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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: Austerity Measures, Russian-style

It has finally happened: the economic course originally instituted by Yegor Gaidar is now playing out. The methodical dismantling of the remnants of the welfare state, the new wave of privatization, the refusal to create new jobs and the resulting rise in unemployment — these are the program that our wise government officials think will pull Russia out of the economic crisis. Ever since the late 1980s, even Soviet leaders Read more…

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Sue Sturgis: More Pain for the Poor in Government Shutdown

Date on which the U.S. federal government shut down because Congress did not enact regular appropriations or a continuing resolution for the 2014 fiscal year due to Republican resistance to implementing the Affordable Care Act: 10/1/2013 Number of programs dedicated to offering nutritional, health, social, and other services to low-income families that were immediately affected: Read more…

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Jack Rasmus: On Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve Chair

On October 9, 2013, President Obama nominated Janet Yellen, current vice-chair of the Federal Reserve, as the new Fed chair, to replace Ben Bernanke expected to retire at year’s end. Obama’s appointment, subject to Senate confirmation that is likely, comes after a general consensus in recent weeks that Yellen would be Obama’s choice. That followed Read more…

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John Pilger: Old Game, New Obsession, New Enemy. Now It’s China.

Countries are “pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played out a great game for the domination of the world,” wrote Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, in 1898. Nothing has changed. The shopping mall massacre in Nairobi was a bloody façade behind which a full-scale invasion of Africa and a war in Asia are Read more…

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Sarah Lazare: Torture of ‘Angola 3′ Shows Inhumanity of US Prisons

The more than 40 year solitary confinement of "Angola Three" inmate Albert Woodfox "amounts to torture and it should be lifted immediately," declared UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez in a sweeping indictment Monday of inhumanity and abuse in U.S. prisons. The injustices Woodfox faces have been highlighted by the recent passing of Read more…

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Brentin Mock: McCutcheon, McConnell and the Threat of Corruption

In the McCutcheon v. FEC case about campaign contribution limits that will be heard tomorrow by the U.S. Supreme Court, the primary concern for those troubled by the increasing influence of money in politics is corruption. But those who support plaintiff Shaun McCutcheon are also troubled by money’s influence, though for different reasons — they Read more…

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Jack Rasmus: Will the US Government Shutdown Impact Markets?

As the government shutdown, the stock market largely shrugged. Yesterday the Dow Jones actually rose 62 points suggesting investors don't see the current shutdown as a long-term problem. Here with more analysis is Jack Rasmus. He's a Political economist as well as the author of “Obama’s Economy: Recovery for the Few” Dr. Jack Rasmus: The Read more…

Laura Finley: Guns and Domestic Violence: A Lethal Mix

The Supreme Court has now agreed to hear a case involving whether persons convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors should be prohibited from possessing guns. The case involves James Castleman, who in 2001 pleaded guilty under Tennessee law to one count of misdemeanor domestic violence against the mother of his child. In 2009, Castleman was found Read more…

Joris Leverink: Spirit of Revolt Drifts South as Austerity Protests Rock Sudan

After years of neoliberal reform, authoritarian rule and increasing misery, further austerity measures drive the people of Sudan back into the street. For the second time since the split between Sudan and South Sudan in 2011, large protests have broken out across the country. The epicentre of the protests is in the capital Khartoum, with Read more…

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Peter Watt: Mexican Elites Worry as Protestors Evoke Spirit of 68

On this day, 45 years ago, hundreds of peaceful protestors were massacred by the government in Mexico City. With worsening poverty, repressive government and no democratic outlet, all the conditions are in place for another colossal clash between the state and popular opposition. Mexico’s rulers ought to be worried. In the lead up to the Read more…

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Paul Street: Shut Down Reflections

Why Now?  designed to advance corporate and financial America’s preference for “market solutions” over and against a public, social-democratic policy that would de-commodify health care and establish decent medical coverage as a basic government-mandated human right.  And never mind that most Americans have long supported big government health care as a human right and think Read more…

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Danny Schechter: A Shutdown or A Coup? How It Was Engineered

What is the Tea Party and where did it come from? Was it a grass roots movement nurtured in the bowels of deep dissatisfaction in the American electorate with “big government” and its inexorable turn towards Socialism?  Hate to disappoint folks who buy the populist revolt theory. Anyone remember the mad rant of Rick Santelli Read more…

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Norman Solomon: The NSA Deserves a Permanent Shutdown

To the people in control of the Executive Branch, violating our civil liberties is an essential government service. So — to ensure total fulfillment of Big Brother’s vast responsibilities — the National Security Agency is insulated from any fiscal disruption. The NSA’s surveillance programs are exempt from a government shutdown. With typical understatement, an unnamed official told The Read more…

