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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Site Administrator: Tha Battle for Seattle

Elaine Bernard CAMBRIDGE, Mass.-In spite of what you may have read or heard about the anti-WTO protests last week, the people on the streets of Seattle weren’t opposed to globalization. Their cause is an example of globalization, with protests in solidarity with the Seattle actions taking place in many cities around the world. Theirs is Read more…

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Michael Bronski: Playing the Media

Michael Bronski The first wave of the attack came swift and strong. Jonah Goldberg, in his column titled "When the Show is on the Other Foot" in the National Review wrote on October 25: "Who is Jesse Dirkhising? Well, you wouldn’t know it from the press, but he was a thirteen-year-old Arkansas boy who was Read more…

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Brian Dominick: Anarchy, NonViolence, and the Seattle Demonstrations

Brian Dominick One of the most contentious points likely to arise out of the past week’s actions is older than the concept of world trade itself: the question of tactics in demonstration and direct action – in particular, violent vs. nonviolent. The apparent duality presented by this question, as most people seem to look at Read more…

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Marta Russell: Government Example Setting Not Enough

Marta Russell Despite a growing economy and a 29-year low official unemployment rate, potential workers with disabilities remain chronically unemployed. Nine years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), national employment surveys show no real statistical gain in employment for people with disabilities, rather, the unemployment rate remains at 70 percent, with Read more…

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Vijay Prashad: IMF: Advance Guard of the WTO

Vijay Prashad In 1997, Bangkok’s Rafabhat Institute Suan Dusit took a poll of 1,648 Thai children under the age of 15. The survey asked the children to identify the IMF, the International Monetary Fund. A quarter knew what the IMF was. About 30% believed that the IMF was an Unidentified Flying Object, a UFO. All Read more…

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Norman Solomon: Free Trade’s Happy Face Peels Off

Norman Solomon SEATTLE – After enjoying a free ride in American news media for many years, the World Trade Organization just hit a brick wall. The credit should go to a vast array of civic activists — represented by tens of thousands of protesters from every continent who took to the streets here with determined Read more…

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Betsy Hartmann: Women’s Health Advocates Win a Victory in the Fight Against Chemical Sterilization

Betsy Hartmann On November 13, the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood of America (PPFA) turned down a motion from its own Medical Committee which have put the organization in the position of supporting unethical human experimentation. The drug in question was quinacrine chemical sterilization. The Medical Committee was prepared to involve PPFA affiliates in Read more…

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Edward Herman: Questioning Henwood on Globalization

Richard Du Boff  and Edward Herman For some reason Doug Henwood feels called upon to play down globalization. Others on the left, some associated with MONTHLY REVIEW, have done the same, warning that any acceptance of the globalization thesis will discourage leftists and breed "defeatism." Henwood expresses no such fears; but his treatment of globalization, Read more…

Dorothy Guellec: Things Are Never As They Seem and yet They Are Always As They Seem

Dorothy Guellec What this title suggests is that we have to look between the lines and live between the lines. Life is almost always terribly complex. Readers of this commentary may feel convinced that the business model does not fit healthcare, so I need not preach to the converted. However, you may not be familiar Read more…

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Tim Wise: The Trouble With Tolerance

Tim Wise They came in the mail again, even though I never ordered them: those personal address labels that say "teach tolerance" -sent out by the Southern Poverty Law Center: America’s favorite civil rights group. The one run by Morris Dees: America’s favorite crusader for, well, "tolerance." You know, "tolerance" – America’s favorite word because Read more…

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Doug Henwood: What is Globalization, Anyway

Doug Henwood If there’s one thing that analysts and activists across the political spectrum agree on today it’s that we live in an era of economic globalization. This is taken by both critics and cheerleaders as self-evident and largely unprecedented. We should think twice about this consensus. The concept that has now entered daily speech Read more…

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Howard Zinn: On Rewarding People for Talents and Hard Work 

  There are two issues here: First, why should we accept our culture’s definition of those two factors? Why should we accept that the "talent" of someone who writes jingles for an Advertising agency advertising dog food and gets $100,000 a year is superior to the talent of an auto mechanic who makes $40,000 a Read more…

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Howard Zinn: On Rewarding People for Talents and Hard WorkÊ

