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Citigroup Discloses Money-Laundering Subpoenas

Source: NYT

Citigroup and its Mexican subsidiary have received grand jury subpoenas from federal prosecutors over issues of compliance with anti-money-laundering and bank secrecy laws, the bank disclosed on Monday.

The disclosure in the bank’s annual securities filing comes after Citigroup said its Mexican unit Banamex had been defrauded of as much as $400 million.

The grand jury subpoenas were issued by the United States attorney’s office in Massachusetts.

Banamex USA also received a subpoena from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation related to the Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money-laundering program, Citigroup said.

Read more: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/03/03/citigroup-discloses-money-laundering-subpoenas/?smid=re-share

Paul Krugman- The Inflation Obsession

Recently the Federal Reserve released transcripts of its monetary policy meetings during the fateful year of 2008. And, boy, are they discouraging reading.

Partly that’s because Fed officials come across as essentially clueless about the gathering economic storm. But we knew that already. What’s really striking is the extent to which they were obsessed with the wrong thing. The economy was plunging, yet all many people at the Fed wanted to talk about was inflation.

Matthew O’Brien at The Atlantic has done the math. In August 2008 there were 322 mentions of inflation, versus only 28 of unemployment and 19 of systemic risks or crises. In the meeting on Sept. 16, 2008 — the day after Lehman fell! — there were 129 mentions of inflation versus 26 mentions of unemployment and only four of systemic risks or crises.

Historians of the Great Depression have long marveled at the folly of policy discussion at the time. For example, the Bank of England, faced with a devastating deflationary spiral, kept obsessing over the imagined threat of inflation. As the economist Ralph Hawtrey famously observed, “That was to cry ‘Fire, fire!’ in Noah’s flood.” But it turns out that modern monetary officials facing financial crisis were just as obsessed with the wrong thing as their predecessors three generations before.

And it wasn’t just a bad call in 2008. Much supposedly informed opinion has remained fixated on the supposed threat of rising prices despite being wrong again and again. If you spent the last five years watching CNBC, or reading the Wall Street Journal opinion pages, or for that matter listening to prominent conservative economists, you lived in a constant state of alarm over runaway inflation, which was coming any day now. It never did.



Monday Toon Roundup 4- The Rest












Monday Toon Roundup 3- Economy and wages

Monday Toon Roundup 2- GOP and TP'ers

Monday Toon Roundup 1- Ukraine Crisis

Before There Were Stars


The universe is the grandest merger story that there is. Complete with mysterious origins, forces of light and darkness, and chemistry complex enough to make the chemical conglomerate BASF blush, the trip from the first moments after the Big Bang to the formation of the first stars is a story of coming together at length scales spanning many orders of magnitude. To piece together this story, scientists have turned to the skies, but also to the laboratory to simulate some of the most extreme environments in the history our universe. The resulting narrative is full of surprises. Not least among these, is how nearly it didn’t happen—and wouldn’t have, without the roles played by some unlikely heroes. Two of the most important, at least when it comes to the formation of stars, which produced the heavier elements necessary for life to emerge, are a bit surprising: dark matter and molecular hydrogen. Details aside, here is their story.

The Big Bang created matter through processes we still do not fully understand. Most of it—around 84 percent by mass—was a form of matter that does not interact with or emit light. Called dark matter, it appears to interact only gravitationally. The remaining 16 percent, dubbed baryonic or ordinary matter, makes up the everyday universe that we call home. Ordinary matter interacts not only gravitationally but also electromagnetically, by emitting and absorbing photons (sometimes called radiation by the cognoscenti and known as light in the vernacular).

As the universe expanded and cooled, some of the energy from the Big Bang converted into ordinary matter: electrons, neutrons, and protons (the latter are equivalent to ionized hydrogen atoms). Today, protons and neutrons comfortably rest together in the nuclei of atoms. But in the seconds after the Big Bang, any protons and neutrons that fused to form heavier atomic nuclei were rapidly blown apart by high-energy photons called gamma rays. The residual thermal radiation field of the Big Bang provided plenty of those. It was too hot to cook. But things got better a few seconds later, when the radiation temperature dropped to about a trillion degrees Kelvin—still quite a bit hotter than the 300 Kelvin room temperature to which we are accustomed, but a world of difference for matter in the early universe.

