Subject: NEWS OF THE DAY, SUNDAY OCTOBER 5, 2008 Sun Oct 05, 2008 10:01 pm
Exclusive: Obama to call McCain 'erratic in crisis'
By MIKE ALLEN | 10/4/08 10:07 PM EDT
McCain officials said they planned to begin advertising tying Obama to Rezko and Ayers.
Branding his opponent as “erratic in a crisis,” Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is preempting plans by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to portray him as having sinister connections to controversial Chicagoans.
Obama officials call it political jujitsu – turning the attacks back on the attacker.
McCain officials had said early in the weekend that they plan to begin advertising after Tuesday’s debate that will tie Obama to convicted money launderer Tony Rezko and former Weathermen radical William Ayers.
But Obama isn’t waiting to respond. His campaign is going up Monday on national cable stations with a scathing ad saying: “Three quarters of a million jobs lost this year. Our financial system in turmoil. And John McCain? Erratic in a crisis. Out of touch on the economy. No wonder his campaign wants to change the subject.
“Turn the page on the financial crisis by launching dishonorable, dishonest ‘assaults’ against Barack Obama. Struggling families can't turn the page on this economy, and we can't afford another president who is this out of touch.”
Then Obama says: “I'm Barack Obama and I approved this message.”
McCain officials told Politico that the new offensive is likely to focus on Rezko and Ayers. The officials said the campaign will not bring up the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s former pastor, because McCain has forbade them from using that as a weapon. Without being specific, the officials said outside groups may focus on Wright.
When word of the planned attacks leaked Saturday, Obama officials said within hours that it was an attempt by McCain to distract voters from the economy.
“We think the McCain campaign made a huge error by telling the press that their strategy was to distract from the most important issue facing voters,” a senior Obama official said. “Every attack going forward will be easy to characterize for what it is – an attempt to distract from the Bush-McCain economic record."
McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds hinted at the tough new line Saturday on “Fox & Friends.”
“There are associations that are important to who Barack Obama is as a candidate, who he’d be as president,” Bounds said.
Obama-Biden communications director Dan Pfeiffer said about the new ads: “If John McCain thinks he can ‘turn the page’ on the economic crisis facing American families, he is even more out of touch than we imagined. Now there may be no good answers for John McCain due to his erratic response to the financial crisis, but his desire to avoid discussing the economy is something we will remind voters of everyday for the next month.”
Subject: Re: NEWS OF THE DAY, SUNDAY OCTOBER 5, 2008 Sun Oct 05, 2008 10:07 pm
Campaigns get personal, McCain called 'erratic' The Associated Press Published: October 5, 2008
WASHINGTON: Democrat Barack Obama's campaign called his Republican rival "erratic" in a television commercial released Sunday as both campaigns stepped up personal attacks.
"Our financial system in turmoil," an announcer says in the ad. "And John McCain? Erratic in a crisis. Out of touch on the economy."
The ad, slated to start running Monday on national cable, seeks to capitalize on John McCain's response to the nation's financial crisis while rebutting Republican attacks on Obama's character.
As Congress worked to pass the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, McCain announced that he would suspend his campaign and skip the first presidential debate while he worked on a solution. He inevitably attended the debate even as the deal in Congress faltered.
Republicans argue that McCain's actions showed leadership while addressing a serious issue. Democrats say McCain tried to politicize the crisis with a campaign gimmick.
"No wonder his campaign's announced a plan to turn a page on the financial crisis, distract with dishonest, dishonorable assaults against Barack Obama," the ad continues. "Struggling families can't turn the page on this economy and we can't afford another president who's this out of touch."
The ad refers to reports that McCain's advisers want to shift the debate from the nation's struggling economy while attacking Obama's character. On Saturday, McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, said Obama is "palling around with terrorists" and doesn't see the U.S. like other Americans.
"Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country," Palin told a group of donors in Englewood, Colo. She echoed the line at three separate events Saturday.
"This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America," she said.
Palin was referring to Obama's relationship with William Ayers, a member of the Vietnam-era Weather Underground. They worked on community boards years ago and Ayers hosted a political event for Obama early in his career. Obama, who was a child when the Weathermen were planting bombs, has denounced Ayers' radical views and actions.
