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

Robert Weissman: The Nature of the Machine

Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman Imagine this: you study your entire life to reach the pinnacle of your profession. First, you secure an undergraduate degree in biology from Oregon State University. Then a PhD in developmental biology at Yale University. Then on to Indiana University, where you teach and run a lab on the cutting Read more…

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Mark Weisbrot: Drug Companies Fight Prescription Benefits for Seniors

Marc Weisbrot What are the limits to corporate greed in the year 2000? We may be about to find out. The pharmaceutical companies, whose rate of profit is more than three times the average of other corporations, have been using their enormous clout to block prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries. Now we will see Read more…

Guest Author: Look Who Is Acting Like Microsoft

Steven Hill and Rob Richie For the past year we have watched the U.S. government’s attempt to apply anti-monopoly laws to the business practices of Microsoft. Ever since the Sherman Antitrust Act was passed a century ago, it has been widely accepted that domination of a market by a handful of private corporations can be Read more…

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Michael Albert: Self Management as a Goal

Michael Albert How much say should each actor in an economy have over decisions in that economy? Why should we aim for self-management defined as decision-making input proportionate to the degree one is affected by outcomes? Why not aim for "economic freedom" defined as the right to do whatever one wishes with one’s person and Read more…

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Norman Solomon: E Vandalism Intrudes on Right to be Heard

Norman Solomon A specter is haunting cyberspace — the specter of e-vandalism. Media alarms have been loud in recent days: Electronic commerce is under siege. A virtual crime wave threatens to wreak havoc on the World Wide Web. Any site is vulnerable, no matter how big. Let’s not bother to shed tears for the likes Read more…

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Stephen R. Shalom: Green Lights and Red Herrings

    In December 1975, after receiving a green light from U.S. President Gerald and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Indonesian President Suharto launched an invasion of East Timor. The weapons for the attack came from the United States. "Of course there were US weapons used," commented one high-ranking Indonesian general. "These are the only Read more…

Dan Georgakas: Blacks in Antiquity

Dan Georgakas A few years ago Martin Bernal’s Black Athena stimulated considerable commentary about the role of blacks in antiquity. Many leftists applauded Bernal’s perceptive analysis of the racism of many nineteenth century German scholars without understanding the thinness of Bernal’s general argument regarding the supposed Egyptian roots of Greek culture. Popular books by Afrocentrists, Read more…

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Danny Schechter: At the Top of the World

Danny Schechter When demonstrators packed the streets of Seattle last December to scuttle the World Trade Organization meeting and shout about their dissatisfaction with economic globalization, some journalists described them as "politically correct" activists. Reporters and pundits contended that the protestors offered simplistic and one-sided solutions lacking any objectivity. Two months later, scores of these Read more…

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Robert Naiman: A Small Victim of the Embargo

Robert Naiman There’s great consternation in Cuba and Florida over the fate of Elian Gonzalez. If he were from any other country, he would already be home with his father. Yet only a handful of the media reports mention the extreme U.S. embargo that led to the current situation, and nowhere are the real motivations Read more…

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Cynthia Peters: Progressive Causes Provide Marketing Opportunities

Cynthia Peters What happens when corporations take on progressive social and political issues? We’ve all had the opportunity to roll our eyes at the marketers who co-opt feminist principles in order to sell their products. "Take Control" hair gel and "Stay Free" maxi pads have the women’s movement to thank for their product names. The Read more…

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Michael Albert: A Program Seeking Just Rewards

Michael Albert Suppose we agree that people ought to be paid only according to how hard they work and how onerous their work conditions are. To attain these Just Rewards we must reduce and ultimately eliminate reward for property, power, and output; reduce and finally eliminate the impact of race and gender on remuneration; and Read more…

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Scott Burchill: The Limits of Thinkable Thought

Scott Burchill In societies which like to call themselves free and open, liberty is usually defined in contrasting terms. State propaganda and indoctrination, for example, are said to be exclusive characteristics of unfree or totalitarian states at both ends of the ideological spectrum. One danger of defining our society in opposition to less desirable ‘others’ Read more…

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Edward Herman: Real Journalism

Edward S. Herman There has long been a strong tendency on the part of Western non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to serve as did the Christian missionaries in the years of colonial expansion and occupation, who followed in the wake of the empire builders to convert the heathens to the true religion and to heal the sick Read more…

