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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Edward Herman: Resisting Illegitimate Autbority

Edward S. Herman My feeling that the government in Washington represents illegitimate authority ebbs and flows, but it has gathered strength over the past few years, and even months. One reason is the blatant further dollarization of the electoral process, with Bush having raised over $37 million, Gore and Bradley each having lined up substantial Read more…

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Scott Burchill: Marx on Globalization

Scott Burchill   In the 1850s, Karl Marx believed that the spread of capitalism, or what today we would call globalization, was transforming human society from a collection of separate nation-states to a world capitalist society where the principal form of conflict would be between classes rather than nations. According to Marx, the conflictual properties Read more…

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Site Administrator: Labor Law and the Heavy Hand of the State

Elaine Bernard There is one remarkable exception to the deregulatory trend in the United States. While politicians happily hack away at regulation, protective legislation, standards and governmental’s ability to action on behalf of the whole community, one organization seems to be singled out for further containment – unions. There have been, of course, some attempts Read more…

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Leslie Cagan: Some Concerns About the Internet as an Organizing Vehicle

Leslie Cagan For reasons I don’t totally understand, I was somewhat late in getting on line. About five years ago the small organization I coordinated – the Cuba Information Project – went on line, but usually the other staff person handled the email communications. It was clear right from the beginning that this technology was Read more…

BlasŽ Bonpane: A Pilgrimage in Chiapas with Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia

Blase Bonpane   In the wake of the Pope’s visit to Mexico the press has been full of announcements about the death of liberation theology. Our recent experience in Chiapas indicated that such announcements are premature and marked by misinformation.   Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia We traveled in caravan with Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia, Bishop Read more…

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Norman Solomon: Journalists Inspire Support for Community Radio / Pacifica Continues

Norman Solomon / Creators Syndicate Last Wednesday afternoon, radio journalist Aileen Alfandary stood on the sidewalk in front of the building where she has worked for many years. She looked out of place. The deadline for the KPFA evening news was fast approaching — but all the doors were locked. I asked Alfandary to describe Read more…

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Vandana Shiva: Monsanto’s Expanding Monopolies From Seed to Water

Over the past few years, Monsanto, a chemical company, has positioned itself as an agricultural company through control over seed the first link in the food chain. Monsanto now wants to control water, the very basis of life. In 1996, Monsanto bought the biotechnology assets of Agracetus, a subsidiary of W.R. GRACE, for $150 million Read more…

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Howard Zinn: Inspire Please

The order came from above (I will not reveal the name, unless tortured) ): "Write something inspirational." The exact words were: "Inspire, please." The courteous approach concealed a certain desperation. For those not in the know, let me explain that we who write for the progressive-radical movement have our specialties. Some specialize in writing depressing Read more…

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Norman Solomon: The Public is Secondary

Across the country, PBS stations are in denial. And if we think the programming they provide is worthy of the name "public television," then maybe we’re in denial, too. Targeting an upscale audience, elaborate commercials are now routine on PBS — but we’re supposed to look at them as "enhanced underwriter credits." Every weeknight, the Read more…

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Nikos Raptis: The Dictionary

Last year (1998) George Babiniotis, professor of linguistics at the University of Athens, compiled "The Dictionary of the Modern Greek Language." The dictionary was a much needed work, given the fact that all Greek dictionaries up to that time were rather "childish" efforts in lexicography. Babiniotis adopted (mostly) the Merriam Webster approach to a reference Read more…

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Cynthia Peters: Children: Their Deficiencies,

We are at my 7-year old daughter’s annual check-up. After a peering in her ears and mouth, palpating her glands, and listening to her heart, the Doctor points at Zoe’s crotch and asks abruptly, "Does anyone ever touch you here?" Zoe is taken aback. She looks at me, then back at the doctor. "No," she Read more…

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Danny Schechter: Our Profile and Theirs

When Dr. W.E.B DuBois predicted the question of color would become the problem of the twentieth century, he was writing before the advent of television, the proliferation of the mass media, and the many uses (and abuses) of the idea of racial profiling. DuBois spoke about color in terms of oppression of nations and nationalities, Read more…

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Saul Landau: Indictments of Kissenger and Bush

The US government has released the first batch of documents relating to the violence unleashed between 1973-1990 by General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile. Reading some of the memos, cables and intelligence reports, I was shocked — the shock of recognition. The documents shockingly show what many people already knew. US officials helped Chile’s secret Read more…