Subject: Re: NEWS OF THE DAY, SUNDAY OCTOBER 5, 2008 Sun Oct 05, 2008 10:12 pm
Fannie Mae forgives loan for woman who shot herself
Fannie Mae foreclosed on the Akron, Ohio, home of Addie Polk, 90, after acquiring the mortgage in 2007.
(CNN) -- Fannie Mae said it will set aside the loan of a woman who shot herself as sheriff's deputies tried to evict her from her foreclosed home.
Addie Polk, 90, of Akron, Ohio, became a symbol of the nation's home mortgage crisis when she was hospitalized after shooting herself at least twice in the upper body Wednesday afternoon.
On Friday, Fannie Mae spokesman Brian Faith said the mortgage association had decided to halt action against Polk and sign the property "outright" to her.
"We're going to forgive whatever outstanding balance she had on the loan and give her the house," Faith said. "Given the circumstances, we think it's appropriate."
Residents of Akron have rallied behind Polk, who is being treated at Akron General Medical Center. She was listed in critical condition Friday afternoon, according to Akron City Council President Marco Sommerville.
U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, mentioned Polk on the House floor Friday during debate over the latest economic rescue proposal.
"This bill does nothing for the Addie Polks of the world," Kucinich said after telling her story. "This bill fails to address the fact that millions of homeowners are facing foreclosure, are facing the loss of their home. This bill will take care of Wall Street, and the market may go up for a few days, but democracy is going downhill."
Neighbor Robert Dillon, 62, used a ladder to enter a second-story bathroom window of Polk's home after he and the deputies heard loud noises inside, Dillon said.
"I was calling her name as I went in, and she wasn't responding," he said.
He found her lying on a bed, and he could see she was breathing. He also noticed a long-barreled handgun on the bed, but thought she just had it there for protection. He touched her on the shoulder.
"Then she kind of moved toward me a little and I saw that blood, and I said, 'Oh, no. Miss Polk musta done shot herself,' " Dillon said.
He hurried downstairs and let the deputies in. He said they told him they found Polk's car keys, pocketbook and life insurance policy laid out neatly where they could be found, suggesting that she intended to kill herself.
"There's a lot of people like Miss Polk right now. That's the sad thing about it," said Sommerville, who had met Polk before and rushed to the scene when contacted by police. "They might not be as old as her, some could be as old as her. This is just a major problem." VideoWatch Polk's neighbor describe what he saw »
In 2004, Polk took out a 30-year, 6.375 percent mortgage for $45,620 with a Countrywide Home Loan office in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. The same day, she also took out an $11,380 line of credit.
Over the next couple of years, Polk missed payments on the 101-year-old home that she and her late husband purchased in 1970. In 2007, Fannie Mae assumed the mortgage and later filed for foreclosure.
Deputies had tried to serve Polk's eviction notice more than 30 times before Wednesday's incident, Sommerville said. She never came to the door, but the notes the deputies left would always disappear, so they knew she was inside and ambulatory, he said.
The city is creating programs to help people keep their homes, Sommerville said. "But what do you do when there's just so many people out there and the economy is in the shape that it's in?"
Many businesses and individuals have called since Wednesday offering to help Polk, Sommerville said.
"We're going to do an evaluation to see what's best for her," he said. "If she's strong enough and can go home, I think we should work with her to where she goes back home. If not, we need to find another place for her to live where she won't have to worry about this ever again."
For his part, Dillon hopes his neighbor of 38 years can return to her home.
"She loves that house," he said. "I hope they can get her back in. That would make me feel better because I don't know what they're going to put in there once she leaves."
He said the neighborhood is declining because so many people have lost their homes.
"There's a lot of vacant houses around here. ... Now I'm going to have a house on my left and a house on my right, vacant," he said. "That don't make me feel good, because we were good neighbors, we trusted each other, and we looked out for each other.
"This neighborhood is shot, to me, from what it used to be," he added.
