Monday, February 18, 2019

PLATT - CURATED News

GENERAL INTEREST
The Secret History of Women in Coding
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/13/magazine/women-coding-computer-programming.html

The Truth About Failing Spectacularly
See the Wall Street Journal article, below.

1927 Packard Found in Abandoned Philadelphia Factory Sitting for Over 40 Years
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0mJ9N8tYdI

Future Megaprojects - Tunnel | Russia and Alaska (Extreme Engineering) Documentary
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mkLkakif9w

HEALTH
Toasters may expose you to more pollution than a busy intersection
https://nypost.com/2019/02/16/toasters-may-expose-you-to-more-pollution-than-a-busy-intersection/?utm_campaign=iosapp&utm_source=mail_app

BUSINESS
Fact-check: Does Amazon pay '$0' in taxes?
https://www.yahoo.com/news/fact-check-does-amazon-pay-no-us-federal-231838691.html

ENVIRONMENT
A Wendell Berry Solution to Cory Booker’s Problem 
https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/02/family-farms-save-americas-land-water-communities/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=WIR%20-%20Sunday%202019-02-17&utm_term=WIR-Smart

SMOLLETT
Jussie Smollett reportedly insisted on TV appearance after attack
https://pagesix.com/2019/02/17/jussie-smollett-reportedly-insisted-on-tv-appearance-after-attack/?utm_campaign=iosapp&utm_source=mail_app

IMMIGRATION
With Trump’s Tough Deterrents, Many Asylum Seekers on the Border are Giving Up
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/16/us/border-migrants-asylum-mexico-aclu.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

Report: Mexican Authorities Relocate Caravan Riders Staying Near The U.S. Border
https://townhall.com/tipsheet/bethbaumann/2019/02/16/report-mexican-authorities-relocate-caravan-riders-staying-near-the-us-border-n2541604?utm_source=thdaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nl&newsletterad=02/17/2019&bcid=3cb4e56ddeac8885c78e874bb1d8f1a4&recip=27077809

THE WALL
Trump’s Emergency Declaration Is Contemptuous of the Rule of Law
https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/02/trump-emergency-declaration-contemptuous-of-rule-of-law/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=WIR%20-%20Sunday%202019-02-17&utm_term=WIR-Smart

'This crisis is real and a potential threat to every American': Alaska governor offers Trump use of his National Guard to patrol US-Mexico border 3,000 miles away
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6714235/Alaska-governor-Mike-Dunleavy-offers-Trump-use-troops-3-000-miles-away-Mexico-border.html


-- 
"You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – 
which you can never afford to Lose – with the discipline to confront
the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be."
        - VAdm James Stockdale, USN (1923-2005)

FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (without permission)  See links for full stories

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-truth-about-failing-spectacularly-11550293225?emailToken=0d179d8af2395276228059aa6334032d3BOaD1CQnxTVjbFuQwucLYwEte7Ed8MziJNrCY+np1UG+7ZcLqgKdXkODNPIpp3/1qXU1J/n6FE6Q3qQ4vyPkNkxYshWDVuDw0KefiLbQRs%3D&reflink=article_email_share

The Truth About Failing Spectacularly

Did a lack of experience sink the MS Explorer—and the Los Angeles Rams?


The legendary polar cruise ship the MS Explorer sank in Antarctica in November 2007.
 Photo: Alamy
Feb. 16, 2019 12:00 a.m. ET
Twelve years ago, the world’s most renowned polar cruise ship, the MS Explorer, set out from a deep-water port in Argentina toward the icy, treacherous waters of Antarctica.
The ship’s 154 passengers and crew had every reason to feel secure. With its class-1A ice-reinforced hull, bow thrusters and brawny diesel engines, the Explorer had been safely ferrying tourists through extreme polar environments since 1969. It was the first cruise ship ever to navigate the Northwest Passage.
What they couldn’t have imagined is that 12 days later, on a remote stretch of the Southern Ocean, they would feel a jolt, followed by the sickening sound of rushing water. Or that four hours later, in the frigid dead of night, with the ship listing at 20 degrees, the captain would order every last person into the lifeboats.
Write to Sam Walker at sam.walker@wsj.com
Appeared in the February 16, 2019, print edition as 'Sending Inexperience Into a Storm.'

