About Z Commentaries

Z Commentaries are sent every night to all Z Sustainers, and have been for many years. They are a kind of thank you mailing, you might say, for those who are supporting our overall operations. 

Commentators are diverse and many. A few of the more prominent ones are listed in the top menu, to show just their work. In time we will add a left menu, up above this text area, and below the generic menu that now appears, with the same purpose, but for more people. 

Recent Z Commentaries

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Mark Weisbrot: The Looting of Russia

Mark Weisbrot What were they thinking? When executives at the Bank of New York saw billions of dollars floating in from the home computer of a Russian businessman with ties to organized crime there, did they really believe that these were just ordinary profits? The biggest money-laundering scandal in history has prompted calls for a Read more…

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Edward Herman: The Western Betrayal of East Timor

Edward Herman  and David Peterson Led by Australia, U.N.-sponsored peacekeepers continue to arrive in East Timor, where they are finding a staggering level of destruction. Reconnaissance flights over the half-island territory report scenes of Biblical dimensions, where the "Lord rained down fire and brimstone from the skies." The departing Indonesian forces have burned virtually every Read more…

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Saul Landau: The APEC Meeting

Saul Landau I just returned from New Zealand, the host of the APEC and anti-APEC conferences over last week. Until Indonesian army thugs started their violent cleansing in East Timor, New Zealand wits had called the Asian Pacific economic cooperation group All Politicians Enjoy Cocktails. New Zealanders face serious trade issues like a $1.7 billion Read more…

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Site Administrator: Nazi Nostalgia in Croatia

Diana Johnstone When I visited Croatia three years ago, the book most prominently displayed in the leading bookstores of the capital city Zagreb was a new edition of the notorious anti-Semitic classic, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion". Next came the memoires of the World War II Croatian fascist Ustashe dictator Ante Pavelic, responsible Read more…

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Mark Weisbrot: Growing Concerns Over WTO

Mark Weisbrot In just a couple of months thousands of environmentalists, steel workers, longshoremen, AIDS activists, farmers, and others will descend upon Seattle in a "mobilization against globalization." They will hold marches, protests, teach-ins, and conferences. The occasion? The World Trade Organization is holding a meeting of ministers from its 134 member countries, to talk Read more…

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Norman Solomon: Big Media Applaud Big Media Merger

Norman Solomon When the story about Viacom and CBS broke a few days ago, news accounts quickly depicted a match made in corporate heaven — at more than $37 billion, the largest media merger in history. With the public kept outside the frame, it was a rosy picture. "Analysts hailed the deal as a good Read more…

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Betsy Hartmann: Cross Dressing Malthus

Betsy Hartman October 12, 1999 has the dubious distinction of being both Columbus Day and ‘Day of 6 Billion,’ ostensibly the day world population will pass the six billion people mark. A well-funded media campaign, organized by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), the Communications Consortium Media Center and others is already revving Read more…

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Cynthia Peters: Educational Philosophies and Power in the Classroom

Cynthia Peters It’s that time of year. The yellow school buses are back on the road. The stores are stocked with Disney-theme lunch boxes, pencil cases and loose-leaf paper. Kids are wondering about their teachers. Parents are worrying about the quality of education. And educators are arguing about educational philosophies. One of the controversies is Read more…

Clark Kissenger: Summary of Mumia’s Current Situation

C. Clark Kissenger Because many people have requested an explanation of Mumia’s legal situation, let me explain concisely why Mumia’s case is at a critical point as we go into the September Mumia Awareness Week. All appeals by Mumia Abu-Jamal in the Pennsylvania court system have been denied, and he is about to begin his Read more…

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Nikos Raptis: European Labor

Nikos Raptis The Building The German word "Reichstag" means parliament. In colloquial German it also means the parliament building. It is not an exaggeration to say that this building, the Reichstag, is a very important part of the history of the 20th century. On the evening of February 27, 1933 Putzi Hanfstaengl, a Harvard educated Read more…

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Manning Marable: The Battle for Ideas

Manning Marable Political power always expresses itself as a body of ideas. If you can create and popularize the key ideas that define the general perceptions about public issues, you will largely determine what happens politically. It matters less who gets elected, than what policies and programs that person implements once in office. Politics is Read more…

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Site Administrator: International Labor Solidarity Puts Pressure on Indonesia

