Managing money goes high-tech


Financial advisers and planners agree on at least one thing when it comes to retiring: Good money management is key to a comfortable retirement. That means keeping an eye on where your money is going and how your investments are doing. But if money management is not exactly your forte, don’t worry. There’s an app for that!

Arielle O’Shea, a staff writer for personal finance website NerdWallet, said it is worth doing the due diligence into these apps — shopping around and deciding what works best for each person. 

“You’re not tied to any of these apps for life,” she said. “Deleting your account information is pretty painless. But it’s definitely worth the time to use some of these services, which can help you save money or better manage it. Because every little bit helps, especially when you’re retiring and every penny counts.”

Here are some financial apps that can help as you hit retirement. (Unless otherwise mentioned, all apps are available for Android and Apple devices.)

” target=”_blank”>Mint (free) helps you consolidate all of your bank accounts, debit and credit card charges, your 401(k) account, and mortgage and loan accounts to track your income and spending. Using that data, the app creates personalized budgets to help maximize savings. Mint also will give you a free credit score if you provide your Social Security number. 

“This app is often called the best because it is so comprehensive,” said Lisa Gerstner, a contributing editor for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. “It gives a good snapshot of what’s going on [with your finances]. But on the flipside, there’s a lot going on there, so if you want something simpler, this may not be the app for you.”

A related app, ” target=”_blank”>Mvelopes is less comprehensive compared with Mint. After connecting with your bank accounts (you also can add offline accounts, like for cash), it takes your monthly income and creates a customizable budget based on national averages. Users then put money in virtual envelopes for allocated spending. With the free version, you can connect four bank accounts and have 25 envelopes for your budgets. The premier version ($95 annually) permits an unlimited number of bank accounts and envelopes.

” target=”_blank”>FileThis (free) enables you to keep all of the documents from each of your bank, insurance, mortgage, retirement and investment accounts in one location — a cloud drive of your choice. It also will track your bills and help manage your expenses. 

” target=”_blank”>Spending Tracker (free), which also is available on the iPhone. 

OTHER USEFUL APPS

” target=”_blank”>EyeReader ($1.99 on iPhone) uses your camera lens to magnify small text. Similar apps on Android devices include ” target=”_blank”>Screen Magnifier HD (free).

” target=”_blank”>Lifesum (free; premium version $9.99 per month or $46.99 per year) helps you meet your health goals, track your water and calorie intakes, and even share your progress on your social media accounts. 

Israeli military worries over troops’ use of social media


Israel's armed forces see a growing threat in instant messaging applications — both to battlefield secrecy and to the privacy of women soldiers.

According to official military journal Bamahane, the number of troop indictments for sex crimes has almost doubled since 2012, with “infringement of privacy” counts, some involving the collection and sharing of compromising photographs, making up 35 percent of cases.

The journal cited, as one example, a soldier who photo-shopped the face of a female comrade onto an image of another woman’s nude body and pressed her into having sex with him by threatening to disseminate the image.

In another case, a non-commissioned officer was accused of surreptitiously photographing women in the shower.

WhatsApp, the instant messaging application owned by Facebook, has become particularly popular among Israeli conscripts in recent years.

The military's chief censor, Brigadier-General Sima Vaknin-Gil, said WhatsApp messaging about the Gaza war last July and August was the challenge to operational security that prompted the most discussion in meetings she held at the time with her staff.

“Do I think WhatsApp is liable to be an acute problem in the future? Yes, unequivocally,” Vaknin-Gil told Bamahane, predicting the power of social media would require a review of official secrecy standards in the country.

During the Gaza war, the military said it arrested several soldiers for publishing the names of casualties over the application before next-of-kin could be formally informed. The Israeli military regards such breaches as a security risk as well as a humanitarian issue.

The military has also disciplined troops for allegedly racist comments on Facebook, and in the case of a group of women soldiers, for posting photos of themselves in underwear and combat gear.

Vaknin-Gil said effectively monitoring social media activity in Israel for breaches of military law would be impossible.

“First of all, it's not under my aegis,” she said. “Secondly, you would have to expand the body called censorship dozens of times over in order to handle all of the existing WhatsApps groups.”

