Category Archives: RagBlog

Shepherd Bliss :
In praise of honeybees

We two-footeds can learn much from the winged honeybees.

“Life vs Monsanto,” gouache on paper. © Cecilia Colomé.

By Shepherd Bliss | The Rag Blog | July 30, 2019

SEBASTOPOL, California — I attended a honeybee gathering recently at a wild place in rural Sebastopol. During my nearly 30 years of organic farming here, I have usually had honeybee hives on my farm. The berries need their pollination.

We two-footeds can learn much from the winged honeybees, especially during this time of international crises. Such bees can help us at this time, which some describe as possibly the final days for humanity, as we move toward a possible exchange of nuclear weapons and the mounting climate change. Fortunately, people in Peru, Scotland, India, and elsewhere honor and pay tribute to honey bees.

“Bees are our family members,” one person at the gathering said. “We honor and pay tribute to this ancient ally of humans. They know the way,” bee whisper host Michael said. “Honeybees call us to awareness. If you are angry or aggressive, the bees feel it.” “How can we transform our anger?” Gary Pace, M.D. asked.
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Jonah Raskin :
Paul Krassner, 1932-2019: American satirist

Krassner, who edited ‘The Realist,’ took up where Lenny Bruce left off.

Paul Krassner at City Lights Bookstore, 2009. Photo by Heidi De Vries / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0.

By Jonah Raskin | The Rag Blog | July 29, 2019


“He’s gone. Feel free to spread the word,” Michael Simmons said in an email that went out to a few dozen or so of the usual suspects, including Wavy Gravy, Judy Gumbo, Larry (Ratzo) Sloman, Jim Fouratt, Rex Weiner, Aron Kay, Kate Coleman, Jeffrey St. Clair, and Barbara Garson, some of whom had been Yippies, Zippies and their fellow travelers.

“He,” who was now gone at the age of 87, was Paul Krassner, who took up where Lenny Bruce left off, edited The Realist, helped found the Yippies, reinvigorated satire, defended free speech at every opportunity, and who lived at the end of his life in Desert Hot Springs, California, in part because of the climate and also because he could afford to live there.
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Anne Lewis :
STORY & VIDEO PODCAST | Asylum, terror, and the future #5: From military officer to drug lord

Based on case stories by Jennifer Harbury…

Asylum, Terror, and the Future #5 from military officer to drug lord Based on case stories of Jennifer Harbury from Anne Lewis on Vimeo.

By Anne Lewis | The Rag Blog | July 27, 2019

When people say that the current removals of workers and families, use of military force, concentration camps, denial of entrance for refugees, snatching of children from the arms of their mothers and fathers are new under the Trump Administration, they have little understanding of our history. It’s easy to find examples of all of these — based in the pervasive belief that white America is racially, ethically, and politically superior to other nations and peoples, both within our national boundaries and without.

This podcast explores with Jennifer Harbury why it is that so many refugees flee from Central America even though they know full well the danger of the journey with kidnapping, rape, and physical torment, and the potential for torture, imprisonment, and deportation across our border.

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Ivan Koop Kuper :
A candid portrait of Daniel DeWitt
Thomas, Part 1

The making of the 13th Floor Elevators’ album, ‘Easter Everywhere.’

The Elevators’ Danny Thomas (below, on drums) and
Stacy Sutherland.

By Ivan Koop Kuper | The Rag Blog | July 24, 2019

HOUSTON — Danny Thomas, a former drummer-turned-author and a native son of North Carolina, celebrated his 71st birthday last January 15 in his hometown of Charlotte. Thomas, now semi-retired, is at that point in his life where he can stop and reflect back on the turbulent times of his youth and the happenstance chain of events that placed him on a fast-paced, roller coaster ride of both musical and chemical experimentation.

The direction of Thomas’ life would be one of transformation when he accepted the position as the replacement drummer of the Texas psych-rock band known as the 13th Floor Elevators.