The intensity of the residual heat from the Big Bang made the early universe too smooth for gas clouds to form.

Heavier nuclei could now survive the gamma-ray bombardment. Primordial nucleosynthesis kicked in, enabling nuclear forces to bind protons and neutrons together, until the expansion of the universe made it too cold for these fusion reactions to continue. In these 20 minutes, the universe was populated with atoms. The resulting elemental composition of the universe weighed in at roughly 76 percent hydrogen, 24 percent helium, and trace amounts of lithium—all ionized, since it was too hot for electrons to stably orbit these nuclei. And that was it, until the first stars formed and began to forge all the other elements of the periodic table.

Before these stars could form, however, newly-formed hydrogen and helium atoms needed to gather together to make dense clouds. These clouds would have been produced when slightly denser regions of the universe gravitationally attracted matter from their surroundings. The question is, was the early universe clumpy enough for this to have happened?



Moscow- pro-invasion rally unmolested, anti-invasion protestors arrested

MOSCOW — Thousands are marching in a pro-invasion rally in downtown Moscow one day after Russia's parliament gave President Vladimir Putin a green light to use military force in Ukraine.

At least 10,000 people bearing Russian flags marched freely through Moscow on Sunday, while dozens of people demonstrating on Red Square against an invasion of Ukraine were quickly detained by Russian riot police.

The Associated Press witnessed over 50 detentions and spotted at least five police vans, which carry between 15 and 20 protesters, driving away from the square.

Many Russians believe the country should maintain strong ties with Ukraine's predominantly Russian-speaking eastern and southern regions. But Russia's state-controlled TV stations have ratcheted up that rhetoric after months of pro-democracy protests in Ukraine forced its Russia-leaning President Viktor Yanukovych to flee Ukraine.

Read more here: http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2014/03/02/3524886/thousands-march-in-pro-invasion.html

Texas Religious-right Politicians Fall Prey to Scam by ‘Godly Man’

Oh, the irony.

The Dallas Morning News reports that four Texas politicians — politicians often aligned with religious-right groups that use faith as a political weapon — were among the victims of a Ponzi-like scheme run by a North Texas businessman. It seems they trusted the scammer because he appeared to be a good Christian and “godly man.”

According to the Morning News, state Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington; state Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford; state Sen. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney; and former state Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, invested separately a total of $331,000 in an energy-trading finance company. They were among more than 20 other Texans who invested about $2.5 million in Archer Bonnema’s company, Pirin Electric.

Christian, King, Paxton and Zedler have been among the most stridently right-wing politicians in the Texas Legislature. Christian, currently running for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, infamously declared a “war on birth control” when he served in the Legislature. Zedler is, among other things, an anti-evolution fanatic who also called women protesting last summer’s extreme anti-abortion legislation “terrorists.” Religious-right groups have lined up behind Paxton’s bid for this year’s Republican nomination for Texas Attorney General. The primary election is Tuesday, March 4.



Big-Money Donors Demand Larger Say in Party Strategy

The Republican donors who have financed the party’s vast outside-spending machine are turning against the consultants and political strategists they once lavished with hundreds of millions of dollars.

In recent months, they have begun holding back checks from Republican “super PACs” like American Crossroads, unsatisfied with the groups’ explanations for their failure to unseat President Obama or win back the Senate. Others, less willing than in the past to defer to the party elders and former congressional staff members who control the biggest groups, are demanding a bigger voice in creating strategy in exchange for their continued support.

Donors like Paul Singer, the billionaire Republican investor, have expanded their in-house political shops, building teams of loyal advisers and researchers to guide and coordinate their giving. And some of the biggest contributors to Republican outside groups in 2012 are now gravitating toward the more donor-centric political and philanthropic network overseen by Charles and David Koch, who have wooed them in part by promising more accountability over how money is spent.

“People are really drawn to the Koch model,” said Anthony Scaramucci, a New York hedge fund investor and Republican fund-raiser, who attended the Kochs’ annual donor conference near Palm Springs, Calif., in January. “It’s adaptive, data-driven, and they are the most propitious capital allocators in political activism.”

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