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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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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Sonia Shah: What Are You On? Hormones?

Sonia Shah I am not proud, but not ashamed either, to admit I am humbled by hormones. I used to pride myself on being logical: as a philosophy major, I got an A+ in deductive logic in school. But under the powerful effect of estrogens and other biochemicals coursing through my pregnant body, I realized Read more…

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Jeremy Brecher: Review of Panic Rules

By Jeremy Brecher A funny thing happened on the way to the New Millenium: the Old Millenium crashed. According to economist Paul Krugman, "Never in the course of economic events — not even in the early years of the Depression — has so large a part of the world economy experienced so devastating a fall Read more…

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Vijay Prashad: Behind the Front; Nuclear Deterrance Indo-Pak Style

Vijay Prashad May, 1998. India and then, Pakistan, tested nuclear devices of questionable ferocity to launch themselves as nuclear power States. Both countries made diplomatic bids to join the discriminatory nuclear bargain currently being flogged to the world as a test ban treaty (CTBT). The Prime Minister of India traveled to Pakistan where the two Read more…

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Russell Mokhiber: Biotech Untamed

Russel Mokhiber  and Robert Weissman When Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman wanted to address the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to rave about the biotech industry and its wonders, he called Gene Grabowski. Grabowski, a former Associated Press reporter and currently a spokesperson for the Grocery Manufacturers of America, sits on the Press Club’s Read more…

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Charles Glass: Hacks Versus Flacks

Charles Glass The London media world is under fire and taking shelter. Prime Minister Tony Blair’s head flack, Alistair Campbell, has challenged the patriotism of the British press. It’s as if Sid Blumenthal had questioned the loyalty under fire of the New York Times op-ed writers from Tom Friedman to Bill Safire. There are reminders Read more…

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Cynthia Peters: Give em Ritalin

Cynthia Peters "Although the exact number of people taking Ritalin is not known, this year, experts estimate, as many as two million Americans – the vast majority of them children — will take the medication, some as often as five times a day. … Critics within the medical community itself say the drug is being Read more…

Guest Author: The New Labor Internationalism

Peter Waterman Must be around six months since I wrote an open letter to Barbara Shailor, new international relations honcha at the *new* AFL-CIO. Did the postman only ring once? Doesn’t she have really important email and electronic lists scanned by an aide or intern? Does she secretly discrimate against Middle-Aged White Male Hetero Intellectuals Read more…

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Saul Landau: The Embargo

Saul Landau On  July 26, 1953, 26 year old Fidel Castro led a 158 armed men in an attack on, Cuba’s military barracks in Santiago de Cuba. The object: take Fort Moncada and, like John Brown planned to do with the slaves, distribute the captured weapons to revolutionary Cubans who would rise up and overthrow Read more…

Dan Georgakas: Hillary As Senator: Just Say No

Dan Georgakas Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign to become the senator for New York offers the New York Green Party a unique opportunity to focus national attention on truly progressive solutions to our health and environmental problems. Clinton’s candidacy is mainly the inspiration of the West Side and Southampton liberals who are long on celebrity consciousness Read more…

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Brian Dominick: Reflections on Five Years of ZNetting

Brian Dominick Five years ago this month, I installed a tiny telecommunications program in my 386 laptop computer, plugged in a 2400bps modem (yes, I said 24 hundred ), and logged onto ZNet, and that conglomeration of silicon and wires we call the Internet, for the first time. Actually, what I connected to was called Read more…

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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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