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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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Boris Kagarlitsky: Employers, Not Migrants, Are the Problem

If there was even one point on which the candidates in the Sept. 8 Moscow mayoral race were in agreement, it was on the question of migrant workers. They unanimously described migrants as an evil practically on par with criminals and tried to outdo each other with statements about how they would deal with this blight. Who exactly were the candidates referring to when they spoke of migrant Read more…

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Sue Sturgis: Promoting the Myth of ‘Sustainable Coal’

Month in which a group of prominent Democrats formed the CoalBlue Project to promote the idea of "sustainable coal": 7/2013 Number of weeks after President Obama laid out a detailed plan to address climate change, including steps to curb coal plant pollution, that the group announced its formation: 4 Lobbying income received so far this Read more…

Ken Butigan: Renouncing the Right to Bear Drones

The riveting attention paid to chemical weapons in Syria over the past few weeks is not a new phenomenon. Our revulsion has its roots in World War I’s searing plumes of mustard gas that decimated thousands of troops and that still swirl through the trenches of our collective mind. But it is also grounded in Read more…

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Peter Watt: NSA Can’t Decide If Mexico Is Friend Or Foe

Mexico is the latest country to be caught up in the NSA leaks story. It seems the agency had access to president Enrique Peña Nieto’s email account while he was running for office last year. The disclosure offers us a remarkable, if unsurprising, window on how the US government treats its close political allies. Mexico’s Read more…

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Noam Chomsky: ‘All The News That’s Not Fit To Print’

The NY Times can claim, correctly, that it is the most informative newspaper in the world. It is therefore interesting to look at what it chooses not to tell us. Every day provides many instructive illustrations. Take today, Sept. 12 2013. Here’s a small sample.  All that is true, but crucially incomplete. It should be Read more…

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Sarah Lazare: It’s the People vs. a Giant Mining Firm… and the People are Winning

After a week of massive protests against a Canadian firm's efforts to build Europe's largest open-pit gold mine in the pristine Apuseni mountain range, the Romanian government appears poised to cancel the deal, with Prime Minister Victor Ponta reversing his position and urging parliament to vote "no" on the project. The signs of a people's Read more…

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John Pilger: From Hiroshima To Syria, The Enemy Whose Name We Dare Not Speak

On my wall is the front page of Daily Express of September 5, 1945 and the words: “I write this as a warning to the world.” So began Wilfred Burchett’s report from Hiroshima. It was the scoop of the century. For his lone, perilous journey that defied the US occupation authorities, Burchett was pilloried, not Read more…

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David Heap: The Right to Live in Peace

Aerial bombings, tanks in the streets, widespread terrorizing of civilians by soldiers and secret police: this was the horror unleashed on September 11, 1973 by the military coup d’état in Chile. Led by Augusto Pinochet and other generals with U.S. backing, the coup overthrew President Salvador Allende's democratically elected Popular Unity government, and brought in Read more…

Tazra Mitchell: Debunking Conservative Myths About Poverty

A wildly misleading released recently by the conservative Cato Institute says that it pays to be jobless and poor. In an attempt to bolster a laughably farfetched theory sometimes referred to as “the hidden prosperity of the poor,” the authors conclude that the “welfare system provides such a high level of benefits that it acts Read more…

Jacob Chamberlain: As Tech Companies Create Alibis, Experts Warn NSA Has Compromised Entirety of Internet

While several major tech companies scrambled this weekend to save face following implications in the latest NSA revelations reported Thursday, several experts sounded the alarm over what they see as the greatest threat to internet privacy in all of the NSA revelations so far. According to Thursday's reports, based on documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Read more…

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Paul Street: “With All Due Respect”: Alan Grayson v. “P”BS on Obama and Syria

        After noting that “it's not our responsibility to act unilaterally,” Grayson said that “The international community has spoken. We are the only ones who are contemplating anything like this. If we don't do this attack, no one else will. The British, on exactly the same evidence, decided against doing exactly this Read more…

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Sue Sturgis: Forced Fracking for North Carolina?

