Wednesday, October 31, 2007

October 31: HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1517 : Martin Luther posts 95 theses

On this day in 1517, the priest and scholar Martin Luther approaches
the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and nails a
piece of paper to it containing the 95 revolutionary opinions that
would begin the Protestant Reformation.

In his theses, Luther condemned the excesses and corruption of the
Roman Catholic Church, especially the papal practice of asking
payment--called "indulgences"--for the forgiveness of sins. At the
time, a Dominican priest named Johann Tetzel, commissioned by the
Archbishop of Mainz and Pope Leo X, was in the midst of a major
fundraising campaign in Germany to finance the renovation of St.
Peter's Basilica in Rome. Though Prince Frederick III the Wise had
banned the sale of indulgences in Wittenberg, many church members
traveled to purchase them. When they returned, they showed the pardons
they had bought to Luther, claiming they no longer had to repent for
their sins.

Luther's frustration with this practice led him to write the 95
Theses, which were quickly snapped up, translated from Latin into
German and distributed widely. A copy made its way to Rome, and
efforts began to convince Luther to change his tune. He refused to
keep silent, however, and in 1521 Pope Leo X formally excommunicated
Luther from the Catholic Church. That same year, Luther again refused
to recant his writings before the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V of
Germany, who issued the famous Edict of Worms declaring Luther an
outlaw and a heretic and giving permission for anyone to kill him
without consequence. Protected by Prince Frederick, Luther began
working on a German translation of the Bible, a task that took 10
years to complete.

The term "Protestant" first appeared in 1529, when Charles V revoked a
provision that allowed the ruler of each German state to choose
whether they would enforce the Edict of Worms. A number of princes and
other supporters of Luther issued a protest, declaring that their
allegiance to God trumped their allegiance to the emperor. They became
known to their opponents as Protestants; gradually this name came to
apply to all who believed the Church should be reformed, even those
outside Germany. By the time Luther died, of natural causes, in 1546,
his revolutionary beliefs had formed the basis for the Protestant
Reformation, which would over the next three centuries revolutionize
Western civilization.

1926 : Houdini is dead

1961 : Stalin's body removed from Lenin's tomb


Carve a Pumpkin!

Use the little blue knife to carve your pumpkin then press done - It's fun!

Preteens Trading Fairy Wands for Fishnets

By Brigid Schulte
The Washington Post

Tuesday 30 October 2007

Halloween trend toward racy get-ups vexes parents.

Gabby Cirenza wanted to be a referee for Halloween. The outfit she liked had a micro-mini black skirt and a form-fitting black and white-striped spandex top held together with black laces running up the flesh-exposing sides. She looked admiringly at the thigh-high black go-go boots that could be bought as an accessory. And she thought the little bunny on the chest was cute.

"Absolutely not," said her mother, Cheryl. "That is so not happening."

Gabby is 11.

And the Playboy Racy Referee costume was only the latest that her mother had vetoed one pre-Halloween-crazed afternoon at Party City in Baileys Crossroads as too skimpy, too revealing, too suggestive.

Bawdy Halloween costumes, however, have become the season's hottest sellers in recent years. Not just for women, but for girls, too. And parents such as Cirenza don't like it.

Gabby eyed the Sexy Super Girl but decided against it. A friend at her Catholic school had worn that costume for a Halloween parade and pulled the already short miniskirt way up to cover her tummy. "That didn't look very good." But Gabby did like the Aqua Fairy, a vampy get-up with a black ripped-up skirt, black fishnet tights and blue bustier that comes in medium, large and preteen. A medium fits a child of 8.


How about the Funky Punk Pirate Pre-Teen, with an off-the-shoulder blouse and bare midriff?


Gabby pointed to the Fairy-Licious Purrrfect Kitty Pre-Teen, which, according to the package, includes a "pink and black dress with lace front bodice and sassy jagged skirt with tail.... Wings require some assembly."

Cheryl Cirenza shook her head in exasperated disbelief. "This is all so inappropriate. It's really disturbing," she said, eyeing a wall of such girl and preteen costumes as Major Flirt in army green, the bellybutton-baring Devilicious and a sassy, miniskirted French Maid, pink feather duster included. She'd just turned down her 13-year-old daughter's request for a Sexy Cop outfit. "When I was their age, I was a bunch of grapes."

But that was back in the days when Halloween was still a homemade kind of holiday, when an old sheet with eyeholes was a perfectly acceptable ghost and clumsily carved pumpkins on the front porch were about as elaborate as the decorations got. Now, Halloween is big business. Americans are expected to spend upwards of $5 billion this year on candy, ghoulish decorations and costumes. And the hottest trend in costumes, retailers say, is sexy. And young.

Fishnet tights, once associated with smoky cabarets or strip joints, now come in girls' sizes and cost $3.99.

Joe Thaler, head of TransWorld Exhibits Inc., runs the annual Halloween Expo for big-box retailers. He said suggestive costumes for girls burst onto the scene about three years ago and the phenomenon is so big that he's had to create a separate fashion show. The costumes have since moved to the plus-size market for adult women and now come in teen and preteen versions. Even little girl costumes show more leg and tummy than they used to. "They're just good sellers," Thaler said.

When it comes to Halloween costumes, boys can still be ninjas, doctors and mad scientists. A box of popcorn, even. Men can still be bananas or beer cans. About the most risqué it got for men at Party City was the Big Daddy self-adhesive hairy chest kit for $6.99.

Kathy Grannis of the National Retail Federation blames Halloween's loss of innocence on baby boomers who can't let the holiday go, with their adult parties and costume contests at bars. "Halloween is no longer a child's holiday," she said. "It's no longer about handing out candy and putting on a witch's hat and walking down the street hand in hand with your kid."

For Cheryl Cirenza, that's what Halloween is still all about. But for her daughter, she's not so sure. "I really don't know why these kinds of costumes appeal so much to her," she said. Cirenza knows that prepubescent sex appeal is rampant. But the family doesn't have cable, and she limits Gabby's TV time. There are no trashy teen or celebrity magazines in her home. And they keep an eye on her Web surfing. "I don't know if it's just in the air."

