Riordan backs charter school

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.miss achievement at LAUSD high schools. The independently operated charter called the New Millennium Secondary School, would open in September 2008 with no more than 150 ninth-graders. If more than 150 students apply, the school would schedule a lottery to award slots. Eventually, organizers said, 10th, 11th and 12th grades will be added. The school – operated by a five-member board – plans to pay teachers more than Los Angeles Unified and will layer technology into classroom lessons. “Every child deserves a high quality education, and every parent deserves to choose the best school for their child,” Riordan wrote in an e-mail. “I am supportive of the New Millennium Secondary School and the plan to provide a new, high-quality school choice to Carson parents.” CARSON: Among the selling points are higher teacher pay and smaller class sizes than LAUSD. By Paul Clinton STAFF WRITER Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan has signed on with a group planning a start-up public charter high school in Carson to offer students an alternative to the crowded hallways and hit-and- Organizers plan to submit their application to Los Angeles Unified in November. The school’s goal to assign each student a computer would give it a technological edge over LAUSD high schools. As another selling point, classes would typically have no more than 25 students so teachers could spend more one-on-one time with them. For the 2006-07 year, Carson High averaged 30.4 students per class. Offering teachers a higher salary than the $43,000 paid to first-year fully credentialed teachers in LAUSD has brought a chilly response from the district and United Teachers Los Angeles. “What we clearly see in these charters is a high turnover rate and a deprofessionalization of the profession,” said A.J. Duffy, UTLA president. “We know in a lot of charters, teachers are asked to work eight to 10 hours a day and on weekends. The money does not offset the amount of work they’re being asked to do. And if they don’t do the work, they’re fired.” Rebecca Bunn, the project’s coordinator, said the school wouldn’t prevent teachers from forming a union and said the board would negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with them if they did. “Our goal is not to burn out teachers,” Bunn said. “We plan to pay them well and give them a lot of resources to do their job. We’re giving them the working conditions they say they want.” While Riordan won’t accept a seat on the board, he could give financial support. He has provided funding to charter operators Green Dot, the Alliance for College Ready Public Schools and KIPP. At least one local educator, Walter Clark, is expected to earn a seat on the board. Clark is the community services director of Carson-based Bridges Community Economic Development Corp. Tony Kline, the deputy to former U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay Frank Baxter, is also expected to be named to the board. The school’s organizers are pitching the school as a more efficient learning environment than LAUSD schools. “Three of the high schools in that area are in the bottom 10 percent of the state (academically),” Bunn said, referring to Carson, Gardena and Compton high schools. Nevertheless, officials who discussed the school at an Oct. 16 City Council meeting have yet to embrace it. “You can’t just put out a notice and say we’ll pay you more money,” said Mayor Jim Dear, a substitute teacher in LAUSD. “That’s not really the right approach.” Council members Lula Davis-Holmes and Mike Gipson, a UTLA organizer, hosted a town hall meeting on Oct. 3 to announce the idea to the community. Riordan spoke about the school then. Gipson said he hasn’t made up his mind. “My position is we want to make sure charter schools coming up include a collective bargaining agreement,” Gipson said. “It serves a great purpose for teachers to be represented.” The school would lease space when it opens, then look to build a permanent school in the city, Bunn said. A location hasn’t been identified. Operating with the LAUSD charter would give it autonomy to dictate how curriculum is taught, but students would still be required to learn California academic standards. Charter schools in the LAUSD attendance boundary have averaged 680 on the state’s 1,000-point achievement scale compared with 644 for LAUSD high schools. After four years, organizers say, enrollment would top out at no more than 600 students. The roll-out mirrors the approach taken by the Port of Los Angeles High School, a charter mounted by San Pedro civic leaders now in its third year. Some local students and parents have embraced Carson’s idea at the same time that their education leaders are turning their heads. “I think it’s necessary because the (existing) schools have so many students,” said Lorena Lopez, whose eighth-grade son Paulo attends Carnegie Middle School. “Maybe another school would have more space.” Joje Santomin and C.J. Medina, Carnegie eighth-graders who live in northeast Carson, said they’ll apply for intra-district permits to attend Torrance High. If they’re not accepted, they said they’d consider the charter school. “It would be like a Catholic school,” Santomin said. “Carson High School is too crowded and has too much violence.” Carson High School (3,466 students) offers the lone public option for parents within city limits. Depending on where they live, however, they may also attend Banning High in Wilmington or Narbonne High School in Harbor City. As a third public option on the horizon, Los Angeles Unified plans to build an 1,809-seat high school at Santa Fe Avenue and Carson Street in Long Beach for Carson students. The school would open for the 2011-12 year. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

