Satellite tv for pc imagery firm Planet begins buying and selling on the NYSE

An image from one of the company’s satellites shows Lower Manhattan in New York City.


Satellite imagery and data specialist planet began trading Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange, becoming the latest space company to go public after closing a SPAC deal.

Planet trades under the ticker PL, with shares previously listed under the special purpose acquisition company dMY Technology Group IV. The company has about 190 satellites in orbit, and recently unveiled plans for a new line of satellites called Pelican to further bolster its fleet.

The stock rose 1% after opening at $ 11.25 a share.

Closing its merger nets Planet more than $ 590 million in gross proceeds, with capital from dMY as well as a PIPE round – or private investment in public equity – led by BlackRock and joined by Google, Cook, and Marc Benioff’s TIME Ventures.

Planet and dMY closed the merger with a 2% redemption ratio, which represents the percentage of shares that investors redeem prior to closing of an acquisition.

Cofounder and CEO Will Marshall


Planet took the additional step of registering as a Public Benefit Corporation, or PBC, which requires the company have a specific purpose statement on how the for-profit entity is benefiting the public. Planet’s public benefit purpose is “to accelerate humanity to a more sustainable, secure and prosperous world by illuminating environmental and social change,” the company said.

The company’s imagery feeds into a data index that Planet says makes the Earth “searchable” for its more than 600 customers. Planet’s customer contracts are set up as subscriptions, with 90% of those recurring annual contracts. Its existing customers are largely split between four sectors – civil, agriculture, defense and intelligence, and mapping – and it generated $ 113 million in revenue last year.

Planet aims to be profitable on an adjusted EBITDA basis by early 2025, and grow its annual revenue to nearly $ 700 million by early 2026.

It joins a trend of space companies going public through SPAC deals, with Virgin Galactic the first of the recent generation in 2019. Several have closed and begun trading – including Astra, AST SpaceMobile, Rocket Lab, Spire Global, BlackSky, Momentus, and Redwire – with others having merger agreements in place – including Virgin Orbit , Satellogic, and Terran orbital.

How Citibank By accident Paid Revlon’s $900 Million Mortgage : Planet Cash : NPR

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April 6th, 2021, Schleswig-Holstein, Amt Rantzau: A blackbird has caught an earthworm.  Photo: Marcus Brandt / dpa (Photo: Marcus Brandt / picture alliance via Getty Images)

picture Alliance / Marcus Brandt / Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Last year Citibank accidentally sent $ 900 million to lenders for makeup company Revlon. In finance, wrong payments happen all the time, and it’s understandable, so to speak, that they have to be sent back. And everyone thought that was going to happen – except that the lenders wouldn’t. And then a surprising court ruling said lenders could keep it. What began as a nasty lender-borrower battle and escalated into the most incredible Wall Street gossip tells us a lot about who is currently in power in finance.

What happens in this episode when one of the largest banks in the world accidentally sends $ 900 million to exactly the wrong group of people – and tries to get it back.

Music: “Mentally, “”Playful Palmas, “”Bleep core,” and “Blip blip beep. ”

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The Untamed Rise Of Hospital Monopolies : Planet Cash : NPR

Hospitals are getting bigger and more expensive

Last month, Michigan’s two largest hospital systems, Spectrum Health and Beaumont Health, announced that they were planning to become one. The $ 12.9 billion megamerger would create a healthcare industry complex with 22 hospitals, 305 outpatient facilities, and an insurance company. It would employ 64,000 people, making it Michigan’s largest employer. Local newspapers had expected the merger to “sail through” government approval. But now they are not so sure.

This is because President Biden recently signed an executive order stating that his government is serious about promoting competition and specifically identified hospitals as an area where increasing monopoly is a problem. The order, says the White House, “Emphasizes that hospital fusions can be harmful to patients and encourages the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to review and revise their merger guidelines to ensure that such fusions do not harm patients.”

Hospitals are a really important part of the American economy. Not just in terms of health and wellbeing, but also in terms of dollars and cents. Most of America’s healthcare spending goes to hospitals. And the hospital sector is one of the largest sectors in the entire American economy, accounting for about 6 percent of American GDP. Hospitals do a lot of good. You save lives. They create good jobs. But with their increasing monopoly, Zack Cooper, an economist at the Yale School of Public Health, fears they will become like a “Dracula” who “sucks some of the vibrancy in many cities across the country.”

Cooper and colleague Martin Gaynor found the numbers on hospitals using the government’s preferred method of measuring market concentration and found that approx. 80% the American hospital markets are now “highly concentrated”. “The average hospital market in the US is well above what the FTC and DOJ would consider healthy levels of concentration,” says Cooper. Many of these markets, he says, are dominated by just one or two hospitals, which gives them the market power to withdraw extra money from communities for health procedures and emergencies.

In addition to decades of mergers and acquisitions with hospitals that are devouring other hospitals, hospitals are also increasingly buying up medical practices. Economists refer to this as “vertical integration”. Think of steel manufacturers who buy the railroad lines. As with mergers and acquisitions, Cooper said, many of these deals have not been properly scrutinized by federal regulators.