"When I moved here, if it were like it is now, I would have never moved here. But it was a nice neighborhood. ...
"I'll just tough it out. I'm too old to start thinking about buying another house."
Sommerville said that by the time people call for help with an impending foreclosure, it's usually too late.
"I'm glad it's not too late for Miss Polk, because she could have taken her life," Sommerville said. "Miss Polk will probably end up on her feet. But I'm not sure if anybody else will."
CNN's Jim Kavanagh, Brad Lendon and Mallory Simon contributed to this report.
Subject: Re: NEWS OF THE DAY, SUNDAY OCTOBER 5, 2008 Sun Oct 05, 2008 10:27 pm
where did bill's mouth go?
Posts : 323 Join date : 2008-03-27
Subject: Re: NEWS OF THE DAY, SUNDAY OCTOBER 5, 2008 Sun Oct 05, 2008 11:17 pm
Filipinos Draw Power From Buried Heat
By Blaine Harden Washington Post Foreign Service Saturday, October 4, 2008; A01
ORMOC, Philippines -- Ferdinand Marcos, the despot who ruled here for 21 years, is remembered mainly for the staggering quantity of his wife's shoes. But there is another Marcos legacy, and it is drawing new attention at a time of high oil prices, global warming and urgent questions about the role of government in alternative energy development.
Reacting to the early 1970s oil shock, Marcos created a major government program to find, develop and generate electricity from hot rocks deep in the ground. Since then, the Philippine government has championed this form of energy.
Geothermal power now accounts for about 28 percent of the electricity generated in the Philippines. With 90 million people, about 40 percent of whom live on less than $2 a day, this country has become the world's largest consumer of electricity from geothermal sources. Billions of dollars have been saved here because of reduced need for imported oil and coal.
"Goes to show that things aren't always the way we might expect," said Roland N. Horne, a Stanford University expert on geothermal power who has visited this country more than 20 times. "The Philippines would be in hugely worse shape without geothermal as an indigenous energy source."
In installed geothermal power capacity, the country ranks No. 2 in the world, narrowly trailing the United States, which has far more geothermal potential, far more engineering talent and far greater demand for clean sustainable power.
But unlike in the Philippines, government policy in the United States has been inconsistent. In 2006, the Bush administration cut most geothermal spending -- federal programs that received as much as $100 million a year in the 1980s shrank to $5 million. Research projects were dismantled. Scientists in the field had to find other jobs.
"Most of the federal infrastructure, the laboratories and the researchers are now gone," said Karl Gawell, executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association in Washington.
As oil and coal prices soared in the past year, and as popular demand increased for alternative energy sources, the Bush administration rediscovered geothermal. It has proposed spending $90 million over three years on research.
"That's the goods news, but the bad news is that we are going to have to relearn a lot of what the people who we just let go learned over the past 20 years," Gawell said. "The problem with our government's approach to alternative energy is that it is too short-term. You need a sustained commitment to reach this huge energy base."
At early stages of development, geothermal energy has historically been dependent in most countries on high-risk, long-term investment made by governments, not private companies.
While Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, has said little about geothermal energy, Sen. Barack Obama, his Democratic opponent, has said renewable energy -- which includes wind, solar and geothermal -- should generate 10 percent of the country's electricity within four years.
The figure now is about 4 percent, of which less than 1 percent is geothermal. But geothermal offers reliability advantages over solar and wind, mostly because geothermal fields do not stop producing power at night or when the wind stops blowing.
In a report released this week, the U.S. Geological Survey reassessed the potential for this kind of energy in the United States. It examined 13 Western states, from California to Colorado, Washington to New Mexico, that sit atop a hot geologic zone that is often called the Pacific Ring of Fire. It encircles the Pacific Ocean and includes the Philippines, as well as Indonesia, Japan and several other countries in East Asia.
In the American West, power production from already identified geothermal fields could increase more than 2 1/2 times, the report said.
But new geothermal technology -- which injects water into fractured rock to mine heat -- raises the possibility that small geothermal power plants could be built all over the West. If this technology continues to advance, the Geological Survey report said, there is enough accessible public and private land in the 13 Western states to supply about half the electricity now generated in the United States.