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Brian Dominick: Refusing Adulthood: Notes on ‘Aging Out’

Brian Dominick Naive as I was in the mid-1990s, for a spell I actually thought there was a good chance that, by the turn of the century, the terms "ageism" and "youth liberation" would be ubiquitous in the Left’s vocabulary. Toward that goal, I spent most of the decade writing and speaking on youth oppression Read more…

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Vijay Prashad: Go to the Movie

Vijay Prashad I’m not one to pass a good film by, having enjoyed Michael Mann’s ‘The Insider.’ Its send-up of ’60 Minutes’ was enjoyable even as it felt the need to recuperate that bastion of US liberalism at film’s end. This weekend I went to see Tim Robbin’s ‘The Cradle Will Rock.’ Friends mentioned that Read more…

Dorothy Guellec: Insurance?

Dorothy Guellec Damaris Urena and Marcus Cruz are today January 4th mourning the loss of their 4-month old baby. It did not have to happen. According to the Daily News the family’s ordeal began December 15th at about 5 a.m. when the baby awoke with a high fever complaining and whining. She gave the baby Read more…

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Michael Albert: Just Rewards

Michael Albert In a desirable economy what income does each actor get to enjoy? What is the basis for remuneration? Rewarding Property? I doubt that many folks reading this commentary think people should be rewarded due to owning property. This is called profit…and in this case individuals own means of production and pocket profit based Read more…

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Judy Rebick: New Workers’ Initiative

Judy Rebick Always on the cutting edge of social change, the Canadian Auto Workers union has just launched an important new initiative. The CAW has set up "A Task Force on Working Class Politics in the 21st Century." Here is the introduction to the paper that introduces the task force to union members: "We generally Read more…

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Tanya Reinhart: This Ain’t the Road of Peace

Tanya Reinhart [Background: Following the Shepherdstown’s Syria-Israel talks, the US issued a concealed document summarizing the positions of the two sides. The Arab (London) paper ‘Al Hayat’ printed a summary draft of this document, based on Syrian sources. Israeli sources denied the authenticity of this version, and exposed the full document, which appeared in the Read more…

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Leslie Cagan: Life After Y2K

Leslie Cagan The nineties opened with a bang. In August, 1990 the Iraqis invaded Kuwait and it was immediately clear that George Bush would do everything in his formidable presidential power to go to war. There was never any pretense of negotiating a peaceful resolution. Nothing less than complete control by the U.S. military would Read more…

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Tim Wise: Resolutions for Radicals

Tim Wise I don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions, or use the new year as an excuse for significant reflection on the one just ended. But this year, I’m making an exception. After all, we have (arguably, I know) entered a new millennium: and the end of a thousand-year period– particularly one as historically significant Read more…

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Saul Landau: Contradictory Cuba Policies

Saul Landau Explain US-Cuba policy, my friends ask. Last week’s prison riot occurred in Louisiana where Cuban prisoners had served their sentences, yet remained locked up because they didn’t qualify to stay in the US. They had committed crimes before gaining residency rights. Havana averted a worse — indeed, bloody — crisis by agreeing under Read more…

Guest Author: Military Indigenous Coup Aborted by Military High Command

By Jennifer N. Collins Quito, January 22, 2000: The coup carried out yesterday in Ecuador by mid-level military officers together with leaders of the indigenous movement lasted less than 24 hours. Actions taken by officers in the Joint Command of the Armed Forces has given way to the destitution of President Jamil Mahuad and his Read more…

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Michael Albert: Movement for a Participatory Economy: An Overview

Michael Albert Besides immediate objectives, great social movements need long-run goals for inspiration and guidance. The abolitionist movement to end slavery and the movement for the eight-hour day both in the nineteenth century, the movement for women’s suffrage at the turn of the century, the labor movement that led to the CIO in the 1930’s, Read more…

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Manning Marable: Seattle and Beyond

Manning Marable It was immensely significant for black America that the last major public demonstration in the U.S. in the 20th century was a protest over global economics and trade. More than forty thousand people came to Seattle to oppose the policies of the World Trade Organization, which since 1995 has functioned like an international Read more…

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Norman Solomon: AOL / Time Warner: Calling the Faithful to Their Knees