2010 Human Development Index rankings

first_imgSouth Africa has improved its position on the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP’s) Human Development Index released today in New York. South Africa is considered a medium development country and was ranked 110 (out of 169) in the latest report. This was a marginal improvement from 129 (out of 189) year-on-year.The Human Development Index (HDI) is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of “human development” and separates developed (high development), developing (middle development), and underdeveloped (low development) countries in three broad areas covering life expectancy, education and per-capita GDP (as an indicator of standard of living).“While Brand South Africa works to lift the profile of South Africa’s global competitiveness around the world, it is always mindful of the broader reputation drivers and the context these bring to a purely investment driven conversation by our stakeholders. Reports like the HDI are important in this light, not just because they inform reputation, but also because they inform perceptions of future investment potential for our country in terms of a healthy and educated work force capable of a high level of productivity,” said Brand South Africa CEO Miller Matola.South Africa’s overall HDI score experienced gradual improvements between 1990 and 2005. Since 2005, its overall score has remained stable and continues to trend in line with the global average. “South Africa ranks eighth out of the broader Sub-Saharan region, behind that of Tunisia, Libya, Botswana, Algeria, Gabon and Namibia. However, South Africa performs well in the region when assessing the levels of multidimensional poverty, where it is scored the best,” he said.Multidimensional poverty is a measure of serious deprivations in the dimensions of health, education and living standards that combines the number of deprived with the intensity of their deprivation. In Sub-Saharan Africa South Africa has 3% of its population living in some form of deprivational poverty relative to a country like Niger which has 93%.Among emerging markets which make up the BRIC structures, South Africa performed ahead of India (ranked 119) and behind Brazil (73), Russia (65) and China (89).  “It is important to contextualize South Africa’s development alongside other emerging markets to ensure that not only our economic growth but our people dimensions are enhanced at a similar rate to other comparable nations,” said Miller Matola. Endslast_img read more