"Geothermal resources have the potential to play a much more significant role in our nation's energy mix," the report concluded. Nature's Perfect Design
For nearly three decades, the Philippine government has been acting on a similar assumption, despite revolutions and widespread corruption.
The showcase for its long-term commitment is here on the rural island of Leyte, where a government-created company, now privatized, has carefully transformed a vast geothermal field into the linchpin of the country's electricity grid.
The Leyte field, as engineers describe it, is one of nature's most perfectly designed geothermal resources. Located about 1 1/2 miles underground, it is a great pot of boiling water that covers about 416 square miles.
Molten rock heats the pot but is kept separate from the boiling water by a thick layer of impermeable rock. The pot's lid is made of a much softer, more porous rock, which is easy to drill down through. About 90 wells bring up steamy water to run turbines.
Thirty-two re-injection wells shoot cooler water back into the pot to be heated and repeat the cycle. Water filtering down naturally through a mountainous rain forest atop the reservoir also recharges it.
"Leyte is very blessed in the sense that the resource is not common to any other part of the world," said Ruperto R. Villa Jr., a geothermal engineer and a longtime supervisor here.
Villa and other engineers here have made the most of their natural blessings, inventing the world's first large-scale re-injection system. After 25 years of operation, this system has conserved nearly all of the field's heat and steam pressure. Experts say Leyte, if it continues to be well managed, should produce electricity for centuries.
"Once the Philippines government gave its edict to develop geothermal, it was implemented with good management and intelligent engineering," said Horne, the Stanford professor who has traveled often to the Philippines. A Wild West Show
The United States has the world's largest geothermal resource, the Geysers, 72 miles north of San Francisco. But it has not been nearly as well managed as Leyte, according to Horne and other experts.
From the 1960s to the early 1980s, the Geysers was a kind of Wild West show of multiple owners racing to tap steam before the others did. Lacking federal or state regulation, the Geysers spawned 15 years of lawsuits among the owners. Consolidation of ownership and tighter regulation have since resolved many of the problems, but not before the sustainable power-generating capacity of the field was reduced.
"What happened in the Geysers did not happen in Leyte because of better regulation and central control of management," Horne said.
But experts say the future of geothermal development in the United States depends not on giant sites such as the Geysers but on smaller fields, to be tapped using nontraditional technology that injects water into hot fractured rock and powers turbines with the resulting steam. Creating that technology will require $1 billion of consistent public investment over 15 years, according to a study this year that was commissioned by the Energy Department.
"We have seen something of a turnaround in federal interest in geothermal," said Gawell, of the Geothermal Energy Association. "But companies and investors still don't trust that it will last. There is a lack of confidence that the government is not going to once again turn its back on geothermal."
Subject: Re: NEWS OF THE DAY, SUNDAY OCTOBER 5, 2008 Sun Oct 05, 2008 11:27 pm
Israel Jewish ’modesty patrols’ sow fear in Israel
5. Oktober 2008, 11:17 Uhr
In Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, where the rule of law sometimes takes a back seat to the rule of God, zealots are on a campaign to stamp out behavior they consider unchaste. They hurl stones at women for such "sins" as wearing a red blouse, and attack stores selling devices that can access the Internet.
Foto: AP In Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, where the rule of law takes a back seat to the rule of God, religious zealots are on a crusade to stamp out unchaste behavior.
In recent weeks, self-styled "modesty patrols“ have been accused of breaking into the apartment of a Jerusalem woman and beating her for allegedly consorting with men. They have torched a store that sells MP4 players, fearing devout Jews would use them to download pornography. "These breaches of purity and modesty endanger our community,“ said 38-year-old Elchanan Blau, defending the bearded, black-robed zealots. "If it takes fire to get them to stop, then so be it.“
Many ultra-Orthodox Jews are dismayed by the violence, but the enforcers often enjoy quiet approval from rabbis eager to protect their own reputations as guardians of the faith, community members say. And while some welcome anything that keeps secular culture out of their cloistered world, others feel terrorized, knowing that the mere perception of impropriety could ruin their lives.
