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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Noam Chomsky: Credibility

Noam Chomsky At a talk earlier this year, Chomsky was asked — "Kosovo—what are the interests driving intervention? What do you foresee for the people of the region?" This was his answer… We can start by saying what the intervention was not motivated by. It was not motivated by humanitarian concern; I think that is Read more…

Guest Author: The Sport of Business/The Business of Sport in Media Ethics

Robert Jensen It is often asserted by conservatives, and widely taken as a fact by the general public, that the American news media are “anti-business.” It’s a rather silly claim, given the capitalist/managerial framework in which U.S. journalists work, but it is understandable why right-wingers ride the claim for its propaganda value in this very Read more…

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Ted Glick: History and Communications

Ted Glick A few weeks ago I received a letter from someone who quoted Karl Marx as having once said, "History moves with the speed of communication." This quote struck me. We are living in a time when communications are both near-instantaneous and potentially-worldwide for an ever-growing number of people. Something which happens in one Read more…

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Edward Herman: WHAT IS LIBERALISM?

Edward S. Herman In a May 22 editorial in the liberal The American Prospect (TAP), which he edits along with Paul Starr, Robert Kuttner lauds radicals, for keeping moral demands to the fore and for pioneering on major issues that were central to democratic advance (as in the struggle against slavery). In his editorial, entitled Read more…

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Danny Schechter: Newman’s Own PR War (On Nuclear War)

Danny Schechter When he took off his sunglasses, you knew it was screen star Paul Newman. Those blue eyes always give him away. One day last week, I found myself staring into them from behind a video camera, as Newman recorded a message beginning with a recollection of "Torn Curtain," a movie he made in Read more…

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Saul Landau: “POOR PINOCHET”– AN UPDATE ON THE TRIALS OF THE TYRANT

Saul Landau The Santiago Appeals Court apparently voted 13-9 to revoke General Augusto Pinochet’s parliamentary immunity. This makes Pinochet vulnerable to prosecution in Chile for allegedly ordering his subordinates to carry out a mass murder campaign – which they did. The court can now prosecute him in more than 100 cases of people murdered in Read more…

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Norman Solomon: AD INDUSTRY: GIVING WOMEN SPECIAL TREATMENT

Norman Solomon Last fall, when Jean Kilbourne’s new book "Deadly Persuasion" was arriving on shelves, Publishers Weekly praised it as "a wake-up call about the damaging effects of advertising in our media-saturated culture." But six months later, the mass media’s fingers remain firmly on the snooze button. It’s hardly surprising that few national media outlets Read more…

Guest Author: AN EMBARGO TOO FAR

David Cromwell Mariam Hamza has beautiful eyes, a loving personality and immense courage. She is also a symbol of one of the greatest human rights abuses of our time. This four year old Iraqi leukaemia patient hit the headlines in 1998 when George Galloway, MP for Glasgow Kelvin, brought her back to the United Kingdom. Read more…

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Mark Weisbrot: Labor in 2000: No Place to Go?

Mark Weisbrot In the movie version of Steven King’s classic, "The Dead Zone," Christopher Walken reads the mind of the mother of a demonic serial killer. His psychic powers discern that she had long been aware of her son’s vicious murders. His eyes widen with shock and repulsion: "You knew!" he exclaims. And so it Read more…

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Tim Wise: Rebels Without a Clue: Neo-Confederacy and the Ironies of White Supremacy

Tim Wise We Southerners are famous for wishful thinking: in fact, you could say it’s something of a regional pastime. This should come as no surprise given our interminable heat in the summer which leaves nearly all wishing for rain to cool things down, and yet nearly none satisfied with the results of their entreaty. Read more…

Guest Author: Militant Mood Moving Black Youth To Fight For Change

Ron Daniels On April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King was gunned down as he stood on a hotel balcony in Memphis. He was in Memphis to support a strike by sanitation workers who carried bold signs proclaiming, I AM A MAN. At the time of his death, King was actively planning to launch a Poor Read more…

BlasŽ Bonpane: Delegation to Colombia

Blasé Bonpane What does Medellin mean to a U.S. citizen? Narco-terrorists, sicarios (hired assassins) and drug lords. It is actually a beautiful and mountainous city located at many altitudes, all of them comfortable. Colombians may joke about sacred things and local humor might identify the Holy Trinity as the army, the oligarchy and the church. Read more…

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Norman Solomon: U.S. NEWS MEDIA: A SECURITY ZONE FOR ISRAEL

Norman Solomon One phrase — "security zone" — sums up an entire era of media spin about Israel’s 22-year occupation of southern Lebanon. When Israel completed its pullout in late May, most U.S. news outlets remained in sync with the kind of coverage that they’ve provided for more than two decades. In March 1978, the Read more…

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Jim Hightower: HUNGER REPORT BITES BUSH ON BUTT

Jim Hightower At the 1988 Democratic convention in Atlanta, I gave a podium-pounding speech in which I characterized George Bush the Elder as "a man who was born on third and thought he’d hit a triple." Little did I know then that the president’s namesake son, George W., would prove to be even more lost Read more…

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Tanya Reinhart: WITHDRAWAL?

