Allen Young :
FEATURE | A peek into the legalized cannabis business
in Massachusetts

I toured facilities related to this multi-million dollar industry.

Buds close to harvest time at the MassGrow facility.

By Allen Young | The Rag Blog | September 10, 2020

ATHOL, Massachusetts — “It’s legal now! Finally!”

That’s what people in many parts of the United States, as well as Canada and other nations, are saying, myself included.

To celebrate the legalization of marijuana in my state, Massachusetts, I recently used my journalist’s credentials to obtain guided tours of two facilities related to this rapidly expanding and multi-million dollar industry. Both are located just a few miles from my home. One is MassGrow, a large cultivation enterprise, and the other is Silver Therapeutics, a small retail store, properly called a dispensary.
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ACTIVISM | Thank you, Kenosha: A cry for civil disobedience

We weren’t in a revolutionary moment in 1969 and we aren’t in a revolutionary moment now.

The author, on the far right, takes a knee outside the police station in the town of Cotati, California, where he lives, earlier this year. Photo by Karen Preuss.

By Jonah Raskin | The Rag Blog | September 8, 2020

Watching the TV news from Kenosha has given me the opportunity to look back at my own life as a kind of antifa activist in the late 1960s.

On December 9, 1969, a month or so before my 28th birthday, I went into the streets of Manhattan with other members of ”the Mad Dogs,” a small group of New York radicals, to protest the murders, five days earlier, of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, two Black Panthers who were shot and killed during a predawn raid at their Chicago apartment that was carried out by a tactical unit of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in conjunction with the Chicago Police Department and the FBI.
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Harry Targ :
LABOR DAY | Labor rights are human rights

Anti-worker politics violate the fundamental principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Eleanor Roosevelt holding poster of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (in English), Lake Success, New York. November 1949. Image from FDR Presidential Library & Museum / Wikimedia Commons.

By Harry Targ | The Rag Blog | September 7, 2020

WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana — The massive atrocities of World War II led nations to commit themselves permanently to the protection of basic rights for all human beings. Eleanor Roosevelt, the widow of the wartime president, Franklin Roosevelt, worked diligently with leaders from around the world to develop a document, to articulate a set of principles, which would bind humankind to never carry out acts of mass murder again. In addition, the document also committed nations to work to end most forms of pain and suffering.

Over 70 years ago, on December 10, 1948, delegates from the United Nations General Assembly signed the document which they called “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” It consisted of a preamble proclaiming that all signatories recognize “the inherent dignity” and “equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family” as the “foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.” The preamble declared the commitment of the signatories to the creation of a world “…in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want…”
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BOOKS | Jonah Raskin’s ‘Dark Past, Dark Future’ reflects cruel reality

This novel demonstrates that readers are in the able hands
of a noir master.

By C.E. McAuley | The Rag Blog | September 3, 2020

In Jonah Raskin’s new murder mystery Dark Past, Dark Future (2020, McCaa Books) Detective Tioga Vignetta returns bringing to a culmination the trilogy that began with Dark Land, Dark Mirror (2017, McCaa Books).

Raskin, prolific author of numerous works, brings not only his passion for film noir and the works of such authors as Dashiell Hammett and other luminaries of the darkness, but his down and dirty knowledge of the Sonoma Valley.  It serves as a springboard for this worthy fictionalized “Valley,” as he brings Tioga into her latest web of danger which is filled with a cast of characters as mysterious and duplicitous as one might hope for and expect — in a world of drugs, ego and, disturbingly, the grim specter of sexual violence.

Raskin shows that when it comes to the past, there’s always more where that came from.  Tioga’s multiple cases around the Valley — in the life of a work-a-day ace detective at times violent and banal — bring past and present together in an unexpected mix that tears the veneer of civility off the grandeur of the region and plummets the reader into the seedy underbelly of “Valley” life and the various characters that inhabit its, often, sunlit shadows.
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Joshua Brown :
POLITICAL CARTOON | Outside agitator

Previous installments are archived at

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Julie Fleming y Alice Embree :
EL VOTO | Salirse de la línea para la democracia

Por Julie Fleming y Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | 1 de septembre, 2020

Leer este artículo en inglés.

La votación temprana comienza en 43 días en Texas. Si usted ya solicitó una papeleta por correo, es probable que reciba su papeleta en aproximadamente 30 días.

Texas hace que votar por correo sea más difícil que en muchos estados porque debe solicitar una papeleta. Para calificar para votar por correo, debe tener 65 años o más, ser discapacitado, estar en la cárcel o estar fuera del condado al momento de la elección y durante el periodo de votación temprana. Es el votante quien toma la determinación sobre su discapacidad. Si aún no ha solicitado una papeleta por correo, hágalo ahora. Sigue las instrucciones de abajo.

El gobierno de Trump, en alianza con el Director General de Correos DeJoy, ha infundido miedo a muchas de las personas que tenían la intención de votar por correo. Usted puede contrarrestar esa campaña de miedo al estar atento a las fechas límite, enviar su papeleta por correo temprano y conocer las opciones para entregar su papeleta en mano.
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Julie Fleming and Alice Embree :
THE VOTE | What you need to know about voting in Texas

Step out of line for democracy

By Julie Fleming and Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | September 1, 2020

Read this article in Spanish.

AUSTIN — In 43 days early voting begins in Texas. If you requested a ballot by mail, you are likely to receive your ballot in about 30 days.

