Editor's note: With extensive coverage of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, we wanted to bring you a different angle on the city. Read this excerpt from Frommers Travel Guide for a different portrait of the terrorists' target.
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Frommers Travel Guide
Mumbai will bowl you over. Teetering on the edge of the Arabian Sea, its heaving population barely contained by palm-fringed beaches, India's commercial capital, formerly known as Bombay, is a vibrant, confident metropolis that's tangibly high in energy.
Originally home to Koli fisherfolk, the seven swampy islands that today comprise Mumbai originally commanded little significance. The largest of the islands was part of a dowry given by Portugal to England, which promptly took control of the six remaining islands and then leased the lot to the East India Company for a paltry £10. Massive land-reclamation projects followed, and by the 19th century all seven islands had been fused to form one narrow promontory and India's principal port.
Today the city continues to draw fortune-seekers from all over India. More than a hundred newcomers squeeze their way in every day, adding to the coffers of greedy slum lords and placing the city, which already has a population density four times greater than New York City's, on target for a population of 22 million by 2015. As India's economy booms, Mumbai's real estate prices are hitting an all-time high. In early 2007 1,400-square-foot apartments in what's considered a posh Mumbai neighborhood priced at over a million dollars! The effect of this of course is that prices in general have soared as businesses shell out more money for leased properties.
A city with a dual identity, Mumbai is as flamboyantly materialistic as it is downright choked by squalor and social drudgery. The citizens of Mumbai pay almost 40% of India's taxes, yet half of its 18 million people are homeless. While the moneyed groovers and label-conscious shakers retire in luxury behind the security gates of their million-dollar Malabar Hill apartments, emaciated survivors stumble home to cardboard shacks in congested shantytowns or onto tiny patches of open pavement. At every intersection you are accosted by these destitute hopefuls, framed against a backdrop of Bollywood vanity boards and massive advertisements promoting provocative underwear and sleek mobile-phone technology. Feeding into this social schizophrenia are the one-dollar whores, half-naked fakirs, underworld gunmen, bearded sadhus, globe-trotting DJs, and, of course, movie moguls and wannabe starlets.
U.S. businessman in India
Today’s attacks are like terrorists taking over the Waldorf, the Sheraton and the Ritz, then going on a shooting spree in Times Square – and then heading to the Upper East Side.
One of the first indications that something was very wrong came at 10.30pm, when two men were seen brandishing AK-47 rifles and grenades in Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Bombay's magnificent main railway station. Seconds later, passengers were sent fleeing for their lives as the men sprayed the concourse with automatic gunfire. Within minutes, Bombay's security forces were being inundated by news of a horrifying wave of terror attacks across this city of 18 million people.
A five-minute car journey south from the station, next to the Gateway of India, Bombay's most famous landmark, gunmen were storming the lobby of the city's finest hotel: the Taj Mahal Palace. Armed with bombs, they were seeking British and American citizens, witnesses said.
"They were very young, like boys really, wearing jeans and T-shirts," Rakesh Patel, a stunned British guest at the Taj, told an Indian television channel. He said he had been among about a dozen foreigners who had been herded together by two heavily armed men and taken up to the hotel's upper floors.
"They said they wanted anyone with British and American passports and then they took us up the stairs. I think they wanted to take us to the roof," he said. He and another hostage had managed to escape when they reached the 18th floor, he said.
As he was speaking to the camera, there was a loud explosion from the roof of the hotel.
Impact Your World: The global food market’s shelves are getting bare and hunger activists say it will get worse. As the nation marks World Hunger Relief Week, more people are asking: Why are so many people starving and what, if anything, can be done to eradicate hunger? Learn how you can help
Erica Hill | BIO
Thanksgiving is as tied to food drives as it is to turkeys and football. It is the kick-off of the holiday season, when we’re reminded to remember those less fortunate with a can of green beans or a paper stocking at the supermarket. This year, your neighbors need more. And they need it beyond tomorrow.
The people in this country who don’t have enough to eat are your neighbors and colleagues. They may not look like they’re hungry, but hunger doesn’t have a certain look. It doesn’t target one area of the country, one type of person or one socio-economic group. Hunger does not discriminate, and that is what makes the growing number of hungry Americans all the more disturbing.
Last year, 36.2 million Americans were “food insecure” – an official term that sounds generic and clunky, but its meaning is simple: 36.2 million adults and children struggled to find enough to eat. These are parents who may skip meals to feed their children instead, or stretch one meal over a day or even more than one day, because it’s not clear where the next meal will come from. This is more than 12 percent of the population. And when you break down the numbers for children, your heart will break: the number of hungry children in the US rose 50 percent in 2007.