Tanya Reinhart Also in "Yediot Ahronot", May 29.00  (Notes added)  Is Barak determined to achieve peace, or is   he exercising Sharon’s plan to withdraw from Lebanon and return under ‘better conditions’? The problem is that nobody knows, not even the government which has exempted him from the need to inform it on his Lebanese moves. Read more…

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Noam Chomsky: Unsustainable Non Development

Noam Chomsky At a recent talk Chomsky was asked “What are the motivations of the U.S. push for sustainable development in the developing world?” Here was his answer… Its the first time I ever heard of that–does the U.S. have a push for sustainable development? As far as I know, the U.S. push is for Read more…

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Patrick Bond: New Film Projects South African Anti-Globalisation Struggle Onto Washington

Patrick Bond Those in the Z community anxious to hear organic voices from the South debating global socio-economic injustice are probably aware that South African rhetoric is especially hot these days. For evidence, check out the documentary "Two Trevors Go To Washington," which gets its US premier at noon on June 1 at the Institute Read more…

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Cynthia Peters: Robin Hood Was Right

Cynthia Peters The Newtown Florist Club in Gainesville, Georgia was a group of African American churchwomen that brought flowers to the sick. After a while, they noticed that a lot of the sick had gotten that way because of environmental problems. The Newtown churchwomen made a connection between the disease in their community and the Read more…

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Robert Naiman: Globalization: The Fat Lady Ain’t Sung

Robert Naiman Champagne corks are popping in Washington, as the corporate lobby celebrates its victory over democracy – bribing Congress into granting "Permanent Normal Trading Relations" to China. Corporations, not China, are the true beneficiaries – they have won "permanent" authority to relocate production to China, take advantage of repression of workers, and export to Read more…

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Douglas Dowd: THE FREE MARKET; AND ALL THAT JAZZ

Doug Dowd The rising tide of center/right socioeconomic policies in the United States (among other societies) appalls a goodly share of our people. Riding high on what is now a flood tide, propelled by and propelling it, has been the phenomenal Second Coming of capital’s deity, "the free market" — otherwise known as "laissez-faire," or Read more…

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David Edwards: CLIMATE WARS Paying The Ultimate Price For Corporate Control of Society

  Declared 98% successful in destroying Iraqi Scud missiles during the Gulf War, the Patriot missile system was subsequently found to have achieved a success rate “close to zero” by Professor Ted Postol of MIT. But by then the deception had done its job: a further $1 billion had already been invested in U.S. national Read more…

Dorothy Guellec: Death in America

Dorothy Guellec Most people do not take hunger in America seriously, but add this to cutbacks in food stamps, the daily need for insulin, and low wages, and then we really have a life-threatening situation here. If diabetics don’t eat, they can develop ketoacidosis, a potentially deadly complication of diabetes, if severe enough, can end Read more…

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Norman Solomon: OVERCOMING THE HAZARDS OF MEDIA

Norman Solomon After the "Love Bug" virus struck millions of computer hard drives, many news outlets attributed the magnitude of the damage to overwhelming reliance on the same type of software. Suddenly, in the digital world, steep downsides of technical conformity were obvious. But such concerns should also extend to the shortage of variety in Read more…

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Saul Landau: McCaffery (Goliath) v. Hersh (David)

Saul Landau I found the May 15 NPR news very even-handed – as always. The host interviewed Seymour Hersh, who wrote for the May 22 New Yorker Overwhelming Force, an expose on General Barry McCaffery’s Gulf War conduct. Hersh interviewed soldiers and officers and reviewed relevant documents that call into question McCaffery’s battlefield conduct. On Read more…

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Marta Russell: Why not Capitalism?

