Archive | September, 2013

spare Muslims

30 Sep

Times of India 2216.cms
Terrorists used new tactic to spare some Muslims in Nairobi mall attack
AP | Sep 29, 2013, 10.50 PM IST

Numerous survivors described how the attackers from al-Shabaab, a Somali cell which recently joined al-Qaida, shot people who failed to provide the correct answers.

NAIROBI/JOHANNESBURG: The turbaned gunmen who infiltrated Nairobi’s Westgate Mall arrived with a set of religious trivia questions: As terrified civilians hid in toilet stalls, behind mannequins, in ventilation shafts and underneath food court tables, the assailants began a high-stakes game of 20 Questions to separate Muslims from those they consider infidels.

A 14-year-old boy saved himself by jumping off the mall’s roof, after learning from friends inside that they were quizzed on names of the Prophet Muhammad’s relatives. A Jewish man scribbled a Quranic scripture on his hand to memorize, after hearing the terrorists were asking captives to recite specific verses. Numerous survivors described how the attackers from al-Shabaab, a Somali cell which recently joined al-Qaida, shot people who failed to provide the correct answers.

Their chilling accounts, combined with internal al-Shabaab documents discovered earlier this year by Associated Press, mark the final notch in a transformation within the global terror network, which began to rethink its approach after its setbacks in Iraq. Al-Qaida has since realized that the indiscriminate killing of Muslims is a strategic liability, and hopes instead to create a schism between Muslims and everyone else, whom they consider “kuffar”, or apostates.

“What this shows is al-Qaida’s acknowledgment that the huge masses of Muslims they have killed is an enormous PR problem within the audience they are trying to reach,” said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, director of the Center for the Study of Terrorist Radicalization. “This is a problem they had documented and noticed going back to at least Iraq. And now we see al-Qaida groups are really taking efforts to address it.”

The evolution of al-Shabaab is reflected in a set of three documents believed to be written by the terrorist group, and found by the AP in northern Mali earlier this year. They include the minutes of a conference of 85 Islamic scholars, held in December 2011 in Somalia, as well as a summary of fatwas they issued last year after acceptance into the al-Qaida fold.

Baptized with the name al-Shabaab, meaning “The Youth”, in 2006, the group began as an extremist militia, fighting the government of Somalia. As early as 2009, it began courting al-Qaida, issuing recordings with titles like, “At Your Service Osama.”

Until the Westgate attack, the group made no effort to spare Muslim civilians, hitting packed restaurants, bus stations and a government building where hundreds of students were awaiting test results. And until his death in 2011, Osama bin Laden refused to allow Shabaab into the al-Qaida network, according to letters retrieved from his safehouse in Pakistan. The letters show that the terror leader was increasingly troubled by regional jihadi operations killing Muslim civilians.

In a letter to Shabaab in 2010, bin Laden politely advised the Somali-based fighters to review their operations “in order to minimize the toll to Muslims.” Shabaab did not get the green light to join al-Qaida until February 2012, almost a year after bin Laden’s death.

In an email exchange this week with The Associated Press, it made its intentions clear: “The Mujahideen carried out a meticulous vetting process at the mall and have taken every possible precaution to separate the Muslims from the Kuffar before carrying out their attack.” However, even at Westgate, al-Shabaab still killed Muslims, who were among the more than 60 civilians gunned down inside.

Their attack was timed to coincide with the highest traffic at the upscale mall after 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 21, a Saturday. More than 1,000 people, including diplomats, pregnant women with strollers and foreign couples, were inside when the fighters armed with grenades and AK-47s burst in and opened fire. At first the attack had the indiscriminate character of all of Shabaab’s previous assaults.

Rutvik Patel, 14, was in the aisles at Nakumatt, the mall’s supermarket which sells everything from plasma TVs to imported kiwis, when he heard the first explosion. “They started shooting continuously, and whoever died, died,” he said. “Then it became calm and they came up to people and began asking them some questions. If you knew the answer, they let you go,” he said. “They asked the name of the Prophet’s mom. They asked them to sing a religious verse.”

Just across from the Nakumatt supermarket, a 31-year-old Jewish businessman was cashing a check inside the local Barclays branch when he, too, heard the shooting. The people there ran to the back and shut themselves in the room with the safe, switching off the lights. They learned, via text messages, that the extremists were asking people to recite an Arabic prayer called the Shahada.

“One of the women who was with us got a text from her husband saying, they’re asking people to say the Islamic oath, and if you don’t know it, they kill you,” said the businessman, who insisted on anonymity out of fear for his safety.

He threw away his passport. Then he downloaded the Arabic prayer and wrote it on his palm.

Al-Shabaab’s attempts to identify Muslims are clear in the 16-page transcript from the conference of Islamic scholars held in the Somali town of Baidoa, an area known to be under Shabaab control in 2011, according to Somalia specialist Kenneth Menkhaus, a political science professor at Davidson College in North Carolina. The scholars issued several fatwas defining exactly who was a Muslim and who was an apostate.

The document states it is halal, or lawful, to kill and rob those who commit crimes against Islam: “The French and the English are to be treated equally: Their blood and their money are halal wherever they may be. No Muslim in any part of the world may cooperate with them in any way. … It leads to apostasy and expulsion from Islam,” it says. Further on it adds: “Accordingly, Ethiopians, Kenyans, Ugandans and Burundians are just like the English and the French because they have invaded the Islamic country of Somalia.”

Former FBI supervisory special agent Ali Soufan, who investigated the bombing of the United States embassies in East Africa as well as the attack on the USS Cole, said that the gathering of dozens of religious scholars in an area under Shabaab control harkens back to an al-Qaida conference in Afghanistan around 1997. That conference defined America as a target, Soufan said, leading to the bombing of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

“You see something very similar here,” said Soufan. “It’s the same playbook.”

In a second document dated February 29, 2012 — just two weeks after al-Shabaab joins al-Qaida — the organization warns Muslims to stay away from buildings occupied by non-Muslims, chillingly predicting and justifying the death of Muslims at Westgate.

“And so all Muslims must stay far away from the enemy and their installations so as not to become human shields for them, and so as not to be hurt by the blows of the mujahedeen directed at the Crusader enemies,” it says. “There is no excuse for those who live or mingle with the enemies in their locations.”

Yet at the same time it says: “The mujahideen are sincere in wanting to spare the blood of their brother Muslims, and they don’t want a Muslim to die from the bullets directed at the enemies of God.”

This is a concession for an organization that since its inception had killed people constantly, said Rudolph Atallah, who tracked Shabaab as Africa counterterrorism director in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2003 to 2007.

“They would just go and mow people down,” Atallah said. “They are now sending a clear message that, ‘Look, we’re different … We’re no longer indiscriminately killing. We’re protecting innocent Muslims and we are trying to kill quote-unquote ‘infidels’, nonbelievers.”

A similar tactic paid off in January after al-Qaida-linked terrorist Moktar Belmoktar attacked a gas installation in Algeria, Atallah said. When his fighters freed hundreds of Muslim employees, a Facebook page dedicated to him exploded with “Likes.”

Several hours after the gunshots at Westgate Mall, the people cowering inside the Barclays bank heard a commotion. As the attackers approached, the Jewish businessman spit on his hand to erase the words he had by then committed to memory.

Several floors above, 14-year-old Patel looked for a place to hide on the roof. When the jihadists came up the stairs and threw a grenade, he didn’t hesitate. He jumped, crushing his ankle on the pavement below.

