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October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘CEO’

Natural Gas in Israel – the Promise of Energy Independence

Friday, November 9th, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai is joined by Tamir Druz, the CEO of Israel CNG to discuss massive natural gas fields recently discovered in Israel. They talk about the discovery of the fields along with the potential uses for clean natural gas including its use in cars and buses throughout Israel.  Don’t miss this segment!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
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AARP Throws Granny Under the Bus

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

If any single business lobby—yes, business lobby—stands as an obstacle to entitlement reform, it is the American Association of Retired People [AARP]. There is nothing wrong with being a successful business, and the AARP should be credited for being just that. But there is something unsavory, at least, about being in the business of duping the elderly. Dissimulating—even to the elderly—is not illegal, nor should it be. A government powerful enough to prevent the AARP from duping old people is a more powerful government than any of us should want. There is no evidence that the AARP is technically breaking the law. But what they are doing is exploiting the elderly for a fast buck while lobbying—consistently—for the massive expansions of the federal government.

Let’s start with this statement from the AARP’s website:

Barry Rand is chief executive officer (CEO) of AARP, the world’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to social change and helping people 50 and over to improve the quality of their lives. Mr. Rand is a dynamic leader and change agent who brings to AARP a proven track record of leading both multibillion-dollar businesses and smaller, private equity-driven businesses. He has served as chairman and chief executive officer of Avis Group Holdings, CEO of Equitant Ltd., and executive vice president, Worldwide Operations, at Xerox Corporation. He serves as chairman of the Board of Trustees of Howard University.

That’s a a heavy-hitting resume for the head of “a non-profit, non-partisan nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps people 50 and over improve the quality of their lives,” isn’t it? It should be a clue. It is. Barry Rand is the CEO not only of a non-profit organization, but a very profitable organization that is also called the AARP.

The AARP, in principle, is a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt non-profit association. The (c)(4) designation is reserved for “Civic Leagues, Social Welfare Organizations, and Local Associations of Employees;” the key constraint upon its operation is that its net earnings must be devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes.

What is poorly understood—particularly by the elderly—is that there are eight entities linked to the AARP label, of which five are taxable, for-profit companies: AARP Insurance, AARP Services, Inc., AARP Global Network LLC, AARP Properties LLC, and AARP Financial, Inc. The profit-making and non-profit AARP entities are not only linked by their name—there is a great deal of overlap among boards of directors.

This is not illegal, but it is clearly unethical, in so far as these companies are using AARP’s reputation as a neutral advocate for the elderly to sell stuff to the elderly. Given that only the Catholic Church has a larger American membership, the AARP’s endorsement is to the old-people market as a Papal indulgence is to sinners.

To put it crudely, the non-profit part of the AARP is a front. The non-profit arm, as advertised, “provides a wide range of unique benefits, special products, and services for our members.” If you join the AARP for a low annual membership fee, you get discounts on hotels and cruises, and lots of magazines and newsletters about graying gracefully and staying spry. You can even listen to AARP radio and watch AARP TV—in Spanish, too!

But the media organs are the loss leaders: The revenue comes from the massive mailing list and the AARP name, which it licenses to for-profit companies—health insurers, in particular. In other words, it uses advocacy for the elderly as a sales tool. And indeed, AARP does conduct useful research and provide useful services to the elderly. But this is not its primary function. Its primary function is to sell stuff to old people via AARP Services Inc., which is not only a profit-making company, but a very profitable one: supplemental health insurance, discounts on prescription drugs, entertainment and travel packages, long-term care insurance, and automobile, home and life insurance, anything old people like—that’s what AARP sells. If you want to speak to the elderly, sell anything to the elderly, or get the elderly to vote for you, the AARP is the gatekeeper. This gives AARP an almost unrivaled power to blackmail Congress—which it does.

