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

C. Douglas Lummis: The Great Betrayal

December 27 will be remembered as a black day in Okinawan history

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Sue Sturgis: The War on Poverty at 50

Date on which President Lyndon Johnson declared the War on Poverty in the United States: 1/8/1964 Percent of Americans who were living in poverty at that time: 19 Percent living in poverty in 1969: 12.1 Percent living in poverty today: 15 Percent of Americans who lived in poverty for at least two months between 2009 Read more…

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Ted Glick: The Catholic Left 45 Years Later

For me, the Catholic Left was a way to take action that was appropriate to the urgency of what was happening in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos

Mosireen Collective: Egypt’s Regime Moves To Outlaw January 25 Revolution

On November 26, 2013, the “No Military Trials for Civilians” group in Cairo held a protest in front of the Shoura Council, against the new Constitution’s provision allowing military trials for civilians. The Interior Ministry dispersed the protest by force, thanks to the new protest law enacted by the government 2 days earlier. The government Read more…

María Christina Blanco: Fighting Eviction When Your Home Is Your Workplace

The sun was setting as María Estevez welcomed 30 supporters to her small front yard in Boston for a vigil this fall. Her family’s home of 10 years was decorated with colorful bilingual signs with slogans like “Beat Back the Bank Attack.” Supporters were pressing Chase Bank to let the Estevez family stay in their Read more…

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Juan Cole: Trashing the Law Against Warrantless GPS Tracking: NSA Nabs 5 Billion Phone Location Records A Day

Remember when the National Security Agency officials maintained that they were “only” collecting “metadata” from your cell phones? What they meant by that was that they weren’t listening in on your calls, just noting who you call and when. I said at the time that ‘metadata’ on cell phones inevitably includes information on where you Read more…

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Boris Kagarlitsky: The Dangers of Specialization

In 1604, King Philip III of Spain suffered a burn while sleeping near the fireplace because no nobleman could be found with the authority to move his chair. That is a good example of the dangers of excessive specialization. The problem is that Russia's educational reforms aim for extremely narrow specialization to prune away the study of "unnecessary" information and subjects, and to free students from being "overburdened" The new approach to education focuses Read more…

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William Blum: “If nature were a bank, they would have already rescued it”

“If nature were a bank, they would have already rescued it.” – Eduardo Galeano What do you think of this as an argument to use when speaking to those who don’t accept the idea that extreme weather phenomena are man-made? Well, we can proceed in one of two ways: We can do our best to Read more…

Steve Horn: Tar Sands’ Next Frontier: Shipments on the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes, drinking water source for over 40 million North Americans, could be the next target on tar sands marketers' bullseye according to a major new report out by the Chicago-based Alliance for the Great Lakes. The 24-page report, "Oil and Water: Tar Sands Crude Shipping Meets the Great Lakes?" unpacks a new looming threat to Read more…

Isabelle Belanger: Record Number of Homeless Students in the US In 2013

A record 1.1 million students attending public schools in the United States are homeless in 2013. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the number of homeless students has increased by 10 percent in 2013, from 1,065,794 in 2012, to 1,168,354. Forty-three states have reported increases from last year, with 10 states reporting increases of Read more…

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Peter Watt: U.S. Alarmism Denies Complicity in Rising Mexican Asylum Requests

“No sane Mexican would want to live in the U.S.,” explains legal scholar Edgardo Buscaglia, “because of the discrimination there.” “But they have to do it,” he notes, because there simply are not enough jobs in Mexico. The massive migration that has taken place in recent decades is predominantly the result of economic policies that have Read more…

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Jack Rasmus: The Great Corporate Tax Shift, Part 3

In parts 1 and 2 of this series on how US corporations have succeeded in avoiding paying taxes, the focus has been on how corporations have avoided paying taxes at the US federal level and on their corporate income earned abroad. The US federal corporate tax has been in freefall for decades. Elsewhere globally, there Read more…

Lauren McCauley: Big Retail Is Watching You: Exposing Walmart’s Massive Data Collection Schemes

Outside of its growing reputation for poverty wages, worker intimidation and an overall culture of employee repression, a new report released Wednesday reveals that retail giant Walmart is also throwing its weight behind a massive consumer tracking effort with particular implications for people of color. Authored by a coalition of consumer rights and social justice Read more…

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John Pilger: Discovering The Power Of People’s History – And Why It Is Feared Today

