December 2015
Volume 28
Number 12

Cover Quote:

"But nothing less than
the most radical imagination

will carry us beyond this place,
beyond the mere struggle for survival,
to the lucid recognition of our possibilities,
which will keep us impatient,
and unresigned to mere survival"

                                                                      - Adrienne Rich



left Box

Z Magazine is an independent monthly magazine founded in 1988. Our mission is to publish in depth articles that critique society's political, economic, social life and institutions. We see the race, class, and gender dimensions of personal life as equally important in understanding current circumstances and as necessary for developing visions and strategies for progressive change.






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Recent ZMagazine

Staughton Lynd: Books on Activism

Latin American Movements and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn are the subjects of books being reviewed in this issue.

William Boardman: Saudis Try Yemen Peace Initiative

Seldom has such a clear case of criminal war, of naked aggression, drawn such yawns from the world at large

Seth Sandronsky: Van Jones’s Blind Spot

The American government’s (federal, state and local) race to incarcerate black and Latino communities exists within the struggle between capital and labor. The former has triumphed over the latter in the past 40 years through deindustrialization, deregulation and privatization

Adam Hudson: U.S. Wages “War on Terror” in the Philippines

After the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Philippines joined the U.S. in the global War on Terror. The effort became a subterfuge for the Philippine government to wage its own Argentina-style dirty war against political opponents.

Al Gedicks: Defeating the Iron Mines in Wisconsin

Two years after Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a controversial Iron Mining Law designed to speed up permitting for a giant open pit iron mine in the Penokee Hills above Lake Superior, Gogebic Taconite (GTac), president Bill Williams pulled the plug on the mine because the project was not feasible

Jane LaTour: The Two Troublemaking Idas

This is the story of two women named Ida—Ida Tarbell (1857-1944) and Ida B. Wells (1862- 1931).

Andy Piascik: Long Distant Running, An Interview With Peace Activist Doug Allen

Over those 41 years, Allen, Professor of Philosophy, has been the one MPAC constant. His work illustrates how someone can devote their life-long distance running—to building a better world. He’s also a long-distance runner

Arun Gupta: The 2016 Election

If you’re progressive or on the left, here’s your cheat sheet on how to participate in the 2016 presidential election, which is just 18 months away

Juan Cole: U.S. Has No Idea Who It Is Assassinating

Indiscriminate fire is a recognized war crime, and it seems to characterize the U.S. drone program

Richard Rothstein: From Ferguson to Baltimore: The Fruits of Government-Sponsored Segregation

In 1925, 18 Baltimore neighborhood associations came together to form the “Allied Civic and Protective Association” for the purpose of urging both new and existing property owners to sign restrictive covenants, which committed owners never to sell to an African American

John Raymond: Indigenous Blood At Indian Point

“There are more than 10,000 abandoned uranium mines in Western states and many are in or near indigenous communities suffering from high cancer rates, kidney failure, and birth defects caused by exposure to these toxic sites”

Alex Kotch: Expanding School Vouchers in North Carolina

In a few months, North Carolina’s $10 million private school voucher program could quadruple in size, according to Wake County GOP Representative Paul Stam, Speaker Pro Tempore of the Republican-led state House.

Bill Berkowitz: Ripping Off Prisoners and Their Families One Minute at a Time

One of the few bright spots for many prisoners has been the face-to-face family visit. Now, along comes something called video visitation, the latest profit-making venture trying to suck money out of the pockets of prisoners and their families

Various Contributors: Election Cartoon Commentary

cartoon editorials on the elections

Z Staff: Subscription Details and General Information

Z Magazine’s political mission

Joel Chaffee: Free Listings of Events

Free listings of Items of interest to progressives

Noam Chomsky: History Handbook: The Passion for Free Markets

For more than half a century, the United Nations has been the main forum for the United States to try to create a world in its image, maneuvering with its allies to forge global accords about human rights, nuclear tests or the environment that Washington insisted would mirror its own values.”

Edward S. Herman: Global Versus Local Violence

In the U.S. establishment’s patriotic history of the Ukraine conflict it is also important to black out the fact that the United States, so passionately opposed to Russian “aggression,” committed a vastly more deadly one in Iraq from 2003.