The profit and non-profit parts of AARP combined amount to an organization that in 2009 enjoyed gross receipts of $2.2 billion. The NRA—the second-largest officially non-profit advocacy group—is only one-eighth this size, financially speaking. The highest-spending lobbyists in Washington are, in descending order, the US Chamber of Commerce, General Electric, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and the AARP. They are all business lobbies, whether or not they claim non-profit status. Only the AARP, however, has managed to persuade the public that it is not.

There can be no entitlement reform unless a barrier is placed between the AARP and the legislative process, and so far, no politician has figured out how to do this without looking as if he is throwing granny under a bus. This is an immensely difficult problem: The elderly cannot be disenfranchised, nor can the AARP be deprived of its First Amendment rights.

There is only one realistic solution to this. Parents have a responsibility to protect their children. They also have a responsibility to protect their parents. Just as it is up to parents to protect their kids from exploitation by industries that are fundamentally unconcerned with their welfare, it is up to parents to protect their parents from exploitation by the AARP. It is even more difficult to persuade stubborn, aging parents to listen than it is to get through to recalcitrant teenagers. But it must be done. How? I suggest they follow the AARP’s advice. In its eldercare literature, it advises children to:

* Talk to your parents about scams that target the elderly.
* Educate yourself on current scams.
* Warn your older family members not to sign any forms or documents without reviewing the materials with another family member or attorney.
* Contact the media and the police about any fraudulent activity.
* Close any bank or credit card accounts that were involved in a scam.
* It is also important to remember not to blame your parent or older relative for falling victim to financial fraud. Be sure to explain to them what happened and the steps they can take to prevent against future scams.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

An Open Letter to Sarah Silverman

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Dear Sarah,

You have grown political as of late, and your politics have traction. Your YouTube video “Let My People Vote” has been viewed more than 1.4 million times. You have 3.4 million Twitter followers apparently eager to consume your mix of sexual references and political barbs.

I wouldn’t be writing these words had your most recent video not been framed in biblical language. Its title held deep significance to me, as I am sure was your intention.

Your name is Silverman. My name is Rosenblatt. We both have Jewish ancestors; I am not sure what else we share. You are good at what you do – comedy – and I try to be good at what I do – being a husband, dad, rabbi, and manufacturer of kosher meat. My wife and I are blessed with six children and my day is spent earning for the brood.

You stand out among comedians because your comedy is sharper than theirs. It is crude and clever, simple and punishing; your perception of the human condition is acute, which is why your punch lines bite deeper and hurt longer. You have a knack for finding faults and inconsistencies in people and blowing them wide open with carefully plotted language and cleverly nuanced pauses.

If I were to be gratuitous, I would say you mock what is imperfect because you know what perfect should look like and you seek the ultimate perfection.

But I won’t be so gratuitous. You are in show biz. I am in the rabbi biz. You entertain people. I serve people. I believe I have your number. You will soon turn 42 and your destiny, as you stated, will not include children. You blame it on your depression, saying you don’t want to pass it on to another generation.

I find that confusing, coming from someone as perceptive as you are in dissecting flawed arguments. Surely you appreciate being alive and surely, if the wonder of your womb were afflicted with your weaknesses and blessed with your strengths, it would be happy to be alive, too.

You said you wouldn’t get married until gay people can. Now they can. And you still haven’t married. I think, Sarah, that marriage and childrearing are not in the cards for you because you can’t focus on building life when you spend your days and nights tearing it down.

You have made a career making public that which is private, making crude that which is intimate, making sensual that which is spiritual. You have experienced what traditional Judaism taught long ago: when you make sex a public thing it loses its potency. When the whisper is replaced with a shout there is no magic to speak about. And, in my opinion, Sarah, that is why you have had trouble forging a permanent relationship – the most basic desire of the feminine soul.

Human beings have many acquaintances and fewer friends, but only one spouse. Judaism celebrates the monogamous, intimate relationship with a spouse as the prototype of the intimate relationship with God. Marriage, in Judaism, is holy. Family, in Judaism, is celebrated. But for you, nothing is holy; in your world, nothing is permanent. Your ideology is secular. Your culture may be Jewish, but your mind is not.