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Mark Weisbrot: Fed Preemptive Strike

The Fed launched a "pre-emptive strike" this week against an unseen enemy — inflation — by raising interest rates one-quarter percentage point. With inflation at its lowest level in 30 years (2.1%), why would the Fed want to start down a path that could cost hundreds of thousands of workers their jobs, slow the growth Read more…

Sandy Carter: Buena Vista Social Club

Because nearly all music heard in the United States is driven by dreams of fame and fortune, the sounds of the Cuban ensemble known as the Buena Vista Social Club are immediately startling. The melodies, rhythms, and songs of the group pull you in with a seductive charm and impassioned beauty. Nurtured by singers and Read more…

Guest Author: The Saga of the Missing Footnote

On June 3, the Serb Parliament voted 136-73 to ratify the terms of a cease-fire with NATO. The document had been hand-delivered to Slobodan Milosevic the previous day by the Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari and the Russian Special Representative to Yugoslavia Viktor Chernomyrdin. Reports of the trio’s final face-to-face meeting in Belgrade portrayed Milosevic as Read more…

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Edward Herman: The Importance of a Left Media

A jarring moment in the Philadelphia area propaganda outpouring in support of the bombing of Yugoslavia was a passionately prowar Op Ed column in the Philadelphia Inquirer by long-time local antiwar activist Mark Sacharoff ("NATO did what it had to do," April 1, 1999). It is of course noteworthy that Sacharoff’s piece was selected for Read more…

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Tim Wise: Whiteness and the Recollection of History

For the writer, there’s nothing so frustrating as to sit in front of a keyboard and find oneself at a loss for words. To know there are a million things which need saying, and yet, you can’t think of even one. Having experienced this often, I’ve devised a few strategies by which to allow myself Read more…

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Norman Solomon: Big Name Candidates Bow To Media Power

Every modern presidential contest generates a lot of discussion about how the nation’s most prominent journalists cover major candidates. But there’s not much analysis of how candidates get along with the media conglomerates that employ those journalists. Politicians have long feared media power. And they’ve usually watched their steps to avoid tangling with it. Franklin Read more…

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Clarence Lusane: Defending the New Klan

Clarence Lusane It is perhaps a sign of millennium madness that the century will end with the bizzare phenomena of an African American lawyer defending in court the right of a member of the Ku Klux Klan – whose name ironically is Black – to burn crosses. However, it seems that some sense of sanity Read more…

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Michael Bronski: The Crime That Dare Not Speak Its Name

The ferocity of the New York City police assault against Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in the summer of 1977 was so striking that, even in the current context of urban police brutality, it became emblematic of the sustained, sanctioned violence of contemporary "law enforcement" – particularly when aimed at communities of color. The trial of Read more…

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Jim Hightower: The Money Primary

Jim Hightower Have you voted yet? In the race for president, have you been to the polls? What-you say the election’s not until next year? Yeah, well, technically that’s true. The caucuses and primaries don’t begin until February of 2000, but there are about 70,000 Americans who get an extra special vote, casting their ballots Read more…

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Saul Landau: Kosovo Lesson

What lessons have emerged from NATO’S self-proclaimed victory in Kosovo? Bombing supporters chanted "stop ethnic cleansing." Indeed, ethnic cleansing demanded a strong response. But those who shunned the flawed law and the UN backed a campaign to pulverize Kosovo and Serbia from the air. Now they face some embarrassing facts. Secretary of State Madeline Albright Read more…

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Serge Halimi: The Left and European Elections

Now we know for sure that « Europe » does not exist. At least not in the hearts and minds of Europeans. Only two days after they concluded a war against Yugoslavia, decided and fought by the United States, the fifteen countries of the European Union (EU) voted together with an enthusiasm heretofore witnessed mostly Read more…

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Peter Bohmer: A Graduation Day to Remember

Mumia Abu-Jamal gave a memorable speech, recorded from Pennsylvania death row, to 8000 attendees, including more than 1200 graduating students, at the Evergreen State College graduation on June 11, 1999. During his 13 minute talk drawing on the history of U.S. racist oppression and resistance, Mumia Abu-Jamal urged graduating students to live their lives deliberately Read more…

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Cynthia Peters: Chicken Pox?!

