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

BlasŽ Bonpane: A DEPARTMENT OF PEACE?

Blase Bonpane A few months ago I met with Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and he told me of his plans to formulate a Department of Peace for the United States Government. He now has a draft of a bill to establish such a department. You can see this on his web-site: www.house.gov/kucinich/action/peace.htm   Our response is Read more…

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Danny Schechter: ‘WE ARE THE WORLD’ AS AN OLDIE: “BEEN THERE, DONE THAT”

Danny Schechter  News Dissector As the story is told, it was a slow news day at NBC back in 1985 when staffers looked up at an incoming satellite feed on one of their many monitors. The newsroom fell silent as a parade of harrowing images from the dying fields of Ethiopia streamed from the Third Read more…

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Russell Mokhiber: Somebody Else’s Wealth

Russell Mokhiber  and Robert Weissman Where does the vast wealth of the United States come from? It is hard to read the financial and popular press today without encountering stories that suggest the answer is the creativity of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. To this prevailing, romanticized perspective, Winona LaDuke offers a jolt of reality: Many Read more…

Guest Author: THE REAL ROSA PARKS

Paul Loeb We learn much from how we present our heroes. A few years ago, on Martin Luther King. Day, I was interviewed on CNN. So was Rosa Parks, by phone from Los Angeles. "We’re very honored to have her," said the host. "Rosa Parks was the woman who wouldn’t go to the back of Read more…

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Norman Solomon: NPR FLOATS AN OMBUDSMAN, BUT PROBLEMS RUN DEEP

Norman Solomon What if a big restaurant chain announced that it was hiring a chief inspector — and filled the job with the person who’d been in charge of the company’s kitchens? We might roll our eyes if the incoming inspector proclaimed from the outset that the meals on the menu were delicious and nutritious. Read more…

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Michael Albert: Participatory Allocation

Michael Albert An economy needs some procedure for coordinating different workers’ activities with one another and with the desires of consumers. The procedure, called economic allocation, determines how much of each input and output is used or produced, and where it winds up. The overwhelming consensus is that markets are a worthy economic allocation institution. Read more…

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Sean Gonsalves: This is not a campaign issue?

Sean Gonsalves Thanks to the state department and our "adversarial" free press, even those who consider themselves well-informed about foreign policy have tremendous gaps in their knowledge when it comes to our policy in Iraq. You may have heard the numbers, which have been confirmed by the most reputable medical journals in the world: Over Read more…

Dorothy Guellec: The Problem of Experimentation on “Decisionally Incapacitated” Humans

Dorothy Guellec Five of the world’s 10 leading causes of disability are psychiatric depression, alcohol abuse, bipolar mood disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. These disorders have genetic determinants and physical correlates. In the past 40 years, great advances in medication have taken place. But there is concern now for the ethical aspects of psychiatric research Read more…

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Howard Zinn: Sender Garlin

Howard Zinn As the twentieth century came to an end last December, an extraordinary man, whose life spanned the century, died at the age of ninety-seven. His name was Sender Garlin. I first met Sender, ten years before his death, when he was only eighty-seven years old. It was the fall of 1989, and I Read more…

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Elizabeth Martinez: Students of Color Fight Racism at Univ. of Mich. with Month-Long Occupation

Elizabeth Martinez Since Feb. 6, the Students of Color Coalition (SCC) has occupied the tower of the University of Michigan Union building to protest ongoing racist practices on a campus that claims to have a longstanding commitment to multiculturalism and diversity. These practices affect faculty, student recruitment and retention, and curriculum. For the SCC, they Read more…

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Betsy Hartmann: A Visit to Los Alamos

Betsy Hartmann In January I made my first trip to New Mexico. My partner and I visited the ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings at Bandelier National Monument. Like many tourists before us, we were awed by the beauty of the Frijoles Canyon and the knowledge that an ancient civilization had lived there for four hundred years. Read more…

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Michael Albert: A Program Seeking Dignified Work

Michael Albert   We want to dignify work so we seek to equalize the empowerment effects of all jobs. But how?   Upgrading the Bottom Much work is intentionally dumbed down precisely so that workers don’t gain confidence and knowledge facilitating demands about conditions or wages. And the same holds for workers being systematically isolated Read more…

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Stephen R. Shalom: The Diallo Case

