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

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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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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