Keep in mind, these numbers are from 2007 – every one I have spoken to since the USDA released the figures last week tells me this year’s numbers will be far worse, and they don’t expect things to improve in 2009. Why? Because in 2007, the economic crisis hadn’t yet begun; people were struggling, but the downturn didn’t dominate the news every night. Banks still had money. The government wasn’t signing off on hundreds of billions of dollars in bailouts. People weren’t looking over their shoulder, worried someone from HR was about to tap them on the shoulder, hand them a box and ask them to please clean out their desk.
Wayne P. Weddington III
Author and hedge fund manager
Forget about fundamentals. This market reminds me of the joke about two guys running from a bear. One asks the other, "Which way are you gonna run?" "Why, are you going to run with me?" the other guy asks. "No," says the first guy, "I don't want to run right over you!"
It is every man for himself right now. And people are running every which way.
Yes, we keep hearing that the current market situation is unprecedented, that it is historic. Well it is. Just look at all of the banks which were household names just a few months ago that either do not exist any longer or look really different (call that smaller), or are part owned by you and me, the taxpayers. These failures are huge.
And hedge funds - though intended to protect the investor from unwelcome swings and losses in bad times - have been decimated. Their failures do not make the news because they are not public companies. But the blood is running a river from Connecticut to New York.
As I walk down the streets of New York, no doubt grumbling aloud to myself, I have become the Scrooge of yore, nearly yelling at people in the streets who are smiling inexplicably. They are gleefully unaware of the impending doom. I feel I need to bring them down a notch.
I have not been spared the rout but my fortune is a tale of two cities. My long/short equity strategy, steeped in fundamental analysis, has suffered a fate similar to the market. It has outperformed the market, mind you, but that is scant consolation when the return has a negative sign in front of it. The sole shiny spot has been my global macro strategy. It has performed exceptionally with a YTD return above 200%. But the swings can drive a man to drink. And I comply.
The first photographs from Mumbai on flickr are coming up. Vinu from Vinu's Online Cloud has uploaded a lot of photographs from the streets of Mumbai.
MumbaiHelp is back online and offering to make call for anyone who can't get through to their families and friends.
Ready for today's Beat 360°?
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Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite!
Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
Shiloh, who has worked for U.S. Customs and Border Protection for eight years and is responsible for about 20,000 interceptions, is applauded by K-9 enforcement officers during his retirement party in the Customs area at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX.
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Everybody is all eyes as Shiloh performs his famous levitation trick for the last time.
Editor's Note: Gail Cunningham is senior director of public relations for the nonprofit National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), Inc.
By Gail Cunningham
Special to CNN
When you sit across the desk from someone with overwhelming debt, you can sense their fear before a word is spoken. And when their home is in jeopardy, the fear fills the room.
I was a credit counselor for 16 years, and quickly discovered that people in debt are very ashamed of their situation.
In all my years, I never counseled anyone who was cavalier about their circumstances, or intentionally sought to dig a deep financial hole. But the shame that accompanies foreclosure tops anything I've ever experienced.
There's something about people losing their homes that is disturbing beyond measure. Failure has become a part of their demeanor.
Editor's Note: Dr. Bruce Weinstein, The Ethics Guy, writes the ethics column for BusinessWeek Online.
Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D.
It's the most wonderful time of the year, indeed. Between Thanksgiving and New Year's you will face two ethical questions: 1) How much should you tip the people who have helped you during the past 12 months? 2) Is it right to give someone a gift you received but don't want?
Here's some guidance grounded in basic ethical principles so you can handle these tricky matters in the right way and enjoy the holiday season, even during this financially stressful time.
Sometimes it's hard to reconcile the spirituality of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and other seasonal celebrations with the crass commercialism that seems to grow every year. Nevertheless, because we have an ethical obligation to express our gratitude where appropriate, and money is one of the most appreciated of all gifts, it can be fitting to give cash to the helpers in our life.
How much you should give depends on three factors:
• How much the person has helped you
• What the relationship means to you
• Your financial position
For someone who looked after your pet only once this year, a handwritten thank-you note or holiday card is appropriate. The person who did this five or six times during your business trips and vacations deserves more than that, so including cash or a check with the note is fair. If your doorman, mechanic, or lawn cutter went above and beyond the call of duty in some way, this too can justify a monetary thank-you.
TIPS FOR YOUR OWN PIGGY BANK
If you don't have the financial resources to say "thanks" with cash, you have a right and an obligation not to give money as a gift. The ethical principle of fairness requires, in part, that we allocate scarce resources appropriately.