"There are eyes and ears all over the place, very similar to what you hear about in countries like Iran,“ says Israeli-American novelist Naomi Ragen, an observant Jew who has chronicled the troubles that confront some women living in the ultra-Orthodox world. The violence has already deepened the antagonism between the 600,000 haredim, or God-fearing, and the secular majority, which resents having religious rules dictated to them. Religious vigilantes operate in a society that has granted their community influence well beyond its numbers – partly out of a commitment to revive the great centers of Jewish scholarship destroyed in the Holocaust, but also because the Orthodox are perennial king-makers in Israeli coalition politics. Thus public transport is grounded for the Jewish Sabbath each Saturday, and the rabbis control all Jewish marriage and divorce in Israel. In recent years, however, the haredim have eased up on their long campaign to impose their rules on secular areas, and nowadays many restaurants and suburban shopping centers are open on the Sabbath. These days, most vigilante attacks take place in the zealots’ own neighborhoods. Israel police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the modesty police are not an organized phenomenon, just rogue enforcers carrying out isolated attacks. But Israel’s Justice Ministry used the term "modesty patrols“ in an indictment against a man accused of assaulting the Jerusalem woman. The unidentified, 31-year-old woman had left the ultra-Orthodox fold after getting divorced, according to the charges filed by the Jerusalem district attorney’s office. The charges said her assailant tried to get her to leave her apartment in a haredi neighborhood in Jerusalem by gagging, beating and threatening to kill her. He was paid US$2,000 for the attack, it said. A 17-year-old who moved to Israel from New York five years ago said she was hospitalized after being attacked with pepper spray by a crowd of men outraged that she was walking down a Jerusalem street with boys. "They can burn in hell,“ said the girl, who would identify herself only as Rivka. She lives in Beit Shemesh, a town outside Jerusalem where the vigilantism has been particularly violent. Zealots there have thrown rocks and spat at women, and set fire to trash bins to protest impiety. Walls of the neighborhood are plastered with signs exhorting women to dress modestly – spelled out as closed-necked, long-sleeved blouses and long skirts. The state, catering to religious sensitivities, subsidizes gender-segregated bus routes that service religious neighborhoods. Ragen and several other women challenged the practice in Israel’s Supreme Court after an Orthodox Canadian woman in her 50s told police she was kicked, slapped, pushed to the floor and spat upon by men for refusing to move to the back of the bus. Another Beit Shemesh girl, who asked to be identified only as Esther, said zealots threw rocks, cursed and spat at a friend for wearing a red blouse – taboo because the color attracts attention. Yitzhak Polack, a 50-year-old Jerusalem teacher, is one of those who deplore such behavior. "They are stupid troublemakers who are bringing shame and disgrace on this holy community,“ he said. But the rabbis are afraid to condemn them, says Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, another community member.
"They can’t come out against zealots who champion modesty. Here and there they write against violence, but the militants ultimately set the tone,“ he said. Stores are targeted too. In August, a Jerusalem man was placed under house arrest on suspicion he set fire to a store in a haredi district of the city that sold MP4 players. "It started about six months ago. They would come into the store, about 15 of them at a time, screaming, ’This store burns souls!’ and they would throw merchandise on the floor and threaten customers,“ said 31-year-old Aaron Gold, a haredi worker at the Space electronics store. One Friday night, just before the Sabbath was about to begin, "they smashed a window, doused the place with gasoline and lit a match,“ Gold said. Now, a big sign behind the counter says, "All products sold in this store are under rabbinical supervision. By order of the rabbis, no MP4s are sold here.“ Clothing stores that sell clothes regarded as provocative have been vandalized, and bleach thrown at merchandise. Suspicion is all that’s needed to spark an attack. Girls have been expelled from school after being seen talking to boys, a punishment that ruins their marriage prospects. "It could be very innocent; she could be talking to her brother,“ Ragen said. But once thrown out of school, "no one – NO ONE – will take you in,“ she added. In one case, the violence reached the highest levels of haredi society. Three years ago, a son of Israel’s Sephardi chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar, was accused of kidnapping a 17-year-old boy, beating him at knifepoint and terrorizing him with snarling dogs because he had sought the attentions of the accused’s unchaperoned sister. The son was sentenced to two years and eight months in jail. His sister married a different suitor the following year. ––– AP writer Ian Deitch contributed to this report from Jerusalem.