The Halloween costume trend is not only leading to tense mother-daughter standoffs, but it is also part of a far larger worry that young girls are becoming sexualized. Task forces of psychologists study the trend. Books and academic articles are being produced with such titles as the upcoming "So Sexy So Soon" and "From Barbie to Britney: The Sexualization of Childhood." And yet the costumes sell.

"Youth isn't being lived through anymore. It's being rushed through," Stephanie Terrazas, 20, said as she watched her 11-year-old sister pick out a "deluxe" sequined Dorothy dress that, unlike the chaste, high-necked one in the little girl size, was lower cut and had two strategically placed poofs of fabric.

Megan Smith, 16, perused the costumes at Party City with her father, Dan. She first tried on the Prisoner, a slinky spandex number with a little button at the throat and open chest like a '70s disco halter dress. She settled on Raggedy Ann, a blue mini dress so mini that the lacy underskirt barely dusts the bottom of the fanny.

No one does scary costumes anymore, Megan said. Blame that on the teen movie "Mean Girls," she said, quoting a line verbatim: "Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it."

Her father laughed nervously. "They're all a little risqué, and I don't like that," he said. "She'll be wearing shorts underneath."

Megan rolled her eyes.

On another aisle, a frazzled Kathy Rafferty was doing her best to fend off her 6-year-old daughter Grace's choices. Grace liked the Mega Star costume, with a tiny bandeau top, bare midriff and low-slung sparkle pants. And she thought the Runway Diva in leopard skin, big sunglasses and knee-high boots was cool.

"Some of these are just incredibly sleazy. Nothing in here except Tinkerbell is innocent," Rafferty said. "Last year, Grace was a snow princess. Now, this is what she likes. I don't know what's happened."

Grace finally wore her mother down and ended up with a '70s Flower Power outfit that shows the bellybutton. "I told her I'd buy this only if she wore a leotard underneath," Rafferty said. "As a mother, I hate Halloween."

Meanwhile, Shawn Bailey was trying not to lose it as her 11-year-old daughter Da'Nesha Holmes picked out a costume. Her son had found his Darth Vader costume, and her baby had her Baby Bratz pink kitty outfit. But Da'Nesha was too tall for most of the girl costumes, and her mother was having none of the rest. Bar Wench. Cocktail Hunny. The half-angel, half-devil Naughty & Nice.

Da'Nesha pointed to Costume 529, Hot Flash, a nurse with thigh-high garters.

"No. You need something for you," Bailey said, sighing. "You're a little girl."

That afternoon, Gabby Cirenza left Party City empty-handed. Her mother later took her to Target, where she refused anything to do with princesses, pilgrims or nuns. At Party Depot, she begged for the preteen French Maid costume and promised she wouldn't wear it off the shoulders, like in the photo. Cheryl Cirenza, with six other children's costumes to find or make, finally made an executive decision. Gabby would be Lady Juliette, in a long dress and long sleeves. With a few tucks here and there, the neckline wouldn't plunge too low.

And when Gabby insisted they buy a corset to "lift everything up" and make the dress look better, Cirenza drew the line again. No corsets. Not now. Whether Gabby knows it or not, her mother thought, a corset is the last thing an 11-year-old needs.


Female Baby Boomers Face "Retirement Gap"

By Sarah Seltzer
Women's eNews

Tuesday 30 October 2007

The first baby boomer to file for Social Security was a woman, highlighting women's greater dependence on the precariously balanced retirement program. So far '08 candidates are not singling out the "retirement gap" for special attention.

On Oct. 16, Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, a schoolteacher from New Jersey approaching her 62nd birthday, filed for Social Security retirement benefits.

Marking the start of a wave of boomer retirements - thousands could apply for Social Security daily over the next 20 years - the much-publicized event spotlighted an issue that quietly threatens U.S. women: tiny incomes in old age and a heavier dependence on Social Security.

About 71 percent of older Americans living in poverty were women in 2003, according to the Population Resource Center in Washington and Princeton, N.J.

Currently, more than half of Social Security beneficiaries are women, and women are an even greater proportion of beneficiaries over the age of 85.

That means women in Casey-Kirschling's generation can be expected to depend disproportionately on Social Security and to increasingly join men in working longer in paid employment.

The participation of older women in the paid work force has steadily increased over the last decade, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

In 1986, about 22 percent of women over 55 were working; in 2006 that had risen to 32 percent, getting nearer to the 44 percent of men who work past 55.

"We're going to have to see a lot of women who are baby boomers have to continue to be in the work force," says Linda Block, a financial planner in Arizona who has worked on financial seminars to educate women.

Out of Campaign Spotlight

In the presidential primaries candidates are offering competing ways to help citizens save, but so far none has come up with a program that focuses on women and the retirement gap in particular.

On the whole, Democratic candidates favor tax breaks to specifically spur retirement savings while Republicans are favoring tax cuts that are not tied to any specific goal but could be used to save.

Among the Democrats, John Edwards, former senator from North Carolina, unveiled a retirement plan Oct. 26 as part of a larger "corporate accountability" push. It entails portable retirement accounts for workers and matches the first $500 in savings with a tax credit. It would require companies to create retirement savings accounts for employees who aren't able to access pensions and to pressure corporations to close other pension loopholes, such as calling employees "consultants."

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's proposal would offer a 401(k) plan to middle- and lower-income taxpayers. At an estimated cost of $25 billion a year, it would be funded by taxes on multimillion-dollar estates, Clinton's team said.

A 401 (k) account allows employers to pay a portion of salary into a retirement savings account, which is not taxed until the account holder withdraws the funds during retirement.

Clinton also promised that her proposal would operate independently of Social Security, which some say could run out by 2041.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama promises that he will eliminate all income tax for seniors making less than $50,000 a year to help them put aside savings.

On the Republican side, Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, says he favors a tax cut for families making less than $200,000 a year, which would give families extra money to invest in savings. He has reportedly considered cutting funds for both Medicare and Social Security.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's "fair tax" proposal would eliminate income taxes altogether, replacing them with a flat sales tax which he feels would put saving and spending plans back in the hands of citizens but detractors say would place a disproportional tax burden on those with lower incomes.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, has indicated that he might be open to shifting some of the Social Security trust fund into privatized accounts to give people "choice" on how to save their money.