According to Cooper, the research clearly shows that increasing monopoly has increased prices for patients. Less competition means hospitals can charge higher prices and get away with it. You can pay lower wages and get away with it. And they can offer worse care and get away with it. “We want companies to compete and be incentivized to upgrade their quality to attract more consumers, and the more hospitals merge, the less harsh those incentives become,” says Cooper. “We have evidence that death rates are literal higher in markets where hospitals have less competition. “

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The bizarre thing about all of this is that many of these monopoly hospitals are technically considered “non-profit”. Apparently, there are “a lot of nonprofits in the healthcare industry,” jokes Cooper. He doesn’t take their “charitable” status very seriously. He sees it more like a game where nonprofit hospitals use the extra money they make to pay executives and buy shiny things, rather than making profits that are distributed to shareholders. Cooper says that nonprofit hospitals tend to “invest too much in technology. And the irony is that you get even more expensive things that are probably not necessary – and they suck more money into the health system. “

There are some quirky advantages to being a nonprofit organization for hospitals. You don’t have to pay taxes like for-profit companies do. And while the FTC can block anti-competitive mergers between nonprofit hospitals, current law prevents them from investigating nonprofit hospitals for anti-competitive behavior. “It’s kind of crazy,” says Cooper.

Cooper recently started a project called “1% Steps to Healthcare Reform”. The idea behind this is basically that the American healthcare system is such a daunting mess that we should focus on achievable, incremental steps to improve it. Dealing with hospital consolidation, he says, should be a top priority. And he recently co-wrote a policy brief that describes steps to deal with it.

For starters, Cooper says, America needs to top up its federal antitrust budget. They are inferior and understaffed, and they are struggling to keep up with the tidal wave of mergers and acquisitions that we have seen. Next, he says, we need to authorize federal antitrust authorities to take enforcement action against nonprofit hospitals. And he offers a number of technical legal ideas that he hopes will set the scales of antitrust law more in favor of American consumers.

As for the specific deal between Spectrum and Beaumont, Cooper was reluctant to make a final judgment on the merger without delving into the details. According to the Detroit Free Press, the two health systems have no geographic overlap between them, meaning that they are not direct competitors in the local markets. This can help your case. But, says Cooper, there is some pointers this suggests that even mergers like this, “cross-market mergers”, lead to higher prices for consumers.

We asked Spectrum Health for a comment. “We have a track record of previous integrations, including those with smaller, rural hospitals that focus on helping people stay healthy wherever they live,” they say. “We see the proposed integration with Beaumont Health no differently. We have integrated multiple hospitals and understand the need for quality care in local communities. Patients benefit from a comprehensive health system with many locations and levels of care that are connected as needed and available to meet their needs. “

We’ll have to wait and see if Biden’s arrangement will have any effect on the proposed merger. Cooper is thrilled that the White House is highlighting the problem of hospital monopoly. But so far it’s mostly just words on paper that “encourage” federal authorities to do something about it. We need action from Congress and more work in the FTC to really do something about this problem.

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The Indicator from Planet Cash : NPR

ROBYN BECK / AFP via Getty Images

(Photo by ROBYN BECK / AFP via Getty Images)

ROBYN BECK / AFP via Getty Images

Stacey went to Flatbush Avenue near her apartment in Brooklyn, New York, and there was a lot of activity. There are people walking down the street, some with masks, others without masks. She even had to fight for the table she was sitting at to record this show! Right now there are signs everywhere that the economy is returning.

So, as the Indicators of the Week, we wanted to examine various signs of the health of the economy. Stacey called two of her favorite economists, Ben Ho and Kate Waldock, and she talked to them about the signs they see – their own indicators of the week.

On Planet Money’s The Indicator, we hear from Kate about the number of store closures and retail resilience, and then Ben delves into the upside-down world of Dogecoin.

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Why Hovering Shares May Be Unhealthy Information For The Financial system : Planet Cash : NPR

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Apple stock numbers will be displayed on a monitor on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) at the Opening Bell on August 13, 2019 in New York City.

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While there have been some ups and downs, the stock market has hit historic highs in recent years. For many, that’s good news: it’s a sign that the economy and their retirement accounts are doing really well. For Jan Eeckhout, however, the booming stock market is a sign that something is deeply wrong with the economy.

Sure, says the economist, he has a retirement account with stocks and he personally benefits from the ongoing bonanza on the stock markets. The rocket ride on the stock market, however, is being driven by the skyrocketing profits of increasingly powerful companies. Their increasingly ridiculous profits, he says, are eating up the incomes of the great mass of workers and damaging the economy as a whole. This term is the central thesis of his forthcoming book, The Profit Paradox: How Thriving Businesses Threaten the Future of Work.

There is a powerful force lurking behind Corporate America’s rising earnings and stock prices. Eeckhout argues that violence is one of the main reasons the typical American worker’s wages have fallen; why the share of employed persons has decreased significantly; why the share of employees in national income has decreased; and why startup growth has slowed over the past few decades. That force, he says, is the amazing growth in market power since 1980.

