Harry Targ :
The forms of violence and the meanings
of Ferguson

From police violence to economic despair, to lack of political representation, to cultural rationales for state violence, the basic characteristics of American society are uncovered.

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The militarization of police in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo by Scott Olson / Getty Images.

By Harry Targ | The Rag Blog | August 21, 2014

In addressing violence, researchers, educators, journalists, and religious leaders have usually concentrated on its most visible forms: murder and war. The central features of such violence include physical assault and killing. In our own day terrorism has joined war as the most popular common subject for study.

Over the years, peace educators have developed intellectual tools to uncover more diverse meanings of violence, their differences and their connections. Structural violence has been distinguished from direct violence. Researchers continue to analyze direct violence, physical assault and killing, but also study structural violence, the various forms of human suffering that take more time, impose pain and suffering on populations, and are perpetuated by leading institutions and relationships in society.
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Steve Russell :
The third time in Iraq is not the charm

The do-nothing Congress has to date done nothing. In better and more rational times there would already be a roaring debate.

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Coming or going? Last U.S. soldiers leave Iraq in December 2011. Photo by Martin Bureau / AFP / Getty Images.

By Steve Russell | The Rag Blog | August 20, 2014

In my clearest memory of Iraq War I, I was in a graduate school dorm at the University of Nevada, where the rooms had no televisions. Just about every student I knew in Reno was gathered in the lounge down the hall for most of the night around a communal TV. Ten p.m. in Reno was 8 a.m. in Baghdad and the son of one of my fellow students was commanding a flight in an early wave of the air war.

In my clearest memory of Iraq War II, I was chatting on line with my son in a FOB north of Baghdad, when the light fixture behind him started gyrating and the screen shook.
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Ron Jacobs :
BOOKS | The pacification that never ends

Patrick Cockburn looks at the non-state forces in the region, who they are backed by, the motives of those backers. and the sectarian desires of the jihadis.

jihadis return

The book addresses the reemergence of Sunni fundamentalist militancy.

By Ron Jacobs | The Rag Blog | August 19, 2014

[The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the Failures of the Global War on Terror by Patrick Cockburn (October 2014: OR Books); Paperback; 150 pp.; $15.00.]

The sense of déjà vu in Iraq is not imaginary. With U.S. bombers attacking positions held by Sunni militants and a client Iraqi government apparently unable to fight on its own, the detritus of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq is creating what could end up being the third phase of direct U.S. involvement in at the bloody sinkhole it did plenty to create.

The air strikes and special operations undertaken by the U.S. have a greater likelihood of dragging the U.S. further into this war than they do of furthering a long term solution. The Islamic State (IS or ISIL) fighters are the progeny of Washington’s bloody mischief in the region. They are even using weapons provided by the CIA to rebel forces in Syria, of which IS is but one element. Like Afghanistan’s Taliban in 2003, IS could very likely gain strength once U.S. forces engage its fighters.
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Michael James :
Stepping into America to see family, comrades & friends, then a return to Mexico, 1976-’78

After opening the Heartland Café in 1976, trips bolstered my positive outlook about life, and probably kept me sane.

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My grandma Anne and my grother Beau, Dinner at the family home, Westport, Connecticut, December 1976. Photos by Michael James from his forthcoming book, Michael Gaylord James’ Pictures from the Long Haul.

By Michael James | The Rag Blog | August 19, 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.]

I like to travel. I like leaving Chicago — and I love coming home to the Windy City of Big Shoulders. I call Chicago the “Heartland Capitol, a sometime Paradise.”

My Dad was born in St. Joseph, Missouri, but grew up in Chicago. The city’s wonderfulness was ingrained in my consciousness early on. I’ve been in and out of my beloved city since December 1942, when I was almost a year old and first came to the place the Potawatomi called the land of wild onions.
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Tom Hayden :
There are alternatives to more war in Iraq

To reject the ‘Long War’ doctrine, the American Left first has to understand it.

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Hawk Hillary flaps her wings. Photo by Win McNamee / Getty Images.

By Tom Hayden | The Rag Blog | August 16, 2014

Hillary Clinton’s flapping of her hawkish wings only intensifies the pressure on President Barack Obama to escalate U.S. military involvement in the sectarian wars of Iraq and Syria. Domestic political considerations already are a major factor in forcing Obama to “do something” to save the Yazidis, avert “another Benghazi,” and double down in the undeclared Long War against Islamic fundamentalism.

Clinton certainly was correct in arguing that Obama’s statement “don’t do stupid stuff” is not an organizing principle of U.S. foreign policy. Instead of offering a new foreign policy, based for example on democracy, economic development, and renewable energy however, Clinton lapsed into the very Cold War thinking she once questioned in the Sixties.
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Alan Waldman :
‘Love/Hate’ is a very dark but highly compelling Irish crime drama

Despite its violence, this Dublin gang war saga is well written, performed, and produced, with strong characters and dialogue.

love hate

Love/Hate is gritty Irish mobster series.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | August 14, 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, New Zealand and Scotland. Most are available on DVD and/or Netflix, and some episodes are on YouTube.]