Howard Zinn There are two issues here: First, why should we accept our culture’s definition of those two factors? Why should we accept that the "talent" of someone who writes jingles for an Advertising agency advertising dog food and gets $100,000 a year is superior to the talent of an auto mechanic who makes $40,000 Read more…

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Site Administrator: A Short Guide to the WTO

Elaine Bernard The World Trade Organization (WTO) is coming to Seattle at the end of November and tens of thousands of labor, environmental, and progressive activists are organizing to give them a hot reception. There are thousands and thousands of pages out there – on the net, in progressive journals, articles, even books, on the Read more…

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Norman Solomon: Nearing Global Summit, WTO On High Media Ground

Norman Solomon When thousands of protesters converge on Seattle at the end of this month to challenge the global summit of the World Trade Organization, they’re unlikely to get a fair hearing from America’s mass media. Consider how one of the nation’s most influential newspapers framed the upcoming confrontation as November began. The Washington Post Read more…

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Brian Dominick: Georgia On My Mind: Hard Thoughts on Closing the SOA

Brian Dominick It’s been a long time since I last wrote in depth about the US Army’s School of the Americas, and the movement to shut it down. But living in Syracuse, a major anti-SOA hotbed, this time of year it’s hard not to write or at least think about the training center located in Read more…

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Sonia Shah: Our Deeply Twisted Understanding of the World 

  "Do people in India leave their dead in the street?" This was the question posed to my family by a coworker invited for dinner. (She wasn’t invited back.) After the pop star Madonna’s first child was born, the new mom was noted for her new look-dyed black hair, bindi, sari-like wraps, mendhi. "Religious Hindus" Read more…

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Sonia Shah: Our Deeply Twisted Understanding of the WorldÊ

Sonia Shah "Do people in India leave their dead in the street?" This was the question posed to my family by a coworker invited for dinner. (She wasn’t invited back.) After the pop star Madonna’s first child was born, the new mom was noted for her new look-dyed black hair, bindi, sari-like wraps, mendhi. "Religious Read more…

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Jeremy Brecher: There’s An Alternative

Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith When world leaders meet in Seattle after Thanksgiving for the "pre-millennial" session of the World Trade Organization, many will sincerely believe that there is no alternative to the present direction of globalization. But all over the world, activists and scholars associated with environmental, religious, labor, and other social movements have Read more…

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Norman Solomon: The Twain Most Americans Never Meet

Norman Solomon With the start of 2000 less than two months away, I’ve been thinking about a beloved American writer who stuck his neck out the last time people went through a change of centuries. We revere Mark Twain as a superb storyteller who generates waves of laughter with powerful undertows of biting satire. One Read more…

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Saul Landau: The Old Populist Gag

Saul Landau Exciting! Pat Buchanan, presidential candidate, opposes corporate globalization which, he claims, benefits a handful of multi national giants and leaves crumbs for the poor. Buchanan says he stands for elementary justice for working people. He blasts the plutocracy that has stolen trillions from the pockets of the poor and the middle class. Shouldn’t Read more…

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Cynthia Peters: East Timor: Reparations and Responsibility

Cynthia Peters and  Stephen R. Shalom The New York Times reported on October 25 the claim that the United States had "poured billions" into East Timor. The next day the Times ran a "correction," saying that in fact "Washington’s foreign aid" to East Timor "has not amounted to billions." As far as we know, the Read more…

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Cynthia Peters: East Timor: Reparations and Responsibility

Cynthia Peters and  Stephen R. Shalom The New York Times reported on October 25 the claim that the United States had "poured billions" into East Timor. The next day the Times ran a "correction," saying that in fact "Washington’s foreign aid" to East Timor "has not amounted to billions." As far as we know, the Read more…

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Leslie Cagan: Some Thoughts on Hate Crimes

Leslie Cagan The brutal murder of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming a little more than a year ago focused national attention on a long-standing reality for many lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people: the widespread fear and hatred of people outside the so-called norms of sexual expression all too often explodes into acts of violence. Read more…

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Manning Marable: The KKK: From Greensboro to NYC

Manning Marable Twenty years ago, on November 3, 1979, five principled and dedicated activists for social justice-Cesar Cauce, Dr. Mike Nathan, Bill Sampson, Sandi Smith, and Dr. Jim Waller-were brutally murdered in Greensboro, North Carolina by the Ku Klux Klan. History has recorded this tragedy as the "Greensboro Massacre." These five anti-racist organizers and ten Read more…

