Alice Embree :
Give us bread, but give us roses

Remembering Glenn Scott, Loreto Espinoza, and Susan Duncan, sisters in solidarity.

Solidarity Activists: Renato Espinoza (from left), Sue Duncan, Cam Duncan, Loreto Espinoza, Alice Embree, Mary Sue Lowry, Carlos Lowry, Glenn Scott in 2005.

By Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | September 17, 2018

AUSTIN — In a short span of time three women I greatly admired passed from this life to the next. Susan (Sue) Duncan passed away in August of 2017, Loreto Encina Espinoza in August 2018, and Glenn Scott just days ago. Breast cancer finally took these strong women down.

They were all major influences in my life, examples of how to live a life and how to blend family and friendships with activism. I have a picture from 2005 (above). Eight of us are gathered at the home of Renato and Loreto Espinoza. Sue is in that picture and so is Glenn. Renato, Loreto and my mother-in-law, who had been a doctor in Chile, are all there. Only three of the eight, Cam Duncan, Carlos Lowry and I are still living. We were all participants in solidarity work after the military coup of September 11, 1973, overthrew Salvador Allende’s socialist government in Chile.
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Alan Waldman :
TELEVISION | ‘Republic of Doyle’ is a fun, Newfie, father-son, gumshoe series

Mystery, comedy, action and romance combine in this lively series set in far eastern Canada.

Jake Doyle is played by Allan Hawco, who was the co-creator of the series and who co-scripted many episodes.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | September 2, 2018

[In his Rag Blog 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, Amazon Prime, and/or Netflix, and some episodes are on YouTube.]

77 Episodes (six seasons) of this fun, fast, funny thriller series aired on the CW network from 2011-2016. In it, father and son private investigators take on a range of dangerous cases in very colorful St. John’s, the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador — Canada’s easternmost province.

The father, Malachy Doyle, is admirably played by esteemed Irish actor Seán McGinley (winner Irish Film and TV Award best supporting actor, On a Clear Day; his 80 credits include Braveheart, Michael Collins, Shetland, Love/Hate, Bleak House, The Vice, Midsomer Murders, Cold Feet, and Circle of Friends.)
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Paul Buhle :
Two global peace leaders pass

Uri Avnery and David McReynolds carried on the tradition of the great Eugene V. Debs.

Uri Avnery, left, and David McReynolds.

By Paul Buhle | The Rag Blog | August 25, 2018

Within just a few days, 94-year-old Uri Avnery and 88-year-old David McReynolds died. I am not sure they ever met, although they had toiled so long, led or took part in so many peace movements with the same species of war hawk enemies, the two can be seen as twin souls in the struggles against the worst tendencies of our time.

Readers interested in the details of their backgrounds, where they lived, who they partnered with romantically, and so on, can find this information easily enough on the web.

Avnery, born in Europe, found himself in the Irgun military in the founding war of Israel, and regretted the acts that the new Israelis committed against Palestinian civilians all the rest of his long life. A confirmed leftist in a country that excluded a fifth of its population from real citizenship and moved steadily toward the Right from at least 1967 onward, he could not succeed.
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Anne Lewis and James Retherford :
PHOTO ESSAY | Rag-Tag Far-Right Group Met by Wall of Noise in Austin

Hook ’em: Right-wing security guard at demonstration at Texas State Capitol, Saturday, August 18, 2018. Photo by Anne Lewis /
The Rag Blog.

By Thorne Dreyer | The Rag Blog | August 24, 2018

AUSTIN — A flimsy contingent of far-right activists and representatives from white nationalist groups, numbering at most three dozen, was totally drowned out by at least 500 noisy counter-demonstrators during a rally on the steps of the Austin State Capital on Saturday, August 18.

The counter-protesters, many from the Austin chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), were armed with drums, horns, sirens, pots and pans, and a variety of other noisemakers.

The event, ironically tagged the Austin March Against Far-Left Violence, was hosted by Texans United for America, and, according to the Texas Observer, was sponsored by Texas State Rep. Dan Flynn, known for carrying controversial anti-Islam legislation.
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Ivan Koop Kuper :
Bidding a fond farewell to Bayou City troubadour Don Sanders

Influential singer-songwriter was also the ‘Mayor of Montrose.

Don Sanders, 1970s.

By Ivan Koop Kuper | The Rag Blog | August 15, 2018

HOUSTON — On the wall of the back room of Sand Mountain Coffee House, Houston’s one-time folk mecca located on Richmond Avenue in the Montrose neighborhood, patrons were greeted by a mural of several performers who, at one time, graced the stage of Mrs. Carrick’s songwriter proving ground. The mural was a collage of images that included Sand Mountain regulars: Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Mickey Newbury, Jerry Jeff Walker — and the late Don Sanders.

After a heroic battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS, this past year, Don Sanders, singer, songwriter, storyteller, novelist, theatrical director, educator, husband, father, humorist, and humanitarian, succumbed to the physical effects of this motor neurone disease that affects speaking, swallowing, and eventually breathing; Sanders, age 75, slipped away peacefully on July 21, at hospice care.
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Alice Embree :
Fight Like a Girl

How women’s activism shapes history.

Life & Letters, Magazine for the College of Liberal Arts at the Univesity of Texas at Austin, Issue No. 31, Summer 2018.

By Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | August 4, 2018

“Fight Like a Girl: How Women’s Activism Shapes History” appears as a feature article in the Summer 2018 edition of Life & Letters, a publication of the Liberal Arts College at the University of Texas at Austin. The article, written by Rachel Griess, is accompanied by a video. Life & Letters and the Humanities Media Project at UT-Austin collaborated on the video.