    During the Vietnam War, the court martial trials of Lt. William Calley and other U.S. military personnel who massacred hundreds of unarmed civilians at My Lai was deeply contentious. Conservatives opposed the trials as besmirching the good name of the U.S. armed forces. (Governor Jimmy Carter of Georgia, for example, urged citizens to Read more…

Sandy Carter: The Grammies: Follow the Money

Sandy Carter Every year when the National Academy Of Recording Arts and Sciences celebrates its Grammy Awards, I gag at the notion that any of this music industry pomp and propaganda honors the best music of the past year. Although all of the big time entertainment awards cater to money and power, the Grammy ceremony Read more…

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Edward Herman: SAUL LANDAU’S LETTER ON “PACIFICA BASHING”

Edward S. Herman In mid-February of this year Saul Landau issued an "Appeal to All Progressives: Stop the Pacifica Bashing!" And he got some 40 liberals and leftists to sign on, many associated with The Nation and Institute for Policy Studies. (For a copy of the letter, a list of signers, and numerous commentaries, see: Read more…

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Cynthia Peters: Reproduction and Sexuality 101

Cynthia Peters I live in a progressive diverse neighborhood where pre-schools stock copies of "Heather Has Two Mommies," but even where this love-makes-a-family consciousness has a strong voice, it does not seem to translate into how we talk to our kids about sexuality and reproduction. In my family and family of friends, there are mixed-race Read more…

Philip Cunningham: SELF-DECEPTION MEANS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU’RE SORRY

  "The Chinese people must speak up to protest the Japanese government for refusing to acknowledge the historical misdeed of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre." These are the words of an unknown hacker who added a new twist to the seven decade old Sino-Japan argument about a brutal war and the remembrance of that war. The Read more…

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Judy Rebick: Feminist Origins

Judy Rebick With memories of the Battle of Seattle still dancing in our heads and thoughts of the World March of Women against poverty and violence beginning to take shape, it might be a good time to think about how social movements actually develop. In this age of celebrity worship, it is hard to remember Read more…

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Michael Albert: Dignified Work

Michael Albert The issue of Dignified Work has two primary components: (1) what is a just division of tasks for each person; and (2) what division of tasks do we need to adopt in order to have our work foster self-management?   Just Work A just division of tasks requires that each person should have Read more…

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Tim Wise: “When Anti-Racism Strikes Out”

Tim Wise When it comes to discussions of racism, or any other kind of "ism" for that matter, sometimes we miss the forest for the trees. Such was the case recently when it was reported that Atlanta Braves relief pitcher John Rocker had cut loose with a string of racist, sexist, ethnocentric, and homophobic slurs Read more…

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Manning Marable: No Rights Whites Must Respect

Manning Marable In the Dred Scott decision of 1857, the Supreme Court turned down a petition for freedom from an enslaved African American. The author of the court’s ruling, Chief Justice Roger B. Tawney, declared that blacks could never be granted equal protection under the law or civil rights, because they were inherently inferior to Read more…

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Patrick Bond: Workers of the world, transcend the wedge!

Patrick Bond Divide-and-conquer is an all too familiar gambit of a ruling elite under stress. Thus Seattle demonstrators, together with a growing international movement struggling in the same spirit in many other sites, have found themselves subject to both real and invented splits since stepping up to the world stage last November 30. Every frightened Read more…

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Marta Russell: Humanists: Momentarily Dazed and Confused, or What?

Marta Russell Being a veteran of the war for truth during the Kevorkian era of the assisted suicide debates, it astounds me when I see that some companions battling for social justice are still entangled in the Kevorkian-as-humanist illusion web. Someone emailed me recently that before Kevorkian was jailed they saw an all-smiles Tom Cruise Read more…

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Michael Bronski: Saving Our Children, All Over Again

Michael Bronski Quick. What is the worst threat to high school students across the United States today? Interpersonal violence among students? Guns in the hallways? Rampart drug and alcohol use? Shabbily low teaching standards that allow students to graduate beneath minimally acceptable academic standards? Disintegrating school buildings? Proposed voucher plans that threaten to undermine the Read more…

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Michael Albert: A Program Seeking Self Management

Michael Albert Agreeing that self-management, or decision making input in proportion as one is affected, is a core goal for a participatory economic movement, what demands can we fight for today that will help move us toward self-management tomorrow? 1. We can create workers and consumers councils For each worker in some workplace or industry Read more…