Many times during the past week, I wished my kids had been vaccinated against chickenpox. It’s a miserable disease, and I hated to see them suffer through it. But overall, it’s a fairly mild disease when left to run its course among children. Children with chickenpox rarely experience complications. Adults, pregnant women, and immuno-suppressed people Read more…

BlasŽ Bonpane: Office of the Americas Delegation Visits Lori Berenson

All advice was negative. "You will never be allowed into the prison," said most counselors. "Put off your visit until the Organization of American States leaves Peru," said the U.S. Embassy in Peru. But we decided to go anyway. Our delegation: Reverend Lucius Walker, Director IFCO/Pastors for Peace; Amy Goodman, host of "Democracy Now", Pacifica Read more…

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Michael Albert: Pacifica, Pacifica!

Michael Albert The current crisis at Pacifica was unleashed with recent firings of prominent and appreciated employees leading to irate listeners and employees demonstrating their opposition widely and militantly. Any progressive alternative institution has to utilize people who have been socialized within existing society, has to navigate rules imposed by mainstream institutions whose requirements subvert Read more…

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Leslie Cagan: Report from the Front Line: Challenges to Proposed Millennium March for Gay Rights Growing

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village, NY. The three nights of confrontation with the NYC Police Department is celebrated as the beginning of the contemporary lesbian/ gay/bisexual/transgender movement. There is plenty to celebrate as the lives of lgbt people have changed dramatically in those 3 decades. But what Read more…

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Stephen R. Shalom: Lessons — and Hope — from Kerala

R. Shalom     Earlier this month, the World Bank issued a report declaring that global poverty has been increasing. "Today, countries that until recently believed they were turning the tide in the fight against poverty are witnessing its re-emergence along with hunger and the human suffering it brings," declared World Bank president James Wolfensohn. Read more…

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Tim Wise: The Threat of a Good Example

Occasionally when I’m speaking to college students, attempting to inspire at least a few to commit themselves to social justice as a way of life and perhaps career, I’m asked the question for which there is no easy answer; the one that goes: "What’s the point? Can you make a difference? Why fight against such Read more…

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Norman Solomon: Shadow Falling on beacon of Independent Radio

This summer begins with a large shadow hanging over one of the nation’s pioneering radio stations. Half a century after listener-supported KPFA took to the airwaves in the San Francisco area as a unique experiment in media independence, the battle raging over its future is ominous — yet inspiring. KPFA Radio provides an eclectic mix Read more…

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Russell Mokhiber: Laurence Summers, The World Bank, and Humanity

Russell Mokhiber  and Robert Weissman "Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [least developed countries]?" So wrote Treasury Secretary-designee Lawrence Summers, then the chief economist at the World Bank, in a 1991 World Bank internal memorandum arguing for the transfer of waste Read more…

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Saul Landau: Remember Angola

As Kosovo atrocities dominate the headlines, I wait for some former national security maven to confess to US government crimes committed during the Cold War. We know the CIA assassinated people, fomented coups and destabilized countries we claimed were pro Soviet. But we haven’t taken responsibility for the consequences of these covert actions. What became Read more…

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Nikos Raptis: U.S. Occupation

In a March 1985 talk at Harvard, Noam Chomsky once more mentioned the "Grand Area" planning of the US foreign policy developed in the 1940s. The "Grand Area" among other areas was to include "western and southern Europe and the oil-producing regions of the Middle East; in fact it was to include everything, if that Read more…

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Edward Herman: Kosovo and Doublespeak

War, propaganda, and the proliferation of doublespeak have always gone hand-in-hand. As was the case during the Persian Gulf war, the NATO war against Yugoslavia witnessed a collapse of mainstream media integrity and a new surge of doublespeak in the service of the war party. It was grimly humorous that NATO and its compliant media Read more…

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Scott Burchill: The Transition to Democracy in Indonesia: Australian Perspectives

"To think that we, for many years, lived along side a dictatorship and from Monday’s election we’ll be living alongside the world’s third largest democracy is indeed very great progress from Australia’s point of view. It gives us a much greater sense of security with Indonesia, a much greater sense of partnership with Indonesia. I’m Read more…

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Charles Glass: Top Drawer

Diana is dead. Tony lives. Miracles have begun. The first on record comes, as so often with the Bible and Lives of the Saints, in the form of a cure. One Stephen Hill, aged 25, had barely spoken since he was four. He stuttered so badly that he was unable to speak. Fear of embarrassment Read more…

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Brian Dominick: Signs of Movement? The State of Anti-War Activism in the U.S.

