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National / International News

France's jobless total rises again

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-27 13:01
The number of people looking for work in France rises 0.8% in July, confirming a trend of high unemployment and slow growth.

Nashville tries to boost civic pride with an investment fund

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-08-27 12:57

CNBC called it a “wacky” idea when it launched a year ago: a fund that invests in companies solely because they’re based in a particular city — in this case, Nashville. The Nashville exchange-traded fund has beat the odds, but maybe not for long.

Having a single share of this exchange-traded fund, or ETF, is like buying stock in all the public companies headquartered in Nashville. It’s heavy in health care, with hospital chains like HCA. There are also companies like Dollar General and Cracker Barrel in the mix. The pitch to locals was “invest in companies you know.”

“You can say you are investing in Nashville,” says financial advisor Stephen Frohsin of Woodmont Investment Counsel. “There’s a story that goes along with that, that people can understand a little bit easier.”

Frohsin attended the first annual shareholders meeting Thursday. Personally, he is trying out the ETF. He says his clients are dipping their toe in the water as well.

Shareholders range from community leaders and politicians who see it as an exercise in civic pride. One woman said she asked for a few shares for her birthday.

Analyst Paul Britt says he’s got a soft spot for the concept because it’s got a real “support-your-community” feel. He also says it probably won’t last.

“The short answer is yes, I am surprised it’s still with us,” says Britt.

Britt’s company ETF.com has a rating for funds, and by its estimate, the ticker symbol NASH may not last long on the New York Stock Exchange. A year in, the fund has fewer than $9 million in assets. Many investors won’t touch an ETF with less than $50 or $100 million.

Without more money in the fund, there’s not enough trading volume for big investors to be able to sell on a moment’s notice, which is supposed to be one of the selling points of an ETF and trading volume creates fees to operate the fund.

“We see [Nashville ETF] as a high risk for fund closure right now,” he says.

Currently, the Nashville ETF is operating at a loss, but founder Beth Courtney says that’s not unusual for any one-year-old start-up business. She says she knows there’s some proving left to do.

“You know, we’re the first in the country. I think that there were obviously people who wanted to take a closer look at it and watch it,” Courtney says. “And they might continue to watch it and see the performance and that will speak for itself and the fund will grow.”

While the fund is still tiny, investors aren’t complaining. They earned a nearly 20 percent return for year one.

Cook angry about Swann's criticism

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-27 12:55
Alastair Cook calls Graeme Swann a "so-called friend" after the ex-spinner said he should quit as England one-day captain.

Pensioner dies following flat fire

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-27 12:45
A woman in her 70s dies and a man is in hospital following a flat fire in Barry on Wednesday afternoon.

Life After Ice Buckets: ALS Group Faces $94 Million Challenge

NPR News - Wed, 2014-08-27 12:43

The ALS Association has raised more than $94 million in recent weeks via its online ice bucket challenge — compared with $2.7 million this time last year. Now what?

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Before Leaving Afghanistan, U.S. Troops Must Declutter

NPR News - Wed, 2014-08-27 12:41

American troops are scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan by year's end. So the military is sifting through 13 years of accumulated stuff to see what will be scrapped, given away or sent home.

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Netanyahu declares 'victory' in Gaza

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-27 12:29
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the seven-week conflict in Gaza ended in "victory", a day after a ceasefire came into effect.

As BK Takes Tim Hortons, Canadians Stay Loyal To Their National Icon

NPR News - Wed, 2014-08-27 12:09

The takeover of Canada's Tim Hortons by Burger King is causing quite the stir in the great white north. Melissa Block talks with Ian Hardy, editor-in-chief of Inside Timmies, a fan site devoted to Tim Hortons, about the Canadian existential crisis over one of the country's cultural icons being taken over by an American corporation.

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Mapping Out The End Days Of The Midterm Campaign

NPR News - Wed, 2014-08-27 12:09

The end of August heralds the start to the final phase of the 2014 election season. As primaries wrap up and candidates ready themselves for November, NPR's Charlie Mahtesian lays out the political landscape.

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When Do Food Shortages Become A Famine? There's A Formula For That

NPR News - Wed, 2014-08-27 12:09

The U.S. government has a detailed and technical system for determining a famine. But conditions in South Sudan make it extremely difficult to assess just how dire the situation is.

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Chicago Greets Little League National Champs As Returning Heroes

NPR News - Wed, 2014-08-27 12:09

Chicago has gathered for a parade to celebrate the Jackie Robinson West baseball team, which won the U.S. championship at the Little League World Series.

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Surfers Flock To The Water, As Huge Waves Hit The West Coast

NPR News - Wed, 2014-08-27 12:09

High surf is hitting the Southern California coast, much to the delight of surfers and the worry of lifeguards.