Subject: Re: NEWS OF THE DAY, SUNDAY OCTOBER 5, 2008 Sun Oct 05, 2008 11:32 pm
Fashion Police GOP wants dress code for voters
4. Oktober 2008, 11:46 Uhr
A political fight over what voters can wear to the polls is headed to court in Pennsylvania – with the Republican Party favoring a dress code and Democrats opposed.
Foto: AFP A T-shirt featuring US presidential candidate Barrack Obama by French designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac (L) and a dress reading 'Obama' part of a collection in hommage of French designer Sonia Rykiel.
Sue Nace thought election volunteers were joking when they told her she would have to remove her T-shirt to vote in the U.S. presidential primary last spring. But it was no laughing matter to the poll workers-turned-fashion police, who said Nace’s Barack Obama shirt was inappropriate electioneering – and made her cover the writing before casting a ballot.
To the GOP, the lack of rules could open the door to all kinds of questionable displays – even, one Republican leader suggested, something as outlandish as a musical hat.
To the Democrats, voters should be free to express themselves. They fear a dress code could scare away some new voters. The political showdown was triggered by a Pennsylvania Department of State memo advising counties last month that voters’ attire doesn’t matter as long as the "voter takes no additional action to attempt to influence other voters.“ Because the memo is not legally binding, some counties have kept past restrictions on clothing and political buttons. But two Pittsburgh-area elections officials sued to have the memo rescinded. Their lawsuit warned that if the memo stands, "nothing would prevent a partisan group from synchronizing a battalion of like-minded individuals ... to descend on a polling place, presenting a domineering, united front, certain to dissuade the average citizen who may privately hold different beliefs.“
[/url] FOTO: AFP This outfit could make it impossible to vote.
This fight over the interpretation of a state law designed to shield the polls from partisan electioneering could determine which presidential candidate’s supporters might be turned away from the polls in this battleground state. Democrats have benefited from a surge in voter registration this year, with young adults 18-24 making up the largest group of new registrants, according to statistics from March 30 to Sept. 8. A poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University showed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama pulling 15 percentage points ahead of Republican John McCain in the state. State Democratic Party Chairman T.J. Rooney said GOP support for the dress code is a partisan effort to scare away new voters. "To go (to the polls) and engage in an expression of democracy and then be accosted by the fashion police is a form of voter intimidation,“ he said. The state Republican Party says Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell’s administration crafted a partisan memo that would open the door to abuses. "The first thing would be a button or a shirt, and maybe the next thing would be a musical hat,“ said GOP chairman Robert Gleason, who called a news conference in support of dress codes.
Douglas Hill, head of Pennsylvania’s association of county commissioners, believes the state’s 67 counties are now evenly split on the question. Before the memo, counties leaned toward banning politically polarizing clothing and buttons because "they didn’t want to get into fine-line disputes,“ he said. Nace, a 44-year-old Obama supporter, hopes the state’s recommendation will stand so she can vote Nov. 4 while wearing her political leanings on her sleeve. "Especially with this election, for some reason it feels very personal to me,“ she said. "Even when I see another car with a bumper sticker on it, it’s like, ’Yeah, they get it.“’ During the April 22 primary, Nace was allowed into the voting booth in York County only after she rolled up her Obama T-shirt to hide the writing. After the state memo came out, York County rescinded its ban. At least four states – Maine, Montana, Vermont and Kansas– explicitly prohibit wearing campaign buttons, stickers and badges inside polling places, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures and state officials. In Kentucky, elections officials last month told poll workers they should admit voters decked out in campaign apparel, after e-mails circulated warning that Obama supporters would be turned away if they wore shirts and pins. MARTHA RAFFAELE
Feverish speculation in Dubai is yielding to apprehension.
