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Details Emerge Of How Melinda, Bill Gates Are Dividing $145 Billion

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Details Emerge Of How Melinda, Bill Gates Are Dividing $145 Billion

The couple oversees the largest private foundation in the world. (File)

As a married couple, Bill and Melinda Gates spent decades amassing one of history’s largest fortunes. Now that they’re divorcing, they have to untangle that $145 billion.

Details of the split have already started to emerge.

Cascade Investment, a holding company Bill created with his Microsoft Corp. winnings, transferred securities worth more than $1.8 billion to Melinda French Gates, according to U.S. regulatory filings dated May 3. The shift comprised about $1.5 billion of Canadian National Railway Co. shares and more than $300 million of AutoNation Inc. stock. Cascade currently holds securities valued at more than $50 billion, including stakes in Republic Services Inc., Deere & Co. and Ecolab Inc.

How their wealth is ultimately divvied up is set to shake up the uppermost ranks of the world’s richest people and could have billion-dollar implications on what philanthropic causes get attention. The couple oversees the largest private foundation in the world and has promised that the majority of their wealth will be donated.

In announcing the split, the couple said they will both remain involved in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has contributed vast sums to the realms of global health, climate change policy and social issues. But the $50 billion operation — with billions more still to be given — depends on the cooperation of two exes.

“As uncomfortable as it is, their personal relationship is going to have huge consequences for where the money goes,” said Benjamin Soskis, senior research associate at the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy. “The Gates Foundation is the most influential and important philanthropic organization in the world, not only in terms of its assets and grantmaking. Bill and Melinda themselves have each become incredibly influential public figures in their own rights.”

The split, after 27 years of marriage, comes just two years after the 2019 separation announcement of Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott, another billionaire tech couple in Washington state. That divorce led to a 75-25 split of the couple’s 16% stake in Amazon.com Inc. for Bezos and Scott, respectively.

It made Scott the fourth richest woman in the world and rippled through the global philanthropic landscape as she became one of the most prolific donors of 2020, contributing to gender equality causes alongside Melinda French Gates.

The Gates fortune, at $145 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, could prove more complex to carve up than the Bezos assets, which were largely concentrated in Amazon stock.

Multiple Assets

The couple’s net worth originated with Bill’s stake in Microsoft, but shares of the software-maker now probably make up less than 20% of their assets. They’ve shifted much of his holding into the Gates Foundation over the years and his exact stake hasn’t been disclosed since he left Microsoft’s board last year.

The biggest asset is Cascade Investment, which is run by money manager Michael Larson. Through Cascade, Gates has interests in real estate, energy and hospitality as well as public companies. Canadian National is the third-biggest public equity holding. Cascade transferred 14.1 million shares to Melinda, and has 87.3 million shares, which are owned by Bill, the regulatory filing shows.

The couple are also among the largest landowners in America and have homes including their 66,000 square-foot mansion in Medina, Washington.

The rapid stock transfer could be a sign that it’s already been decided how the fortune will be split.

“I would imagine that almost everything is done,” said Jacqueline Newman, a divorce attorney and managing partner at Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP. “For them to issue this kind of statement, they have probably worked out 90-95% of the divorce. They’re not putting something like this out otherwise.”

Community Property State

The Gateses live in Washington, which is a community property state. That means that anything acquired during a marriage is considered to be equally owned by both partners. But that doesn’t necessarily mean their fortune will be evenly split.

“It is not a mandatory 50-50,” said Janet George, a family lawyer in Washington with the firm McKinley Irvin. “The courts can award more or less, depending on what is just and equitable.”

Details of their division may never be publicly revealed because they’re likely hidden behind the couple’s private contracts, George said. Their stakes in public companies that are large enough to have to report holdings will give a peek behind the curtain.

Gates Foundation

What the couple owns is one thing, but much of their focus over the past couple of decades has been on what to give away.

The foundation is one of the largest private charitable foundations in the world, having made almost $55 billion in grant payments through the end of 2019. A former general manager at Microsoft, Melinda helps drive strategy at the organization, with a particular focus on gender equity. Bill has been more focused on the science and global health side of their giving.

“Bill and Melinda will remain co-chairs and trustees of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” a spokesperson for the foundation wrote in an emailed statement. “No changes to their roles or the organization are planned. They will continue to work together to shape and approve foundation strategies, advocate for the foundation’s issues, and set the organization’s overall direction.”

Both Bill and Melinda Gates “were not just behind the scenes players. They were decision makers,” said Soskis of the Urban Institute, whose own work has been supported by the Gates Foundation.

In cases where a wealthy philanthropic couple splits up, their foundations are sometimes divided as well, said Mela Garber, a tax principal at the accounting and advisory firm Anchin in New York who specializes in matrimonial matters.

Even when divorces are amicable, Garber said, “they might not want to be together at certain meetings and fundraising, and have the same level of involvement with people around.” The complexities of two exes working together can become clearer as time goes on, she said. “Creating two new foundations eliminates a huge area of tension.”