I think you have latched on to politics because you are searching for something to build. There is only so much pulling down one can do without feeling utterly destructive. You want to fight for a value so you take your belief – secularism – and promote it. As an Orthodox rabbi, I disagree with just about everything you say, but respect your right to say it. All I ask, respectfully, is that you not use traditional Jewish terminology in your efforts. Because doing so is a lie.

Nothing you say or stand for, Sarah, from your sickening sexual proposal to a Republican donor to your equally vulgar tweet to Mitt Romney, has the slightest thing to do with the most basic of tenets which Judaism has taught the world – that the monogamous relationship is the most meaningful one and that a happy marriage is the key to wholesomeness.

You are driven. You are passionate. I pray that you channel your drive and direct your passion to something positive, something that will make you a better and more positive person, something that will allow you to touch eternity and truly impact the world forever. I pray that you pursue marriage and, if you are so blessed, raise children.

Better Place Replaces CEO Founder Shai Agassi

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

The board of Better Place, the Israeli/global electric car company, has removed its founder Shai Agassi as CEO of the global company, and replaced him with Evan Thornley, who was the CEO of Better Place Australia.

Agassi will continue on as a board member and shareholder.

Better Place has accumulated costs of $490 million dollars since it was founded.

The New DSM-5 Definition Of Autism And Its Impact On Services

Friday, September 14th, 2012

The newest addition of the DSM-5 manual is scheduled for publication in May 2013. The DSM is used by clinicians to determine whether a client or patient meets or does not meet the criteria for a particular diagnosis.

With a new edition comes a potential new definition of autism that can be critical for many people, especially regarding funding. Psychiatrists and parents have voiced concerns that the new definition of autism in the DSM-5 will exclude many people from both a diagnosis and state services.

As with many of the disorders in the DSM-5, new diagnostic criteria and classifications are being proposed and reviewed. A new requirement for Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD) diagnosis is that a child must exhibit symptoms from every area of the DSM diagnostic criteria.

One of the most discussed changes in the DSM-5‘s definition of ASD is the removal of Asperger’s syndrome and PDD-NOS as individual diagnoses. Under the new diagnostic criteria, Asperger’s and PDD-NOS will come under the umbrella of ASD. A child whose diagnosis is currently Asperger’s syndrome would receive a new diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, with specifiers, such as “autism spectrum disorder with fluent speech” or “autism spectrum disorder with intellectual disability.”

Who will this affect?

Tens of thousands of people receive state-backed services to help offset the disorders’ disabling effects, which include severe learning and social problems.

Parents are justifiably concerned that any tightening of the Autistic Spectrum diagnosis will threaten their children’s eligibility for vital services. The Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership has launched a campaign to lobby the DSM-5 task force to keep a broad-spectrum concept of autism. The campaign urges those affected to contact the DSM-5 Committee to protest the newest changes.

Potential consequences

The overriding concern is what these changes mean for students receiving autism services through their Individualized Education Program. For students who currently have an IEP due to a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, it seems that a change in services would be unlikely, except for the possibility of services for previously unmet needs being added.

The proposed changes are significant, and will affect not only those to whom the diagnostic labels are applied, but also the funding allocation systems and service delivery systems. In the middle of all this change are the parents who are trying to determine what this means for their children.

Backlash

Debate has also been rife among medical professionals. Many divisions of the American Psychological Association have banded together to issue an open letter and petition to the DSM-5 task force and American Psychiatric Association, urging that both associations should work together on any revisions of the DSM. They also publicly oppose various aspects of the proposed changes. Their letter states, “Psychologists are not only consumers and users of the manual, but we are also producers of seminal research on DSM-defined disorder categories and their empirical correlates.”

Both the medical profession and general public have generated a frenzy of petitions and campaigns against the proposed changes to the DSM autism criteria.