Equal-Opportunity Feather Ruffling

first_imgIt seems as though the National Green Building Standard, and NAHB in general, have been getting a lot of heat here and elsewhere lately, so I think it is time to ruffle the feathers of LEED for Homes and the USGBC. In my work providing certification under both programs, I have uncovered many of their deep, dark secrets. Both have very specific requirements and unique gaps that will be addressed in detail in future articles on GBA. In the meantime, just to keep things interesting, I thought I would review some of the features of LEED for Homes that read somewhere between confusing and incomprehensible.A balancing actAs I understand it, the initial goal of LEED for Homes was to have a total of 100 available points to earn. While this makes a certain amount of sense (we do, after all, score lots of things on a 0 to 100 scale), it proved to be too much of a challenge, and the program ended up with a 45- to 136-point range. Obtaining certification at the different levels—Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum—requires a range of points, determined by house size and number of bedrooms. As LEED has fewer points available than other programs, each of those points becomes extremely valuable when seeking certification. What’s the point?This shortage of available points has caused some significant imbalances in their value. For example, if you install a $10 timer on a bath fan, you get a full point. If you hire a third-party inspector to perform a flow test on that same fan, and if it tests out within specs, you get another point. The first one is simple, cheap, and guaranteed, while the second is complicated, expensive, and, if the flow test doesn’t meet the equipment requirements, you don’t even get the point. Both practices are highly recommended, but there is a significant disparity in the cost/benefit ratio.“Point shopping” in the certification process is common. Builders start with the least expensive points, then they go for the more expensive ones until they get to the level they are seeking. This practice seems to be exacerbated by the relatively few points available.Curiouser and curiouserTo me, the most curious requirement in LEED for Homes is the prerequisite on material use. The builder must develop a “lumber waste factor,” an ill-defined document showing that he/she did not overorder framing materials. While I agree that avoiding waste in the construction process is very important, I have yet to find a satisfactory explanation for this requirement. It would be very interesting to see research showing that this requirement actually has an effect on the amount of job-site waste.Gaming the systemEach project also requires a climate- and project-specific “durability plan,” including a risk evaluation form and an inspection checklist. In theory, this makes sense, but in practice, the durability plan can be subject to “gaming” by the builder, either intentionally or through ignorance.One major problem with the durability plan is that there are no requirements for standard exterior moisture control measures. The project team creates its own durability plan, and if it is decided to omit critical measures such as a weather-resistant barrier or window flashing, the project still could receive LEED Home certification. This is not very likely, but it certainly could happen if someone either chose to game the system or just didn’t know any better. In my capacity as a Green Rater on LEED Homes, I have seen many incomplete durability plans, almost all because the project team was ignorant of the LEED program.Results not yet inAs LEED for Homes is still fairly new, and the Green Building Standard even newer, we will have to wait for a critical mass of certified projects before we can pass judgment on the true value of either. In the meantime, however, I think it is important to bring these issues to the attention of the industry and the sponsoring organizations. As they revise their programs, we can only hope that they listen to the end users and incorporate good suggestions. And I always enjoy ruffling feathers. RELATED ARTICLES GBA Encyclopedia: LEED for HomesWhy Is the U.S. Green Building Council So Out of Touch?It’s 2012 — Do You Know Where Your LEED for Homes Is?How to Cheat* at LEED for HomesNew Urbanist Andres Duany Lashes Out at LEEDGreen Building Programs Got Some ’Splainin’ to Do LEED-H Clarifications Raise More Questions Than They Answerlast_img read more

Diversification and Dollar-Cost Averaging: Time-Tested Investment Strategies

first_imgMonth 4$ 50.00$ 5.0010.00 Purchase investments, such as mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, that contain diversified portfolios of stocks and/or bonds Total$300.00 Month 3$ 50.00$ 5.0010.00 Purchase a lifestyle mutual fund that includes three asset classes- stock, bonds, and cash- in varying proportions. Investment companies generally offer several portfolios within these funds, each with a different amount of risk. For example, a growth portfolio would hold more stock as a percentage of assets than a moderate growth portfolio. By Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, oneill@aesop.rutgers.eduMany military families are faced with investment decisions, such as whether or not to participate in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) available to service members or fund an IRA for retirement savings or a 529 plan for their children’s college savings. Some are new to investing and may have many questions about how to get started and how to succeed.Two time-tested investment strategies are to diversify and dollar-cost average. Diversification means spreading your money among different investments to reduce the risk of loss from a decline in any one investment. There are several easy ways to diversify investments:Place money in different asset classes (e.g., stocks, bonds, cash, and real estate), a strategy known as asset allocation For more information about diversification and dollar-cost averaging, visit the eXtension Investing For Your Future home study course. Month 2$ 50.00$ 8.006.25 Month 1$ 50.00$10.005.00center_img Month 6$ 50.00$10.005.00 Choose different investments within each asset class (e.g., stock from different industries) Month 5$ 50.00$ 8.006.25 Time PeriodRegular InvestmentShare PriceShares Acquired Purchase a lifecycle (target date) fund that manages money toward a future year (e.g., 2040) and generally reduces the percentage of stock and level of risk in the fund as the target date is approached. An example is the L fund in the TSP.Dollar-cost averaging is the practice of investing equal amounts of money (e.g., $50) at a regular time interval (e.g., monthly), regardless of whether the value of investments is moving up or down. A common example is the amount that workers contribute to a tax-deferred retirement plan each pay period. Another is monthly deposits that are automatically debited from a bank account and transferred into a mutual fund investment plan.Dollar-cost averaging reduces average share costs over time. Investors acquire more shares in periods of declining share prices and fewer shares in periods of higher prices. When dollar-cost averaging is practiced over long time periods, time diversification reduces investment risk. A simple illustration of dollar-cost averaging can be found in the table below. The average cost per share is $7.06 ($300 in deposits divided by 42.50 shares).Illustration of Dollar Cost Averaging 42.50 Purchase well-diversified stock and bond index funds that track broad market indiceslast_img read more

