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S. having edged closer to energy independence with natural gas and oil shale no longer needed Riyadh the way it once did and was noticeably less attentive More worrying still President Barack Obama unlike other past Presidents was willing to engage persistently with Iran the Saudis chief nemesis Iran despite remaining a thorn in Washingtons side was aligned with the US in its desire to destroy ISIS the Sunni extremists who executed Americans on camera and used Saudi textbooks in their schools Faced with this panorama the young prince quietly but ruthlessly consolidated power in the kind of bold strokes that would have left Niccolò Machiavelli feeling bashful At the time of King Salmans ascension his son was so unknown outside the kingdom that even his age was a subject of speculation (he was 29) yet the new monarch bet everything on him He made bin Salman Defense Minister in charge of what was then the worlds third largest military budget after the US and China and the young prince promptly launched a war pummeling Iran-backed rebels in Yemen He was also named head of Aramco the behemoth state oil company chief of economic development and deputy crown prince The final title designated bin Salman as second in line for the crown behind his 55-year-old cousin Mohammed bin Nayef who famously survived an attack by an al-Qaeda prisoner who detonated a suicide bomb hidden inside his own rectum But bin Nayef was no match for his cousins ambition In June 2017 the king removed bin Nayef as crown prince and replaced him with bin Salman Five months later bin Salman rolled the dice again imprisoning dozens of people including princes aides and businessmen in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh They were accused with corruption though there was no formal legal process and no transparency And at least one aide who died in custody showed signs of physical abuse the New York Times reported "He was far more powerful than people assumed and the opposition was far weaker" says Robert Malley a former top White House official under Obama Allegations of corruption have long been used as a political bludgeon in Saudi Arabia where pilfering from the public till has often been synonymous with royalty In 2001 Prince Bandar al-Sultan publicly estimated that $50 billion had been transferred to royals private accounts since the kingdoms founding Bin Salmans government claimed to recover twice that amount from its captives but he hasnt been shy about his own spending He paid more than half a billion dollars for a yacht and $300 million for a gold-encrusted chteau near Versailles all with money that he insists he earned on his own "If Im corrupted please show me the proof" he says "It is well known that King Salman and his sons and his team they are super clean Everyone in Saudi Arabia knows that" Whether shakedown or rough justice the Ritz episode eliminated his chief political rivals and cemented his power "It was a kind of coup détata bloodless coup détatof the old system" says former ambassador Freeman But it also had the effect of rattling investor faith in the kingdoms stability "All power that had been distributed under the previous constitutional arrangement very widely under a checks-and-balances arrangement has been compressed and concentrated into the hands of one man" says Freeman That in turn undercut bin Salmans revamp of Saudi Arabias economy society and world statusall the things he came to the US to promote Bin Salmans Vision 2030 plan calls for establishing a $2 trillion sovereign wealth fund the worlds largest Half he says would be invested inside the kingdomhe talks enthusiastically about the future of carbon fiber and plans to make Saudi Arabia the world leader in solar energyand half in enterprises abroad He also wants to partially privatize Saudi Aramco in what would likely be the largest initial public offering in history But after the Ritz the IPO came off the calendar and the US tour went on Bin Salman meets with Bill Clinton in New York City Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos in Seattle and Richard Branson in the Mojave Desert Calif Bandar Algaloud—Saudi Kingdom Council/Getty Images; Twitter/SaudiEmbassyUSA (2) In Manhattan the crown prince hit Starbucks with former mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg He wore a blazer and a shirt open at the collar It was full regalia at MIT but a business suit in Seattle for Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates Clothes may not make the man but if your message is modernity and flexibility they say more than "reformer" a label blanched of meaning by its application to a parade of more traditional Saudi royals And bin Salman has turned heads "No one has said what he has been saying in the entire history of the kingdom" says Bilal Y Saab a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute "Its significant" Bin Salman has made some concrete changes In June women will drive on Saudi roads independent from male chaperones Music festivals and movie theaters are opening though questions remain about separate seating for men and women The kingdoms religious police are being reined in In a setting as sterile and controlled as Saudi Arabia these modest changes have generated genuine enthusiasm among activists many of whom had been skeptical of bin Salman The crown prince says the kingdom has to be sufficiently "livable" both to satisfy young Saudis and to attract foreigners to work there He also hopes to draw tourists and announced on April 2 that the kingdom will relax visas for them "I believe in the last three years Saudi Arabia did more than in the last 30 years" bin Salman says But the crown prince also fits into a larger global trend: authoritarianism Bin Salman has taken even greater control of the Saudi media and in the judgment of members of a UN panel has "arbitrarily" imprisoned 60 activists journalists academics and clerics since September Saudi Arabia remains an absolute monarchy the crown prince notes adding that he has no plans to dilute his power in the coming 50 years that he might rule "What we should focus on is the end not the means" he says "If the means are taking us to that end that good end and everyone agrees on it it will be good" Bin Salman says he ultimately wants freedom of speech improved employment economic growth security