Patrick Kane: Colombian Protests Show Cracks in Disastrous Economic Model

Markets for American productsThe latest uprising dominated the Colombian media, which carried footage of road blocks, mass marches, noisy protests and bloodied protestors in cities and rural areas across the country. In a symbolic demonstration, farmers poured thousands of litres of milk and other farm produce on to the road. The country's free trade agreements Read more…

: Report Exposes Right-Wing Tag Team Plot Against Pensions

What these stories usually don’t say is that conservative activists are manufacturing the perception of a public pension crisis in order to both slash modest retiree benefits and preserve expensive corporate subsidies and tax breaks. “This is the story not merely of two nonprofits, nor merely of one set of economic issues; it is a Read more…

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Yves Engler: Anti-Terror Chest Thumping

The Conservatives response to the horrific attack in Nairobi’s Westgate Mall has been to thump their chests and proclaim their anti-terror bona fides. But the prime minister has ignored the fact that his government also played a small role in the growth and radicalization of the organization responsible for this terrible crime in Kenya. and Read more…

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Arthur Phillips: A Corporate Coup of a Different Order: The Growing Resistance to the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Transparency was supposed to be a White House priority from the very start. In his first inaugural address, when the world celebrated an historic and improbable election, Barack Obama made the case for how an open government was necessary to earn the trust of the people.[1] The next day, he issued a memo that asserted his Read more…

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Tawana Petty: Detroit: The City They Can’t Destroy

  In reality, many people in Detroit are nurturing a new vision for their city. They are growing their own food at urban farms and residential gardens such as D-Town Farm and Feedom Freedom Growers. People are reshaping what it means to be in a community through co-operative living, time banking and other efforts that Read more…

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Alfredo Lopez: Attacking Net Neutrality Once Again

Last week, Verizon, the telephone giant, went to court to accuse the Federal Communications Commission of "overstepping its authority" and reverse the authority's over-step. It's a legal wrangle that, bottled and distributed, would be a safe substitute for sleeping pills. Lurking behind the nearly unintelligible and ridiculously referential courtroom arguments, however, is a clear picture Read more…

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Bill Quigley: Half Ounce of Pot Gets Louisiana Man Twenty Years in Prison

While Colorado and Washington have de-criminalized recreational use of marijuana and twenty states allow use for medical purposes, a Louisiana man was sentenced to twenty years in prison in New Orleans criminal court for possessing 15 grams, .529 of an ounce, of marijuana. Corey Ladd, 27, had prior drug convictions and was sentenced September 4, Read more…

Brendan Fischer: Lockup Quotas Help For-Profit Prison Companies Keep Profits High and Prisons Full

For-profit prison companies like Corrections Corporation of American and GEO Group are no strangers to controversy. Their business model rests on incarceration, and their profits soared throughout the 1990s and 2000s as harsh sentencing laws, the War on Drugs, and tough immigration enforcement led to a dramatic rise in detention and incarceration. But with crime rates dropping for more Read more…

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Jack Rasmus: From ‘Taper Tantrum’ & ‘Token Taper’ to ‘Taper Tomorrow’: Fed Policy in Crisis

This past week the US central bank, the Federal Reserve (Fed), opted not to change its current 3rd Quantitative Easing (QE) policy providing $85 billion a month in bond purchases from bankers and investors. The Fed’s QE3 policy has been in effect for about a year, injecting in excess of $1 trillion in subsidized money Read more…

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Sarah Lazare: ‘Winning the Race to the Bottom’: Obama Moves to Fast-Track the TPP

As Obama moves to fast-track the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), critics are blasting the highly-secretive trade deal as "NAFTA on steroids" and a tool for advancing U.S. and corporate power. "If impoverishing working people around the world is the goal, then the trade policies like this are working quite effectively," Chris Townsend, political director for Read more…

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Sue Sturgis: Shedding Light on the Legacy of Segregation in North Carolina

As attorneys with the University of North Carolina's Center for Civil Rights carried out their work of advocating for low-wealth and minority communities across the state, they witnessed the same injustices crop up time and time again — environmental, educational, economic. "We recognized that the same patterns of exclusion were repeating, in denial of water Read more…

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John Pilger: In an Age of ‘Realists’ and Vigilantes, there is Cause for Optimism

The most important anniversary of the year was the 40th anniversary of 11 September 1973 – the crushing of the democratic government of Chile by General Augusto Pinochet and Henry Kissinger, then US secretary of state. The National Security Archive in Washington has posted new documents that reveal much about Kissinger’s role in an atrocity Read more…

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David Swanson: Humanitarian Murder

This past Sunday night on "60 Minutes" John Miller of CBS News said, "I've spoken with intelligence analysts who have said an uncomfortable thing that has a ring of truth, which is: the longer this war in Syria goes on, in some sense the better off we are." Now, why would that be uncomfortable, do Read more…

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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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