Foreclosures Are Often In Lenders’ Best Interest
Numbers Work Against Government Efforts To Help Homeowners
By Renae Merle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Government initiatives to stem the country’s mounting foreclosures are hampered because banks and other lenders in many cases have more financial incentive to let borrowers lose their homes than to work out settlements, some economists have concluded.
Policymakers often say it’s a good deal for lenders to cut borrowers a break on mortgage payments to keep them in their homes. But, according to researchers and industry experts, foreclosing can be more profitable.
The problem is that modifying mortgages is profitable to banks for only one set of distressed borrowers, while lenders are actually dealing with three very different types.
With Stubborn Unrest in Swat, Landowners Remain in Exile
By JANE PERLEZ and PIR ZUBAIR SHAH
Published: July 27, 2009
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Even as hundreds of thousands of people stream back to the Swat Valley after months of fighting, one important group is conspicuously absent: the wealthy landowners who fled the Taliban in fear and are the economic pillar of the rural society.
The reluctance of the landowners to return is a significant blow to the Pakistani military’s campaign to restore Swat as a stable, prosperous part of Pakistan, and it presents a continuing opportunity for the Taliban to reshape the valley to their advantage.
About four dozen landlords were singled out over the past two years by the militants in a strategy intended to foment a class struggle. In some areas, the Taliban rewarded the landless peasants with profits of the crops of the landlords. Some resentful peasants even signed up as the Taliban’s shock troops.
Health Policy Now Carved Out at a More Centrist Table
By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN and ROBERT PEAR
Published: July 27, 2009
WASHINGTON – On the agenda is the revamping of the American health care system, possibly the most complex legislation in modern history. But on the table, in a conference room where the bill is being hashed out by six senators, the snacks are anything but healthy.
Last week, there were chippers – chocolate-covered potato chips – described on a sign as “North Dakota Diet Food.” More often, there are Doritos, pretzels, Oreo cookies and beef jerky: fuel to get through hours of talks on topics like the actuarial values of private insurance plans or the cost-sharing provisions of Medicare.
7 arrested in North Carolina on terrorism charges
The men, all but one of whom are U.S. citizens, conspired to wage jihad overseas, according to a federal indictment. The men honed their weapons skills in rural areas of the state, authorities said.
By Josh Meyer
July 28, 2009
Reporting from Washington — Federal authorities in North Carolina on Monday arrested seven men who they said had trained with high-powered weapons as part of a terrorist conspiracy to wage an Islamic holy war overseas.
The men — including a father who, authorities said, trained in jihad camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and his two sons — sought to provide material support to terrorists and to murder, kidnap, maim and injure people overseas, according to a seven-count federal indictment. The indictment did not allege that the group was plotting attacks on U.S. soil.
If convicted, the suspects, all but one of whom are U.S. citizens, could face life in prison.
At least some of the men were willing to die as martyrs, according to the indictment, which described a plot that began in 2006 and lasted until earlier this month.
Aung San Suu Kyi trial adjourned for closing defence case
• Last-ditch effort to get former Burma ambassador to UN to testify
• Pro-democracy leader ‘preparing for worst’ as trial nears end
The Guardian, Tuesday 28 July 2009 02.30 BST
The trial of Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been adjourned until today for her defence lawyers to give their closing response before a verdict is delivered, possibly in two to three weeks.
The Nobel peace prize laureate is charged with breaking the terms of her house arrest by allowing an American man to spend two nights at her home in May. She faces up to five years in prison if found guilty.
Her lawyers were reportedly making last-ditch attempts to call Nyunt Maung Shein, Burma’s former ambassador to the UN, to testify in court. They claim to have proof that he told the UN’s human rights council that Aung San Suu Kyi was being “detained for her own security”.
Malalai Joya: The woman who will not be silenced
Enraged by Taliban oppression Malalai Joya became a women’s rights activist, and after the US-led invasion, took on the new regime as an MP. But speaking out has come at a cost. She tells Johann Hari why death threats won’t stop her exposing ugly truths about Afghanistan.
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
I am not sure how many more days I will be alive,” Malalai Joya says quietly.
The warlords who make up the new “democratic” government in Afghanistan have been sending bullets and bombs to kill this tiny 30-year-old from the refugee camps for years – and they seem to be getting closer with every attempt. Her enemies call her a “dead woman walking”. “But I don’t fear death, I fear remaining silent in the face of injustice,” she says plainly. “I am young and I want to live. But I say to those who would eliminate my voice: ‘I am ready, wherever and whenever you might strike. You can cut down the flower, but nothing can stop the coming of the spring.'”
The story of Malalai Joya turns everything we have been told about Afghanistan inside out. In the official rhetoric, she is what we have been fighting for. Here is a young Afghan woman who set up a secret underground school for girls under the Taliban and – when they were toppled – cast off the burka, ran for parliament, and took on the religious fundamentalists.
Egypt’s tussle at the top
Even if the rumoured election ‘battle’ emerges, the real fight is within the ruling party over protecting the interests of elites
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 28 July 2009 08.00 BST
Egypt’s ageing leader may have defiantly promised to remain in office “until his last breath” but the drumbeat of presidential succession has been growing steadily louder in recent weeks. Hosni Mubarak, now 81, looks increasingly frail and waxen; as the light begins to fade on his pharaonic 27 years in power and his face becomes ever more absent from the day-to-day running of the country, speculation is mounting of imminent change at the top.