The amazing rise in market power

Market power – also known as monopoly power – is the ability of companies to generate high profits by valuing their products and services more than it costs to actually manufacture and provide them. It costs Apple less than $ 500 to make a high-end iPhone, but it charges consumers more than double that amount. Apple’s ability to do this is a sign that the company has great market power.

Investors love market power. Warren Buffett, for example, famous advises that people invest in companies that will benefit a lot. Companies with market power are money-makers, protected by machine guns and bazookas, and keep potential competitors at bay.

Market power often comes from real innovation, efficient business models, and creating things that consumers like. but it also has costs for society. These costs are outlined in classical monopoly theory. Without competition, companies can raise their prices to maximize profits. As the prices of products rise, many consumers cannot afford them, and so the monopoly company reduces what it produces and sells. And that means they need less manpower.

If this were just one company, it wouldn’t be such a big deal to the wider economy. But Eeckhout documents a staggering increase in market power in all industries since 1980. We’re not just talking about the usual suspects; Amazon, Google, Facebook and so on. We talk about everything from cat food manufacturers to Seller of caskets. More than half of all dry cat food in the United States is sold by one company. Almost 90 percent of mayonnaise in the US is sold by two companies. Airlines, social media, pacemakers, pharmaceuticals, energy, cars, home improvement – there are so many industries that are increasingly dominated by just a few companies.

The International Monetary Fund rang alarm bells in 2019 about the problem of growing market power (read) our newsletter about that). They examined nearly a million companies, focusing on one measure of market power: markups, which is the ratio of the price of products a company sells to the cost of production. The IMF found that premiums in advanced countries increased 8 percent between 2000 and 2015.

in the his own studyEeckhout and his colleagues, published in a top peer-reviewed journal, note that publicly traded companies’ premiums have tripled since 1980 and that dominant companies are much more profitable than they used to be. In 1980, the average profit rate of a listed company was only one to two percent of sales. Now they have profit percentages between seven and eight percent of sales. It’s a mind-boggling increase.

Eeckhout says he has nothing against profits per se. However, the excessive profits of so many companies come at the expense of the livelihood of ordinary workers. In the world of ubiquitous market power, workers don’t just have to pay higher prices for goods and services. They, says Eeckhout, also find it more difficult to get well-paid jobs. This is because higher prices for things mean lower demand for those things, which also means lower demand for workers who make or provide those things.

“Market power is so widespread today, from technology to textiles, that it lowers production and labor demand,” he writes. “Instead of creating jobs, market power means that profitability lowers wages and destroys work. That is the profit paradox.”

Why has market power increased?

Eeckhout blames two big factors for the rise in market power. The first is the government’s lax enforcement of competition. This includes the ability for companies to partner with and devour their competitors, as well as an overly generous patent system that grants lengthy monopoly rights on the sale of all types of devices and pills. Most of the lobbying in Washington is largely about protecting and expanding market power.

However, according to Eeckhout, the main story is about rapid technological change that is creating markets where all winners are represented and making it difficult for Davids to challenge the goalkeepers. Over the past four decades we have made tremendous advances in technology in computing, transportation, and communications. This has fueled the rise of global supply chains, big box retailers, search algorithms, and “network effects” platforms that add more value to companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook the more people use them. Smaller businesses are now struggling to amass the brand’s resources, expertise, and reputation to overcome the formidable barriers to entry it takes to compete with the big ones.

What should we do about it?

The simple answer is that the government is liquidating companies. However, Eeckhout emphasizes that many companies are still dominant because, due to their technologically advanced and well-run business, they often offer greater efficiency and better products. Sure, you can dissolve Google, but its search algorithm, which is the main source of income, actually works better the more people use it. A liquidation of the company could put consumers in a worse position.

Some companies have to be wound up, says Eeckhout. Others just need to be better regulated, however. One idea: a “reverse patent” system where companies like Google only have a limited amount of time to keep the data they collect private. The data is then freely available to competitors.

Another idea: a new federal competition agency modeled on the Federal Reserve. The main job of the Fed is to prevent inflation, and according to Eeckhout, the cost of market power is much higher than the cost of inflation ever before. Like the Fed, this new agency would be well staffed and with expanded powers that it can exercise independently of Congress and the President. Their main task would be to regulate monopolies and limit market power.

Eeckhout admits that dealing seriously with this issue will not make stock traders happy. Limiting market power and increasing competition would reduce corporate profits. This, in turn, would mean that companies would have lower share prices. Returning to the levels of competition we saw in the early 1980s, he writes, “Be prepared for a Dow Jones below 10,000 instead of 30,000.”

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The Indicator from Planet Cash : NPR

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(KAREN BLEIER / AFP via Getty Images)

KAREN BLEIER / AFP via Getty Images

On the show is Dan Weissmann, the host of “An Arm and a Leg”, a podcast about the cost of health care. He shared some news about changes to Obamacare that have recently taken place. Remember how the Trump administration made a lot of noise four years ago for wanting to get rid of Obamacare? Ultimately, they couldn’t get the votes in Congress to actually do it. Well, it turns out that the Biden administration did the opposite: it actually got Congress to expand a lot of things in Obamacare, but without making a lot of ado about it.