Elaine Bernard In contrast to organized labor’s division over what should be done about the Kosovo crisis, the current mayhem and mass killing in East Timor has galvanized a powerful and unified response from unions internationally. Organized labor, and most especially unions in Australia, Canada, and Europe have not only fired off press statements, but Read more…

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Cynthia Peters: East Timor Activism in Boston

Cynthia Peters The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Tuesday, September 14, 1999 that "Piles of bodies were burnt on the streets of Dili at the weekend and tens of thousands of refugees were without food or water as they fled the militias and the Indonesian Army. . . Dr Andrew McNaughton, spokesman for the Darwin-based Read more…

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Russell Mokhiber: Moving Gently on East Timor

Russell Mokhiber  and Robert Weissman The Clinton administration’s shamefully slow response to the savagery unleashed by the Indonesian military and militia on the people of East Timor allowed a vicious slaughter to take place. East Timor’s capital, Dili, now lies in ruins, hundreds or quite likely thousands of Timorese have been killed since they voted Read more…

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Mark Weisbrot: Washington Fiddles While East Timor Burns

Mark Weisbrot The violence and crisis in East Timor has raised pointed questions about U.S. foreign policy and what we stand for in the world. It was only months ago that we bombed Serbia for 78 days, killing hundreds and perhaps thousands of innocent civilians, supposedly to stop the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo. Now we Read more…

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Stephen R. Shalom: The State of the World

    This summer, the United Nations Development Programme issued its annual Human Development Report. The document is a stinging indictment of globalization and its horrific impact on the well-being of so many of the world’s people. According to the Report, in developing countries nearly 1.3 billion people do not have access to clean water, Read more…

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Saul Landau: Zany U.S. Rafting Policy

Saul Landau It’s hurricane time in the Caribbean, so we’ll have a temporary respite from Cubans floating to Florida on inner tubes from that red island 90 miles away, and even from Cubans brought over in speedboats. Smugglers earn up to $8,000 per person they bring illegally into the United States. Unlike all other migrants, Read more…

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Edward Herman: Russian Corruption

Edward S. Herman With the discovery of the massive laundering of Russian money– some of it compliments of the IMF, and U.S. taxpayers–through the Bank of New York, the issue of Russian corruption is now "in." But it presents the establishment with a problem. After all, didn’t we help put into power and encourage people Read more…

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Russell Mokhiber: An Outsider’s View of the One-Sided Class Warfare in the U.S.

Russell Mokhiber  and Robert Weissman "While in theory U.S. law provides for workers to have freedom of association, the right to join trade unions and participate in collective bargaining is in practice denied to large segments of the American workforce in both the public and the private sectors." That is the central conclusion of a Read more…

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David Peterson: Genocide 2?

David Peterson With the United Nations seriously considering the final evacuation of the last members of its international staff from the capital city of Dili any day now, East Timor is threatened with being plunged into a black hole from which virtually no news could any longer escape. But no news is better than bad Read more…

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Edward Herman: Inhumanitarian Nonintervention in East Timor

Edward Herman Coming so soon after the NATO devastation of Yugoslavia in the alleged interest of humanitarianism and protection of human rights, the performance of the NATO powers in the East Timor crisis strikingly confirms the views of those who questioned the moral basis of NATO’s intervention in Kosovo. In the Kosovo case, NATO insisted Read more…

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Clarence Lusane: Clinton Escapes Again

Clarence Lusane Each Summer the major civil rights organizations hold their annual gatherings. Attended by thousands, these events include workshops, plenaries, and major addresses by civil rights leaders, trade union officials, representatives from women and youth organizations, and high-level government officials up to and including the President and Vice President of the United States. The Read more…

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Vandana Shiva: Stopping Biopiracy

Vandan Shiva The patents on the anti-diabetic properties of karela, jamun, brinjal once again highlight the problem of Biopiracy – the patenting of indigenous biodiversity related knowledge. U.S. Patent No. 5,900,240 was granted recently to Cromak Research Inc. Based in new Jersey. The assignees are two non-resident Indians. Onkar S. Tomer and Kripanath Borah, and Read more…

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Brian Dominick: An Appeal for Continued Anti-War Efforts

Brian Dominick Did I just see what I think I saw? Has a growing anti-war movement suddenly become dormant, for the umpteenth time in the past few decades – in this case before the war at hand was even over? Has the US Left once again turned its back, or at least its side, to Read more…

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Vijay Prashad: REd Salute: Comrade Uncle Ho

