Tom Hayden :
Marching for a green economy ‘built to last’

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio commits to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030, calling it ‘a moral imperative.’

climate march figures

From left, Jane Goodall, former Vice President Al Gore, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon march in Sunday’s climate march in New York City. Photo from Getty Images / The Democracy Journal.

By Tom Hayden | The Rag Blog | September 24, 2014

NEW YORK — With hundreds of thousands of marchers converging on the United Nations climate summit, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio took the opportunity to declare a massive initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030, calling it “a moral imperative.”

The 111-page plan, called One City: Built to Last, was strongly supported by the City Council and a diverse network of community-based organizations. Its major focus will be on retrofits of the city’s public and private buildings. In city-owned properties the goal is to cut emissions by 30 percent below 2006 levels in three years.
Continue reading

Posted in RagBlog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Shepherd Bliss :
‘Village Building Convergence’ rocks
small-town Sebastopol

The two-day event was designed to ‘improve our experience of community… by transforming public spaces and making them into special places.’

bliss vbc 2

In Sebastopol, California: Painting the village red… and yellow, and… Photo by Marty Roberts / Cittaslow Sebastopol.

By Shepherd Bliss | The Rag Blog | September 23, 2014

SEBASTOPOL, California — Participants in the ambitious 10-day First Annual Sebastopol Village Building Convergence (VBC) painted murals on streets in this small Northern California town and filled the Grange Hall, the Permaculture Skills Center, and other sites from September 12-21.

On the final day, a colorful, active parade marched from the weekly farmers’ market in the downtown plaza through a newly-painted street with murals of salmon, dogs, coyote tracks, a Spirit Bird, and other wildlife. Over 400 people, including many children, participated in that painting. One theme of the march was climate protection, coinciding with the People’s Climate March (PCM) in New York City and elsewhere around the planet on Sept. 21.
Continue reading

Posted in RagBlog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harvey Wasserman :
Gorgeous global march shows how to win
the climate fight

Huge environmental action in New York teaches us that the answer to change lies with the grass roots.

don't frack with us

People’s Climate March in New York City, September 21, 2014. Photo by Shadia Fayne Wood / peoplesclimate.org

By Harvey Wasserman | The Rag Blog | September 22, 2014

NEW YORK — The massive People’s Climate March, the most hopeful, diverse, photogenic, energizing, and often hilarious march I’ve joined in 52 years of activism — and one of the biggest, at 400,000 strong — has delivered a simple messag​e: we can and will rid the planet of fossil fuels and nuclear power, we will do it at the grassroots, it will be demanding and difficult to say the least, but it will also have its moments of great fun.

With our lives and planet on the line, our species has responded.
Continue reading

Posted in RagBlog | Tagged , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Kate Braun :
Welcome the return of Autumn by celebrating the Fall Equinox

By paying attention to balance in our lives, we promote harmony, which tends to make life more comfortable.

autumn scene

Note to folks in Texas: This is what autumn looks like!

By Kate Braun | The Rag Blog | September 22, 2014

“Autumn has returned… Trees are falling asleep…As though time has stopped for a while…”

Monday, September 22, 2014, is the Fall Equinox. You may also call it Mabon, Harvest Home, Second Harvest, or Cornucopia; all are names for the same season. Select from among the colors red, orange, russet, maroon, brown, deep gold, and violet for your dress and table or altar coverings. Decorate with gourds, pine cones, acorns, apples, ivy, autumn leaves, textured fabrics such as velvet and corduroy, and scales or balance beams. This is a festival of abundance; be abundant in your decorating.

Lord Sun enters the sign Libra today. Libra’s symbol is the scales, which signify balance. Daylight and dark hours are equal today, another manifestation of balance. By paying attention to balance in our lives, we promote harmony, which tends to make life more comfortable. By making sure to give time to personal and spiritual, as well as professional, activities, it becomes easier to maintain a better day-to-day balance in all aspects of life.
Continue reading

Posted in RagBlog | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thorne Dreyer :
PODCAST | Texas public interest crusader Craig McDonald, whose complaint triggered the Rick Perry indictment

On Rag Radio, Craig McDonald says the Perry case is about ‘coercion and abuse of power,’ and that only the Texas media has gotten the story right.

craig mcdonald 2

Craig McDonald on Rag Radio in the studios of Austin’s KOOP-FM, September 5, 2014. Photos by Roger Baker / The Rag Blog.

Interview by Thorne Dreyer | The Rag Blog | September 22, 2014

Texas public interest crusader Craig McDonald, once cited by Rolling Stone magazine as among the nation’s top “Renegades, Mavericks and Troublemakers,” is our guest on Rag Radio.

McDonald is the founder and director of Texans for Public Justice (TPJ), the public interest anti-corruption nonprofit whose complaint against Texas Governor Rick Perry led to a felony indictment charging Perry with “coercion of a public servant and misuse of official capacity.” The group also filed the 2005 criminal complaint against House Majority leader Tom Delay that resulted in several felony convictions and, ultimately, DeLay’s resignation.
Continue reading

Posted in RagBlog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tom Hayden :
From Vietnam to Iraq, lessons never learned

We cannot trust the ‘best and brightest’ to have the answers any more than students trusted their pedigreed elders 50 years ago.

tom hayden ann arbor 1969

Tom Hayden speaks at the Vietnam Moratorium in Ann Arbor in 1969. Photo by Jay Cassidy / Courtesy of Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan.

By Tom Hayden | The Rag Blog | September 17, 2014

[The following remarks, provided to The Rag Blog in advance, will be included in a speech that Tom Hayden will deliver tonight, Wednesday, September 17, 2014, at Angell Hall on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, on the lessons of Vietnam for Iraq. Angell Hall was the site of the first Vietnam teach-in in 1965.]

