08/21/2014 (4:28 am)

U.S. rescue mission in Syria failed earlier this summer

Filed under: USA, loans |

WASHINGTON—Amid global revulsion over the beheading of an American captive in Syria, the White House revealed Wednesday an audacious rescue attempt deep inside enemy territory earlier this summer ended in failure.

“Dozens” of U.S. soldiers shot their way into an undisclosed Syrian location in a Special Forces mission reminiscent of the raid that captured Osama Bin Laden, Pentagon sources confirmed.

But after killing several Islamic State fighters and sustaining one minor injury of their own, the American raiders came away empty-handed because no hostages were present.

White House officials confirmed the rescue attempt but declined to provide additional details, citing “the need to protect our military’s operational capabilities.”

The rescue attempt “should serve as another signal to those who would do us harm that the United States will not tolerate the abduction of our people and will spare no effort to secure the safety our citizens and to hold their captors accountable,” the White House said in a statement attributed to Homeland Security and Counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco.

The disclosure came as U.K. and U.S. investigators scoured digital clues in an effort to identify the British-accented executioner of American photojournalist James Foley, whose videotaped beheading continued to send shock waves.

The Guardian, citing unnamed sources, reported the killer was known as “John,” the de facto leader of three British jihadists known to Foley and other hostages as “The Beatles” because of their British accents.

British Prime Minister David Cameron cut short a holiday, saying he was “deeply shocked” and urged “patience” as Scotland Yard works to unravel the role of possible British passport-holders in the grisly killing in Syria.

Obama interrupted a vacation in Martha’s Vineyard to condemn Foley’s murder, saying, “No faith teaches people to massacre innocents.

“ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings,” said Obama. “They may claim out of expediency that they are at war with the United States or the West, but the fact is they terrorize their neighbours and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to an empty vision, and the collapse of any definition of civilized behaviour personal loans for bad credit.”

With U.S. air strikes intensifying near the Iraqi city of Mosul — at least 14 more aimed at halting the march of the rampaging Islamic State fighters since the gruesome Foley video emerged online Tuesday — concern deepened for a second U.S. hostage, Time magazine freelancer Steven Sotloff.

Obama made no mention of Sotloff, who was shown in the same video as Foley as next in line for execution if the U.S. does not halt air strikes.

Foley’s bereaved parents, meanwhile, braved a media throng outside their home in Rochester, N.H., to praise their son as “the best of America” and to plead for mercy on behalf of Sotloff and other hostages.

John Foley said his son was “courageous to the end.” But in speaking earlier Wednesday with Obama, the elder Foley said he urged the president to “do whatever he could possibly do” to save the lives of Sotloff and others.

The family had held out hope for a breakthrough in the latter part of their son’s 444 days in captivity and was considering a fundraising drive to buy his freedom. But a week before his murder, hope faded with the arrival of an email from Islamic State intermediaries announcing the intention to kill their son.

Foley’s execution also is shining rare light on the murky world of kidnap negotiations and the mismatched ransom policies that see American hostages perish while others, including four French and two Spanish journalists released by Islamic State extremists in April, go free in exchange for large sums of cash.

David Rohde, a former New York Times journalist who managed to escape his Taliban captors without any exchange of money, called Wednesday for an end to secrecy over ransom payments.

“The payment of ransoms and abduction of foreigners must emerge from the shadows,” wrote Rodhe. “It must be publicly debated. American and European policymakers should be forced to answer for their actions.”

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08/14/2014 (3:28 pm)

Applications for US unemployment benefits increase to 311k; averages at pre-recession levels

Filed under: economics, loans |

WASHINGTON (AP) — Applications for US unemployment benefits increase to 311k; averages at pre-recession levels.

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06/28/2014 (4:49 pm)

US stock futures head lower

Filed under: USA, loans |

NEW YORK (AP) — US stock futures dropped Friday, putting the stock market on track for a weekly loss. Stocks have pulled back from record levels this week amid some weak economic reports.

KEEPING SCORE: Dow Jones industrial average futures are down 32 points at 16,730 shortly before the opening. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures are down five points at 1,944, while Nasdaq 100 futures are down five points at 3,812.

FORECAST CUT: DuPont dropped $1.53, or 2.3 percent, $66.06 in premarket trading after the company cut its profit forecast because of weaker sales of corn seeds. The company said late Thursday that corn seed sales are down in the second quarter, and seed inventory write-downs were larger than it expected.