He said he would not have known how to answer their questions.

obituary Aaron Rovegno

25 Sep

Aaron Scott Rovegno, 23, of Carlisle, died Saturday, August 3, 2013 at his home. Born January 9, 1990 in Burglengenfeld, Bavaria, West Germany, he was the son of COL (Ret) John Rovegno and Kay Marie Kline Rovegno.
He was a Carlisle High School graduate, Class of 2008, where he played on the soccer team for two years. Aaron was a 2013 graduate of Shippensburg University with a degree in Communications Journalism, Electronic Media and Technical Writing; and he also hosted the weekly “Shred Show” on WSYC Radio. He earned the Eagle Scout Award in 2005, with Troop 173, Carlisle Barracks. He worked full time as a cook at the Pizza Grille in Carlisle since he graduated from college. Aaron was an avid skateboarder for many years where he skated for both fun and competition and was sponsored by Monster Energy Drinks, Spy Eyeglasses and Fringe Skateboards.
Surviving are his sister, Lauren Alyse Rovegno; his mother, Kay Rovegno and her boyfriend, Marcell, his grandmother Yukie Kline, uncles, aunts, and many cousins; his father, COL (Ret) John Rovegno and his fiancé, Elizabeth Haldeman and sons Michael and Matthew, his Uncle Rick and Aunt Karen Rovegno. Aaron was preceded in death by both his true love Alyssa Eiseman and his best friend David Doody. A viewing will be held from 6:00-8:30 p.m., Friday, August 9, 2013 at Hoffman-Roth Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc., 219 North Hanover Street, Carlisle. Memorial services and a celebration of Aaron’s Life to be announced at a later date.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Drew Michael Taylor Foundation at www. or Gaudenzia at
To sign the guest book visit – See more at:

Cleveland Plain Dealer

23 Sep

PARMA, Ohio – St. Ignatius football coach Chuck Kyle’s job this week was more than planning for the Wildcats’ game against McDowell (Erie, Pa.).

With starter John Thomas out with a shoulder injury, Kyle needed to convince his team to make the game against the Pennsylvania’s 13th best team an easy one for new quarterback Christian Klink, who made his first varsity start in his first varsity appearance.

The offensive line, the running backs, the wide receivers and the entire defense did just that in St. Ignatius’ 49-10 victory.

“I asked them, ‘Offensive line, what are you going to do?’ ‘Well we’re going to pass block and give him all the time in the world.’ ‘That sounds like a good idea to me.’” Kyle said. “’Defense what are you going to do?’ ‘We’re going to get in position and not let them score a whole lot.’

“’Everybody else just play and Christian will be fine just. Don’t force him to be a hero.’”

Klink ended up more as the dark knight. He was the good in all the bad rash of injuries plaguing the Wildcats. He finished 8-of-16 passing for 226 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

“That’s pretty good,” Kyle said of Klink’s stats after the game. “If somebody had told me that about five hours ago, I would have been shocked. So I am shocked.”

In Klink’s first drive under center, he aired it out 23 yards and handed the ball off to running back Enzo Cannata five times. The last was a 33-yard touchdown run for Cannata. The running back took over the game from there, adding a 2-yard touchdown run up the right side of the field midway through the third.

Klink followed that up with a 23-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Mike Siragusa with 3:10 left in the third.

“Klink did a terrific job,” Siragusa said. “He gave me two long passes. I knew after the first snap that the nerves would clam down and he’d be all right. He hit all four receivers.”

Klink, though, credited his offensive line and his quarterback’s coach.

“I didn’t get touched,” Klink said. “There was no pressure. I think the best performance was the O-line.”

Along with his line, his teammates support and the time he spent during his free periods throughout the week with his QB coach learning reads, Klink felt like he was able to make the right reads and the right throws.

“From all of their encouragement, I felt like the starter,” Klink said.

Play turned messy in the second half. After running 20 carries for 115 yards and three touchdowns, Cannata suffered a concussion and left the game.

Also after a stalled opening drive of the third quarter, the Wildcats punted the ball. McDowell’s returner tried scrambling from defenders — shifting from left to right. As a Wildcat lunged at the Trojan, McDowell’s returner dropped the ball. A scramble ensued and the ball ended up sliding into the end zone. St. Ignatius’ Nick Malarik fell on the ball to give the Wildcats their sixth score of the game.

McDowell went three-and-out on its next drive and as it went to punt, St. Ignatius’ Lawrence Birchler blocked the punt, picked the ball up and ran it into the end zone. With 8:59 left, McDowell sent only six guys out onto the coverage team for the extra point.

“They got tired,” Kyle said of McDowell. “I thought it would be a tight, hard fought game. At halftime, I felt we were doing pretty good. When we were up by 11, I thought, ‘That’s nice.’ The second half, I think, we took over.”

From the first “Oh my gosh, I’m actually starting for St. Ignatius High School” to the last of his 226 yards was accrued, Klink felt like it was “a nice day.”

So, what if he is called to step up in Week 5 against national power Paramus Catholic of New Jersey at Byers Field on Saturday?

“We’ll see what happens,” Klink said smiling as Siragusa declared, “He’ll step up big.”

Palestine Israel econ Forbes magazine

14 Sep

Peace Through Profits? Inside The Secret Tech Ventures That Are Reshaping The Israeli-Arab-Palestinian World
This story appears in the August 12, 2013 issue of Forbes.

Palestinian engineers Achmed Badir (top right) and Jafar Hajear (bottom right) of Ramallah-based Exalt Technologies meet with their Israeli
teammates at Cisco near Tel Aviv, Oz Ben-Rephael (top left) and Michal Cohen (bottom left). Exalt provides R&D outsourcing to Cisco. Says
Ben-Rephael: “I think it is amazing that we can overcome the distance. We just needed that common target.” Adds Badir: “There was a lot of
curiosity by both sides.”(All pictures: Heidi Levine/Sipa Press for Forbes)

Even by Middle East standards, the scene in a Dead Sea restaurant, situated within a “green zone”–a no-man’s-land claimed by neither Israelis
nor Palestinians–was surreal. As a camel knelt outside, two Israeli soldiers nonchalantly sipped coffee at the counter and a score of rabbis said
a prayer before their communal lunch–all oblivious to a dozen history-making Palestinians and Israelis huddled together in the back room.

“So the safety guard should be put at the whole project rather than the task,” said a Palestinian. “Exactly,” answered an Israeli Jew, who added:
“Also, should the buffer be hidden or public? What do you think?” A second Palestinian spoke up: “Who’s gonna hide it?” The room broke into
laughter. Yet another Palestinian, oblivious to an abstract painting of the Star of David behind him, asked: “Do you want the truth, or do you
want the truth plus protection?”
With official relations between Palestinians and Israelis still poisonous after a century of conflict, any constructive dialogue is newsworthy. But
these aren’t security forces talking about joint military patrols, nor is this discussion connected to the sudden resumption of peace talks after a
three-year stalemate. The group, brought together by Cisco Systems, is speaking their common language: tech management. Nearly 100 times
over the past two years Israeli high-tech experts and Palestinian entrepreneurs have gotten together in the hope of making Israel’s “Startup
Nation” economic miracle a cross-border affair. And it’s just one of dozens of business-driven dialogues quietly–in many cases
secretly–proliferating across the Holy Land.

“The way to end this conflict is to create a very large middle class and be inclusive in how you go after it across all individuals, regardless of age,
religion or gender,” says John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, the most actively involved American tech executive in a coordinated effort that includes
de facto diplomats from the likes of Intel, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft. “If you can address those issues and you can get others involved,
then you can have a shot at peace in the Middle East.”