England is two countries. One is dominated by London, the other remains in its shadow. When I first arrived from Australia, it seemed no one went north of Watford and those who had emigrated from the north worked hard to change their accents and obscure their origins and learn the mannerisms and codes of the Read more…

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Patrick Bond: BRICS Lessons in (Un)sustainable Urbanisation

What is to be done, in the wake of Warsaw climate summit’s conclusive failure to cap emissions last weekend? The answer: walk out of the United Nations process when it needs delegitimation, and work much harder to curtail pollution in your home sites of struggle, everyone in civil society agreed.  For the 40 percent of Read more…

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Paul Buchheit: Unequal Beyond the Edge of Humanness

1. Smiles Beverly is a middle-aged homeless woman who survives day-by-day on the streets of Chicago. I learned about her from my friend Joe, an advocate for the homeless and a volunteer at a community kitchen on the city's north side. He first noticed Beverly huddled in a theater exitway on a frigid November morning, Read more…

James Bargent: Taking on the Neoliberal Development Model: A Social Movement in Colombia Rises Up in Defense of Water

Colombia is booming, we are told. The security improvements of the last decade have opened up the country to investment, allowing it capitalize on its resource wealth to fund much needed development and investment in infrastructure. However, while this narrative has now traveled around the world, for many of those living at the heart of Read more…

Samantha Winslow: An iPad on Every Desk: A Trojan Horse, Teachers Say

A group of Los Angeles teachers and students says their school district’s plan to distribute iPads to every student is too good to be true. The teachers say the money could be better spent than on cutting big checks to software and technology corporations. They suspect the iPad plan is a Trojan horse brought in Read more…

Jon Queally: Naming Names: The 90 Companies Destroying Our Planet

Narrow it down to the real power-brokers and decision-makers—the CEO's of fossil fuel companies or the energy ministers from the largest petro-states—says climate researcher Richard Heede, and the actual individuals most responsible for the political world's continued refusal to address the planetary crisis of climate change "could all fit on a Greyhound bus or two." Read more…

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Paul Street: Weather Report: Normalizing the Unthinkable at the Petroleum Broadcasting System

The Left commentator Edward S Herman once (applying a phrase from the anthropologist Lisa Peattie) usefully described a key function of the corporate mass media as “normalizing the unthinkable.”[1] Another and related function of that media might be called “de-contextualizing daily and current events.”  An excellent example of both functions in operation at the same Read more…

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Jack Rasmus: The Great Corporate Tax Shift: Part 1

The great corporate myth-making machine has been hard at work of late, attempting to create the false impression that US corporations are increasingly uncompetitive with their foreign rivals due to the fact they pay much higher corporate taxes in the US and abroad than their capitalist counterparts. But that is one of the great myths Read more…

Ter Garcia: Spain’s Housing Activists Scale Up Squatter Movement

What makes a movement turn into a landlord? Over the past two years in Catalonia, Spain, more than 700 people have made empty houses owned by banks their new homes thanks to the support of the Platform of People Affected by the Mortgage, or PAH. In Andalusia, another 400 people have used a similar strategy Read more…

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Bill Quigley: Why I Represent the New Orleans Immigrant Workers Who Committed Civil Disobedience

In the thirty six-years I have been a lawyer, I have seen many people take brave moral actions. I have represented hundreds in Louisiana and across our country who have been arrested for protesting for peace, civil rights, economic justice, and human rights for all. It is amazing to see people put their freedom on Read more…

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Medea Benjamin: Drone Wars

Michelle Zellers spoke with Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control and founder of the US-based anti-war group Codepink, who was arrested in May for interrupting Barack Obama’s speech on his drone program November 2013 Could you start by telling our readers about yourself? I started doing social justice work back in the Read more…

Gwynne Dyer: Typhoon Haiyan: ‘Early Warning System’

“We’ve been telling the rest of the world we don’t want what’s happening to us to happen to everyone else,” said Lucille L. Sering, the vice chair of the Philippines’ Climate Commission,, as the country struggled to cope with the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. “This is your early warning system…we will all eventually be victims Read more…

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Sue Sturgis: Drastic Changes Ahead for the Southeast’s Climate

According to an extensive new scientific report released this week, degrees Fahrenheit by which the average temperature in the Southeast* is expected to rise this century: 9 Degrees F. by which average temperatures in the Southeast have already risen since 1970: 2 Rank of the past decade among the warmest on record in the Southeast: Read more…

Maira Sutton: TPP Leak Confirms the Worst: US Negotiators Still Trying to Trade Away Internet Freedoms