Date on which the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission will review regulatory recommendations from a study group that call for allowing what's known as "forced pooling" or "compulsory pooling," which gives the state the right to compel a non-consenting landowner into a gas drilling lease: 9/6/2013 According to the Compulsory Pooling Study Group's recommendation, percent Read more…

Alexandra Bradbury: Could a New Union Leadership Stop Sell-Off of Post Office

A diverse slate of local leaders is making a bid to unseat the national officers of the American Postal Workers Union—and the stakes couldn’t be higher. “We’re at a crossroads,” said Mark Dimondstein, the Members First Team’s candidate for president. “At the core of this whole struggle is whether the post office is going to Read more…

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Paul Street: Obama’s Turn to Congress: More Deception on Syria

Forget for a moment that the rich and powerful U.S. founders set up a constitutional republic cleverly designed to keep popular democracy – their worst nightmare – at bay. Forget also “that the US will not become involved in foreign wars of choice without the consent of …Congress is Never mind that he has consistently made Read more…

Andrea Germanos: Japan’s Plan for Radioactive Waste Water: Into the Ocean

Spreading radiation and suspected new leaks are plaguing the ongoing disaster site of the Fukushima nuclear power plant on Monday, while the head of Japan's nuclear regulatory body warned that there may be no other option than to dump radioactive waste water into the Pacific. The new warnings come after a weekend in which plant Read more…

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Sue Sturgis: Striking for Fast Food Justice

Number of U.S. cities where fast food workers waged strikes this week as part of a campaign to raise wages: 58 Number of those cities in the South: 11* Number of workers in the Triangle region of North Carolina, the state with the nation's lowest unionization rate, who joined the strike: about 50 Hourly pay Read more…

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Arthur MacEwan: Black-White Income Differences: What’s Happened?

With a president who is African-American and talk of a “post-racial” society, one might think that the economic position of African Americans relative to European Americans had improved significantly over the last 40 or so years. One would be wrong. In 2011, the median income of Black households was about $32,000; that is, half of Read more…

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David Swanson: Cruise Missile Law Enforcement

The White House is treating the Syrian government like a potential drone strike victim. President Barack Obama's preferred method for dealing with targeted individuals is not to throw them into lawless prisons. But it's also not to indict and prosecute them. On June 7th, Yemeni tribal leader Saleh Bin Fareed told Democracy Now that Anwar Read more…

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Ramzy Baroud: The Politics of Death: Human Lives Devalued in the Middle East

How many Egyptians have been killed since the January 2011 revolt? My pursuit for exact figures has proven to be futile. Various sources suggest all sorts of numbers, some scrambled in such a way as to make a political point. It is as if the life of the ordinary Egyptian doesn’t matter on its own, Read more…

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Paul Street: The War Train to Syria

A United States military attack on Syria appears to be imminent. Imperial U.S. and British warships are in position in the blue waters of the Mediterranean, loaded for “surgical” acts of war against the Bashar al-Assad regime. The junior British and French partners are on board with the tough talk coming from Washington and so Read more…

Greg Gordon: Singing Deemed Illegal In the People’s Rotunda

“It’s like getting punched in the gut. It’s like you’re not even in America.” The middle-aged man was just an onlooker, on his lunch hour in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda. He’d been watching a crowd of 100 people singing when two police officers held up a powerful “long-range acoustic device” (also used to ward off Read more…

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Jeremy Brecher: A Second Ecological Revolution?

I noted that as a historian, I’m always on the lookout for subtle signs that indicate deep changes in social outlook. When that conversation shifted from local weather to the global biosphere, I felt I was witnessing “the opening shot of the second ecological revolution.” The second ecological revolution, I argued, would grow out of Read more…

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Sarah Lazare: Colombia Nationwide Strike Against ‘Free Trade,’ Privatization, Poverty

A nationwide strike in Colombia—which started as a rural peasant uprising and spread to miners, teachers, medical professionals, truckers, and students—reached its 7th day Sunday as at least 200,000 people blocked roads and launched protests against a U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement and devastating policies of poverty and privatization pushed by US-backed right-wing President Juan Manuel Read more…

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Juan Cole: NSA Abuses Include Stalking Ex-Girlfriends

We have HUMINT, or human intelligence gathered from agents. We have SIGINT or signals intelligence. And now we have LOVEINT or NSA analysts occasionally reading the emails of ex-lovers. It doesn’t happen a lot, the NSA told the WSJ, but often enough that there is a word for it. The NSA only admitted this abuse Read more…

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David Swanson: The Gainesville 8 and a Nixonized World

A 40-year reunion is being planned for the end of this month in Gainesville, Fla., of the Gainesville 8. Sadly, Richard Nixon won't be able to join them, although his presidential library has just released more audio recordings of his descent into madness — or what we like to call today: standard government practice. The Read more…

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Sue Sturgis: In Oil-Producing Regions, Even Minor Hurricanes Cause Major Environmental Damage