Daniel DeWitt Thomas was born into a very old aristocratic East Coast family. His father’s “Pennsylvania Dutch” roots can not only be traced back to pre-Revolutionary War America, but his family was among the first settlers in the Carolinas. His mother’s family lineage equals that of her husband’s and can be linked to the original founding fathers of New Amsterdam, later to be renamed The City of New York by the British.
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Joshua Brown :
POLITICAL CARTOON | Happy Fourth of July

Previous installments are archived at

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Anne Lewis :
STORY & VIDEO PODCAST | Asylum, terror, and the future #4: ‘Hieleras’

Based on case stories by Jennifer Harbury…

Asylum, Terror, and the Future #4 Hieleras from Anne Lewis on Vimeo.

By Anne Lewis | The Rag Blog | July 3, 2019

“The hielera was freezing cold. It was so cold that my son’s lips began to chap. His lips were so chapped that they burst and his lips were bleeding.”

“I was held with a woman who had an 8-day-old baby. The baby was screaming and crying because it was so cold. The little baby was forced to lie on the cement floor because there were no beds. The women all begged CBP to do something to help this baby—to give it a blanket, give the nursing mother extra food, or let the baby’s mother be processed first so that the baby could leave, but CBP refused.”

Special Report, American Immigration Council, December 2015

A class action case filed in June 2015 alleges “freezing, overcrowded, and filthy cells in violation of the U.S. Constitution and the agencies’ own policies.” Photographs unsealed in 2016 remain some of the few pieces of visual documentation.

This short video contains descriptions of conditions from Jennifer Harbury. We see refugees on the bridge in Matamoros, Mexico. They wear warm clothing in 90 degree heat, knowing that they are close to the head of the line and will be taken directly to hieleras. A refugee notices the sun and shares her umbrella with an aide.
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Steve Rossignol :
‘Operative 100’: The snitch who maimed Texas socialism

It was a conscious effort initialized and orchestrated by corporate interests.

Waco Times Herald, May 20, 1917.

By Steve Rossignol | The Rag Blog | July 3, 2019

It is no secret that throughout American history the labor movement has been infiltrated by government and corporations. This private spying business had its roots with the Pinkerton private detective agency, which after the Civil War earned the reputation as a paid strike breaker and union buster.

The Pinkerton business model soon led to a proliferation of private detective agencies dedicated to the same goal of destruction of the organized labor movement. American industrialists employed them in the quest for profit and at the expense of its workforce as the struggle between labor and capital intensified into sometimes bloody conflicts. And it should be noted that the information provided by those agencies and agents many times proved to be full of misinformation.
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Steve Russell :
In the aftermath of ‘The Photo’

Is the United States becoming a rogue nation?

Rio Grande river. Creative Commons photo by Ryan Moehring /
USFWS / Flickr.

By Steve Russell | The Rag Blog | June 27, 2019

Unless you live under a rock, you saw the photo— the same one I saw, the one that set my stomach churning even worse than those of the filthy conditions in our kiddie jails, yours and mine. We also own that picture: Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his almost two year old daughter, Valeria, face down where their bodies washed up. In death, the baby’s arm was still around her father.

I would show you the photo if the copyright laws allowed it. It’s all over Fake News: CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times. You can bet it’s all over Europe as well, and the countries that mean us ill will keep it around to illustrate our president’s crazed tweets on immigration. Remember the “caravans” that required a military response the day before the election and evaporated as the votes were being counted?

Those who accept the task of apologizing for the photo will claim the fault lies with the dead man who fled El Salvador with his family and chose to die in the river between Matamoros, Tamaulipas, and Brownsville, Texas. He died trying to break U.S. law.
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Jonah Raskin :
BOOKS | ‘In the Company of Rebels’

Jonah reviews Chellis Glendinning’s memoir about her friends, lovers, and comrades.

By Jonah Raskin | The Rag Blog | June 26, 2019

At the very start of her new heartfelt book — In the Company of Rebels: A Generational Memoir of Bohemians, Deep Heads, and History Makers ($24.95, New Village Press) — about her friends, lovers, and comrades, Chellis Glendinning asks why one should bother to learn about “other generations’ attempts to bring justice, peace and beauty into this tattered world.”

