Celebration, Sorrow Mingle After Death of Fidel Castro

(Associated Press) — While the departure of Cuban leader Fidel Castro prompted cheers from your nation’s exiles in Miami, the 90-year old innovative leader’s passing created expressions of admiration in the rest of the planet and quantified responses from authorities that viewed the faithful socialist as a risk.

U.S. President Barack Obama mentioned that while “discord and profound political disagreements” indicated the connection between the United States and Cuba for almost six decades, Americans were offering “a hand of friendship to the Cuban people” throughout their time of despair.

“History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him,” Obama said.

While spending the Thanksgiving weekend in Florida, where the declaration of Castro’s departure early Saturday introduced Cuban exiles to the streets to observe, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter to discuss a notion that proved pithy even for the medium: “Fidel Castro is dead!”

Elsewhere in globe, Castro was mourned by several current and former leaders and honored.

In a telegram to Cuban President Raul Castro, Fidel’s 85 -year old brother, Pope Francis provided “my sense of grief to your excellency and family.”

Francis broke from the standard practice of obtaining official condolences are sent by the secretary of state of the Vatican. In a symbol of the regard a year ago, the pope held for Castro, whom he met during a trip to Cuba, Francis signed the telegram himself.

Twitter: Enrique Pea Nieto on Twitter

Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose state was Cuba’s major ally and backer throughout the Soviet period, called Castro “a sincere and reliable friend of Russia” who’d constructed “an inspiring example for many countries and nations.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping stated Castro “made immortal historical contributions to the development of socialism around the world.”

“With his death, the Chinese people have lost a close comrade and a sincere friend,” Xi said in a telegram to Raul Castro, state broadcaster CCTV noted. “His glorious image and great achievements will be recorded in history forever.”

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he’d vivid recollections of assembly Castro in January 2014 and having “a lively discussion that covered developments around the world as well as sustainable development and climate change.”

“Under former President Castro, Cuba made advances in the fields of education, literacy and health,” Ban said. “I expect Cuba will continue to progress on a path of reform and better prosperity.

Castro’s passing was felt particularly keenly in Latin America, where leftist activists were inspired by his achievement in overthrowing a military program in other states.

Salvador Sanchez Ceren, the president of El Salvador, said he felt “deep sorrow … of my friend and eternal companion, Commander Fidel Castro Ruz.”

Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto tweeted that “Fidel Castro was a friend of Mexico, promoting bilateral relations based on respect, dialogue and solidarity.”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro remembered Castro’s departure from several dozen supporters and Mexico about the yacht Granma with his brother Raul to begin their r-Evolution.

“Sixty years after the Granma sailed from Mexico, Fidel sails toward the immortality of all those who fight their whole lives,” Maduro tweeted. “Onward to victory, always!”

Rubn Berros Martnez, long-time leader of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, called Castro the “largest and most influential Latin American of the 20th century, whose verticality, vision and passion has always served as an inspiration for those who aspired to a more just, free and dignified Latin America.”

Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva stated on his Facebook page that Castro was his “friend and companion” and the “greatest of all Latin Americans.”

Silva mentioned Castro was like an “older brother-an irreplaceable company. Visions of independence supported. sovereignty and equality.”

A statement from the Spanish authorities hailed Castro as “a figure of enormous historical importance.”

“As a son of Spaniards, former president Castro always maintained close relations with Spain and showed great affection for his family and cultural ties,” the the federal government declaration stated.

Nevertheless, there were insults and cries in Madrid as a tiny bunch composed of equally professional- and anti-Castro supporters fulfilled facing the Cuban embassy.

Turkey’s international ministry commended the “legendary leader of the Cuban Revolution” for “instituting many deep reforms in his country from health care to education, art to science.”

“The struggle to which he dedicated his life echoed not just in Cuba but across the world, and has awakened respect even in other political camps,” the ministry mentioned. “His words ‘another world is possible’ reflect the shared longing of billions of people from Latin America to Asia, from the Middle East to Africa.”

“India mourns the loss of a great friend,” Indian Prime Minister Nerendra Modi mentioned on Twitter.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tweeted: “Goodbye, commandante. Until the individuals’ endless success.”

“Fidel Castro in the 20th century did everything possible to destroy the colonial system, to establish cooperative relations,” former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was quoted as telling the Interfax information company.

Ammar al-Moussawi, who’s in cost of worldwide relations for Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah team, lauded Castro as “a historic symbol whose life was a lighthouse to all revolutionaries around the world.”

Guyanese Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo stated his island’s sources were shared by Castro who have any country that dared request for assistance.

The Castro government sent a large number of nurses and physicians where local as well as other foreign medical staff had refused to go to perform in distant Caribbean regions, Nagamootoo mentioned.

“His and Cuba’s contribution to mankind and the Caribbean is un-matched by another state when it comes to brotherly and sisterly relations. He was a worldwide present to mankind,” he said.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation, created to carry-on the task of the late antiapartheid leader who does continue to become the president of South Africa, re-counted the shut relationship Mandela invented with all the Cuban leader.

He was criticized by some in the West for his ties to Castro when Mandela became president in 1994. Mandela responded that anybody who objected could “jump in the pool.”

“The primary state we approached (for help in fighting apartheid) was the United States of America. We couldn’t even triumph to come near the authorities, and they refused to help us,” Mandela stated in a 1990 documentary to spell out his devotion to Castro. “But Cuba, the moment we appealed for assistance they were ready to do so and they did so.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the chorus of admirers, contacting Castro “a legendary revolutionary and orator” and a “remarkable leader.”

“While a questionable figure, equally Mr. Castro’s backers and detractors acknowledged his great commitment and love for the Cuban individuals who had a deep and enduring fondness for ‘el Comandante,”’said Trudeau, whose late father, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, had a warm camaraderie with Castro.

Trudeau’s re-Action prompted powerful criticism on Twitter from two Republican U.S. senators, Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas, equally Cuban Americans.

“Is this an actual assertion or a parody? Because if this can be an actual statement in the PM of Canada it’s black (and) obstructing,” Rubio tweeted. Cruz wrote: “Disgraceful. Why are totalitarian tyrants idolized by socialists? Castro, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot — all evil, torturing murderers.”

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter mentioned he and his spouse Rosalynn “remember fondly our visits with him in Cuba and his love of his country.” The few visited with Cuba in 2002, long after Carter left workplace.

While the majority of the the state remembrances were a few highlighted less- views of the leader.

Trump elaborated on his first tweet after Saturday, calling Castro “a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades.”

Trump claims Castro left a heritage of “firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, the most effective Republican in the United States Congress, mentioned any remembrances needs to be allowed “for the memory and sacrifices of all those who have suffered under the Castros.”

“Now that Fidel Castro is dead, the cruelty and oppression of his regime should die with him,” Ryan mentioned in a declaration.