Deferring Savings to Pay Debts

Some women defer saving for retirement because their income covers only current basic expenses, including health care costs.

"You can't be saving for retirement if you're paying however much families are paying when it comes to health insurance," says Cindy Hounsell, president of the Washington-based Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement, or WISER.

"Health insurance is so critical," Block agrees. "And we know that we don't have resources because there's money that's going elsewhere right now. These are major concerns."

According to the 2005 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. Because pension plans and Social Security are calculated from wages, women are at a collective disadvantage, and because they earn less they have fewer opportunities to save.

Furthermore, women are more likely than men to take time out of work - from caring for kids to caring for elderly relatives - further reducing earnings. Longer life expectancy also means that women need to stretch savings longer, especially as they outlive their husbands and their incomes.

But while these disparities are widely known by financial planners, they are still not widely understood, says Block, the financial planner in Arizona. "For some women, it's not even on their radar screen to be thinking about retirement," she says.

When women do focus on the issue it can be distressing, the Heinz Family Philanthropies, based in Pittsburgh and Washington, found in April 1998.

In a survey of 1,500 people - 1,000 women and 500 men, of whom one-third were African American or Hispanic - the foundation's research indicated that half the women between 25 and 55 surveyed were afraid that after their retirement they would struggle to make ends meet.

Pushing for Education

"My big push is education because the system isn't working anymore. It's not working for anyone," says Hounsell.

WISER has teamed up with the Heinz Family Philanthropies to create, an online book with step-by step advice and instructions for women planning their financial futures.

Women already struggling with balancing work and family obligations can feel daunted by the sheer volume of information and options, advocates say, so initiatives like the e-book are intended to help make the process less intimidating.

The Heinz Family project is just one of many programs that seek to educate women in particular.

Wise Up, an initiative of the Women's Bureau at the Department of Labor, is a curriculum of financial literacy - including teleconference calls and Web seminars - so younger women can plan ahead. Advice is phrased as plainly as possible to be more accessible to a wide range of women.

"Sometimes people who are trying to convey financial education don't do it in simple enough language," says Jane Walstedt of the Women's Bureau. "Even in curriculum, I'm finding words like 'asset.' There's a lot out there, but the challenge is to make it not overwhelming."

The same intimidating feeling can prevent women from taking the first step and opening a savings account. In this area too, retirement planners say building up from an attainable goal is important.

"Just start somewhere; start with something. It's part of taking control of one aspect of your life," says Block.

For More Information:

What Women Need to Know About Retirement:

WISER, Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement:

AFL-CIO, Working Families Vote 2008:

Sarah Seltzer is a New York-based freelance writer and the editorial intern at women's eNews.


Seattle Reports Milestone in Cutting Emissions

By Warren Cornwall
The Seattle Times

Tuesday 30 October 2007

Seattle is one of the first major U.S. cities to claim it has cut greenhouse-gas emissions enough to meet the targets of the international Kyoto treaty aimed at combating global warming.

The achievement, at a time when the city has enjoyed a boom in population and jobs, sets Seattle apart both from the nation as a whole and other cities that have seen greenhouse gases soar in recent years.

But keeping a lid on such emissions in the future means confronting one of the city's most intractable problems: how to get people out of their cars and driving less.

While overall greenhouse-gas emissions fell by 8 percent between 1990 and 2005 - the most recent data available - the amount attributed to transportation rose 3 percent, due largely to more gas slurped up by cars, according to a draft report issued by the city on Monday.

"This is a remarkable milestone that shows how cities can lead the way in the fight against global warming," Mayor Greg Nickels said. "But it is just the start of our work."

(Graphic: The Seattle Times)
Although critics say trying to meet the Kyoto targets nationwide would hurt the economy without solving global warming, supporters call it a critical first step toward much deeper reductions needed to slow or even reverse the warming.

Seattle's reductions were largely the result of energy conservation by households and businesses, and changes in power production at Seattle City Light, the report said.

The announcement was a triumph for Nickels, who has made climate change a cornerstone of his administration and hosts a global-warming conference of U.S. mayors this week.

Nickels has lobbied the nation's mayors to sign a pledge promising to meet the Kyoto Protocol's target of cutting greenhouse gases to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. More than 650 mayors have joined the movement, which is aimed partly at pressuring the federal government to join the international treaty.

The Bush administration has opposed the treaty, which doesn't restrict emissions from developing countries such as China and India that are among major sources of greenhouse gases. In 1999, the U.S. Senate voted 95-0 against the treaty.

The reductions in emissions from homes, cars and factories in Seattle can't be credited to the citywide climate-change plan, which Nickels unveiled in 2006.

The City Council first passed a resolution adopting the Kyoto goals in 2001, before Nickels took office.

Part of the cuts are due to changes in power production at Seattle City Light, which provides clean-running hydropower to homes and businesses.

"We have the good fortune of owning our own utility," said Steve Nicholas, head of the city's Office of Sustainability and Environment.

City Light says its operations now produce no net greenhouse gases. Since 1990, the utility sold its part-ownership in a coal-fired power plant in Centralia and stopped buying power from a natural-gas plant in Klamath Falls, Ore. Both plants produce greenhouse gases.

City Light also has embarked on more aggressive conservation measures and bought greenhouse-gas offsets - essentially paying someone else to stop polluting as much - to make up for emissions from sources such as its utility trucks.

Another share of the drop came from homeowners and businesses switching from fuel oil to cleaner-burning natural gas to heat buildings, something city officials attributed largely to market forces rather than city policies.

The city was helped temporarily by a drop in 2005 emissions from the two cement plants along the Duwamish River. Those plants account for almost a seventh of the city's greenhouse gases, and their emissions fell by more than 160,000 metric tons.

But that reduction could evaporate, since those plants were expected to boost production after 2005, Nicholas said.

