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Yemen takes tough sell message to us businesses


* US ambassador to Yemen says security support "outstanding"* Yemeni businessmen emphasize water, energy, tech* Delegation says Yemen security environment greatly improvedBy Daniel Bases and Herbert LashNEW YORK, Oct 18 It has to be one of the toughest jobs around - trying to sell U.S. businesses on the investment potential of one of the poorest nations on Earth, a country battered by Islamist militants who bomb, assassinate and kidnap. Yet it is a job U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein is taking on by leading a delegation of 10 Yemeni businessmen on a 10-day, five-city tour of the United States."We think there are great opportunities. There's money to be made investing in Yemen," Feierstein, a career diplomat, said on Thursday. This is the first time the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa has organized a Yemeni business delegation to visit U.S. companies. Just last week masked gunmen fatally shot a Yemeni who worked in the security office of the U.S. Embassy, leaving behind a wife and seven children. A month ago the embassy was stormed by protesters angry about an anti-Islam film made in California. The task of promoting Yemen seems daunting and could draw a parallel to the 2011 film "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen," starring Ewan McGregor as a fisheries expert hired by an eccentric sheik to bring fly-fishing to the parched land. Still, the Yemeni business executives, who arrived in New York on Wednesday, presented an upbeat image of their nation."The overall situation in Yemen is improving," said Fathi Abdulwasa Hayel Saeed, chairman of the Yemeni Businessmen Club. "Yes, there are challenges. Yes, there are security issues but Yemen is such a virgin country where there are a lot of opportunities to do business."I think a lot of American companies have been shy from coming to Yemen, while other nationalities like from Europe and Southeast Asia have been coming to Yemen even in the difficult times," Saeed said.

Their itinerary also takes them to Kansas City, Houston, Washington, D. C., and San Francisco.'YEMEN NEEDS POWER' The executives come from the construction, pharmaceuticals, medical and technology industries. However, much of the discussion focused on developing clean water, a precious commodity in the dry Arabian peninsula landscape, as well as renewable energy such as wind and solar power."Yemen needs power to grow the economy," said Wael Zokari, chief executive officer of Griffin International, the technology arm of conglomerate Griffin Group.

"The technology we need comes from the United States," he said. Yemen produces less than half the electricity it needs now, let alone for the infrastructure it wants to build to grow an economy that contracted 10.5 percent in 2011 to under $29 billion. The International Monetary Fund estimates 40 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day and earlier this month forecast economic contraction of 1.9 percent for this year. However, in September nearly $8 billion in international donor pledges were collected to help support the government's budget, which is under severe strains because of frequent attacks on its oil pipelines. According to Feierstein, there is a misperception that Yemen's oil and gas production is "going to run dry over the next few years."

He said oil companies, including major U.S. producers, are interested in taking another look at the country because much of it has never been explored. A survey by Houston-based oil and gas consultant Knowledge Reservoir is under way to calculate more accurately its gas reserves, a U.S. State Department official traveling with the delegation said. POLITICAL TRANSFORMATION The storming of the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa occurred in conjunction with the violence on Sept. 11 in Libya in which the U.S. ambassador to Libya, another diplomat and two U.S. security men were killed in an attack on the consulate in Benghazi. Asked if he has enough support on security in Yemen, Feierstein responded: "Yes. Absolutely. I would say specifically that the support we have gotten from Washington, the State Department, from (U.S.) Central Command, the White House, which oversees or certainly watches these things, has been outstanding."There's never been a time where we came and asked for support where the support wasn't forthcoming."Yemen still is rattled by violence, often claimed by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and U.S.-led drone attacks on militants. But the executives highlighted a political transition that is holding despite militancy, while international donors have pledged billions of dollars to help rebuild the country. In February, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the sole candidate to replaced Ali Abdullah Saleh, was sworn into office. Saleh ruled Yemen for three decades with an iron fist but was pushed out by months of street protests sparked by the Arab Spring. The hope among the executives, the U.S.-backed government, and Washington is that much like McGregor's fictional movie character, who saw his project blown up by local militants, they, like the salmon, will survive.