Ed Royce, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, supplied a comparable evaluation, declaring “no one should rule anywhere near as long as Fidel Castro did.”

“His heritage is among repression in the home, and support for terrorism overseas. Unfortunately, Raul Castro is no better for Cubans who yearn for liberty,” Royce mentioned.

Republican officers in the United States of America weren’t the only kinds with nasty words for the lifeless groundbreaking.

“After decades under Fidel’s doctrine of oppression and antagonism, there is hope that a new path for Cuba is opening,” Nancy Pelosi, who heads the Democrats in the House of Representatives, mentioned.

“I hope his death can start a freedom revolution in Cuba,” Denmark’s Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen stated. “Any death is depressed. In this situation I consider that it could bring something great.”

Peter Hain, a former member of the British Cabinet and anti-apartheid tempered praise for Castro with criticism of some facets of his lengthy rule, campaigner.

“Although responsible for indefensible human rights and free speech abuses, Castro created a society of unparalleled access to free health, education and equal opportunity despite an economically throttling USA siege,” Hain mentioned. “His troops inflicted the first defeat on South Africa’s troops in Angola in 1988, a vital turning point in the struggle against apartheid.”

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-26/celebration-sorrow-mingle-after-death-of-fidel-castro

Even If OPEC Gets Deal, It Risks Reviving Battered Oil Rivals

Before an important assembly, OPECs offer to control drilling and ending years of world-wide oversupply hangs in the balance. But if ministers hash out a significant treaty on Wednesday, you will find risks for the petroleum-exporter club.

By flooding the markets with petroleum for a couple of years, OPEC attempted to forget a growing army of companies. Turning class might give the beaten survivors a life-line like Premier Oil Plc that are running to reap the benefits.

The London-listed firm, whose a day of output quantities to a rounding error for OPEC, anticipates barrels 60,000 to use hedges to lock in 20 17 costs of at least $50 a barrel, an amount Brent has just reached briefly this yr. That indicates Premier Oil has adjusted well enough to at least break-even at half the cost it received in 2015 to the forward market.

Throughout the business, to the Siberian tundra from rural America, companies are expecting a rally that could enable them to procure funds to improve oil production will be triggered by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. With no deal, now at $4-7, costs, could examine the degree that is $30 broken in January, as OPEC and nonmember Russia ramped output up to to protect market share, analysts say.

The petroleum club would like to develop a Goldilocks zone of between $50 and $60, large enough to raise sales for beleaguered oil companies although not overly high to activate a wave of new out-put in the U.S. shale garden, said Walid Khadduri, an OPEC watcher at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.

Its a fine balancing act.

In November 2014, a pump was embraced by the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries -at will plan that activated a price fall. The team, which provides about 40% of the worlds petroleum, determined to battle for marketshare through extremely-low-priced, targeting competitors like U.S. shale companies.

Petroleum tumbled to a 10-year low of less than $30 this year from $110, pushing companies all over the world to slash shelve jobs and prices. Several of the 14 of whose members are fighting to meet spending obligations, OPEC, is debating the best way to execute a strategy announced in September to revoke costs by dialing offer again. Brent fell 0.2% to $47.02 a barrel by 4:24 a.m. in London.

The International Energy Agency, shaped following the Arab oil embargo in the 70s, anticipates worldwide production if OPECs cost hallway is exceeded by petroleum to soar.

“If oil prices rise above $60 a barrel we will see significant production coming,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in an interview this month.

If s O, that could be tantamount to OPEC throwing a lifeline to U.S. shale companies and the other independent companies it attempted to break with low costs.

Saudi Arabias new petroleum leader, Khalid Al-Falih, is wanting to walk the fine-line of reducing on offer only enough without activating a significant production drive by competition to increase costs.

To get a Gadfly column on prospects for next months meeting, click the link.

But at the low end of the cost range, $50 a barrel, funds-battered businesses like London- Premier that is outlined have proven they’re able to live.

Price decreases and improvements in engineering have slice the the typical cost a U.S. oil organization wants to breakeven by a third since 2014, to $5 3 a barrel, Esther George, the president of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, mentioned at a power summit in Houston the other day.

U.S. shale drillers have currently gained from OPEC attempts to lift costs. Subsequent to the group summarized its strategy to cut result in Algiers in late September, petroleum rallied to your one-yr most of of nearly $55 a barrel, triggering a wave of hedging.

That shortlived spike let businesses including Pioneer Natural Resources Co., Oasis Petroleum Inc. and Whiting Petroleum Corp. to lock in enough 20 17 sales to grow oil production. Some hedge funds are wagering that U.S. shale out-put will reunite to month-on-month increase as early as April.

And then theres Big Oil.

For the previous two years, Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and most other international giants have been active cutting prices and scaling back longterm jobs. But when costs increase enough, multi-billion-dollar, longlife developments might eventually get green-lit, mentioned an analyst at Morgan Stanley in London, Martijn Rats.

Theres a huge stock of jobs that were delayed, Rats mentioned. Break- no one wishes to overlook the ability and evens have dropped significantly.

BP Plc has recently said the final signoff for Mad Dog a job in the Gulf of Mexico using a funding of about $10 billion, 2, is at hand.

Nevertheless, OPEC can maintain some successes in its effort to hamstringing competitors small-scale and huge. The cost fall derailed the U.S. shale growth, at least briefly, and pushed firms to postpone about $1 trillion of new jobs around the globe, creating a potential supply hole in the next decade.

But OPECs guidelines now are misguided, according to Ali Al-Naimi, the former Saudi oil minister who masterminded the pump-atwill the team to coverage embraced a couple of years past. Attempting to drive upward costs will simply result in loss of marketshare, so OPEC should simply get taken care of and permit capitalism operate its program, Al Naimi stated in Out of the Desert, his memoir that is new.

It absolutely was — it’s — an easy circumstance of permitting the marketplace work, Al Naimi mentioned.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com//news/articles/2016-11-27/even-if-opec-gets-a-deal-it-risks-reviving-battered-oil-rivals

Police conduct cross-country search for young mother’s remains

(CNN.com)A purple bag can be an important hint as law-enforcement officers run a multistate investigation to get a girl’s remains, authorities in Boulder, Colorado, stated Friday.

