Update as of 0700 Eastern Time:
Bottom Line Up Front:
2. Women in Bamian
3. British Comments
From the NY Times (Economy):
Stocks tumbled Monday in Europe and Asia, and oil fell below $90 for the first time since February as fears grew that the financial crisis is spreading to the world economy.
European markets slid at the opening, a day after governments were left scrambling to prevent the collapse of two lenders, Hypo Real Estate in Germany, and the Belgian operations of Fortis. The German government also said Sunday that it would guarantee all private bank deposits as it sought to avert the spread of the financial contagion.
In late morning trading, the FTSE 100 index in London was down 5.6 percent, while the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 index, a barometer of euro zone blue chips, fell 4 percent. The DAX was down 5.5 percent in Frankfurt and the CAC-40 lost 5.9 percent.
It has become common for banking sector shares to fall this year, but on Monday, shares of industrial companies were also hammered, with EADS, the parent of Airbus, falling 7.5 percent, ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steel maker, falling 8.6 percent, and the German automaker Daimler down 5.8 percent. British Airways slid 10.3 percent.
Total, the French oil company, slipped 4.5 percent on heavy volume, as oil futures for November delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell as much as $3.92 to $89.96 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Royal Dutch Shell fell 5 percent.
“People are really disappointed by the inability of Europe to react on a concerted basis,” said Andrew Popper, a fund manager at SG Hambros in London. “It’s still very much a country by country approach. There is also a realization that we haven’t seen any effects on economic growth so far but that now is starting and that’s having an effect on non-financial shares.”
BNP Paribas, which acquired a majority stake in Fortis for about $20 billion in an emergency deal late Sunday, was unchanged, while shares of Fortis were suspended. Trading in Unicredit, the big Italian bank, was delayed for an hour after the bank said late Sunday that it would seek about $9.1 billion in new funding and cut its earnings outlook. And Hypo Real Estate, the second-biggest German mortgage lender, fell 28 percent in Frankfurt after it received a new $68 billion bailout Sunday from German banks and the national government in Berlin.
From NY Times (Women):
Far away from the Taliban insurgency, in this most peaceful corner of Afghanistan, a quiet revolution is gaining pace.
Women are driving cars — a rarity in Afghanistan — working in public offices and police stations, and sitting on local councils. There is even a female governor, the first and only one in Afghanistan.
In many ways this province, Bamian, is unique. A half-dozen years of relative peace in this part of the country since the fall of the Taliban and a lessening of lawlessness and disorder have allowed women to push the boundaries here.
Most of the people in Bamian are ethnic Hazaras, Shiite Muslims who are in any case more open than most Afghans to the idea of women working outside the home.
But the changes in women’s lives here are also an enormous step for Afghanistan as a whole. And they may point the way to broader possibilities for women, eventually, if peace can be secured in this very conservative Muslim society, which has been dominated by militia commanders and warlords during the last 30 years of war.
In a country with low rankings on many indicators of social progress, women and girls are the most disadvantaged.
More than 80 percent of Afghan women are illiterate. Women’s life expectancy is only 45 years, lower than that of men, mostly because of the very high rates of death during pregnancy. Forced marriage and under-age marriage are common for girls, and only 13 percent of girls complete primary school, compared with 32 percent of boys.
The cult of war left women particularly vulnerable. For years now they have been the victims of abduction and rape. Hundreds of thousands were left war widows, mired in desperate poverty. Particularly in the last years of Taliban rule, even widows, who had no one to provide for them, were not allowed to work or leave the home unaccompanied by a male relative.
From the Times Online (British):
Britain's most senior military commander in Afghanistan has warned that the war against the Taliban cannot be won. Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith said the British public should not expect a “decisive military victory” but should be prepared for a possible deal with the Taliban.
His assessment followed the leaking of a memo from a French diplomat who claimed that Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British ambassador in Kabul, had told him the current strategy was “doomed to fail”.
Carleton-Smith, commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, which has just completed its second tour of Afghanistan, said it was necessary to “lower our expectations”. He said: “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.”
The brigadier added: “We may well leave with there still being a low but steady ebb of rural insurgency . . . I don’t think we should expect that when we go there won’t be roaming bands of armed men in this part of the world. That would be unrealistic and probably incredible.”
Carleton-Smith insisted that his forces had “taken the sting out of the Taliban for 2008”. But his brigade has sustained heavy losses in the southern province of Helmand in the past six months, with 32 killed and 170 injured. In an interview with The Sunday Times, he added his voice to a growing number of people arguing that the conflict in Afghanistan could be resolved only through a political settlement that could include the Taliban.
“We want to change the nature of the debate from one where disputes are settled through the barrel of the gun to one where it is done through negotiations,” Carleton-Smith said.
“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. That shouldn’t make people uncomfortable.”
Last week Gulab Mangal, the governor of Helmand, said the Taliban controlled more than half the province despite the increased presence of British forces.
I will be discussing Afghanistan this evening. More to follow:
God Bless America
Sphere: Related Content
Obama Admin request $2.34 Million per Troop in Afghanistan
28 minutes ago