For now, Monday's report puts Seattle ahead of other U.S. cities leading the push to curb greenhouse gases - notably Portland, which has been working on the issue since 1993.

Portland and Multnomah County have seen a gradual drop in greenhouse-gas emissions since 2000, and levels are hovering near 1990 levels.

Unlike Seattle, Portland gets power from two investor-owned utilities that generate greenhouse gases. The city also doesn't count offsets, which are controversial because some people question whether the claimed pollution reductions are real.

But Portland has shown more progress on the transportation front, where emissions are at almost the same level as 1990, and have been dropping in recent years.

Seattle has started trying to lure people from their cars. Two tax measures approved by voters in 2006 are aimed at improving bus service, bike lanes and sidewalks.

The city also has passed development rules to encourage people to move downtown, where they will drive less, said Nicholas, with the Office of Sustainability and Environment.

But Nicholas said the city will need to do more if it wants to keep greenhouse gases from creeping up, particularly as Seattle's population grows.

Outgoing City Councilman Peter Steinbrueck said Monday's report is welcome news.

But he said the city also needs to take more aggressive steps to stem the growth of car traffic.

He mentioned the proposed replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a similar structure, or an underground roadway, as an example of continued emphasis on cars.

"My concern here is that while the news is good, it shouldn't put us at ease in any way. We are working against time," he said.


Iraq Bill Would Lift Contractor Immunity

By Sinan Salaheddin
The Associated Press

Tuesday 30 October 2007

Baghdad - The Iraqi government on Tuesday approved draft legislation lifting immunity for foreign private security companies, sending the measure to parliament, a spokesman said.

The question of immunity has been one of the most serious disputes between the U.S. and the Iraqi government since a Sept. 16 shooting involving Blackwater USA guards that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead.

The government's decision followed reports that the State Department has promised Blackwater bodyguards immunity from prosecution in its investigation of last month's shooting.

State Department officials declined to confirm or deny that immunity had been granted. Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell has declined comment about the U.S. investigation.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the draft law approved Tuesday would overturn an immunity order known as Decree 17 that was issued by L. Paul Bremer, who ran the American occupation government until June 2004.

"It will be sent to the parliament within the coming days to be ratified," he told The Associated Press.

Al-Dabbagh did not single out Blackwater but said: "According to this law, all security companies will subjected to the Iraqi criminal law and must obey all the country's legal regulations such as: registration, customs, visas, etcetera."

U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Mirembe Nantongo said she had not seen the measure and had no immediate comment. The embassy has said it was waiting for the results of investigations.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has promised to push through the measure amid growing public anger over the Blackwater shootings in Baghdad and a series of other Iraqi civilian deaths allegedly at the hands of foreign contractors.

Three senior U.S. law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that all the Blackwater bodyguards involved - both in the vehicle convoy and in at least two helicopters above - were given the legal protection as investigators from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security sought to find out what happened. The bureau is an arm of the State Department.

The law enforcement and State Department officials agreed to speak only if they could remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the inquiry into the incident.

The Moyock, N.C.-based company, which is the largest private security firm protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq, has said its Sept. 16 convoy was under attack before it opened fire in west Baghdad's Nisoor Square, killing 17 Iraqis. A follow-up investigation by the Iraqi government, however, concluded that Blackwater's men were unprovoked. No witnesses have been found to contradict that finding.

An initial incident report by U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in Iraq, also indicated "no enemy activity involved" in the Sept. 16 incident. The report says Blackwater guards were traveling against the flow of traffic through a traffic circle when they "engaged five civilian vehicles with small arms fire" at a distance of 50 yards.

The FBI took over the case early this month, officials said, after prosecutors in the Justice Department's criminal division realized it could not bring charges against Blackwater guards based on their statements to the Diplomatic Security investigators.

Blackwater's contract with the State Department expires in May and there are questions whether it will remain as the primary contractor for diplomatic bodyguards.

Congress also is expected to investigate the shootings, but a House watchdog committee said it has so far held off, based on a Justice Department request that lawmakers wait until the FBI concludes its inquiry.

Associated Press writer Lara Jakes Jordan in Washington contributed to this report.

Go to Original

Dems Seize On Blackwater Immunity Reports
By Klaus Marre
The Hill

Tuesday 30 October 2007

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) on Tuesday demanded answers on reports that the State Department granted Blackwater USA guards immunity in the Sept. 16 shooting incident that led to the death of 17 Iraqis.

"This rash grant of immunity was an egregious misjudgment," Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with regard to the reports of an immunity arrangement with Blackwater. "It raises serious questions about who conferred the immunity, who approved it at the State Department, and what their motives were."

Waxman demands information on any immunity deal, such as what kind of immunity had been offered and who authorized the arrangement. The lawmaker also wants to know when top State Department officials learned of the deals. In addition, Waxman wants the department to hand over documents to the panel and asked "that knowledgeable officials" appear before the committee at a staff briefing on Friday.

Several Democrats condemned the immunity deal, which was first reported by The Associated Press.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said the alleged reports of an immunity deal are symptomatic of how the Bush administration conducts business.

"This fits a well-worn pattern. In this administration, accountability goes by the boards," Leahy said. "That seems to be a central tenet in the Bush administration - that no one from their team should be held accountable, if accountability can be avoided."

Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards also blasted the deal.

The former North Carolina senator said news of such an arrangement is "extremely disturbing."

"These immunity agreements could prevent investigators from learning the truth about these mercenaries’ involvement in the recent deaths of 17 civilians in Iraq," Edwards said. "They will also undermine America's moral reputation just at a time just when we most need to succeed in winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis."

Blackwater did not respond to a request for comment at the time this article was published.


Senators Want Probe on Content Blocking by Telecoms

The Associated Press

Saturday 27 October 2007

Washington - Two Senators on Friday called for a congressional hearing to investigate reports that phone and cable companies are unfairly stifling communications over the Internet and on cell phones.

Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said the incidents involving several companies, including Comcast Corp., Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc., have raised serious concerns over the companies' "power to discriminate against content."

They want the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to investigate whether such incidents were based on legitimate business policies or unfair and anticompetitive practices and if more federal regulation is needed.

