August 8, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 3:41 PM


'My Israel has died': British philanthropist lambasts Jewish nation-state law (Mustafa Abu Sneineh, Wednesday 8 August 2018, Middle East Eye)

Dame Vivien Duffield, one of Britain's most prominent donors to Israel, called the Jewish nation-state law "apartheid" and said that "my Israel has died' in an interview in Hebrew with Haaretz, published on Tuesday.

Duffield, 72, is the chairman of the Clore Duffield Foundation in Israel, which has donated millions of British pounds since 1979 to build libraries, parks, shelters for battered women, houses for Israel's Association for Children with Disabilities, classrooms and clinics, among a long list of philanthropic efforts.

She also donates money to the Weizmann Institute of Science in the Israeli city of Rehovot and the Tower of David Museum in the citadel of the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem.

"To be honest, 'my' Israel has died. The Israel that I knew and loved is no more," Duffield was quoted as saying.

"I'm a very pragmatic person, but do I like what has been going on in Israel in the past few years? No. I hate what is going on there."

Posted by orrinj at 1:44 PM


Activists wave Declaration of Independence in stormy Knesset nation-state debate  (Times of Israel, 8/08/18)

Zionist Union activists waved copies of Israel's Declaration of Independence in the Knesset plenum Wednesday during a special debate on the nation-state law.

Opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni delivered the main address at the gathering, which was called after the opposition obtained the requisite 25 MKs' signatures for holding a special plenum debate during the summer recess.

In her speech, Livni railed against the right-wing government, called for early elections and said the opposition would pass the Declaration of Independence as a basic law in lieu of the nation-state law passed by the right-wing coalition on July 19.

Castigating the prime minister for failing to include a commitment to equality for all Israeli citizens in the nation-state law, Livni stormed: "What the hell has Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got against the Declaration of Independence?", which includes a specific commitment to full equality.

"We're the side that believes in a covenant of equals," she said. "Every citizen of Israel has equal rights."

"We commit to bringing the principles of the Declaration of Independence back into our lives. That's our commitment, and we will fight for it until we win the elections. Your time is over," she said to leaders of the right-wing coalition -- who were not present in the plenum.

Posted by Glenn Dryfoos at 7:44 AM


Posted by orrinj at 4:20 AM


How low can investment fees go? Fidelity launches a race to zero (THOMAS HEATH, AUG 08, 2018, LA Times)
Fidelity Investments announced recently it was launching two zero-cost index mutual funds, escalating a price race that could leave investors questioning whether to pay mutual fund management fees at all.

"The most meaningful impact of all of this is its effect on what investors expect to pay for broad market exposure, which is now, at least in the case of a pair of Fidelity funds, nothing," said Ben Johnson, director of global exchange traded funds and passive strategies research at Morningstar.

Posted by orrinj at 4:10 AM


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Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM


N.H. Predicts Lower Cost For 'Obamacare' Plans (Nora Doyle-Burr, 8/08/18, Valley News)

In the short term, New Hampshire residents who buy health insurance through the federal marketplace can expect lower rates. In the longer term, there's a good chance they'll have more plans to choose from, although there's disagreement about whether that's a positive development.

Rates for the coming year won't be available until enrollment begins on Nov. 1, but the New Hampshire Insurance Department predicts a 6.75 percent rate decrease between 2018 and 2019, according to a news release issued on Monday. 

Posted by orrinj at 3:58 AM


The Shadow Rulers of the VA: How Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter and two other Mar-a-Lago cronies are secretly shaping the Trump administration's veterans policies. (Isaac Arnsdorf Aug. 7, 2018, ProPublica)

Last February, shortly after Peter O'Rourke became chief of staff for the Department of Veterans Affairs, he received an email from Bruce Moskowitz with his input on a new mental health initiative for the VA. "Received," O'Rourke replied. "I will begin a project plan and develop a timeline for action."

O'Rourke treated the email as an order, but Moskowitz is not his boss. In fact, he is not even a government official. Moskowitz is a Palm Beach doctor who helps wealthy people obtain high-service "concierge" medical care.

More to the point, he is one-third of an informal council that is exerting sweeping influence on the VA from Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump's private club in Palm Beach, Florida. The troika is led by Ike Perlmutter, the reclusive chairman of Marvel Entertainment, who is a longtime acquaintance of President Trump's. The third member is a lawyer named Marc Sherman. None of them has ever served in the U.S. military or government.

Yet from a thousand miles away, they have leaned on VA officials and steered policies affecting millions of Americans. They have remained hidden except to a few VA insiders, who have come to call them "the Mar-a-Lago Crowd." [...]

[H]undreds of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and interviews with former administration officials tell a different story -- of a previously unknown triumvirate that hovered over public servants without any transparency, accountability or oversight. The Mar-a-Lago Crowd spoke with VA officials daily, the documents show, reviewing all manner of policy and personnel decisions. They prodded the VA to start new programs, and officials travelled to Mar-a-Lago at taxpayer expense to hear their views. "Everyone has to go down and kiss the ring," a former administration official said.

...they'd get an actual VA scandal!