Tutorial Roundup: Color Grading in FCPX

first_img2. Final Cut Pro X Basic Color GradingCreated By: Matthew PearcePart 1: Basic Color CorrectionsIn part one of his two-part color grading tutorial, Matthew Pearce shows us how to create a cross-processed and sunset look in FCPX. Along the way he shows us how to use some of the basic color adjustment tools in FCPX.Part 2: VideoscopesIn the second part of his two-part series, we take a look at how to read various videoscopes in FCPX. Videoscopes are incredibly important if you are sending your video out for broadcast. However, they are only a tool. Even if you think your waveforms look a little strange, the end result may still look nice. 3. Following a Proper Color Correction WorkflowCreated By: lynda.comIn this lesson from, we learn how to color correct and grade in FCPX from the well-spoken Ashley Kennedy. This tutorial focuses on what your workflow should look like. The tutorial is actually part of a larger tutorial series about FCPX on 5. Color Grading with MasksCreated By: Monocle Pig ProductionsWhen it comes to getting a professional color grade, a mask is your best friend. Masks allow you to isolate small portions of the frame so you can apply color changes without applying them to the entire frame. This tutorial shows us how it’s done. 6. Order of Operation WorkflowCreated By: Color Grading CentralIn this tutorial from Color Grading Central, we take another look at the order of operations you can use when color correcting and grading. The tutorial outlines a three-step process which Denver uses to grade all of his footage. The tutorial is very practical in application. If you follow his steps, you’ll be grading like a pro in no time.Know of any other awesome color grading tutorials? Share them in the comments below!center_img 4. Final Cut Pro X Color Grading Tutorial: Popular LooksCreated By: Denver RiddleOne of the cool things about color grading in FCPX is the ability to save color presets. In this tutorial from Denver Riddle on behalf of Color Grading Central, we take a look at how to create a few popular looks using presets in FCPX. The tutorial outlines how easy it is to save and manipulate presets in FCPX. Color Grading in FCPX is easy, thanks to the software’s powerful built-in tools. Learn how to do it with these helpful tutorials from around the web.Good color and professional-quality projects go hand in hand. While it’s not always necessary to use a program like DaVinci Resolve, you should at least give your footage some basic color grading before you send it to a client. So if you’re new to grading, these video tutorials will tell you everything you need to know to start color grading in FCPX.1. Final Cut Pro X – Color Grading TutorialCreated By: Zach KingThere’s a reason why they call him “The King.” In this tutorial from Zach King, we take a look at how to adjust saturation, vignettes, contrast, and exposure in FCPX. Most notably, the tutorial will show you how to simulate an ND filter using only digital tools.last_img read more

Profit on Every Deal

first_img Get the Free eBook! Learn how to sell without a sales manager. Download my free eBook! You need to make sales. You need help now. We’ve got you covered. This eBook will help you Seize Your Sales Destiny, with or without a manager. Download Now “We are losing money on every transaction, but we’re going to make it up in volume.”There are a lot of ways to rationalize taking business that isn’t profitable.Maybe you take unprofitable business in a new vertical where you believe you need a client to develop your offering as well as a reference.Perhaps you believe that taking one really bad order where you can’t make money will unlock the better, more profitable business.Maybe you believe that all business is good business; that it’s revenue, and any revenue is better than nothing.These are all rationalizations. No matter how good it feels to capture revenue, there isn’t a single reason to take business at break even, or worse, at a loss.Empty CaloriesRevenue without profit is “junk food” business. You’re consuming calories, but there is no nutritional value. Profit is what allows you to invest in your business.You need profit to grow and expand. You need profit to hire more people. Profit is what allows you to innovate, to create, to develop new offerings that allow you to create even greater value.And it is profit that allows you to differentiate. It is that money that you invest into doing things differently be it better products, better service, or greater caring. It’s profit that fuels these things.Selling Isn’t Supposed to Be EasyThe reason some sales organizations take business at a loss is because selling isn’t easy. They try to make selling easier by removing price from the equation–even when they create value worth paying for.Unprofitable business makes everything more difficult. Without profit, business is a cold, transactional, desperate endeavor, a grind in the older, negative sense of the word. Profit allows you to do purposeful, meaningful work that makes a difference. It also allows you to hire people to help you do the same.last_img read more

