From The Wall Street Journal:Oil’s Decline Takes Toll on Saudi Conglomerate Saudi Binladin Group struggles with massive debt as government cuts funding for megaprojects.
A construction conglomerate at the center of Saudi Arabia’s petrodollar-fueled economic boom is teetering under billions of dollars of debt, bankers and financial advisers familiar with the matter said, showing the strain of cheap oil on the kingdom and its companies.Sounds like a company Bill Ackman might want to invest in.
The Saudi Binladin Group was once among the biggest beneficiaries of Saudi Arabia’s massive spending at home, paid for by the kingdom’s growing oil wealth. But in the past half year, it has hit hard times.
An executive at one of SBG’s subsidiaries said the parent company hadn’t provided any funding to the unit for more than six months, triggering a funding crunch that has stalled longer-term plans. Several subcontractors and suppliers involved in Binladin projects also haven’t been paid for months, according to the bankers and advisers who know about the company’s finances.
A Note to the Granddaughters
Your mother majored in Eastern European studies and the Russian language when she attended the University of Arizona, and she has visited Russia at least twice (perhaps a third time, I've forgotten). She lived on her own for one summer in Yaroslavl, Russia, sometime during her university days.
I've always wanted to read one of the great Russian novels, like War and Peace, or Anna K but could never "get into it." For some reason, Russia never interested me that much.
Then I got into my "Doctor Zhivago" phase -- about three weeks ago. I have watched the movie on DVD several times since then, including the commentaries and interviews with the director and some of the actors. I just received the anniversary edition from Amazon.com but have not watched it yet.
I was unable to watch the movie a second time after I first saw it decades ago; it was too incredibly painful on so many levels.
I don't know why, but it's different now.
I continue to read the novel; I'm on page 419 of the 519-page novel (this does not include the poems at the end). It's possible I have reached the climax; I will know later. It appears the climax may be Chapter 13 in which Doctor Zhivago, in self-imposed exile in Yuriatin with Lara, has received a letter written by Tonia, his wife, from Moscow, written five months earlier. He had already decided to return to Moscow -- though it could mean his death -- to see Tonia and his son Sasha (about eight years old, I suppose) and his daughter whom he had never seen. But by the time he received the letter, Tonia had left Moscow and was on her way to Paris.
I've never thought about "climaxes" in novels before until I read The Great Gatsby.
Of course, one wonders if Tonia made it to Paris. Early on in the book, there is a very, very short bit in which Zhivago's half-brother Evgraf promises to always be there when needed to help his brother and his brother's family. From the movie, we learn that Evgraf rises under the Soviets, and that fact assures us Tonia and Sasha and Sasha's sister made it safely to Paris. Of course, that's the assumption, but I'll have to wait to see if Pasternak says any more of Tonia.
Tonia's letter was so incredibly poignant -- I cannot think of the best word -- I had to leave for a bicycle ride after reading that chapter last night. It was about 7:00 p.m. -- still light and nice weather. The forecast was for a line of severe thunderstorms to hit about 8:00 p.m. but Tonia's letter was so overwhelming I had to take the bicycle ride.
I rode the five miles to Starbucks without incident. At 8:30 p.m. the storm moved in from the west quickly. At about the same time, there was a tornado warning for our area. It appeared there might be a break in the storm at 9:30; Starbucks closed at 10:00 p.m. I was the only customer in the coffee shop.
The thunderstorm was fierce; with hail. The two Starbucks employees had to lock the front door to keep the doors from blowing away. About an inch of water flooded the inside entry way of Starbucks. The night was often as bright as day due to the prolonged lightning strikes. The hail ended, but the downpour continued.
At 9:45, it looked like it was as good as it was going to get. I asked for two plastic bags. I wrapped my books and computer in one and placed them inside by backpack, and then used the second large trash bag to wrap my backpack. I went out into the slightly-less-than-pouring rain, turned on all my bike lights and backpack lights and started home.
I was pretty much drenched when I got home. The backpack and everything inside the backpack was dry. Except for the rain, it was a comfortable ride: minimal wind and the temperature had not dropped as much as expected. There was almost no traffic.
There were places where the water was up over my ankles -- and I was on my bike, meaning the water was probably 8 inches deep in some places. But the bike and I made it. All of my lights, front and rear, except one, survived the heavy rain. The ride is a 30-minute trip under best of circumstances. I forgot to check the time on this ride, but it was probably a record for me, perhaps 25 minutes. The last five minutes the rain had pretty much quit.
I've ridden in worse weather in Boston (both summer and winter) but this was the worst lightning storm I've ridden in.