The American Rescue Plan – the huge stimulus package passed in March 2021 – can save lots of people big bucks on health insurance. For example, over a million people could qualify for essentially free health insurance!

So what’s the catch? Why didn’t we hear about it on the news? In a way, the catch is that almost no one heard about it, and even the ones who probably didn’t notice were applied to them. Even when it comes to actually registering? In some cases, even the experts don’t know how to do it. On the indicator: Why it is so difficult to actually give millions of people a break in health insurance.

Check out Dan Weissmann’s show One arm and one leg!

You can enroll or change Your plan for the health insurance market (Obamacare) until August 15, 2021 due to the emergency (COVID-19).

SPECIAL REPORT Can the Saudis’ oil cash assist him save the planet?

Spanish biologist Carlos Duarte had been at a Saudi royal palace until three o’clock in the morning, waiting for the country’s most powerful man.

Finally in his hotel room, Duarte awoke hours later and noticed an alert on his smartphone screen. It was the palace: He and the other scientists and officials at the meeting on sustainable development should return immediately. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was ready for them.

It might seem improbable that a highly respected marine biologist committed to solving climate change is advising the leaders of the world’s foremost petro-state, renowned for its intransigence over the years at international climate talks. But contradictions abound in Saudi Arabia.

It’s the world’s largest exporter of crude oil, which has played a significant role in global warming. But it’s also a country that is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The crown prince has clamped down on dissent, and a U.S. intelligence report recently accused him of approving the 2018 operation to kill dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (The crown prince denies involvement.) But he has also been praised for efforts to open up the repressive Gulf state, including encouraging women to work and allowing in non-Muslim tourists.

And it is Saudi petro-dollars that fund Duarte’s dreams of creating “blue carbon” marine ecosystems – oceanic preserves that, along with revitalized forests and wildlife on land, can gently scrub the atmosphere of excess carbon dioxide. Over time, some experts estimate, such restorations could remove 300 gigatons of carbon dioxide, about a third of the amount that humans have added to the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1800s. And the restoration of seagrass meadows, in particular, has tremendous promise. In fact, Duarte estimates they can store up to 15 times more carbon than similar areas of rainforest.

Recently, as virtual hosts of a G-20 summit of the world’s largest economies, the Saudis highlighted Duarte’s coral research along with several planned projects that could shift the country’s economy away from oil. One of the world’s top climate scientists, Duarte ranks 12th on the Reuters Hot List, which measures the influence of the top 1,000 scientists in the field among both peers and the public. He joined King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in 2015 after a career that spanned Europe, North America and Australia.


Some scientists and diplomats say it’s far-fetched to suggest that Saudi Arabia can be a climate-change leader, given the country’s reliance on oil, which accounts for about 50% of the Saudi economy. It pumps 12% of the global oil supply, behind only the United States. In this view, as the influential climate scientist Michael Mann puts it, Saudi Arabia “is one of the villains.”

Duarte counters that the Saudi government has embraced many climate-change solutions he has long advocated.

“I would not claim I had influence, but certainly I have helped and supported the 180-degree change towards a collaborative solution” in Saudi Arabia, he said. “It is teamwork.”

Duarte says the Saudis have no choice but to adapt as the world moves toward more sustainable energy. And he argues that he is no more compromised by using Saudi money for research than a scientist who takes money from the U.S. government. After all, he notes, the United States is not only the largest producer of fossil fuels in the world, it’s also the largest user of them.

Duarte’s career path speaks to the moral calculus that scientists sometimes must make in seeking the funding that fuels all ambitious research. He says he came to Saudi Arabia because he saw a unique opportunity to pursue ideas that could help solve climate change, perhaps the greatest threat humanity has ever faced.

“I do not want to leave science just with a pile of published papers and accolades,” he said. “I want to be able to reflect back on my life in my last minutes and conclude that I was able to make the world slightly a better place.”

Even Saudi Arabia has an interest in addressing climate change, says David Reidmiller, who dealt with the Saudis as a regular U.S. government representative to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Reidmiller said he often faced Saudi resistance at the IPCC to ideas that threatened the use of fossil fuels. For the Saudis, climate change poses “an existential threat,” he said, but in a completely different way it does to small island nations, for instance.

Little island states in the Pacific, such as the Marshall Islands, are being inundated by rising sea levels caused by global warming. Continued use of fossil fuels is already a threat to their existence.

The Saudis have the opposite problem, Reidmiller said. “When the world moves away from fossil fuels, their economy will be decimated, and they’re going to have complete civil upheaval. And so, I sympathize with that to a degree. I hate that they have a fossil-dependent economy in the first place. But that is what it is. And so I think you’ve got to hear that.”