PLATT - CURATED News

GENERAL INTEREST
Air New Zealand Flight 901 (What a c_____rf__k!!)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_New_Zealand_Flight_901

What Your Packing Style Reveals About You
https://www.aarp.org/travel/travel-tips/packing/info-2018/packing-style.html

Honda Ridgeline Recalled for Carwash Sensitivity
https://www.yahoo.com/news/honda-ridgeline-recalled-carwash-sensitivity-192300295.html

HEALTH
'Zombie' deer disease is in 24 states and thousands of infected deer are eaten each year, expert warns
https://start.att.net/news/read/article/usa_today-zombie_deer_disease_is_in_24_states_and_thousands-rgannett/category/news

FINANCIAL
California town trials universal basic income program and will give a 130 residents $500 for the next 18 months to see if it'll combat poverty
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6711491/California-town-trials-universal-income-handful-residents-500-year.html

ENVIRONMENT
Bill Gates Warns of the Dangers of Trucks, Cement and Cow Farts 
https://www.ecowatch.com/bill-melinda-gates-climate-change-2629057461.html

$1,973 LEDs and the Green New Deal
See the first Wall Street Journal article, below.

Gas Shortages Give New York an Early Taste of the Green New Deal
See the second Wall Street Journal article, below.

FOREIGN POLICY
Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job
https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/430369-heather-nauert-withdraws-her-name-from-consideration-for-un

WALL 
A national emergency has been declared. Now what?
https://www.yahoo.com/news/national-emergency-declared-now-215120644.html

National emergency or power grab?
https://www.yahoo.com/news/national-emergency-power-grab-030334296.html

Here’s how Trump wants to pay for the border wall after invoking a national emergency 
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-how-trump-wants-to-pay-for-the-border-wall-after-invoking-a-national-emergency-2019-02-15

Trump’s End Run
https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/02/trump-national-emergency-declaration-bypasses-congressional-spending-power/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NR%20Daily%20Saturday%202019-02-16&utm_term=NRDaily-Smart

TRUMPGATE
Collusion: The Criminalization of Policy Disputes 
https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/02/trump-russia-collusion-investigation-criminalization-policy-disputes/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NR%20Daily%20Saturday%202019-02-16&utm_term=NRDaily-Smart

POLITICS
How the Democrats Went Nuts in Three Months 
https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/02/democrats-went-crazy-in-three-months/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NR%20Daily%20Saturday%202019-02-16&utm_term=NRDaily-Smart

What to Do About the Rebirth of Socialism 
https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/02/what-to-do-about-rebirth-of-socialism/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NR%20Daily%20Saturday%202019-02-16&utm_term=NRDaily-Smart

-- 
"You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – 
which you can never afford to Lose – with the discipline to confront
the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be."
        - VAdm James Stockdale, USN (1923-2005)

FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (without permission)  SEE LINKS For full WSJ story

https://www.wsj.com/articles/1-973-leds-and-the-green-new-deal-11550274408?emailToken=c11645f88d25155c32935f23690d987faxsRvSMi5qUFkheOcXUxzCFhAsKxvnIKPjyGEIwOPA7I4GpY5QigH6Ht7dTjyot4KQ4GPbYhIeQP8tq1Z85ZoQ%3D%3D&reflink=article_email_share

$1,973 LEDs and the Green New Deal

How many union workers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Feb. 15, 2019 6:46 p.m. ET

A new mural of freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in Manhattan.
 Photo: G. Ronald Lopez/Zuma Press
The Green New Deal that Democrats unveiled last week has a grand ambition to eliminate fossil fuels in 10 years, retrofit every building in America, and guarantee high-paying jobs in the bargain. If you want to see how that works in the real world, consider the public housing projects near Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s New York office.
*********************************************************************************************
https://www.wsj.com/articles/gas-shortages-give-new-york-an-early-taste-of-the-green-new-deal-11550272395

Gas Shortages Give New York an Early Taste of the Green New Deal

The state is dependent on imports even though it sits atop the abundant Marcellus Shale.