Vijay Prashad In the late 1960s, the communists in Bengal allied with the left Congress to form a United Front government in the state. These were heady times for a region buffeted by two drought years, by the cataclysmic pressures of international finance, and down-wind from the U. S. bombardment of Vietnam. Nevertheless, the resoluteness Read more…

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Mark Weisbrot: What Everyone Should Know About the Budget Debate

Marc Weisbrot This commentary is for those who really want to understand the debate that has been raging over what to do with the projected Federal budget surpluses over the next 10 years. It’s not as difficult as it seems. What makes it so confusing is that politicians in both parties are generating a lot Read more…

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Howard Zinn: Beyond the Soviet Union

Howard Zinn In the spirit of killing two obligations with one effort, I offer as my Commentary a response I just made to a letter by a retired professor in California, who wrote: "As a great admirer of Howard Zinn [should he have said "as a former great admirer…"?] I was profoundly disappointed by some Read more…

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Manning Marable: Chickens Coming Home to Roost

Manning Marable Immediately following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X was asked by the media for his response. Malcolm was not surprised by this tragic event, because white America had long fostered violence and racism throughout society. Kennedy’s murder, Malcolm believed, was an example of the "chickens coming home to roost": by Read more…

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Danny Schechter: China on My Mind

Danny Schechter In less than two months, on October 1st, the People’s Republic of China turns fifty. Mao’s long march liberated a country which in a half century has gone from championing world revolution to building "socialism with Chinese characteristics." For many, that means turning the Great Wall into the Great Mall, the biggest market Read more…

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Sean Gonsalves: America’s Civilizing Efforts

Sean Gonsalves "Reflecting growing alarm in Washington about leftist rebels strengthened by the cocaine trade, a leading US diplomat met with (Colombian) President Andres Pastrana (last week) to discuss drug trafficking and the country’s civil war," Associated Press writer Jared Kotler reports. The "leading" US diplomat is Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering, who has vowed Read more…

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David Peterson: Between the Guns and the Wall

David Peterson Shortly before noon on April 6, several truckloads of the Red And White Iron militia rolled up outside a church where hundreds of people had fled seeking sanctuary. "Get out of the church!" the gun- and machete-wielding gangsters shouted. Then mayhem. The crackle of automatic weapons firing into the crowd. Cries of agony Read more…

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Site Administrator: Hitler Analogies Betray Past and Present

Diana Johnstone The war was launched to protect an oppressed ethnic minority, to punish a massacre, and to secure a New World Order. Which war was that? Why, Hitler’s war of course, which came to be known as World War II. The ostensibly oppressed ethnic minority was the Germans in Slavic countries, the aggression was Read more…

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Michael Bronski: GOP = Gay Old Party

Michael Bronski It is no news that the "news" appearing in the mass media is often manufactured. No where was this clearer than a front page story in The New York Times of August 11, 1999 whose headline announced: "Gay Voters Finding G.O.P. Newly Receptive to Support." After a moderately careful lead – "Prominent Republican Read more…

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Tim Wise: The Kids are all White

Tim Wise Let me get this straight: if people of color respond to an unjust verdict in a police brutality trial, not to mention years of racial and economic oppression, by taking to the streets, burning stuff, looting stores and engaging in assorted violence, it’s called a riot. But if white kids get angry at Read more…

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Leslie Cagan: Thinking About Turkey

Leslie Cagan I sit and watch in horror as the toll continues to rise from the earthquake in Turkey. Today they say over 12,000 dead and with 35 – 40,000 people still missing it’s clear this number will grow in the coming days. The Turkish government has already ordered tens of thousands of body bags. Read more…

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Noam Chomsky: Eight Question on Kibbutzim: Answers from Noam Chomsky Questions from Nikos Raptis

Question 1. Where can one trace the roots of the kibbutz idea? The origins were in part European libertarian socialist thought. In part they were in a kind of romantic "back to the land" movement, suffused sometimes with Tolstoyan anarchism, in other cases part of a (very conscious) effort to reverse the "inverted pyramid" of Read more…

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Cynthia Peters: Teacher, There’s a Brand Name in My Math Problem

Cynthia Peters "Will is saving his allowance to buy a pair of Nike shoes that cost $68.25. If Will earns $3.25 per week, how many weeks will Will need to save?" So asks the McGraw- Hill math text book currently being used by 11-13 year old schoolchildren. In an effort to make abstract mathematical concepts Read more…

