Moves toward reform wane in Saudi Arabia: "Just a year ago, democratic changes in this absolute monarchy seemed to be gathering steam. But what observers saw as a promising opening has been stymied as an influx of oil money and victories against militants linked to Al Qaeda have reduced the urgency surrounding reform. A number of signs point to retrenchment. A law issued recently by the Council of Ministers makes the signing of petitions by government employees, or speaking critically of the government to the press, punishable by firing or jail. A trial of three reformists charged with dissension and other crimes, which started in August and was open to the public, has been closed. And in King Fahd's annual speech last month to the Shura Council, an advisory group, reforms were ignored, analysts say.
"It seems that the Interior Ministry has the upper hand in the war on terrorism, so they think it's about time for them to target reform-minded individuals," says Khaled al-Dukhayel, assistant professor of political sociology at King Saud University. "To [government officials], reforms are as much of a threat as terrorism, and they are now criminalizing reform activities," he says...
All but three of the dozen activists arrested in March were released after pledging to no longer publicly demand reforms or talk to the media. But academics Abdullah al-Hamid and Matrouk al-Faleh and poet Ali al-Dimeini remain behind bars. " 9:29:49 PM
Winning the Oil Endgame
: RMI's latest book on energy futures. "Winning the Oil Endgame offers a coherent strategy for ending oil dependence, starting with the United States but applicable worldwide. There are many analyses of the oil problem. This synthesis is the first roadmap of the oil solution -- one led by business for profit, not dictated by government for reasons of ideology. This roadmap is independent, peer-reviewed, written for business and military leaders, and co-funded by the Pentagon" 11:40:47 AM