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Robert Jensen : The Collapse of Journalism by Robert Jensen / The Rag Blog. In this provocative essay, Jensen writes that, "For those who believe that a robust public-affairs journalism is essential for a society striving to be democratic, the 21st century has been characterized by bad news that keeps getting worse." Calling for a new "apocalyptic journalism," Jensen says it's past time for us "to pay attention to how multiple, cascading ecological crises" should be dramatically changing the mission of contemporary journalism.
Norman Pagett and Josephine Smit : Grain of Truth by Norman Pagett and Josephine Smit / End of More. In writing about "our precarious food supply," the authors observe that "We owe our lives to technology that uses 10 calories of energy in the process of growing food to produce a single calorie of energy in the food we eat." Global food production, they say, has fallen "into the hands of fewer and fewer megacorporations" driven by short-term profits, and that the situation is clearly unsustainable.
REPORT / Mariann G. Wizard : 'La Vida Coca' in Bolivia and Peru / 2 by Mariann G. Wizard / The Rag Blog. In the second part of her report on the social traditions and politics of "La Vida Coca" in Bolivia and Peru, Mariann notes that 50% of Bolivia's gross national product is related to coca. Wizard, a professional science writer, says that everybody asks her, "What is it like to chew coca?" What they really want to know, she says, is "What is it like compared to cocaine?" She says there is no issue of addiction and that the effect is "both energizing and calming."
BOOKS / Jonah Raskin : Blake Slonecker's 'New Dawn' Tells the LNS Story by Jonah Raskin / The Rag Blog. Slonecker's "A New Dawn for the New Left," provides a "valuable portrait" of Liberation News Service (LNS), the radical news outlet started in the late Sixties that lasted more than a decade "and that provided a real alternative to the manufactured news and information disseminated by the Associated Press." The book "captures the spirit of the freewheeling Sixties," and "makes a substantial contribution" to the literature about the era.
Michael James : Doing the Whirlpool at the Paradise by Michael James / The Rag Blog. James continues to share images from his upcoming book, "Michael Gaylord James' Pictures from the Long Haul," adding his personal reflections for our readers. With his wonderful photo of the whirlpool at Chicago's Paradise bathhouse, Michael describes his life-long love for water "in all its forms -- liquid, steam, and ice," and his experiences "in rushing rivers, waterfalls, warm and cold pools at hotels...and agua joints throughout the world."
Alan Waldman : ‘Wire in the Blood’ is a Gripping British Crime Series by Alan Waldman / The Rag Blog. Continuing his feature on vintage films and TV shows that can now be watched via Netflix and other media, Alan touts the British crime series, "Wire in the Blood," in which "Robson Green is powerful as an eccentric, troubled clinical psychologist who helps police solve gruesome Yorkshire crimes."
BOOKS / Ron Jacobs : Wu Ming Does the Middle Ages by Ron Jacobs / The Rag Blog. "Q" and "Altai" are books by the Italian author collective that now writes under the name, "Wu Ming." In these masterful novels set in the Middle Ages, "the reader is propelled into a tale of spies for and against the Church; of bloody feuds between armies of the Church and peasant rebels; and communities organized along principles we would now call communist."
BOOKS / Bill Fletcher Jr. : Gar Alperovitz and Visions of a New World by Bill Fletcher Jr. / Jacobin. Fletcher reviews "What Must We Do?: Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution," by political economist Gar Alperovitz. Alperovitz suggests "what can be done right now to demonstrate to a growing population weary of neoliberal capitalism that another world is not only necessary and possible, but that one can already see the first glimmers of that new world." Fletcher believes that the book's advocacy for "structural reforms" is "compelling," but doesn't go far enough.
Lamar W. Hankins : Guantánamo Turns Us All Into Monsters by Lamar W. Hankins / The Rag Blog. "There should be no question," Lamar says, "that George W. Bush is the first to charge for the shame of Guantanamo." But now, he adds, "President Obama, the Congress, and the nation share the shame." "The President says the right things, but he doesn't seem to have the political will to release those wrongly imprisoned in Guantanamo," Hankins says.
REPORT / Mariann G. Wizard : 'La Vida Coca' in Bolivia and Peru by Mariann G. Wizard / The Rag Blog. In the first of a three-parter, the Wizard reports on her recent trip to Bolivia and Peru and her research into the history and politics of the coca plant and its oft-notorious derivatives -- ranging from the historical traditions of indigenous peoples to the profound affects coca and its alkaloids have had on North American and European culture -- and the continuing defiance of Bolivian President Evo Morales.
PHOTO ESSAY / Otis Ike : The NRA War Party in Houston Text and photos by Otis Ike / The Rag Blog. Noted photographer Ike reports from the NRA's annual convention in Houston ("A Klan rally without hoods") where he found "children salivating over automatic weapons in an environment where showboating adults were calling for the overthrow of the President of the United States." Don't miss his remarkable gallery of photographs.
RAG RADIO / Thorne Dreyer : 'Radio Unnameable' Legend Bob Fass and Filmmaker Paul Lovelace by Thorne Dreyer / Rag Radio. Bob Fass is an American broadcast legend who was a pioneer of free-form radio. His show provided an early forum for counterculture figures like Abbie Hoffman, Bob Dylan, and Paul Krassner. Filmmaker Paul Lovelace's "Radio Unnameable" is a critically-acclaimed documentary about Fass and his legacy at WBAI in New York. Read the story and listen to Dreyer's Rag Radio interview with Fass and Lovelace.