Marta Russell Society still perceives disability as a medical matter. That is, society associates disability with physiological, anatomical, or mental “defects” and hold these conditions responsible for the disabled person’s lack of full participation in the economic life of our society, rather than viewing their exclusion for what it is — a matter of hard Read more…

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Manning Marable: Why Diallo Had To Die

Manning Marable For more than one year, the controversy surrounding the New York murder of Amadou Diallo has made headlines throughout the world. Most people have heard by now about the unarmed African immigrant who was fired on 41 times as he stood in the vestibule of his Bronx apartment building. The police officers, all Read more…

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Scott Burchill: New Rules of Engagement

Scott Burchill In the first weeks of September last year, 70% of all public buildings and private residences in East Timor were destroyed. At least 75% of the population of the territory was displaced, with over 260,000 people being driven across the border into Indonesian West Timor by TNI and their militia surrogates. Thousands remain Read more…

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Tariq Ali: London Defeats Tony Blair: The Consequences of Citizen Ken

Tariq Ali In these times of political adversity for the left, Ken Livingstone’s spectacular triumph against the culture and politics of New Labour marks an important turning point in English politics. Blair refused to accept Livingstone as the Labour candidate because he was ‘too leftwing’, even though Labour Party members had voted for him in Read more…

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Danny Schechter: Rescuing The Children: Elián, AIDS, South Africa and Media

  I can just hear some Hollywood exec wondering if it has "series potential" while watching the dramatic showdown in the latest episode of the Elin Gonzlez tug-of-war. On April 22 federal agents in a long overdue and overdrawn response "rescued" the six-year-old from a politically driven soap opera and family feud. He was reunited Read more…

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Danny Schechter: Rescuing The Children: Eli‡n, AIDS, South Africa and Media

Danny Schechter I can just hear some Hollywood exec wondering if it has "series potential" while watching the dramatic showdown in the latest episode of the Elián González tug-of-war. On April 22 federal agents in a long overdue and overdrawn response "rescued" the six-year-old from a politically driven soap opera and family feud. He was Read more…

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Russell Mokhiber: Sixteen Years for a Snickers Bar

Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman Last month, a Texas jury recommended that Kenneth Payne, 29, spend 16 years in jail. Payne’s crime? Stealing a Snickers bar from a Tyler, Texas grocery store on December 17, 1999. When Smith county Assistant District Attorney Jodi Brown was asked by the Associated Press how she could justify 16 Read more…

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Jim Hightower: WHAT’S FOR DINNER?

Jim Hightower Have you heard of the "Butterfly Effect?" Both a scientific concept and an ecological reality, its essence is that the flapping of a million butterfly wings in central Mexico can have consequences in New York City, Rome, or Hong Kong. The notion is that our physical world is more intricately balanced than we Read more…

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Vijay Prashad: ‘Just Say No to PepsiCo’: So Say 101 Indian workers

Vijay Prashad One hundred million people and sixty million cattle in India are in the midst of a crippling drought. The states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh have been hit with poor monsoon rain. According to the Union Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, the onus for the Read more…

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Noam Chomsky: Assaulting Solidarity — Privatizing Education

Noam Chomsky There has been a general assault in the last 25 years on solidarity, democracy, social welfare, anything that interferes with private power, and there are many targets. One of the targets is undoubtedly the educational system. In fact, a couple of years ago already, the big investment firms, like Lehman Brothers, and so Read more…

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Pervez Hoodbhoy: EQBAL AHMAD: POST-POKHARAN DAYS

Pervez Hoodhoy He fought for Kashmiri self-determination in 1948, against French imperialism in Algeria in the early 60’s, roused students on American campuses in the early 70’s against their government’s immoral war in Vietnam, dodged arrest by the CIA in a case trumped up by Richard Nixon’s government that accused him of trying to kidnap Read more…

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Tim Wise: “Seeing the System: Alan Greenspan, Unemployment, and the Validation of Radical Analysis

Tim Wise "What’s the difference between a radical and a liberal?" It is a question I’m regularly asked at lectures, usually by college students struggling with their own sense of the world, trying desperately to figure out where they stand on the seemingly endless spectrum from right to left. Often it is put to me Read more…

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Cynthia Peters: Cure `em or Kill `em

Cynthia Peters Disability rights activists have been waiting for Christopher Reeve to get over his “I-will-walk-again” thing. But it’s been 5 years since the actor, best known for his role as “Superman,” became a quadriplegic after a horse-riding accident, and he’s showing no sign of relaxing his efforts to support the search for a cure. Read more…

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Saul Landau: REPORT FROM SANTIAGO: DEJA VU

