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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Wow! April snow in Kuwait!

What a scene. I just found this on the front page of the Alqabas newspaper and was shocked to see so much ice as a result of yesterday’s powerful storm that took out trees around the country and brought much traffic to a standstill.

There was a wall of wind and dust that dramatically swooped upon central Kuwait’s major urban areas but did not get far beyond to the southern areas such as Fahaheel and its neighbors.

In our lot alone were three partially fallen trees among the wreckage.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

obscure kuwaiti history - alsamita

maybe i'm a little bit behind on my modern kuwaiti history, but i looked up this incident after hearing a reading a brief reference to it and found it quite interesting partially because I don't think I ever heard of it before:

"Against this background, another important inci- dent occurred in March 1973 when Kuwaiti and Iraqi troops became engaged in a border clash at an Iraqi military installation inside Kuwait at al Samita.63 The Iraqi soldiers had been stationed within Kuwaiti territory since 1969 with the passive acceptance of the Kuwaiti government on the grounds that this presence was a temporary response to Iraqi problems with Iran. In March 1973, Baghdad attempted to expand this presence and perhaps make it permanent leading to a skirmish in which two Kuwaiti troops and one Iraqi soldier were killed. Kuwait responded to the incursion by declaring a state of emergency, closing the border, and recalling its ambassador to Iraq."

i took this passage out of a document i found on the web titled "KUWAITI NATIONAL SECURITY AND THE U.S.-KUWAITI STRATEGIC RELATIONSHIP AFTER SADDAM" that looks like an interesting read in itself.

when it comes to kuwait's history, it seems that there's no single and/or definitive source of information especially given the rather volatile geographical position the country occupies and the colorful neighbors its had. any useful links and sources are welcome.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

investment and deposit

reading a piece by paul krugman in the op-ed section of todays IHT led me to think about how investing has evolved around the world in recent years for the average middle class person.

the culture of stock market investing has been a direct beneficiary of the increased exposure of people to 24 hour financial channels, commercially oriented exchanges with hefty marketing budgets and vanity for better or for worse. its become a matter of pride to say one owns 'investments' here or there even thought they are very little understood.
regardless of the reasons for the increased allure and exposure to stocks, statistics have repeatedly shown that the participation of people in equities will only continue to increase. Krugman argues that non-depository institutions in the US have continued to be exempt from much regulatory oversight that has been a part of the conventional banking (deposit taking) institutions since the great depression with the enactment of the FDIC and contingent controls.

even though I am not a fan of regulation as a fail safe measure, I think that enough 'average' people that would traditionally have kept their savings in a bank or similar fixed income instrument now consider the stock market to be a viable and comparable option with the little concern for the excess risks involved. Of course over the long term the stock markets move gradually upward but in quite a lumpy way and as a whole - two principles that the aforementioned 'average' investors do not seem to follow. in fact, if anything, they seem to want to trade daily and with concentrated bets mirroring a casino mentality.

normally I would say they deserve whatever they get themselves into but, given that the ramifications to society could be severe, we must consider providing a level of oversight and regulation to avoid having the whole pay for the few and massive government bail outs at the expense of the taxpayer. america will eventually come to terms and figure it out but it could take a while and require committed leadership not present in the current outgoing administration.

in kuwait we have seen the disaster that is due to lack of firm and clear policies for dealing with sociocommercial disasters in the souk almanakh crisis of the early eighties. this was a disaster that crippled a generation and whose impact is felt more than twenty years later. imagine the same thing in america but with consequences the world over.