Modi a boxer who punched his coach Advani, says Rahul

first_imgCongress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday used the analogy of boxing to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an election rally in Haryana’s Bhiwani, known for producing world-class boxers.Mr. Gandhi, while campaigning for party candidate Shruti Choudhry, said the people of the country placed “boxer Modi”, who boasted of a 56-inch chest, in the ring in the last Lok Sabha election thinking he could fight unemployment and corruption.“Instead, he [Mr. Modi] ended up punching his own guru [coach] Lal Krishna Advani and then went after his colleagues Arun Jaitley and Nitin Gadkari,” said Mr. Gandhi, adding that the Prime Minister then hit the common people with “demonetisation and Gabbar Singh Tax”.“Now people are saying that they do not want this boxer. He does not even know who to fight. Mr. Prime Minister, you were not supposed to fight the people of India and not even the Opposition. You were supposed to fight poverty, unemployment and problems of the farmers. You have cheated this country over the past five years,” said the Congress president.NYAY promise Mr. Gandhi alleged that Mr. Modi had deposited “thousands of crores of rupees” in the accounts of businessmen Anil Ambani, Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi, but the Congress in its manifesto has promised to transfer ₹72,000 per year into the bank accounts of 20% of the most poor people in the country through the minimum income scheme — NYAY. “This money will go straight into the accounts of women. They can take better care of the money. Their budgeting is better,” said Mr. Gandhi, amid applause.last_img read more

a month agoLeicester boss Rodgers on Maddison: I understand draw of Man Utd

first_imgLeicester boss Rodgers on Maddison: I understand draw of Man Utdby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveLeicester City boss Brendan Rodgers concedes he could lose James Maddison to Manchester United in January.Since his arrival in the Premier League, the England U21 international has continued to impress, with reports suggesting that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is keen to land the playmaker. Rodgers, who became manager of the 2015-16 Premier League champions in February this year, conceded that keeping hold of his £70m-rated star man may prove difficult. He said: “I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been at Liverpool where I understand the draw of that type of club. Liverpool and Manchester United are two of the biggest clubs by far. “There’s other great clubs, there’s big clubs, but those two, in terms of worldwide status, are above the other clubs.” TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

a month agoMan Utd midfielder Mata full of praise for Wan-Bissaka: I’ve never seen any player like him

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Man Utd midfielder Mata full of praise for Wan-Bissaka: I’ve never seen any player like himby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United midfielder Juan Mata is full of praise for Aaron Wan-Bissaka.The defender has made an instant impact since joining from Crystal Palace in the summer.Mata told The Times: “He’s very, very good in defensive duties, very good in tackling.“I’ve never seen any player like him, he’s unbelievable.“Even in training you think you’re past him and then he comes and takes the ball straight. He has very long legs! I can only see him improving.“Like Anthony, he’s a shy, reserved guy but confident on the pitch.” last_img

