Crowd investing: Could you be backing the next Google? – By Matthew Wall November 2014 Last updated at 19:34 ET

Investing often used to seem like a closed shop – the preserve of a wealthy, privileged elite keeping business opportunities all to itself.

Now technology has blown open the doors and given everyone – not just the professional investors and big institutions – a chance to get a piece of the action.

Would-be Warren Buffetts can go online and buy shares in start-ups and early stage companies for as little as £10.

But while there’s a chance you could be backing the next Google, Apple, or Facebook, there’s also a strong risk you could end up losing all your money.

This is the world of crowd investing, also known as equity crowdfunding.

The difference with other forms of crowdfunding is that you’re not lending money in return for interest on the loan, or donating money in return for rewards and perks, you’re actually buying a slice of the company.

Typically, firms seeking a cash injection upload their business plans, including how much they’re hoping to raise and how much of their business they’re prepared to sell and at what price.

Think of it like an online Dragons’ Den involving hundreds of investors rather than a handful of Dragons.

If the companies don’t reach their funding targets, they get nothing.

It has been increasing in popularity as confidence in online financial transactions has grown and financial regulators around the world have begun to relax rules governing who can invest.

Online platforms such as Crowdcube, Seedrs, InvestingZone and SyndicateRoom in the UK, and Crowdfunder and CircleUp in the US, have been successfully matching investors with companies looking for funding.

According to innovation charity Nesta, nearly 30 UK equity crowdfunding platforms have raised approaching £100m so far, but this young market is experiencing “a 201% year-on-year growth rate”.

In the US, where investment is still restricted to high-net-worth individuals or “accredited investors”, research company Massolution estimates the crowdfunding market as a whole to be worth more than $5bn (£3bn).

Wealthy “angel” investors are also taking their networks online – AngelsDen, for example – and encouraging smaller investors to join in.


“We felt passionate about the democratisation of investment,” says Luke Lang, co-founder of Crowdcube, an equity crowdfunding platform launched in 2011.

“We wanted to open things up to ordinary people – investing was too elitist.”

Crowdcube’s 100,000-plus registered investors have successfully invested £45m in 160 businesses so far. While the typical investment is £3,000, amounts committed range from £10 to £400,000, he says.

“We tapped into a real appetite from the great British public to back and support British businesses. We’ve been able to make investing more accessible and affordable.”

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Catholic Geopolitics | Foreign Affairs – By Victor Gaetan NOVEMBER 28, 2014

In the last few days of November, Pope Francis will use a visit to Turkey to advance two goals: winning greater protection for Christians in the Middle East and drawing the Catholic and Orthodox Churches closer together. Neither is new; Pope Benedict XVI was in Istanbul eight years ago with a similar agenda and near identical itinerary. But the wars in Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine have make Francis’ mission more urgent than ever.

Pope Francis and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan walk in front of honor guard at the presidential palace in Ankara, November 28, 2014. (Tony Gentile / Courtesy Reuters)


Turkey has never had a large Catholic population, but the country looms large in Church history. Catholics believe that Jesus’ mother, Mary, died in Ephesus (Selçuk today). Turkey is also the birthplace of St. Paul, whose missionary journeys in Asia Minor and subsequent letters to new Christian communities comprise several New Testament books. Further, the Book of Revelation was composed on the Aegean island of Patmos, off the Turkish coast. Turkey is also one of the Vatican’s oldest formal bilateral relationships: The Vatican and Turkey established diplomatic relations in 1868, more than 100 years before the United Kingdom (1982), the United States (1984), and Mexico (1992).

The relationship hasn’t always been easy. When he took power in Turkey in the early 1920s, Kemal Ataturk created a radically anti-religious regime. The state confiscated church property, banned religious garb, prohibited the public display of religious symbols, and made Muslim imams public employees. Even so, the Catholic archbishop, Angelo Roncalli, dutifully represented the Vatican in Turkey between 1934 and 1944, and his humility and respect for Turkish culture made him a popular, effective diplomat.