THE BUSINESS OF SPORT: Nike gained $2.04, or 2.7 percent, to $78.93 in premarket trading stock after reporting earnings late Thursday that exceeded the expectations of Wall Street analysts cheapest personal loan rates. The company is also currently getting prolonged and global exposure at the World Cup.

WORLD MARKETS: Asian indexes closed lower. In Europe, France’s CAC 40 was flat at 4,441.54 in afternoon trading while Germany’s DAX edged up 0.1 percent to 9,818.61. The FTSE 100 index of leading British companies rose 0.2 percent to 6,748.47.

BONDS AND TREASURIES: Bond prices rose, pushing Treasury yields lower. The yield on the 10-year note fell to 2.52 percent from 2.53 percent on Thursday. The price of oil rose 25 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $106.64 a barrel.

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04/29/2014 (2:10 pm)

Deadly GM switch may spell demise of ignition keys

Filed under: loans, news |

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. • The furor over General Motors’ deadly ignition switch has the potential to doom the car key, a technology drivers have been using for 65 years.

Testifying before Congress this month, GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said the recall of 2.59 million affected cars may prompt the company to make push-button start standard in all its vehicles. The shift by the largest U.S. automaker would hasten a technological evolution that started with the hand-crank starter more than a century ago, before Chrysler introduced the keyed ignition across its lineup in 1949.

Push-button start, which showed up in Mercedes models in the late 1990s, is now an option in 72 percent of 2014 cars and trucks in the U.S., according to Edmunds.com. In a survey conducted by auto researcher AutoPacific, consumers ranked the technology the fifth most coveted upgrade for $100 or less. This month the New York auto show used a push button as its logo.

“People really see the push button as a convenience and a luxury feature,” said Bill Visnic, senior editor at Edmunds.com. “The ignition switch is a very fussy, electro- mechanical part that’s seen as less reliable.”

Drivers were complaining about key ignitions long before GM discovered switches in the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion could slip out of the “on” position, shutting off the engine and disabling air bags life insurance. The defective part has been linked to at least 13 deaths.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has logged more than 18,000 complaints about key ignitions, according to a Bloomberg News analysis. They involve multiple models and carmakers and range from keys getting stuck, vehicles stalling at high speeds and even cars starting on their own.

GM’s faulty key ignition is fairly typical of the flaws cataloged by NHTSA over the years. The key could be inadvertently jarred by a knee, uneven road or weighed down by a heavy key chain. GM is under investigation because it waited more than a decade to recall the affected cars.

The recalled Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion models don’t in fact top the list of ignition-related complaints in the NHTSA database. That distinction goes to Ford’s Focus, which garnered more than 2,000 complaints about keys getting stuck or not turning, primarily in models from 2000 to 2005. Because Ford decided the flaw didn’t imperil drivers, the company declined to recall the cars and instead alerted dealers to the problem so they could fix it.

“There was no safety risk, as this could only occur when the car was parked and the driver shut off the engine and tried to remove the key,” Kelli Felker, a Ford spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Automakers have recalled about 21 million vehicles for issues related to the keyed ignition switch, including more than 8.8 million from Ford, 5.5 million from GM, 3.5 million from Honda and 1.6 million from Chrysler and its predecessors.

“The biggest weakness for the key has always been that it was a rotating device, if you weigh it down, you can wear it out,” said John Wolkonowicz, an independent auto analyst, who acknowledges replacing an ignition switch in a 1980s GM model after loading down the key ring with about 25 keys.

Push-button start has few moving parts and simply sends an electronic signal to the engine. The button works only if the driver brings a small remote unit, such as a keyless fob that also locks and unlocks the doors, into the vehicle.

The push-button system may be a boon as Americans age because it doesn’t strain the wrist like turning a key, said Karl Brauer, a senior analyst with auto researcher Kelley Blue Book, who said that was a frequent complaint among disabled drivers he’s interviewed about making cars easier to drive.

Not that push-button start is trouble-free.

In 2009, a police officer couldn’t shut off a button-start Lexus ES 350 after a floor mat got wedged in a pedal. He and three others died health insurance tennessee. That model required the driver to hold the start button down for as long as three seconds to stop the car. In 2011, NHTSA proposed a new standard of a half-second hold. The Society of Automotive Engineers recommends a range of a half-second to two seconds.