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Edward Herman: The Times and East Timor

Edward Herman Seth Mydans’s October 31 piece on the Indonesian departure from East Timor, "A Calamitous Era Plays Out Quietly For East Timorese," with its admission that 200,000 had died in Indonesia’s 24 year failed pacification effort, including its final "rampage of destruction," might impress some people as an illustration of objective journalism. But they Read more…

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Danny Schechter: The Media Channel

Danny Schechter An IPO a day seems to keep the market in play as Internet deals continue to hit the jackpot throwing up new e-commerce driven sites and throwing off a new crop of instant gazillionaires. Business schools across the world report their best students dropping out to join the gold rush. ABC’s Nightline recently Read more…

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Jim Hightower: Shorts

Jim Hightower Getting Away From It All In the roiling sea of communications technology that threatens to engulf us–phone calls, email, voice mail, faxes, the internet, laptops, etc.–it’s good to seek refuge every now and again in the tranquility of nature, where the chirping you hear is not an electronic device, but birds. AP writer Read more…

BlasŽ Bonpane: Wars No More

Blase Bonpane Just as a battered spouse who enables her partner to continue his abusive ways, so we, the people of Americas continue to enable the United States to be an incurable serial killer. The victims of the holocaust of the Third Reich have rightfully taken the position, "Never Again". Why cannot we, restrain the Read more…

Dorothy Guellec: Health Care Shouldn’t Be Commercial

Dorothy Guellec Certain things should be "off limits to commerce" Healthcare in my view can be compared to Education which, so far, has not been totally privatized. If shareholders must be satisfied, then patients’ interests will be compromised. The way managed care works is by rewarding investors, HMO CEO’s, and even doctors, while simultaneously holding Read more…

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Norman Solomon: When Online Trading Offers a Reason to Believe

Norman Solomon If you’re watching much television these days, you’ve probably seen a lot of commercials for online investing. Many large brokerage firms are now urging people to play the stock market via the Internet. So, in routine fashion, TV spots dramatize cyber-trading as an activity that brings excitement, independence, financial security and even self-realization. Read more…

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Saul Landau: More Nuclear Disasters

Saul Landau The Lesson Unlearned "We have contained the spread of radiation from last week’s nuclear accident," Japanese authorities assured their citizens. They blame the chain reaction on improper handling of materials by low level workers. As if that explanation will sedate the Japanese public! The Japanese know all too well the long term effects Read more…

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Nikos Raptis: The Pnyx

Nikos Raptis Pnyx is the name of a low (357 feet high) hill about 450 yards to the west of the Acropolis in Athens. The word "Pnyx" means "tightly crowded together." The "crowding" refers to the male citizens (also known and as "demos") of classical Athens, who assembled, in the open, on the northern side Read more…

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Robert Naiman: Clinton’s Debt Relief: Too Generous or Too Stingy

Robert Naiman After President Clinton announced that he supports 100% cancellation of the debts owed by the poorest countries to the United States, some poll data suggested that people thought Clinton was being too generous. They were probably reacting more to the soaring rhetoric of Clinton’s speech, than to any grasp of the impact of Read more…

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Scott Burchill: A Fresh Start

Scott Burchill Sometimes statistics tell a grim tale. In the first weeks of September this year, 70% of all public buildings and private residences in East Timor were destroyed. At least 75% of the population of the territory was displaced, with over 260,000 people being driven across the border into Indonesian West Timor. Even more Read more…

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Manning Marable: The Black Radical Congress: Moving On Up To Congress 2000

Manning Marable On June 19, 1998, over two thousand African Americans gathered in Chicago to participate in the founding conference of the Black Radical Congress (BRC). Despite the relative absence of media coverage and working with limited funds, people of African descent traveled across the country, some coming from as far away as the Caribbean, Read more…

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Vijay Prashad: I’m Part of Today’s Unions, Ask Me Why

Vijay Prashad Thanks to Elisabeth Armstrong and Brian Steinberg for discussions on this subject. In a somewhat recent issue of <Counterpunch> the editors quote a rather obscure AFL-CIO official who is said to have commented that ‘grassroots authenticity’ is overrated. The editors take this to mean that the ‘labor bureaucrats’ at 16th Street in Washington Read more…