and stability for Saudi Arabia And he says his absolutist approach is a better means to get it than the chaos that followed the Arab Spring elsewhere in the region The problem for Saudi Arabia the region and the world is that the means are wreaking havoc in the meantime In the name of standing up to Iran bin Salman launched a 2015 air war in Yemen that has cost more than 10000 lives and devastated what was already the poorest country in the Arab world Of the 16749 bombing runs recorded since 2015 by the Yemen Data Project an independent human-rights monitoring group nearly a third targeted nonmilitary sites "You are waiting to die if you are here" says Radhya Almutawakel of the Yemeni nonprofit Mwatana Organization for Human Rights speaking by phone from Sanaa the capital The UN calls it "the worst man-made humanitarian disaster of our time" Bin Salman remains resolute Although he told TIME he does not rule out sending ground troops his priority is that the war remain painless for Saudis "We want to be assured that whatever happens the Saudi people shouldnt feel it" he says "The economy shouldnt be harmed or even feel it So we are trying to be sure that we are far away from whatever escalation happens" The White House so far is happy to play a supporting role in the Yemen war providing intelligence midair refueling and billions of dollars of munitions Houthi fighters inspect the site of a reported airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition that targeted Yemen’s presidential palace in Sana‘a on Dec 5 Mohammed Huwais—AFP/Getty Images For decades "stability" was what the US expected Saudi Arabia to provide in the Middle East But if anything the rapprochement with the White House has emboldened the new regime Shortly after Trump departed Riyadh from his first foreign visit last May the Saudis stunned the world by launching a blockade on Qatar In November bin Salman appeared to make a hostage of Lebanons Prime Minister Saad Hariri for more than two weeks after Hariri announced his resignation in a late-night video during a trip to Riyadh Amid regional and global uproar the Lebanese leader returned to Beirut and recanted his resignation days later The ultimate target in all these adventures was Iran which arms the largely Shiite Houthis in Yemen has warm relations with Qatar and plays a central role in Lebanese politics It is also the great rival of Saudi Arabia both for regional power and leadership of the Muslim world Bin Salman calls Iran the source of every ill in the Middle Eastincluding to many scholars astonishment religious extremism in Saudi Arabia The crown prince dates this extremism to 1979 the year Sunni radicals stormed the holiest site in Islam the Grand Mosque at Mecca and called for the overthrow of the House of Saud on the grounds of insufficient piety In bin Salmans improbable telling the zealots were inspired by the Islamic revolution that had installed a theocracy in Iran a few months earlier Whatever the cause the result was catastrophic Cowed by the accusation of impiety the House of Saud already long-dependent on religious conservatives for moral authority in the country gave them a freer hand The result was a Muslim fundamentalism that coincided with yet another fateful event of 1979: the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan In confronting that Cold War threat the US made what turned out to be a shortsighted move: fighting the Russians by encouraging Muslims to embrace a war against the infidels In that milieu al-Qaeda came into being Historians note that Saudi Arabia itself was founded on a similar bargain In the 18th century the very first Saudi king struck a pact to get the services of the fanatical fighters who followed Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab The allies agreed that the House of Saud would govern the temporal kingdom but spiritual life would be the province of the severe brand of Islam named for its founder Bin Salman claims the severity is overstated: "What Wahhabist" he asks smiling Wahhabism is universal shorthand for the unforgiving brand of Islam that millions of foreign workers have learned in Gulf mosques and that Saudi Arabias ministry of Islam has exported abroad Bin Salman quibbles "First of all Saudi doesnt spread any extremist ideology" he insists "Saudi Arabia is the biggest victim of extremist ideology" Bin Salman says his government is intent on undoing lessons taught by extremists and says he has Islamic doctrine on his side "If someone comes and says women cannot participate in sport" he says "The Prophet he raced with his wife If someone comes and says women cannot do business the wife of the Prophet she was a businesswoman and he used to work for her as Prophet So the Prophets practice is on our side" The kingdom is also softening its public posture toward Israel acknowledging an alignment against Iran that has existed discreetly for years in the realms of intelligence and back-channel diplomacy "We have a common enemy and it seems that we have a lot of potential areas to have economic cooperation" the crown prince tells TIME "We cannot have relations with Israel before solving the peace issue with the Palestinians because both of them they have the right to live and coexist" he says but "when it happens of course next day well have good and normal relation with Israel and it will be in the best for everyone" All this adds up to a different Saudi Arabia one way or another To outsiders the most obvious danger is from bin Salmans impulsiveness in foreign policy The running war in Yemen is the most worrisome example "This was a somewhat immature ill-advised and improvised action" says Stephen Seche former US ambassador to Yemen that "raises questions about whether he can carry out other very ambitious plans" The challenge is to reconcile that and the iron fist he shows rivals at home with the charming fellow flying around the US For all the contradictions few come away from an encounter with bin Salman unaware of the force of his personality intellect and devotion to change "He really is trying to project a certain image and hes worked on it extremely hard" says Saab It is more than enough to give hope to those who want to see the possibility of positive disruption in the Middle East Says the Woodrow Wilson Centers Miller: "I guarantee you that people who this man has sat down with are asking