Researchers consider Adam Densmore killed Ashley Mead, the caretaker of his 13-month old daughter, in Boulder and drove a circuitous path to Oklahoma in a 2001 Volvo station-wagon with all the kid and Mead’s body in, Boulder police public information officer Shannon Cordingly stated.
The own body of Mead could have already been partly dismembered outside Shreveport, Louisiana, police stated.
    “There are concerns that some of the victim’s body parts may have been discarded in a variety of communities the suspect passed through after the homicide,” a police news release stated.
    25, Mead, was last seen on Sunday, when she did not show up for work Cordingly mentioned, and was reported lost Tuesday. Also lost was Winter Daisy Mead, the couple’s daughter.
    Authorities believed they may be with Densmore, with whom Mead had “an off and on-again relationship,” Cordingly stated. Law enforcement started hunting and on Wednesday day Densmore was detained in the vehicle outside Tulsa, Oklahoma.
    The infant was in the vehicle, although not Mead. Wintertime, who had been uninjured, is now in the attention of Oklahoma child protective services, Cordingly stated.
    About one hour after Densmore was stopped, a worker of a service station about 35 miles a way in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, discovered a purple bag Cordingly, in the dumpster stated.
    In the bag proved to be a torso, she stated.
    An autopsy was performed in Oklahoma, and and authorities have tentatively identified the remains as Mead’s, according to tat, Cordingly stated, and although no official results are released.
    Boulder authorities said Densmore continues to be detained on suspicion of first degree murder.
    The remainder of the parts of the body of Mead could be in another purple bag that was portion of an established, Cordingly stated.
    “If anyone sees a suitcase placed in an odd location, they are asked not to touch it and to contact their local police department immediately,” police stated.
    “Citizens are asked to be alert for a purple ‘Reba’ brand suitcase in trash dumpsters, along the side of the road or in any other odd location,” Okmulgee police Chief Joe Prentice mentioned, according to CNN affiliate KJRH.
    He mentioned onepiece of the bag set is lost and may be “somewhere between Louisiana and Okmulgee.”
    Inquired where he believed it may be, the leader said: “I think the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.”
    Mead, who has origins in Densmore, and Pennsylvania, from Louisiana, had moved in the past six months roughly, Cordingly mentioned to Boulder.
    Authorities do not have a so-called purpose yet, Cordingly mentioned.
    According to reports from the family relations of Densmore, Boulder cops believe he went south to Raton, New Mexico, left city on Sunday, and arrived Monday in Haughton, Louisiana, Cordingly mentioned.
    Densmore drove Tuesday to Okmulgee to Conway, Arkansas, and Wednesday and then Tulsa, police stated.
    He is now being held in Oklahoma. Prentice stated Densmore waived extradition and could be returned to Colorado by in a few days. It was unclear Friday whether he’d a lawyer.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/17/us/multistate-search-for-moms-remains/index.html

    Categories CNN

    A Reality Check of Trump’s first week in office

    Washington (CNN)It’s been a busy week for President Donald Trump as he settles into the presidency. Here’s a look at some of the more eye-opening statements of the week:

    Crime in the city

      During the Republican Party retreat in Philadelphia this week, Trump made a reference to the city’s murder rate.
        “Here in Philadelphia, the murder rate has been steady,” he said. “I mean, just terribly increasing.”
        While the murder rate is up in some big cities, Philadelphia is not one of them. Last year, 277 people were murdered in the City of Brotherly Love. That’s hardly different from the 280 that were killed in 2015 and way down from the 391 homicides in 2007. To say it is “terribly increasing” is just plain false.

        How many jobs?

        When he signed an executive order clearing the way for the construction of the much-delayed Keystone XL pipeline, Trump touted the number of jobs that would be produced by the $8 billion project.
        “A lot of jobs — 28,000 jobs,” he said. “Great construction jobs.”
        But, as CNN’s Rene Marsh and Chris Isidore reported, a 2014 State Department report found that only 3,900 workers would be required to build the pipeline over a year’s time.
        If the work is spread over two years, 1,950 people would get jobs directly related to the pipeline’s construction. Once built, the pipeline would only require 35 full-time employees to run it.
        TransCanada, the company that has proposed building the pipeline, does not dispute those figures.
        Supporters of the pipeline argue that it would also spin off jobs from companies supplying goods and services for its construction. The State Department report does estimate that the project would create an additional 42,000 jobs with an estimated $2 billion in wages.
        But that comes out to an average of about $47,000 in pay for each job.
        As a result of all of this, we rate Trump’s claim of “28,000 great construction jobs” as false.

        How bad is it on the border?

        As he signed an executive order to begin the process of building a wall on the US-Mexico border, Trump had this to say about the situation on the country’s southern frontier: “A nation without borders is not a nation. Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders, gets back its borders.”
        But illegal immigration across the southern border has fallen dramatically in recent years.
        According to Customs and Border Protection, 415,816 people were caught trying to enter the country illegally in the fiscal year that ended last September. Of those, 408,870 were caught trying to cross the southern border.
        That national figure is less than half the 1.1 million people caught on average annually between 1980 and 2008. Border Patrol said the trends in people seeking to illegally cross the border correlates with the trends in apprehensions.
        Apprehensions of Mexicans trying to enter the country illegally are near a 50-year low, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.
        The falloff in illegal immigration from Mexico is so great that, according to Pew, in recent years, more Mexicans have returned to their country of origin than have tried to come here. The Border Patrol also notes that “far fewer Mexican nationals and single adults are attempting to cross the border without authorization, while far more families and unaccompanied children are fleeing poverty and violence in Central America.”
        What is different is that “a growing share” of these Central American migrants are surrendering to law enforcement “to seek humanitarian protection” rather than trying to sneak into the US undetected.
        We rate Trump’s claim that the country has no borders as misleading.

        Spicer’s first press briefing

        After a flame-throwing weekend start to his tenure as White House press secretary, Sean Spicer showed up for his first weekday briefing a good bit tamer. He tossed out a self-deprecating joke about his rough start, then quickly went into a long session which had two advantages over his initial outing: He held more firmly to the truth and he took questions. Here are two of his bigger assertions.
        Spicer said at this point in President Barack Obama’s first term, seven of his cabinet picks had already been confirmed, compared to only two for Trump as of the moment Spicer made the statement. He said the reason is Democrats are “playing political games.” His math is correct and that makes the numeric claim true, although Democrats say the cause of the delay is some of Trump’s nominees being slow about submitting their ethics paperwork.
        Spicer said the reason for repealing and replacing Obamacare is simple: the competition among providers, which was supposed to bring prices down, has never materialized.
        “You go around the country and look market after market, they are down to one plan. That’s not what the American people were promised. Not only that, but in many cases, you are seeing rates go up 10, 15, 20, 30, 50%.”
        Five states have only one insurer, as do about one-third of counties nationwide, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. And while some premium prices fell, the average monthly premium for the 2017 benchmark “Silver” plan rose 22% … with plenty of plans rising in the 10% to 50% range.
        This claim is also true.

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/29/politics/donald-trump-reality-check-first-week/index.html

        Categories CNN

        From book to boom: how the Mormons plan a city for 500,000 in Florida

        The Mormon church owns vast tracts of US land, and now envisages a huge new city on its Deseret Ranch but at what cost?

