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2014
Volume 27
Number 10

ZMAG MISSION

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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 to understanding current circumstances and as necessary for developing visions and strategies for progressive change.

 

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Recent ZMagazine

Ann Pettifer: Excommunication?

Ann Pettifer   In the grip of yet another spasm of millenarian distemper, the Vatican decided to celebrate the New Year with an excommunication. Excluded from the community of believers for his heretical views was an elderly Sri Lankan priest, Fr. Tissa Balasuriya. Not well known in the west, Fr. Balasuriya has won plaudits in Read more…

Daniel b. Schirmer: Fidel Ramos…. In the Footsteps of Marcos?

Daniel B. Schirmer   The Philippine post-Marcos constitution prohibits Fidel Ramos from running for re-election in 1998 when the next presidential vote is scheduled. But leaders of his party, the ruling Lakas-NUCD, are campaigning for a constitutional amendment to extend his term of office for several years. These leaders claim to have secured more signatures Read more…

Dickie Wallace: UMass Student Movement

  Something was up—that was the word around campus. Returning from winter break at the end of January, the talk was of some kind of student protest that would wake people up. At least one dean had warned his charges to be prepared for Teaching Assistant work stoppages as the Grad Employees Organization entered it Read more…

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Michael Albert: Natural Capitalism?

Michael Albert I remember debating the potential of the environment as a radical focus back when it was first becoming visible. Most early 1970s radicals felt environmentalism would be the next big spur to activism. Being fried by ozone depletion or gassed by industrial pollutants could certainly yield important activism. But there were skeptical. Elites Read more…

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David Bacon: West Coast Janitors Get Ready to Fight

  On March 17, after seven years of rebuilding their union, Service Employees Local 399, Los Angeles janitors are leaving it. Together with janitors from Silicon Valley, Oakland, and Sacramento, they are joining to create one of the largest building service unions in the country—Local 1877. Rosa Ayala, who’s been through LA’s labor wars as Read more…

Susan Yanow: The Latest Attack on Women’s Lives

  The most recent attack on abortion rights is focused on late term abortions. As people debate over the actual number of abortions performed and the different meanings of "late term abortions," "D & X procedure," "third trimester abortions," and "intact D & E procedures," the real issue, the realities of women’s lives has been Read more…

Elizabeth a. Hodges: Igniting the Fuse: Opening Up Third Party Politics

Elizabeth A. Hodges   On December 4, 1996 Harvard lawyer Laurence Tribe argued to the U.S. Supreme Court that anti-fusion laws are unconstitutional. The ruling is expected late this spring. If he wins, which many expect him to, it will re-landscape third party politics in the United States. Fusion means nominating the same candidate for Read more…

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Christian Parenti: Criminal Injustice: Confronting the prison crisis

pages South End Press, 1996; $18.00 Reviewed by Christian Parenti   Incarceration is becoming one of the defining institutions of American society. Even the half-way politically literate are familiar with the harrowing statistics: more black men in net of prison/jail/probation than in four year colleges; 80 percent of all new federal convictions are for non-violent Read more…

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David Peterson: A Great Chicago Land Grab

David Peterson   Since the Department of Housing and Urban development engineered a federal takeover of the Chicago Housing Authority in late May 1995, CHA tenants have expressed a great many fears about what HUD’s role in "reinventing" public housing in Chicago will turn out to be. "The national system of public housing is on Read more…

James Petras: The Political Economy of Early Debt Payment

  On January 15 President Clinton announced that Mexico had repaid all of the $12.5 billion it borrowed from Washington to stave off financial collapse and bail out Wall Street speculators. The New York Times (January 16, 1997) reported that "The repayment of the loan—three years ahead of schedule—was marked by a celebration at the Read more…

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Lydia Sargent: Hotel Satire:

  I was chatting with a feminist in the street the other day. How did I know she was a feminist, you ask? Because she was talking to me without the aid of a male, which was obnoxious, totalitarian, a turn off, and therefore lesbian behavior. Whenever one encounters these man-less gals, the first question Read more…

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Brian Tokar: Questioning Official Environmentalism

Seven years ago in these pages, we launched an in-depth investigation of the mainstream environmental movement. The occasion was the widely publicized 20th anniversary of the original Earth Day, an event which in many ways helped institutionalize the widespread corporate co-optation of environmental themes. The year 1990 was an auspicious one for environmental activists in Read more…