After years of secret trade negotiations over the future of intellectual property rights (and limits on those rights), the public gets a chance to looks at the results. For those of us who care about free speech and a balanced intellectual property system that encourages innovation, creativity, and access to knowledge, it’s not a pretty Read more…

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Jenny Brown: Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Neutrality Agreements

Today the Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether "neutrality agreements," where the employer promises not to fight the union, are really just a bribe, and therefore illegal. As the legal system keeps choking organizing possibilities, it’s now a rare campaign in the private sector where the union doesn’t first extract a neutrality agreement to Read more…

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Boris Kagarlitsky: A Fire in the Vacuum of Space

While seated at the breakfast table recently, I noticed a box bearing the mysterious inscription: "Official juices and nectars." I was astonished. Did that mean there were also "unofficial" juices and nectars? Or even worse, "bootleg" juices and nectars? How would those pretenders differ from the "official" variety, I wondered? Then I turned the box around and discovered the symbol of the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Apparently, Read more…

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Shamus Cooke: The Super Rich Reinvent U.S. Capitalism

As U.S. corporate profits soar to record highs, food stamps for the neediest were quietly cut. The politicians who are demanding endless cuts to social programs — Democrats and Republicans alike — insist that the U.S. is broke, all the while conveniently ignoring the mountains of tax-free wealth piling up in the pockets of the super Read more…

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Paul Street: For Intelligent Civilization – on Earth

It appears distinctly possible, even likely that intelligent life exists on other planets. According to the leading University of California at Berkeley astronomer Geoff Marcy, an official NASA researcher for the Kepler telescope mission, "The universe is simply too large for there not to be another intelligent civilisation out there. Really, the proper question is: Read more…

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Sue Sturgis: The High Public Cost of Fast-Food Jobs

Sales generated last year by the U.S. fast-food industry: $200 billion Percent of families of front-line fast-food workers employed full-time that are enrolled in public assistance programs: more than 50 Factor by which that exceeds the U.S. workforce as a whole: 2 Annual cost of public assistance to families of fast-food workers: nearly $7 billion Read more…

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Jérôme Roos: Greek Police Raid Occupied and Worker-Run TV Station

Just before dawn this morning, at 4am, eight squads of riot police stormed the headquarters of Greece’s former public broadcaster ERT in Athens. The station had been occupied by its workers since June this year, following an unprecedented presidential decree that effectively shut down the former state broadcaster overnight. The government order triggered mass protests Read more…

Gloria Romero: Toxic Legacy

Ever since Manifest Destiny infested this green planet, Native Americans fought against the severe exploitation and horrific genocide that powered it. The struggle continues as Indian nations fight to ban uranium mining in their precious homelands. Uranium mining mushroomed after the launching of the nuclear age. It provides the fuel for the reactors of nuclear Read more…

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John M. Laforge: Bombing Food Stamps, Feeding Bombs

Beginning Nov. 1, food stamp cutbacks mean $36 per month less for a family of four. Public ‘servants’ like Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan and Democratic former President Bill Clinton point to the failure of poverty programs to end poverty, and then slash those program budgets or abolish them altogether. Clinton’s actions did away with Aid Read more…

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John Pilger: The Brutal Past And Present Are Another Country In Secret Australia

The corridors of the Australian parliament are so white you squint. The sound is hushed; the smell is floor polish. The wooden floors shine so virtuously they reflect the cartoon portraits of prime ministers and rows of Aboriginal paintings, suspended on white walls, their blood and tears invisible. The parliament stands in Barton, a suburb Read more…

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Medea Benjamin: Drones Have Come Out Of The Shadows

Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote ControlI ask the audience an easy question: Have they ever seen or heard from drone strike victims in the mainstream US press? Not one hand has ever gone up. This is an obvious indication that the media has failed to do its job of humanizing the civilian casualties that accompany Read more…

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Jack Rasmus: The Contradictions of Global Fiscal-Monetary Policy

“QEs, massive liquidity injections by central banks, token fiscal stimulus policies followed soon by austerity fiscal stimulus withdrawals represent the recovery policy ‘mix’ for the US since 2008.  In similar form, albeit with different emphases, the same monetary and fiscal policies have been adopted by other main capitalist sectors of the global economy. Those economies, Read more…

Jon Queally: Climate Impacts Poised to Decimate Human and Earth Systems, says Leaked IPCC Draft

A draft of a global scientific review on how human and natural systems are expected to respond to the growing threat of climate change has been leaked and its contents—though not wholly unexpected to those who have followed climate science news in recent years—are nonetheless both alarming and devastating. Titled, Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, Read more…

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Danny Schechter: Hey, Hey NSA: How Many Leaders Have You Spied On Today?