Advocates of a decisive fast break with oil and gas call for steps such as sudden sharp increases in fuel costs through taxes or fees, or state-mandated rapid shifts to other energy sources. Such moves, Duarte says, would destabilize many petro-states, not just Saudi Arabia. He champions a different answer: gradual emissions reductions combined with programs to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Saudi Arabia’s critics are skeptical. Despite public announcements in recent years that the country is making massive investments in solar and wind energy, virtually all of the kingdom’s electricity is still generated by oil and natural-gas plants. And even if the Saudis succeeded in using less oil themselves, they could continue pumping and exporting crude.

Among the skeptics is American climatologist Mann, who ranks 37th on the Reuters Hot List. He has been on the other side of the table from the Saudis at some of those climate conferences, and remains distrustful of the Saudi government because of the role it played over the years in encouraging skepticism about climate science. He respects Duarte’s decision to work for the Saudi university but questions the Spanish scientist’s calculus.

“You know, that’s a judgment that we all have to make,” he said of Duarte. “There’s always a tradeoff. It’s a cost-benefit analysis. Perhaps you have an opportunity to influence and change their view. At the same time, they’re purchasing some moral license from you that you are legitimizing them to some extent.”

“In my judgment, Saudi Arabia is one of the villains,” Mann said. “And I would be uncomfortable cozying up with them. But we each have to make that judgment ourselves. And I’m sure that it’s an honest assessment on his part that he thinks that he can play a constructive role here.”

Where Mann sees the Saudi position as clear-cut, Duarte sees shades of gray. The nations of the Arabian Peninsula had no choice but to rely on petroleum, in his view. It’s their only asset. “Oil was the resource that lifted them from challenging livelihoods, largely as bedouins, into modernity, and allowed population growth, as even drinking water is sourced from oil, through energy-expensive desalination.”

What’s more, he argues, the United States and other major nations produce and profit from oil and gas, too. But they escape the glare cast on the Saudis. It’s a “double standard,” he says.

Questions about the morality of working with the Saudis extend beyond the country’s oil addiction. The government has been assailed in the West for the involvement by Saudi officials in Khashoggi’s killing and for its role in the brutal Yemeni civil war.

When I asked about working with the Saudis, given those issues, his eyes flashed anger. Before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, he said, President George W. Bush claimed the Iraqis were developing nuclear and chemical weapons and were a threat to the entire region.

“Yet, the evidence for weapons of mass destruction was fabricated,” Duarte said. “And I think the tally accounts for about 1.5 million people dead.”

Notwithstanding that the actual number of civilian casualties is disputed, he questions how Western scientists can criticize anyone for working with the Saudis when they routinely take money from Western governments that participated in the Iraq war.

“No one asks them about that,” he said.

And with that, his anger passed, and he smiled.


Saudi Arabia isn’t the first unlikely sponsor for Duarte. When he was a teenager, a scholarship named after Spanish dictator Francisco Franco rescued him from reform school.

Duarte was born in Lisbon to a Portuguese father and a Spanish mother. When he was 3, he was sent to Calamonte, a small village in Spain, to live with his aunt and uncle. It was about 200 miles southwest of Madrid, where his parents had moved.

Eventually, he joined his father and mother in the Spanish capital and started school. It wasn’t easy for him. His Spanish was poor and he spoke with a guttural Portuguese accent. “There was a lot of bullying and teasing because of the way I spoke.”

At one point, the words turned to violence and a boy attacked him. Duarte picked up a brick and threw it. “It hit him in the head and opened up a wound,” he recalled.

He was 9 and the monks who ran the school sent him to their reformatory. “There, I was physically abused,” Duarte said. “They used geometric devices to hit us, rulers and large wooden compasses. Once, they hit me with the compass hinge and I had five stitches.”

At that point, he was on his way to becoming a thief and a delinquent. He wasn’t doing well in school, in part because he struggled with the rote memorization favored by the monks. At 13, however, he received a “Franco scholarship” for children from poor families at a high school in A Coruña, about 375 miles northwest of his home. It liberated him from the monks and paid for his education.

Franco ruled Spain from the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939 until his death in 1975.

“It’s funny, because it was all paid for by Franco, but the teachers in the high school were all communists and anarchists,” Duarte said. “That’s where I learned to think. That when I learned that I didn’t need to memorize but understand concepts.”

The Franco scholarships ended in the late 1970s, shortly after the dictator’s death. Duarte still had to pay for three more years at the University of Madrid. Fortunately, he was working as a professional volleyball player, which financed the remaining years of his undergraduate studies. In 1982, he graduated with a biology degree. In 1987, he earned a Ph.D. in limnology, the study of inland water ecosystems, from McGill University in Montreal.


The 14-square-mile KAUST campus is in the dusty town of Thuwal, on the Red Sea coast. The Saudi capital, Riyadh, is 600 miles east across the Arabian Desert.

A towering concrete wall, a security road and a chain-link fence surround the glittering campus, separating it from the townspeople, many of them poor immigrant workers from Yemen. All visitors need permission to enter. There is one main road in and out of KAUST with two armed checkpoints. A machine-gun turret looms over the first.