"The phone and cable companies have previously stated that they would never use their market power to operate as content gatekeepers and have called efforts to put rules in place to protect consumers 'a solution in search of a problem,'" they said in a letter to Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, the committee's chairman.

A committee spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter.

An Associated Press report on Oct. 19 detailed how Comcast Corp. was interfering with file sharing by some of its Internet subscribers. The AP found instances in some areas of the country where traffic was blocked or delayed significantly.

Comcast - the nation's No. 2 Internet provider - has acknowledged "delaying" some subscriber Internet data, but said the delays are temporary and intended to improve surfing for other users.

Verizon Wireless in late September denied a request by Naral Pro-Choice America, an abortion rights group, to use its mobile network for a sign-up text messaging program.

The company reversed course just a day later, calling it a mistake and an "isolated incident."

AT&T reportedly changed a service agreement that previously included language permitting the company to cancel accounts of Internet users who disparage the company.

Several lawmakers, including Dorgan, earlier this year introduced so-called legislation promoting "Net neutrality," which is the principle that all Internet traffic be treated equally by carriers.

Equal treatment of traffic is long-standing practice on the Internet. The legislation is a response to suggestions by phone companies that they would like charge Web sites extra for preferential treatment of their traffic.

Verizon Wireless is a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. and Britain-based Vodafone Group PLC.


Tomgram: Michael Schwartz, Iraq Policy Floating on a Sea of Oil‏

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Tomgram: Michael Schwartz, Iraq Policy Floating on a Sea of Oil

History… phooey!

Or, more mildly, Americans traditionally aren't much interested in it and the media largely don't have time for it either. For one thing, the past is often just so inconvenient. On Monday, for instance, there was a front-page piece in the New York Times by Elisabeth Bumiller on Robert Blackwill, one of the "Vulcans" who helped Condoleezza Rice advise George W. Bush on foreign policy during the 2000 election campaign, Iraq Director on the National Security Council during the reign in Baghdad of our viceroy L. Paul Bremer III, and the President's personal envoy to the faltering occupation (nicknamed "The Shadow"), among many other things.

He is now -- here's a giant shock -- a lobbyist. And, among those he's lobbying for (in this case to the tune of $300,000) is Ayad Allawi, former CIA asset and head -- back in Saddam's day -- of an exile group, the Iraq National Accord. Bumiller identifies Allawi as "the first prime minister of the newly sovereign nation -- America's man in Baghdad." She also refers to him as having had "close ties to the CIA" and points out that he was not just Bremer's, but Blackwill's "choice" to be prime minister back in 2004. Now, he's Blackwill's "choice" again. Allawi is, it seems, yet once more on deck, with his own K-Street lobbyist, ready to step in as prime minister if the present PM, Nouri al-Maliki, were to fall (or be shoved aside).

But there's another rather inconvenient truth about Allawi that goes unmentioned -- and it's right off the front page of the New York Times, no less -- a piece by Joel Brinkley, "Ex-C.I.A. Aides Say Iraq Leader Helped Agency in 90's Attacks," published in early June 2004, just at the moment when Allawi had been "designated" prime minister. In the early 1990s, Brinkley reported, Allawi's exile organization was, under the CIA's direction, planting car bombs and explosive devices in Baghdad (including in a movie theater) in a fruitless attempt to destabilize Saddam Hussein's regime. Of course, that was back when car bombs weren't considered the property of brutes like Sunni extremists, al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the Taliban. (Just as, inconveniently enough, back in the 1980s the CIA bankrolled and encouraged the training of Afghan "freedom fighters" in mounting car-bomb and even camel-bomb attacks in a terror campaign against Soviet officers and soldiers in Russian-occupied Afghan cities (techniques personally "endorsed," according to Steve Coll in his superb book Ghost Wars, by then-CIA Director William Casey).

But that was back in the day -- just as, to randomly cite one more inconvenient piece of history also off the front page of the New York Times (Patrick Tyler, "Officers Say U.S. Aided Iraq in War Despite Use of Gas," August 18, 2002), years before we went into Iraq to take out Saddam's by then nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, we helped him use them. The Reagan Pentagon had a program in which 60 officers from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency "were secretly providing detailed information on Iranian deployments" to Saddam's forces, so that he could, among other things, wield his chemical weapons against them more effectively. ("The Pentagon 'wasn't so horrified by Iraq's use of gas,' said one veteran of the program. 'It was just another way of killing people -- whether with a bullet or phosgene, it didn't make any difference.'")

Of course, when it comes to America's oily history in Iraq, there is just about no backstory -- not on the front page of the New York Times, not basically in the mainstream. Even at this late date, with the price of crude threatening to head for the $100 a barrel mark, Iraqi oil is -- well, not exactly censored out -- just (let's face it) so darn embarrassing to write about. In fact, now that all those other explanations for invading Iraq -- WMD, freedom, you name it -- have long since flown the coop, there really is no explanation (except utter folly) for Bush's invasion. So, better to move on, and quickly at that. These last months, however, Tomdispatch has returned repeatedly to the subject as a reminder that history, even when not in sight, matters. And the deeper you go, as Michael Schwartz proves below, the more likely you are to find that gusher you're looking for. Tom

Why Did We Invade Iraq Anyway?

Putting a Country in Your Tank
By Michael Schwartz

Lately, even Democratic candidates for president have been weighing in on why the U.S. must maintain a long-term, powerful military presence in Iraq. Hillary Clinton, for example, used phrases like protecting our "vital national security interests" and preventing Iraq from becoming a "petri dish for insurgents," in a major policy statement. Barack Obama, in his most important speech on the subject, talked of "maintaining our influence" and allowing "our troops to strike directly at al Qaeda." These arguments, like the constantly migrating justifications for invading Iraq, serially articulated by the Bush administration, manage to be vaguely plausible (with an emphasis on the "vaguely") and also strangely inconsistent (with an emphasis on the "inconsistent").