        Everything about the Deseret cattle and citrus ranch, in central Florida, is massive. The property itself occupies 290,000 acres of land more than nine times the size of San Francisco and almost 20 times the size of Manhattan. It is one of the largest ranches in the country, held by the one of the biggest landowners in the state: the Mormon church.

        On an overcast weekday afternoon, Mormon missionaries give tours of the vast estate. Fields, orange trees and grazing animals stretch as far as the eye can see. While central Florida may be best known for Disney World, the ranch roughly an hours drive away is nearly 10 times bigger. It is home to a jaw-dropping 40,000 cows and has grown oranges for millions of glasses of juice.

        Now there are ambitious, far-reaching plans to transform much of this land into an entirely new city, home to as many as 500,000 people by 2080. Deseret has said that while nothing will be built here for decades, its plans are necessary because urban growth in the area is inevitable and the alternative is piecemeal development. A slide from a 2014 presentation explains: We think in terms of generations.

        The Deseret Ranch in central Florida. The Mormon church has said it plans are necessary because urban growth in the area is inevitable. Photograph: John Raoux/AP

        Deserets plans, which were given the green light by local county commissioners in 2015, are thought to be the largest-ever proposed in the state and have attracted high-profile attention. Critics have accused the plans of putting already stressed natural habitats and critical resources, such as water, in further jeopardy.

        This is not a typical housing development. It is an entire region of the state of Florida and it is the last remaining wilderness, said Karina Veaudry, a landscape architect in Orlando and member of the Florida Native Plant Society. It is, she stressed, a plan on an unprecedented scale: This project impacts the entire state, ecologically.

        For years, environmental groups protested that it was too risky to build so much on such ecologically important land particularly in one of the few areas of Florida that hasnt already been consumed by sprawling developments. We fought it and fought it and fought it, said Veaudry, who described it as nothing less than a David and Goliath struggle.

        Except this time, Goliath was part of the property empire of the Mormon church.

        Faith and property

        The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has long influenced urban developments in America through specific ideas about town planning. In the 1830s, the churchs founder, Joseph Smith, laid out a vision for compact, self-sufficient agrarian cities. These were utopian in conception and have been hailed as a precursor to smart growth planning.

        The plans for the Deseret ranch in central Floridahave shone a spotlight on another side of the churchs influence: its investments in land and real estate. Today, the church owns land and property across the US through a network of subsidiaries. Its holdings include farmland, residential and commercial developments, though it remains notoriously tight-lipped about its business ventures.

        The church has been buying up land in central Florida since the 1950s, starting with 50,000 acres for Deseret Ranch since expanded almost sixfold. Its most recent major acquisition, by the church-owned company AgReserves, was another 380,000 acres in the states north-western panhandle the strip of land that runs along the Gulf of Mexico. Deseret Ranchs website quotes the late church president, Gordon B Hinckley, as saying that farms are both a safe investment where the assets of the church may be preserved and enhanced and an agricultural resource to feed people should there come a time of need.

        Across America, subsidiaries of the church reportedly hold 1m acres of agricultural land. This is thought to include land in Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah and Texas. Church companies are also thought to hold land outside the US, including in Canada and Brazil. In 2014, when church-owned farms in Australia were put up for sale, reports estimated their worth at about $120m (72.8m).

        The Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City where the church has its headquarters. Photograph: George Frey/Getty Images

        Recent real estate investments by church companies include the 2016 purchase of a 380-unit apartment complex in Texas, estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars, and, in Philadelphia, a shopping area, a 32-storey apartment block and a landscaped plaza being built across the street from a newly constructed Mormon temple.

        In Salt Lake City, where the church has its headquarters, a church company is currently working on a new master-planned community on the citys west side for almost 4,000 homes. Last year, another investment was unveiled: the new high-end 111 Main skyscraper. Goldman Sachs is reportedly signed up as a tenant.

        This city was built by Mormons. In the 19th century, early Mormon settlers gave Salt Lake City bridges, miles of roads, rail and other infrastructure. Hundreds of businesses were also set up: banks, a network of general stores, mining companies. The citys Temple Square is filled with statues glorifying the pioneers.

        Nearby is a more contemporary monument to the investing and enterprising church: the City Creek Center, a new shopping mall with 100 stores and a retractable glass roof. It cost an estimated $1.5bn. At its grand opening, a church leader cut a pink ribbon and cheered: One, two, three lets go shopping!

        The church said its investment in the mall would help revitalise central Salt Lake City as part of a wider multibillion-dollar initiative called Downtown Rising. Bishop H David Burton said it would create the necessary jobs and added that any parcel of property the church owns that is not used directly for ecclesiastical worship is fully taxed at its market value.

        The City Creek Center project has been controversial, however even among Mormons. Some current and former church members have questioned why money invested in such projects isnt spent on charitable initiatives instead.

        In 2013, Jason Mathis, executive director of Salt Lake Citys Downtown Alliance business development group, said the church was an interesting landlord. Theyre not worried about the next quarter, he explained. They have a much longer perspective they want to know what the city will look like in the next 50 or 100 years.

        The City Creek shopping centre in Salt Lake City, which reportedly cost $1.5bn. Photograph: Rick Bowmer/AP

        Black box finances

        Projects such as the Salt Lake City shopping centre have certainly focused attention on the churchs investments, but it remains secretive about its revenues and finances.

        An entity called Deseret Management Corporation is understood to control many of the churchs enterprises, through subsidiaries focused on different commercial interests including insurance and publishing.

        Several church ventures bear the name Deseret itself a term from the Book of Mormon meaning honeybee and intended to represent goals of productivity and self-sufficiency.

        In central Florida, the churchs Deseret Ranch is understood to sell cows to Cargill, a Minnesota-based trading company, and oranges to Tropicana, as well as renting land to hunters and other companies.

        Deseret, however, declined to confirm this. It said: As a private investment affiliate of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Deseret Ranch does not release financial information or details about our production and customers.

        The churchs press office in Salt Lake City also did not respond to emails from the Guardian.

        Previously, church officials have emphasised that finance for its companies investments do not come from tithing donations (church members are supposed to contribute 10% of their income each year) but from profits from other such ventures.

        But these and other claims, even when offered, are also difficult to verify. Ultimately their finances are a black box according to Ryan Cragun, associate professor of sociology at the University of Tampa.

        Cragun previously worked with Reuters to estimate in 2012 that the church owns temples and other buildings worth $35bn and receives as much as $7bn in members tithing each year. But he says the church stopped releasing annual financial information to its own members many years ago.

        Estimating their total land holdings? Good luck, says Cragun. Nobody knows how much money the church actually has and why theyre buying all of this land and developing land.