Norman Solomon And so, early in the year 2000, it came to pass that visions of a seamless media web enraptured the keepers of pecuniary faith as never before. A grand new structure, AOL Time Warner, emerged while a few men proclaimed themselves trustees of a holy endeavor. They told the people about a wondrous Read more…

BlasŽ Bonpane: Fasting for Justice

Balse Bonpane In the wake of a dozen Vigils throughout the United States on January 11, 2000, Lori Berenson began a hunger fast. This news has been confirmed by the Peruvian prison authorities and the U.S. Embassy in Peru. This date represents the fourth anniversary of Lori’s unjust conviction at gunpoint by a hooded military Read more…

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Noam Chomsky: Four from the Forums

Noam Chomsky Reply from NC to query regarding Graduate Unions and Teaching Generally On graduate unions, it’s true enough that (ideally) "graduate teaching is pedagogical training," but that’s incomplete. Any teaching, if done at all seriously, is also a way of learning — about lots of things, including the subject you are teaching. That’s just Read more…

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Stephen R. Shalom: Humanitarian Intervention

Stephen R. Shalom   The issue of humanitarian intervention arises again, propelled by the crises in Kosovo and East Timor and by the memories of the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Some analysts have used these cases to support new principles of international relations. But to assure that the correct lessons are learned, we have to examine Read more…

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Danny Schechter: Attica, Hurricane, and Mumia

had their throats cut. We all reported it with a sense of disgust and shame. What was responsible, we wondered, for the rage that would provoke prisoners to perpetrate such an atrocity? But then, thanks to an independent autopsy and the persistence of some investigators, that story was unmasked as a total lie. The truth Read more…

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Edward Herman: The AOL Time Merger

industrial sponsors focused heavily on its educational, informational and cultural potential to which they were allegedly devoted, and in 1922 then Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover stated that there was no way we could allow such a great medium to be overwhelmed by "advertising chatter." But advertising chatter won, and the history of broadcasting ever Read more…

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Michael Albert: Internet Commercialism?!

Michael Albert There is an old economic saying that "there is no free lunch." To get something out of an economy you have to put something in. Contrary to rumors, this holds for the Internet as well as for factories. To provide internet content takes labor, tools, and organization, just as providing shoes, food, or Read more…

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Cynthia Peters: Porn Stars, Promise-Keepers, and “Pound Dawgs” A Comment on: Stiffed, by Susan Faludi

Susan Faludi By Cynthia Peters Male porn stars get paid based on their ability to sustain an erection. Promise Keepers are told to look to God as a Father they can trust, and to stock up on Promise Keeper mugs, t-shirts, and other memorabilia. "Pound Dawgs" – extreme fans of the Cleveland Browns who dressed Read more…

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Noam Chomsky: Millennial Visions and Selective Vision Part Two

Noam Chomsky In fairness, it should be mentioned that the chorus of self-adulation that closed the millennium was disrupted by some discordant notes. Questions were raised about the consistency of our adherence to the guiding principles: the "new doctrine" that "universal standards of human rights were putting at least some limits on sovereignty," as illustrated Read more…

Dorothy Guellec: End of Century Musings

Dorothy Guellec Malaysia is being pushed to modernize and this is attracting multinational companies and putting pressure of their healthcare system. The country’s extensive public healthcare system can no longer provide free care on demand, promoting an expansion to the private sector. Rationing is common at the nation’s approximately 110 public hospitals, and doctors and Read more…

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Tim Wise: Springing the “Diversity Trap”

Tim Wise You know you’re in trouble when Ronald Reagan starts to sound progressive. And you really know you’re in trouble when so-called progressives make him sound that way, thanks to their own pathetic gesticulations on one or another issue. But unfortunately, such is the case with regard to affirmative action. The old saying, "with Read more…

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Noam Chomsky: Millennial Visions and Selective Vision Part One

Noam Chomsky The new year opened with familiar refrains, amplified by the numerology: a chorus of self-adulation, somber ruminations about the incomprehensible evil of our enemies, and the usual recourse to selective amnesia to smooth the way. A few illustrations follow, which may suggest the kind of evaluation that would have appeared, were different values Read more…

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Jim Hightower: Four Vignettes

Jim Hightower HASTERT KILLS PATIENTS BILL OF RIGHTS In a courtroom, an attorney asked the witness, "Sir, What’s your IQ?" The fellow responded, "Well, I can see pretty well, I think." You won’t need much IQ, nor 20-20 vision, to see what’s going on in Congress with the Patient’s Bill of Rights. This is a Read more…

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Betsy Hartmann: What’s In A Word?