The military's response appears to be mainly cautionary, for now, by playing up social media cases that lead to the stockade.

“This is a very troublesome phenomenon, and soldiers don't understand how grave it is,” the chief military prosecutor, Colonel Udi Ben-Eliezer, told Bamahane. “The telephone is easily available, and therefore the crime becomes very easy to do.”

Israeli soldiers punished for WhatsApp leaks of dead comrades’ names


The Israeli military said it had detained several soldiers and a civilian on suspicion of leaking Gaza casualty figures over social media before families of the dead or wounded could be formally informed.

A week into ground fighting with Hamas that has killed at least 32 soldiers, some Israelis complain of first learning their relatives were dead through WhatsApp, or of being misled by erroneous messages into believing they were among the toll.

The phenomenon has led to front-page calls by Israeli commentators to stop the relaying of unauthorized casualty updates. Hoping to control the information, the army has confiscated the cellphones of troops sent into combat.

“Notifying a family of a soldier or officer who was killed in action is one of the most sensitive and well-planned procedures that exists in the military, as befits such a serious moment,” the military said in a statement announcing the arrests following an investigation that it described has having employed “both open-source and undercover means”.

“The unauthorized WhatsApp messages were irresponsible and spread quickly across social networks,” the statement said, referring to Facebook’s WhatsApps mobile messaging app.

The army has revised its own official information regarding a soldier it initially reported as killed in Gaza on Sunday, but later designated as missing in action. Hamas said it had seized the soldier but did not issue photographs of him in captivity.

When your child fights in Gaza, this is how it feels


Jonathan and Daphne Orenshein do not like when an unknown number pops up on their cell phone. 

Their son, Kevin, 21, operates a tank in the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) Givati unit and, as of his last report to his parents, was likely headed into a dense Gaza City neighborhood, into a place teeming with Hamas fighters who want to inflict as many casualties as possible while the IDF seeks out the terrorist group’s labyrinth of underground tunnels.

So when the phone rings, especially when it’s an unknown international number, his parents, who live in the Beverlywood neighborhood, have to wonder: Is an Israeli official calling to confirm their worst fears? Or is their son just calling home using the cell phone of an Israeli civilian? 

“Are we sleeping well?” Jonathan asked rhetorically. “No.”

A Lone Soldier who left his family, friends and home more than two years ago to endure the extreme physical and mental challenges of military life with the IDF, Kevin has made sure to stay in regular touch with his parents and his grandfather, an Israeli who served in both the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War. 

[Related: 

Recording of kidnapped teen’s emergency call released


The recording of the emergency call placed by one of the kidnapped teens was officially released after a leaked copy spread throughout Israel on WhatsApp.

“I’ve been kidnapped,” a teen, identified by his father as Gilad Shaar, is heard whispering in the call made at 10:25 p.m. June 12.

“Keep your heads down,” a voice is heard shouting in Arabic-accented Hebrew.

Sounds of a struggle are heard followed by several loud noises believed to be gunshots and then groaning.

The operator is heard trying to talk to the caller and find out where he is located throughout the call.

Blood and bullet casings reportedly were found in the burnt-out car that is believed to have been used to abduct the teens.

The call was transferred to the operator’s supervisor, who also tried to speak to the caller. The supervisor reportedly called back eight times, first receiving no answer then being transferred to voice mail.

The supervisor did not report the call, believing it to be a prank. Several senior officers were demoted on Monday after the release of an investigation that found “severe failure of conduct” in the handling of the call.

Iranian judge summons Facebook CEO for breach of privacy


A conservative Iranian court opened a case against instant messaging services WhatsApp and Instagram while also summoning Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over complaints of privacy violation, state news agency ISNA reported on Tuesday.

The case underscores the growing struggle between moderate Iranian president Hassan Rouhani's drive to increase Internet freedoms and demands by the conservative judiciary for tighter controls.

The Iranian court in the southern province of Fars opened the cases against the social networks after citizens complained of breaches of privacy.