        The Mormon church-owned skyscraper at 111 Main in Salt Lake City. Photograph: City Creek Reserve

        A new city for Florida

        Over the last half-century, Florida has become something of a laboratory for ambitious and sometimes surreal master-planned communities. In southern Florida, for example, the founder of Dominos Pizza funded the construction of a Catholic town called Ave Maria. Closer to Orlando is the town of Celebration, developed by the Walt Disney Company, where shops on meticulously maintained streets sell French pastries and luxury dog treats.

        Across Florida, more new subdivisions and developments are planned. Many of these projects have drawn criticism for their potential impact on Floridas already stressed water resources.

        Sprawl is where the money is, and people want homes with big lawns and nearby golf courses, a columnist for the Florida Times-Union newspaper recently lamented. He suggested the state should step in to ban water-hungry grass varieties and introduce stronger planning procedures to limit large-scale developments.

        The ranchs plans are the largest of these yet. Indeed, they are thought to be the largest-ever proposed in the state, and this land lies in an area thats been called Floridas last frontier.

        In 2015, local Osceola county officials approved the North Ranch sector plan, which covers a 133,000-acre slice of Deseret property. As part of this plan, tens of thousands of these acres have been earmarked for conservation lands, not to be built on; and, in addition, Deseret has insisted that it will also continue ranching operations here for generations in the future.

        But most of this land, under the approved plan, could be transformed into a new urban landscape. By 2080, it could be home to as many as 500,000 people. The plan explicitly refers to a new fully functioning city.

        It envisages a massive development complete with a high-intensity, mixed-use urban centre and a variety of centres and neighbourhoods. There would be 16 communities and a regional hub with a footprint of around one square mile equal to [that] of downtown Orlando.

        The Lake Nona complex of master-planned communities where the grass is greener. Photograph: Claire Provost

        New office blocks, civic buildings, high-rise hotels and apartment buildings are among the structures anticipated, along with new schools, a hospital, parks and a university and research campus. New motorways and rail lines would connect it all to Orlando and cities along Floridas eastern coast.

        The document argues that the plan is necessary to prepare for expected population growth. More than 80% of the vacant developable land in the very area where demographic and economic forces are propelling an increasing share of the regions population and job growth is located on Deserets North Ranch, it says.

        In an email to the Guardian, Dale Bills, a spokesperson for Deseret Ranch, said it offers a framework for future land use decisions but will not be implemented for decades.

        Were not developers, but the sector plan allows us to be involved in shaping what the ranch will look like over the next 50-60 years, Bills said. When growth does come to the region the plan will help create vibrant communities that are environmentally responsible and people-friendly, he said.

        The plan also provides for continued farming operations, Bills added, meaning that generations from now, Deseret will still be doing what we love growing food and caring for the land.

        Meanwhile, the ranch has set aside another, smaller block of its land for a separate and more immediate project called Sunbridge, to be developed by the Tavistock Group known in the area for its Lake Nona complex of master-planned communities just south-east of Orlandos international airport.

        A render of the Lake Nona development. Photograph: KPMG

        On a weekday afternoon, the still largely empty Lake Nona development is silent. Signs planted by the road proclaim it is where the grass is greener. At the visitors centre, a pair of well-dressed women chat over coffee. A sales agent hands out glossy brochures with aspirational verbs embossed on its cover: DISCOVER. EVOLVE. INNOVATE.

        Still under construction, Lake Nona describes itself as a city of the future with super-fast internet connections, one of the top private [golf] clubs in the world and homes ranging from luxury apartments to sprawling estates. Less than an hours drive from the ranch, it offers a potential hint of whats to come.

        The damage is done

        Until this happened [the ranch] was a quiet neighbour, said Jenny Welch, 54, a registered nurse and environmental activist who lived in the area for decades before leaving earlier this year. When I first moved here in 1980, I thought it was great because it would never be developed. This is such environmentally important land. Its a wildlife corridor. There are wetlands.

        Major concerns about the Deseret North Ranch plan have included how much water it will consume, the impact of proposed new roads and the amount of land set aside for conservation.

        Veaudry, the Orlando landscape architect, said environmental groups tried to engage with the Deseret plans from the beginning by raising concerns but also suggesting enhanced measures to protect local ecosystems.

        But, she said, what was ultimately approved was pretty much the nail in the coffin for decades-long efforts to establish a north-south ecological corridor to allow wildlife and ecosystems to flow across the state. It would put literally a city right in the middle of it, she said.

        The new city envisaged for this land wont be constructed overnight. While the overall plan for the area has been approved, more approvals will be needed on specific details. This has not reassured critics.

        Florida environmentalist Charles Pattison has argued that the long time frame only makes it harder to monitor the project. People involved in this today will not be around to see [it] through to completion, as many new administrative and elected officials will come and go over that time, he said.

        The main guidelines, the amount of conservation, how wide the buffers have to be, all of that is already approved and set, said Veaudry. As far as I understand it, the damage is done. Locals know what happened. The Mormon church is the largest landowner here. And they have enormous resources.

        The second half of Claire Provosts exploration of Mormon city planning will appear tomorrow. Follow Guardian Cities on Twitter and Facebook to join the discussion, and explore our archive here

        Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/jan/30/from-book-to-boom-how-the-mormons-plan-a-city-for-500000-in-florida

        Miss France beats Haiti and Colombia to clinch Miss Universe title

        (CNN)Miss France is the new Miss Universe.

        Decked out in a gold-sequined gown, 24-year-old dental surgery student Iris Mittenaere beat 12 other finalists to take the crown. As Miss Universe, she will be campaigning for dental and oral care around the world.
        “This sash is not only a sash,” said Mittenaere, who is from Northern France, in a Miss Universe interview after the pageant. “This is something to help people, to understand people.”
          First and second runner-ups were Miss Haiti (Raquel Pelissier) and Miss Colombia (Andrea Tovar). The top finalists hailed from Kenya, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, Panama, Colombia, Phillippines, Canada, Brazil, France, Haiti, Thailand and the U.S.
            The pageant changed its format this year; it had 12 instead of 13 finalists, and counted online votes from the Miss Universe app and Twitter.
            This was the first time Sierra Leone entered the competition and was represented by Hawa Kamara, 2013 Miss West Africa. Miss Canada, Siera Bearchell, also made headlines for taking on trolls who body-shamed her for her size.
            The annual pageant was held on Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines. Host Steve Harvey joked on the show that he got the winner right this year, after last year’s snafu of getting it wrong. Rapper Flo Rida and R&B group Boys II Men provided entertainment.

            Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/30/entertainment/miss-universe-winner/index.html

            Categories CNN

            Trump’s fast and furious first week: The strategy

            (CNN)President Trump is moving at a fast and furious pace. He is overwhelming Washington with a series of provocative executive orders that aim to fulfill his campaign promises.