Saul Landau History repeats itself, wrote Marx, first as tragedy and then again as farce. First time: Chile, November, 1970. In one photo, a helmeted officer just to the right of and behind Allende’s car wears a bored, or maybe slightly pained, expression. General Camilo Valenzuela sits in the saddle, a gray uniformed, gray-faced officer Read more…

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Howard Zinn: THE HEROES AROUND US

Howard Zinn Recently, meeting with a group of high school students, I was asked by one of them: "I read in your book, A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, about the massacres of Indians, the long history of racism, the persistence of poverty in the richest country in the world, the senseless wars. How Read more…

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Douglas Dowd: THE GREAT BRAIN ROBBERY

Doug Dowd Let not young souls be smothered out before They do quaint deeds and fully flaunt their pride. It is the world’s one crime its babes grow dull, Its poor are ox-like, limp and leaden-eyed. Set those words beside these:  I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than Read more…

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Mark Weisbrot: Four Dead in Ohio: Thirty Years Later

Mark Weisbrot May 4 will mark thirty years since four students protesting the Vietnam War at Kent State University were murdered by Ohio National Guardsmen. It is no exaggeration to call it murder, since the students were unarmed and– given how far they were from the troops– could not have posed any threat. The closest Read more…

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Norman Solomon: THE POWER AND LIMITS OF PHOTOJOURNALISM

Norman Solomon Despite all the emphasis on new media, photography has never lost the power to move us. Some recent photo essays in major American magazines, focusing on the poor and dispossessed, are efforts to break through abstraction and indifference. They tell us a lot about the potential impacts — and common limitations — of Read more…

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Jim Hightower: WHAT’S MISSING IN CAMPAIGN 2000

Jim Hightower Well, there we have it: Gore-Bush. Dull versus dullard. The political establishments of the two-party duopoly successfully rose up to surround, defend, and shove forward their chosen ones, both girded with tens of millions of dollars from the exact same sources of corrupt corporate money. This means that the basic kitchen-table issues that Read more…

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Edward Herman: THE LEFT AND ELECTORAL PARTICIPATION

Edward S. Herman The left always has a problem at election time, and embattled left pens are already trying to demonstrate that we should: (1) forego voting; (2) vote for Ralph Nader; or (3) vote for the lesser evil (Gore). The fact that there is always such vigorous dispute on this subject, with people of Read more…

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Betsy Hartmann: Population Policy: Will Coercion Come Back in Vogue?

Betsy Hartmann In February of this year the Indian government announced a new population policy based on a two-child norm. While social activists have welcomed certain elements of the policy, such as free and compulsory elementary education and improvements in health infrastructure, other proposals are raising serious alarm. After the 1994 UN Population Conference in Read more…

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Sonia Shah: Social Alienation and the School of Fish Theory of Social Change

Sonia Shah Did you miss me? You’ve been busy, with world-shaking, front-page social change happenings. In my sleep-deprived fog even I noticed that things were getting exciting, and I missed you. My six-month leave from work to look after my 2 kids, aged 3 and 10 weeks, respectively, poses its own challenges, to be sure. Read more…

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Danny Schechter: The News Dissector In Berlin: Media Mergers And Personal Memories

Danny Schechter In my travels to the "Old World," I often discover how "old" some of my own ideas are. In Berlin last week to speak at a media conference, I learned about Tobias Peucer who, as a student at the University of Leipzig, wrote what may have been the world’s first media analysis 310 Read more…

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Patrick Bond: Zimbabwe’s Crisis Showcases Reasons for Bank/IMF Protest

Patrick Bond In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe appears to have taken leave of his senses, potentially plunging his country of 12 million into civil war. What does this have to do with the mid-April protests against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund? Confusingly, Mugabe excels in IMF-bashing, famously telling Fund staff to "Shut up!" Read more…

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Sean Gonsalves: Joseph Campbell’s Mythical Soup

Sean Gonsalves Joseph Campbell reminded us how important myths are in shaping human culture and our own individual world-views. Of course, mythology cannot be truly understood in the narrow way it is commonly (mis)used today. In contemporary popular lingo a myth is an unnecessary falsification of reality. But myths are much more than that. The Read more…

Dorothy Guellec: Denial of Food and Medicine

Dorothy Guellec The embargo is driving Cuba toward crisis and is causing significant suffering and death. Obtaining licenses from the departments of Commerce and Treasury to sell goods to Cuba (Cuban Democracy Act of 1992) on a contract-by-contract basis is a laborious process. The Geneva Conventions, to which some 165 countries including the U.S. are Read more…

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