The APA, meanwhile, has reassured those affected that no previously covered group will be left out in the cold. The changes would involve merging several diagnoses currently listed separately in the DSM-5 into a single umbrella category of “Autism Spectrum Disorder.”

“The proposed criteria will lead to more accurate diagnosis and will help physicians and therapists design better treatment interventions for children who suffer from ASD,” said James Scully, MD, medical director of the APA, in a release.

Neurodevelopmental Work Group member Bryan H. King, MD, believes that with the changes “we are going to be able to better characterize individuals with autism, in part because of clearer criteria that have been written to better account for people across the age span. And one could argue that this will actually make it easier for adolescents and adults, and even young children potentially, to meet criteria for diagnosis than was previously the case.”

What can I do?

Parents, caregivers and special education advocates must become knowledgeable about the proposed diagnostic revisions for Autism Spectrum Disorder and the possible effects on students receiving autism-related services. It is imperative that attention be given to the APA’s development of ASD secondary feature definitions, and the specific qualifiers that will be attached to an autism diagnosis. Becoming educated about these changes and additions is necessary so that you can be your student’s best, most effective educational and medical advocate.

Facebook Stock Drop: Divine Blessing for Marc Zuckerberg

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

If a man is given a financial windfall at the end of his life, what reason does he have to change? How much enjoyment will he get out of it anyway? For an 85 year old, how great is the finest of steaks to you when your body can’t even digest it? If you just received a billion dollars, it could mean that for every good you did in this world, G-d just paid you back in full. When your time comes and the Heavenly Court measures your good deeds against the wrong you did, you will have no merit to your name. All of it was accounted for before your passing.

The Book of Deuteronomy warns of G-d rewarding a man to his end. This is what that refers to.

But what if a man is young? What if he makes a terrible mistake? What if this is a mistake he doesn’t even consider a bad choice? Does this person deserve to be taught a lesson in how to fix himself?

Hashem has just told His children, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

Take a look at the most famous member of the People of the Book for 2012: Mark Zuckerberg.

On May 18 his company, Facebook, became a stock on the Nasdaq Exchange. Minutes after trading began the price of FB sailed to $45 a share, valuing Zuckerberg’s 603 million shares at a little more than $27 billion. He became wealthier than George Soros and Michael Bloomberg. Not bad for a twenty something from White Plains, New York.

On May 19 he did something the very same Book of Deuteronomy says a Jew can never do. He married a non-Jewish woman. Why is a Jew not allowed to marry out? Simple. G-d says so. It has nothing do with racism, superiority, exclusiveness, or anything else. One of the 613 Commandments the Creator of Heaven and Earth directs every Jew on Earth to marry another Jew.

Every instance of a Jewish man having relations with a non-Jewish woman is a sin so bad, nobody in Heaven can defend us. When our spouse dies, they go to a different part of the Next World. We don’t even have the consolation that in the afterlife we will see them — ever.

G-d could have allowed Mr. Zuckerberg to roll in his billions. He could have rewarded Mark to his end by not doing anything to help.

Instead, He sent him a tribulation of unprecedented magnitude.

From the moment Mark married a non-Jew, his finances tumbled. Facebook went from an IPO high of $45 a share to $18.03. Mark’s worth went from $27 billion, all his because he was single, to $10.9 billion – half claimable by his wife. His guaranteed assets of $5.45 bil are a whopping $21.5 billion less than what he started with.

It could get worse.

Analysts project Facebook to earn $.63 a share for 2013. The average price to earnings ratio for the Nasdaq 100 is 11.9. Multiply $.63 by 11.9 and you have a 2013 price target of $7.50, bringing Zuckerberg’s fortune down to $4.5 bil – half of which belongs to his wife.

I’ve heard of costly weddings before . . . .

This wasn’t a private lesson given to someone outside the public eye. This is the most well-known Jew on earth. His life is an open book for all of us to study. This act of love to wake up Mr. Zuckerberg also serves as an act of love for all of us. Even with “merely” $2 billion in the bank, he will not go hungry. He will not be wanting.

