It's good to be a sheikh in Dubai

I liked this straight talk from Boeing spokesman Charlie Miller, referring to complaints that Dubai's Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum was able to jump ahead of other customers waiting to buy jumbo jets:

A lot depends on who the customer is," said Charlie Miller, a Boeing spokesman. "Clearly, if you are Emirates [the international airline of the United Arab Emirates], you deal with them differently," he said.

Boeing has a backlog of 3,600 planes, but the sheikh needs his 54 jets in time for the 2009 launch of FlyDubai, his new low-fare airline.

I have to wonder, though, just why anyone would want to be in the airline business right now. Virgin's Richard Branson is predicting "spectacular casualties" in the industry. Why not just scoop up an American carrier when it inevitably goes under, or get into, say, the potash mining business instead?


Morning Brief: Banks take a pounding

Top Story


The world's stock markets were not impressed by the U.S. government's rescue plan for mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In California, bank customers lined up for blocks to withdraw their money from IndyMac, a bank that collapsed last week.

Analysts are now scrutinizing other regional banks for weaknesses. As Pimco's Bill Gross put it, "They seem to have picked on the regional banks as potential candidates to be the ones too small to bail out." Shares of Washington Mutual and National City banks have been hit particularly hard, and overall, the S&P 500's banking index had its worst day ever Monday.

Decision '08

Referring to this week's controversial New Yorker cover, the LA Times asks, "If Obama's campaign is upset by a magazine satire, what will it do when the real attacks begin?" Newsweek's Jonathan Alter says the cover is "indisputably harmful to the Obama campaign." Bill Carter of the New York Times muses about why it's so tough to joke about Obama.

John McCain told the National Council of La Raza that immigration reform is his "top priority."

Global Economy

The U.S. dollar fell to a new low against the euro.

General Motors is gearing up for a fresh round of job cuts.

Global warming could cause a rise in kidney stones.


The first Guantánamo interrogation video has been released, and it's must-see TV.

U.S. President George W. Bush lifted a 28-year ban on offshore drilling.


The growth in China's foreign-exchange reserves slowed dramatically in June.

In a border dispute, 40 Thai troops have crossed into Cambodia.

NASA's top administrator says that China could reach the moon by 2020.

Middle East and Africa

More than 35 people were killed in Baquba in a suicide attack on police recruits.

U.S. Gen. David Petraeus said that conditions will determine when U.S. troops levels can be draw down further.

Security concerns prompted Tony Blair to cancel a trip to Gaza.


Industrial production in the eurozone is falling at the fastest rate in nearly 16 years.

Syria's Bashar al-Assad was the toast of Paris this week.

Belgium's prime minister has offered to resign.

Today's Agenda

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson appear before the Senate Banking Committee.

The United Nations is bracing for anti-U.N. protests in Khartoum.

The U.N. Security Council discusses Chad and the Central African Republic.

Yankee Stadium hosts baseball's All-Star Game.