Mariann Wizard Vasquez :
Out There: My first dispatch from Belize

I’m starting to get a glimmer of the ‘colonial fatalism’ that decrees, ‘That’s just how things are.’


Changing prayer flags of cleanliness.

By Mariann Wizard Vasquez* | The Rag Blog | May 16, 2016

SAN IGNACIO TOWN, Cayo, Belize, C.A. — It’s the smallest things that begin to impress upon my First World consciousness just what it is to live in the Third World. Take, for example, the lowly clothespin.

In Belize, where sunshine is one of the most abundant (and least exploited) resources, everyone hangs their clothes and household linens out to dry. Porches, verandas, patios, and yards of rich and poor alike ripple with sheets and towels, the mister’s briefs and the missus’ dainties, school uniforms and superhero T-shirts, constantly-changing prayer flags of devout cleanliness. Except during the rainy season, the system works fine.
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Murray Polner :
BOOKS | Charles Glass’s ‘Syria Burning: A Short History of a Catastrophe’

As civil wars go, this one is especially unforgiving and brutal, made worse by bitter historic ethnic, religious, and tribal rivalries, and proxy wars.

Syria Burning

By Murray Polner | The Rag Blog | May 25, 2016

[Syria Burning: A Short History of a Catastrophe by Charles Glass; March 2016: Verso; 195 pp; $16.95.]

When Declan Walsh, the New York Times‘ Cairo bureau chief, visited war-weary Damascus and besieged Aleppo in May 2016, he concluded and thus verified the findings of the more experienced Charles Glass, who since the eighties has wandered Syria before and during its agonizing civil war.

“Few of the people I spoke to have any appetite for a fight” now that the U.S., Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia have become involved, wrote Walsh. “I didn’t ask if they wanted to fight, but if I had, I imagine their response would have been: Fight whom? And for what?”
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Chellis Glendinning and Omar Alarcón Poquechoque :
ESSAY / VIDEO | ‘Mirando el espejo’: A film-poem about roots and memory in Bolivia

Everywhere people are working to keep their cultural identities alive against the brutal but seductive assault of ‘modernismo.’

Mirando el Espejo (english subtitles) Omar Alarcón Poquechoque. Bolivie from Omar Alarcón Poquechoque on Vimeo.

By Chellis Glendinning | The Rag Blog | May 25, 2016

LA PAZ, Bolivia — In this post-postmodern/hyper-hyper-technological age we share, one psychological theme of note is the search for identity. It has become a universal pursuit for, as Edward Said has written, no one — but no one — escapes the multifarious tentacles of globalization with its feelers reaching toward the whole of the world.

The fracturing of the land-based communities that sculpted our human sense of social and psychic assumption during several million years of evolution is the very hallmark of expanding empires. A result is that few of us live in the original place of our ancestors, fewer still practice or even remember traditional ways, and native languages are dying out at a tragic clip.
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Luis Guerra :
The Huichol deer repopulation project

I learned that encroachment and poaching had decimated the deer population in Huichol land.

Guerra Deer4

Tangled doe (see below). All photos by Ismael Trujillo.

By Luis Guerra | The Rag Blog | May 16, 2016

Luis Guerra hat sm crpArtist and storyteller Luis Guerra was our guest on Rag Radio Friday, May 13, 2016. On the show, Luis talks about the amazing and ambitious adventure of securing and moving the Huichol deer that he discusses in this report. He also reminisces on his years with the Rag Radio logo small Huichol Indians, with emphasis on shared mystical experiences, and reads three stories about being in the mountains of Jalisco with the Huicholes.

Listen to the podcast of our interview with Luis Guerra at the Internet Archive or on the player below:

In the last few months, the Huichol Deer Repopulation Project completed the relocation of 33 deer from northern Mexico to the Sierra Madre, in Jalisco. I am happy to offer the following report, which includes photographs of the capture, transport, and release phases, as well as of the people involved.


The dream of repopulating the Sierra Madre of Jalisco with deer actually came to me about 28 years ago, when I attended the Huichol Festival of the Drum, the Corn, and the Squash. It was then that I learned that encroachment and poaching had decimated the deer population in Huichol land. Which was truly tragic, given that deer are sacred to the Huichol, an integral and major part of their cosmology.
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Thorne Dreyer :
RAG RADIO PODCASTS | Luis Guerra, Paul Buhle, Tom Hayden and Barbara Williams, Classic Bernie Sanders, Leeann Atherton, and Thomas Grace

We visit the Huichol Indians, remember James Connolly and the Easter Rising, revisit Vietnam and Kent State, discuss a gritty new memoir, envision the political revolution, and listen to an iconic blues-rock singer.

Guerra and Dreyer 2016 Studio sm crp2

Luis Guerra and Thorne Dreyer in the KOOP studios, Friday, May 13, 2016.