That these justifications for invading, or remaining, are unsatisfying is hardly surprising, given the reluctance of American politicians to mention the approximately $10-$30 trillion of oil lurking just beneath the surface of the Iraq "debate" -- and not much further beneath the surface of Iraqi soil. Obama, for example, did not mention oil at all in his speech, while Clinton mentioned it twice in passing. President Bush and his top officials and spokespeople have been just as reticent on the subject.

Why then did the U.S. invade Iraq? Why is occupying Iraq so "vital" to those "national security interests" of ours? None of this makes sense if you don't have the patience to drill a little beneath the surface – and into the past; if you don't take into account that, as former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz once put it, Iraq "floats on a sea of oil"; and if you don't consider the decades-long U.S. campaign to control, in some fashion, Middle East energy reservoirs. If not, then you can't understand the incredible tenaciousness with which George W. Bush and his top officials have pursued their Iraqi dreams or why -- now that those dreams are clearly so many nightmares -- even the Democrats can't give up the ghost.

The Rise of OPEC

The United States viewed Middle Eastern oil as a precious prize long before the Iraq war. During World War II, that interest had already sprung to life: When British officials declared Middle Eastern oil "a vital prize for any power interested in world influence or domination," American officials agreed, calling it "a stupendous source of strategic power and one of the greatest material prizes in world history."

This led to a scramble for access during which the United States established itself as the preeminent power of the future. Crucially, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt successfully negotiated an "oil for protection" agreement with King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia. That was 1945. From then on, the U.S. found itself actively (if often secretly) engaged in the region. American agents were deeply involved in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government in 1953 (to reverse the nationalization of Iran's oil fields), as well as in the fateful establishment of a Baathist Party dictatorship in Iraq in the early 1960s (to prevent the ascendancy of leftists who, it was feared, would align the country with the Soviet Union, putting the country's oil in hock to the Soviet bloc).

U.S. influence in the Middle East began to wane in the 1970s, when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was first formed to coordinate the production and pricing of oil on a worldwide basis. OPEC's power was consolidated as various countries created their own oil companies, nationalized their oil holdings, and wrested decision-making away from the "Seven Sisters," the Western oil giants -- among them Shell, Texaco, and Standard Oil of New Jersey -- that had previously dominated exploration, extraction, and sales of black gold.

With all the key oil exporters on board, OPEC began deciding just how much oil would be extracted and sold onto international markets. Once the group established that all members would follow collective decisions -- because even a single major dissenter might fatally undermine the ability to turn the energy "spigot" on or off -- it could use the threat of production restrictions, or the promise of expansion, to bargain with its most powerful trading partners. In effect, a new power bloc had emerged on the international scene that could -- in some circumstances -- exact tangible concessions even from the United States and the Soviet Union, the two superpowers of the time.

Though the United States was largely self-sufficient in oil when OPEC was first formed, the American economy was still dependent on trading partners, particularly Japan and Europe, which themselves were dependent on Middle Eastern oil. The oil crises of the early 1970s, including the sometimes endless gas lines in the U.S., demonstrated OPEC's potential.

It was in this context that the American alliance with the Saudi royal family first became so crucial. With the largest petroleum reserves on the planet and the largest production capacity among OPEC members, Saudi Arabia was usually able to shape the cartel's policies to conform to its wishes. In response to this simple but essential fact, successive American presidents strengthened the Rooseveltian alliance, deepening economic and military relationships between the two countries. The Saudis, in turn, could normally be depended upon to use their leverage within OPEC to fit the group's actions into the broader aims of U.S. policy. In other words, Washington gained favorable OPEC policies mainly by arming, and propping up a Saudi regime that was chronically fragile.

Backed by a tiny elite that used immense oil revenues to service its own narrow interests, the Saudi royals subjected their impoverished population to an oppressively authoritarian regime. Not surprisingly, then, the "alliance" required increasing infusions of American military aid as well political support in situations that were often uncomfortable, sometimes untenable, for Washington. On its part, in an era of growing nationalism, the Saudis found overt pro-American policies difficult to sustain, given the pressures and proclivities of its OPEC partners and its own population.

The Neocons Seize the Unipolar Moment

The key year in the Middle East would be 1979, when Iranians, who had lost their government to an American and British inspired coup in 1953, poured into the streets. The American-backed Shah's brutal regime fell to a popular revolution; American diplomats were taken hostage by Iranian student demonstrators; and Ayatollah Khomeini and the mullahs took power. The Iranian revolution added a combustible new element to an already complex and unstable equation. It was, in a sense, the match lit near the pipeline. A regime hostile to Washington, and not particularly amenable to Saudi pressure, had now become an active member of OPEC, aspiring to use the organization to challenge American economic hegemony.

It was at this moment, not surprisingly, that the militarization of American Middle Eastern policy came out of the shadows. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter -- before his Habitat for Humanity days -- enunciated what would become known as the "Carter Doctrine": that Persian Gulf oil was "vital" to American national interests and that the U.S. would use "any means necessary, including military force" to sustain access to it. To assure that "access," he announced the creation of a Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, a new military command structure that would be able to deliver personnel from all the armed services, together with state-of-the-art military equipment, to any location in the Middle East at top speed.

Nurtured and expanded by succeeding presidents, this evolved into the United States Central Command (Centcom), which ended up in charge of all U.S. military activity in the Middle East and surrounding regions. It would prove the military foundation for the Gulf War of 1990, which rolled back Saddam Hussein's occupation of Kuwait, and therefore prevented him from gaining control of that country's oil reserves. Though it was not emphasized at the time, that first Gulf War was a crystalline application of the Carter Doctrine -- that "any means necessary, including military force," should be used to guarantee American access to Middle Eastern oil. That war, in turn, convinced a shaky Saudi royal family -- that saw Iraqi troops reach its border – to accept an ongoing American military presence within the country, a development meant to facilitate future applications of the Carter Doctrine, but which would have devastating unintended consequences.