Her answer a few paragraphs later is expressed in two words, “History rocks,” which might satisfy the needs of rock ‘n’ rollers and their ilk but probably won’t appeal to historians and scholars.

Imbued with the idea that her contemporaries — the rebels of the last 50 or so years — “have been sturdy, creative, courageous catalysts” Glendinning recounts some of the key movements of contemporary history and offers compact and compelling biographies of 46 individuals, some of them household names in lefty homes and others hardly known at all, or mostly forgotten.
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Lamar W. Hankins :
Reflections on patriotism, July 4, 1776 to July 4, 2019

Only by helping create the change that makes liberty and equality possible can I feel patriotic.

Columbus lands on Hispaniola where he is met by Arawaks who were subjected to genocide, a pattern of suppression that continued with Native Americans. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

By Lamar W. Hankins | The Rag Blog | June 26, 2019

“A man’s country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle, and patriotism is loyalty to that principle.”  — George William Curtis, 19th Century writer and editor of Harper‘s

“Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.” — James Bryce, British Member of Parliament and Ambassador to the U.S

I’m not sure when I began to feel patriotic about this country. From the age of 10, when I began learning about the history of mistreatment of “Negroes,” it was impossible for me to feel pride and love for a country whose government allowed and encouraged the enslavement of some people followed by massive discrimination against those same people.

Later, I learned about the destruction and subjugation of “Indians” in numbers rightly called genocide. Later, I found out about discrimination against others due to their ethnicity, their sexual orientation, and their birth into the poor and working classes that pushes them into multiple forms of impoverishment.
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Anne Lewis :
STORY & VIDEO PODCAST | Asylum, terror, and the future #3: Crying babies

Based on case stories of Jennifer Harbury…

ASYLUM, TERROR, and the FUTURE #3 Crying Babies based on cases stories of Jennifer Harbury from Anne Lewis on Vimeo.

By Anne Lewis | The Rag Blog | June 11, 2019

“Having children does not give you immunity from arrest and prosecution… I would cite the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes.” — Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“Creating psychosis isn’t the cure.” — Pope Francis

It’s hard to imagine young children being taken away from their parents. It brings with it flashes of scenes from the Holocaust or, closer to home, slave auctions and American Indian Residential Schools.

“Zero tolerance” was inherited from the Bush administration, continued through Obama with families housed together in private prisons. It was at least partially discontinued at T. Don Hutto under strong social protest led by Grassroots Leadership, but the idea of punishing parents through separation and hardship directed towards children remained part of immigration policy. In April 2018, the Trump Administration specifically implemented separation of children from their parents at the border.
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Mariann G. Wizard :
Akwasi Evans: poet, publisher, and
born rebel

Publisher of Austin community newspaper, ‘NOKOA: The Observer,’ is dead at 70.

Akwasi Evans with bullhorn. Image courtesy SouthPop.

By Mariann G. Wizard | The Rag Blog | June 19, 2019

Also see “METRO EVENT: Akwasi Evans: Speaking Truth to Power: A Tribute,” on The Rag Blog for more details.

Akwasi Evans, an Austin activist and community publisher for half of his 70 years, passed away from complications of prostate cancer on April 18, 2019, at his Austin home. An online obituary covers the basics of early life, family, and his life and work in Austin.

Other obits and news of Evans’ death appeared in the Austin American-Statesman, Austin Chronicle, KUT-FM, and a piece by his longtime friend, golf partner, fellow publisher, and radio co-host Tommy Wyatt in The Villager.

Each report brings to light new perspectives on Evans’ service to his chosen community. At his funeral, over 200 family, friends, and political associates, people from all walks of life, heard him eulogized by Dr. Nelson Linder, president of Austin’s NAACP, and eight ministers. Yet it’s not enough. Akwasi’s passing leaves a huge hole in Austin’s progressive community, and filling it seems highly unlikely, as he was a uniquely dedicated man who called himself a born rebel.
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