            Trump issued an explosive executive order closing the borders to refugees for 120 days and to citizens from seven countries with Muslim majorities for 90 days.
              The president has instructed the agencies to scale back on the Affordable Care Act. He has directed them to start preparing to build the famous border wall with Mexico, in addition to hiring 5,000 more border agents.
                Another executive order has called for the deportation of persons convicted or charged with a crime or who “pose a risk to public safety or national security.” If his order is enforced, sanctuary cities will not receive federal grants. There will be a major review of all regulations on American manufacturers while he is speeding up environmental reviews on key infrastructure projects.
                Offering a direct jab at environmental activists, the president has ordered permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone Pipeline. He has put into place a hiring freeze in many federal agencies. Fulfilling two major pledges, Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and announced that federal dollars would not be distributed to international non-governmental organizations that provide abortion. And there has been more.

                No joke

                If anyone doubted that President Trump meant business they should realize that this is no joke. Predictions about the First Hundred Days might now turn into discussions about the First Seven Days. Democrats are learning that the frenetic energy from FDR’s famous start in office in 1933 doesn’t feel so good when you are sitting on the other side of the political aisle. The president took some very big steps in his first week that signal the growing likelihood of a transformative and rightward period in American political history. The ban on refugees has awakened many people here in the US. and around the globe to just what’s at stake with this presidency.
                While Republicans don’t always like the way Trump handles himself personally and they have problems with some of the positions, such as his statements about Russia, overall on Capitol Hill there has been a lot for Republicans to celebrate. As President Trump told a retreat of Republicans, “you’re not wasting your time.”
                From the moment of his inauguration, Trump is revealing exactly how he plans to handle the challenges that stemmed from the 2016 election.
                Just as President George W. Bush had to figure out how to govern after the contested 2000 election that was settled by a Supreme Court decision, President Trump needs to figure out how to move forward forcefully despite losing the popular vote by nearly three million votes and despite the controversy that surrounded the election as a result of FBI Director James Comey’s letters about Hillary Clinton and the rampant evidence of Russian intervention.

                Behind the lies

                To the frustration of his opponents, one of Trump’s main tactics is to simply spread false information to support his claim that this was an election which gave him a mandate for sweeping change. Whatever his intentions are, he is telling lies. The most controversial and potentially damaging of these statements has revolved around repeated allegations that the only reason Hillary Clinton won the popular vote was because of massive voter fraud, much of it by illegal immigrants, that cost him at the ballot box.


                Many Americans might not like him, but the White House is betting that they will respect him as a chief executive who can move policies in an era in gridlock. This will be important so that when he does send Congress legislation, most Republicans will have little appetite to anger his energized supporters, and Democrats from swing states and districts, with a nervous eye on 2018, might just be willing to go along with some of his programs. The blitz of executive orders and memorandums are a way to undercut congressional opposition in the coming months.
                And right now, the Congress is proving just how much polarization and unified government are working in his favor. The basic fact is that, like LBJ in 1965, Trump now enjoys one of those rare moments of unified government where the conditions for legislating are very good.

                Join us on Twitter and Facebook

                Not only do Republicans control the House and Senate, but the party is extremely disciplined and relatively united on most key issues. Congressional Republicans have rallied around the president on his Cabinet picks no matter how controversial. There has been little public blowback about the executive orders thus far, most of which fit very well on the conservative GOP agenda.
                Congressional Republicans are aware of the opportunity they have to legislate and to move American policy in a rightward direction while dismantling President Obama’s legacy. Thus far, Trump has been able to count on them.
                At the same time, recent weeks have shown just how fragile the Democratic Party has become. The resistance to Trump has been negligible. Democrats have stood by as Trump makes his moves. They look more like deer in the political headlights than prizefighters struggling to change the direction of a match.
                For all the controversy and for all the chaos, the first week of the Trump administration, from the perspective of his supporters, has been a successful one. The outlines of a strategy have now become clear as are the very grave risks that Democrats will face if they keep passively watching this unfold.
                The executive order on refugees might be the first of Trump’s decisions to start stimulating some serious grassroots and political opposition to this exertion of presidential power. But, as the first week has shown, it will take much more than complaints and simple protests to check this ambitious presidential agenda.

                Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/28/opinions/trumps-fast-and-furious-first-week-zelizer/index.html

                Categories CNN

                Uber: the app that changed how the world hails a taxi

                How James Bond, an abusive Parisian cabbie, and one mans frustration with going out in San Francisco led to a transport revolution

                The whole thing might not have happened without Bond James Bond. It was mid-2008, the Canadian entrepreneur Garrett Camp had just sold his first company, the website discovery engine StumbleUpon, to eBay for $75m. Now he was living large, enjoying San Franciscos nightlife, and when relaxing at his apartment in the citys South Park neighbourhood, he occasionally popped in the DVD of Daniel Craigs first Bond movie, Casino Royale.

                Camp loved the movie, but something specific in it got him thinking. Thirty minutes into the film, Bond is driving his silver Ford Mondeo in the Bahamas on the trail of his adversary, Le Chiffre, when he glances down at his Sony Ericsson phone. Its brazen product placement and by todays standards the phone seems comically outdated. But at the time, what Bond saw on his phone startled Camp: a graphical icon of the Mondeo moving on a map toward his destination. The image stuck in his head and to understand why, you need to know more about the restless, inventive mind of Garrett Camp.

                Camp was born in Calgary, Canada, and spent his early childhood playing sports, learning the electric guitar and asking lots of questions. Eventually, his curiosity settled on the world of personal computers. An uncle gave the family an early model Macintosh, from the days of floppy disks and point-and-click adventure games, and Camp spent hours on it during the frigid winters, toying with early computer graphics and writing basic programs.

                By the time Camp graduated from high school, his parents had a three-storey home that included a comfortable office and a computer room in the basement. There wasnt much reason to leave, he says. He enrolled at the nearby University of Calgary, saved money by living at home and spent the next few years there (aside from one year in Montreal, interning at a company called Nortel Networks). He got his undergraduate degree in 2001 and stayed at the university to pursue a master of science, finally leaving his comfortable nest after he turned 22 to move into a campus apartment with classmates.

                Camp met Geoff Smith, who would become his StumbleUpon co-founder, through one of his childhood friends and they started the site as a way for users to share and find interesting things on the internet without having to search for them on Google. By the time Camp finished his degree in 2005, StumbleUpon was starting to show promise. Camp and Smith met an angel investor that year who convinced them to move to San Francisco to raise capital. Over the next 12 months, the number of users on StumbleUpon grew from 500,000 to 2 million.

                With the trauma of the first dot-com bust fading and the scent of opportunity again wafting across Silicon Valley, offers for StumbleUpon started pouring in. In May 2007, eBay bought StumbleUpon for $75m, turning it into one of the early successes of what became known as Web 2.0, the movement in which companies such as Flickr and Facebook mined the social connections among internet users. For Camp, it seemed the highest possible level of success in Silicon Valley and it was, by any reasonable standard until the one that he achieved next.