Of course, there’s already billions of dollars’ worth of trade flowing between the West Bank and Israel, given their proximity and the latter’s
border control over the former. Even in Gaza, whose leaders have a stated goal of destroying the Jewish state, commerce furtively passes
back and forth on a massive scale. April’s Dead Sea meeting, however, represents something much more far-reaching and rarely discussed.
Rather than just trading goods, hundreds of Israeli and Palestinians are becoming actual business partners and colleagues in startups that are
slowly transforming the Palestinian economy, at least in the West Bank.

It’s not easy. Over the course of reporting this story FORBES interviewed scores of high-tech leaders on both sides of the border. Nearly all
expressed fears and worries over how their comments would be perceived. (Many insisted on full anonymity; FORBES was granted access to
the Dead Sea training session only on the condition that we keep its exact location a secret.) On the Palestinian side a large contingent
myopically equates any collaboration with treachery, even if it strengthens the local economy (and especially if it’s perceived to strengthen
Israel’s). While most in the Jewish state would view these partnerships positively, a sizable minority fear that Palestinians armed with the skills
and technology that have driven Israel’s prosperity would use them against Israel in a future war.

Yet for all the mutual suspicion, collaborate they do. Buoyed by training, investment or partnerships from Israelis or Israeli subsidiaries of
American companies, more than 300 Palestinian technology firms now employ 4,500 people, FORBES estimates, up from just 23 firms in the
six-year period leading up to 2000. More are on the way: There’s at least $100 million in venture cash from Israeli or Western sources either
looking for deals or recently put to work in Palestinian or Israeli Arab startups (with the latter community, representing one-fifth of the country’s
citizenry, increasingly agitating to get in on the action). Meanwhile, Chambers and his peers at U.S. technology giants have pushed their Israeli
subsidiaries to outsource research and development projects to Palestinian startups or to hire local Arabs.

This is the real backdrop for the renewed peace talks lurching forward under the aegis of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Feckless
politicians will invariably look to blame the other side for inaction. The private sector’s detente is delivering results right now, with the intention of
creating enough interconnected prosperity to make a lasting peace in everyone’s economic self-interest.

Ramallah, the business capital of the West Bank, is just 20 minutes from Jerusalem. On paper. A group of Palestinian CEOs from the disputed,
eastern part of Jerusalem had agreed to meet FORBES for dinner in Ramallah but had to cancel. The checkpoint between the two had been
closed by the Israeli military, who were grappling with 50 rock-throwing, tire-burning Palestinians.

Such are the difficulties of doing business in Ramallah, which has emerged as the West Bank’s tech hub. But the dinner date also
demonstrates the city’s vibrancy: With just three phone calls and an hour’s notice, a different group of locally based tech CEOs shows up in
their place. We dine at a Mexican restaurant called Fuego, one of dozens of trendy spots in the city where twentysomething Palestinians sip
cocktails, their laptops open, their smartphones on–a scene indistinguishable from one in Austin or San Francisco.

Tareq Maayah, founder of Ramallah-based Exalt Technologies, whose 90 employees handle software development for the likes of Cisco Israel,
is about to strike a lucrative partnership with another major U.S. affiliate in Israel. But as Pitbull’s “Give Me Everything” blares, he is more eager
to talk about a nearby startup he’s backing, ShopZooky, which aggregates local Facebook merchant content–such as offers, posts, news and
local store information–into one mobile application.

To his right Husni Abu Samrah begins to discuss an app that his company, MobiStine, has designed (it will wake up pregnant women who are
sleeping in a position that could be risky to their health or to the health of the fetus), but then he’s interrupted by a text. His face lights up.

Such layers of entrepreneurship are a manifestation of both ambition and sheer numbers. Ten different colleges on the West Bank churn out
2,000 engineering and computer graduates a year, while the tech sector employs 4,500 in total, forcing many abroad but creating
entrepreneurs, of necessity, out of thousands more. Ramallah recently hosted a weekend-long startup competition that included such entries
as online psychiatric services for religious Arab women unable to get out of their houses.

Who’s in charge matters. Most of the 300 Palestinian tech firms are situated near Ramallah. Gaza, run by Hamas, with virtually no mobility
possible to or from Israel, has no significant entrepreneurial activity in the tech field. One Palestinian tech consultant estimates that there about
3,000 freelance coders there. “ Somehow they scratch out a living,” he says.

Not that the West Bank has it easy. The blockades are a huge hassle, though most Ramallah entrepreneurs complain more about the
advantage it gives to their Israeli competitors than about any personal inconveniences. In fact, the biggest gripe is about a different kind of
blockade: the lack of high-speed mobile, which Israel withholds for unstated security reasons. When the U.S. President visited Israel in March,
he was greeted with placards: “Obama don’t bring your smartphone. We have no 3G.”

This dynamic creates a quandary for Palestinians eager to succeed. How to accept help and money from Israel’s tech and business
communities, when the politicians and army are seen as occupiers? “There is strong sentiment that anything you do today with Israelis that
does not involve an attempt or a process that is targeted towards the political side of the conflict resolution is viewed as normalization, which is
really kind of the taboo word,” says Saed Nashef, who left a top job at Microsoft to become an entrepreneur before cofounding Sadara
Ventures, the first venture fund in the Palestinian territories. “And for good reasons, too.”

That’s a tricky position for Nashef, since he’s the go-to person on the West Bank for venture money and by this definition a normalizer, since
his partner is a Jew, Yadin Kaufmann, a pioneering investor in the Israeli high-tech industry. Together they’ve raised almost $30 million, from 24
investors, including the foundations or personal accounts of billionaires George Soros, Steve Case and Jeff Skoll, as well as Cisco and the
European Investment Bank. (Tellingly, the other 19 won’t allow their names to be known, although Nashef says they’re neither Israeli nor

“A lot of people understand the difference between what we are doing and normalization,” says Nashef, as we sit in Ramallah’s Movenpick
Hotel. “But there are others who won’t work with us.” He learned that the hard way last year when he was disinvited to speak about building
startups at one of the West Bank’s top universities, Birzeit.

“So I’m no longer welcome at Birzeit because I’m seen as a promoter of normalization,” he laughs. “It doesn’t upset me. The only thing I feel
bad about is it’s a lost opportunity for the students to benefit from the know-how and exposure I have to offer them.” While he doesn’t “credit or
discredit” armed struggle, Nashef says that for him, “there is more than one form of resistance. And one way is to be stronger economically.”

As Sadara came together, this wariness worked two ways. “Israelis didn’t want to invest in an Arab fund, Arabs didn’t want to invest in a fund
that was partially run by an Israeli, and it became a somewhat complicated thing,” says Stewart Paperin, the former CFO of Western Union,
who oversaw the investment for the Soros Economic Development Team.

Faris Zaher (right) launched YamSafer in Ramallah with Seri Abdelhadi (left), with the idea of streamlining hotel room purchasing in the Arab
world. The mood in his city? “People have been suppressed for a long time. So everybody’s intense.”

Nonetheless, since closing the round in 2011, Sadara has made two investments, including YamSafer, an Arabic version of
YamSafer’s offices are colorful and resemble a modern loft in New York’s Tribeca, as its 12 employees punch out software and book travel.
They service 22 Arab countries, and just added Turkey.