By Marin Katusa Casey Research

first_imgBy Marin Katusa, Casey Research There is little that would rock the oil world more than a revolution in Saudi Arabia. But with a coming leadership crisis, it is becoming all too likely. Saudi is facing major economic challenges as dramatic increases in social spending and domestic fuel consumption eat through the kingdom’s all-important oil revenues. Saudi Arabia is smack in the middle of the Middle East, an ever-tumultuous region currently rocking and rolling more than usual as the Arab Spring challenges longstanding autocratic assumptions, while war-torn Syria and defiant Iran tip the delicate Sunni-Shia religious balance in the world’s most important oil region. While the House of Saud might present itself as a stable, strong, and cohesive royal family, in truth the king and his successors are growing old and incapacitated in a throne room full of competing contenders. Meanwhile, the only other organized social group in the country – the Islamists – are waiting just outside the door. Want to see oil at $300 a barrel? To see $300/bbl oil, or to watch the news as Saudi troops attack Tehran, or to see a stranglehold on US oil imports, watch what a failed succession battle in the House of Saud that ends up destroying the whole family and ushering in an Islamist age in Saudi Arabia would do to the price of oil. It could happen sooner than you think. A Shaky House of Saud The king of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Aziz bin Saud, is almost 90 years old. In Saudi Arabia’s royal system, the throne passes not from father to son but from brother to brother. The problem with the system is that none of King Abdullah’s brothers are exactly young and full of vigor. Crown Prince Salman, next in line to the throne, is already 76. He got the Crown Prince nod after two of his elder brothers died. The remaining brothers now average 80 years of age. A king who ascends the throne in his seventh or eighth decade is unlikely to have the energy or even the time to enact significant reforms. And reforms are needed. I’m not pushing democracy – Saudis don’t generally want democracy. What I’m talking about are the endemic problems that are battering the world’s biggest oil producer: high unemployment, a corrupt bureaucracy, a crippled economy, a weak education system, and a society full of frustrated youth. While the country crumbles, the three pillars that have long supported the royal family are also weakening. Massive oil revenues, which have long been used to buy public support, are being squeezed by sharply increased domestic demand. The Wahhabi Islamic establishment that supported the House of Saud is increasingly fractious and is losing credibility. And the royal family itself is struggling to maintain its rock-solid façade after losing two crown princes to old age in just a few years. The country’s foreign relations are little better. The Middle East is in turmoil, and Saudi Arabia’s longstanding alliance with the United States is in distress. Alongside these tangible problems is a multitude of intangible challenges that are revolutionizing the country. The regime used to control the population by controlling access to information, but of course that age is now almost over. The Internet has connected young Saudis with the rest of the world, and that worldview is prompting them to question some of the rules of their society. Even the religious establishment in Saudi Arabia is seeing its power eroded. Young Saudis are increasingly independent, using the Koran to guide their decisions without following specific decrees from a particular religious leader. The fact is, Saudi society today bears little resemblance to the passive masses of just a decade ago, and a decade from now the difference will be even bigger. Trying to lead his country through these modern challenges is a 90-year-old king, backed by a 76-year-old crown prince and their octogenarian brothers. Not surprisingly, it’s not working very well. New Battles, Old Tactics When the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt sparked protests in Saudi Arabia, the protesters were not demanding democracy or trying to oust the royal family. No, the young Saudis who filled those streets had more basic demands. At the top of the list is jobs – 60% of Saudi’s citizens are under the age of 20, and the unemployment rate for young adults is nearly 40%. These young people want to be given the opportunity to better themselves and their country, but instead they cannot find work and live on government handouts. Adding fuel to the fire, those handouts have been shrinking. Saudi Arabia’s population has skyrocketed in the last half century. In 1972 the country had 6 million inhabitants; by 1992 that number had climbed to 17 million; and today there are 28 million Saudi Arabians. Oil incomes have climbed too, but not nearly apace. As such the government has been struggling to keep the population appeased with fewer dollars per head every year. The population keeps growing, and each person in the kingdom keeps using more oil. The result: shrinking oil revenues have to go further. It’s not a recipe for success, but when you’re 89 years old, you go with what has worked in the past. And that is precisely what