Splitting the Gates Foundation is difficult for many philanthropic experts to imagine. However, “they could pursue separate goals within the confines of the foundation itself,” said Brian Mittendorf, an Ohio State University professor who studies nonprofits.

Famous Names

Already a household name thanks to his previous status as the world’s richest man, Bill Gates became even more famous when he emerged as a go-to expert on the pandemic at a time when official guidance was often confusing and contradictory. His work has made him a target of conspiracy theories as well as controversies over patents and how to open up global access to the vaccines.

For her part, Melinda French Gates has raised her own profile with the publication of a book, “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World,” in 2019. She has in recent years helped shift the foundation’s strategy, as a “top-down, technocratic” approach to giving has become more responsive to “community needs and community input,” Soskis said.

Despite its size, the Gates Foundation’s board only has three members: Bill, Melinda, and Warren Buffett — who has promised to devote bulk of his own considerable fortune to his friends’ foundation. That means disagreements between the two exes may need to be settled by the 90-year-old billionaire.

“To the extent to which they have huge divergent interests that would arise, Buffett would play an important role,” Ohio State University’s Mittendorf said.

The pair could also pursue their separate interests outside the foundation, in their investments and personal philanthropy. Bill Gates, for example, founded Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a fund that fights climate change by investing in startups with the potential to cut global annual emissions by as much as 500 million tons each year. Other backers include Bezos and Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP.

In 2015, Melinda French Gates started Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company, “as a separate, independent organization to identify, help develop and implement innovative solutions to problems affecting U.S. women and families.”

In 2019, French Gates committed $1 billion to speed up the pace at which women gained power and influence in the U.S. A year later, Pivotal announced it’d be partnering with MacKenzie Scott to start the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge, a $30 million award to organizations that come up with ways to advance women’s power by 2030.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Israeli actress Gal Gadot wishes for safety for Israel, gets hate from Islamists and ‘liberals’ in return

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Amid the conflict between Israel and Hamas and Palestinian Islamic jihadis, Israeli actress Gal Gadot put up a tweet praying for peace.

She tweeted that her country (Israel) is at war and she worries for her family and friends and the people of Israel. “This is a vicious cycle that has been going on for far too long. Israel deserves to live as a free and safe nation. Our neighbors deserve the same. I pray for the victims and their families. I pray for this unimaginable hostility to end, I pray for our leaders to find the solution so we can live side by side in peace,” she tweeted.

However, soon the ‘liberals’ and Islamists descended upon her timeline with angry, hateful tweets, accusing her of being a genocide enabler.

Despite the fact that the Palestinian terrorists were attacking Israel with rockets and missiles, the Islamists accused Israel of ‘perpetrating a televised and documented ethnic cleansing’.

They also gave a call to boycott her movies and called her a ‘murderer’.

Some Islamists even claimed that Israel as a country does not exist and hence there is no ‘my country’ that she mentions in the tweet.

One Twitter user, whose heart apparently pains for ‘Palestine’, wished death upon Gal Gadot for wishing for peace upon her country.

Some also used this opportunity to hate on Jews.

Some ‘liberals’ also felt that her pray for peace for her country was ‘meaningless’.

All this while choosing to overlook the terrorism inflicted by Hamas on Israeli people. Gadot served as a soldier in the Israel Defence Forces for two years before taking a plunge into modelling and acting.

In December 2020, Gadot had hailed the ‘Shaheen Bagh Dadi’ Bilkis Bano, who was one of the prominent faces in the anti-CAA protests which culminated into anti-Hindu riots in February 2020. Bilkis was a prominent part of the protests that were organized as India decided to give citizenship to religiously prosecuted people from neighbouring Islamic countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

However, she soon deleted her Instagram story hailing Bilkis while the post continued to be up on her profile.

Israel-Palestine conflict

Conflict between Israel and Palestine escalated when Palestinian terror unit Hamas fired multiple rockets at Jerusalem, and the Israeli Defense Forces responding back in kind. The main reason behind the current conflict is the Sheikh Jarrah property dispute, a dispute which can lead to the evictions of around 300 Palestinians from the East Jerusalem neighborhood.

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More Than 24 Covid-19 Patients May Have Died in Chamarajanagar Due to Oxygen Crisis: HC Panel

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The number of deaths of Covid-19 patients for want of oxygen at Chamarajanagar district hospital in Karnataka could be higher than 24, according to a high court-appointed panel.

The three-member panel confirmed that 24 Covid-19 patients died in the hospital on the intervening night of May 2-3 as oxygen was not available for four hours from 10.30 pm, The Times of India reported.

Headed by retired HC judge Justice AN Venugopala Gowda, the panel noted that 62 died in the hospital between May 4 and May 10, and at least 36 were in-patients on May 2.

The panel, which submitted its report before the court on Tuesday, said the death of these 36 in-patients could be attributed to non-availability of oxygen supply during the night of May 2 and early hours of May 3.

The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday said it would consider the report on Thursday.