Asked if he has any problem that the firm that funded him is partly run by an Israeli, YamSafer’s 26-year-old CEO, Faris Zaher, argues that it’s
irrelevant yet acknowledges that they don’t broadcast that fact: “There’s a very clear difference between having someone on board who has an
added value who happens to be an Israeli human being than taking Israeli money directly from, like, an organization that is somehow affiliated

Such pragmatism will pay dividends. Paperin says that Sadara ideally would have raised far more capital but that the nascent Palestinian
market can’t currently absorb it. “There’s just not that much of a corpus there,” he says. But those who embrace the concept of fighting
through economic success, rather than through the military, will be rewarded. “Once they’ve got a couple investments on the boards, what I’ve
suggested to my colleagues is we help them go out and market again for more money.”


If Israel can justifiably claim its appointed moniker, “Startup Nation”– first in the world in startups per capita, third in Nasdaq-listed companies
and the highest R&D expenditure as percentage of GDP–then Erel Margalit can justifiably claim to be one of its founding fathers. In 1993 he
started one of Israel’s first venture funds and persuaded 70 American companies, including IBM, to set up shop nearby. Two decades later the
kibbutz-born 52-year-old now finds himself feeling similarly bullish about the Palestinian territories. “There’s a lot happening, and people don’t
realize the extent and the potential.”

A large reason the public is unaware, of course, is that both sides are so squeamish about broadcasting it. Not long ago Margalit attended a
secret meeting of 40 Palestinian and Israelis tech leaders that went far beyond the Cisco-sponsored Dead Sea sessions. Rather than training
and mentorship, this event, held in an office inside an apartment building in Ramallah, was a full-on business networking session, as the
attendees discussed potential ways to work together. Afterward many continued their get-to-know-yous at a local restaurant where, says
Margalit, they enjoyed “great shish kebab.”

“It was just very natural,” he recalls, over coffee at a cafe just north of Tel Aviv. “And you felt like, ‘What the hell is going on? I mean, these guys
are our neighbors, they want to do a lot of things, we’re doing a lot of things. We can cooperate. They are 20 minutes from our capital,
Jerusalem. We need to open a new chapter. We should do a refresh.’ ”

Margalit’s efforts to do a refresh go further than seeding promising cross-border initiatives. In January he was elected to the Knesset, Israel’s
parliament, with the intention of forging peace by creating a regional economic powerhouse.

For many in this camp, the natural starting point is Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown, which is now the largest city for Israel’s Arab community, who
make up 20% of the country’s population–and run 0% of the 493 companies listed on the Tel Aviv stock exchange. Israeli-Arabs have long felt
isolated within the Jewish state, and their exemption from compulsory military service means they miss the tech training, team-building and
leadership experience underpinning Startup Nation. “
It’s really fear of failure,” says Imad Telhami, whose Babcom employs 1,500 people in software development and business service outsourcing,
making him among the biggest Arab employers in Israel. “Because of this fear, you can’t dream and imagine that you’ll be able to own a

Eitan Wertheimer says he will spend “200%” of his time combating this. In April the son of one of Israel’s greatest entrepreneurs (his father,
Stef, just sold the remaining portion of his tool-cutting empire, Iscar, to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, swelling his family’s net worth
past $4.4 billion) cut the ribbon on the Nazareth Industrial Park, a $25 million facility that offers incubation services to Arab startups, “so that
they can have a clean facility to sit in and not like some dirty garage.” Wertheimer backs it up with low-income loans; he’s amassed a microloan
portfolio that he says supports 12,000 employees and generates $1.4 billion in sales. While this project is less ambitious than the original
concept–a “capitalist kibbutz” straddling Israel and Gaza–it’s also something that will generate immediate returns. “They’re growing 8.5% to 9%
a year when the country grows 2% to 2.5%,” he says.

Chemi Peres, the son of Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, and the manager of Pitango, the country’s largest venture capital fund ($1.4 billion),
has a similar vision. He’s fond of Churchill’s “empires of the mind” prophecy, and is quick to point out that Arabic is the fastest-growing
language on the Internet and is on track to become the fourth most prevalent in the world, after English, Chinese and Spanish. “The young
generation is much more interested in being connected. Many young Israeli-Arabs will tell you, ‘Forget about the Palestinians. We want to be
part of Israel. We come first.’ ”

Accordingly, he’s raised a $50 million fund called Al Bawader (Arabic for “
early signs”), earmarked solely for investments in Israel’s Arab community. The funding is unlike anything before seen in the Middle East. The
Israeli government has put money into Al Bawader, as have individual Israeli Jews, Israeli-Arabs–and Palestinians. Peres zealously guards
investor names and even the names of some of the Arab companies they’ve invested in. “We don’t want to expose some as Israeli funded
because they have lots of users in the Arab world. There’s a risk that people will stop using it,” says Peres, as he overlooks the Mediterranean
Sea from his office in Herzliya, Israel’s version of Silicon Valley, situated north of Tel Aviv. “We don’t have to raise our flags.” He fears boycotts
or retaliations against companies he funds, especially by extremists who espouse a strict “no collaboration” mandate.

Chemi Peres

He also sees profit potential in the course of promoting peace. Al Bawader has made seven investments so far, and Peres is especially bullish
on Nazareth-based Datumate, which has developed software that can render land surveys in 2-D or 3-D. The founder? An Arab with a Ph.D. in
geography. His V.P. of marketing? A Jew. There are dozens of similar examples–just precious few willing to raise their hands. “I can tell you a
beautiful story if the guy would talk to you,” says Adi Pundak-Mintz, a general partner with Gemini Israel Venture funds ($700 million assets).
Then he sighs.

The Palestinians aren’t nearly as media-reticent when it comes to collaborating with corporate America. Cisco’s John Chambers recalls a visit
he paid to Mahmoud Abbas at his office in Ramallah. To his surprise the Palestinian Authority president had his entire cabinet assembled in the
room. Chambers pledged $10 million to help seed and mentor Arab startups. “We’re not in it for press,” Chambers told Abbas, “but I’m happy to
disclose what we’re doing, if you want, because sometimes it can help prompt other companies to climb aboard.”

“Would you really be willing to do that?” asked Abbas.

As soon as Chambers confirmed, Abbas flung his office doors open, exposing a dozen waiting Palestinian reporters and photographers who
stampeded into the room.

Chambers laughs as he tells the story. Perhaps more than the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves, the West Virginia native is a true
believer in the economic and social benefits that will come from Middle East peace. Chambers was personally recruited to the cause at Davos a
decade ago by Jordan’s King Abdullah, who asked for his company’s help in reforming the region’s education system.

“We do this because we want to change the world. And we don’t do it on a small scale. It’s nice to help a village, but the key is how do you help
a country?”

For Cisco, which has put more than $15 million into promoting Israel-Palestine cooperation, it’s been a learning process. Its training sessions
were initially held in Ramallah, but “too many Israeli teachers were afraid to go there,” says Zika Abzuk, the Cisco executive in Israel who
launched the ventures. She was, too, at first. “I wear contact lenses, and when we would go to Ramallah in the beginning I used to bring my
eyeglasses with me in case I was kidnapped.” Sa’d Abdulhadi, whose Al Nasher media-services company employs 80 people, had a different
fear: He quit the Cisco training program before his first session when he saw the location was in a border area he feels has been stolen by the
Israelis. “We should be connected with the Arab world,” he says. “I reject the whole thing.”

For most Palestinians, however, the quest for knowledge trumps politics. In the desert town that Abdulhadi objected to, the meeting eventually
retreated to a synagogue, the only building with air-conditioning. “This is how determined we are to make sure we develop a country,” says Sam
Hussieni, one of Cisco’s Palestinian coordinators. At another early meeting a sudden checkpoint closure by the Israeli military forced the
attendees to meet behind a gas station in a large tent rented impromptu from a bedouin. The group squatted on rugs, like some kind of
reenacted Old Testament meeting of tribes.