“According to the court's ruling, the Zionist director of the company of Facebook, or his official attorney must appear in court to defend himself and pay for possible losses,” said Ruhollah Momen-Nasab, an Iranian internet official, according to state news agency ISNA, referring to Zuckerberg's Jewish background.

Zuckerberg, whose company owns WhatsApp and Instagram, is unlikely to heed the summons.

Iran is still under international sanctions over its disputed nuclear activities and it is difficult for U.S. citizens to secure travel visas, even if they want to visit.

Internet use is high in Iran, partly because many young Iranians turn to it to bypass an official ban on Western cultural products, and Tehran occasionally filters popular websites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Rouhani, in remarks that challenge hardliners who have stepped up measures to censor the Web, said earlier this month that Iran should embrace the Internet rather than see it as a threat.

A Rouhani administration official said Iran would loosen Internet censorship by introducing “smart filtering”, which only keeps out sites the Islamic government considers immoral.

Reporting by Michelle Moghtader; editing by Sami Aboudi and Alister Doyle

Rouhani rejects Iranian WhatsApp ban


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has rejected a plan to ban the free text-messaging service WhatsApp.

The plan was approved by an Iranian censorship committee and then announced Sunday by Abdolsamad Khorramabadi, head of the country’s Committee for Determining Criminal Web Content.

“The reason for this is the assumption of WhatsApp by the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is an American Zionist,” Khorramabadi reportedly said Sunday.

Access to Twitter, Facebook and other social networks, as well as other controversial websites, is often blocked by Iranian authorities. Iran does not ban Facebook, however. Rouhani has been active in recent months on the social networking site as well as on Twitter.

Iranian Telecommunications Minister Mahmoud Vaezi said Wednesday that Rouhani had ordered a stop to the proposed ban of WhatsApp until there is something to take its place, the French news agency AFP reported, citing the Arab

Netanyahu’s parting remark to LA: ‘Cannot be tolerant to the intolerant’


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu closed the final leg of his three-day trip to California on Thursday, March 6, with a message for Iran and its proxy terrorist groups: “We will expose, and we shall fight them. And I’ll tell you the other thing: We shall beat them.”

His statement came at the end of an eight-minute speech at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance in West Los Angeles, during which Netanyahu repeated what he has said for years—that the world ignored Adolf Hitler’s threats in the years leading up to 1939, acquiesced to his demands, and the entire world, particularly Jews, paid a horrible price. “The leading powers of the world did not heed that warning, nor did they act on it.”

Today, Netanyahu said, as Iranian leaders call for the destruction of the Jewish State, he believes the West’s governments are not taking those statements as seriously as they should.

“I think it’s outrageous that 70 years after the Holocaust, this could be accepted with virtual silence,” Netanyahu told an audience of approximately 300 local Jewish community leaders.  “People say, ‘Well, you know, they say it, they mean it for internal consumption.’ Does this sound familiar?”

[READ: CONSULATES ABSENCE FELT ON BIBI'S CA TRIP]

In November, Netanyahu characterized as a “historic mistake” a deal reached between Western powers and Iran, that removes some economic sanctions in return for promises of partial and temporary uranium enrichment freeze by the Iranian government.

Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani and its foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have since said that the agreement shows that the West recognizes Iran’s right to enrich, and that Iran will not shut down its nuclear program.

In Los Angeles, Netanyahu said that in addition to developing nuclear weapons, Iran is funneling “weapons of immediate death” to terrorist groups like Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

He referred to a March 5 raid by Israeli commandos, in which they seized a cargo ship in the Red Sea, off the coast of Sudan, and found Syrian-manufactured M-302 rockets, which Netanyahu said Iran was attempting to send to Hamas.

Israeli military intelligence determined that Iran flew the rockets in from Syria, shipped them to Iraq, and then sent them to Port Sudan.

“Now the government of Iran is saying it’s all lies,” Netanyahu said. “That ship will get to Eilat in a few days, and we shall see who is lying, and we shall expose what Iran is really doing.”

His speech at the museum was similar to many he has delivered in the past, including at the United Nations, in Washington, D.C, and elsewhere—in which he warns that the Iranian government is bent on destroying Israel, and declares that Israel will not allow that to happen.