A. s. Zaidi: Rochester, Radiation, and Repression

A. S. Zaidi   I feel a sense of closure," said Energy Secretary Hazel O’Leary as she announced a recent settlement awarding $4.8 million to the families of 12 patients injected with radioactive substances in experiments sponsored by the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). The legal agreement absolves the federal government of blame. In Read more…

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Elizabeth Martinez: The Movie That Makes Magic With Pennies

Falling in love with a movie can happen now and then, but how often does a dazzling film like Follow Me Home come along? A film whose politics make the revolution seem possible after all, whose aesthetics are brilliantly unpredictable and whose acting is superb? A film that not only confronts the nightmare of today’s Read more…

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David Bacon: Korean Workers Shut Down the Chaebols

David Bacon   Since January 14, pitched battles have raged in the streets of Seoul. Outside the Myongdong Cathedral, union leaders have been directing the general strike paralyzing South Korea, and phalanxes of police have tried to disperse thousands of demonstrators. The strike has become, not just a movement of workers, but a pro-democracy movement Read more…

John Buell: The Politics of Family Leave

  During a state visit to Canada several years ago, President Clinton was asked about the long overtime hours many U.S. and Canadian auto workers are frequently forced to work. He responded fliply: “Where I come from, they call that a high class problem” and went on to suggest that workers should be grateful for Read more…

Christopher d. Cook: The Downsizing of Labor Rights

  Workers were a hot item in 1996. Born-again populists of both parties jostled for votes from the anxious and the downsized. Labor was Big again, elevating workers’ issues—at least ones that contrasted Democrats from Republicans—back onto the electoral stage. But the AFL-CIO’s $35 million pro-Democrat gambit did nothing to illuminate a massive legal crisis Read more…

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Michael Ei: The Fate of Social Security

Donohue     It was a slow news day, just before a major holiday—a good time to release politically sensitive or potentially embarrassing news. Buried in the innards of the December 30 national edition of the New York Times (p. A-9), was a report by Leslie Wayne entitled "Interest Groups Prepare for Huge Fight on Read more…

Deirdre Guthrie: Environmental Racism on Montana Reservation

Deirdre Guthrie   In 1994, when I first arrived in Montana to work for Red Thunder Incorporated (RTI), now known as Spirit Mountain Cultural Clan, on the Fort Belknap Native American reservation, environmental racism was a fairly new term. Organ cancer rates among Navajo teenagers living near uranium spills were reported to be 17 times Read more…

Bob Harris: Panic on Wall Street

footage of excited bald guys in Brooks Brothers suits messing up each others comb-overs. You’re supposed to think happiness on Wall Street is good news for the rest of us. Ain’t necessarily. Last week was a good example: There’s this thing called "momentum investing." Simply put, it’s buying into whatever stock is going up really Read more…

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Howie Hawkins: Green Party: Still Seeking Unity

  Greens ran more than 60 candidates in the 1996 election and the results are encouraging for Greens and for anyone who wants to see an independent progressive political movement in this country. Among the Greens’ strongest showings were: Arcata, California: A Green Party three out of five majority on the city council of Arcata, Read more…

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Edward Herman: The Inky and Me

  The Philadelphia Inquirer (Inky) is widely regarded as a very good newspaper. This reputation derives in part from its great superiority over its predecessor, Walter Annenberg’s Inquirer, notorious as a partisan Republican rag and instrument of Annenberg’s personal vendettas (most famously, his refusal to allow mention of the name of the liberal Democratic Governor Read more…

Piet van Lier: No Justice, But Peace (For Now)

Piet van Lier   Give me a U. Give me an R. Give me an N. Give me a G. What’s it spell? U-R-N-G! I can’t hear you. U-R-N-G! U-R-N-G! U-R-N-G!" It sounded like a high school basketball game, but several hundred representatives of Guatemala’s popular movement were doing something they never had the chance Read more…

Jennie marie Luna: U.C. Berkeley Students Protest Vote to End Affirmative Action

  Students at the University of California, Berkeley waged an arduous campaign against Proposition 209–walking precincts, phone-banking, and rallying–for months prior to the November 1996 election. When Prop 209–to end affirmative action in the state—passed, on top of the passage of Prop 187 against immigrant rights, it felt like yet another defeat. This time around, Read more…

Susana Mccollom: Reincarnating Freud: Rules, Planets, and Hysteria in the 1990s

  Freud is not likely to be a name found on a woman’s list of heroes. While he is recognized as the pioneer of psychotherapy, Freud cemented historical labels of women as "hysterical" and "neurotic," and recommended years of psychoanalysis to cure these ailments. And it was Freud who asked "what does a woman want?" Read more…

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Elizabeth Martinez: It’s a Terrorist War on Immigrants

  In the spring of 1997, a Latino immigrant who had worked legally in the United States for 40 years committed suicide after receiving a letter saying that under the new welfare law his Supplemental Security Income (SSI) might end. Not long afterward a wheelchair-bound Russian immigrant threw himself off his balcony from the same Read more…

Tom Gallagher: The California Future?