Feb. 15, 2019 6:13 p.m. ET

A gas refinery in Marcus Hook, Pa., July 11, 2012. 
Photo: Matt Slocum/Associated Press
The combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling—sometimes known as the “shale revolution”—has enabled Texas, Pennsylvania and other states to produce record quantities of natural gas, some of which is being frozen, loaded onto giant ships, and transported to customers in places like Chile, China and India. Thanks to the environmental policies of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York has missed out on this windfall.

Less than two weeks after Con Ed announced the moratorium on new gas connections, the utility announced it would seek an 11% hike in residential natural-gas rates and a nearly 6% increase in residential electricity rates.
Policies have consequences. The moratorium on gas connections in Westchester is one of the knock-on effects of the antihydrocarbon policies of the Cuomo administration, and consumers will be forced to pay the bill.
Mr. Bryce is a Manhattan Institute senior fellow and producer of the forthcoming documentary “Juice: How Electricity Explains the World.”

PLATT - CURATED News

GENERAL INTEREST
News Quiz: Test Your Knowledge of the Week’s Headlines (9 out of 11 ... missed Grammys and Rappler)
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/02/15/briefing/15weeklynewsquiz.html?emc=edit_ne_20190215&nl=evening-briefing&nlid=5893540820190215&te=1

HEALTH CARE
Voters are souring on 'Medicare for all'
https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/voters-are-souring-on-medicare-for-all-180225270.html

BUSINESS
A billion-dollar empire made of mobile homes
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/a-billion-dollar-empire-made-of-mobile-homes/2019/02/14/ac687342-2b0b-11e9-b2fc-721718903bfc_story.html?utm_term=.05599f2323c1

Payless ShoeSource to shutter all of its remaining US stores
https://start.att.net/news/read/article/the_associated_press-payless_shoesource_to_shutter_all_of_its_remaining-ap/category/finance

TECHNOLOGY
5G and the FCC: 10 Reasons Why You Should Care
https://www.ecowatch.com/5g-and-federal-communications-commission-2628949483.html

CYBER SECURITY
Software pirates exploit feature in Apple's App Store to upload fake versions of popular apps like Spotify and Minecraft to iPhones
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6703049/Software-pirates-use-Apple-tech-hacked-apps-iPhones.html

Deepfake videos: Inside the Pentagon’s race against disinformation
https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2019/01/business/pentagons-race-against-deepfakes/

Revolutionary AI fake text generator is 'too dangerous' to release: Project backed by Elon Musk won't publish its research for fear of potential misuse
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6705699/Computers-write-wrong-news-stories-researchers.html

NATIONAL SECURITY
In Germany, a Cold War Deal to Host U.S. Nuclear Weapons Is Now in Question
See the Wall Street Journal article, below.

BORDER SECURITY
If Trump declares an emergency, here’s where the money to build a border wall might come from 
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/if-trump-declares-an-emergency-heres-where-the-money-to-build-a-border-wall-might-come-from-2019-02-14

Declaration raises fears of legal battles, constitutional crisis 
https://washingtontimes-dc.newsmemory.com/?token=7ef39d294c5e15e5a0e2946cbfd12b3f_5c67028c_5cd1fdb&selDate=20190215&goTo=A01&artid=0&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=washingtontimes-E-Editions&utm_source=washingtontimes&utm_content=Read-Button

BIG BROTHER
Google is telling police where your phone was
https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/google-is-telling-police-where-your-phone-was

SCOTUS
Ginsburg back at Supreme Court
https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/430168-ginsburg-back-at-supreme-court?userid=288549

Supreme Court to Hear Case on Census Citizenship Question
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/15/us/politics/supreme-court-census-citizenship.html?a=&emc=edit_ne_20190215&nl=evening-briefing&nlid=58935408_ne_20190215&te=1

TRUMPGATE
Mueller recommends Manafort serve at least 19 years in prison
https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/430302-mueller-recommends-prison-time-for-manafort