Duarte and his wife, Susana Agusti, live inside the wall, in a six-bedroom, seven-bath house overlooking the turquoise Red Sea. The neighborhood looks as if it were lifted from a gated community in the American sunbelt. Duarte and Agusti, a biologist at KAUST, often bike or walk to work.

The scientist likes his view of the Red Sea, but the sameness of the campus housing bothers him. Years after moving in, many of the rooms in their home are unfurnished and most are undecorated. Everything on campus is new – offices, labs, lab equipment, boats, the buildings inspired by traditional Arabian architecture. Even the underground parking lots are spotless, free of any tire marks on the painted floors.

When Duarte arrived at KAUST, it was the only university in Saudi Arabia that allowed male and female students to work side by side and male teachers to be in the same room with female students, many of whom are from the world over.

In the rest of Saudi Arabia, it was only in 2019 that women were permitted to eat in open areas of restaurants in mixed company – a reform under the crown prince. KAUST operates under a different set of rules. About half the students and many of the staff are women, and it’s been that way for years.

“The first Saudi Ph.D. in marine biology at KAUST was a Saudi woman,” Duarte said, recalling his early days here.

At a regular meeting of the 14 students and postdoctoral scientists studying under him in late 2019, two were Saudi women, two were men from India and Malaysia and the rest were women from Yemen, Australia, Germany, Italy, Pakistan and the United States. It was their last gathering before they scattered for the winter break, and he wanted to congratulate them on their year. Their work ranged from studying Red Sea giant clams to the effect of anthropogenic ocean noise on marine ecosystems. The marine noise project – a collaboration between Duarte, one of his students and many other scientists – made headlines worldwide when it was published in February.

In the academic world, success is usually measured by how many papers are published in scholarly publications. “Inshallah, next year will bring a lot more papers, but this year we’ve done well,” Duarte told his team members at their 2019 end-of-year meeting. “We’ve published 79 papers, which is a very good crop.”

That crop included 62 papers he coauthored, in many cases with KAUST staff and students. In 2020, he coauthored 99 published papers. His spinning mind snags ideas – often far outside his area of expertise – like insects in a spider web and then turns them into publishable papers.

Recently, he teamed up with Mariusz and Lukasz Jaremko, scientist twins from KAUST’s biological, environmental and engineering department, to see if rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere pose a threat to human health. The paper concluded that rising carbon-dioxide levels may well exacerbate chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, attention-deficit disorder, osteoporosis and cancer.

Later, Duarte went down to a small building near the university’s docks. Standing next to a tank filled with small green and blue and purple corals, he reached in and grabbed a 2-inch-high purple coral that had been half that size a few months earlier.

“Imagine this tank, three meters wide, 200 meters long, meandering all around a resort,” he said. “This is a new technology that we are developing to be able to restore coral globally.”

He calls it coral gardening. The idea is to place hundreds of similar tanks in public places, such as airports and resorts, that will allow tiny corals to grow until they’re large enough to be transplanted into the wild.

If KAUST’s experiment succeeds, it may allow coral from Saudi Arabia to be transplanted to other parts of the world. The Red Sea is warmer than almost any other large body of water in the world, Duarte explained, and the coral here has adapted, over hundreds of thousands of years, to the higher temperatures.

That adaptation is crucial: As the world’s oceans warm because of climate change, contributing to the collapse of reefs worldwide, Red Sea coral could seed their restoration. Next up, KAUST scientists are developing techniques that will grow reefs in a few years rather than hundreds of years. Duarte hopes to test his coral garden concept at two planned tourism developments a few hundred miles north of KAUST.

Duarte and his colleagues are essentially trying to develop a gentle form of geoengineering – manipulation of the environment to undo the damage humankind has wrought.

His vision goes well beyond coral and began long before Duarte’s time in Saudi Arabia. In the early 1990s, working in waters around his adopted home of Mallorca, he had an epiphany while studying seagrass: When the grasses died, they settled in deeper waters around the island, taking with them the carbon locked in their cells – a natural way of sequestering carbon that’s emitted by burning fuels and absorbed by seawater.

Since then, he’s expanded from seagrass and published numerous papers on how the restoration of marine habitats – from coral reefs to coastal and inland marshes and mangrove swamps – could be an effective way of removing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Duarte says mangrove swamps and seagrass beds, for example, are 15 times more efficient at removing and sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than forests, which also take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen through photosynthesis.

“This is innovative science that opens up new opportunities for us to think about nature and the management of our marine environment,” said William Austin, a marine ecologist at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews.

Austin, who presented Duarte with an achievement medal from the European Geosciences Union in 2016, said Duarte is “opening up a new conversation about the wider marine environment and its potential to be managed effectively for carbon. As we do so, none of us would deny that we need to focus on emission reductions and other changes in consumption, but the nature-based solutions argument is compelling.”

The Saudis’ Red Sea Project was pitched as part of the solution and is part of a bold wager that the kingdom can shift its economy away from oil in the coming decade before the market for fossil fuels collapses. Hundreds of billions of dollars are on the line, not to mention the country’s economic stability and, by implication, the fate of the monarchy.