As the Western media proclaimed a cowardly victory for the US/NATO bombing campaign in Yugoslavia this past weekend, the stability of "peace talks" was already beginning to waver, and thousands were turning out to demonstrate against the war on each coast of the United States, as well as the UK, Canada, Greece, and other places Read more…

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Cynthia Peters: Mentoring Toward Revolution

"The term ‘mentor’ dates back to ancient Greece when Odysseus first entrusted his friend Mentor with the education of his son, but the practice has existed in virtually every culture on earth." – From "Mentoring : the Tao of Giving and Receiving Wisdom" by Chungliang Al Huang and Jerry Lynch "The mentor does not supervise Read more…

Sandy Carter: When Kids Kill

Since the school shootings in Littleton, the nation’s print and broadcast media have unleashed a sensational outpouring of analysis and concern aiming to explain why boys kill and what can be done to save them. Once we get by the headlines, however, we find our questions and compassion are being directed toward "our boys." As Read more…

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Site Administrator: The Right to Organize – A Week of Action

For seven days in June, from the 19th to the 25th, unions and their allies all over the US will be organizing hearings and forums, rallies and actions aimed at drawing public attention to the dismal state of labor rights, especially the most fundamental of labor rights – the right to organize. Using the theme Read more…

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Edward Herman: ‘Balance’ Sickness at The Nation

The Nation has not distinguished itself in its coverage of the Kosovo crisis. It has had some good editorials and articles, but these are nicely balanced by pro-war pieces. It should embarrass the editors that its UN Correspondent Ian Williams is a fanatical hawk, who supports the NATO violations of the UN Charter and contemptuous Read more…

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Nikos Raptis: Hitler’s Americanization

Ernst Franz Sedgwick Hanfstaengl (rhymes with Engel’); was borne in 1887 in Munich, the Bavarian town, birthplace of Nazism, and known, also, as the Athens of Germany. His father, an art dealer, was German, his mother was American. At the age of 18, in 1905, the 6′ 7” tall young man entered Harvard. Later, he Read more…

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Site Administrator: REFUGEES

Ethnic Albanians are reportedly unique in one respect: they do not run away from bombing. The small province of Kosovo has been turned into a proving ground for advanced U.S. weaponry, but the Albanian inhabitants would not think of taking the kids across the border to stay with relatives for such a trivial reason as Read more…

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Cynthia Peters: Historically

At a recent birthday, my daughter became the proud owner of the much coveted American Girl doll. We had vaguely supported her strong desire to have an American Girl doll. We knew that the doll would come with books that told the girl’s story, that the dolls were of a decent quality, and that…well…they weren’t Read more…

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Tim Wise: The Devil Made ‘Em Do It: Social Crisis and the Misuse of Faith in America

Tim Wise Association for White Anti-Racist Education Occasionally, the airport chatter turns to more serious subjects, as was the case recently when I found myself unhappily locked in conversation about the school shootings in Colorado. As I waited for my row number to be called, a man sat down next to me and offered–completely unsolicited–that Read more…

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Edward Herman: Bomb the NYT

and David Peterson NATO spokespersons have justified the bombing of Serbian TV and radio on the grounds that these broadcasters are an "instrument of state propaganda," tell lies, spew forth hatred, provide no "balance" in their offerings, and thus help prolong the war. In an April 8th news briefing NATO Air Commodore David Wilby explained: Read more…

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Peter Bohmer: Mumia at Graduation

No, Mumia Abu-Jamal is not being released to speak at the Evergreen State College graduation. However, on Friday June 11th, the 1999 graduation at this college will include a unique commencement address – a 13-minute audio-recorded speech taped on death row by Mumia Abu-Jamal. Mumia speaking at graduation has created a huge debate on the Read more…

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Site Administrator: The Milosevic Indictment

Following World War II, a war crimes tribunal was held in Tokyo to try Japanese political and military leaders. There is no doubt that the defendants were responsible for appalling atrocities, but, as the Indian judge on the tribunal wrote in his dissenting opinion, the victorious allies had themselves committed grave crimes, and the U.S. Read more…

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