POLITICS
Trump gets a Republican primary challenger as former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld signals he's entering 2020 campaign and blasts president as 'too unstable' to be re-elected
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6709065/Trump-gets-Republican-primary-challenger-Bill-Weld-soft-launches-campaign.html

Sherrod Brown Is Not an Idiot 
http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0219/lowry021519.php3

Poll: Capitalism Trounces Socialism Among American Voters
https://townhall.com/tipsheet/guybenson/2019/02/15/fox-news-poll-capitalism-trounces-socialism-trump-approval-rises-n2541497?utm_source=thdailypm&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nl_pm&newsletterad=&bcid=3cb4e56ddeac8885c78e874bb1d8f1a4&recip=27077809

-- 

"You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – 
which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront
the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be."
        - VAdm James Stockdale, USN (1923-2005)

FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (without permission)  full story at WSJ LINK

https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-germany-anger-at-trump-throws-cold-war-nuclear-pact-into-question-11549976449?emailToken=b06228ebdaf3d0638baef4c739a8657cA8cAw+GZrsRysXJFF4dksFD+opGkpyUbNvp7qdq7yxEn39LDUIsQj8ry+OVFsaNzkuz5GWvw9ja7KoEy9Iv3fJyhNG0NcR4MiaghKXRMK2CxnSHsLnkM92Ijq1+gqEJ2/3KDZwB4BxWHeNsDy8RJMg%3D%3D&reflink=article_email_share

In Germany, a Cold War Deal to Host U.S. Nuclear Weapons Is Now in Question

Debate about U.S. nuclear weapons in Germany flares up for the first time since the 1980s


Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Trump attend a commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day in Paris in November 2018.
Photo: benoit tessier/Reuters
Feb. 12, 2019 8:00 a.m. ET
BERLIN—German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling partners are reconsidering their support for a decadesold arrangement that puts Germany under the U.S. nuclear shield, a development that could further undermine the country’s already-tense relationship with the Trump administration.
The center-left Social Democrats, or SPD, have appointed a commission to re-evaluate their positions on strategic, foreign and security policy, including the merits of “nuclear sharing,” a Cold War-era agreement under which German warplanes would be used to launch U.S. nuclear weapons in case of a Russian attack on Europe, a senior party official said.
The deliberations came partly as a result of President Trump’s withdrawal from a treaty with Russia that regulates the presence of nuclear missiles in Europe, according to SPD officials. The U.S. plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty after accusing Russia of violating it for years.

see wsj

Write to Bojan Pancevski at bojan.pancevski@wsj.com

Thursday, February 14, 2019

PLATT - CURATED News

Photo of NC boys pausing in road to honor raising of US flag gets national attention
https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article226080525.html

GENERAL INTEREST
20 Heartwarming Dog Quotes That Perfectly Describe Your Fur Baby
https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/20-heartwarming-dog-quotes-perfectly-175600075.html

Watch as man releases a giant rat inside McDonald’s
https://nypost.com/2019/02/11/watch-as-man-releases-a-giant-rat-inside-mcdonalds/?utm_campaign=iosapp&utm_source=mail_app

The DRONA lisa! Artist lights up the night sky by using a drone to draw elaborate shapes like Pikachu and the Batman symbol in only 15 MINUTES
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6694741/Vincent-van-DRONE.html

HEALTH
Feb 2019 Ebola Update: Cheery Thoughts
https://raconteurreport.blogspot.com/

HUMOR
They won't be going on the fridge! Amused parents share unintentionally hilarious works of art by their children - depicting 'wine o'clock' and rogue chin hair
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-6690565/Hilarious-pictures-reveal-innocent-kids-drawings-no-idea-rude-are.html

The News in Zingers 
http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0219/hamilton.php3

FINANCIAL
California to pull plug on billion-dollar bullet train, cites ballooning costs
https://www.foxnews.com/politics/california-to-pull-plug-on-billion-dollar-bullet-train-cites-ballooning-costs