Paul Street: Left Radicals, Radical Republicans, and Dismal Dollar Dems

In recent months, “Progressive Democrats” have been hoping to breathe new life into the nation’s hopelessly 1%-dominated “two party system” by running the nominally socialist, technically Independent, and genuinely populist and domestically progressive U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Kathy Kelly: Crosscurrents

By the time I leave Kentucky’s federal prison center, where I’m an inmate with a 3 month sentence, the world’s 12th largest city may be without water. Estimates put the water reserve of Sao Paulo, a city of 20 million people, at 60 days

Vincent Emanuele: A Tragic Anniversary

In the U.S., those in charge of the Empire don’t fret over the deaths of Iraqi children. Hell, they don’t shed a tear for poor or dying U.S. children, so why should we expect the managers of Empire to offer any mercy to the enemy?

Walden Bello: Washington Frets Over Beijing

To many analysts, Washington and its western allies have only themselves to blame for China’s increasingly assertive push to build new multilateral institutions

Pete Dolack: Low-Cost Banking

The struggle to save the United States Postal Service is emblematic of the larger struggle against corporate plundering of public resources

William Boardman: American Spring in Chicago

Since 2011, the arrogant and ineffective mayor Rahm Emanuel, catered to his rich folks base (with “the actions of a mad king”). And he has treated the majority of Chicagoans with destructive disdain, whether he’s closing their schools, attacking teachers and other public employees, or ignoring police brutality and killing.

Al Gedicks: Globalized Mining Resistance from El Salvador to Wisconsin

The environmental devastation from past and ongoing gold mining operations in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras has provoked a formidable Salvadoran social movement that has been educating and organizing communities for a total ban against metallic mining in El Salvador.

Coha Staff: Attempted Coup in Venezuela

On February 11, 2015, the government of President Nicolas Maduro, along with a number of his senior officials, declared that Venezuela had faced an attempted coup. Contrarily, the mainstream media in the United States and in Europe viewed such allegations as ridiculous

Joel Chaffee: Recent Events

Events and recent book/film/music releases of interest to progressives

Andy Piascik: A Review of A Shoeleather History of the Wobblies

Among the important subcategories of bottom-up history are stories of the local chapters of important radical and revolutionary organizations whose national work has previously been the primary focus of scholarship and attention

Stephen Bergstein: A Review of The Burglary by Betty Medsger

In 1971, eight activists burglarized an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania to confirm suspicions that the agency was spying on and disrupting the anti-war movement. The break-in was obviously unlawful. It also exposed the FBI’s notorious COINTELPRO surveillance program, which sought to destroy the social and political movements that challenged the American status quo

Shamus Cooke: Fight “Right to Work”

In Oregon, Democrats dominate all branches of politics. Yet the labor unions are still terrified. There is justifiable dread that anti-union “Right to Work” laws will be purchased into existence by out-of-state billionaires

David Morris: The Politics of the NCAA Sweet Sixteen

When television cameras zoomed in on Kansas Governor Sam Brownback in the middle of the Kansas-Wichita State NCAA basketball game, a thunderous chorus of boos broke out. Viewers gained a rare glimpse of the politics behind March Madness

Bill Berkowitz: Criminalizing Poverty: A Toxic and Growing Phenomenon

The Justice Department’s report on Ferguson, Missouri’s criminal justice system pointed out that African Americans were specifically targeted, seen “less as constituents to be protected than as potential offenders and sources of revenue.”

Ramzy Baroud: Netanyahu the Mythbuster “Special Relationship” No More

In a message delivered in a video on Facebook, incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a sinister call appealing to ingrained racism in Israeli society

Z Staff: Danny Schechter, 1942-2015

Schechter infused almost all his work—whether it was for alternative or mainstream media—with his advocacy of human rights. In 1971, Schechter joined the Boston rock station WBCN-FM, where he found a following as “Danny Schechter, the News Dissector.” This Memorial was compiled from a number of emails to Z.

Z Staff: Subscription Rates and General Information

Z MAGAZINE is an independent magazine of critical thinking on political, cultural, social, and economic life in the U.S.