He spoke fluent Turkish, allowed Turkish to be used in Church ceremonies and documents, and openly admired Muslim devotion to prayer. He reached out to the Orthodox Church when a massive population exchange sent more than one million Greeks, many of whom had been living in Turkey for centuries, to Greece. During World War II, Roncalli used his position to help Jews fleeing Hitler get to Palestine through Turkey.

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Americans Rushed To Purchase Guns This Black Friday – by Igor Volsky Posted on November 29, 2014 at 10:42 am Updated: November 29, 2014 at 11:25 am

The FBI processed three background checks for gun purchases every second on Friday, as more than 144,000 shoppers were expected to buy firearms on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.


CREDIT: Shutterstock

As of 2 p.m. Friday, an FBI spokesperson told CNN that the agency had already processed “more than 94,000 transactions, on pace to surpass last year’s 144,758.” Approximately 3,000 checks or 2 percent will not be completed as a result of insufficient information, 71 receive instant approvals, and approximately 1.1 percent of purchasers fail the check. If the government cannot complete the background check in three business days, the buyer is allowed to purchase the gun anyway.

“The challenge is to have staff keep up with this volume. We do that by limiting personal leave, asking employees to work extra shifts and reutilizing former … employees to serve in NICS during this busy period,” spokesman Stephen Fischer told CNN. Since 1999, the pace of background checks has doubled and the FBI has completed 21 million background checks.

U.S. law prohibits individuals with “felony conviction, arrest warrant, documented drug problem, mental illness, undocumented immigration status, dishonorable military discharge, renunciation of U.S. citizenship, restraining order, history of domestic violence or indictment for any crime punishable by longer than one year of prison” from purchasing weapons at licensed dealers.

However, the system is far from perfect, as some states don’t feed enough real-time information into the criminal background check system, allowing individuals with troubled mental health histories or criminal records to pass checks and purchase weapons. Gun sales on the internet or at gun shows are also unregulated and do not require an FBI background examination.

The Associated Press estimates that in the U.S., “there are already nine guns for every 10 people, and someone is killed with a firearm every 16 minutes.”

Ray Rice Can Play in the NFL Again. Will Anyone Sign Him? – By Daniel Politi NOV. 28 2014 11:51 PM

Ray Rice addresses a news conference on May 23, 2014 in Owings Mills, Maryland Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Ray Rice addresses a news conference on May 23, 2014 in Owings Mills, Maryland
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Ray Rice can play in the NFL again. An arbitrator reinstated the former Baltimore Ravens running back, apparently agreeing with Rice that his indefinite suspension was “arbitrary” and that he had been penalized twice for the same offence. Former U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones ultimately concluded that Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to change Rice’s suspension from two games to indefinite after video emerged of him hitting his wife in an elevator amounted to an “abuse of discretion,” reports the Associated Press.

At the heart of the decision was Jones’ view that Rice never misrepresented or lied about what happened so he shouldn’t have been awarded a harsher punishment after the shocking video emerged. “In short, I do not find that Rice minimized casually what happened that night,” Judge Jones wrote. “I do not doubt that viewing the video in September evoked horror in Commissioner Goodell, as it did with the public,” Jones wrote, according to the New York Times. “But this does not change the fact that Rice did not lie or mislead the N.F.L. at the June 16 meeting.” The NFL Players Association hailed the decision as a “victory for a disciplinary process that is fair and transparent.”

Even though the decision marks a clear victory for Rice, just because he can play in the NFL does not mean that anyone will sign him. Although “some NFL teams have been receptive to Rice … his retrun remains a tough sell,” according to the Baltimore Sun. First, teams are likely to be concerned that signing Rice could lead to a negative reaction from the public at large. Plus, Rice is no longer seen as the formidable player he once was. USA Todayexplains:

The film of Rice from last season showed a player who had lost some of his explosion, who struggled to break tackles and averaged just 3.1 yards per carry. Rice’s 660 yards and four touchdowns in 15 games were his lowest totals since he became a starter in 2009.