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Marta Russell: The Private Health Care Juggernaut Needs Jilting

Marta Russell Presidential hopeful Bill Bradley has placed health care reform on the national agenda as well it should be. However, the Bradley plan does not go far enough to resolve real need and it protects the insurance industry – the very culprit which is undermining access to quality health care in the nation. Bradley’s Read more…

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Russell Mokhiber: The Criminal Element

Russell Mikhiber and Robert Weissman The criminal element has seeped deep into every nook and cranny of American society. Forget about the underworld — these crooks dominate every aspect of our market, culture, and politics. They cast a deep dark shadow over life in turn of the century America. We buy gas from them (Exxon, Read more…

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Mark Weisbrot: Time to End Debt Slavery

Mark Weisbrot It has become a truism that "there are no easy answers" to the world’s most pressing economic and social problems. The phrase is often repeated by academics, policy wonks, and others whose occupation immerses them in the details of real or imagined solutions. It is worth remembering that the abolitionists who fought against Read more…

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Nikos Raptis: The Harvard Lady

Nikos Raptis The U.S. (corporate or state) institutions that dominate the life of ordinary people in almost all countries, though impersonal, need some individuals who as part of a local elite promote the ideology and the goals of these institutions. The portrait of such an individual, a lady, as it appears through a recent interview Read more…

Clark Kissenger: Update on Mumia

Clark Kissinger Mumia’s legal team and the attorneys for the state of Pennsylvania were asked to a meeting this past Tuesday morning with federal judge William Yohn in his chambers to "get acquainted." This was expected and is usually the way a major case like this begins. When they arrived at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Read more…

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Saul Landau: Will it Be NATO or the UN

Saul Landau In 1945, the UN was established to help bring the world community to peace.. NATO was invented four years later to defend against a supposed Soviet threat to conquer Western Europe. NATO has outlived the Soviet Union, but its leaders didn’t dissolve their outmoded structure after it lacked a raison d’etre. Instead, they Read more…

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Russell Mokhiber: Keep the Public in Public Health

Russell Mokhiber  and Robert Weissman The great thing about the American Public Health Association (APHA) is in its name – it’s about public health — what we as a society do to assure the conditions in which people can be healthy. If we were to choose a steward for the public health, we would, without Read more…

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Edward Herman: Missing Bodies

Edward S. Herman A Reuters news dispatch of October 13 bylined Pristina, Kosovo, is entitled " Absolutely No Bodies Found in Supposed Mine Shaft Mass Grave in Kosovo." This follows an earlier report by a Spanish forensic team that went into a part of Kosovo allegedly rich in killing fields, where instead of the predicted Read more…

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Jim Hightower: Various Shorts

Jim Hightower THE DARTH VADER  OF CAMPAIGN-FINANCE REFORM It’s Goober Time again {Beanie-cap Breakdown} — time to give the Hightower Radio "Gooberhead Award" to yet another public figure who’s got his tongue going 100 miles an hour . . . but forgot to put his brain in gear. Today’s awardee is a repeat winner: Sen. Read more…

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Noam Chomsky: East Timor Is Not Yesterday’s Story

Noam Chomsky According to recent reports, the UN mission in East Timor has been able to account for just over 150,000 people out of an estimated population of 850,000. It reports that 260,000 "are now languishing in squalid refugee camps in West Timor under the effective control of the militias after either fleeing or being Read more…

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Betsy Hartmann: Cracking Open Crack

Betsy Hartmann "We don’t allow dogs to breed. We spay them. We neuter them. We try to keep them from having unwanted puppies, and yet these women are literally having litters of children…" These are the words of Barbara Harris, founder of the organization CRACK, Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity. Based in California, CRACK’s mission Read more…

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Mark Weisbrot: Budget Baloney

Mark Weisbrot How much falsehood and stupidity should the media allow to go unchallenged in public debate? At what point do journalists and the press have an obligation to step in and supply the necessary facts and explanations, so that the public can have a chance to understand what is being misrepresented? I couldn’t help Read more…

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Cynthia Peters: Class Politics in America: A Fashionable Consumer Item

Cynthia Peters I spent $44.00 recently to see Dario Fo’s farce about hunger, free-market injustice, sexism, and class injustice at the American Repetory Theater in Harvard Square. Dario Fo, "who emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden," won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997 Read more…

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