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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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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