The two Red Sea resorts will cover 11,000 square miles of land and sea, and employ thousands while adding an estimated $6 billion to the Saudi economy. The Saudis call it a giga-project. Another is the planned fossil-fuel-free Neom City on the Red Sea near Egypt and Israel, and bordering Jordan. It is supposed to operate independently of the Saudi government and is owned by the country’s sovereign wealth fund.

The Saudis hope these embryonic projects will spur tourism and put the country at the fore of renewable-energy generation, carbon-sequestration technology and solar-powered production of hydrogen gas, a fuel that emits only water vapor and warm air when burned, rather than carbon dioxide.

But at this point, the projects remain largely promises, like so many of the commitments to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels made by countless other countries.


At the end of my trip to KAUST, Duarte invited me to join him in Riyadh at a meeting to discuss business, tourism and environmental projects. He had helped organize a gathering of the “stakeholders,” including a few royal family members and representatives of some newly minted agencies integral to the developments.

Abdulaziz Al Suwailem, a former marine ecologist researcher at KAUST and one of Duarte’s early Saudi confidants, was there. He marveled at how his friend avoids slights and conflicts by balancing the Saudi social hierarchy and protocols. Duarte has found a niche, Al Suwailem says, bridging the gap between science, the state bureaucracy and business interests.

“He has this skill of reaching a middle ground between the idealism of the academic people, which obviously doesn’t work outside of academia, and the more tick-the-box objectives of the outside world,” Al Suwailem said.

No ministry is more important to the projects than the Energy Ministry. Before September 2019, it was known as the Oil Ministry. That’s when the crown prince appointed Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, his older half-brother, as the head of the newly named ministry.

Duarte said the name change, from oil to energy, reflects a shift in priorities. After the Red Sea meeting, he rushed off to meet Prince Abdulaziz.

Later in the day, the minister agreed to a short interview in his Riyadh office. Prince Abdulaziz sat at the head of a conference table. Duarte sat to his left. Across from Duarte sat a veteran Saudi IPCC board member, Taha Zatari.

Prince Abdulaziz began by making it clear that he doesn’t dispute climate change is real and that the burning of fossil fuels is the root of the problem. He ticked off how the problem should be solved, generally mirroring the international 2016 Paris Agreement on Climate Change: by reducing the use of fossil fuels and restoring natural habitats, while developing man-made systems that remove carbon from the atmosphere. He said the Saudi government is committed to making substantial cuts in the domestic use of fossil fuels by 2030.

But, he said, Saudi Arabia won’t agree to cuts in oil production or fees on carbon emissions, which it perceives as unfair. Saudi Arabia will protect its interests and make sure the industrial nations that have contributed the vast majority of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere bear the brunt of cleaning up the climate-change mess, he said. They began using fossil fuels first, and have burned vastly more.

“The Western nations, the U.S. and Europe in particular, have tremendous responsibility for the current levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, and it is unfair to not account for that,” he said.

Saudi Arabia is diversifying its economy and will become significantly less dependent on oil exports in the coming years, the prince said. “Sustainability and environmental protection should work together,” he said.

He turned toward Duarte. “We can’t afford to not listen to people like Carlos. We can work boldly together and lead the whole world.”

He said Saudi Arabia will continue to sell oil – while it still has value – to finance the country’s transition to a new, green economy.

When asked if he would drive an electric car, the prince paused.

Not yet, he said. First, he would get a hybrid. “I would drive a Prius.”

Duarte, the realist, smiled at this nod to incrementalism.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

When You Add Extra Police To A Metropolis, What Occurs? : Planet Cash : NPR

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from the Planet Money newsletter. You can Login here.

Police cars

After George Floyd’s death opened a national policing debate, Morgan Williams and colleagues turned to the tools of business to try to provide evidence for the conversation. He recently published research that supports the case for police reform while reminding us why the police are important to public safety.

Williams is an economist at NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. He researches crime economics and incarceration policies with a particular focus on racial inequality. Williams grew up in the South Bronx and still lives and works not far from where he was born.

Whether you’re an activist yelling “Defund the Police” on the street or a conservative hoisting a “thin blue line” flag in front of your house, if you’re looking for someone to piss you off with a megaphone, Williams is not your type. In these hyperpolarized times, Williams excels at speaking the jargon of a wonk with the cool emotions of a data cruncher. “We want to be as scientifically objective as possible,” he says of the work of him and his colleagues.

Morgan C. Williams Jr. Valjean E. Guerra II / Morgan Williams hide caption

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Valjean E. Guerra II / Morgan Williams

Morgan C. Williams Jr.

Valjean E. Guerra II / Morgan Williams

Williams and colleagues Aaron Chalfin, Benjamin Hansen, and Emily Weisburst were motivated to answer questions such as: What is the measurable value of adding a new police officer to patrol a city? Are Additional Officers Preventing Murders? How many people are these officers arresting and for what? And how do larger police forces affect black communities?