Your money when bipolar disorder leads to extreme shopping


(The writer is a Reuters contributor. The opinions expressed are his own.)By Chris TaylorNEW YORK, June 19 For some people, overspending might mean ordering the lobster or splurging on an extra pair of shoes at Macy's. For Julie Fast it's different. The Portland, Oregon, author woke up one day and decided to go on a trip to China. She obtained a visa, hopped on a flight, enrolled in language school and was conversing in Mandarin within weeks. Along the way, she blew through around $10,000. Shortly after that, and partly as a result of the impromptu and costly spree, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Wild overspending often goes along with the manic highs that, when interspersed with depressing lows, characterize the disorder, which afflicts roughly 5.7 million Americans."When you have manias, that voice of caution is literally taken away. It is gone," says Fast, 49, who co-wrote the book "Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder" and helped advise actress Claire Danes for her role as a federal agent afflicted with bipolar disorder on the popular TV series "Homeland."One sufferer she knows impulsively spent $40,000 on a piece of art. Another bought an entire mini-mall - the whole building and the shops within it."I have known people who have used up their whole 401(k)s, who have gambled it all away, who have taken their kids' college money," she said. At the time, "it feels so good that you don't even worry or feel guilty."WHEN SPENDING IS A SYMPTOM Overspending is one of the primary tip-offs that someone is in a manic state, experts say.

"Typically when folks become manic, they get overconfident and lose the ability to evaluate the consequences of their actions," says Dr Jair Soares, chairman of the psychiatry department at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. "In that mind-state, when it comes to spending, they are bound to get into trouble."Then, of course, there is the crash. In a depressed state, those with bipolar are actually unlikely to spend much money at all, since they are often cocooned at home. But at that point they have to deal with the consequences of their previous overspending."If they bought a $10,000 watch, they might try to return it," says Dr Igor Galynker, director of the Family Center for Bipolar at New York City's Beth Israel Medical Center. "Or they might try to hide the purchases, or get that money back by gambling on other investments."And those morning-after bills and bad feelings don't just flow to the bipolar spender; their families feel the pain too.

BEST DEFENSE A GOOD OFFENSE Once a mania is in full effect, it is very difficult to rein in. That is why the most powerful way to limit overspending is to recognize the signs of an approaching mania and take action early. If your bipolar partner starts talking about splurging on extravagant trips or cashing out a 401(k) to fund a new business, it is likely time to apply the brakes. Check to make sure they have been taking their medication, get them to a doctor if possible, and involve any existing support network to help your partner stick to the plan."That might involve confiscating their credit cards, taking their car keys for a while, keeping them at home so they don't get into trouble," said Soares. "Otherwise they might take out a lot of debt that they won't be able to pay back later."

SET SPENDING CAPS Keep relatively low borrowing limits on your credit cards, and consider not having the name of the bipolar disorder sufferer on all of the family spending accounts. Julie Fast prefers to pay cash for everything. In extreme cases, when one partner in a marriage is likely to spend all the family savings in short order, consider setting up preventative measures with your banker."You can go in and say, 'If you see more than $500 going out of my account, please contact my partner," advises Fast. "Those kind of checks and balances can stop you from spending like crazy."SEEK SPECIALIZED HELP You can also seek out the right support team to help navigate these issues. In addition to your own mental-health professional, you could seek additional counseling from a therapist who specializes in money matters. When it comes to financial planning, look for an adviser who understands the condition and is comfortable talking about it. That is not always easy to do, says Celia Brugge, a principal with Dogwood Financial Planning in Memphis, Tennessee, who recently advised a couple in their 30s in which the husband was bipolar. By doing a little digging, Brugge discovered both partners grew up in families where money was never discussed. When Brugge opened the lines of communication, the husband found the ability to talk to his partner when he felt the urge to splurge, and was able to get his manic spending under control.