The agency also proposed giving drivers an audible warning if they exit a car without turning the engine off. In several cases, drivers mistakenly started their parked cars in enclosed garages, sometimes leading to a deadly build-up of carbon monoxide. In one such incident in 2010, a Florida woman died and her boyfriend was seriously impaired.

Getting used to new technology always takes time, said Visnic of Edmund’s.com. He recalled stopping by his house to drop off his gym bag and leaving the car running outside. It was only later when he tried to restart the vehicle that he realized he’d left the starter fob in the gym bag.

“We’re asking people to unlearn something which was developed over generations of habit,” he said: “You turned the key and it started or stopped.”

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04/03/2014 (6:48 am)

Rubicon Project climbs after IPO prices at $101.5M

Filed under: loans, news |

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of The Rubicon Project jumped Wednesday morning after the ad exchange’s initial public offering priced at $101.5 million.

The offering of 6.8 million shares priced at $15 a share, at the low end of its expectations. Rubicon is selling 5.4 million shares and will get $81.3 million in gross proceeds, while the rest of the shares are being sold by Rubicon shareholders.

Shares of The Rubicon Project Inc. gained $3.30, or 22 percent, to $18 cash advance payday loan.30 in morning trading.

Rubicon operates a digital ad exchange that automates the buying and selling of online advertising. It is based in Los Angeles.

The shares are trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “RUBI.”

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04/01/2014 (12:16 pm)

Syrup makers go high tech with wireless monitoring

Filed under: loans, online |

MILTON, Vt. (AP) — For years, vacuum tubing technology has allowed maple syrup producers to draw more sap from trees, but such systems are prone to leaks caused by falling branches or hungry critters chewing on lines.

Finding and repairing those leaks can take hours of trudging through often snow-packed woods. This season, however, some Vermont syrup producers are trying new wireless monitoring systems that allow them to keep track of their sap lines from the sugar house. They’re using computers and smartphones to pinpoint the location of leaks, allowing them to make quick fixes and get better yields during the four-to six-week sugaring season payday loans.

The inventor of one tracking system says it can net a 5 percent increase in production, the kind of jump that could only otherwise be expected by increasing manpower.

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03/27/2014 (2:16 pm)

Will Central African Republic become a battleground for religious radicals?

Filed under: finance, loans |

BANGUI, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC—The threat of the Central African Republic becoming the latest battleground for religious radicals is increasing as the country remains divided and the security situation precarious.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Toronto Star, the country’s top United Nations representative warned that the conflict will spill beyond its borders if the country’s Muslim and Christian populations do not reconcile and civilians remain fearful of returning home.

Al Qaeda-linked groups in nearby Mali and Nigeria are citing the plight of CAR’s Muslim population with increasing frequency and are encouraging attacks against France, which sent troops here in December after fighting left 1,000 dead in just two days.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) accuses the French of launching a “crusade against Islam,” and a leader with the Nigerian-based Boko Haram has reportedly vowed to avenge the deaths of the country’s Muslims.

The Central African Republic is even cited by fighters purportedly in Syria — including one bizarre, but slickly produced 18-minute video by German ex-rapper “Deso Dogg,” who calls for jihad.

Such hostile statements are being followed “very, very carefully,” said Lt. Gen. (retired) Babacar Gaye, the UN’s highest-ranking official in Bangui and special adviser to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

“I hope that we will be in a position to expedite whatever should be done in terms of reconciliation in terms of the communities. I think this is the best way to delay . . . any actions of these terrorist groups,” he said. “Not only will they not have reasons to come, there will be no grievances that may serve the justification.”

But CAR remains dangerously split — with Muslim residents occupying only two neighbourhoods in the capital Bangui, and the rest seeking refuge in the north or neighbouring countries.

The country was once mercilessly ruled by a mainly Muslim militia known as the Seleka, which included fighters from Chad and Sudan. Vigilante squads known as anti-balaka, which drew members from the majority Christian population, clashed with the Seleka, prompting the French and African Union forces to intervene. Seleka-backed President Michel Djotodia was pushed from power in January and Catherine Samba-Panza, Bangui’s former mayor, was appointed interim president.

The roots of this conflict, which has killed thousands and threatens to permanently divide this small landlocked country, are complicated and not about religion. The Seleka did not call for a state governed by Islamic law, nor did they espouse the ideology favoured by groups such as AQIM. Just a year ago there was religious harmony in CAR — mosques and churches are only blocks apart in the capital, communities mixed and intermarriage between faiths is common.

But in retribution for months of Seleka killings, sexual violence and looting, the anti-balaka blindly targeted all Muslims. Women and children are among the dead.

