “it would be a terrible precedent if we start moving backwards into the era in which we are seeing military coups as a means of political transition rather than democratic elections…. The region has made enormous progress over the last 20 years in establishing democratic traditions in Central America and Latin America. We don’t want to go back to a dark past.”
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Thorne Dreyer :
PODCAST | Best-selling author Jeff Sharlet and his father, political scientist Robert Sharlet

Jeff Sharlet, Molly Prize-winning journalist and author of ‘The Family,’ and scholar/author Bob Sharlet, join Thorne Dreyer on Rag Radio.

jeff sharlet - greg martin

Best-selling author and journalist Jeff Sharlet.

Interview by Thorne Dreyer | The Rag Blog | July 17, 2014

Award-winning journalist Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family, and his father, political scientist and author Robert Sharlet, are featured on our Rag Radio podcast (see player below). It’s the first time the two have been interviewed together.

Robert Sharlet and Jeff Sharlet are collaborating on a memoir of Robert’s late brother, also named Jeff Sharlet, a Vietnam veteran who was a leader of the GI resistance against the war. Sharlet died in 1969 of kidney cancer thought to have been caused by exposure to Agent Purple while he was in Vietnam.
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Jack A. Smith :
Israel bombs Gaza civilians. Again.

In 2008-2009, Israel virtually crushed the tiny territory and its 1.7 million inhabitants, killing 1,400 Palestinians, while losing only 10 Israeli soldiers.

israel palestine 2008

Israeli border officer  fires a tear-gas canister at Palestinians protesting an Israeli missile strike on Gaza in 2008. Photo by Muhammed Muheisen / AP.

By Jack A. Smith | The Rag Blog | July 16, 2014

Once again, Israel has found a pretext to viciously bomb Gaza. The UN wants the bombing to end, deploring that 80% of the 200 Palestinians who have been killed so far have been civilian women, children, and men.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who leads the right-wing settler government, claims Israel acted in “self-defense” after three Israeli young men were allegdedly murdered by Hamas, the elected government in Gaza. He then declared Hamas launched an unprovoked rocket barrage. Israel therefore had no choice.
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Alice Embree :
VERSE | Beyond Borders

water faucets

Image from Jornada del Día Mundial del Agua 2010.

By Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | July 15, 2014

On the edge of memory
The slogan echoes
“El Salvador is Spanish for Vietnam”

U.S. weapons for
Right-wing death squads
Yield peasant massacres
And refugees

In recent memory
President Zelaya of Honduras
Kidnapped and removed from office
The State Department
Careful not to say “coup”
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David Bacon :
How U.S. policies helped create the current immigration crisis

Six reasons why U.S. trade and immigration policies — not ‘lax immigration enforcement’ — have caused migration from Central America.

Protest Against Detention and Deportation of Young Immigrants

Young people from immigrant youth groups protest outside the Oakland Federal Building against the detention and deportation of young migrants and families on the U.S. border, and especially against President Obama’s decision to increase border enforcement and deport them more quickly. Photos by David Bacon.

By David Bacon | The Rag Blog | July 14, 2014

David Bacon will be Thorne Dreyer‘s guest on Rag Radio Friday, July 18, 2-3 p.m. (CDT) on KOOP 91.7-FM in Austin, and streamed live here. They will discuss the border immigration crisis and its causes, especially the role played by U.S. policies. For more about Rag Radio, including additional outlets and times, and links to earlier podcasts, go here.

The mass migration of children from Central America has been at the center of a political firestorm over the past few weeks. The mainstream media has run dozens of stories blaming families, especially mothers, for sending or bringing their children north from Central America.

The president himself lectured them, as though they were simply bad parents. “Do not send your children to the borders,” Obama said last week. “If they do make it, they’ll get sent back. More importantly, they may not make it.”
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James McEnteer :
The age of compromises and the compromises
of age

Chastened by her exhausting persecution as First Lady, HRC apparently decided as a member of Congress to go along to get along.

young hillary

Recent Yale law grad Hillary Clinton testifies in 1974 as a member of the impeachment inquiry staff  during the Watergate Scandal.

By James McEnteer | The Rag Blog | July 10, 2014

Once upon a time, Hillary Rodham, the 1969 Wellesley valedictorian, studied the organizing tactics of Saul Alinsky and backed Eugene McCarthy’s presidential run. At commencement, she spoke of a conservative strain in New Left protests that harked back to old values and ideals, and she dared to challenge the United States senator who preceded her on the podium.

Were she still among us, that passionate young woman would surely oppose the nomination of Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) for the U.S. presidency.
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lyons gardens
METRO | Beverly Baker Moore with hints on finding affordable digs: ‘Old and in the way in Austin.’
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Shepherd Bliss and Scott Hess :
Black oak down

I never imagined that I could outlive this hundreds-of-years-old grandfather oak. It felt like the loss of a family member from another generation.

Climbing the fallen oak at Kokopelli Farm is Lukas Hess. Click on image or go here to see more of Scott Hess’ Flickr set.


By Shepherd Bliss | Photos by Scott Hess | The Rag Blog |
July 10, 2014

A loud, crashing sound startles my young farmhand Emily Danler awake in the dark of the night. She camps out in order to start picking berries at sunup. My dog, inside, barks. After a physically demanding day farming, I sleep through it all.

Looking down the boysenberry field to the bottom of Kokopelli Farm the next morning, tears come to my eyes. The tall, old black oak had split right down the middle of its deep, wide trunk. I would never again see its crimson leaves announcing the beginning of Spring.
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