The peaceful disintegration of the Soviet Union at almost the same moment seemed to signal that Washington now had uncontested global military supremacy, triggering a debate within American policy circles about how to utilize and preserve what Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer first called the "unipolar moment." Future members of the administration of Bush the younger were especially fierce advocates for making aggressive use of this military superiority to enhance U.S. power everywhere, but especially in the Middle East. They eventually formed a policy advocacy group, The Project for a New American Century, to develop, and lobby for, their views. The group, whose membership included Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and dozens of other key individuals who would hold important positions in the executive branch after George W. Bush took office, wrote an open letter to President Clinton in 1998 urging him to turn his "administration's attention to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam's regime from power." They cited both the Iraqi dictator's military belligerence and his control over "a significant portion of the world's supply of oil."

Two years later, the group issued a ringing policy statement that would be the guiding text for the new administration. Entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses, it advocated what would become known as a Rumsfeldian-style transformation of the Pentagon. U.S. military preeminence was to be utilized to "secure and expand'' American influence globally and possibly, in the cases of North Korea and Iraq, used "to remove these regimes from power and conduct post-combat stability operations." (The document even commented on the problem of defusing American domestic resistance to such an aggressive stance, noting ominously that public approval could not be obtained without "some catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor.")

Saddam's Iraq and Oil on the Brain

The second Bush administration ascended to the presidency just as American influence in the Middle East looked to be on the decline. Despite victory in the first Gulf War and the fall of the Soviet Union, American influence over OPEC and oil policies seemed under threat. That sucking sound everyone suddenly heard was a tremendous increase in the global demand for oil. With fears rising that, in the very near future, such demand could put a strain on OPEC's resources, member states began negotiating ever more vigorously for a range of concessions and expanded political power in exchange for expanded energy production. By this time, of course, the United States had joined the ranks of the energy deficient and dependent, as imported oil surged past the 50% mark.

In the meantime, key ally Saudi Arabia was further weakened by the rise of al-Qaeda, which took as its main goal the overthrow of the royal family, and its key target -- think of those unintended consequences -- the American troops triumphantly stationed at permanent bases in the country after Gulf War I. They seemed to confirm the accusations of Osama bin Laden and other Saudi dissidents that the royal family had indeed become little but a tool of American imperialism. This, in turn, made the Saudi royals increasingly reluctant hosts for those troops and ever more hesitant supporters of pro-American policies within OPEC.

The situation was complicated further by what was obvious to any observer: The potential future leverage that both Iraq and Iran might wield in OPEC. With the second and third largest oil reserves on the planet -- Iran also had the second largest reserves of natural gas -- their influence seemed bound to rise. Iraq's, in particular, would be amplified substantially as soon as Saddam Hussein's regime was freed from severe limitations imposed by post-war UN sanctions, which prevented it from either developing new oil fields or upgrading its deteriorating energy infrastructure. Though the leaders of the two countries were enemies, having fought a bitter war in the 1980s, they could agree, at least, on energy policies aimed at thwarting American desires or demands -- a position only strengthened in 1998 when the citizens of Venezuela, the most important OPEC member outside the Middle East, elected the decidedly anti-American Hugo Chavez as president. In other words, in January 2001, the new administration in Washington could look forward to negotiating oil policy not only with a reluctant Saudi royal family, but also a coterie of hostile powers in a strengthened OPEC.

It is hardly surprising, then, that the new administration, bent on unipolarity anyway and dreaming of a global Pax Americana, wasted no time implementing the aggressive policies advocated in the PNAC manifesto. According to then Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill in his memoir The Price of Loyalty, Iraq was much on the mind of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at the first meeting of the National Security Council on January 30, 2001, seven months before the 9/11 attacks. At that meeting, Rumsfeld argued that the Clinton administration's Middle Eastern focus on Israel-Palestine should be unceremoniously dumped. "[W]hat we really want to think about," he reportedly said, "is going after Saddam." Regime change in Iraq, he argued, would allow the U.S. to enhance the situation of the pro-American Kurds, redirect Iraq toward a market economy, and guarantee a favorable oil policy.

The adjudication of Rumsfeld's recommendation was shuffled off to the mysterious National Energy Policy Development Group that Vice President Cheney convened as soon as Bush took occupancy of the Oval Office. This task force quickly decided that enhanced American influence over the production and sale of Middle East oil should be "a primary focus of U.S. international energy policy," relegating both the development of alternative energy sources and domestic energy conservation measures to secondary, or even tertiary, status. A central goal of the administration's Middle East focus would be to convince, or coerce, states in that region "to open up areas of their energy sectors to foreign investment"; that is, to replace government control of the oil spigot -- the linchpin of OPEC power -- with decision-making by multinational oil companies headquartered in the West and responsive to U.S. policy needs. If such a program could be extended even to a substantial minority of Middle Eastern oil fields, it would prevent coordinated decision-making and constrain, if not break, the power of OPEC. This was a theoretically enticing way to staunch the loss of American power in the region and truly turn the Bush years into a new unipolar moment in the Middle East.

Having determined its goals, the Task Force began laying out a more detailed strategy. According to Jane Mayer of the New Yorker, the most significant innovation was to be a close collaboration between Cheney's energy crew and the National Security Council (NSC). The NSC evidently agreed "to cooperate fully with the Energy Task Force as it considered the 'melding' of two seemingly unrelated areas of policy: 'the review of operational policies towards rogue states,' such as Iraq, and 'actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.'"

Though all these deliberations were secret, enough of what was going on has emerged in these last years to demonstrate that the "melding" process was successful. By March of 2001, according to O'Neill, who was a member of both the NSC and the task force:

"Actual plans.... were already being discussed to take over Iraq and occupy it -- complete with disposition of oil fields, peacekeeping forces, and war crimes tribunals -- carrying forward an unspoken doctrine of preemptive war."

O'Neill also reported that, by the time of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the plan for conquering Iraq had been developed and that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld indeed urged just such an attack at the first National Security Council meeting convened to discuss how the U.S. should react to the disaster. After several days of discussion, an attack on Iraq was postponed until after al-Qaeda had been wiped out and the Taliban driven from power in Afghanistan. It took only until January 2002 -- three months of largely successful fighting in Afghanistan -- before the "administration focus was returning to Iraq." It wasn't until November 2002, though, that O'Neill heard the President himself endorse the invasion plans, which took place the following March 20th.