Tom Gallagher The ancient Greeks searched for glimpses of their future in the innards of butchered pigs and oxen; modern Americans tend to look west to California and its famous and numerous ballot initiatives. California did not disappoint this year. The state’s approval of both the Medical Marijuana Initiative and the California Civil Rights Initiative Read more…

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Michael Albert: Pacifica

and struggle. Pacifica was founded just after World War II to create an independent, noncommercial radio network in the service of peace, social and racial justice, and the arts. In their own words: "Pacifica’s KPFK in Los Angeles has the strongest FM signal anywhere in the United States. KPFA is the strongest FM signal in Read more…

Kevin Heldman: On the town with the U.S. military in Korea

Kevin Heldman   A mile or so outside of Yongsan U.S. Army Garrison in central Seoul, past the tourist shops and street vendors selling Bulls, Raiders, et al., apparel, past the Burger King and the newly-opened Orange Julius and down a series of narrow roadways packed with American soldiers who are falling in and out Read more…

Sandy Carter: Slippin’ & Slidin’

Sandy Carter The following "best list" covers my choices for the most pleasureful and important pop of 1996. This issue is limited to rock, pop, and R&B releases aimed at a wide popular audience. Next month will collect "bests" in less popular genres such as jazz, blues, country, world, and folk. Rock/Pop/R & B Gone Read more…

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Ward Churchill: Assaults on Truth and Memory, Part II

Ward Churchill The costs of these systematic assaults on truth and memory by those who argue the uniqueness of Jewish victimization have often been high for those whose suffering is correspondingly downgraded or shunted into historical oblivion. This concerns not only the victims of the many genocides occurring outside the framework of nazism, but non-Jews Read more…

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Edward Herman: Gary Webb and the Media’s Rush to the Barricades

Edward S. Herman Every so often the mainstream media’s pack response to a story throws a powerful light on their deep collective biases. Such was the case following the publication of Gary Webb’s series in the San Jose Mercury News on the CIA’s connection to the drug epidemic in Los Angeles. Characteristically, the media failed Read more…

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David Edwards: Global warming and the political economy of threats

To a casual observer, the reality, or otherwise, of a threat to humankind would appear to be determined by inexact but essentially rational calculations based on evidence, hard facts, and best guesses all wrapped up in a framework of concern for the general well-being of people and planet. Not so. In fact, the perceived seriousness Read more…

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Lydia Sargent: Hotel Satire

Lydia Sargent Recently, we received a brochure in the mail all about "Communication Skills for Women: Achieving Confidence, Credibility, and Composure," a one-day seminar by the Institute for Professional Businesswomen. In a single day women can learn: 4 negotiating strategies that guarantee you’ll get what you need from anyone, in any situation! How to "turn Read more…

Skip Barry: Today’s Housing Crisis: The Vacant Issue

Skip Barry On an evening last autumn, a Seattle survey found that its area homeless shelters were all operating at over capacity serving over 2,500 individuals. But due to a lack of space and resources, they had to turn away over 900 homeless people needing help. Unfortunately, this mirrors what’s happening across the country. Nationwide, Read more…

Mark Harris: WE WANT TO REDEFINE WHAT SOCIETY IS ALL ABOUT

  Sheila Mannix: Tony Mazzocchi has been a leader of the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers union since 1953. As a union activist, he has been especially concerned with health and safety issues. He worked closely with Karen Silkwood, the OCAW member whose suspicious death in 1974 when she was about to expose serious safety Read more…

Chris Gaal: Who Are The Peruvian Terrorists?