At a recent demonstration in PK12, a makeshift camp of Muslim women and children, criticism was directed at the French for not ensuring the security of Muslim residents. Ibrahim Alawad, the 52-year-old self-appointed leader of the camp and a former member of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army who organized the small march, will list a litany of alleged crimes of the French troops stationed nearby to visiting reporters easy payday loans.

The question is whether the cycle of killings will continue as the Seleka regroups in the north and seeks outside help. Of particular concern to intelligence and security services is the largely remote northern Vakaga province, which shares a border with Sudan’s Darfur region. The whereabouts of Seleka leader Noureddine Adam and reports that he has travelled to Nigeria fuel speculation of future Boko Haram involvement.

For now, the extremist calls for jihad are just rhetoric. And Islamic militant groups operating in Africa would face significant logistical hurdles, including CAR’s unfamiliar terrain. “Their familiarity with often harsh and inhospitable desert conditions have given them the edge over regional and/or international forces tasked with uprooting them from such areas,” wrote security analyst Ryan Cummings recently in Think African Press. “However, these desert plains of North and West Africa differ considerably with the jungle and savannah bushes which comprise much of the CAR.”

But Gaye said the extremist threats are not being taken lightly and without additional peacekeepers and increased international funding, the interim government under Samba-Panza is destined to fail. “Today the reality is very simple,” he said. “Without international community support, it won’t be possible for this new government — upon which we put a lot of expectations — it will not be possible for them to deliver.”

Ban’s call for a UN peacekeeping mission of 12,000 troops and police to join the 2,000-strong French force and 6,000 African Union peacekeepers here is being debated by the Security Council. Gaye welcomed news that Canadian senator and retired Gen. Romeo Dallaire is urging Canada to join the mission if approved.

Also a veteran peacekeeper, Gaye said he served alongside Canadian forces during his first mission in Sinai, in 1974. “We had excellent relations, probably because of the French-speaking proximity but also because they are very professional and experienced in peacekeeping,” he said. “We are expecting the return of Canada to peacekeeping.”

Beyond the gates of the UN compound where we sat during the recent interview, there was a deceptive calm in Bangui. Life is slowly returning to the downtown streets, where just a couple months ago fires burned and discarded bodies lay unclaimed.

Stores owned by Christian merchants have reopened and students have returned to school, although the numbers are small as most parents are still too frightened to leave their children alone. Later that evening, before the nightly curfew, the setting sun casts a warm glow over roadside patios where men and women unwind over large bottles of the local Mocaf beer.

But that calm is easily shattered by evening gunfire and attacks in the two remaining Muslim neighbourhoods of PK5 and PK12, and the French and AU tanks that patrol the streets are a reminder of what is needed to ensure security in a city that lacks a functioning police force, army or court system.

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03/19/2014 (3:12 pm)

Horizon Pharma to acquire Vidara for about $660M

Filed under: loans, mortgage |

DEERFIELD, Ill. • Horizon Pharma Inc. plans to buy the privately held Vidara Therapeutics International Ltd. in a cash-and-stock deal that will add the immune system disorder drug Actimmune to the specialty drugmaker’s product portfolio.

Shares of Horizon soared in premarket trading Wednesday after the Deerfield, Ill., company said it will pay about $660 million in a deal that creates an Ireland-based company named Horizon Pharma PLC.

Vidara shareholders will receive $200 million in cash and retain about a 26 percent stake in Horizon Pharma PLC.

Horizon Chairman and CEO Timothy P. Walbert will keep those titles with the combined company.

Vidara has operations in both Dublin and the United States. It bought Actimmune from InterMune Inc. in 2012 for $55 million. The drug tallied nearly $59 million in sales for Vidara last year.

Walbert said in a statement that the addition of Actimmune complements his company’s business model, which focuses on promotions to primary care doctors and specialists. Horizon’s portfolio already includes Vimovo, which is approved as a treatment for symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The company also said the deal gives it a “tax efficient corporate structure” to support growth and acquisitions.

Horizon said the boards of both companies have unanimously approved the acquisition, which is expected to close in the middle of the year.

Shares of Horizon were up nearly 20 percent, or $2.92, to $17.60 in premarket trading more than an hour before markets opened Wednesday. That would easily top the company’s all-time high price during regular trading of $14.75, which the stock reached Tuesday.

The shares have nearly doubled in value since closing 2013 at $7.62.

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