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Sean Gonsalves: The Debate Over Institutional Values

Sean Gonsalves A few lingering thoughts on the whole WTO event: WTO supporters, which includes Clinton and his "liberal" media, say they are for freedom. Front-line and armchair protesters – not to be confused with the handful of vandals that destroyed property – say they’re for freedom too. The crucial question is: freedom for whom? Read more…

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Saul Landau: Elian’s Miami Family May Be Drunk Drivers And Criminals, But They Love Him And Believe In Freedom

Saul Landau Since last December, Elián Gonzalez, the 6-year-old Cuban refugee boy, has become for those who love gossip about the living what Jon Benet Ramsey was for the morbid Enquirer readers. Who killed Jon Benet remains a police issue. But the Elian case is downright ideological because it involves the issue of freedom v. Read more…

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Norman Solomon: BILL BRADLEY, NEWS MEDIA AND “THE POLITICS OF AMBIGUITY”

Norman Solomon Andrew Jackson won the White House in 1828 with a fresh approach to oratory. "Jackson was the first president to master the liberal rhetoric," wrote historian Howard Zinn, who called it "the new politics of ambiguity — speaking for the lower and middle classes to get their support in times of rapid growth Read more…

Robert Weissman: The Nature of the Machine

Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman Imagine this: you study your entire life to reach the pinnacle of your profession. First, you secure an undergraduate degree in biology from Oregon State University. Then a PhD in developmental biology at Yale University. Then on to Indiana University, where you teach and run a lab on the cutting Read more…

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Mark Weisbrot: Drug Companies Fight Prescription Benefits for Seniors

Marc Weisbrot What are the limits to corporate greed in the year 2000? We may be about to find out. The pharmaceutical companies, whose rate of profit is more than three times the average of other corporations, have been using their enormous clout to block prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries. Now we will see Read more…

Guest Author: Look Who Is Acting Like Microsoft

Steven Hill and Rob Richie For the past year we have watched the U.S. government’s attempt to apply anti-monopoly laws to the business practices of Microsoft. Ever since the Sherman Antitrust Act was passed a century ago, it has been widely accepted that domination of a market by a handful of private corporations can be Read more…

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Michael Albert: Self Management as a Goal

Michael Albert How much say should each actor in an economy have over decisions in that economy? Why should we aim for self-management defined as decision-making input proportionate to the degree one is affected by outcomes? Why not aim for "economic freedom" defined as the right to do whatever one wishes with one’s person and Read more…

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Norman Solomon: E Vandalism Intrudes on Right to be Heard

Norman Solomon A specter is haunting cyberspace — the specter of e-vandalism. Media alarms have been loud in recent days: Electronic commerce is under siege. A virtual crime wave threatens to wreak havoc on the World Wide Web. Any site is vulnerable, no matter how big. Let’s not bother to shed tears for the likes Read more…

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Stephen R. Shalom: Green Lights and Red Herrings

    In December 1975, after receiving a green light from U.S. President Gerald and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Indonesian President Suharto launched an invasion of East Timor. The weapons for the attack came from the United States. "Of course there were US weapons used," commented one high-ranking Indonesian general. "These are the only Read more…

Dan Georgakas: Blacks in Antiquity

Dan Georgakas A few years ago Martin Bernal’s Black Athena stimulated considerable commentary about the role of blacks in antiquity. Many leftists applauded Bernal’s perceptive analysis of the racism of many nineteenth century German scholars without understanding the thinness of Bernal’s general argument regarding the supposed Egyptian roots of Greek culture. Popular books by Afrocentrists, Read more…

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Danny Schechter: At the Top of the World

Danny Schechter When demonstrators packed the streets of Seattle last December to scuttle the World Trade Organization meeting and shout about their dissatisfaction with economic globalization, some journalists described them as "politically correct" activists. Reporters and pundits contended that the protestors offered simplistic and one-sided solutions lacking any objectivity. Two months later, scores of these Read more…

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Robert Naiman: A Small Victim of the Embargo

Robert Naiman There’s great consternation in Cuba and Florida over the fate of Elian Gonzalez. If he were from any other country, he would already be home with his father. Yet only a handful of the media reports mention the extreme U.S. embargo that led to the current situation, and nowhere are the real motivations Read more…

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Cynthia Peters: Progressive Causes Provide Marketing Opportunities