That decreased production and questions about if he can return to form might be a bigger issue for teams than Rice’s off-field transgression.

“We respect Judge Jones’s decision to reinstate Ray Rice from his indefinite suspension for violating the league’s Personal Conduct Policy in an incident of domestic violence,” The NFL said in a statement. “Ray Rice is a free agent and has been eligible to be signed by an NFL team since he was released by the Ravens.”

Rice is scheduled to go on a charm offensive to try to win over some sympathy. NBC’s Today will be airing interviews of Rice and his wife on Monday and Tuesday.

Sony makes experimental e-paper watch – By Dave Lee Technology reporter, BBC News 28 November 2014 Last updated at 10:42 23 MINUTES AWAY

E-paper watch

The watch’s design is minimalist

Sony has developed a watch made from e-paper as part of an initiative to experiment with the use of the material for fashion products.

The Fes Watch has a minimalist, monochrome design but falls short of the features offered by smartwatches.

However, the battery of the e-paper watch could last far longer with an estimated 60 days of use.

The device has been described as “retro and cool” by gadget expert Stuart Miles from Pocket-lint.

“One of my predictions for next year is that fashion is going to play a huge part in shaping the tech industry.

“Having a phone that’s big and square is one thing, but if we’re actually wearing things, it has to look good.”

The watch face and straps have an e-paper display – comparable to the technology used in e-book readers such as Amazon’s Kindle.

It means the watch can alternate between several different styles of watch face and strap design.

Shoes and bow-ties

According to the Wall Street Journal, Sony had deliberately kept the development of the watch low-key, opting to use a spin-off division called Fashion Entertainments to work on the device.

Fashion Entertainments ran a crowdfunding campaign to fund the watch’s creation, the WSJ reported, in an attempt to gauge the public’s interest in the concept.

It raised 3.5 million yen ($30,000; £19,000).

“We hid Sony’s name because we wanted to test the real value of the product, whether there will be demand for our concept,” a person involved in the project told the newspaper. A spokeswoman for Sony confirmed to the BBC that Fashion Entertainments is a division of company’s New Business Creation Department, and was working on a number of e-paper prototypes.

E-paper glassesFashion Entertainments has been experimenting with the e-paper tech for a variety of uses

Other e-paper experiments being worked on by Fashion Entertainments include shoes, bow-ties and glasses.

One drawback of using e-paper rather than, for example, liquid-crystal displays (LCD) is a limitation on possible features due to the limitations of what e-paper can display.

However, Mr Miles said he did not envision that being too significant a drawback for e-paper wearable technology.

“Look at traditional watches now, they just tell the time and we’re happy with that,” he said, noting that one of the most popular smartwatches on the market, the Pebble, uses e-paper.

Sony has not provided a date for the Fes Watch’s release.

Airport raids tackle cyberthieves – BBC News 28 November 2014 Last updated at 06:54 ET

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at Nov 29, 2014 4.03

Wil Van Gemert, Europol: This fraud costs up to a billion dollars a year

Cyberthieves who used stolen credit cards to buy airline tickets have been targeted in a series of raids.

Europol co-ordinated the raids at airports, targeting people who were trying to travel using a fraudulently bought ticket.

In total, 118 people were arrested at 80 airports in 45 countries during the raids.

Airlines lose more than $1bn (£640m) a year to the trade in fraudulent tickets, said Europol.

“Airlines are fighting credit card fraud on their ticket sales on daily basis,” said Meta Backman from the European airline fraud prevention group in a statement. “It is clear to the airlines that they are up against organised crime in this fight.”

Europol said the raids marked the start of an initiative called Global Airport Action, which will build on the links forged between police forces, airlines and credit card companies in preparation for the raids.

These links helped to spot when tickets bought with stolen cards were being used to check in at an airport during the two days of the action. Police officers then swooped on the individuals using the tickets. Command centres in The Hague, Singapore and Bogota helped to direct the checking of tickets and travel documents as well as identifying individuals arrested.

Some of those arrested were already known to police and had been arrested before for trading in tickets.