themselves: Whats new in the Middle East Two words: Saudi Arabia" With reporting by Haley Sweetland Edwards Edward Felsenthal and WJ Hennigan/New York and Philip Elliott/Washington Contact us at [email protected] one in five Americans admits to taking some sort of drug every day to help relaxmost of them in states that rate low on the income and happiness scales according to a new survey West Virginians are by far the most likely to take a prescription or over-the-counter drug to chill out with 28 percent of those polled saying they do Alaska appears to be the most naturally laid-back state with just 135 percent saying they use drugs to calm down The rates are probably even higher than that says Dan Witters research director of the… Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News The Brief Newsletter Sign up to receive the top stories you need to know right now View Sample Sign Up Now Contact us at [email protected] more proof that Apple is not quite as secretive as it once was when it thinks openness is in its own interest: The company showed off one of its data centers in Sparks Nevada to Wired’s Stephen Levy for a good piece on its renewable-energy efforts They’re led by Lisa Jackson a former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Ninety-four percent of the power at Apple’s corporate campus and server farms is now renewable provided by sources such as solar wind and hydroelectric energy One hundred percent of the power at Apple’s own data centers — it also uses co-location facilities owned by others — is renewable Both Google and Facebook are also aiming for 100% renewable data centers but have a long way left to go However since Apple unlike those companies is primarily a producer of physical objects being environmentally correct involves a different set of challenges and a lot more than data: Aluminum is huge for Appleits the main material in laptops phones and iPads Thus the impact of mining and processing that metal makes up for a substantial part of Apples carbon footprint Thats why Jackson took notice last year when an engineer told her that he felt something wasnt right with the way Apple measured that impact Later a second engineer reported similar suspicions In her telling Jackson could have dismissed this disquiet by noting that Apple was simply conforming to the standard methods of measuring the damage in a given process But she encouraged efforts at Apple to revisit those standards Indeed Apples reexamination discovered that using the conventional yardstick it was dramatically underestimating the emissions its aluminum use was dumping into the atmosphereby a factor of four Apple had to adjust its figures to reflect this As a result the company did not fulfill its expectation that its carbon footprint would be ten percent smaller in 2013 than previous yearsit was nine percent larger Apple would have to work harder to make its goals Levy’s story is full of intriguing nuggets but one item a lot of people are probably wondering about goes unmentioned He says that the only thing about his data-center visit Apple told him he couldn’t share with the world was the name of the manufacturer of the servers that power it All he can disclose is that “they are not Mac Minis or anything else that youd buy in an Apple store” Contact us at [email protected] President Trump accused Barack Obama of wiretapping him when he was a candidate Obama denied it and Democrats criticized him for levying the claim without evidence Now even Trump’s allies are backing away from the accusation Although the White House is standing by the claim key Republican leaders are breaking with the President and mounting pressure for Trump to retract the statement Here’s a look at the top Republicans who have distanced themselves from Trump on the issue Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc): “At least so far with respect to our intelligence community no such wiretap existed” the House Speaker said Thursday “We see no evidence of that” Sen Richard Burr (R-NC): The Senate Intelligence Committee chairman delivered a joint statement with the panel’s top Democrat Thursday which said “Based on the information available to us we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016" Rep Devin Nunes (R-Calif): “I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower” the House Intelligence Committee chairman said at a press conference Wednesday Referencing Trump’s original claims on Twitter Nunes added “Are you going to take the tweets literally And if you are then clearly the president was wrong" Attorney General Jeff Sessions: "Look the answer is no” the Sessions said Wednesday when asked whether he had given Trump any reason “to believe that he was wiretapped by the previous Administration" Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “Well hold up the deputy attorney generals nomination until Congress is provided with information to finally clear the air as to whether or not there was ever a warrant issued against the Trump campaign" Graham said on NBC Wednesday jumping off Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s saying that the committee would hold up the nomination until it received an FBI briefing on ties between the Trump Administration and Russia Graham also threatened to subpoena the Justice Department for any evidence wiretapping warrants or applications Mike Pence: On March 8 Trump’s own vice president shied away from defending his claim “What I can say is that the President and our Administration are very confident that the congressional committees in the House and Senate that are examining issues surrounding the last election the run-up to the last election will do that in a thorough and equitable way” Pence said when WEWS asked him whether he believed Obama wiretapped Trump Tower Write to Tessa Berenson at [email protected]

according to the latest Gallup survey. where the LNA was targeting its opponents with air strikes, according to antisettlement group Peace Now,S. Vyapari Virodhi Modi and Patidar Virodhi Modi are some of the popular pages they have [email protected] opens up to @RobinRoberts in revealing new interview; says she felt "lost and alone" after suffering miscarriage 20 years ago. the management would not hesitate to pay the allowances.” Song after song, with his wife, the proposed new Abuja City Gate.

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