They collected data from the FBI and other public data sources for 242 cities between 1981 and 2018. They received statistics on police operations, murder rates, reported crimes, arrests, and more. And they used tech-savvy statistical techniques to gauge the impact of expanding the police force on things like preventing murders and increasing arrests (read) their working paper for more depth and also spend a couple of hours reading about “instrumental variable” regression which is pretty darn awesome).

The aftermath of another officer

Williams and colleagues find that adding a new cop to a city prevents murders between 0.06 and 0.1, which means the average city would have to hire between 10 and 17 new cops to save a life a year . They estimate that it costs taxpayers between $ 1.3 million and $ 2.2 million annually. The federal government imposes the value of a statistical life around $ 10 million ((Planet money did an entire episode about how that number was dialed). From that perspective, Williams says, investing in more cops to save lives is pretty good bang for the buck. When they add more police, they also reduce other serious crimes such as robbery, rape, and aggravated assault.

In addition, Williams and his co-authors note that in the average city, larger police forces result in black lives being saved roughly twice as quickly as white lives (based on their percentage of the population). Considering that African Americans are much more likely to live in dense, poverty-stricken areas with high homicide rates – resulting in more opportunities for police officers to potentially prevent victimization – this could help explain this finding.

We should note, however, that a broad, average statistic on a measure of policing outcomes does not say anything about other potential policing issues – like excessive use of violence, racial profiling, or other issues that are at the fore as story after story for Black people those killed, beaten or mistreated by the police are circulating in the media. But, Williams says, reducing homicide and other serious crimes is certainly beneficial for everyone.

While finding that serious crimes fall after the average city expands its police force, economists find that arrests for serious crimes fall too. The simultaneous reduction in both serious crime and arrests for serious crime suggests that it is not the arrests that are driving the reduction. Instead, it suggests only having more cops around to drive it. These findings are in line with other research that focusing police forces on “hotspot” crime areas appears to be an effective way of reducing crime.

For Williams, this growing evidence of the power of deterrence is very important to those who are concerned about our bloated criminal justice system, which continues to incarcerate blacks at an amazing rate. It shows that adding more police to a neighborhood could have the benefit of lowering the serious crime rate without the police having to necessarily lock up a group of people.

At the same time, Williams and co-authors note that adding more cops to a city means more people will be arrested for minor, low-level crimes with no victims, such as: B. Disorderly behavior, public drinking, drug possession, and loitering. Black people are disproportionately the target of these low-level arrests, saddling them with crippling court fees and forcing many children – sometimes unnecessarily – into criminal justice.

More police can make some cities worse

The economists also find disturbing evidence that cities with the largest black populations – like many in the South and Midwest – do not see the same policing benefits as the average cities in their study. Adding more police officers in these cities doesn’t seem to lower the homicide rate. Meanwhile, more police officers in these cities seem to be leading to even more arrests of blacks for low-level crimes. The authors believe it supports a narrative that “black communities are over- and under-police at the same time”. Economists have no solid explanation as to why larger police forces in these cities seem to produce worse results, and they plan to further explore these results in future research.

The big picture

The bottom line is that the picture that the economists’ data paints is complicated. On the one hand, black communities generally seem to benefit from larger police departments when it comes to reducing the murder rate and the rate of other serious crimes. However, their data also show that these results do not apply to cities with the largest black populations. And across the country they are finding significant racial disparities in low-level arrests, with many blacks being prosecuted for low-level crimes, resulting in damage to many lives without necessarily improving public safety.

“We get a lot of policing, but it may not always be the type of policing that keeps people safe,” said Williams of these results. And that suggests that we could reform the police force: use fewer workers to arrest people for minor crimes and more workers to tackle and solve serious crimes.

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Inexperienced Your Life- Save Cash, Save the Planet

Mary Reilly (Chair of the Jersey Sierra Group Program at NJ Sierra Club Jersey) is working with Kerri Ann Lombardi and Sandi Eisner (NJ Clean Energy Program NJ-CEP) to reduce your carbon footprint while saving money. Mary shares firsthand how she insulates her home to make it quieter, more comfortable, cleaner, and energy efficient at a low cost. Kerri Ann Lombardi and Sandi Eisner offer the pros and cons of NJ incentive programs so that you can take advantage of them yourself. Click RSVP (Required).

During Earth Week, there are daily “Green Your Life” events. Fifty events on these and other topics are listed in NJ Earth Week 2021

Contact information
  1. Steve Miller


Inexperienced Your Life- Save Cash, Save the Planet

Mary Reilly (Chair of the Jersey Sierra Group Program at NJ Sierra Club Jersey) is working with Kerri Ann Lombardi and Sandi Eisner (NJ Clean Energy Program NJ-CEP) to reduce your carbon footprint while saving money. Mary shares firsthand how she insulates her home to make it quieter, more comfortable, cleaner, and energy efficient at a low cost. Kerri Ann Lombardi and Sandi Eisner offer the pros and cons of NJ incentive programs so that you can take advantage of them yourself. Click RSVP (Required).

During Earth Week, there are daily “Green Your Life” events. Fifty events on these and other topics are listed in NJ Earth Week 2021

Contact information
  1. Steve Miller