Texas makes it harder to vote by mail than many states because you must request a ballot. To qualify on your application, you must be 65 or older, disabled, in jail, or out of the county at the time of the election and early voting.  It is the voter that makes the determination on disability.  If you haven’t yet requested a ballot by mail, don’t wait. Follow the instructions below.

The Trump administration, in league with Postmaster General DeJoy, has instilled fear in many who intended to vote by mail. You can counteract that fear campaign by being vigilant about deadlines, mailing your ballot early, and learning about options for hand delivering a ballot.
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Robert C. Cottrell :
BOOKS | In response to Jonah Raskin

The author replies to Raskin’s ‘Rag Blog’ review of ‘All-American Rebels.’

By Robert C. Cottrell | The Rag Blog | August 26, 2020

[The following is a response to Jonah Raskin’s August 18, 2020 Rag Blog review of Bob Cottrell’s latest book, All-American Rebels: The American Left from the Wobblies to Today. Read Raskin’s review here.]

I admire Professor Jonah Raskin’s work, especially his studies of Abbie Hoffman and Allen Ginsberg. I also appreciate the seriousness with which he tackles my new book, All-American Rebels: The American Left from the Wobblies to Today. I appreciate the blurb he offered for it: “Essential reading for those who participated in the struggles for equality and justice, and for those who are eager to learn about the history that has often been whitewashed from the official story.” The longer blurb he offered was still more complimentary, but my publisher opted to condense it.

Perhaps Professor Raskin has had a change a heart. While writing, “There’s hardly an important rebel who isn’t mentioned in passing in the pages of Cottrell’s book,” he points to a sin of commission on my part. That involves an inexplicable failure, notwithstanding numerous reads on my part, to list Huey Newton (whom I taught about for forty years), rather than Eldridge Cleaver, as a Black Panther co-founder. Professor Raskin also notes a sin of omission, the leaving out of Allen Young of the Gay Liberation Front. Unfortunately, these are probably not the only acts of commission and omission in a work as synthetic as this one, operating under the word count limitation I was handed.
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Allen Young :
NEWS | Racial justice issues aired in
mostly white area

Actions to support ‘Black Lives Matter’ have taken place recently in small towns in Massachusetts.

After a brief sidewalk rally with speeches, anti-racism demonstrators in Athol, Mass., walked two blocks through the downtown to kneel in front of the Athol Police Station along with the police chief and several uniformed officers. This took place in early June in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Photo copyright Mitchell R. Grosky Photography.

By Allen Young | The Rag Blog | August 23, 2020

ATHOL, Massachusetts — A rejuvenated movement for racial justice is sweeping the nation, and it has arrived somewhat surprisingly in the area where I live, a little-known section of North Central Massachusetts where very few people of color reside.

Rallies and vigils to support “Black Lives Matter” and affirm a belief in diversity and racial justice have taken place recently in the towns of Athol (population 11,500) and Orange (population 7,500), where no more than one percent of the people are Black (2010 census).

In Warwick, Massachusetts (population 780), just north of Orange, “Black Lives Matter” signs can be seen outside several homes and in front of the town’s Trinitarian Congregational Church. That church’s minister, Rev. Dan Dibble, was one of many prominent community members attending a recent outdoor rally in Athol that I was pleased to join with several of my friends. Everyone was wearing masks, by the way.
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BOOKS | ‘All-American Rebels: The American Left from the Wobblies to Today’

There’s hardly an important rebel who isn’t mentioned in the pages of Cottrell’s book.

By Jonah Raskin | The Rag Blog | August 18, 2020

SONOMA COUNTY, California — Robert C. Cottrell’s survey of radicalism in the U.S. in the twentieth century is a short, compact book that moves with great speed. It has to move swiftly to map the vast territory that it encompasses. From the Industrial Workers of the World, better known as the Wobblies — who organized men and women that other unions ignored — to Black Lives Matter and #MeToo is more than a hundred years.

That time period includes two world wars, the Great Depression of the 1930s, the rebellions of the Long Sixties that lasted from 1955 to 1975 and contemporary events like the Battle of Seattle in 1999 which ushered in a new age of protest for a new millennium.

Cottrell has made it his life’s work to study and chronicle the Sixties in books such as Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll, though he hasn’t limited himself to any one decade.
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Joshua Brown :

Previous installments are archived at
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Allen Young :
BOOKS | The story of an eccentric

This unique tale is lovingly told by Clare Green.

By Allen Young | The Rag Blog | August 7, 2020

WARWICK, Massachusetts — Eccentric people are everywhere. They can be found in Texas and in Massachusetts (where I live). They live alone in the woods, in small towns and in big cities. Many of us know eccentric people. We might like them, or we might dislike them. We might be eccentric ourselves!

Wikipedia defines an eccentric person as “unconventional and slightly strange” and suggests there is no judgment attached to the word “not demonstrably maladaptive.”

Zylpha Smith (1815-1885), who lived and died in the sparsely populated Western Massachusetts town of Warwick was such a person, and her well-researched story has been lovingly told in an eccentric little 22-page five-inch by four-inch pamphlet. More about Zylpha follows.

The author is Clare Green of Warwick (a retired elementary school teacher and amateur naturalist) and there are unique pointillist illustrations by Reba-Jean Shaw-Pichette of Shelburne, Mass. The two creators have common interests in local history, including membership in local historical societies and working as “living history educators.” (If you’ve gone to historic sites, such as Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, you’ve seen costumed living history educators in action.)
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