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The Life Of The Man Who Died Fighting For ISIS

NPR News - Wed, 2014-08-27 12:09

Douglas McAuthur McCain has earned a dubious distinction, as the first American to die in Syria fighting for the extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State.

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In Fixing Recalled Cars, GM Dealers Hope To Wow Customers

NPR News - Wed, 2014-08-27 12:09

General Motors has recalled 29 million autos in North America this year. Dealers replacing the faulty parts aren't just fixing cars. They're repairing customers' relationships with the automaker.

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A fracking story too good to be true

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-08-27 12:03

Producing oil and gas by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, takes lots of water. One Houston company claims to have a new technology that requires none of it. If it sounds too good to be true, the Securities and Exchange Commission thinks so, too - they have sued the company for fraud.

What’s alleged is called "pump and dump," in a very risky investment space known as the over-the-counter market. Two years ago, Maryland retiree Darleen Allwein invested in an oil and gas company called Chimera. The firm advertised a water-free fracking innovation.

“I had a friend who gave me the tip on this stock and it was gonna do well,” Allwein says. “And I had read some other stuff about this, what is it, fracking, or something?”

Allwein invested $10,000 in Chimera, during what the SEC considers the "pump" stage: the company issued 30 press releases, loaded with key Google search terms. It advertised on the websites of Marketwatch and the Wall Street Journal.   

The problem: petroleum engineers know waterless fracking is not a proven technology.

“Companies can fracture using oil and other petroleum substances,” says law professor Hannah Wiseman of Florida State University. “But as you might expect, they’re also not necessarily environmentally popular.”  

Investment professionals were wary of Chimera’s claims as well. Still, the over-the-counter stock market attracts lots of non-experts. Enough of them bid up the Chimera stock, at which point company creators executed their “dump.”

According to the SEC, they sold shares and pocketed $4.5 million in profits. Then the stock cratered, and Darlene Allwein lost everything.

To the feds, Chimera was simply a shell, a good story in the midst of a fracking boom.

“It’s sort of like a modern-day California gold rush,” says attorney John Hanger, a former Pennsylvania environment and utility regulator. “So it’s created a tremendous psychology of money to be made, that may make some people vulnerable.”

The SEC wants a jury trial, though the firm could settle.

We tried to call Chimera, but no one answered.

Producing oil and gas by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, takes lots of water. One Houston company claims to have a new technology that requires none of it. If it sounds too good to be true, the Securities and Exchange Commission thinks so, too. The SEC has sued the company for fraud.

What’s alleged is called pump and dump, in a very risky investment space known as the over-the-counter market.

 Two years ago, Maryland retiree Darleen Allwein invested in an oil and gas company called Chimera. The firm advertised a water-free fracking innovation.

“I had a friend who gave me the tip on this stock and it was gonna do well,” Allwein says. “And I had read some other stuff about this, what is it, fracking, or something?”

Allwein invested $10,000 in Chimera, during what the SEC considers the Pump stage: the company issued 30 press releases, loaded with key Google search terms. It advertised on the websites of Marketwatch and the Wall Street Journal.   

The problem: petroleum engineers know waterless fracking was not known to be a proven technology.

“Companies can fracture using oil and other petroleum substances,” says law professor Hannah Wiseman of Florida State University. “But as you might expect, they’re also not necessarily environmentally popular.”  

Investment professions were wary of Chimera’s claims as well. Still, the over-the-counter stock market attracts lots of non-experts. Enough of them bid up the Chimera stock, at which point company creators executed their “dump.”

According to the SEC, they sold shares and pocketed $4.5 million in profits. Then the stock cratered, and Darlene Allwein lost everything.

To the feds, Chimera was simply a shell, a good story in the midst of a fracking boom.

“It’s sort of like a modern day California gold rush,” says attorney John Hanger, a former Pennsylvania environment and utility regulator. “So it’s created a tremendous psychology of money to be made, that may make some people vulnerable.”

 The SEC wants a jury trial, though the firm could settle.

We tried to call Chimera, but no one answered.

Swimming hero traces young fan

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-27 12:03
A five-year-old boy who wrote an "amazing" fan letter to Scottish Commonwealth swimming champion Ross Murdoch is traced after an appeal on Twitter.

US hostage mother makes video plea

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-27 11:45
The mother of US journalist Steven Sotloff, held hostage by IS militants, pleads with his captors to release him in a video appeal.

VIDEO: Festival security allow laughing gas

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-27 11:38
Widespread consumption of laughing gas at one of the UK's top dance festivals is exposed by a BBC investigation - as security turn a blind eye.

US 'plans aid drop to Iraqi Turkmen'

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-27 11:37
President Obama is close to authorising aid drops for Shia Turkmen surrounded by Islamic State militants in northern Iraq, US sources say.

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