Secret Israeli intelligence reports have been leaked, unguarded comments to the Saudi King have been reprinted and phantom websites trumpeting the credentials of potential replacements have appeared. There is, as one Egyptian blogger put it, “something in the air”.
Strike by 150,000 council workers brings South African economy to a standstill
From The Times
July 28, 2009
Jonathan Clayton in Johannesburg
Hundreds of council workers rampaged through central Johannesburg yesterday in a “trash” protest marking the first day of a nationwide strike over wages and benefits by 150,000 municipal employees.
Singing and chanting liberation songs from the struggle era, protesters emptied rubbish bins and scattered litter across the roads as a long column of T-shirt-clad strikers danced and weaved its way through the nearly deserted heart of South Africa’s commercial centre.
Shopkeepers and traders, worried over how recent protests by taxi drivers quickly turned into looting sprees, boarded up windows and closed stalls for the day despite the presence of dozens of well-armed police. Similar demonstrations took place elsewhere in the country.
Robert Fisk: Why does life in the Middle East remain rooted in the Middle Ages?
According to a UN report, the global improvement in living standards has passed much of the Arab world by. Robert Fisk explains why
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Why is the Arab world – let us speak with terrible sharpness – so backward? Why so many dictators, so few human rights, so much state security and torture, so terrible a literacy rate?
Why does this wretched place, so rich in oil, have to produce, even in the age of the computer, a population so poorly educated, so undernourished, so corrupt? Yes, I know the history of Western colonialism, the dark conspiracies of the West, the Arab argument that you cannot upset the sheikhs and the kings and the autocrats, the imams and the emirs when the “enemy is at the gates”. There is some truth to that. But not enough truth.
Once more the United Nations Development Programme has popped up with yet one more, its fifth, report that catalogues – via Arab analysts and academics, mark you – the retarded state of much of the Middle East. It talks of “the fragility of the region’s political, social, economic and environmental structures… its vulnerability to outside intervention”. But does this account for desertification, for illiteracy – especially among women – and the Arab state which, as the report admits, is often turned “into a threat to human security, instead of its chief support”?
Israel sees more US ‘understanding’ on Iran’s nukes
Defense Secretary Robert Gates reassured Israelis that the offer to talk to Tehran isn’t open-ended, but some caution that Obama’s basic policy on the issue has not changed.
By Joshua Mitnick | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
TEL AVIV – In Jerusalem on Monday, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates assured anxious Israeli officials that the window for dialogue on Tehran’s nuclear program isn’t open-ended.
“The president is certainly anticipating or hoping for some kind of a response [from Iran] this fall, perhaps by the time of the UN General Assembly [in September],” said Secretary Gates in a joint press conference with his Israeli counterpart, Ehud Barak.
The Obama administration from the start signaled its strong interest in a dialog with Tehran, and has reiterated that position – albeit in more muted tones – despite mass protests over Iran’s disputed June 12 election. But Gates’s comments have been interpreted by analysts and officials here as evidence of a growing US-Israeli understanding on confronting Tehran.
“Despite the differences over the settlements with Obama, the postelection upheavals in Iran and Khameni’s more radical image have brought Washington and Jerusalem closer together on the issue of Iran,” says Meir Javedanfar, coauthor of The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran. “This has helped Jerusalem’s cause that the threat posed by the Iranian regime needs to be addressed.”
Wildfires blaze around southern Europe
Firefighters are starting to contain wildfires that have raged across southern Europe. Continued high temperatures around the Mediterranean however, are turning forests dry and creating conditions for more fires.
The worst affected countries were Spain, France and Italy and most of the blazes in those nations are now under control, but firefighters continue to remain on alert.
As an example, a fire that was thought to be under control near the Spanish town of Las Hurdes flared up again due to strong winds and that forced the evacuation of more than 500 people. The blaze burned over 500 hectares.
As temperatures remain high, Spain’s interior ministry has kept the country on high alert for more wildfires. The national weather office has issued an “orange” alert, the second highest level, for 24 provinces.
Spanish officials said that roughly 24,000 hectares have been burned and six people have lost their lives over the last week.
UK urged to reveal ‘torture’ file
A human rights charity has begun a legal fight to force the UK government to reveal what it knew about an alleged CIA “rendition flight” in 2002.
The BBC Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Reprieve is to bring a case on behalf of a man who says he was tortured in Egypt after being flown there via the British territory of Diego Garcia.
Iqbal Madni, who was freed from Guantanamo Bay last year, claims he was tortured during a CIA interrogation.
The Foreign Office said the UK condemned torture “unreservedly”.
Last year, Foreign Secretary David Miliband admitted Diego Garcia had been used for rendition flights, but the UK government has so far refused to reveal what else it knew about the flights.
Reprieve is taking legal action to obtain the release of UK government information relating to the flight involving Iqbal Madni, who spent six years in Guatanamo Bay detention camp.