“Make an issue of it,” Netanyahu said, explaining that simply calling out Iran’s leaders, again and again, is significant. When the world is silent, he said, “That goal entrenches and re-entrenches itself in the minds of these fanatics—and they think they can get away with it.”

The Israeli prime minister’s speech at the Museum of Tolerance came after he viewed a 1919 letter written by Hitler, in which the future Nazi leader called for the “removal of the Jews altogether. ” The letter is part of the museum’s collection. Netanyahu was wrapping up a three-day California visit, in which he met with entertainment executives, actors, technology leaders and California Gov. Jerry Brown.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu views a letter written by Hitler at the Museum of Tolerance on March 6. Photo by Peter Halmagyi

On Tuesday, March 4, Netanyahu was at Paramount Studios to attend the premiere of “Israel: The Royal Tour”—the latest in the television series hosted by CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg, in which heads of state—in this case, Netanyahu—give Greenberg a tour of their country.

Between his two Los Angeles events, Netanyahu flew to northern California on March 5 to meet with Gov. Jerry Brown and Silicon Valley executives. At the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Netanyahu and Brown signed a deal to promote trade and research between Israel and California.

The Prime Minister also toured Apple’s campus in Cupertino and met with Jan Koum, CEO of messaging service WhatsApp, which Facebook recently acquired for $19 billion.

On the evening of March 5, Netanyahu, his wife Sara, and his son Yair, visited Israeli movie producer Arnon Milchan’s home, meeting celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio, Barbra Streisand, Kate Hudson and Keanu Reeves.

Staff of Israel’s consulate based in L.A. was absent throughout Netanyahu’s visit, due to a strike by international foreign-service workers that began Tuesday following a breakdown in wage negotiations between the Foreign Ministry’s labor union and Israel’s finance ministry. Responsibility for the trip, as a result, shifted from the local consulate to the Prime Minister’s office.

WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum’s tale of two cities


Jan Koum’s birthday is today, and he’s already received his big gift.

The Ukraine-born CEO and founder of WhatsApp has catapulted from relative unknown to a poster boy for rags-to-riches immigrant triumph since selling the rapidly growing messaging company to Facebook for a record-breaking $19 billion earlier this week.

Koum, who is about to turn 38, grew up in a village near Kiev and immigrated to the United States as a teen, part of the exodus of Jews from the former Soviet Union in the aftermath of its collapse.

According to Forbes , which has published the most detailed profile of him so far, Koum grew up in a home without hot water, and his parents “rarely talked on the phone in case it was tapped by the state.”

Koum first settled in Mountain View, Calif., with his mother when he was 16. To make ends meet, his mother — who apparently brought over pens and notebooks in order to avoid paying for school supplies in the U.S. —  babysat while he swept a grocery store.

In an interview with Wired’s editor, David Rowan, at the Digital Life-Design conference in Munich last month, Koum said his interest in WhatsApp — which enables people to exchange free text messages with friends and family all over the world — was partially inspired by his memories of how difficult and costly it had been as a new immigrant to stay in touch with relatives back in Ukraine.

Wearing an olive-colored “John Deere” T-shirt, black hoodie and jeans, the Russian-accented Koum noted that his early years in an environment lacking the “clutter” of advertising he encountered in the United States shaped his commitment to keeping WhatsApp free of advertising.

“There were a lot of negatives, of course, but there were positives to living a life unfettered by possessions,” he told Rowan. “It gave us the chance to focus on education, which was very important in the Soviet Union.”

Given that this week Kiev erupted in flames — as clashes between protesters and President Victor Yanukovych’s security forces escalated — it’s hard not to notice the stark contrast between Koum’s current and childhood homes.

At least 39 people were killed Thursday in Kiev’s Independence Square  – that’s the number the municipal government reported, but protesters estimated the death toll to be more than twice that, according to the New York Times. Just hours earlier, in sunny, tranquil Mountain View, Koum and WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton were signing the deal with Facebook, standing right outside the government office where he and his mother once stood on line to get food stamps.

The money changing hands in the WhatsApp-Facebook deal that day is a sum equal to more than 10 percent of Ukraine’s entire GDP.