The skyline still bristles with cranes — an estimated 20 percent of the world’s total — and the papers are full of ads promoting spectacular new building projects. On Sept. 24, tourists from around the world flocked to the opening of Atlantis, a gargantuan, pink, $1.5 billion resort hotel built on an artificial, palm-shaped island. There was no shortage of people willing to pay as much as $25,000 a night for a room, to gaze at the sharks and rays in a vast glass-lined aquarium in the lobby and to dine at marquee restaurants like Nobu and Brasserie Rostang. But as recession looms in the West, cracks are appearing in the oil-fueled boom that has made Dubai, with its futuristic skyscrapers on the turquoise waters of the Persian Gulf, a global byword for unfettered growth. Banks are reining in lending, casting a pall over corporate finance and building plans. Oil prices have been dropping. Stock markets across the region have been falling since June. After insisting for days that the oil-rich Persian Gulf region was fully “insulated” from financial troubles abroad, the Emirates’ Central Bank made about $13.6 billion available on Sept. 22 to ease credit problems, in an echo of bailout measures in the United States. Already, some bankers are saying it is not enough. Some of Dubai’s more extravagant building projects — the ever-bigger malls, islands and indoor ski slopes — are likely to be dropped if they do not already have financing lined up, bankers say. The credit crisis could also reduce demand from buyers, who will have a harder time getting mortgages. The shrinkage will be more severe if the financial crisis worsens in the West. Property prices and rents, which have remained steady until now, are widely expected to start dropping soon. At the same time, investor confidence has been harmed by a long string of high-level corporate scandals, jeopardizing Dubai’s long-term ambition of becoming a regional financial capital. “Plenty of people are worried,” said Gilbert Bazi, 25, a real estate broker from Lebanon who moved here a year ago. “They are waiting to see if what happened in the United States will happen here.” When he first arrived, Mr. Bazi said, making money was almost absurdly easy. “Iranians, Russians, Europeans — everybody was buying,” he said. “I didn’t have to call people; they were calling me.” Now, Mr. Bazi stalks the lobbies of hotels, trying to find clients.“The market is sleeping,” he said. In fairness, Dubai still looks rosy when set against the financial turmoil elsewhere. Although it lacks the oil wealth of its sister emirate Abu Dhabi, Dubai has huge budget and current account surpluses, and the government of the Emirates federation is able and willing — like its Persian Gulf neighbors — to inject an almost unlimited amount of money into the system to ease credit problems. The governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar have reaped so much profit from oil and gas in recent years that they are more worried about how to spend it than about managing any downturn. But the Persian Gulf’s governments face real economic challenges, albeit ones that are profoundly different from those in the West. Until recently, credit in Dubai was growing by 49 percent a year, according to the Emirates’ Central Bank — a rate almost double that of bank deposits’ growth. That unnerved some bankers here, who felt it could lead to a collapse. “In the U.S., the challenge is about keeping the banks going,” said Marios Maratheftis, chief economist for Standard Chartered Bank. “Here, the economy has been overheated, a correction is needed, and it’s about making sure the slowdown happens in a smooth, orderly manner.”If that sounds like an easy problem to have, consider the manic vicissitudes of Dubai’s real estate market. Speculators often got bank loans to put down 10 percent on a property that had not yet been built, only to flip it for a huge profit to another buyer, who would do the same thing, and on and on. That was easy to do when housing prices here were surging so fast that some properties multiplied tenfold in value in just a few years. But the Dubai authorities began getting nervous about this and imposed new regulations this summer to limit speculation.
Many analysts say the slowdown in Dubai’s economy, assuming it does not worsen to a slump, will make the city’s growth more sustainable and healthy by reducing its dependence on loans and speculation.