G-d acted to wake him up without putting him to sleep.

We spend all of our lives pursuing wealth, only to see it all go up in smoke. George Soros will die and his money will be parted from him. Mark Zuckerberg, a young man with a bright future, can easily fix his mistakes and rise to even greater heights. Wasn’t there a time in the 1990s when the once mighty Apple traded for $3 a share? Look at where it came from, how far it fell. See what it has become today.

My Beef With Chick-fil-A

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Many people have a problem with the Chick-fil-A chain of chicken restaurants. Universities have asked it to leave campus cafeterias and mayors have tried to ban it from their cities. The Jewish mayor of Chicago summed up his displeasure by saying “Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values.”

Frankly, I have had my own problem with the company for years. My family and I are in the beef business. Since my great-grandfather founded a kosher beef business in Galveston, Texas in 1910, our family has prided itself on the fine red beef products it provides clients, so much so that we wonder why anyone would choose a pack of pale-yellow, skin-covered drumsticks over a delicately trimmed, gently tied, 21-day dry-aged USDA Choice corn-fed standing rib roast.

I have no problem with Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s recent comments about gay marriage. As a guest on “The Ken Coleman Show” he said, “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’ ”

As a religious man, Cathy is entitled to offer his traditional Judeo-Christian perspective to listeners of the religiously sensitive radio station on which he made his comments. I am truly OK – inspired, even – with his championing the moral foundation of marriage between a man and woman that has done our American civilization good for 236 years.

But I am upset – unforgiving – about Chick-fil-A billboard advertisements that feature good-looking cows imploring impressionable consumers to eat chicken instead of beef.

I can handle criticism of our beef products. One doesn’t spend his days dealing with New York butchers and expect to receive rosy-red compliments. But clever ads that imply it is more humane to eat chicken and forgo beef cross the line and are both offensive and wrong.

Adding misinformation to misdeed, the advertising campaign uses Holstein cattle. By all accounts, Holsteins are raised to produce milk, not meat. It is a matter of economics: a milk-producing Holstein is worth much more than a fleish-toting Angus. So images of cute looking Holsteins with paintbrushes stuck between their split hooves beseeching consumers to spare the cow and roast the chicken may play well on emotions but are factually and demonstratively untrue.

According to the Torah, God allows humans to consume animals for the sake of nourishment and prosperity. He does not allow the killing of animals for sport. For more than 3,000 years Jewish law has required animals to be treated well during their lives (an owner, for example, must feed his animals before he can feed himself) and, when the time comes, to be slaughtered in a swift and near-painless manner by a man of faith and spiritual sensitivity.

Jewish law further requires us to engage in the laborious and expensive process of removing large veins from the carcass and soaking, salting and rinsing the meat in an effort to remove as much animal blood as possible. Blood is the life force of the animal.

Respecting the sanctity of life, we “despiritualize” the carcass before consuming it. While recognizing the higher role, purpose and inherent supremacy of human life, we learn that all life should be respected.

Notwithstanding my unresolved beef with Chick-fil-A, I think CEO Cathy is a remarkable man. He has made respect for religion a hallmark of his company, ensuring that all 1,614 branches are closed on Sundays, allowing employees to pray and spend time with their families on their Sabbath.

As a practicing Jew, I keep the laws of kashrus. My family has never eaten at Chick-fil-A. For that matter, we have never eaten at Denny’s or Chili’s. The only time I have ever gone to McDonalds was at Dallas Fort Worth Airport when I bought a cup of coffee before an early morning flight.

But now, for the very first time in my life, I patronized Chick-fil-A. I bought a $50 gift card. I will give it to my postal carrier in appreciation of a job well done. I chose Chick-fil-A over other retailers because when the media and left-leaning politicians are calling for the downfall of a man who speaks his heart and expresses what is good for humanity, it is time for all those who share Judeo-Christian values to stand up and be counted.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/my-beef-with-chick-fil-a/2012/08/29/

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