First we had Spymaster James Clapper dismissing concerns about NSA spying abuses denounced worldwide with a reference to the movie Casablanca. (His critics most recently were seconded by Secretary of State John Kerry who fears a tad of overkill, at least, now that some of this surveillance has been exposed.)  To Clapper’s cinema-addicted mind, the Read more…

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David Swanson: Finally a Drone Report Done Right

The U.N. and Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International recently released a flurry of deeply flawed reports on drone murders. According to the U.N.'s special rapporteur, whose day job is as law partner of Tony Blair's wife, and according to two major human rights groups deeply embedded in U.S. exceptionalism, murdering people with drones is Read more…

Margot Nikitas: Pittsburghers Try a Community Union

In the face of an awful economic climate and labor laws that too often favor employers, Pittsburghers are trying out a new organizing model: a rank-and-file community union. The fledgling group brings union and non-union workers together to fight side by side on social justice issues and to seed workplace organizing committees through a Pittsburgh-flavored Read more…

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Juan Cole: America’s Secret 4th Branch of Government: The NSA Kept Even Obama in the Dark

The revelation from the Snowden Papers that the Ever since the Snowden revelations of the massive, world-girdling extent of NSA electronic surveillance surfaced, I have been wondering two things: Did they tell Obama about it when they took office in 2009? And, do they have something on Obama? leaked to German tabloid Bild am Sonntag that Read more…

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Sue Sturgis: NC Heads Down Scandal-Plagued Economic Development Path

Since North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) was elected last year, he's pushed the state Department of Commerce toward a privatized economic development model involving a separate nonprofit corporation chaired by the governor himself — an organization he has dubbed the "Partnership for Prosperity." It's an approach that's led to scandals and costly failures in Read more…

John Duda: Looking at Baltimore’s Surveillance Cameras

There are very legitimate reasons to be scared that the proliferation of video surveillance is rapidly encroaching on our rights to everyday privacy and anonymity on the streets of Baltimore. Spurred on by counter-terrorism paranoia, recent advances in camera technology and computerized image processing are bringing George Orwell’s dystopian nightmare of inescapable social control within reach of today’s bureaucrats. Traditionally, surveillance cameras required Read more…

Bruce Bostick: Tea Party, ALEC Prescribe CPR to Kill Pensions

What do you call a proposal that breaks promises to city workers, destroys their families’ hard-earned retirement security, lowers the city’s tax base, harms our fragile economy, and actually requires the city of Cincinnati to pay out more in retiree funds? The tiny group of wealthy financiers and Tea Party supporters sponsoring this proposal calls Read more…

Andrea Germanos: Fuel Removal From Fukushima’s Reactor 4 Threatens ‘Apocalyptic’ Scenario

An operation with potentially "apocalyptic" consequences is expected to begin in a little over two weeks from now – "as early as November 8" – at Fukushima's damaged and sinking Reactor 4, when plant operator TEPCO will attempt to remove over 1300 spent fuel rods holding the radiation equivalent of 14,000 Hiroshima bombs from a Read more…

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Cyril Mychalejko: Big Brother’s New Crystal Ball

The outrage regarding Washington’s National Security Agency spying, as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, has spread across the world, upsetting diplomatic relations and threatening to shift balances of global power. Yet beyond this spying network lies another, lesser known pilot operation within the NSA called the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity’s Open Source Indicators Program. Read more…

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Boris Kagarlitsky: The Kremlin Benefits From Migrants

Murders stemming from domestic violence occur every week in Russia, as they do elsewhere in the world. Most in Russia go unnoticed by the public and unsolved by the police. But after the recent killing in Moscow of 25-year-old Yegor Shcherbakov, the authorities made extraordinary efforts to apprehend the culprit. They soon arrested Azeri national Orkhan Zeinalov, and journalists immediately reported that he was guilty of the murder — even before Read more…

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David Swanson: A New Kind of War Is Being Legalized

There's a dark side to the flurry of reports and testimony on drones, helpful as they are in many ways. When we read that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch oppose drone strikes that violate international law, some of us may be inclined to interpret that as a declaration that, in fact, drone strikes violate international Read more…

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