Cisco’s efforts created a ripple effect, bringing in other American tech giants, which also use their Israel offices to work across the border. And
as U.S. companies got Palestinian companies comfortable with working with entities based in Israel, large Israeli tech companies have been
able to establish relationships, too. Cisco has formalized this by creating a 35-company coalition, Ma’antech (“together” in Arabic), comprising
everyone from IBM to Israel’s Bank Hapoalim, with the stated goal of creating jobs for Arab tech workers. So far, though, Cisco is the only one
to put money into it. “I’m happy to lead the way, plant the seeds,” says Chambers. HP now outsources some of its research and development
to the West Bank. Microsoft Israel has started putting Palestinian engineers in Ramallah on its payroll.

Intel’s efforts are more robust. Like Cisco, it is working to improve the Palestinian IT sector, and it has established meet-ups–its Tech Forum in
March brought 60 Palestinian and Israeli entrepreneurs together. Its Jerusalem office offers hope for what a Middle East of the future could
look like: At the “coffee corners” on some floors the Israeli and Palestinian men look almost interchangeable, and they mix amicably with
Christians and Druze, burka-clad Arab women and wig-donning ultra-Orthodox women, the latter of whom Intel is increasingly recruiting into its

Another glimpse of the future occurred in late May, when Google brought 100 Palestinian and Israeli tech leaders to its new Tel Aviv
headquarters for an afternoon of speeches, introductions and dealmaking. True to the company ethos, it eschewed the kind of discretion that
the likes of Cisco and Margalit have insisted upon. The Palestinians successfully lobbied to muffle what could have been a global news
story–but there was open debate across social media about whether participating in this event equated to “normalization.” PITA, the trade
association for the Palestinian high-tech industry, wouldn’t attach its name to the event but did attend. Such is how progress measured in the
Middle East.

Here’s the one thing that everyone in the Middle East tech industry agrees upon: This private-sector effort is not about charity. The
Palestinians, flooded for years with foreign aid money that often gets misused and almost never sticks, accept partnerships with Israeli firms
and Israeli offices of U.S. firms because it offers them perhaps the best chance to develop their economy–and do it in a way consistent with
their proud culture. Despite a population of just 6 million Jews, Israel has become a tech juggernaut by dint of cultivating talent, and, for Israelis,
their country’s 1.6 million Arabs and the 4.4 million people in the Palestinian territories may be their greatest untapped resource. Cisco, Intel
and their peers are equally adamant: If it doesn’t make business sense, they won’t do it.

Where the sides differ is in their thinking about how this all relates to a future peace. While the Palestinians see the business ventures as
improving relations, not a single Palestinian FORBES met with wanted it to become a substitute for a political solution. They are simply being
sensible–taking advantage of being next door to one of the world’s top high-tech countries. The Israelis, and Americans, to an overwhelming
degree, believe that such initiatives are stepping stones to an agreement.

At the end of the day it’s semantics. If the condition on the ground creates an economic necessity to get along, the term for the end result is

Israeli Tammy Avigdor has conducted Cisco-sponsored training sessions for 24 Palestinian companies since 2011. She is pictured here (left)
with Palestinian Amena Shweiki during a seminar for high-tech managers in April. “We’re helping them to operate in a global market,” says
Avigdor. “No session has been cancelled due to any situation—not a war, a UN announcement, not a protest here or there. I want them to

And so efforts proliferate. On the corporate side Cisco is planning a huge celebration in October to commemorate the third anniversary of
Ma’antech. Some of the Palestinian trainers hope to hold another party on the Tel Aviv coastline, permits willing. “It will be the first time for many
of the Palestinians on a Mediterranean beach,” says Tammy Avigdor, the training leader. The anniversary is prompting them to consider moving
into direct collaborative ventures with Palestinian CEOs.

Meanwhile, a new $25 million venture fund is about to be launched by a consortium of major Israeli, American and Arab investors. While the
backers are still cloaking themselves, it will dispense with encouraging partnerships and specifically create Arab entrepreneurs open to
Western collaborations.

Ultimately, incentives and targeted funding just initiate the process. A free-market solution dictates that the entrepreneurs start mixing
themselves, not because they’re told to by those who control the purse strings but because it offers them the greatest chance of success.

Izhar Shay, who runs Israel operations for the venture capitalist Canaan Partners, which has $3.5 billion under management, has seen the
seeds of this. In January 2012 he launched an online community called Start-up Stadium, designed to let Israel’s entrepreneurs talk to each
other. More than 15,000 people have signed up so far–up to 10% of them, Shay says, have turned out to be Israeli Arabs. More encouraging
still, another 1,000 or so are Palestinians. Those real-world metrics, driven by young people destined to live in this land for six or seven more
decades, offer hope for a region as old as recorded history. “On a good day you could be very, very optimistic,” says Soros’ Paperin. “On a bad
day you kind of say, ‘Gee, let’s wait for another good day.

blog comments September 13

13 Sep

dead pets
Submitted on 2013/09/11 at 5:11 pm
Deciding who “gets custody” of mutual friends when a marriage ends can be tricky. It’s been my experience that friends tend to side with the spouse who they feel was wronged (i.e. was cheated on, abandoned, etc). That’s the easy way to go, but many times the reality of what was truly going on behind closed doors of a marriage may paint a different picture of who was really the bad guy. The spouse who walked out the door is assumed to have done such a terrible thing, when in reality they were simply the one who was brave enough to leave something that wasn’t working. In my own friendships that have been split by divorce I’ve usually tried to maintain my neutrality and stay friends with both people, but many times one of them won’t “allow” me to stay friends with their ex-spouse and pretty much indicate if I do so, then I can’t remain friends with them. Often, when all was said and done, I’ve ended up remaining friends with neither and losing touch with both. I’m guessing in your situation, you were viewed as the bad guy and I imagine that your relocation probably didn’t help things either.
I can relate to the heartache you feel with these lost relationships and I can tell you from my own experience being on the opposite end of your situation, that with many of those relationships the feelings of loss are probably mutual. Even if you were were initially viewed as the bad guy, time heals and enough time has gone by that I’m sure many of the negative feelings are gone and mostly good feelings and memories remain with a lot of those folks.
I’m pleased if I’ve had any impact or have been any part of your passing a milestone!

an aha moments stands the test of time

an aha moments stands the test of time
Submitted on 2013/09/10 at 6:01 pm
You explained your reasons very well and in great detail. While I don’t understand why you feel as strongly as you do about this, or necessarily agree with your policy, I have to respect it.