National debt tops $22 trillion for the first time as experts warn of ripple effects
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/02/12/national-debt-tops-22-trillion-first-time-ever/2849978002/

The Biggest Economic Divides Aren’t Regional. They’re Local. (Just Ask Parents.)
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/12/upshot/the-biggest-economic-divides-arent-regional-theyre-local-just-ask-parents.html?emc=edit_ne_20190212&nl=evening-briefing&nlid=5893540820190212&te=1

The Green New Deal Versus Rural America 
https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/02/the-green-new-deal-versus-rural-america/

CLIMATE CHANGE
The Tiny Swiss Company That Thinks It Can Help Stop Climate Change
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/12/magazine/climeworks-business-climate-change.html?emc=edit_ne_20190212&nl=evening-briefing&nlid=5893540820190212&te=1

TECHNOLOGY
Opinion: Amazon wants to control your entire house after Eero acquisition
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/amazon-wants-to-control-your-entire-house-after-eero-acquisition-2019-02-11

Ordnance survey's DRONE mapping project: Pilotless planes that fly at 67,000 feet, run on solar power and stay aloft for months at a time will observe anywhere in the world in a single flight
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6695051/Ordnance-Survey-launch-solar-powered-drone-fly-90-days-time.html

Web monitoring system gives parents control over a child's internet access and can remotely shut down their connection wherever they are
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6691673/iKydz-lets-parents-monitor-schedule-childrens-internet-access.html

DEFENSE
Her Title: Cryptologic Technician. Her Occupation: Warrior.
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/08/us/shannon-kent-military-spy.html?emc=edit_nn_p_20190212&nl=morning-briefing&nlid=58935408ion%3DlongRead&section=longRead&te=1

LAW AND ORDER
Devin Nunes: Task force combing through transcripts for criminal referrals in FBI bias investigation
https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/devin-nunes-task-force-combing-through-transcripts-for-criminal-referrals-in-fbi-bias-investigation

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer Calls ICE an 'Essential Agency'
https://townhall.com/tipsheet/laurettabrown/2019/02/11/house-majority-leader-steny-hoyer-calls-ice-an-essential-agency-n2541192?utm_source=thdaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nl&newsletterad=02/12/2019&bcid=3cb4e56ddeac8885c78e874bb1d8f1a4&recip=27077809

IMMIGRATION
Hungarian Official Says Their Country's Border Fence Works, Defends Tough Stance on Immigration 
https://townhall.com/tipsheet/laurettabrown/2019/02/12/hungarian-official-says-their-countrys-border-fence-works-defends-tough-stance-on-immigration-n2541334?utm_source=thdailypm&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nl_pm&newsletterad=&bcid=3cb4e56ddeac8885c78e874bb1d8f1a4&recip=27077809

NKOR
North Korea has produced enough bomb fuel for up to seven new nuclear weapons during denuclearization talks, study reveals ahead of second summit between Trump and Kim
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6694183/North-Korea-nuclear-bombs-threat-reduced-study.html

SAUDI ARABIA
Where Is Crown Prince Mohammed?
See the second Wall Street Journal article, below.

FEMINISM
Not 'All Americans' Are 'Proud That We Have More Women in the Workforce Than Ever Before'
https://townhall.com//columnists/dennisprager/2019/02/12/not-all-americans-are-proud-that-we-have-more-women-in-the-workforce-than-ever-before-n2541207?utm_source=thdailypm&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nl_pm&newsletterad=&bcid=3cb4e56ddeac8885c78e874bb1d8f1a4&recip=27077809

Teach Your Boys to Hold Doors Open
https://townhall.com/columnists/kiradavis/2019/02/12/teach-your-boys-to-hold-doors-open-n2541190?utm_source=thdaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nl&newsletterad=02/12/2019&bcid=3cb4e56ddeac8885c78e874bb1d8f1a4&recip=27077809

TRUMPGATE
John Dowd: Mueller Won’t Release a Report Following ‘Fraud’ Investigation 
https://www.nationalreview.com/news/john-dowd-mueller-wont-release-a-report-following-fraud-investigation/

POLITICS
Klobuchar is Trump's worst nightmare 
http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0219/olsen021219.php3

McConnell: Senate Will Vote on ‘Green New Deal’ So All Lawmakers Can ‘Go on Record’
https://www.nationalreview.com/news/mcconnell-senate-will-vote-on-green-new-deal-so-all-lawmakers-can-go-on-record/

Green New Deal: A Cautionary Tale
See the first Wall Street Journal article, below.

