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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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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Norman Solomon: A PRo-Democracy Movement

Norman Solomon It’s a pro-democracy movement. And it’s global. The vibrant social forces that converged on Seattle — and proceeded to deflate the WTO summit — are complex, diverse and sometimes contradictory. Yet the threads of their demands form a distinct weave: We want full democratic rights for all people. Leaders of the U.S. government Read more…

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Michael Albert: Building Solidarity

Michael Albert I got a lot of input from many directions honing this commentary. I hope it can contribute to a process of diverse movement components agreeing on ways to work together most productively. I would very much like to discuss the points raised in the forums… Social struggle will never be perfectly choreographed but Read more…

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Cynthia Peters: It Is Not As Easy As ABC

Cynthia Peters A recently released study finds that children from poor families are better off if they spend more time in day care starting at an earlier age. The Abecedarian Project (named for the first four letters of the alphabet), conducted at the University of North Carolina, followed "treated" underprivileged Black children and a control Read more…

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Howard Zinn: Seattle

Howard Zinn In the year 1919, when the city of Seattle was brought to a halt by a general strike – beginning with 35,000 shipyard workers demanding a wage increase – the mayor reflected on its significance: "True there were no flashing guns, no bombs, no killings. Revolution…doesn’t need violence. The general strike, as practiced Read more…

Dorothy Guellec: Patient Rights vs. Distributive Justice

Dorothy Guellec The right of the patient to direct his or her medical care and health outcome, known as patient autonomy, and the right of society to control and allocate "limited resources", known as distributive justice will certainly collide. In an ideal world, or in an egalitarian society all individuals would have access to healthcare. Read more…

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Manning Marable: A Dialogue Between Generations

Manning Marable Several weeks ago I attended and spoke at a conference on race which was organized at Stanford University. After delivering my lecture, I walked down the steps from the stage. Clustered around the steps were several male and female graduate students. One young black man, about 25 years old, handsome and confident, began Read more…

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Michael Albert: Different Strokes for Different Folks!?

Michael Albert How do we evaluate movement tactics and particularly property-damaging or truly aggressive or violent tactics? Pacifism comes from a religious, philosophical stance and says violence or even property damage is a bad personal choice that brooks no exceptions. Many pacifists-for example, Dave Dellinger–argue publicly on behalf of political nonviolence using evidence, values, and Read more…

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Edward Herman: THEY BROUGHT IT ON THEMSELVES

Edward S. Herman One of the tricks of imperialism is to pretend that a targeted enemy has been offered a negotiating option, quickly claim that that option has been rejected, and then ruthlessly attack or continue sanctions that may be taking a heavy human toll. The beauty of this system is that no matter how Read more…

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Cynthia Peters: Neither Heroes Nor Fools

Cynthia Peters "They forced us all out of the house and one of them held a gun to my head. `I am going to kill you. You are a child of FALINTIL.’ `No,’ I told the soldier, `I am a child.’" — an 11-year old East Timorese girl Visiting East Timor after the August 30 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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Saul Landau: Two from Saul Landau…China/Cuba

  After declining to sign a "better deal" last April, the Clinton Administration has signed off on conditions for permitting China to enter the World Trade Organization (WTO). Even though China’s premier was in Washington last April begging for Clinton’s signature to lock in a victory for his faction of economic liberalizers over their internal Read more…

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Saul Landau: Two from Saul LandauÉChina/Cuba

Robin Hahnel After declining to sign a "better deal" last April, the Clinton Administration has signed off on conditions for permitting China to enter the World Trade Organization (WTO). Even though China’s premier was in Washington last April begging for Clinton’s signature to lock in a victory for his faction of economic liberalizers over their Read more…

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Judy Rebick: First Mourn, Then Work for Change

violent men. At first there was a ferocious debate. He was just a madman, they said. It had nothing to do with violence against women, they said. But we knew better. Why did we even have to argue the point? His suicide letter had a hit list of prominent feminists he wanted to kill. He Read more…

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Danny Schechter: MY GLOBAL(IZED) NEIGHBORHOOD: TODAY SEATTLE,TOMORROW TIMES SQUARE?

manifestation of globalization. They rallied to confront the until then omnipotent WTO with its power to set the terms of international trade without accountability. There, in the land of Boeing and Microsoft, with Starbucks the caffeine of choice, they were in turn contained by the armed might of a state which usually prefers to keep Read more…

Dan Georgakas: East Timor, Phillips Petroleum, & Norman, Oklahoma

Dan Georgakas During the height of the massacres in East Timor, Phillips Petroleum paid the Indonesian government $2.9 million in royalties for oil that had been taken out of East Timor. That scandal was not uncovered by any "investigative" reporter in mass media, but by Todd Walker, a student at the U of Oklahoma (OU). Read more…

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Manning Marable: The Politics of Inequality

Manning Marable The fundamental issue that will define U.S. politics in the first decade of the twenty-first century is the spiraling growth of inequality in American life. One might respond that "inequality" is not new in U.S. society, and has always existed. What is "new" is the degree of income stratification and class polarization we Read more…

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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…

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