Leo: you’re out of your league
Submitted on 2013/09/09 at 6:02 pm
Tom, you had to know that this post was coming! Your recent posts regarding phone calls with your ex-mother-in-law and brother-in-law reminded me of why I make it a daily habit to read your blog- your unusual relationships and ways of relating to others fascinates me!
Here are my thoughts on your recent posts (not that you or anyone asked for them- but since you put these things out there in a public forum, it seems to make them fair game for comments and questions)…
ONE: Why are you so vehemently opposed at the thought of speaking to your ex-wife? Obviously, most people do not particularly enjoy speaking to an ex-spouse, and given the choice would probably prefer not to have to do so. Although I could be wrong, I’m guessing that your ex-wife’s purpose in calling was not a social call (after all the details you have shared here, I highly doubt that she called just to say hello or to see how you enjoyed your recent Florida vacation). I’m guessing that it had something to do with either your children or possibly your delinquent financial commitments which you have previously mentioned. If the call was regarding these situations or something similar, I think you owe her the courtesy of at least a small amount of your time. Once two people have created human life together, there will probably always be the need for some interaction even if the humans are grown or nearly grown such as in the case of your son and daughter. I see awkward interactions all the time between exes at numerous events that my own children are involved in (exes exchanging details about picking up and dropping off kids and other various “housekeeping” type details). I’m sure that these people would probably prefer to bang their heads against the wall rather than have these interactions but they are necessary. I know that you live far from your children, but I imagine there are still things involving them that would require some conversation with your ex. So I’m curious- what’s the big deal? Take her call, address the issue at hand and move on.
TWO: Why on earth are you calling her mother and brother to involve them in this? As unhappy as you appear to be about being contacted by your ex-wife, I can only imagine them being equally unhappy to hear from you and I would expect them to react with some displeasure if not outright hostility. Why do you expect them to intervene on your behalf to communicate to your ex-wife? If I received such a call, I would tell the caller that I am not my daughter or sister’s keeper and to kindly leave me out of it.
THREE: Why did you call your ex-mother-in-law only to then tell her that you didn’t have time for a lengthy phone call? I imagine that such an awkward call would be best dealt with all at once and not carried over until another day. If this was uncomfortable with your wife present, why not just take the phone and go outside?
FOUR: I’m glad to hear that you have set a self-imposed deadline (even if it is still six or seven months away) to put the family reunion debacle behind you. It’s natural to feel betrayed and upset as you do, but to continue to agonize over and think about it isn’t good either. Do yourself and your family a favor and move on.
FIVE: Your description of having fun at your ex-father-in-law’s expense is exactly why I’m fascinated about what makes you tick. Most people would have no interest in being on the receiving end of such abuse and yet you seem to revel in it!
All I know is that when the movie, “Doody – His Life and Times” hits the theaters I will be the first in line!

I have no plans to be secretive
Submitted on 2013/09/03 at 4:29 pm
Tom, if you really want to reestablish contact with your brother, I think you should try a less public forum- something like a good old fashioned phone call or letter (this way someone such as myself won’t be able to jump on it before he even sees it). I think your brother is obviously more of a private person than you are and might be more willing to communicate with you if he didn’t feel that the whole conversation would be posted online. This situation relates back to my previous comment about how I would be mortified if such personal details of my life and relationships were made public. I think your brother feels the same way.

I’ve flipped over NC
Submitted on 2013/08/31 at 5:11 pm

Disconnect Forbes Magazine

13 Sep

Don’t Want Trackers Watching Your Web And Smartphone Activity? This Start-up’s For You.
This story appears in the August 12, 2013 issue of Forbes.

Disconnect founders Casey Oppenheim and Brian Kennish (Photographer: Christian Peacock)

One hot afternoon in June four software engineers, a lawyer and a miniature pinscher named Lunch were gathered around designer Dan
Kwon’s computer at Disconnect, a startup in San Francisco. They were watching their new education video, “Unwanted Tracking Is Not Cool.”
Its star is an octopus puppet that gets sliced and diced while browsing the Web as countless companies secretly take information from him,
make inaccurate assumptions and create profiles.

They congratulate one another on the clever use of a symbol of the surveillance state to sell Disconnect, a tool built to thwart the more
Orwellian aspects of the Web. Disconnect is a shareware browser plug-in that slaps a green D next to the search bar and shows the number of
requests being made on that site for your personal data–and blocks them, speeding up surfing noticeably. In two weeks of use I regularly got
dozens of requests for my personal data on every site I visited, proving NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden right when he called the Internet
“a TV that watches you.” The startup, which initially struggled to find investors, is cashing in on the paranoia stoked by Snowden’s revelations
that the NSA partnered with a slew of Silicon Valley heavyweights, including Facebook, Google, and Yahoo, to collect all manner of electronic
communications. Venture capitalists are now clamoring for a piece of Disconnect even though the majority of its more than 1 million users pay
nothing for it. The company launched a pay-what-you-want model three months ago; 3% of its new users have ponied up.

A lopsided arm’s race is afoot over the control of personal data, which some call the new oil of the 21st century. Facebook’s $62 billion market
capitalization is a testament to the value of keeping a detailed repository of a billion lives. But the NSA spying scandal has sparked fear on the
part of Web surfers of being tracked and traced by countless ad networks, data miners and brokers. The Federal Trade Commission is pushing
browser companies, consumer advocates and advertisers to come up with a “Do Not Track” option for Internet users, but negotiations have all
but broken down as advertisers and privacy advocates disagree on how much protection the tool should provide.

Money and attention is turning to a host of companies launched in recent years around privacy and tools to protect it. These include
photo-deleting app Snapchat, which in June raised $60 million at an $800 million valuation, data locker service,
identity-obfuscating Ipredator and Silent Circle, which encrypts calls, texts and e-mails and comes preinstalled on $10,000 Vertu smartphones,
a reminder that privacy, like a phone with a sapphire crystal screen and titanium case, is a luxury good.

Disconnect is one of this new breed, and it is situated smack-dab in enemy camp. One floor below its headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. is Disney
Games, a division of the Magic Kingdom that got hit with a $3 million FTC fine in 2011 for improperly collecting data from its kiddie players. Many
more lesser-known companies in the building–and in Silicon Valley as a whole–offer free products to users in exchange for putting ads in front of
them or collecting (and monetizing) their personal information. Disconnect makes that harder to do.

The company will soon release a mobile app for children that will keep trackers and third parties from gathering information from kids’ phones.
The app was developed by Disconnect’s newest hire: Patrick Jackson, who used to (irony alert) work for the NSA. Jackson has come up with a
way to manipulate Apple’s operating system into letting Disconnect block advertisers and analytics companies from getting the location, user
ID or other info from a person’s phone. (The app is currently in beta.)

Disconnect cofounder Brian Kennish, 37, used to be on the side of the trackers. Five years ago the shaggy-haired engineer was at ad-serving
firm DoubleClick figuring out how to target ads on phones; though most of those devices were “dumb phones,” they still sent surprisingly
revealing information to advertisers. He moved to Google in 2003, where he continued to work on ad products and then browser extensions for

After Facebook admitted to an inadvertent data breach in 2010 that allowed advertisers to identify people who clicked on their ads by name,
Kennish became concerned about the social networking site’s ability to track him around the Web with Facebook Connect. Those are the
ubiquitous “Like” and “Share” buttons deployed by sites to make it easier to promote their content, but they also enable Facebook to track
people online. Kennish took 30 minutes to write 20 lines of code that filtered traffic to Facebook and blocked it. He called the tool “Facebook
Disconnect” and put it up online for free. He thought 50 people might use it, but within two weeks 50,000 people had added the extension to
their browsers. “I realized people were starting to care about privacy,” says Kennish.

Kennish and his cofounder, Casey Oppenheim, a 39-year-old consumer advocate lawyer from Minnesota, made more than 50 investor pitches
over the next six months. “We got rejected a huge amount. At the time no one was enthusiastic about privacy. They thought no one would care
and no one would use the product,” says Kennish.

They managed to wrangle $600,000 from two venture capital firms and six angel investors and spent a year camped out in a conference room
at investor Charles River Ventures, improving the product and creating versions for all of the major browsers. The latest edition blocks more
than 2,000 parties from data grabbing. In June, just as Snowden was dominating the headlines, the company quickly raised an additional $3.5

“Not every footprint you leave on the Internet needs to stay there forever,” says Rick Heitzmann, managing director at FirstMark, which led the
recent investment in Disconnect. “People are not actively managing their privacy now. That will change.”