We're now approaching the peak of hurricane season, with forecasters reportGulf Restoration NetworkLouisiana Bucket BrigadeSkyTruthSouthWings, and the Waterkeeper Alliance's program — collect, analyze and publish information on oil pollution in the Gulf of Mexico. "We all knew this hurricane was coming — it wasn't a surprise," said Meredith Dowling, SouthWings' Gulf program director. "Yet during Read more…

Jon Queally: Reactions to Manning Sentence

Announcement of Pfc. Bradley Manning's 35 year prison sentence by military Judge Col. Denise Lind on Wednesday was met with swift condemnation in the U.S. and across the globe with progressives and supporters of the army whistleblower calling the sentence a clear miscarriage of justice. Though less than the 60 years military prosecutors had pushed Read more…

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Juan Cole: How to Create a Dictatorship

How to turn a democracy into a STASI authoritarian state in 10 easy steps: 1. Misuse the concept of a Top Secret government document (say, the date of D-Day) and extend classification to trillions of mundane documents a year. 2. Classify all government crimes and violations of the Constitution as secret 3. Create a class Read more…

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Auset Marian Lewis: Beware the Party of Lincoln

Republicans, usually so fact-challenged in their hateful campaign against the Socialist/Racist/President from Another Planet Obama, got one thing right. The Republican Party really was the party of Lincoln who presumably freed the country of the vile institution of slavery. As they actively try to pass legislation to snatch the franchise from the grip of African Read more…

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Myriam Anzola: Alternative Education Can Eliminate Corruption

Participatory education based on empowering students through their active involvement in their community is an essential tool for fighting corruption in the long term, according to Myriam Anzola. Anzola was head of the Merida Politechnical University Kleber Ramirez (UPTM) and is currently the coordinator of the open studies program at the university. She researches social-linguistics, Read more…

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Paul Street: The Blame China Syndrome

Tipping Points  Beneath the regular din of more overtly political current events, the slide into anthropogenic climate disaster continues. Last May sensors atop an Hawaiian volcano found that average carbon dioxide concentrations in the Earth’s air had reached 400 parts per million – “a level,” NASA’s Web site reports, “that hasn’t been seen since around Read more…

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Juan Cole: Yep, We’re Screwed: Top Ten Recent Climate Change Findings that should Scare You

1. A warmer planet will spur aggression and violence, according to UC Berkeley scientists. 2. Climate change is causing animals to migrate into new areas, spreading diseases across species: “Earth’s changing climate and the global spread of infectious diseases are threatening human health, agriculture and wildlife,” say the National Science Foundation’s Sam Scheinter of a Read more…

Felicity Butler: Value Us! Fair Pay For Domestic Work In Nicaragua

‘You no longer have to lower your head and wait for the man to tell you what to do; now we make our own decisions and share activities and responsibilities with our partners.’  

Marta Molina: The Zapatistas’ First School Opens For Session

Last December, tens of thousands of indigenous Zapatistas mobilized, peacefully and in complete silence, to occupy five municipal government office buildings in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. That same day, which coincided with the end of one cycle on the Maya calendar, Zapatistas released a communiqué, asking, “Did you hear it?” It appears that the Read more…

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Tory Field: Land to the Tillers: Responses to Global Land Grabs

The outcome of last Sunday’s elections in Cambodia, in which Prime Minister Hun Sen hoped to extend his 28-year rule, is in dispute. Even if he continues in office, Hun Sen’s tight grip on civil society is threatened, in part, by public anger against land grabs. In the past decade, his government has handed 73% Read more…

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Charlotte Wilson: Fracking Is Just The Beginning: The Rise Of Extreme Energy

A few years ago, in the run up to the climate negotiations at Copenhagen, the fossil fuel industry seemed on the defensive, with pressure to cut carbon emissions mounting. With energy prices rising and doubts being raised about the industry’s ability to increase oil production, it seemed like a dinosaur struggling to survive. Today that Read more…

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Brentin Mock: In Denial About Its Racism, Texas Fights Preclearance Under The Voting Rights Act

The now-neutralized "preclearance" provision of the Voting Rights Act that allowed the federal government to review proposed election changes in jurisdictions with histories of discrimination has long been an object of scorn in Texas. One of the states subjected to preclearance, Texas was waiting for its day in court to challenge the constitutionality of preclearance Read more…

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Alfredo Lopez: Lavabit: A Profile in Corporate Principles and Personal Courage