Democratic donors stuck in shopping phase of primary
https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/429507-democratic-donors-stuck-in-shopping-phase-of-primary

-- 

"You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – 
which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront
the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be."
        - VAdm James Stockdale, USN (1923-2005)

FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (without permission)  (see link for full story)

https://www.wsj.com/articles/green-new-deal-a-cautionary-tale-11549928511?emailToken=4069c55bcbfb8eada1c1996057ef3ba1eCUCVI523JiIVh3AW5eNUDVX429P7cD1d6/GawUoFnxIMuVCjxWrBeeQnpyrbkA6ZNCNH+hknJeJcJiL2FTYcA%3D%3D&reflink=article_email_share

Green New Deal: A Cautionary Tale

Australia’s costly and fatal 2009 effort to upgrade houses for energy efficiency.

Feb. 11, 2019 6:41 p.m. ET

Batts for insulating ceiling, walls and floors.
 Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Sydney
The Green New Deal—introduced in Congress last week and immediately endorsed by several Democratic presidential candidates—calls among other things for “upgrading all existing buildings in the United States . . . to achieve maximal energy efficiency.” We’ve tried it in Australia—on a much smaller scale—and it didn’t go well.
On Feb. 3, 2009, Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his treasurer, Wayne Swan, announced the Energy Efficient Homes Package. “To support jobs and set Australia up for a low carbon future the Rudd Government will install free ceiling insulation in around 2.7 million Australian homes,” declared a press release from Mr. Swan’s office.
“For a time-limited period of two and a half years, from 1 July 2009, owner-occupiers without ceiling insulation will be eligible for free product and installation (capped at $1,600) simply by making a phone call.” At the time, A$1,600 was worth about US$1,280.
I
.
Mr. Blair is an associate editor at Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.
Appeared in the February 12, 2019, print edition.
********************************************************************
https://www.wsj.com/articles/where-is-crown-prince-mohammed-11549928646?emailToken=39b26ed86930e4b474d28e8a150b61bb8elfXZTYXnIa7lihkIiWMUmU5/0veTu5HlarlcOXmUMuTA4A7sg67w5Yuuk2d9h8jTH22mIf3Naybn8Yk+94KQ%3D%3D&reflink=article_email_share

Where Is Crown Prince Mohammed?

Out of public view, he attempts to control Saudi society with a combination of dread and circuses.