Chamarajanagar DC failed ‘miserably’

The HC panel also flagged the absence of guidelines that day, and noted that recording case-sheets maintained by doctors and nurses at the hospital on the two dates looks sketchy.

The panel, however, absolved the Mysuru deputy commissioner of any anomalies, and pinned the blame on the deputy commissioner, Chamarajanagar, saying he “has not exhibited the dynamism and leadership qualities expected of a district head in a dire crisis situation…”

It said as the chairman of the District Disaster Management Committee, “he has miserably failed to guide and supervise the crisis situation arising out of the extreme demand for oxygen”.

“On the contrary, he has indulged in an unsavoury blame game accusing the DC of Mysore of causing hindrance for oxygen supply without any basis,” it added.

Although refilling plants on which the district hospital was dependent for its oxygen replenishment are located in Mysuru, which comes under the jurisdiction of Mysuru DC, the panel said that only on that basis it cannot be said that the Mysuru DC had any control over supply of oxygen to other districts.

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Israel-Palestinian Conflict Escalates as Rockets Fly, Street Violence Flares

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Israel faced an escalating conflict on two fronts Thursday, scrambling to quell riots between Arabs and Jews on its own streets after days of exchanging deadly fire with Palestinian militants in Gaza.

Despite diplomatic efforts to ease the crisis, which US President Joe Biden said he hoped would end “sooner than later”, hundreds of rockets flew across the Gaza Strip overnight. 

Air raid warnings went off across Israel, including for the first time in the country’s north.

Israel’s air force said it had launched multiple strikes, targeting what it described as locations linked to the “counterintelligence infrastructure” of Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, as well as the house of Iyad Tayeb, one of the movement’s commanders. 

In Gaza, 67 people have been killed so far — including 17 children — and nearly 400 injured after days of near relentless Israeli air strikes.

On Wednesday, Hamas announced the death of its military chief in Gaza City, Bassem Issa, with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) saying they had killed three other senior figures as well. 

IDF strikes also destroyed a multi-storey tower housing Palestinian television channel Al-Aqsa, set up by Hamas.

Israel said around 1,500 rockets had been launched into its territory since the beginning of the week by Palestinian militants.

Seven people have been killed, including one six-year-old after a rocket struck his home in southern Israel, the United Hatzalah volunteer rescue agency said.

The past few days have seen the most intense hostilities in seven years between Israel and Gaza’s armed groups, triggered by weekend unrest at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which is sacred to both Muslims and Jews.

‘Pogrom’

Coinciding with the aerial bombardments is surging violence between Arabs and Jews inside Israel.

On Wednesday night, Israeli far-right groups took to the streets across the country, clashing with security forces and Arab Israelis. 

Police said they had responded to violent incidents in multiple towns, including Lod, Acre and Haifa.

Israeli television aired footage of a far-right mob beating a man they considered an Arab until he lay unconscious on his back in a street of Bat Yam, near Tel Aviv.

“The victim of the lynching is seriously injured but stable,” Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital said, without identifying him.

A state of emergency has been declared in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Lod, where a synagogue and other Jewish property has been torched and an Arab resident was shot dead.

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, in unusually strong language, denounced what he described as a “pogrom” in which “an incited and bloodthirsty Arab mob” had injured people and attacked sacred Jewish spaces.

In the occupied West Bank, a Palestinian man was killed during a confrontation with Israeli soldiers near the northern city of Nablus, the Palestinian health ministry said Thursday. 

The death brings the number killed in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces in the West Bank to three on Wednesday alone.

“What has been happening these last few days in Israeli towns is unacceptable… Nothing justifies the lynching of Arabs by Jews and nothing justifies the lynching of Jews by Arabs,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, adding that Israel was fighting a battle “on two fronts”.

Stalled diplomacy

An emergency UN Security Council meeting on the tensions has been requested for Friday, diplomatic sources told AFP.

The Council has already held two closed-door videoconferences since Monday, with the United States — a close Israel ally — opposing adoption of a joint declaration, which it said would not “help de-escalate” the situation.

Netanyahu spoke later Wednesday to Biden, who said “Israel has a right to defend itself”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had spoken to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, urging an end to the rocket attacks.

Blinken had said earlier that a US envoy would travel to the Middle East to seek to calm tensions.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking alongside United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, called for an urgent meeting of the Middle East Quartet — Russia, the United States, the UN and the EU. 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged both sides to “step back from the brink”.

But the Israeli government has warned that “this is only the beginning”, and army spokesman Jonathan Conricus said strikes on Gaza would continue as Israel prepares for “multiple scenarios”.

Sending ground troops into Gaza was “one scenario” that was not the focus of the current operation, Conricus said.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has also threatened to step up attacks, warning that “if Israel wants to escalate, we are ready for it”.

The crisis flared last Friday when weeks of tensions boiled over and Israeli riot police clashed with crowds of Palestinians at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque.

Nightly disturbances have since flared in east Jerusalem, leaving more than 900 Palestinians injured, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

The unrest has been driven by anger over the looming evictions of Palestinian families from the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

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