Interviews by Thorne Dreyer | The Rag Blog | March 31, 2016

The following podcasts are from recent Rag Radio shows with host Thorne Dreyer. The syndicated Rag Radio program, produced in the studios of Austin’s cooperatively-run KOOP-FM, has an international audience and has become an influential platform for interviews with leading figures in politics, current events, literature, and cutting-edge culture.

Mystical Artist and Storyteller Luis Guerra on ‘Repopulating the Huichol Deer’ and More!

Luis Guerra studio2 sm crpArtist and storyteller Luis Guerra talks about the amazing and ambitious adventure of securing and relocating 33 deer from northern Mexico to the Sierra Madre in Jalisco, the land of the Huichol Indians. He also reminisces on his years with the Huicholes, with emphasis on shared mystical experiences, and reads three stories about being in the mountains of Jalisco with the Huicholes.

Read the full show description and download the podcast of our May 13, 2016 Rag Radio interview with Luis Guerra, here — or listen to it here:

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Kate Braun :
This full moon is a time of high energy and power

Moon Musings: The Full Moon falls on Saturday, May 21, 2016, but can also be observed on Friday or Sunday.

Flower Moon

Flower Moon. Image from Dreamwalker.

By Kate Braun | The Rag Blog | May 17, 2016

You may celebrate this month’s Full Moon on Friday, May 20, Saturday, May 21, or Sunday, May 22.  Saturday is the Full Moon, a Flower Moon or Hare Moon, and activities that will assist you in reaffirming goals would be most appropriate.

This is a time of high energy and power which may be complicated by current retrogrades: Juno, Saturn, Mars, and Pluto are all retrograde during this full moon and these combined energies will work to slow down thought processes as well as progress. Factor in Mercury’s retrograde, which continues until Sunday, May 22, and you add the possibility of incomplete or inaccurate information. Lord Sun’s entry into Gemini on Saturday is another complication as Gemini influences communications of all kinds, which can be more difficult during a Mercury retrograde.
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James McEnteer :
The geopolitics of generosity

For the USA, offering little help to Ecuador’s earthquake victims, political calculation takes precedence over compassion.

Ecuador Earthquake 2016

Earthquake in Ecuador. Image from April 17, 2016 BBC News YouTube video / Creative Commons.

By James McEnteer | The Rag Blog | May 11, 2016

QUITO, Ecuador — On April 16, Ecuador suffered an earthquake registering 7.8 on the Richter scale. One week later, the death toll stood at 656, with more than 12 thousand injuries reported and more than 50 people still missing. Hundreds of aftershocks, some very powerful, continued to shake the country’s northwest coast and cause more damage.

The day after the disaster, aid began arriving from Ecuador’s Latin American neighbors, including Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, and Bolivia. Quick responses were crucial, as hundreds of people were still missing, many trapped in crumbling rubble.

Cuba sent 53 medical personnel to help, in addition to the more than 200 Cuban doctors already on the ground in Ecuador. Three Cuban doctors were among the casualties in a building that collapsed in the coastal city of Pedernales. Mexico sent a rescue team. Even tiny, impoverished Honduras offered an aid worker.
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Alan Waldman :
FILM | Michael Moore’s ‘Where to Invade Next’ is the best film of the young 21st century!

It’s funny, brilliant, and bursting with terrific and practical ideas; don’t miss this treasure!

Michael Moore flag

Michael Moore: Where to Invade Next.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | May 11, 2016

I loved the Oscar-winning documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?, but I consider Michael Moore’s finest movie yet, Where to Invade Next, the best film of the decade — hell, the best film of the 21st Century so far! It’s funny, compassionate, brilliant, and bursting with vital ideas — and for people who find Moore a tad strident, it is much funnier and gentler than his earlier works (except Canadian Bacon, in which he suggests we go to war with Canada because we can actually defeat them).

In its first 10 weeks on U. S. screens, as of April 17, 2016, Where to Invade Next had a domestic box-office of $3,801,054 and at its widest reached only 308 theaters. That’s tragic, considering that Moore’s anti Iraq-war classic Fahrenheit 9/11 was the largest-grossing documentary in the world to date, with $222.5 million — which rose to about half a billion smackers with subsequent release in 40 more lands.
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Johnny Hazard :
Massive Mexico City airport would be a disaster

It would spur privatized highway construction, destroy farming communities, increase flooding and urban sprawl, and line the pockets of contractors.

hazard airport army

Mexican police forces invade ejidal lands in San Salvador Atenco near Mexico City where campesinos have resisted the expropriation of their lands for a controversial new airport. Photo from the Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement.