happened in the wake of the Arab Spring: King Abdullah drowned the protestors in money – a $130-billion social-spending package that built new housing, increased payrolls, and boosted unemployment payouts. Saudi Arabia’s entire annual budget is just $180 billion, so the king almost doubled spending to appease the protestors. This tactic cannot work forever. Even in Saudi Arabia there is only so much oil money. The Saudi royals already need an oil price of at least $80 a barrel to support all their social programs, and with domestic oil consumption rocketing upward, that baseline price will keep climbing. But the unrest continues. The Summer of Saudi Discontent After King Abdullah offered billions of dollars in social spending, many protestors went home… except in the country’s oil-rich eastern provinces, where the protests never stopped. For the last 18 months Saudis in the eastern Qatif region have been demonstrating regularly, demanding the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression, and an end to ethnic and religious discrimination. When Saudi security forces turned on the demonstrators last November, killing five, the protests took on a distinctly anti-Saud tone. In June, King Abdullah ordered the country’s security forces to go on a state of high alert due to what he called a “turbulent situation” in the eastern region. The unspoken side to the situation is that the turbulence is distinctly religious. Most Saudis are Sunni Muslims, and Sunni Islam is the only allowed religion in the country. However, 15% of the country’s inhabitants are Shia, and they have faced direct and indirect persecution for decades. Guess where the Shia live? In those turbulent, oil-rich eastern provinces. That is one aspect of Saudi discontent. But there are more. For example, last week Saudi security forces raided al Qaida cells in Jeddah and Riyadh. Evidence recovered during the raids supports the suspicion that a new branch in the Arabian Peninsula is gathering momentum for a wave of attacks. The royal family is at the top of their list of targets. Toppling the House of Saud would be a major victory for al Qaida, simply because of the instability that would ensue. All told, between external threats, internal divisions, and domestic struggles, the Saudi royal family looks very unstable indeed. So what would happen if the House of Saud crumbled? Remember, religion is the only social structure in Saudi Arabia. There are no political parties, unions, or social organizations, aside from a few charities run by members of the royal family. Were the House of Saud to fail, the only candidates ready to step up would be the Islamists. The shift to Islamist rule in Egypt has made the world pretty nervous. Longstanding allegiances are in limbo, and long-term relationships are changing. Imagine if it happened in Saudi Arabia. Islamist leadership in Saudi would not be the moderate, democratic version we’re seeing in Egypt. The Islamists in Saudi Arabia are Wahhabi Muslims, who practice the strictest and most conservative version of the religion. I can see these imams making several moves. First, a Saudi Arabia led by Wahhabi Islamists would not stay at peace with the Shia Islamic Republic of Iran. Both branches of Islam believe the other has strayed so far from the path that its followers are infidels. Odds of open war between Saudi Arabia and Iran would shoot sky-high the moment Islamists took power in Saudi Arabia. Even worse, a Wahhabi Islamist Saudi Arabia might well turn its strongest weapon against the infidels of the West – by turning off the oil taps. It would be the 1973 oil crisis all over again, but in an even more oil-dependent world. The price of oil shot up 300% in six months during the oil crisis. Today, that would mean an oil price of $300 per barrel. It would also mean the end of the era of friendly US-Saudi relations… and the demise of the petrodollar. That is a story in itself – one of great significance to anyone who owns US dollars. I have discussed previously how a US-Saudi deal to only use dollars to trade oil created a deep pool of support for the US’s currency – and what will happen if the petrodollar dies. The short version is that as the global oil trade moves away from US dollars into yuan, yen, rubles, and pesos, the world would have yet another reason to devalue the dollar. Expensive oil, open Sunni-Shia war in the Middle East, the loss of one of the world’s biggest oil producers as a stalwart ally, and an inevitable increase in religious politics across the Arabian Peninsula – such are the likely outcomes if the House of Saud comes tumbling down. It is not inevitable. There are 7,000 princes in the Saud royal family, the result of multiple wives and lots of progeny. In that mix there is undoubtedly a prince with the right mix of progressive thought and religious reverence to lead Saudi Arabia through its succession and into the future. But whenever a throne room is that crowded, it is very easy for a brawl to break out, depriving that perfect prince of his chance and giving the Islamists their opening. Either way, oil investors with the right picks in their portfolio will prosper, and the Casey Research energy team will be available to guide you along the way.last_img read more