Britain’s Guardian newspaper praised the award-laden Irish gang-war drama Love/Hate, comparing it to The Wire and The Sopranos, saying “what makes Love/Hate distinctive is the way in which the scripts root the mobster genre in the trends and tensions of contemporary Irish culture.” On the eve of the third of its five seasons, The Irish Times hailed the show as “the best drama RTÉ [the Irish broadcasting company] has produced.”
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Lamar W. Hankins :
REPORT | Child murder in Texas

Is the Church of Wells, considered by many to be a cult, sacrificing children at the altar of religious belief?

wells texas

Wells, Texas, is home to the controversial Church of Wells which many consider to be a cult.

By Lamar W. Hankins | The Rag Blog | August 11, 2014

WELLS, Texas — The death of three-day old Faith Shalom Pursley in Wells, Texas, more than two years ago was a result of child neglect and satisfied the criteria for injury to a child, criminally negligent homicide, and manslaughter under the Texas Penal Code. The latter two charges, if applied to the case, would make the child’s death a form of criminal homicide — what most people call murder.

Faith’s parents — Kristin and Daniel Pursley — and their religious leaders — “elders” in the Church of Wells — decided their religious beliefs took precedence over seeking medical treatment for the Pursleys’ new baby. As a result, Faith died of a routinely treatable condition. The Pursleys and their religious group, at the insistence of the “elders” of the sect (three 20-something young men — Sean Morris, Ryan Ringnald, and Jacob Gardner), chose prayer, rather than the services of a competent doctor, to “treat” Faith’s obvious medical distress.
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Thorne Dreyer :
PODCASTS | Listen to Rag Radio interviews with Chris Tomlinson and David Bacon

Award-winning journalist Tomlinson discusses his acclaimed new book, ‘Tomlinson Hill,’ and photojournalist Bacon addresses the role of U.S. policies in causing the current immigration crisis.

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Chris Tomlinson, left, with Rag Radio host Thorne Dreyer in the studios of KOOP-FM in Austin. Photo by Roger Baker / The Rag Blog.

Interviews by Thorne Dreyer | The Rag Blog | August 11, 2014

Journalist and author Chris Tomlinson discusses his new book, Tomlinson Hill,  and photojournalist David Bacon addresses the border immigration crisis on these two Rag Radio podcasts.

Rag Radio is a weekly hour-long syndicated radio program produced and hosted by long-time alternative journalist and Rag Blog editor Thorne Dreyer. The show is produced in the studios of KOOP 91.7-FM, a cooperatively-run all-volunteer community radio station in Austin, Texas. It is broadcast live on KOOP every Friday from 2-3 p.m. (CST) and streamed live on the web.
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Rachel Roth :
Are Texas jails safe for pregnant women?

Jails in the state are endangering pregnant women and their fetuses, despite the state’s professed interest in ‘unborn babies.’

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Jessica De Samito. Image from National Advocates for Pregnant Women / #JusticeforJessica

By Rachel Roth | The Rag Blog | August 7, 2014

What’s going on in Texas? Jails in the state are endangering pregnant women and their fetuses, despite the state’s professed interest in “unborn babies.”

In May, a woman named Nicole Guerrero filed a lawsuit against the Wichita County Jail for ignoring her when she was in labor. Locked alone in a cell, Nicole gave birth on a mat on the floor to a premature baby who died.
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Ken Wachsberger :
Academic publishing is destined to fail without a publisher-author partnership

Publishers have to show that they give a damn about their writers because writers are paying attention.

wall of books

Publish or perish. Image from 08. Twenty Three.

By Ken Wachsberger | The Rag Blog | August 7, 2014

In the May 26, 2014 issue of The Nation, Scott Sherman wrote about the precarious state of academic publishing due largely to pressures it faces, including from declining library budgets, the rise of commercial publishing conglomerates, and especially the growing popularity of electronic publishing, seen by some university press directors as “a decisive rupture from the past” (“Under Pressure: Incrementalists and futurists battle over the mission of the university press” — online version had a different title).

He provided an insightful look at the inside of the university press system. However, his solutions didn’t go far enough because they omitted the needs of a key player, namely writers.
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Ron Jacobs :
BOOKS | ‘Technocreep’ and how we are seduced by surveillance

Thomas Keenan has written a helpful description of the kinds of surveillance undertaken by corporations, governments, criminal enterprises, and just plain creeps every second of every day.


The use of the word “creep” is a play on its multiple meanings.

By Ron Jacobs | The Rag Blog | August 5, 2014

[Technocreep: The Surrender of Privacy and the Capitalization of Intimacy by Thomas P. Keenan (Sepember 2014: Greystone Books); Paperback; 224 pp; $17.95.]

We live in a world overwhelmed with intrusive technological gadgets. Most of us have learned to live with this fact and many of us have even embraced it. The latter are those who have apps to close their garage door and check the lights at home while they wait for their plane in an airport a thousand miles away. They are also those who post everything they eat and do on social media apps that then store this information for eternity.
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monster ate austin crop
METRO | Roger Baker asks, ‘Is Austin’s “Strategic Mobility Plan” smart planning or a billion dollar boondoggle?’ This one’s a must-read.
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