Cynthia Peters What happens when corporations take on progressive social and political issues? We’ve all had the opportunity to roll our eyes at the marketers who co-opt feminist principles in order to sell their products. "Take Control" hair gel and "Stay Free" maxi pads have the women’s movement to thank for their product names. The Read more…

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Michael Albert: A Program Seeking Just Rewards

Michael Albert Suppose we agree that people ought to be paid only according to how hard they work and how onerous their work conditions are. To attain these Just Rewards we must reduce and ultimately eliminate reward for property, power, and output; reduce and finally eliminate the impact of race and gender on remuneration; and Read more…

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Scott Burchill: The Limits of Thinkable Thought

Scott Burchill In societies which like to call themselves free and open, liberty is usually defined in contrasting terms. State propaganda and indoctrination, for example, are said to be exclusive characteristics of unfree or totalitarian states at both ends of the ideological spectrum. One danger of defining our society in opposition to less desirable ‘others’ Read more…

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Edward Herman: Real Journalism

Edward S. Herman There has long been a strong tendency on the part of Western non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to serve as did the Christian missionaries in the years of colonial expansion and occupation, who followed in the wake of the empire builders to convert the heathens to the true religion and to heal the sick Read more…

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Brian Dominick: Refusing Adulthood: Notes on ‘Aging Out’

Brian Dominick Naive as I was in the mid-1990s, for a spell I actually thought there was a good chance that, by the turn of the century, the terms "ageism" and "youth liberation" would be ubiquitous in the Left’s vocabulary. Toward that goal, I spent most of the decade writing and speaking on youth oppression Read more…

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Vijay Prashad: Go to the Movie

Vijay Prashad I’m not one to pass a good film by, having enjoyed Michael Mann’s ‘The Insider.’ Its send-up of ’60 Minutes’ was enjoyable even as it felt the need to recuperate that bastion of US liberalism at film’s end. This weekend I went to see Tim Robbin’s ‘The Cradle Will Rock.’ Friends mentioned that Read more…

Dorothy Guellec: Insurance?

Dorothy Guellec Damaris Urena and Marcus Cruz are today January 4th mourning the loss of their 4-month old baby. It did not have to happen. According to the Daily News the family’s ordeal began December 15th at about 5 a.m. when the baby awoke with a high fever complaining and whining. She gave the baby Read more…

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Michael Albert: Just Rewards

Michael Albert In a desirable economy what income does each actor get to enjoy? What is the basis for remuneration? Rewarding Property? I doubt that many folks reading this commentary think people should be rewarded due to owning property. This is called profit…and in this case individuals own means of production and pocket profit based Read more…

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Judy Rebick: New Workers’ Initiative

Judy Rebick Always on the cutting edge of social change, the Canadian Auto Workers union has just launched an important new initiative. The CAW has set up "A Task Force on Working Class Politics in the 21st Century." Here is the introduction to the paper that introduces the task force to union members: "We generally Read more…

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Tanya Reinhart: This Ain’t the Road of Peace

Tanya Reinhart [Background: Following the Shepherdstown’s Syria-Israel talks, the US issued a concealed document summarizing the positions of the two sides. The Arab (London) paper ‘Al Hayat’ printed a summary draft of this document, based on Syrian sources. Israeli sources denied the authenticity of this version, and exposed the full document, which appeared in the Read more…

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Leslie Cagan: Life After Y2K

Leslie Cagan The nineties opened with a bang. In August, 1990 the Iraqis invaded Kuwait and it was immediately clear that George Bush would do everything in his formidable presidential power to go to war. There was never any pretense of negotiating a peaceful resolution. Nothing less than complete control by the U.S. military would Read more…

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Tim Wise: Resolutions for Radicals

Tim Wise I don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions, or use the new year as an excuse for significant reflection on the one just ended. But this year, I’m making an exception. After all, we have (arguably, I know) entered a new millennium: and the end of a thousand-year period– particularly one as historically significant Read more…

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Saul Landau: Contradictory Cuba Policies

Saul Landau Explain US-Cuba policy, my friends ask. Last week’s prison riot occurred in Louisiana where Cuban prisoners had served their sentences, yet remained locked up because they didn’t qualify to stay in the US. They had committed crimes before gaining residency rights. Havana averted a worse — indeed, bloody — crisis by agreeing under Read more…

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