Betsy Hartmann Conservative anti-immigrant and population control forces are once again threatening to take control of the Sierra Club, one of the nation’s most influential environmental organizations. A September 26 resolution by the Board of Directors changed Club policy on population from supporting population stabilization to advocating "reductions in the population of the United States Read more…

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Edward Herman: Paul Krugman in the NYT

Edward S. Herman With a column on trade and globalization in the New York Times of January 2 ("Once And Again"), MIT economist Paul Krugman announces his new status as a Times columnist under the heading "Reckonings." Krugman is a Times natural, and had appeared frequently in the past with Op Ed columns. What makes Read more…

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Vijay Prashad: No Farewell for This Admiral: Reflections on Diego Garcia

Vijay Prashad On 2 January 2000, Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr. died. The New York Times reported the next day that Zumwalt left behind two principle legacies, his attempt to desegregate the US Navy in the 1970s and his order to spray Agent Orange in Vietnam (which led to the death of his son, Lt. Read more…

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Russell Mokhiber: You Can’t Eat Enough of It

Russell Mokhiber  and Robert Weissman At the end of the millennium, W.R. Grace should be considered a candidate as one of the world’s most rapacious corporate predators. Of course, if you have seen the movie A Civil Action or read the book by the same title, you are aware of the injury inflicted by this Read more…

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Marta Russell: WTO Has Power to Override Civil Rights

Marta Russell The short five year history of the World Trade Organization (WTO) shows that the WTO is most interested in building a new global economic order of free trade unfettered by environmental, and labor regulations which protect people over corporate interests. It is clear that the WTO has consistently settled trade disputes in favor Read more…

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Manning Marable: Civil Rights or Silver Rights

Manning Marable More than a century ago, conservative black educator Booker T. Washington proposed a strategy for black advancement within capitalism. The founder of both Tuskegee Institute and the National Negro Business League, Washington cautioned African Americans not to agitate publicly for civil rights. He argued that white corporations and the Republican Party were black Read more…

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Howard Zinn: Notes for a Gathering

Howard Zinn I have been asked to imagine this situation: "The progressive third party movement has captured the White House, 60% of Congress and 30 Governorships. What do we do now?" First, we have a party, maybe three, with the third party being special. Then, we have Congress pass, and the President sign, the following Read more…

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Robert Naiman: Access To Education

Public education in the United States has been subjected to vigorous criticism. Some criticize it in the hopes of improving it, and some criticize it in order to undermine it. If one accepts the principle that every citizen of our society has the right to access education, then we can debate how best to implement Read more…

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Sean Gonsalves: The liberal media and the feds

In my last column, I quoted espionage expert Phillip Knightly. "An intelligence service thrives on threat," he wrote in "The Second Oldest Profession." The same could be said about the rest of the defense industry. And there are "threats" all over, the "liberal" media warn us: South Korea is developing missiles that can travel farther Read more…

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Tanya Reinhart: With Barak No Withdrawal, No Peace

Tanya Reinhart, Syria-Israel In Israel, there is a feeling of a great historical moment. Finally, after much pressure and diplomacy – the story goes – Asad agreed to turn to the road of peace. In the expected peace agreement, Syria will get back all of the Golan Heights, and Israel will get (among other things) Read more…

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Vijay Prashad: The Tragedy of Flight IC-814

Vijay Prashad No one can guess the horror of Ms. Rachna Katyal as she sits aboard the Indian Airlines plane (IC-814) in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Recently married, Ms. Katyal was on her way home to Delhi from a honeymoon in Kathmandu when her plane was hijacked for a horrifying ride across southern Asia. Because her husband Read more…

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Site Administrator: The OSCE Report: THINGS TOLD AND THINGS SEEN

Diana Johnstone The recent Report of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Kosovo is subtitled: "As Seen, as Told". The part of the report covering the mayhem that went on during the NATO bombing, between March 24 and June 10, is "as told" — to be specific, "as told" by ethnic Read more…

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