Crime and settlement
July 9, 2014
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Citigroup is close to a $7 billion settlement agreement to resolve a Justice Department investigation into whether it defrauded investors on billions of dollars worth of mortgage securities ahead of the financial crisis, a source familiar with the matter said Tuesday. The case is linked to a broader investigation of faulty mortgage securities that helped fuel the mid-2000s housing bubble. Several billion from the settlement, which could come next week, would go toward helping struggling borrowers. Read more at Reuters.

This is incredible
10:48 a.m. ET
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A ten-year-old boy in Ireland has saved his sister from being abducted. The boy jumped onto a moving SUV to save his 12-year-old sister from a convicted sex offender.

The children, along with a second brother, were playing outside near the Cullahill village when a man asked for directions to a priest's home, The Irish Independent reports. The man grabbed the girl, but her heroic brother jumped through the driver's window and punched him. While the driver was distracted, his sister escaped from the car.

Police were able to locate and arrest the 34-year-old suspect. The Irish Independent notes that in addition to being a sex offender, the man has robbed priests' homes in the past. In 2004, he was sentenced to four years in jail for abducting a 14-year-old girl.

RIP
10:30 a.m. ET

The death of Leonard Nimoy inspired an outpouring of tributes from across the globe — but The Big Bang Theory, which counted Nimoy among its geek icon guest stars, had an unusually close relationship with the actor. A napkin signed by Nimoy led to one of the sitcom's most memorable scenes, and Nimoy later lent his voice to an episode.

As a final tribute to Nimoy, creator Chuck Lorre used his customary "vanity card," which appears bearing a new message at the end of each episode, to pay his respects at the end of Thursday's episode:

eyes on russia
10:14 a.m. ET
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Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Friday that he is taking a 10 percent salary cut, effective March 1 through December 31, 2015, AFP reports.

Putin's signed decree also cuts the salaries of several other top government officials, including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Prosecutor General Yury Chaika, and Alexander Bastrykin, president of Russia's Investigative Committee.

Moscow continues to deny any support of pro-Russia militants in neighboring Ukraine, but skeptical Western leaders have imposed sanctions on Russia in response, which have crippled the country's economy in recent months.

North Korea
9:51 a.m. ET
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Last month, North Korea expressed Ebola concerns and announced that foreigners wouldn't be allowed to run in its annual marathon. But the North has since changed its tune.

Overseas runners will be allowed to run in 2015's Pyongyang marathon after all, The New York Times reports. North Korea has reversed a travel ban that essentially sealed its borders in late October.

Koryo Tours, a British tourism company based in Beijing, said Thursday that foreign applications for the race, which will take place on April 12, are now being accepted. The majority of North Korea's tourists are from China and Russia, but the Times notes that the number of Western tourists, especially those from Britain and Germany, is on the rise.

Discoveries
8:57 a.m. ET

Archaeologists in France have uncovered the tomb of a Celtic prince from the Early Iron Age, also known as the Hallstatt era.

The team believes the prince lived 2,500 years ago, and his burial site is one of the largest ever found from the fifth century B.C.E. And the most incredible part is that it was found under a traffic roundabout.

Archaeologists from France's National Archaeological Research Institute (Inrap) have been working at the Troyes site since October. The tomb contained Greek and Etruscan artifacts, including a chariot, a cauldron decorated with Greek gods, and an amphora with images of Dionysus. The value of the corpse's burial items are what led the team to believe he was an aristocrat and likely a prince.

"Even in the rich Greek tombs you don't find such objects," Dominique Garcia, the head of Inrap, told The Telegraph. "These objects were like diplomatic gifts."

In a statement, the researchers explained that Celtic communities would have acquired Greek and Etruscan items through trade with Mediterranean cultures. The archaeologists described the find as an "extraordinary" discovery, The International Business Times reports.

This just in
8:25 a.m. ET
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The latest report from the Bureau of Labor statistics found the U.S. economy generated 295,000 new jobs in February, while the unemployment rate ticked down a bit to 5.5 percent, from 5.7 percent in January. Average hourly earnings for all workers also rose to $24.78, up from $24.75 in January. The December 2014 jobs creation number of 329,000 was unchanged, and January 2015 was revised downward, from 257,000 to 239,000.

The February numbers actually beat out the expectations of Wall Street economists, who were anticipating 235,000 new jobs, an unemployment rate of 5.6 percent, and an increase in average hourly earnings of 0.2 percent from January. The last month job growth fell below 200,000 — roughly the threshold needed to keep up with population growth — was January of 2014. So this remains the longest stretch of sustained growth above that mark since the early 1990s.

Really?
7:51 a.m. ET

Eleven-year-old Liam Scholes didn't get to celebrate World Book Day with the rest of his class. The reason? His book character of choice was Christian Grey, of 50 Shades of Grey.

Sale High School in Greater Manchester asked students to dress up as literary characters for World Book Day on Wednesday. Scholes chose Grey, wearing a gray suit and carrying an eye mask and "cable ties" to complete the look, BBC News reports.

Apparently, the school didn't appreciate Scholes' costume, though, and he wasn't allowed to participate in the class photo. His mother, meanwhile, supported the costume. Nicola Scholes told BBC News that it was perfectly fine for a teacher to dress as a serial killer and for children to come in with toy guns, so her son's costume should have been allowed. She added that children her son's age "all talk about sex."

"Liam was advised to dress as James Bond, but he was promiscuous and a murderer,” Nicola Scholes told BBC News. "Personally, I'm more offended by a murderer."

#Hashtags
7:20 a.m. ET

Jimmy Fallon normally reads out his own Hashtag selections — tweets using a hashtag he suggested — but on Thursday night's Tonight Show he handed that responsibility over to Tariq Trotter in his house band, The Roots. Most of the #SpringBreakRaps tweets are about what you'd expect — drinking, hooking up, regret — but there are a few pleasant surprises thrown in. My favorite: "Gonna trash the hotel / We won't clean up the mess / Leave your town black and blue / Like a white and gold dress." So, nice work, @edillades. Watch that and the other tweet raps artfully performed by Tariq and the band below. —Peter Weber

Clintonemails
7:01 a.m. ET
Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Massachusetts Conference for Women

Hillary Clinton has requested that the State Department make public the stash of emails from her private account that her aides vetted and turned over to the department last fall, but an unidentified senior State Department official told Reuters that "the review is likely to take several months given the sheer volume of the document set."

Separately, a department official told The Washington Post that Clinton's use of a private email account didn't necessarily violate State Department rules, as long as the emails were preserved, but that the review would determine if she broke security policies by transmitting sensitive or classified information over an email system that didn't meet security standards. A Clinton aide told The Post that 90 percent of Clinton's correspondence was with department employees at their state.gov account — presumably meaning it is already archived — but the remaining 10 percent was with government officials in other departments or email accounts "not on a government server."

The red planet was blue
5:47 a.m. ET

About 4.3 billion years ago, up to 20 percent of Mars was covered by an ocean that reached about a mile in depth, according to scientists from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The polar ice caps today contain the 13 percent of that ocean that didn't evaporate into space when Mars' atmosphere largely disappeared.

Geronimo Villanueva and his colleagues at Goddard reached this surprising conclusion by using infrared beams to make a map of water molecules in what's left of the Martian atmosphere, they report in Thursday's issue of the journal Science. "Our study provides a solid estimate of how much water Mars once had, by determining how much water was lost to space," Villanueva said in a statement.

Scientists already knew that Mars once had water, but this extends the red planet's wet period for much longer. "With Mars losing that much water, the planet was very likely wet for a longer period of time than was previously thought, suggesting it might have been habitable for longer," said Goddard's Michael Mumma, another author of the report. Mumma and Villanueva explain their research and its implications in greater detail in the NASA video below. —Peter Weber

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