The Logic of Regime Change

With this background, it's easier to understand the recent brief, but highly significant, flurry of controversy over a single sentence in The Age of Turbulence, the bestselling, over-500-page memoir by longtime Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. He wrote simply, as if this were utterly self-evident: "I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." As the first major government official to make such a statement, he was asked repeatedly to explain his thinking, particularly since his comment was immediately repudiated by various government officials, including White House spokesman Tony Fratto, who labeled it "Georgetown cocktail party analysis."

His subsequent comments elaborated on a brief explanation in the memoir: "It should be obvious that as long as the United States is beholden to potentially unfriendly sources of oil and gas, we are vulnerable to economic crises over which we have little control." Since former ally Saddam Hussein was, by then, unremittingly unfriendly, Greenspan felt that (as he told Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward) "taking Saddam out was essential" in order to make "certain that the existing system [of oil markets] continues to work." In an interview at Democracy Now! he elaborated on this point, explaining that his support for ousting Hussein had "nothing to do with the weapons of mass destruction," but rather with the economic "threat he could create to the rest of the world" through his control over key oil reserves in the Persian Gulf region.

Greenspan's argument echoes the logic expressed by the Project for a New American Century and other advocates of aggressive military solutions to the threat of OPEC power. He was concerned that Saddam Hussein, once an ally, but by then a sworn enemy of U.S. interests in the Middle East, would control key oil flows. That, in turn, might allow him to exercise economic, and so political, leverage over the United States and its allies.

The former Fed chief then elaborated further, arguing that the threat of Saddam could be eliminated "by one means or another" -- either by "getting him out of office or getting him out of the control position he was in." Replacing Saddam with a friendly, pro-American government seemed, of course, like such a no-brainer. Why have a guy like that in a "control position" over oil, after all? (And think of the possibility of taking those embarrassing troops out of Saudi Arabia and stationing them at large permanent bases in nearby, well-situated, oil-rich Iraq.) Better by far, as the Cheney Energy Task put it, "to open up areas of [Iraq's] energy sectors to foreign investment." Like the Task Force members, Greenspan believed that removing oil -- not just from Saddam's control, but from the control of any Iraqi government -- would permanently remove the threat that it or a broken OPEC could continue to wield economic leverage over the United States.

Revealingly enough, Greenspan saw the invasion of Iraq as a generically conservative action -- a return, if anything, to the status quo ante that would preserve unencumbered American access to sufficient Middle Eastern oil. With whole new energy-devouring economies coming on line in Asia, continued American access seemed to require stripping key Middle Eastern nations of the economic and political power that scarcity had already begun to confer. In other words, Greenspan's conservative urge implied exactly the revolutionary changes in the political and economic equation that the Bush administration would begin to test out so disastrously in Iraq in March 2003. It's also worth remembering that Iraq was only considered a first pit stop, an easy mark for invasion and occupation. PNAC-nurtured eyes were already turning to Iran by then as indicated by the classic prewar neocon quip, "Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran."

And beyond this set of radical changes in the Middle East lay another set for the rest of the world. In the twenty-first century, expanding energy demand will, sooner or later (probably sooner), outdistance production. The goal of unfettered American access to sufficient Middle Eastern oil would, if achieved and sustained, deprive other countries of sufficient oil, or require them to satisfy U.S. demands in order to access it. In other words, Greenspan's conservative effort to preserve American access implied a dramatic increase in American leverage over all countries that depended on oil for their economic welfare; that is, a radical transformation of the global balance of power.

Notice that these ambitions, and the actions taken to implement them, rested on a vision of an imperial America that should, could, and would play a uniquely dominant, problem-solving role in world affairs. All other countries would, of course, continue to be "vulnerable to economic crises" over which they would have "little control." Only the United States had the essential right to threaten, or simply apply, overwhelming military power to the "problem" of energy; only it had the right to subdue any country that attempted to create -- or exploit -- an energy crisis, or that simply had the potential and animus to do so.

None of this was lost on the unipolar-minded officials who made the decision to invade Iraq -- and were more ready than any previous administration to spell out, shock-and-awe style, a new stronger version of the Carter Doctrine for the planet. According to Treasury Secretary O'Neill, Rumsfeld offered a vision of the grandiosity of these goals at the first Bush administration National Security Council meeting:

"Imagine what the region would look like without Saddam and with a regime that's aligned with U.S. interests. It would change everything in the region and beyond."

An even more grandiose vision was offered to the New York Times by presidential speech writer David Frum a few days later:

"An American-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and the replacement of the radical Baathist dictatorship with a new government more closely aligned with the United States, would put America more wholly in charge of the region than any power since the Ottomans, or maybe even the Romans."

As worldwide demand for hydrocarbons soared, the United States was left with three policy choices: It could try to combine alternative energy sources with rigorous conservation to reduce or eliminate a significant portion of energy imports; it could accept the leverage conferred on OPEC by the energy crunch and attempt to negotiate for an adequate share of what might soon enough become an inadequate supply; or it could use its military power in an effort to coerce Middle East suppliers into satisfying American requirements at the expense of everyone else. Beginning with Jimmy Carter, five U.S. presidents chose the coercive strategy, with George W. Bush finally deciding that violent, preemptive regime change was needed to make it work. The other options remain unexplored.

[Note: This commentary -- and most of the useful work on the role of oil in Middle East and world politics -- rests on the remarkable evidential and analytic foundation provided by Michael Klare's indispensable book, Blood and Oil,The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum. Readers who seek a full understanding of these issues should start with that text.]

Michael Schwartz, Professor of Sociology and Founding Director of the Undergraduate College of Global Studies at Stony Brook University, has written extensively on popular protest and insurgency, and on American business and government dynamics. His books include Radical Protest and Social Structure and Social Policy and The Conservative Agenda (edited, with Clarence Lo). His work on Iraq has appeared on numerous Internet sites, including Tomdispatch, Asia Times, Mother Jones, and ZNET; and in print in Cities, Contexts, Against the Current, and Z Magazine. His email address is

Copyright 2007 Michael Schwartz