                Uber co-founder Garrett Camp. Photograph: Rob Kim/Getty Images

                Camp continued to work at eBay after the sale and he was now young, wealthy and single, with a taste for getting out of the house. This is when he ran headlong into San Franciscos feeble taxi industry.

                For decades, San Francisco had kept the number of taxi licences capped at about 1,500. Licences in the city were relatively inexpensive and couldnt be resold and owners could keep the permit as long as they liked if they logged a minimum number of hours on the road every year. So new permits usually became available only when drivers died and anyone who applied for one had to wait years to receive it. Stories abounded about a driver waiting for three decades to get a licence, only to die soon after.

                The system guaranteed a healthy availability of passengers for the taxi companies even during slow times and ensured that full-time drivers could earn a living wage. But demand for cars greatly exceeded supply and so taxi service in San Francisco famously sucked. Trying to hail a cab in the outer neighbourhoods near the ocean, or even downtown on a weekend night, was an exercise in futility. Getting a cab to take you to the airport was a stomach-churning gamble that could easily result in a missed flight.

                Attempts to improve the situation were fruitless, since the fleets and their drivers were adamant about limiting competition. Over the years, whenever the mayor or the citys board of supervisors tried to increase the number of permits, angry drivers would fill city council chambers or surround city hall, causing havoc.

                After the eBay acquisition, Camp splurged out on a red Mercedes-Benz C-Class sports car, but the vehicle sat in his garage. He hadnt driven much in Calgary and at college he preferred to take public transport. Driving in San Francisco was too stressful, he says. I didnt want to park the car on the street and I didnt want people to break into it. Just logistically, it was much harder to drive.

                So the citys sad taxi situation seriously cramped his new lifestyle. Since he couldnt reliably hail a cab on the street, he began putting the yellow cab dispatch numbers in his phones speed dial. Even that was frustrating. I would call and they wouldnt show up and while I was waiting on the street, two or three other cabs would go by, he says. Then Id call them back and they wouldnt even remember that I called before. I remember being late for first or second dates. I could start getting ready 20 minutes early and still Id end up being 30 minutes late.

                The sparkling city by the bay beckoned, but Camp had no reliable way to answer its call. Habitually restless and frustrated by inefficiencies, he came up with his first attempt at a solution: he would call all the yellow taxi companies when he needed a cab. Then he would take the first one that arrived.

                Not surprisingly, the cab fleets didnt like that tactic. Though impossible to confirm, Camp believes his mobile phone was blacklisted by the San Francisco taxi companies. They wouldnt take my calls, he says. I was banned from the cab system.

                Then Camp got a girlfriend: a smart, beautiful television producer named Melody McCloskey. The relationship posed a new set of transport hurdles: McCloskey lived a few miles away from Camp, in Pacific Heights. Meeting anywhere was a hassle and Camp often wanted to get together somewhere out at night.

                To solve these challenges, Camp started to experiment with the citys gypsy cab fleet the unmarked black sedans that would approach prospective passengers on the street and flash their headlights to solicit a fare. Most San Franciscans, particularly women, would stay away from these unmarked cars, fearing for their safety or worried by the ambiguity of a cab without a running meter. But Camp found that a majority of the cars were clean and that many of the drivers were friendly. The biggest problem for these drivers was filling in the dead time between rides, when they tended to wait outside hotels. So Camp started collecting the phone numbers of town-car drivers. At one point, I had 10 to 15 numbers in my phone of the best black-car drivers in San Francisco, he says.

                Then he started gaming the system further: texting a favourite driver hours before he needed him and telling him to meet him at a restaurant or bar at an appointed time. On another night, he rented a town car and driver for himself and a group of friends for an entire evening. It was an indulgence that cost $1,000 and zooming around the city at the end of the night dropping everyone off was a pain.

                And that is when the futuristic image from Casino Royale popped into Camps head. Suddenly, he was obsessed with a new notion. He frequently talked with McCloskey about the idea of an on-demand car service and vehicles that passengers could track via a map on their phones. At one point that year, Camp scrawled the word ber into a Moleskine notebook that he kept to jot down new ideas and logos for companies and brands. Isnt that pronounced Yoober? she asked him.

                I dont care. It looks cool, he said.

                McCloskey recalls that Camp wanted it to be one word and a description of excellence and that his musings on the word, its sound and meaning, were incessant. What an uber coffee that was, hed say randomly after drinking a cup. It means great things! It means greatness!

                Cab drivers wait to be processed at Ubers London driver service centre. Photograph: Felix Clay for the Guardian

                Camp says he contemplated calling this new service berCab or BestCab and finally settled on just UberCab, losing the umlaut. (He registered the domain name UberCab.com in August 2008.) McCloskey loved Camps endless examination of new ideas but wasnt so sure she believed in this particular one. Sure, cabs are terrible, she said. But you are only in the cab for eight minutes! Why does itmatter?

                But Camp was certain that he wanted such a service. He also knew that the iPhone and its new app store, which Apple introduced over the summer of 2008, were going to finally make the futuristic vision in Casino Royale practical. Not only could you chart the location of an object on a map, but since the earliest models of the phone had an accelerometer, you could also tell if the car was moving or not. That meant that an iPhone could function like a taximeter and be used to charge passengers by the minute or the mile.

                He talked it over that year with many of his friends. The author and investor Tim Ferriss first brainstormed with Camp about the then-unnamed Uber at a bar in the Mission District. He thought it was a great idea, then forgot all about it. A month or two later, he got a call from Camp and when they started talking about Uber again, Ferriss was shocked. Camp, he says, had done an incredibly deep dive into the flaws of black cars and a kind of lost utility, the downtime of black cars and taxis. It was clear that he was probably already in the top 1% of market analysts who have looked at the space.

                The idea behind Uber was crystallising in Camps mind.

                Both the passenger and the driver could have an app on their phones. The passenger could have a credit card on file and wouldnt have to travel with any pesky cash. I bounced the idea off of everyone, Camp says. All these ideas kept building and building.

                The original idea was to buy cars, then share the fleet among his friends who were using the app. But Camp says that was only a starting point and that even back then he was considering the potential to use such a system to co-ordinate not just black taxis but eco-friendly Priuses and even yellow cabs.

                I always thought it could become a more efficient cab system, particularly in San Francisco, he says. He wasnt sure it would work outside the city, though. If he could get it to work in just 100 cities, he reasoned, it could be big enough for a company that generated about $100m a year in service fees.

                By the autumn, Camp had more free time to work on Uber, since he and McCloskey had broken up, though they remained friends, and he was going less frequently into StumbleUpon. He recalls spending his weekends getting coffee, cruising the web and doing research into the transport industry and then going out with friends at night.