In a statement, Europol said the stolen credit cards also helped organised crime groups keep operating and to facilitate the drug trade and human trafficking.

The Numbers Behind Immigration – By Lindsey Cook Nov. 26, 2014 | 11:37 a.m. EST

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at Nov 29, 2014 3.52

We look at new data from Pew on who will be spared from deportation, where they are from and where they live.

An anti-immigration protester stands on the periphery of a vigil in support of children fleeing violence in Central American outside the White House on Nov. 24, 2014, in Washington, D.C.

An anti-immigration protester stands on the periphery of a vigil in support of children fleeing violence in Central American outside the White House on Nov. 24, 2014, in Washington, D.C.

Following President Barack Obama’s announcement on his plan to use executive action to help spare some unauthorized immigrants from deportation, the Pew Research Center has released additional data on the scope and interest in the action.

The news interest for the new immigration policy has been high with many following the coverage around Obama’s announcement. Republicans have followed the coverage more than Democrats, with a difference of 10 percentage points.

Unauthorized immigrants from Mexico will benefit the most from the new policies with 44 percent newly eligible for deportation relief.

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An Uncertain Fate: Mexico’s Disappeared Students (Part 3) – Published on Nov 27, 2014

On September 26, teaching students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School in Mexico were intercepted by police forces en route to a protest in Iguala. In the ensuing clash, six people were killed, and 43 Ayotzinapa students were taken away by the police. Investigations over the following weeks led to the startling allegations that the police had acted at the behest of the local mayor, and had turned over the abducted students to members of the Guerreros Unidos cartel. All 43 students are now feared dead.

The case has come to represent the negative feeling of the Mexican public toward the state of justice and the rule of law in Mexico. The events have now galvanized the survivors of the attack and the disappeared students’ parents. Nationwide demonstrations have increased in intensity, and recently led to government buildings in the state of Guerrero to be set on fire.

In the final episode, VICE News travels to Cocula, where another mass grave has been found, raising a new theory as to the fate of the 43 missing students, as protests in Mexico City against the president and government have reached boiling point.


What happened to Miriam Carey? – Written by David Montgomery Published on November 26, 2014

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“We want to know: Why? What happened?”

So many questions, so much we still don’t know about the case of the woman shot to death by the Secret Service and the U.S. Capitol Police on Oct. 3, 2013, after a car chase from the White House to Capitol Hill. Her 13-month-old daughter survived in a car seat.

“Did we miss something?”

Barbara Nicholson is asking. The office manager of a dental practice in Ardsley, N.Y., is standing in the hygiene room, remembering the woman who used to clean teeth at this chair. Miriam Iris Carey — that was her name. She was one of the best dental hygienists and “one of the nicest people” Nicholson ever hired.

“We’re left with a void and no answers,” Nicholson says. “It’s like she was wiped off the face of the earth.

Nicholson’s voice catches. She pauses and looks away. “She’s missed. She’s very missed.”

Do you remember Miriam Carey? Her remarkably public death at 34 mesmerized us for a couple of news cycles. Then we moved on pretty quickly. I had to look up her name when I first started puzzling over this case. The main thing I remembered was that incredible video — the one showing the two-door black Infiniti surrounded by Secret Service officers with guns drawn near the Capitol Reflecting Pool. The car looks trapped. Suddenly the driver backs into a squad car and accelerates away. There’s the sound of gunfire while tourists take cover on the West Lawn. The Infiniti reappears, making a loop around a traffic circle, and proceeds up Constitution Avenue to what would be the fatal encounter outside the Hart Building.

What an afternoon. We were told that Carey “rammed” White House and Capitol “barriers.” That she tried to breach two security perimeters. That she had mental problems.

District Police Chief Cathy Lanier said federal officers acted “heroically.” The House of Representatives offered a standing ovation.

It was easy to call this a tragedy and turn the page.

Except that some of what little we thought we knew hasn’t held up. The part about ramming White House barriers and trying to breach two security perimeters? Not exactly true.