Mike Zaneis, general counsel for the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a group that represents online marketers, is worried about the effect of
privacy tools on the digital ad market, which had revenue of $36.6 billion in 2012. “It’s an economic tradeoff: You go to a website, you see ads.
If you block those ads, you’re starving the content creators,” says Zaneis. “It would put tens of thousands of small publishers out of business if
you had widespread, mass adoption of these tools.”

Zaneis predicts that the privacy firms will force marketers to come up with new ways to track people and their devices. There’s already a shift
from using tracking-software snippets called cookies to “fingerprinting” their devices–a technique that involves identifying a particular user by
looking at the size of the device’s screen and the exact settings on the clock, plug-ins and fonts.

“We don’t want to be an ad blocker, but, unfortunately, today the only way to reliably block tracking is to block entire requests which are often
placed inside ads,” says Kennish. “We want to create a conversation between websites and users and eventually advertisers so that users
have a say in what data they are giving up.”

Forbes magazine college financial health

13 Sep

Is Your College Going Broke? The Most And Least Financially Fit Schools In America
This story appears in the August 13, 2013 issue of Forbes.

David Maxwell, president of Drake: sound management versus self-inflicted horror. (Credit: Ryan Donnell)

In late June, nearly two months after most incoming freshmen had sent in their deposit checks securing places at hundreds of colleges across America, Long Island University’s Post campus, nestled in the wealthy New York City suburb of Brookville, N.Y., was testing a new approach in its efforts to fill up the 250 or so empty seats it had in its class of 2017.

The week of June 24 was “Express Decision Week” at LIU. High school seniors were invited to walk into Post’s Mullarkey Hall any time from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., transcript, SAT scores and personal statement in hand, and LIU’s admissions officers promised to make an acceptance decision on the spot. All application fees would be waived, and registration for fall classes would be immediate. An identical event was being held simultaneously at LIU’s Brooklyn campus.

Post’s aggressive marketing ploy is eerily reminiscent of the on-the-spot low-docmortgage approvals that occurred during the heady days leading up to the housing crisis. But the product here is bit less tangible than a loan that secures a house. These admissions officers are selling the promise of a better life through post-secondary-school learning.

LIU isn’t alone. Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, N.Y. and Centenary College in Hackettstown, N.J. offer similar same-day, on-the-spot admissions events. According to Jackie Nealon, Long Island University’s vice president of enrollment, LIU takes it a step further in the spring and sends admissions officers into Long Island high schools to admit students on location–the academic version of a house call.

If LIU sounds a bit desperate, it is. From a financial standpoint LIU is suffering from a host of ills common to hundreds of colleges today. According to the most recent financial data LIU has supplied to the Department of Education, its Post campus has been running at an operating deficit for three years. Its core expenses, or those essential for education activities, have been greater than its core revenues. Like many other schools, Post is a tuition junkie, with nearly 90% of its core annual revenues derived from tuition and fees.

This year Post raised its tuition and fees by 3.5% to $34,005, yet it offers steep tuition discounts to nearly every incoming freshman. In fact, a quick click over to its website shows the deals available. If your kid is an A student with an SAT score of about 1300 out of 1600, expect at least a $20,000 rebate per year.

This seeming paradox of raising prices while simultaneously offering deep discounts is a way of life among middling and lower-quality colleges in the market for higher education. It’s a symptom of a deeply troubled system where the cachet of elite institutions like Harvard and Yale has led thousands of nonelite schools to employ a strategy where higher prices and deeper discounts are more effective than cutting prices and tightening discounts. According to the National Association of College & University Business Officers, the so-called tuition discount rate has risen for the sixth straight year and is now averaging 45%. In some ways colleges operate like prestige-seeking liquor brands. In other ways they are more like Macy’s offering regular sales days, only quietly.

LIU’s Post campus has a puny endowment of $43 million, or about $6,000 per each of its 7,000 enrolled students. (That compares to $2 million per student at Princeton.) Its admissions yield was last reported to be 17%–meaning fewer than two out of every ten high school seniors it accepts choose to attend.

Of course, LIU’s precarious financial position says little about the quality of the education it offers–LIU doesn’t rank among FORBES Top Colleges but tends to fare well in rankings of regional schools. However, judged as an ongoing business, Long Island University would appear to be severely troubled, struggling year to year to pay its bills. Indeed, LIU recently hired a new president who is restructuring its operations.

According to FORBES’ new Financial Grades, which analyzes the balance sheets and operational strength of private not-for-profit colleges, Long Island University’s Post campus gets a grade of D.

LIU is by no means alone. Some 107 other schools earn a D–including well-regarded institutions like Ohio’s Wittenberg University–according to our analysis, and more than half of the 925 colleges we graded on financial fitness would be considered C students or worse (see “Behind Forbes Financial Grades“).

Forbes College Financial Grades, As and Bs
Forbes College Financial Grades, Cs and Ds
The prognosis is ominous in part because institutions of higher education operate in an extremely difficult business environment today. Imagine, if you will, running a company that sells a commodity product, where pricing is opaque and you have hundreds of competitors all clamoring after the same shrinking customer base–which, by the way, happens itself to be in financial distress.

Then consider that one of your other chief revenue drivers, subsidies and grants from federal and state governments, has either been cut back or eliminated. Add to this an evaporating competitive moat being stormed by newly minted for-profit businesses and cheap online alternatives.

“This environment is so competitive. Frankly, it’s a horror that we’ve largely inflicted on ourselves as a community,” says David Maxwell, president of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, referring to the ongoing behind-the-scenes price/rebate wars. “In many ways it’s [a business ] that’s dependent on the decision-making behavior of 17-year-olds.”

It’s not surprising that some of the highest ranked colleges on popular media rankings, like Forbes, are also the strongest financially. The following financially fit schools all get A+ grades according to Forbes new College Financial Health Grades . All schools were graded on 9 variables to determine balance sheet and operational strength. For details on our methodology plus a look at 825 other private colleges graded from D to A, click here.

Drake, which has an enrollment of 5,300 and was founded in 1881, faced insolvency a little more than a decade ago after most of its senior management had left. But after taking over in 1999, Maxwell cut expensive underenrolled programs like graduate-level nursing and redirected resources into high-demand offerings like its undergraduate pharmacy major. For the last eight years Drake has shown small operating profits, and its endowment has grown to $169 million from $104 million in 1999. While Drake is still largely tuition-dependent, it earns a C+ for financial health among private colleges.

But managers like Maxwell are the exception. By far the biggest problem at most colleges is that they are governed in a way that flies in the
face of sound business practices. The vast majority of colleges in the U.S. are bloated with personnel and programs that make little economic

Almost all colleges have noble mission statements, but few have pervasive cultures or are able to focus employees on core competencies the
way great companies like Coke, IBM and Wells Fargo do. Most colleges and universities try to be all things to all people.

“When I was CEO of a business, if we had a product that wasn’t selling, we took it off the shelf, and there was no question. We focused on
what the market demanded,” says Robert Dickeson, the former president of the University of Northern Colorado and author of Prioritizing
Academic Programs and Services (John Wiley & Sons, 2010). “Higher education operates in a much different culture, and the decisions have
usually been about serving more people and adding more programs. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a corresponding cutting of programs or
majors that no longer work. They operate this way out of a fear of having to cut people or some other dimension that isn’t rational.”

That way of doing business was tolerable when the market of high school graduates was expanding, as it was from 1990 to 2010. However, a
study financed by the College Board and ACT shows that the production of high school graduates has fallen from its 3.4 million peak in 2011 to
a current 3.2 million–and is likely to stay there until 2020. This ugly demographic fact, plus the decline in household wealth brought on by the
Great Recession, has exacerbated the problem.

