Johnny Hazard :
Police attack striking teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico

Eight people were killed in Nochistlán and other parts of Oaxaca in protest-related incidents Sunday.

Hazard teachers protest oaxaca

Cops attack teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico. Image via Democracy Now!

By Johnny Hazard | The Rag Blog | June 21, 2016

MEXICO CITY — Armed federal police attacked striking teachers in Nochistlán, Oaxaca,  Sunday, June 19, in one of the gravest of a series of similar incidents since teachers in six states went on strike a month ago, supported by teachers, families, and activists in most other states and in Mexico City.

At least nine people were killed in Nochistlán and other parts of Oaxaca in protest-related incidents Sunday, with  53 civilians and 50 police officers reported injured, and more protests and arrests occurred in Mexico City on Monday.

Upon learning of the violence in Oaxaca, teachers occupied the streets around Televisa, principal television network and promoter of the dismantling of public education and the firing of teachers.
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Harry Targ :
Planning a 21st Century ‘New World Order’

The Post calls for a return to the post-World War II global policy that benefited banks, multinational corporations, and the military-industrial complex.

Obama visits Vietnam

Obama declared an end to the longstanding U.S. arms embargo during his visit to Vietnam. Screen grab from YouTube / Creative Commons.

By Harry Targ | The Rag Blog | June 14, 2016

From a May 21, 2016 Washington Post editorial:

HARDLY A day goes by without evidence that the liberal international order of the past seven decades is being eroded. China and Russia are attempting to fashion a world in their own illiberal image… This poses an enormous trial for the next U.S. president. We say trial because no matter who takes the Oval Office, it will demand courage and difficult decisions to save the liberal international order. As a new report from the Center for a New American Security points out, this order is worth saving, and it is worth reminding ourselves why: It generated unprecedented global prosperity, lifting billions of people out of poverty; democratic government, once rare, spread to more than 100 nations; and for seven decades there has been no cataclysmic war among the great powers. No wonder U.S. engagement with the world enjoyed a bipartisan consensus.

The Washington Post editorial quoted above clearly articulates the dominant view held by U.S. foreign policy elites for the years ahead. It in effect constitutes a synthesis of the “neocon” and the “liberal interventionist” wings of the ruling class. In my judgment, with all our attention on primaries, who goes to which bathrooms, and other mystifications, a New Cold War is being planned. Only this time it will have even greater consequences for global violence and devastation of the environment than the first one.
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Lamar W. Hankins :
How Christians misunderstand atheists

I have never met an atheist who did not accept the scientific method, which explains why the god hypothesis fails for these people.

Philosophy and Christian Art Ridgway - Huntington

Young woman attempts to convert wizened philosopher. Engraving by W. Ridgway after Daniel Huntington’s 1868 painting, “Philosophy and Christian Art.” Public Domain.

By Lamar W. Hankins | The Rag Blog | June 14, 2016

Journalist and author Christopher Hitchens died of cancer of the esophagus in 2011. One fear of dying that he expressed before that inevitability was that some Christians would claim he had a deathbed conversion to their religion, as happened with other prominent freethinkers, such as Charles Darwin and Thomas Paine. Sure enough, something of that has come to pass.

Larry Alex Taunton, called a “creep” and “religious fanatic” by writer Nick Cohen in an article in The Guardian, claimed in his book, The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World’s Most Notorious Atheist, that Hitchens may have been on his way to conversion when he died. Taunton’s claim is based on several months of traveling with Hitchens discussing Taunton’s Christian beliefs and reading from the bible. Hitchens’ interest in certain portions of the bible seems to be the only evidence that Taunton can muster to support the claim. If only there had been a bit more time, suggests Taunton, perhaps there would have been a full-scale, public conversion.
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Kate Braun :
The Summer Solstice is marked by a Mead
or Honey Moon

This is a fertility festival for crops and animals as well as humans.


Solstice fire in Montana. Public domain image.

By Kate Braun | The Rag Blog | June 13, 2016

“Summer is coming, summer is coming, I know it, I know it…”

Monday, June 20, 2016, is the Summer Solstice, aka Litha, Midsummer. There is a Full Moon on this day, a Mead or Honey Moon. This is a Fire Festival, so be sure to have fire burning for your celebration and put blue, green, and yellow candles on your table or altar. This Solstice is when the Holly King, king of the waning year, triumphs. It is time to notice the steadily waning daylight time, time to prepare for withdrawal into the dark time when energies will be best put toward meditation and renewal.