Feb. 11, 2019 6:44 p.m. ET

A portrait of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at a conference in Riyadh, Nov. 14, 2018.
 Photo: FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
This is the winter of Mohammed bin Salman’s discontent. The young crown prince is beset on all sides by problems that would depress or deter most leaders, but there is no sign that his optimism or energy are flagging. Whether sheer determination will be enough to secure his success, however, seems more in doubt than ever.
Many of the crown prince’s challenges come from overseas. His international reputation is stained by the killing of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The U.S. Congress is increasingly determined to block arms sales to Riyadh for its stalemated war in Yemen. Then there’s the Saudis’ festering feud with Turkey, and their cold war with Iran. Finally, a global economic slowdown could erode oil demand, lower prices and diminish the revenue the kingdom badly needs to fund its biggest budget ever.
But the crown prince’s international challenges pale in comparison with those at home. His Vision 2030 plan to transform the kingdom foresees a vibrant private sector to wean the country off its dependence on oil revenues and its citizens off dependence on government. This vision—the product of more than $1 billion in consulting fees—already is proving overly ambitious in scope and time.
Over the past two years, consumer spending has collapsed and more than a million migrant residents have returned to neighboring South Asian countries as a result of the crown prince’s reforms. The Saudi private sector, long dependent on government contracts, was knocked to its knees by the government’s decision to halt contract payments to assess corruption. Riyadh’s moves to slash energy subsidies and raise non-oil revenues—by imposing levies on foreign workers as well as assessing a value-added tax on most sales—have also hit the economy hard.
In the capital, the heady optimism of previous years is giving way to a realization that change won’t be quick or painless. “We are trying to correct 50 years of bad policies in three to five years,” says one businessman. “It can’t be done.” An economist says of the crown prince: “The consultants sold him a development plan that can’t be done on the timetable given. It took South Korea 30 years to develop, why should Saudi think we can do it in 15?”
The crown prince has two responses to the dimming prospects of his reform program. On one hand, he seeks to distract Saudis with circuses. He has imported rock stars for concerts, has started construction near Riyadh of a new entertainment city three times the size of Disney World, and is developing a tourist industry that could open Saudi Arabia for the first time to millions of foreign visitors. These initiatives risk offending the most conservative Saudis while frustrating middle-class families for whom the new entertainment is unaffordable. Tickets to see Mariah Carey perform last month went for $80 to $500. The average office manager earns $4,000 a month but ordinary workers earn half that.
Yet while the crown prince gives with one hand, he takes with the other. Saudi Arabia has never been an open society, but the current government is clamping down on almost every form of actual and potential opposition. The space for public discussion—much less criticism—has over the past two years narrowed to nonexistent, even on social media. A liberal Saudi who used to tweet regularly says he has quit for fear that anything could lead to arrest. A conservative Saudi notes that “such exaggerated security control makes people ready to explode.”
But neither dread nor circuses are solving the problem. One father tells me he abhors that bargain. His teenage son has been in prison for two years because teachers reported to authorities a remark deemed treasonous. “When I visit him, I see Saudi mothers dressed in tight jeans and bare faces visiting their sons in prison,” he says. “I wonder, do they believe the freedom to dress like that is a fair trade for their sons having no freedom to speak?”
To be sure, not all Saudis feel alienated. Young women, especially, enjoy a measure of personal freedom that seemed unimaginable a year ago. More are moving into significant jobs. Crown Prince Mohammed is personally popular with progressive young Saudis who want the kingdom to enter the 21st century. Many have his smiling face as the screen saver on their iPhones.
Even businessmen disappointed with the pace of progress still credit the crown prince with his economic reform—notwithstanding the wreckage in the private sector along the way. The young ruler also has the support of the two men who matter most: President Trump and King Salman, who has given no indication of abandoning his ambitious son.
Since the Khashoggi killing, the king has assumed a more active public role, meeting foreign dignitaries without his son at his side. But by all indications the crown prince remains entirely in control of the levers of power. Government ministers still are hauled in regularly to report to him. Some are fired for failing to meet the targets of the Vision 2030, plan, whose 1,300 initiatives are tracked and reported quarterly to him by a new government entity.
The kingdom’s religious conservatives have been silenced if not entirely subdued. And members of the extended Al Saud family have been reduced to playing roles in a supportive chorus or sitting silently in their palaces. A royal relative as prominent as Prince Al Waleed bin Talal, who once strutted on the Saudi stage, now appears publicly as a hapless courtier. No one has failed to grasp the message the crown prince sent by incarcerating his royal relatives in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in November 2017 and freeing most only after taking $106 billion.
If the royal family is quieted, normal Saudi families face a new type of tension. This is a society in which men traditionally have ruled while women and children obeyed. No longer. Male domination is under challenge as more women seek financial independence. When men object, women can and do cite royal decrees affirming their rights to work and drive without a male guardian’s consent. “On the outside we hear change, change,” says a Saudi sociologist. “But inside the walls of every house there is war about who gets to make decisions.”
This is the winter of discontent not only for the crown prince, but also for the society he rules. Still, the chaos in surrounding states seem to resign most Saudis to grudging patience with their prince.
Ms. House, a former publisher of The Wall Street Journal, is author of “On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines—and Future” (Knopf, 2012).
Appeared in the February 12, 2019, print edition.