Chris Gaal Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) rebels in Peru made headlines around the world when they entered the Japanese ambassador’s residence during a party disguised as servants carrying caviar and champagne, and proceeded to take hundreds of high level officials hostage. The U.S. press has taken the hostage crisis at face value, painting a Read more…

Harold Pinter: It Never Happened

Pinter Can it be true? Are the other "major powers" in the world finally moving towards a position where their contempt for the assertion of U.S. power is actually being embodied in action? For the fourth year running the United Nations has voted for the motion condemning the U.S. embargo of Cuba, this time by Read more…

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Michael Albert: Autonomy Within Solidarity

One of the pervasive problems of the U.S. left is fragmentation. One of the abiding strengths of the U.S. left is diversity. How do we overcome the former without losing the latter?   People do not automatically develop multi-focused political priorities. We have different life experiences which sensitize us to some sides of social life Read more…

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David Bacon: Still Hungry

Bacon   In 1974, the first World Food Conference declared "the inalienable right to be free from hunger." Meeting at the just-concluded World Food Summit in Rome 22 years later, governments, international institutions, non-governmental organizations, and food producers themselves could hardly avoid the obvious. The number of hungry hasn’t declined significantly. Today 809 million people Read more…

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Eleanor J. Bader: Beyond Gay or Straight: Understanding Sexual Orientation

Publishers: Philadelphia, PA) 1996, $12.95 PB, 160 pp. Reviewed by Eleanor J. Bader I thought that we would be friends forever. Although she and I had never wavered outside the bounds of platonic love, we were always together. Our arms were often affectionately draped around each other and we routinely engaged in a conspiracy of Read more…

Anders Corr: Battling the Banana Baron: Rural Hondurans fight Chiquita

Corr     In June 1994, at the height of a strike against Chiquita Brands International, the company closed four banana farms in northern Honduras, fired 1,200 temporary workers, and told 800 permanent workers to choose between relocation or termination. The fired workers lived in company towns and to keep their jobs, Chiquita said, they Read more…

Eric e. Dirnbach: A Powerful Graduate Student Union

  At the University of Michigan, the graduate students have a strong union. Known officially as Local 3550 of the American Federation of Teachers, the 21 year old Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) is the second oldest graduate student union in the country. GEO is the official bargaining unit for the Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) and Read more…

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Barbara Ehrenreich: Peacekeeping

Ehrenreich   It’s a conundrum that routinely paralyzes the left: The news brings us the horrors of postmodern warfare–concentration camps in Bosnia, mass slaughter in Rwanda, hundreds of thousands homeless in Zaire. On the one hand, we want to do something. On the other hand, as thinking people possessed of some historical memory, we have Read more…

Malcolm Garcia: A Raid in Londondderry, Northern Ireland

Garcia   Eammon Kelly lives in a Catholic neighborhood in Londonderry, Northern Ireland located about seventy miles outside of Belfast. On August 26, 1996, he began his day as usual by going to work. That evening he arrived home at five o’clock in time for tea. His sister and brother were home, as well as Read more…

Randy Ghent: FOGGY “GREEN” CITY LACKS POLITICAL VISION

Ghent (707) 825-7088   Imagine a town with nearly as many Green Party voters as Republicans. Where a series of marshes treats wastewater biologically. Where a company called Sunfrost builds the most efficient refrigerators in the world. You’re talking Arcata, California. This coastal college town just made national headlines as it became the first in Read more…

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Edward Herman: THE ILLIBERAL MEDIA

Novak (CrossFire), the McLaughlin Group, and Rush Limbaugh and Limbaugh clones; and even PBS is saturated with right-wing regulars (Buckley, Brown, McLaughlin, Wattenberg).   The Pitiful Giant Syndrome Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) recently listed 52 national media figures of the right, from Roger Ailes to Walter Williams, most of whom have proclaimed the Read more…

Matthew Jardine: none

American Studies, University of Texas at Austin, 1996.   Review by Matthew Jardine   On April 6, 1996, a truck loaded with undocumented immigrants from Mexico lost control and careened off the road while fleeing the United States Border Patrol in Temecula, California. The crash resulted in the death of seven men, including three brothers, Read more…

Danielle Knight: Who Benefits, Who Suffers?

Knight   George and Edvino, ages 12 and 13, have been hired as farm workers in Sao Jose dos Pinhais, a town in the state of Parana located in Southern Brazil. This week they are applying pesticides. Edvino, wearing a dusty Yankees baseball cap and Lee Jeans, nervously giggles as George explains how the hand-held Read more…

Scott Maclarty: none

MacLarty Fighting Words: An Open Letter to Queers and Radicals, by Scott Tucker (London: Cassell, 1995), paperback.   This 62-page tract is part of Cassell’s "Listen Up" series, which like Open Line (still publishing?) and Odonian Press’s "Real Story Series" offers cheap, short, pointed pamphlets and small books featuring excellent writers often reporting from the Read more…

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