                On 17 November 2008, he registered UberCab as a limited liability company in California. Soon after, hungry for some basic market research, he sent an email to Ferriss, saying: My goal is to be at a go or no-go decision by 1 December and to be live with five cars in January.

                In December, on the way to LeWeb, a high-profile annual technology conference in Paris, Camp stopped in New York. There he met Oscar Salazar, a friend and fellow graduate student from the University of Calgary. Salazar was a skilled engineer from Colima, Mexico. He got his masters in electrical engineering in Canada and his PhD in France, then moved to New York.

                During this time, he kept in touch with Camp and they reunited that December at a delicatessen in lower Manhattan. Camp pitched UberCab to Salazar and asked him to lead the development of the prototype.

                I have this idea. In San Francisco its hard to get a taxi. I want to buy five Mercedes, Camp said, taking out his phone and showing him a picture of a Mercedes-Benz S550, a high-end coupe that sold for about 80,000. Im going to buy the cars with some friends and were going to share drivers and the cost of parking. He showed mock-ups of iPhone screens demonstrating how cars would move on maps and how passengers might see a town car coming toward them.

                Salazar had experienced his own troubles hailing cabs in Mexico, Canada and France and remembers telling Camp: I dont know if this is a billion-dollar company, but its definitely a billion-dollar idea. Since Salazar was in the US on a student visa, he couldnt receive payment in cash for the job. Instead, he received equity in the fledgling startup. His stake is now worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

                Its way more than I deserved. Its more than any human deserves, he told me over breakfast at a New York cafe in 2015. UberCab was officially in development, and so Camp left for Paris and the LeWeb conference, where he was meeting McCloskey and a close friend and fellow entrepreneur Travis Kalanick.

                Every company creates its own origin myth. Its a useful tool for expressing the companys values to employees and the world and for simplifying and massaging history to give due credit to the people who made the most important contributions when it all started. Ubers official story begins here in Paris, when Camp and Kalanick famously visited the Eiffel Tower on a night after LeWeb and, looking out over the city of light, decided to take on an entrenched taxi industry that they felt was more interested in blocking competition than serving customers.

                We actually came up with the idea at LeWeb in 2008, Kalanick would say five years later at the same conference, citing the challenges of getting a cab in Paris. We went back to San Francisco and we created a very simple, straightforward [way] to us at the time, to push a button and get a ride. We wanted it to be a classy ride.

                Uber instruction video

                Like all mythologies, it is not really true. The story gets misrepresented a lot, Camp sighs. The whole LeWeb thing. Im OK with it, as long as its directionally correct.

                Camp had previously discussed the Uber idea with Kalanick, as he had with other friends. At the time, Kalanick was enthusiastic about Camps notion for a smartphone-based town-car-sharing service but only mildly interested in getting involved. He had just sold a previous startup, the streaming-video company Red Swoosh, to a much larger competitor, Akamai, and was in the middle of what he later called his burnout phase, travelling through Europe, Thailand, Argentina and Brazil, and sizing up different career options. Travis thought it was interesting but he was in this mode, Camp says. He had just left Akamai and was travelling a lot and angel investing. He wasnt ready to go back in.

                In Paris, they all stayed at a lavish apartment that Kalanick had found on the website VRBO. Camp was talking endlessly that week about Uber, but Kalanick had his own startup idea, which, considering everything that subsequently happened, was ironic: he was envisioning a company that would operate a global network of luxurious lodgings, identically furnished and separated into different classes, which could be leased via the internet. Frequent business travellers could subscribe to this network, rent places and pay for them seamlessly. He called this business idea Pad Pass. It was sort of a cross between a home experience and a hotel experience, Kalanick later told me. I was trying to bring those two together. Camp recalled it too. Travis had hacked out a whole Airbnb-like system that we were considering starting, he said. Uber was my idea; that was his idea.

                McCloskey remembers that Kalanick had reached the same conclusions as the founders of Airbnb. The internet could allow travellers to find luxurious yet cheap accommodations while also offering a far more interesting travelling experience.

                Nevertheless, the conversation that week in Paris gradually came to focus more on Uber than Pad Pass. Camp was convinced that the right way to start the business was to buy those top-line Mercedes. Kalanick strongly disagreed, arguing that it was folly to own the cars and more efficient just to distributethemobile app to drivers.

                McCloskey remembers one dinner at a restaurant in Paris where the debate raged over the best way to run an on-demand network of town cars. The restaurant was elegant, with expensive wine, light music and a sophisticated French clientele. Apparently there was also paper over the tablecloth because Camp and Kalanick spent the entire meal scrawling their estimates for things such as fixed costs and maximum vehicle utility rates.

                On a separate night in Paris, the group went for drinks in the Champs-lyses and then to an elegant late-night dinner that included wine and foie gras. At 2am, somewhat intoxicated after a night of revelry, they hailed a cab on the street.

                Apparently they were speaking too boisterously, because halfway through the ride home, the driver started yelling at them. McCloskey was sitting in the middle of the backseat and, at 5ft 10in tall, shed had to prop her high heels on the cushion between the two front seats.

                The driver cursed at them in French and threatened to kick them out of the car if they didnt quieten down and if McCloskey didnt move her feet. She spoke French and translated; Kalanick reacted furiously and suggested they get out of the car.

                The experience seemed to harden their resolve. It definitely lit a fire, McCloskey says. When you are put in a situation where you feel like theres an injustice, that pisses Travis off more than anything. He couldnt get over it. People shouldnt have to sit in urine-filled cabs after a wonderful night and be yelled at.

                That cantankerous Paris cab driver may have left an indelible mark on transport history. By the time they got back to San Francisco, Kalanick was ready to get more involved, at least as an adviser, and Camp was ready to listen to him. A few weeks into 2009, after a trip to Washington DC to see Barack Obamas first inauguration as president, Camp called Kalanick. He was about to lease parking spaces in a garage near his home in San Francisco for the fleet of Mercedes he was still determined to buy. Kalanick counselled him against it one last time: Dude, dude! You dont want to dothat!

                Camp finally gave in and ended the ongoing debate; he never signed the lease and never purchased the cars. Instead of buying a dozen flashy Mercedes, Camp, along with Kalanick, would pitch the app to owners and drivers of limousines.

                Kalanick would brag a few years later, in one of our first interviews: Garrett brought the classy and I brought the efficiency. We dont own cars and we dont hire drivers. We work with companies and individuals who do that. Its very straightforward. I want to push a button and get a ride. Thats what its about.

                Edited extract from The Upstarts by Brad Stone published by Bantam Press (20)

                Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jan/29/uber-app-changed-how-world-hails-a-taxi-brad-stone