The term "collateral damage" is most frequently applied to the "non-targeted" death and destruction brought by bombs and guns. But it seems that our government, the master of collateral damage, is now doing it in "non-violent" ways. Take the recent situation at Lavabit. The Texas-based email provider, specializing in encrypted email services, announced Thursday that Read more…

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Peter Rugh: Fast-Food Strikes Fight The Slide Into Junk Wages — For All Of Us

While President Obama continues his economic speaking tour, walkouts at fast-food restaurants rippled across cities nationwide last week, calling attention to the nation’s growing wealth gap. At the franchise stores of McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Burger King and KFC and other grease-slinging corporations, thousands of people protested the low wages dished out by the biggest names Read more…

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Boris Kagarlitsky: We Need Debates, Not a Cheap TV Show

  Acting Mayor Sergei Sobyanin's refusal to engage in televised debates with opposition leader Alexei Navalny was met with a sharp reaction from many Russians, who accused him of being a coward. Meanwhile, almost no one has asked about what participants in the debate would say, what problems should be put before them and what positions they might defend. Yet these are the most Read more…

Andrew Breiner: ‘Frack Gag’ Bans Children From Talking About Fracking, Forever

When drilling company Range Resources offered the Hallowich family a $750,000 settlement to relocate from their fracking-polluted home in Washington County, Pennsylvania, it came with a common restriction. Chris and Stephanie Hallowich would be forbidden from ever speaking about fracking or the Marcellus Shale. But one element of the gag order was all new. The Read more…

Ellen Brown: The Detroit ‘Bail-In’ Template: Fleecing Pensioners to Save the Banks

The Detroit bankruptcy is looking suspiciously like Bank of America Corp. and UBS AG have been given priority over other bankruptcy claimants, meaning chiefly the pensioners, for payments due on interest rate swaps they entered into with the city. Interest rate swaps – the exchange of interest rate payments between counterparties – are sold by Read more…

Jane McAlevey: Organizing as Whole People

Fairfield County, Connecticut, was a region where Fortune 500 companies held absolute political power. They’d convinced the population to be thankful to corporations for creating jobs and “cleaning up” the area. Fifty minutes by train from Wall Street, Fairfield County had the highest number of unorganized workers in the state — in some sectors, the Read more…

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Sue Sturgis: The South’s Widening War on Abortion Rights

Date on which North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed into law a bill that requires the state's abortion clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, despite a campaign promise that he would not sign any legislation that further restricts abortion: 7/30/2013 Additional cost to build a clinic that meets ambulatory surgical Read more…

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Peter Watt: What Uruguay’s Legal Weed Means for the War on Drugs

Uruguay is set to become the first country to legalise marijuana use, cultivation and possession following a century of often authoritarian prohibition laws across the globe. In a landmark vote on President José Mujica’s recent proposal, the Uruguayan Congress overwhelmingly voted in favour of legalisation and it is expected that the bill will pass through Read more…

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Jack Rasmus: Postscript to: ‘Economic Recovery by Statistical Manipulation’

My recent article, ‘Economic Recovery by Statistical Manipulation’, written July 29, 2013, forewarned that revisions to US GDP data due on July 31 for the April-June quarter would likely show a larger GDP and growth for the US for the quarter, as well as for earlier years. GDP data published today, July 31, 2013 by Read more…

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Paul Street: White Racial Delusion

Polls taken in the wake of the jury verdict that exonerated George Zimmerman for stalking and killing Trayvon Martin do not jibe well with that nationalist and color-blind claim. Fully 87 percent of black Americans questioned in an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that Zimmerman’s murder was “unjustified.” This opinion is shared by just one Read more…

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Jack Rasmus: Economic Recovery by Statistical Manipulation

Facing the prospect of a 2nd quarter GDP report showing economic growth less than 1% (some professional forecasting services predict as low as 0.5%), and a year to year growth of the US economy likely to come in at barely 1%–compared to a 2011-12 already tepid 1.7%–the Obama administration on Wednesday, July 31, will announce Read more…

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Auset Marian Lewis: Voter Fraud: A Bedtime Story

Mark Twain said, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” On that note, the myth of widespread voter fraud is streaking across America while the truth of minority voter suppression is just stringing up its Adidas. It is more likely that someone will be struck Read more…

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Sue Sturgis: North Carolina Turns Back The Clock On Voting Rights

Date on which North Carolina's Republican-controlled legislature gave final approval to House Bill 589, a broad package of election changes that critics called a "full-scale assault on voting," sending it to Gov. Pat McCrory (R) to sign into law: 7/25/2013 Of the seven bills that were rolled into what started out as a simple voter Read more…

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