Joel Chaffee: Free Listings

Upcoming events for activists

Edward S. Herman: Trans-Pacific Partnership versus Equality and Democracy

The TPP would encourage further out-sourcing and job and tax revenue loss, a further weakening of labor’s bargaining power, windfalls for the wealthy from enhanced copyright and patent protection, along with reduced government revenue for social spending

Staughton Lynd: Review of “American Reckoning”

This book, with this central theme, could not have appeared at a more appropriate moment. The United States government has initiated a program, planned to extend over several years, to celebrate the Vietnam War

Kathy Kelly: The Front Page Rule

When Clarke invokes the “front page rule,” it seems to be his acknowledgement that peace protesters like members of Code Pink play a valuable role informing public opinion. Believing that the means you use determines the end you get, they hold out for alternatives to war and killing

Jack Rasmus: The Greek Debt Interim Agreement

Greece and Syriza have not sold out. To declare such is premature at best and counterproductive politically at worst. Yes, Greece blinked at the February 28 deadline. If it hadn’t what would have been the consequences?

Paul Street: Beyond False Dichotomies

The reality in most cases is that there are many in-between or other alternative options, not just two mutually exclusive ones…. There are two ways in which one can commit a false dilemma. First, one can assume that there are only two (or three, though that case is strictly speaking be a ‘false trilemma’) options when there really are many more

Lawrence Wittner: Review of Upton Sinclair: California Socialist

Can a dedicated socialist have a significant impact on American life? Lauren Coodley’s biography of prominent socialist novelist and agitator Upton Sinclair shows that, with a lot of talent and fortitude, that kind of influence is possible

Nathan Robinson: Review of Rudolph Rocker’s “Nationalism and Culture”

When Rudolf Rocker’s Nationalism and Culture was released in 1937, it was hailed by no less an assemblage of luminaries than Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, and Thomas Mann. The historian Will Durant called it “magnificent” and “profound,” and even the New Republic gave it a positive notice

Eric Laursen: Review of Co-operatives in a Post-Growth Era

Co-operatives—not to be flippant—are big business. They exist in 100 countries, have more than 800 million members, and provide some 100 million jobs. Co-ops market half the world’s agricultural production, and 120 million people in 87 countries go to credit unions for their banking and financial services needs. Health care co-operatives service some 100 million people in more than 50 countries. In the U.S. alone, some 30,000 co-ops provide over 2 million jobs

John Pietaro: The Pervasive Reality of Strange Fruit”

The song “Strange Fruit” lives on as legendary poetry and music that makes perhaps the strongest argument against race hatred of any artwork. Though it will forever be associated with Billie Holiday, the piece’s relevance calls for it to be renewed and relived, over the course of generations and, likewise, struggles.

Midge Quandt: A Review of “Latin America’s Radical Left”

The radical left in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador enshrines participatory democracy in their constitutions; and it rejects the state-centered strategy of the old left. It also repudiates neo-liberalism

Stephen Bergstein: Supreme Court To Rule On Same-Sex Marriage

By late June 2015, the Supreme Court will decide whether the U.S. Constitution recognizes the right to same-sex marriage. Although same-sex marriage is a true culture war issue, the chances are good that the Court will extend marriage rights to gays and lesbians.

David Swanson: How Did Syria Get Here?

Syria was shaped by the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement (in which Britain and France divided up things that didn’t belong to either of them), the 1917 Balfour Declaration (in which Britain promised Zionists land it didn’t own, and the 1920 San Remo Conference at which Britain, France, Italy, and Japan used rather arbitrary lines to create the French Mandate of Syria and Lebanon, the British Mandate of Palestine (including Jordan), and the British Mandate of Iraq.

Eric Bonds: The Wastes of War in Iraq and Afghanistan

Journalists have described how the fumes from burning trash settled over the Ballad air base like fog, and how soldiers would try to filter out some of the pollution by placing wet towels over air-conditioning intakes at night, which would turn black by the morning.

Michael Albert: An Interview with John Pilger

It doesn’t matter who has been in the White House—Barack Obama or Teddy Roosevelt—the U.S. will not tolerate countries with governments and cultures that put the needs of their own people first and refuse to promote or succumb to U.S. demands and pressures.

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