Susan Van Haitsma :
Remembering our roots: Equality rejects war

As the failures of war strategies have become increasingly obvious, the benefits of nonviolent approaches based on the principle of equality have become more obvious.

mother earth

Image from Educating Humanity.

By Susan Van Haitsma | The Rag Blog | July 30, 2014

At the root of every major religious tradition in the world is the belief that all human lives are equally valuable: our neighbors as ourselves. The fundamental equality of persons is also the thesis of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Though declared within a system of vast inequalities, the statement rang true from the beginning as an acknowledgement that equality and freedom are inextricably linked.

In my lifetime, freedom movements have made the strongest gains when they’ve modeled equality through a commitment to nonviolence. By guarding the right of one’s adversary to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, one is holding open the possibility that the adversary could become an ally, and that’s the way a healthy movement grows.
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dreyer's big 6-9
METRO EVENT | Beverly Baker Moore says ‘party like it’s 1969′ at Rag Blog editor Thorne Dreyer’s 69th Birthday Bash, Friday, Aug. 1, at Maria’s in Austin.
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Larry Ray :
A little bombing quiz for you

In the two photos below please identify which bombing was ordered by Bashar al-Assad and which one by Benjamin Netanyahu.

gaza bombing

Still Winning Hearts and Minds.

By Larry Ray | The Rag Blog | July 30, 2014, 2014

There are two photos below and both are middle Eastern neighborhoods in different countries where families lived… husbands, wives, elderly relatives and lots of kids. Both neighborhoods were destroyed in a show of force by political leaders who called up ruthless and incessant shelling and bombing against civilians, all the while denying they were doing so.

These were political and tactical decisions to use deadly force to achieve total control of a populace… the old “bombing your way to peace” is still happening with a vengeance.
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Jim Simons :
The 50-year lawyer: Defying the systems of power

I knew that what I would write would never be published by the ‘Bar Journal.’ So I happily write it for ‘The Rag Blog.’ Here I stand, though the road was not exactly what I expected.

jim simons leaves office

Lawyer Jim Simons at his Austin law office. Image from the Feb. 25, 1977 Texas Observer special issue on Texas lawyers. Jim wrote an article entitled, “Memoirs of a Movement Lawyer.”

By Jim Simons | The Rag Blog | July 30, 2014

AUSTIN — In 1964 I was sworn in to practice law in the old Supreme Court Building just northwest of the Capitol. I had many notions of what I was in for. Some were just the stuff of bad dreams, some absurdly romantic or idealistic.

There was a still small voice that told me I did not want to do this. Lawyers were said to be stuffy and conservative. I knew I was not the latter and hoped I was not the former. I had deep-seated doubts about how I might fit in. I knew I was very much an outsider in law school. I had rebelled against the phony solemnity of the institution.
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Michael James :
Heartland takes root with new workers & friends, arson on my birthday, and a rising, 1976-’79

My partners and I began to learn the ins and outs and challenges of running our business as we pioneered our community-oriented, left-leaning business model.

heartland 4 small

Chef Earl and Chef Celeste Kelly, Heartland dining room, Chicago, Illinois, 1977. Photos by Michael James from his forthcoming book, Michael Gaylord James’ Pictures from the Long Haul.

By Michael James | The Rag Blog | July 30, 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.]

After the Heartland Café opened Wednesday night, August 11, 1976, “Heartland life” took root and I began the part of my life I term “activist entrepreneur.” Katy, Stormy, and I entered a new world, one in which we were the bosses. We were now responsible for dealing with the government and its agencies, no longer as outside critics but as small business owners required to comply with what seemed at times to us unnecessary, ever-changing rules and regulations. We essentially took a crash course on “doing business” in Chicago.
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Jack A. Smith :
Obama is wrong about natural gas

A new scientific study argues that both shale gas and conventional natural gas have larger greenhouse gas footprints than do coal or oil.

natural gas

Natural gas: a bridge too far? Image from Salon.

By Jack A. Smith | The Rag Blog | July 29, 2014

Natural gas is falsely promoted by the Obama Administration and energy corporations as a “bridge fuel” that will allow American society to continue to use fossil energy over the coming decades while emitting fewer greenhouse gases than from using other fossil fuels such as coal and oil.

On this basis, President Obama is providing total support to a massive expansion of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for natural gas within the U.S. He seeks sufficient quantities to last for many decades, allowing the U.S. to export liquefied natural gas and oil throughout the world.
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eddie wilson and dreyer
METRO PODCAST | Rag Radio’s Thorne Dreyer interviews Eddie Wilson of Armadillo World HQ & Threadgill’s fame.
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Kate Braun :
Rejoice in Mother Earth’s bounty during Lammas

Give thanks for the harvest, symbolized by the bread you serve your guests.

indian corn n'lace

Indian corn necklace. Image from 365 do-overs.

By Kate Braun | The Rag Blog | July 28, 2014

“’Harvest moon’ / a change in the weather / I love this time of year”

Thursday, July 31, Friday, August 1, and Saturday, August 2, are all days you may choose to use to celebrate Lammas, a fire festival also known as First Harvest, Harvest Home, and Lughnasadh. This is a time to rejoice in the bounty of Mother Earth and celebrate her fruitfulness with good food and good friends.

Choose among the colors red, gold, orange, yellow, bronze, citrine, gray, and green for your decorations and dress. Decorate your table and/or altar with depictions of sickles, scythes, fresh veggies & fruits, corn dollies, bread, and/or sun-wheels. Honor Freya, Demeter, Ceres, other goddesses of fruitfulness, and the formation of the seasons.
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Mariann G. Wizard :
BOOKS | Trudy Stern’s lovely poetry reveals a finely-honed precision of expression

Trudy, who helped us start ‘The Rag’ in ’60s Austin, was a warm and generous friend. Somewhere along the way, she became a wonderful poet.

taurus in lake erie

Trudy’s two collections reveal much of the same sensitivity friends saw in her years ago.

By Mariann G. Wizard | The Rag Blog |July 28, 2014

[Taurus in Lake Erie by Trudy Stern (2013: Saddle Road Press, Hilo, Hawai'i, Forty-Three North Chapbook Series); Ghost Dreams by Trudy Stern (2013, Local Color Editions, Buffalo, New York.]

If you are lucky, as I have been, sooner or later you will have the pleasure of seeing a dear friend from years past and feeling that, whatever profound intervening experiences you then may share, you’re picking up right where you left off. Love and loss, creation and destruction, youth and age; change is ceaseless but in some people there is an essential core that you feel you would know even in another life.

In another life, in a town that was nothing like the Austin of today, I knew Trudy Stern by her then-married name, Trudy Minkoff. She and her grad student husband, Bobby, and my husband George Vizard and I, came to know each other as peace and free speech activists around the University of Texas campus.
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Marilyn Katz :
Netanyahu’s Gaza game plan

Armed conflict will only lead to mounting numbers of dead on both sides.

bombing of King David Hotel

In 1946, The New York Times called Yitzak Rabin, David ben Gurion, and others terrorists for their assassinations of British officers and civilians and the bombing of the King David Hotel. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

By Marilyn Katz | The Rag Blog | July 25, 2014

Unlike the finite death toll in the Malaysian jet downing, the numbers of dead in Gaza and Israel keep changing and mounting. As of this writing, the count is as follows: In Israel, 29 deaths, among them two civilians. In Gaza, nearly 700 killed, including 500 civilians and 100 children; 4,120 have been wounded. An additional 50,000 Gazans have been left homeless as a result of nearly two weeks of aerial bombings and an accompanying ground invasion.
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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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