Use the colors White, Red, Golden Yellow, Green, Blue, and Tan in your decorations and attire. Serve your guests a menu including any orange and yellow foods, fresh fruits (especially oranges and lemons) and veggies, summer squash, pumpernickel bread. Flaming foods and foods prepared over a fire are also appropriate. Traditional drinks are ale, mead, and fresh fruit juice (although mimosas wouldn’t be amiss).
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Alan Waldman :
TELEVISION | Excellent Brit cop series ‘Above Suspicion’ is gripping, intelligent viewing

Craggy vet Ciarán Hinds and perky young Kelly Reilley lead a squad of detectives in queen of crime Lynda La Plante’s latest white-knuckle thriller.

Above Suspicion

Above Suspicion is gripping, intelligent viewing.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | June 12, 2016

[In his Rag Blog 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, Netflix and/or Netflix Instant Streaming, and some episodes are on YouTube.]

All four two- and three-part Above Suspicion stories are available on Netflix and YouTube, and they are well worth discovering. The series aired from 2009-2012 and then was cancelled. Here’s the beginning of an episode.

The series is based on the novels Above Suspicion, The Red Dahlia, Deadly Intent, and Silent Scream by Lynda La Plante, who has won six major awards and three other nominations for Prime Suspect and Prime Suspect 3 but who’s also written Trial & Retribution, The Commander, Bella Mafia, Widows, Framed, Prime Suspect 2, two movies and nine other TV series.
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James McEnteer :
Look ma, no wheels: Weak end at Bernie’s

Political bites and random nibbles.

Political shark

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

By James McEnteer | The Rag Blog | June 8, 2016

On September 11, 2001, George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, et. al., were either negligent about or complicit in the terrorist attacks that killed thousands of Americans. There is no third alternative. We require a thorough judicial proceeding to determine which it was. Fifteen years later we still need to know.

Which presidential campaign will promise to find the truth?
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Dave Zirin :
SPORT | ‘I Just Wanted to Be Free’: The radical reverberations of Muhammad Ali

He redefined what it meant to be tough and collectivized the very idea of courage.

Muhammad Ali 1966 sm

Muhammad Ali in 1966. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

By Dave Zirin | The Rag Blog | June 5, 2016

The reverberations. Not the rumbles, the reverberations. The death of Muhammad Ali will undoubtedly move people’s minds to his epic boxing matches against Joe Frazier and George Foreman, or there will be retrospectives about his epic “rumbles” against racism and war.

But it’s the reverberations that we have to understand in order to see Muhammad Ali as what he remains: the most important athlete to ever live. It’s the reverberations that are our best defense against real-time efforts to pull out his political teeth and turn him into a harmless icon suitable for mass consumption.
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Mariann Wizard Vasquez :
Out There: My first dispatch from Belize

I’m starting to get a glimmer of the ‘colonial fatalism’ that decrees, ‘That’s just how things are.’


Changing prayer flags of cleanliness.

By Mariann Wizard Vasquez* | The Rag Blog | May 28, 2016

SAN IGNACIO TOWN, Cayo, Belize, C.A. — It’s the smallest things that begin to impress upon my First World consciousness just what it is to live in the Third World. Take, for example, the lowly clothespin.

In Belize, where sunshine is one of the most abundant (and least exploited) resources, everyone hangs their clothes and household linens out to dry. Porches, verandas, patios, and yards of rich and poor alike ripple with sheets and towels, the mister’s briefs and the missus’ dainties, school uniforms and superhero T-shirts, constantly-changing prayer flags of devout cleanliness. Except during the rainy season, the system works fine.
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Murray Polner :
BOOKS | Charles Glass’s ‘Syria Burning: A Short History of a Catastrophe’

As civil wars go, this one is especially unforgiving and brutal, made worse by bitter historic ethnic, religious, and tribal rivalries and proxy wars.

Syria Burning

By Murray Polner | The Rag Blog | May 25, 2016

[Syria Burning: A Short History of a Catastrophe by Charles Glass; March 2016: Verso; 195 pp; $16.95.]