Guest Author: For the Good of us All, Just Focus on Yourself

David Kairys It took some time, but I think I’ve come to understand why so many people favor school vouchers. I was hung up on the separation of church and state and worried about decreased funding for inner- city schools. But I’ve seen the light. My only question now is why vouchers are proposed only Read more…

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Norman Solomon: In the Nation’s Capital, Media Fixations Prevail

Norman Solomon WASHINGTON — Few phrases in American politics have more negative connotations than "inside the Beltway." In this rarified and unreal zone, we often assume, the activities of politicians and bureaucrats are disconnected from the main concerns of most Americans. But it would be a mistake to forget that the tenor of national news Read more…

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Nikos Raptis: Life Complexities / Quakes

Nikos Raptis   Life Complexities This has been in the news in Greece all day long yesterday and today (August 17, 1999): In 1943 as the Nazis were rounding up the Jews of Salonica in a part of the city, a 16-year-old girl (not a Jew) stood by in the street watching with curiosity (and Read more…

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Norman Solomon: Broadcasting and Democracy: Oil and Water

Norman Solomon Is it really possible for broadcasting and democracy to mix? In theory, yes. But right now, the prospects look bleak. Most Americans live in areas where just a few media conglomerates dominate. Overall, what’s on the airwaves is more like centralized monotony than democratic discourse. Over 4,000 commercial radio stations have been sold Read more…

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Saul Landau: Pinochet and Valdez

Saul Landau Juan Gabriel Valdes, Chile’s new foreign minister, will meet with Secretary of State Madeline Albright to ask her to help return Augusto Pinochet to Chile. Since last October, British authorities have held Pinochet on a request from the Spanish Judge Baltazor Garzon. In September Pinochet will get a British Court hearing to determine Read more…

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Mark Weisbrot: Trade Wars: Where’s the Beef

Mark Weisbrot Should countries have the right to set health and safety standards for the food that their citizens eat? Should they be allowed to exclude foreign-produced foods that don’t meet national standards? Or should these questions be decided by the World Trade Organization? Like it or not, these issues are being decided right now. Read more…

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Serge Halimi: Media Critics of the World Unite

Serge Halimi Few countries publish as many books and articles on media criticism as the United States. Logically, all of this good work has little to no effect on the shaping and publication of news. Any adequate criticism, which describes media indoctrination (overt or " innocent ") as the natural by-product of a system of Read more…

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Stephen R. Shalom: Another Attack on Affirmative Action

    In the present dreary political climate, another court decision against affirmative action might not warrant special comment. But a ruling last month by a Federal District judge in Savannah, Georgia, is worth considering if only because it illustrates the extent of current hypocrisy. The case, Green v. Board of Regents, involved a challenge Read more…

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Michael Bronski: The Exciting Sex Life of Gay Toys

Michael Bronski It has become a commonplace that gay people are everywhere. We are everywhere – is even on bumper stickers. We are Martina and Greg, Rupert and Ian, Ellen and Will on Will and Grace. Well, actually we aren’t the actor who plays Will, but we are the character, which is a little different Read more…

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Tim Wise: Hate Crimes

Time Wise There is no question so irrelevant as the one to which all or nearly all can respond in like fashion. Thus, asking people their views on child molestation, or whether or not they’d like the schools to be "better" has always seemed absurd: like asking if they’d rather be happy than sad. So Read more…

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Michael Albert: Prison Policy

Michael Albert About 25 years ago I was at a dinner party with a bunch of leftist economics faculty and grad students, and I posed a hypothetical question to engender some dinner debate. If you had only two choices, I asked, would you open all prison doors and let everyone out, or would you keep Read more…

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Sean Gonsalves: Aiding Africa

education, cutting corporate taxes, removing hunger-fighting price supports, and opening Africa’s natural resources to foreign exploitation," Wallach continues. According to Njokinjoroge Njehu, director of the 50 Years is Enough Network, "if the African Growth and Opportunity Act becomes law it will take away sub-Saharan Africa’s right to determine her own destiny. The bill mandates that Read more…

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Nikos Raptis: The Statue of a Benefactor

Nikos Raptis After WWI at the Versailles peace conference, in 1919, an irregular line of nations, north to south from Finland to Albania, with Britain controlling Greece and Turkey, was designated a "cordon sanitaire" to divide Europe into two parts; the capitalist West and the communist Russia. On February 23, 1945, Joseph Goebbels, gave a Read more…

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