ANN ARBOR, Michigan — I am joining many peace groups around America in expressing opposition to the escalation of the Iraq War into a quagmire that is likely to be costly in lives, tax dollars, and our tarnished reputation.

Ann Arbor is the place, along with Berkeley, where the young American peace movement demanded a teach-in, an end to campus business as usual, an end to intellectual conformity, and congressional hearings as we confronted the growing horror of the Vietnam War.
Continue reading

Posted in RagBlog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Jonah Raskin :
BOOKS | Cultural historian McNally takes readers on a long strange trip

For those who lived through the era and still care about issues of class, race, and gender, ‘Highway 61′ is the book to read about American music.

on highway 61

On Highway 61 will awaken memories and stir the heart.

By Jonah Raskin | The Rag Blog | September 16, 2014

[On Highway 61: Music, Race and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom by Dennis McNally (October 2014: Counterpoint); Hardcover; 384 pages; ; $28.]

Dennis McNally’s publisher might have persuaded him to call his new book A Dead Head Looks At American Music, or The Head Dead Head’s Guide to Jazz, the Blues and Bob Dylan. After all McNally served for many years as the Grateful Dead’s publicist and historian. The author of A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead, he knows the Dead and the Deadheads, too.

His forte as an author lies in his ability to look back at the history of American music through the eyes of the Grateful Dead and from the perspective of the cultural upheavals of the Sixties.
Continue reading

Posted in RagBlog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harry Targ :
Obama and the myth that ‘war works’

Twentieth century narratives of international relations are no longer relevant (if they ever were).

soldiers in Afghanistan

The unwinnable war: Soldiers in Afghanistan. Photo from Getty Images.

By Harry Targ | The Rag Blog | September 16, 2014

President Barack Obama spoke to the nation Wednesday night, September 10, about the need to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). For him ISIS (he calls them the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant or ISIL which culls up the good old days of Western Empire in the region) constitutes “a small group of killers.” This small group of killers threatens the stability of Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other regional states and Europe. Furthermore, he said, if unchecked some of them may even threaten the security of the United States as well.

The President reported that the United States had already been carrying out large scale air strikes against targets in Iraq, has been working to create a new more diverse Iraqi government in Baghdad, and is building a regional coalition to respond to the threat.
Continue reading

Posted in RagBlog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alan Waldman :
Australian true-crime series ‘Underbelly’ not for faint-hearted

This powerful show chronicles actual bloody underworld wars and police malfeasance in Sydney and Melbourne from 1976 to 2004.

underbelly s3

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | September 15, 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.]

Underbelly is the overall title of three exceptionally fine Australian 13-part TV drama series that tell the true stories (virtually blow-by-blow histories) of actual drug gang wars and police efforts to solve crimes, hampered in many cases by major corruption.
Continue reading

Posted in RagBlog | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tom Hayden :
Where is Obama’s exit strategy?

The Islamic State wants the Americans to bomb and invade its territory because foreign aggression is the surest way to unite all Sunni factions.

president obama Sept. 10, 2014 speech

President Obama delivers prime-time televised address, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014. Photo by Saul Loeb / Getty Images.

By Tom Hayden | The Rag Blog | September 10, 2014

A disturbing omission in President Obama’s proposed Iraq War speech was its lack of an exit strategy. Spokesmen for the White House and Pentagon speak of the mission taking years beyond Obama’s tenure.

Once again our country has been invited to support the “long war” doctrine outlined by key Pentagon officials as lasting 50 to 80 years. This long war is probably both unwinnable and unaffordable, but no president and few politicians have the political willingness to acknowledge failure and end it.
Continue reading

Posted in RagBlog | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Roger Baker :
America: You’ve got three more years to
drive normally!

Three more years? That’s pretty scary! Surely there must be a mistake in that headline.

zombies and cars

Take me for a ride in your car-car. Image from Luxury4Play.

By Roger Baker | The Rag Blog | September 10, 2014

First in a series

Is it possible that average Americans could have a hard time driving only three years from now? Preposterous, to say the very least! Three more years to drive would be awful scary if it were true. Fortunately, it can’t be true because the USA has been racing ahead, drilling like crazy, with the result that we are now the world’s third biggest oil producer, just behind Russia and Saudi Arabia.

As everyone who follows the news has heard by now, an innovative drilling technology called “fracking” has added about three million barrels a day of new “tight oil” production, from areas of the U.S. like the Bakken in North Dakota, and the Eagle Ford shale in Texas. Obama used to tell us how we need to break our petroleum addiction, but now he can’t bless new drilling enough.  As a result, Americans are feeling better and driving more.
Continue reading

Posted in RagBlog | Tagged , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Jack A. Smith :
The continuing failure of U.S. interventions

At this time of great conflict in the world, U.S. foreign/military policy seems to be intimately connected to virtually everything that’s going wrong.

iraq gis 2

GIs in Iraq. Front line of failed policies. Image from Express-Tribune.

By Jack A. Smith | The Rag Blog | September 10, 2014

The United States insists on throwing its formidable weight around and being recognized as world hegemon, but refuses to take any responsibility for the great number of negative results that emanate from its constant military and political interventions in the affairs of other states and regions.

At this time of great conflict in the world, U.S. foreign/military policy seems to be intimately connected to virtually everything that’s going wrong. Like the bull in a china shop, Uncle Sam’s blundering wreckage is left behind but the rich superpower emerges relatively unscathed to enter into yet another perceived trouble spot requiring its dubious interference.
Continue reading

Posted in RagBlog | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment