By Robert Cohen
Money laundering is the world's third largest business after foreign exchange and oil and gas. The IMF puts the scale of money laundering at 2%-5% of the world's gross domestic product; that's upwards of $1.5 Trillion USD of illicit money circling the globe.
Indeed, it is said that if you walk a mile in any direction from the main central railway station in any major city in Europe or America - be it London, Paris, Rome, New York, Toronto, etc. - you will pass within "elbow's distance" of a property that is either owned, managed or has been constructed by "dirty money".
And that, most likely, in the past thirty days you have done business, knowingly or unknowingly, with a money launderer.
Origins of Money Laundering
Interestingly, money laundering has been around since biblical times. Back then, merchants often resorted to hiding their hard-earned profits to avoid punitive tax measures imposed by the despotic ruler of the day.
Money laundering, though, really didn't rise to prominence until the 1930's when it became the "weapon of choice" of a most unlikely mob boss: a 5 foot, 3 inch, Polish-born, New York Jew and 9th-grade school drop-out who - unusual for a gangster of that era - relied on his brain, rather than on firepower or muscle, to become the highest ranking non-Italian in what was referred to then as "The Syndicate". He was affectionately known as the "mob's accountant" - and his name was Meyer Lansky.
Note: "Money laundering", as an expression, is of fairly recent origin. The term first appeared in print in 1973 in newspapers reporting the Watergate scandal, referring to the activities of President Nixon's cronies, Attorney-General John Mitchell and Secretary of Commerce Maurice Stans, who secretly undertook to build a campaign war chest in violation of existing U.S. campaign laws.
Here's what you need to know -
Money laundering refers to the processing of criminal proceeds to disguise or legitimize their illegal origin. Typically, there is an attempt to deceive the authorities by making assets appear to have been obtained through legal means with legally-earned income or to be owned by third parties who, in fact, have no relationship to the true owner or source of the funds.
There are four factors common to all money laundering operations:
There are three distinct stages to the "wash cycle":
(a) Immersion (referred to also as "Placement" or "Consolidation")
(b) Heavy Soaping (referred to also as "Layering")
(c) Spin-Dry (referred to also as "Repatriation" or "Integration")
United States, Canada, and Mexico
People in most of the United States, Canada, and Mexico's northern border cities set their clocks forward one hour when Daylight Saving Time (DST) starts in the early morning hours of Sunday, March 10, 2019.
Sunrise will be one hour later on the Sunday morning than the day before, but in return, there are months of long, light summer nights to look forward to.
Equinox on March 20 / 21
On the equinox, night and day are nearly equal – 12 hours each. It is the start of astronomical spring or fall, depending on which side of the equator you are on.
DST Starts in Europe – despite EU Effort to Scrap It
Most Europeans set their clocks forward to DST on Sunday, March 31, 2019, two weeks after the US and Canada.
In September 2018, the European Commission issued a draft directive to permanently scrap DST in the EU and proposed that this upcoming DST adjustment would be the very last EU-wide clock change.
In a public survey, more than 80% of 4.6 million respondents voted to put an end to seasonal clock changes altogether, but the EU Member States called for more time before putting an end to the practice.Several member states have since called for more time to prepare, and a final decision on how and when has not yet been reached.
The cannabis plant may no longer be needed for THC and CBD.
By Yasmin Tayag
One of the biggest hurdles to getting people on board with medical marijuanais that some people don’t like marijuana. Even as legalization becomes widespread, weed has a long way to go before it fully sheds its bad reputation. In the meantime, the findings of a Nature study published Wednesday could help make marijuana useful to people who are leery of its past. By hacking the biology of yeast, scientists found a way to make marijuana’s active ingredients without the marijuana plant.
The study, led by Jay Keasling, Ph.D., a University of California, Berkeley chemical engineering and bioengineering professor, shows that yeast can be genetically modified to produce some major cannabinoids, the chemical compounds found in marijuana.
The most well-known cannabinoids are THC, known for its ability to get people high, and CBD (cannabidiol), associated with relief from pain and anxiety. These compounds, and the dozens of other known cannabinoids in the plant, seem to play various roles in the therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana. Keasling and his colleagues show that yeast can be used to produce THCA (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) and CBDA (cannabidiolic acid), the chemical precursors to THC and CBD.
This technique is nothing new: Genetically modified yeast has previously been modified to produce hops to impart beer’s flavor, synthetic egg whites, and even chemicals to flavor chocolate. Genetic modification techniques like CRISPR/Cas9 can be used to hijack the yeast’s usual processes for producing compounds by allowing scientists to insert a gene from a different organism — carrying the instructions for making a different chemical — into the genome of the yeast. As the yeast cells carry on their lives as usual, they produce the desired chemical, which the scientists can then collect.
In this case, the team gave their yeast a Cannabis-derived gene that carries instructions for producing olivetolic acid, a precursor compound to THC or CBD. They also gave them Cannabis genes that would create the enzymes that could actually turn olivetolic acid into THC and CBD. And so, together with a steady diet of the simple sugar galactose, the yeast had everything they needed to do the team’s bidding.
“Together,” the team writes, “these results lay the foundation for the large-scale production of both natural and synthetic cannabinoids, which could improve pharmacological research into these compounds.”
Check out the CBD Case Studies . HERE >>>
Noted historians serve as your personal audio guide through a virtual walking tour of the New York Public Library. Find out about hidden details of the famed NYC building as these expert reveal the history behind the Winnie the Pooh toys, the Rose Main Reading Room, the iconic lion statues Patience and Fortitude, the Stephen A. Schwarzman building, the Milstein Division, the map collection, the book train and more.
Regardless of our age, at each stage of life, we should take a moment to take stock, to do a self-evaluation. We should know who we are and understand what we want. We should have asked ourselves the tough questions, see ourselves clearly, and make adjustments if necessary. This doesn't guarantee success but it guarantees that you will feel good about how you are living your life. Here are some things we should always be able to say about ourselves:
Creature Technology is the world’s top animatronics company that makes giant dinosaurs, bears, gorillas, and whatever else museums and amusement parks need. In this segment of 'Hello World: Australia,' Bloomberg's Ashlee Vance visits the company's warehouse and meets these incredible "creatures" in person.
It’s every weight loss enthusiast’s dream to zap belly fat but, far from pure vanity, there’s actually a reason why having a lot of fat in the abdominal region can be dangerous. Fat is stored all over our body, but how does an expanding waistline grow your risk for chronic illness?
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Your body’s fat impacts your health differently depending on where it’s stored. While most fat found on other parts of our bodies (think arms, legs, buttocks) are considered “subcutaneous fat,” belly fat is more likely to be “visceral.”
PINCHABLE VERSUS PRESSABLE
“Subcutaneous fat” is the pinchable, squishy fat right between your skin and muscle that helps keep you warm, cushions you against shock, and stores extra calories. “Visceral fat” stores calories too, but isn’t as pinchable because it is located in and around your organs. It’s hidden deep within the belly region, which is what makes it firm (rather than squishy) when you press it.
Fat doesn’t just store calories—it’s a living tissue capable of producing and releasing hormones that affect your other organs. Because visceral fat sits near our organs, its release of these chemicals is poorly situated. Having more visceral fat can raise your LDL (a.k.a. “bad” cholesterol) and blood pressure. Visceral fat can also make you less sensitive to insulin, which increases your risk for Type 2 Diabetes.
TELLING BAD BELLY FAT APART
Even if you’re thin, you can still have visceral fat around the abdominal region—being “skinny” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy. There’s no sure-fire way to tell visceral from subcutaneous fat short of an expensive CT scan, but it’s important for you to get a rough idea of what your visceral stores are. Here are a few tricks to figure out where your belly stands:
APPLES AND PEARS
You’re probably wondering, “What does fruit have to do with it?” These two fruits give a quick visual of where most of your fat is stored on the body. Pears tend to store fat in the lower extremities (hips, thighs, buttocks) as subcutaneous fat while apples tend to store fat in the upper region (belly, chest) as visceral fat. It takes a quick inspection, but this is an imperfect way to tell these two fats apart.
WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE (WC)
Feel for the top of your hip bone (it’s at the same level as the top of your belly button) and circle a tape measure around this point. Remember to relax and don’t suck in your gut (be honest!). Take 2-3 measurements and figure out the average. Men should have a WC of less than 40 inches (102 cm) and women should have a WC of less than 35 inches (89 cm).
The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) takes the circumference of your waist (see above) and divides it by the circumference of your hips. To measure your hips, stand in front of a mirror then figure out the widest part of your butt and measure that circumference. Then use this formula:
WHR = (Waist circumference) / (Hip circumference).
Men should have a WHR of less than 1 while women should have a WHR of less than 0.8.
KNOW YOUR FAMILY HEALTHY HISTORY
If your parents or siblings have insulin resistance, heart disease or non-alcoholic fatty liver, you may be at a greater risk for storing visceral fat. Keeping an eye on your visceral fat may be beneficial, but know that the causes of these chronic diseases are complex. If you’re in doubt, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider.
BANISHING VISCERAL FAT
If you fall in the normal range for WC and WHR, that’s great! Keep working at your weight goals as you see fit. If you’re not there, don’t despair. Because of its proximity to the liver, visceral fat is usually the easier fat to burn. It’s the less risky subcutaneous fat that likes to stick around.
Unfortunately, you can’t forcefully spot reduce fat around your belly no matter how many crunches you do. The next best thing is to live a healthy lifestyle:
In the US, the very same blood test can cost $19 at one clinic and $522 at another clinic just blocks away -- and nobody knows the difference until they get a bill weeks later. Journalist Jeanne Pinder says it doesn't have to be this way. She's built a platform that crowdsources the true costs of medical procedures and makes the data public, revealing the secrets of health care pricing. Learn how knowing what stuff costs in advance could make us healthier, save us money -- and help fix a broken system.
Assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is an essential process for any brand
BE HONEST. How are you helping your brand and how are you hurting it? Are you comfortably uncomfortable or are you looking to make a seismic shift? Is your ego holding you back or is your perspective calculated enough to be objective? Or does your business remind you of Sisyphus: every day, you push a boulder up a hill only to have it tumble down and make roadkill of your face? Maybe it’s time to bring in the SWOT.
SWOT (an acronym for “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats”) analysis is a strategic planning tool that gives you insight into the current state of your business in the context of market and consumer conditions. It forces you to be brutally honest about where you are today and the possibilities that lie ahead, laying the foundation for brand and business strategies and goal-setting. SWOTs are agile because they can be applied to any aspect of your product, brand, or business—as long as they align with your overall brand or business goals.
Similar to the brand discovery process, in a SWOT analysis, we prioritize the evaluation of external elements, such as opportunities and threats, through PEST analysis, market frameworks, and methodologies (such as Michael Porter’s Five Forces Framework) because outside mitigating forces have a direct impact on the internal analysis of your company’s strengths and weaknesses. You have immediate influence and control over the inner workings of your company, but when you turn your lens outward, your influence has less of a direct impact. There are factors outside your control that can’t easily or quickly be changed to your advantage.
In order to get a holistic view of your business, you should assess and evaluate the internal factors independently of the external—and then bring all the pieces together in a final SWOT analysis.
You’re probably wondering how to determine what elements comprise each quadrant. I’d recommend sitting down with key team members to map out the good, the bad, and the ugly in the form of short bullet points. This exercise is not about creating a magnum opus, but rather, you want to inventory all the factors that could influence your business. Below are some brainstormed ideas of things you could include to give the process focus and direction.