Similarly, the authorities hope that recent arrests in corporate scandals will root out the culture of corruption that plagues so many Arab countries. Some of those arrested have been Emiratis with connections to the ruling family, in a gesture clearly intended to send the message that no one is exempt. As Dubai’s frenzied growth slows, whether there is a hard or soft landing will depend in great part on the banks, the link between the region’s declining stock markets and its still-thriving property sector. “Banks will have to start lending to end-users,” said Robert McKinnon, a real estate analyst and head of equity research at Al Mal Capital here, referring to people who actually plan on occupying properties as opposed to trading them for profit. “There are some questions about how the banks will handle that transition.” At worst, if the global economy worsened and some Dubai banks failed, there would be a firm crutch to lean on. In the early 1980s, after several Dubai banks stumbled, the government rescued them and relaunched them as the Emirates Bank International. In the early 1990s, two more banks were rescued. At that time, of course, Dubai was far smaller. The repercussions of such a government bailout today would be far more damaging to Dubai’s image as the epicenter of Persian Gulf development.The government cushion appears to be part of the reason most local people do not seem anxious right now. “We don’t worry about it,” said Hassan al-Hassani, 26, a civil engineer and an Emirati citizen, who was drinking coffee late Wednesday night with relatives and friends at a faux-Bedouin-style tent, set up among Dubai’s hypermodern skyscrapers in honor of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. “Maybe it’s good for things to calm down.” A few yards away, guests admired a miniature model of a new residential and commercial Dubai development called the City of Arabia, which includes what will be — if it is really built — the biggest mall in the world. “Sometimes we wonder, will people really come to live in these places?” Mr. Hassani asked. But he quickly brushed off the thought with a smile, reminding his listener that native Emiratis — unlike the foreigners, who make up a majority of Dubai’s 1.3 million residents — have a different perspective. “Remember, 30 years ago almost nobody had phones here,” he said. “There was maybe one tall building. My family only had one car.”
Subject: Re: NEWS OF THE DAY, SUNDAY OCTOBER 5, 2008 Mon Oct 06, 2008 12:23 am
British commander says war in Afghanistan cannot be won
(Agencies) Updated: 2008-10-05 20:16
LONDON - Britain's commander in Afghanistan has said the war against the Taliban cannot be won, the Sunday Times reported.
A British soldier keeps watch at the scene of a suicide car attack in Kabul, August 11, 2008. [Agencies]
It quoted Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith as saying in an interview that if the Taliban were willing to talk, then that might be "precisely the sort of progress" needed to end the insurgency.
"We're not going to win this war. It's about reducing it to a manageable level of insurgency that's not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army," he said. He said his forces had "taken the sting out of the Taliban for 2008" but that troops may well leave Afghanistan with there still being a low level of insurgency.
But Afghanistan's Defense Minister expressed his disappointment on Sunday at the commander's statements, maintaining the insurgency had to be defeated.
"I think this is the personal opinion of that commander," Abdul Rahim Wardak told reporters.
"The main objective of the Afghan government and the whole international community is that we have to defeat this war of terror and be successful," he said.
Wardak said success also depended on how British forces were approaching the problems they faced in Helmand but did not say whether their current strategy was the right one.
Asked if the commander's comments came as a disappointment, Wardak said: "Yes, it is disappointing, for sure."
Britain has around 8,000 troops based in Afghanistan, most of them in the volatile southern province of Helmand, where they face daily battles with a growing insurgency. No negotiations with "invader"
NATO commanders and diplomats have been saying for some time that the Taliban insurgency cannot be defeated by military means alone and that negotiations with the militants will ultimately be needed to bring an end to the conflict.
"If the Taliban were prepared to sit on the other side of the table and talk about a political settlement, then that's precisely the sort of progress that concludes insurgencies like this," Carleton-Smith said. "That shouldn't make people uncomfortable." But a spokesman for the Taliban said on Sunday there would be no negotiations with foreigners and repeated calls made by Taliban commanders for the unconditional withdrawal of the more than 70,000 international troops from Afghanistan.
"They should know that Taliban will never hold talks with the invaders," Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf told the Pakistan-based Afghan news agency, AIP.
"What we had said in the past, we also say once again, that foreign forces should leave without any condition," he said.
Violence in Afghanistan has increased to its worst level since 2001, when US-led and Afghan forces overthrew the ruling Taliban following the September 11 attacks on the United States.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said last week he had asked the king of Saudi Arabia to mediate in talks with the insurgents and called on Taliban leader Mullah Omar to return to his homeland and to make peace.