Amit Mrig, president of Denver research firm Academic Impressions, blames inept leadership across the board. “There is a denial bubble in
higher education,” says Mrig, citing a study showing that 74% of college presidents state that their institutions cannot sustain additional budget
cuts without negatively impacting quality.

University presidents must placate multiple factions outside of their boards of trustees, including faculty, and too often inaction is the easiest
path. “One difference between the for-profit world and higher education is that you find numerous instances where the same people make the
same budgeting and planning mistakes repeatedly and are not held accountable in any way,” says financial consultant Larry Goldstein of
Campus Strategies in Crimora, Va.

When university presidents do step up and act like more like corporate managers, they can face the kind of backlash R. Owen Williams did at
Kentucky’s Transylvania University. Williams cut his teeth on Wall Street over a 24-year career at Salomon Brothers, Goldman Sachs and finally
as chairman of Bear Stearns Asia. After deciding on a career switch and earning a master’s degree in law and a Ph.D. in history from Yale, he
was hired in the summer of 2010 to run the Lexington, Ky. liberal arts college. By most accounts Williams was succeeding. Enrollment had risen
by 20%, and the 233-year-old school had begun construction of a new athletics complex.

However, in May 2013 Williams was socked with a “no confidence” vote from the college’s faculty. Apparently the professors didn’t like his
no-nonsense approach to management and in a 35-page document described him as being “dismissive and disrespectful.” What really upset
them was that Williams deferred a decision to award tenure to two professors.

Williams’ strategies had unanimous support from Transylvania’s board of trustees, and, according to FORBES’ financial health ratings, the
small college earns a relatively impressive grade of A-. Nonetheless Williams felt compelled to announce that he would resign after the 2013-14
academic year.

Some of higher education’s problems go beyond management. Even the metrics of higher education lead to inefficiencies. Today standard
academic achievement, for example, is measured by credit hours, or “seat time,” which can run $1,300 per hour at schools like New York
University. Undergraduates know that they need 120 credits to get a bachelor’s degree.

However, consultants like Dickeson argue that competency should be measured instead of hours. Online-only Western Governors University
has been offering accelerated, self-paced degrees for 14 years. Last month the University of Wisconsin got approval from its regional
accreditation organization to offer similar competency-based degrees to undergraduates.

No one expects change to come rapidly to higher education. “A large number of institutions continue to operate in a triage mode,” says veteran
college-bond issuer Fred Prager of investment banking firm Prager & Co. “They will remain reactive, with everything being a crisis. It’s very tough
for them to pause and get even to a point of mendability.”

That doesn’t mean consumers of higher education need to be in the dark. Combining FORBES’ Top College ratings with its new Financial
Grades can help you home in on not just the best schools for the buck but also those that are likely to be around for many years to come.

Lucie Lapovsky, former V.P. of finance at Baltimore’s Goucher College, a higher-ed financial consultant and a FORBES contributor, cautions
against ignoring the financial health of the colleges you choose: “Visible signs of financial stress can include fewer classes offered less
frequently, more classes taught by adjunct professors, less money for clubs and cutbacks in the upkeep of campus facilities.”

Financial woes are also the leading cause of accreditation suspensions. Indeed, more than a dozen schools among our C- and D-rated
colleges are already facing some kind of accreditation inquiry. The last thing you want is for Junior’s college to lose its accreditation. When that
happens the feds pull financial aid, enrollment plummets and the lights get turned out.

my facebook friend log

1 Sep

middle-age American living in New Jersey near the Lincoln Tunnel «« Here is my facebook friend activity log.  I requested my former sister-in-law recently, and she has yet to accept, so I want to make a public statement that I tried.  I might offend someone, but it is not my intention.  A quick scan before I posted shows I removed the friendship of Mary, and it would potentially offend her knowing I vanished by my choice, which is a rare event for me.  I can remember removing Mary, because I got a complicated message from her including steps I needed to complete to keep her pictures private.  I am capable of following her instructions, but I felt it was safer to drop from her friend list.  It’s at least a year of activity. »» about me 201-490-9659 Erika mortified contact us

facebook friend log

1 Sep

August 2013
Tom and Erin Higginson are now friends.
Tom sent Kelly Higginson a friend request.
Tom sent Anne Kolker Doody a friend request.
Tom sent Margaret Doody a friend request.
July 2013
Tom and Sandy Los Gladding are now friends.
Tom and Carol Troy are now friends.
Tom sent Doug Post a friend request.
Tom and Alex Eingorn are now friends.
Tom sent Steffen Meiler a friend request.
Tom and Tommy Gregg are now friends.
Tom and Bill Fleming are now friends.
Tom and Xavier Espartaco Caceres are now friends.
June 2013
Tom and Dezoree Augustine are now friends.
Tom removed May Sabastawi McDonnell as a friend.
Tom and Izuki Bando are now friends.
Tom and David William Sabater are now friends.
May 2013
MAY 20
Tom and Pucci Pisani are now friends.
Tom and Rosemary Post are now friends.
April 2013
Tom and Eve Ouellette are now friends.
Tom and Dudley Petunia are now friends.
Tom and Robert Post are now friends.
Tom and Mikki Catanzaro-Bruce are now friends.
Tom and Melissa Twohey Richmond are now friends.
March 2013
Tom and Ram Kumar are now friends.
Tom sent Kevin Doody a friend request.
Tom sent Steffen Meiler a friend request.
Tom sent Annie Forhan a friend request.
Tom sent Kate O’Connor a friend request.
Tom sent Steffen Meiler a friend request.
Tom sent Beth Halley a friend request.
Tom sent Bill Doody a friend request.
Tom sent Meghan Halley a friend request.
Tom sent Laura Halley a friend request.
Tom sent Nancy Coney Forhan a friend request.
Tom sent Jesus Chuy Morales a friend request.
February 2013
Tom and Sazzino Sazzy Kasaskie are now friends.
January 2013
Tom and Robert McNamara are now friends.
Tom and Michele Shelly Klenner Kerrigan are now friends.
December 2012
Tom and Alessandro Merlotron are now friends.
Tom and Randi Richards are now friends.
Tom and Joselyn Reyes are now friends.
Tom and Phil Strum are now friends.
November 2012
Tom and Allison Forhan are now friends.
Tom removed Mary O’Meara as a friend.
Tom and MyShuga Sweet are now friends.
October 2012
Tom and Shantelee Christie are now friends.
Tom and Mayaa Tucker-Cunningham are now friends.
Tom and Connie Lindman are now friends.
Tom and Elizabeth Bowman are now friends.
Tom and Anh Do are now friends.
Tom and Jay Squires are now friends.
September 2012
Tom and Manoj Prasad are now friends.
Tom and Vana Lynn are now friends.
Tom removed Kay Wilson as a friend.
August 2012
Tom and James Grimaldi are now friends.
Tom and Jane McDade are now friends.
Tom and Christa H Meiler are now friends.
Tom and Betsy Haidle McClain are now friends.
Tom removed Mary Power Patton as a friend.
Tom and John Cachat are now friends.
Tom and David Gage are now friends.
July 2012
JULY h31
Tom and Bis-Tek Cab Manufacturing are now friends.
Tom and Micheal John are now friends.
Tom and Marty Doody Post are now friends.
Tom and James Grimaldi are now friends.
Tom and Milomir Sekulic are now friends.
Tom and Yoshio Ehara are now friends.