To burrow deep on some of these external factors as part of the overall SWOT analysis, I’ll share two methodologies that are graphic representations of complex, multilayered systems. But know that there are a variety of methods and approaches to this process. I’m a big fan of the PEST (or PESTLE) and the Five Forces Framework. Each business and its customers, market, and climate will determine which model makes sense for them.
A PEST (an acronym for “political, economic, sociocultural, and technological”) analysis observes how and which external factors could impact your business within a given timeframe. These are environmental elements that could either impede growth or serve as strategic opportunities. PEST analysis helps you gauge the health and growth potential of a particular industry and contextualize how your company could be primed for growth or decline. Consider PEST a perfect pregame exercise for your SWOT analysis.
This excellent tutorial distills complicated information in a simple, easy-to-understand way:
The Five Forces Framework
In 1979, Michael Porter developed this methodology when he posited that five key competitive forces influence the strength and position of a company, as well as provide insight on a company’s SWOT so they can dodge mistakes, leverage strengths, and plan strategically for market opportunities.
The framework is important for detecting power players and potential shifts in marketplace power. It answers the questions: Who holds the cards now? Who can hold them in the future? And under what conditions? For example, in a recession, a designer handbag company might face a profit decline because consumers no longer have the discretionary income for luxury purchases.
Start your SWOT
Now that you have a granular insight into the internal and external elements affecting your business, you can draft the SWOT. Keep it simple. Don’t go with ornate sentences. This is about a short, specific list of essentials.
Once you create a working draft of your SWOT, you want to layer in supportive data, the elements that validate or debunk your story. Your internal data sources could include macro figures, such as sales, gross margin, net revenue (or income), total cash on hand (i.e., liquidity), assets, and liabilities. Your micro data sources could include website traffic and conversions, newsletter sign-ups and CTR (click-through rate), PPC (pay-per-click), display and retargeting ad performance, customer churn rate, CRM (customer relationship management), and customer care performance—the list is endless. You can also factor in any proprietary primary research you’ve conducted on the market and/or your customers.
In terms of external data sources, an extraordinary amount of online tools can help you evaluate competitor public data, including social media, SEM, and digital strategy and performance. If the company is public, you can view shareholder reports, stock prices, and quarterly/annual earnings calls and reports. Companies often work with third-party agencies to assess competitor traditional PR campaigns and media buys.
You also have access to a treasure trove of secondary research that can give you vital information about your customer and market. I like to think of external analysis in concentric circles. On the outermost layer are macro industry and consumer trends, and closer to the center are segments and subsegments of the macro insights and trends.
For example, let’s say you own a chain of casual dining restaurants. Market data is telling you that consumers are increasingly abandoning your model in favor of fast casual (i.e., Chipotle, Shake Shack, Five Guys) and there’s an uptick in eating at home. People are either after the value and taste of fast casual dining or they’re stocking up at the supermarket to cook at home. Macro consumer trends show that people are busier than ever, they don’t have time to sit down in restaurants, and they want to be smart about their discretionary spending. If you want to dig deeper, you might examine your demographic and psychographic differences and nuances, as well as what direct competitors are doing to combat the trend and whether they’ve been successful. You went from a broad understanding of competitor and customer trends and narrowed it down to discover that upper-middle-class millennials in urban areas are less likely to dine at your restaurant. Or maybe you noticed one of your direct competitors offering delivery via Postmates and Grubhub as a means to create options that align with their target’s behavioral shift.
The goal is to use the big picture to get into the details so you can make your SWOT as relevant to your business as possible.
There are additional SWOT examples from Amazon, Coca-Cola, Tesla, and a host of other great examples.
This great video is an example of a SWOT created for Starbucks:
Time to map your game plan
What’s the use of putting all that effort into an analysis only to let the whiteboards and PowerPoints collect dust? Your SWOT is only as effective as your action plan. Once you’ve identified what needs to be accomplished, create short- and long-term strategies with SMART goals. The objectives are simple: