Category Archives: RagBlog

Bruce Melton :
ENVIRONMENT | Covid-19, climate change,
and permafrost collapse…

…and our new, abruptly evolving culture.

This is permafrost collapse on the Glenn Highway in southeastern Alaska near Slana. All photos by Bruce Melton.

By Bruce Melton | The Rag Blog | July 3, 2020

AUSTIN — The origin of Covid-19 is still in dispute in academia. The classic connection is from contemporary bats via pangolins or civets, allowed or enhanced by habitat loss and warming that creates animal stress leading to increased animal disease, and the habitat loss crowding animals ever closer to our burgeoning human population. Or maybe it was just bad luck with some populations that eat different animals than other populations.

Meanwhile, permafrost collapse from climate change is 70 years ahead of schedule and plausibly emitting, not sequestering, as many greenhouse gases as are emitted every year by all of transportation across the globe. New research is showing reanimation of viruses preserved in permafrost is real and though no research has yet fingered permafrost collapse as the culprit, scientists have been warning us about things like this for 30 years.

First off, the origin of COVID-19, was not from a lab experiment gone wrong or deliberate genetic modification, this is definitive.
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The Rag Blog :
ELECTIONS | Here’s the latest on voting by mail and in person

The following statement comes from the Austin Chapter of the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans (TARA):

If you mailed in your application to vote by mail and you are concerned that you haven’t received your ballot yet, you can call your County Clerk’s office and find out if your ballot has already been mailed. The application deadline is July 2nd, so they will be mailing out ballots continually for the next several days. The requests to vote by mail in Texas increased by over 1000% just for the runoff on July 14. Your County Clerks and their staffs are working overtime to handle the huge influx of mail-in ballot requests.

Wondering if you can still vote in person? Absolutely! Take your ID and mail-in ballot with you, as you will be required to surrender the ballot at the same time. If you haven’t received your ballot and just don’t want to wait for it, you will be given a provisional ballot which will be counted after July 14, election day, so they can confirm that your mail-in ballot wasn’t used.

Early voting will continue through July 10. Polls are closed on July 3rd and 4th, open on Sunday, July 5th from 12–6. Election day is July 14th. Your ballot should be in the mail by July 9th at the latest to ensure its receipt no later than the close of business on election day.

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Jonah Raskin :
FILM | Spike Lee’s ‘Da 5 Bloods’: An anti-imperialist perspective

Come on, Spike. You can do better than this.

By Jonah Raskin | The Rag Blog | July 2, 2020

SONOMA COUNTY, California — Spike Lee has made a name for himself over the past 35 years as the preeminent African-American film director, with movies like She’s Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X with Denzel Washington in the leading role and the BlackKkKlansman in 2018.

Lee’s new movie, Da 5 Bloods, has been praised and reviled, most notably by the Vietnamese-American author, Viet Thang Nguyen, who writes that while Lee “means well, he also does not know what to do with the Vietnamese except resort to guilty liberal feelings about them.”

Nguyen, who won a Pulitzer for his 2016 novel The Sympathizer, added, “as I watched the obligatory scene of Vietnamese soldiers getting shot and killed for the thousandth time. I felt the same hurt I did in watching Platoon and Rambo and Full Metal Jacket.
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Allen Young :
ANALYSIS | Obscure moment in 1951 recalls long history of racial injustice

The CPUSA was the only predominantly white organization to make anti-racism a major priority.

Paul Robeson presents “We Charge Genocide” by William Patterson to UN Secretariat in New York, December 17, 1951.

By Allen Young | The Rag Blog | July 2, 2020

ROYALSTON, Mass. — When I read the news a few weeks ago that Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd (the Black man killed by police in Minneapolis), went to the United Nations to call attention to racial injustice in the USA, a three-word memory from my childhood popped into my head: “We Charge Genocide.”

I was only 10 years old in 1951, when two Black men, William L. Patterson and Paul Robeson, presented a petition on the topic of racial injustice to the United Nations in both Paris and New York.

The petition was entitled “We Charge Genocide: The Crime of the Government Against the Negro People.” Patterson, credited as the author, was secretary of the Civil Rights Congress (CRC), and presented the petition in Paris on behalf of his organization, while Robeson brought it to the UN headquarters in New York City.

The language of the petition is chilling and powerful. Consider this paragraph:
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Alice Embree :
REPORT | ‘Space City!’ lives online,
survives quarantine

Houston’s underground paper is now digitized; soon to be a book.

Space City! covers, clockwise from top left: Vol. 1, No. 1; Vol. 2, No. 10;
Vol. 2, No. 5; Vol. 3, No. 4.

By Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | June 18, 2020

AUSTIN — On March 11, 2020, I shipped a near-complete collection of Space City! newspapers to Indiana to be scanned for preservation and display at the Internet Archive. Little did I know that the issues would arrive just days before the library shut down because of Covid19. For two and a half months, Space City! sat in quarantine.

On June 1, the library began to staff up again. Soon, the newspapers took on a digital life, a collection accessible to activists, academics (and the general public) interested in the transformative period chronicled on the pages of Houston’s historic underground paper. The work is now complete. Each of the 103 papers can be viewed in its entirety here.

Three issues are still missing. If you have any of them — or know of their whereabouts — please let us know.

  • Volume 3, Issue 3, November 11, 1971. Cover illustration: Mayor Louie Welch with money
  • Volume 3, Issue 32, January 10, 1972. Cover illustration: People dancing.
  • Volume 4, Issue 5, July 4, 1972. Cover image unknown.

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Lamar W. Hankins :
ANALYSIS |The crime of dark skin

There is little justice in the ‘criminal legal system’ for black people.

By Lamar W. Hankins | The Rag Blog | June 18, 2020

SAN MARCOS, TX — I lived in Vidor, Texas, until I was four years old, with my mother, grandparents, and an aunt and uncle. Two other aunts had just married and moved nearby. Vidor has a richly-deserved reputation for being one of the most inhospitable places in Texas for black people. In 1967, my friends Bill and Loretta Oliver and I took a 10-minute drive from the north side of Beaumont to Vidor to try to find the Ku Klux Klan headquarters we had heard about. Much to my surprise, it was housed on Main Street in the same storefront space where I had attended day care in 1948.

For reasons I can’t explain, none of that part of my family ever made racist or derogatory remarks toward black people that I remember. Maybe it was because of their brand of religion, or maybe they were just nice people.

After my mother remarried, we moved from Vidor to Port Arthur, where I lived until going off to college. I’ve thought about, written about, and observed racism all of my life, at least since the age of 10 when I began learning about the pervasiveness of racism in America from a black woman who did housekeeping, cooking, and child care for my parents, both of whom worked full-time jobs in the refineries.

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Joshua Brown :
POLITICAL CARTOON | Trump and friend

Previous installments are archived at
http://www.joshbrownnyc.com/ldw.htm
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Allen Young :
FILM | Two new films about Roy Cohn
review his decades of villainy

Roy Cohn is best known for being the right-hand man to Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

Film by Ivy Meeropol.

By Allen Young | The Rag Blog | June 11, 2020

NEW YORK, N.Y. — On June 19, Home Box Office (HBO) will release an informative well-crafted documentary film entitled Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn, directed by Ivy Meeropol.

Another interesting movie, Where’s My Roy Cohn?, released in 2019 and directed by Matt Tyrnauer, is streaming on Amazon Prime and Hulu.

Roy Cohn (1927-1986) is best known for being the right-hand man to Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R.-Wisc.) during the Red Scare of the mid-20th century, but he also had a long career as a New York-based attorney serving an array of clients, many of them lacking in morality and steeped in corruption and dishonesty that mirrored Cohn’s own behavior.

There is some overlapping of factual information by these films, but I want to urge readers of The Rag Blog — no matter how much you already know about the despicable Cohn — to view both of these documentaries. The details are fascinating, and even if you feel disgust as you watch the weasel-like Cohn on the screen, you’ll appreciate the insights into the dark side of this fellow human, because there are others like him, most notably Donald Trump. Neither film pretends to be “objective” and we don’t hear from anyone in either film who truly liked Cohn or thinks he was a great man.
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Jonah Raskin :
FEATURE | American teens and the
insurrection of 2020

Caught between passion and cool.

Colin. Photo by Jonah Raskin / The Rag Blog.

“People don’t ask us what we think about stuff.”
Gabriel (Gabe) Gutierrez, 18-year-old Californian and member of Generation Z

By Jonah Raskin | The Rag Blog | June 10, 2020

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif — I took a stand the other day by taking a knee and kept it for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the same amount of time that Derek Chauvin pressed his white knee down on George Floyd’s black neck and ended his life. A bullet to his head or the heart would probably have killed him faster and been less painful. But Chauvin’s point seemed to be to make Floyd’s passing as painful as possible and with the least amount of effort on his part while Floyd struggled to breathe.

I was not the only person who took a knee outside the police department in the town where I live. Most of the other demonstrators were white adults over the age of 40, though some teenagers, and some people of color, participated. A young African-American woman who had shaved one side of her head, and arranged the hair on the other side in cornrows, told me, “I just moved to California from Utah where it feels more like a police state than it does here.”

Young African-Americans like the former Utah resident, seem to know how to make eloquent statements with their hair and their bodies with more ease than many of their white counterparts. On her face mask, in white letters on a black background, she had written George Floyd’s words, “I Can’t Breathe,” which struck me as more timely and more relevant than “Black Lives Matter.”

”I Can’t Breathe” is an urgent matter of life and death. It’s individual, universal and inclusive.

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Joshua Brown :
POLITICAL CARTOON | Photo op

Previous installments are archived at
http://www.joshbrownnyc.com/ldw.htm
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Jonah Raskin :
BOOKS | The doctor is sick

A review of Susan Reverby’s new book about former leftist fugitive Dr. Alan Bergman.


Co-Conspirator for Justice: The Revolutionary Life of Dr. Alan Bergman by Susan M. Reverby (2020: University of North Carolina Press; $30)


By Jonah Raskin | The Rag Blog | June 6, 2020

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif — Marilyn Buck doesn’t show up in Susan Reverby’s biography of Dr. Alan Berkman (1945-2009) until about page 100 in a 300-page book, when she hooked up with members of the Black Liberation Army (BLA). From that decisive moment in the 1970s, until her death from cancer in 2010, Buck played a vital role in Berkman’s life — they were briefly lovers — and also in the armed underground groups, including the BLA, to which they were affiliated.

Like her, Berkman died of cancer. Like her, he served time in prison, though not as long. Like her, he thought of himself as a revolutionary. Unlike her he was Jewish, Ivy League, and East Coast all the way.

Born in 1947 in Temple, Texas, and the daughter of a liberal Episcopal minister, Buck belonged to SDS, was a volunteer at the original Rag in Austin, wrote for New Left Notes, worked with Third World Newsreel, and in 1979 presumably helped BLA member, Assata Shakur, escape from prison.
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Alice Embree :
ANALYSIS | Vote by mail in Texas: Do it!

In the courts, the issue continues to be a roller
coaster ride.

The author, with Vote by Mail application.

By Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | June 5, 2020

AUSTIN — In this ongoing pandemic and national uprising over the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, Black Lives Matter. And democracy matters. It matters that Rep. Steven King was defeated in Iowa and it matters that Ella Jones was elected as the first woman and first African American mayor of Ferguson, Missouri.

I want you to vote. And I want you to vote by mail if you can. Do it for the poll workers. Do it for your own safety. Do it because Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton doesn’t want you to do it. Do it because the entire Republican Party hates the idea.

Just do it. And do it soon.

In Texas you need to mail in an application. Get it done if you want to vote in the Texas primary runoff July 14. I suggest you take a photo of yourself wearing a mask and holding your stamped envelope. Post the photo on social media. That will doubly disturb our disturbed president. And it might give our indicted Texas Attorney General heartburn as well.
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