The article grew out of a Fall 2017 History class taught by UT History Professor Laurie Green. Glenn Scott and I, both of whom worked with Austin’s underground newspaper, The Rag (1966-1977), identified a list of women to contact, some far flung, most still living in Austin.
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Mariann G. Wizard :
VERSE | Didn’t You Hear us?

Entering a testy twilight,
is my vision grown so dim?
Or has everyone gone deaf?
Didn’t you hear us the first time?

Nuclear power is an abomination.
War is harmful to children and other living things.
Mother Nature doesn’t make mistakes.
And please, keep your religion out of my free will!
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Roy Casagranda :
The U.S. is in trouble

We cannot even stand to live next to
each other.

The Ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail, is a symbol of infinity or wholeness. Except, in the case of the United States, the snake may simply be eating itself.

By Roy Casagranda | The Rag Blog | July 26, 2015

I think the U.S. is in trouble. That is not necessarily a bad thing. It might give us an opportunity to remake ourselves. We have been an imperialist genocidal murder machine since the beginning. A new start is in order. My fear is that when a violent state starts to unravel instead of going down with grace they usually go down in a violent fit of refusing to see reality.

USers are terrible at reality. I think that the average Third World state’s population has as good of an understanding as the average USer. And by “in trouble,” I don’t just mean because of global warming or running out of oil, or even our debt crisis and failing infrastructure.
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Larry Piltz :
STORY | Following the creek

By Larry Piltz | The Rag Blog | July 25, 2018

When I was in Taylor early afternoon a few weeks ago, and turning south on 79 heading back toward Manor, a gorgeous adult bobcat, appearing especially dear and vulnerable and capable, crossed under the highway, her sensual muscularity and stretching sinews moving her stealthily and otherwise openly through a culvert passing under the pavement concrete bridge. Wanting to remain out of sight, she nevertheless had to expose herself to view to continue following the prolific and flood-prone Mustang Creek, which crosses under 79. And bobcat stopped on a big grassy spot in the sunlight in the median, open to anyone passing by with the eyes to see, between the heavily trafficked roaring north and south lanes with heavy vehicles vibrating the road itself, to catch her breath and assess her position and probably to calm herself amidst the awful stress oppression of her struggle for survival in such an environment. Her mouth was open and seemed to be panting, this healthy prime of life venturer.
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Henry Mecredy :
Engineering professors going to waste!

The misapplication of the concept of competition provides cover for all this waste.

Chevrolet four-door sedan.

Ford four-door sedan.

By Henry Mecredy | The Rag Blog | July 25, 2018

A large percentage of the average engineering professor’s time is wasted. This unhappy circumstance arises because so much of the average engineer’s efforts are duplicated in a process of reinvention of the wheel that is socially sanctioned, obvious, and generally invisible.

One does not pass through an engineering curriculum without being admonished to consider the designs and problems one confronts as parts of a system. Applying this caveat to the commercial and industrial world, it is a system that pits engineers performing identical tasks — creating nearly interchangeable but trivially different goods — against one another.
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Thorne Dreyer :
RAG RADIO PODCASTS | Philip Russell, Bruce Melton, Jay Wehnert, Glenn Smith, Pat Thomas & James Retherford, Bill Kirchen, Roy Casagranda, Patricia Vonne, Genevieve Van Cleve & Luis Guerra, Sydney Wright, Ty Richards & Andy Macintyre, Margo Sawyer

Our guests include activists & environmentalists & political analysts; musicians, a storyteller, a slam poet, an architectural sculptor & a Jerry Rubin biographer; plus we discuss Outsider Art & welcome AMLO to Mexico.

Guitar virtuoso Bill Kirchen performs on Rag Radio in the KOOP studios in Austin on June 1, 2018. Photo by Roger Baker / Rag Radio.

Interviews by Thorne Dreyer | The Rag Blog | July 24, 2018

The following podcasts are from recent Rag Radio shows with host and producer 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.

The show first airs Fridays, 2-3 p.m. (CT) on KOOP, 91.7-FM in Austin, and streams live at and Radio Free America.
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Philip L. Russell :
The election of AMLO: Optimism and skepticism in Mexico

The election leaves in its wake a radically different political landscape.

Mexican President-elect López Obrador. Photo by Eneas De Troya, Mexico City, May 6, 2012 / Wikimedia Commons.

By Philip L. Russell | The Rag Blog | July 11, 2018

Philip Russell will join Thorne Dreyer on Rag Radio, Friday, July 13, 2018, to discuss this article and the ascendance of Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico. Rag Radio is a syndicated radio program that first airs on KOOP 91.7-FM in Austin and is streamed live here.

Listen to the podcast of Thorne Dreyer’s interview with Philip Russell here.

Philip Russell writes about Mexico for The Rag Blog. Read his earlier series about the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto.

“Mexico turned left. No one knows exactly what that means. However, the new Mexico will certainly be different from the one which has existed until now.” — Jorge Ramos Ávalos

By now the whole world knows that Andrés Manuel López Obrador, widely known by his initials, AMLO, won the July 1 presidential election in Mexico with 53 percent of the vote. It was his third time as a presidential candidate. In that aspect, he follows in the footsteps of two twentieth-century icons of the Latin American left — Salvador Allende of Chile and Lula of Brazil — who were both elected president after two failed presidential bids.
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