When Declan Walsh, the New York Times‘ Cairo bureau chief, visited war-weary Damascus and besieged Aleppo in May 2016, he concluded and thus verified the findings of the more experienced Charles Glass, who since the eighties has wandered Syria before and during its agonizing civil war.

“Few of the people I spoke to have any appetite for a fight” now that the U.S., Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia have become involved, wrote Walsh. “I didn’t ask if they wanted to fight, but if I had, I imagine their response would have been: Fight whom? And for what?”
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Chellis Glendinning and Omar Alarcón Poquechoque :
ESSAY / VIDEO | ‘Mirando el espejo’: A film-poem about roots and memory in Bolivia

Everywhere people are working to keep their cultural identities alive against the brutal but seductive assault of ‘modernismo.’

Mirando el Espejo (english subtitles) Omar Alarcón Poquechoque. Bolivie from Omar Alarcón Poquechoque on Vimeo.

By Chellis Glendinning | The Rag Blog | May 25, 2016

LA PAZ, Bolivia — In this post-postmodern/hyper-hyper-technological age we share, one psychological theme of note is the search for identity. It has become a universal pursuit for, as Edward Said has written, no one — but no one — escapes the multifarious tentacles of globalization with its feelers reaching toward the whole of the world.

The fracturing of the land-based communities that sculpted our human sense of social and psychic assumption during several million years of evolution is the very hallmark of expanding empires. A result is that few of us live in the original place of our ancestors, fewer still practice or even remember traditional ways, and native languages are dying out at a tragic clip.
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Luis Guerra :
The Huichol deer repopulation project

I learned that encroachment and poaching had decimated the deer population in Huichol land.

Guerra Deer4

Tangled doe (see below). All photos by Ismael Trujillo.

By Luis Guerra | The Rag Blog | May 16, 2016

Luis Guerra hat sm crpArtist and storyteller Luis Guerra was our guest on Rag Radio Friday, May 13, 2016. On the show, Luis talks about the amazing and ambitious adventure of securing and moving the Huichol deer that he discusses in this report. He also reminisces on his years with the Rag Radio logo small Huichol Indians, with emphasis on shared mystical experiences, and reads three stories about being in the mountains of Jalisco with the Huicholes.

Listen to the podcast of our interview with Luis Guerra at the Internet Archive or on the player below:

In the last few months, the Huichol Deer Repopulation Project completed the relocation of 33 deer from northern Mexico to the Sierra Madre, in Jalisco. I am happy to offer the following report, which includes photographs of the capture, transport, and release phases, as well as of the people involved.


The dream of repopulating the Sierra Madre of Jalisco with deer actually came to me about 28 years ago, when I attended the Huichol Festival of the Drum, the Corn, and the Squash. It was then that I learned that encroachment and poaching had decimated the deer population in Huichol land. Which was truly tragic, given that deer are sacred to the Huichol, an integral and major part of their cosmology.
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Thorne Dreyer :
RAG RADIO PODCASTS | Luis Guerra, Paul Buhle, Tom Hayden and Barbara Williams, Classic Bernie Sanders, Leeann Atherton, and Thomas Grace

We visit the Huichol Indians, remember James Connolly and the Easter Rising, revisit Vietnam and Kent State, discuss a gritty new memoir, envision the political revolution, and listen to an iconic blues-rock singer.

Guerra and Dreyer 2016 Studio sm crp2

Luis Guerra and Thorne Dreyer in the KOOP studios, Friday, May 13, 2016.

Interviews by Thorne Dreyer | The Rag Blog | March 31, 2016

The following podcasts are from recent Rag Radio shows with host Thorne Dreyer. The syndicated Rag Radio program, produced in the studios of Austin’s cooperatively-run KOOP-FM, has an international audience and has become an influential platform for interviews with leading figures in politics, current events, literature, and cutting-edge culture.

Mystical Artist and Storyteller Luis Guerra on ‘Repopulating the Huichol Deer’ and More!

Luis Guerra studio2 sm crpArtist and storyteller Luis Guerra talks about the amazing and ambitious adventure of securing and relocating 33 deer from northern Mexico to the Sierra Madre in Jalisco, the land of the Huichol Indians. He also reminisces on his years with the Huicholes, with emphasis on shared mystical experiences, and reads three stories about being in the mountains of Jalisco with the Huicholes.

Read the full show description and download the podcast of our May 13, 2016 Rag Radio interview with Luis Guerra, here — or listen to it here:

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