By Johnny Hazard | The Rag Blog | May 10, 2015

A special report

MEXICO CITY — The federal government of Mexico has begun a project to build a new airport, one of the biggest in the world, in a country where the vast majority of the people have never flown. This project threatens to:

  • spur construction of 16 to 19 new highways in the Mexico City-Toluca-Texcoco metropolitan area(s), all privatized from their inception, increasing dependence on the automobile in an area where car ownership has more than doubled in 10 years. Almost all toll roads in Mexico are privately constructed and owned but publicly subsidized. Giveaways of public money to corporations is the raison de’etre of most of the world’s new airport construction;
  • increase CO2 emissions (from the planes themselves and from cars and buses that would go much farther than before to get to the airport) in one of the most polluted cities in the world;
  • line the pockets of contractors, construction companies, and “starchitects”;
  • increase the risks of flooding and exacerbate the drying of lakes and rivers;
  • damage or destroy what remains of the farming communities around Mexico City and Texcoco;
  • increase suburban sprawl (result of all of the above).

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Paul Buhle :
‘A Full Life: James Connolly the Irish Rebel’

Historian Buhle writes about ‘The Irish socialist who organized an uprising’ and joins us on Rag Radio. (Listen to the podcast here!)

James Connolly Irish Rebel

By Paul Buhle | The Rag Blog | May 9, 2016

paul buhle 2

Paul Buhle.

Historian Paul Buhle, a leading figure on the American Left since the 1960s who now produces radical comics, was our guest on Rag Radio, Friday, May 8. Buhle is the editor of A Full Life: James Connolly the Irish Rebel, subtitled, “A graphic remembrance 100 years after his cruel murder during the Easter Rising.” Paul also wrote an afterward to the comic which we are publishing below, along with Paul’s Truthout op-ed, “The Irish socialist who organized an uprising.”

On Rag Radio, Paul joined Thorne Dreyer in a discussion of the life of James Connolly, his role in the fight for Irish independence and in the historic Easter Rising rebellion, and his death before a British firing squad. We also talk about Connolly’s time in the United States where he organized for the IWW. And we discuss the history and historical significance of radical comics and graphic histories and the fundamental role in their development played by Rag Radio logo smallAustin-based comix artists Gilbert Shelton, who pioneered much of his work in The Rag, and Jack Jackson (Jaxon).

Listen to the podcast of our interview with Paul Buhle at the Internet Archive or on the player below:

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Alice Embree :
Accessing history in the digital age

Three hundred issues of The Rag are now available in a digital format.

By Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | May 8, 2016

Those of us who came of age in the ’60s remember library research as a visit to “the stacks” or hours spent with spools of microfilm and cantankerous microfilm readers. The Internet has changed all that.

Historical documents can now be accessed online through digital archives. The Rag is moving into the new era, thanks to collaboration between a company called Reveal Digital, two donor libraries and nearly 100 funding libraries.
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Thorne Dreyer :
A tribute to Maggie, my mother

‘Maggie’s absolute freedom, her hospitality, big floppy hats and committed heart put the art scene in Houston on the side of human rights and general soul.’ — Mimi Crossley, Houston Post

Margaret Webb Dreyer cropped

Maggie Dreyer at my 30th birthday party, Chaucers, Plaza Hotel, Houston, Texas, August 1, 1975, a little more than a year before she lost her long battle with cancer. Photo by Janice Rubin.

By Thorne Dreyer | The Rag Blog | May 8, 2016

This is a slightly expanded version of an article I published in The Rag Blog in May 2014. I want to share it again on this Mother’s Day. Comments from the original posting are included and I encourage you all to add your own, especially those of you who knew my mother. — TD

MAY 13, 2014 — I dedicated my radio show on Friday, May 9, to my mother, Margaret Webb Dreyer. Since I was two days early for Mother’s Day, I now have no problem being two days late with this tribute! (Ah, fearful symmetry…)

Back in the 1970s, when I was working with KPFT, the Pacifica radio station in Houston, I interviewed my mother one Mother’s Day. I still have a cassette from that show but it is sadly silent. I have decided to tell Maggie’s story here through the words of others — and a few vintage ones of my own. For those of you who didn’t have the very special pleasure of knowing her, I would like to introduce you to Margaret Webb Dreyer.

“I was conceived in Houston during a creative collaboration between a newspaper journalist and an abstract expressionist.” — Thorne Webb Dreyer, Rag Reunion Memoir, September 2005

“Margaret Webb Dreyer (29 September 1911-December 17, 1976) — known to many as ‘Maggie’ Dreyer — was an American painter, muralist, mosaic artist, educator, gallery owner, and political activist who spent most of her career in Houston, Texas. Though she worked in a number of styles and media over the years, she was best known as an abstract expressionist painter. Her work won numerous awards in major juried shows and was exhibited widely in museums and galleries. — “Margaret Webb Dreyer” article, Wikipedia
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