Slatest PM: The Bank of Choice for the Criminal Underworld

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 28 2013 5:31 PM

Slatest PM: The Bank of Choice for the Criminal Underworld

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A Colombian police officer holds a forged 100 US dollar bill, on March 22, 2011, in Cali, department of Valle del Cauca, Colombia.

File photo by Luis Robayo

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

The Bank of Choice for the Criminal Underworld: Associated Press: "Calling it perhaps the biggest money-laundering scheme in U.S. history, federal prosecutors charged seven people Tuesday with running what amounted to an online, underworld bank that handled $6 billion for drug dealers, child pornographers, identity thieves and other criminals around the globe. The case was aimed at Liberty Reserve, a currency-transfer and payment-processing company based in Costa Rica that authorities say allowed customers to move money anonymously from one account to another via the Internet with almost no questions asked. .. U.S. officials said the enterprise was staggering in scope: Over roughly seven years, Liberty Reserve processed 55 million illicit transactions worldwide for 1 million users, including 200,000 in the U.S. The network 'became the bank of choice for the criminal underworld,' U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said."

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Baltimore Train Blast: Baltimore Sun: "A CSX freight train derailed Tuesday afternoon in [a Baltimore suburb], damaging nearby buildings, shutting down US Route 40 and causing a loud explosion that could be felt several miles away. Authorities in Baltimore County said the 15-car train struck a commercial truck near the 7500 block of Lake Drive, veering off the tracks near an industrial park. Initial reports were that no one was hurt, but County Executive Kevin Kamenetz later said the driver of the trailer was extricated and taken to Maryland Shock Trauma center in serious but stable condition. The National Transportation Safety Board announced at around 4 p.m. that it was sending a 'go-team' that includes rail and hazmat investigators. Baltimore County spokeswoman Elise Armacost said the train was carrying unknown chemicals but said the smoke did not include toxic inhalants. Still, a 20-block area around the accident was evacuated." Watch video of the blast here.

Setting the Stage for the Zimmerman Trial: Orlando Sentinel: "The George Zimmerman second-degree murder case will proceed to trial June 10, after a judge today denied his defense team's latest request for a delay. The ruling was among several important decisions by Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson during a two-hour hearing this morning at the Seminole County Courthouse. The judge ruled for the state on several key issues: The defense may not bring up Trayvon Martin's past marijuana use at trial, or his school suspension or alleged participation in fights, without clearing several legal hurdles and another ruling granting permission. Those rulings come days after Zimmerman's defense team posted online the photos and text messages gathered from Trayvon's phone, including texts about being a fighter, smoking marijuana and being ordered to move out of his home by his mother. ... The attorneys also cannot mention during their opening arguments at trial that the active ingredient of marijuana was found in the teen's system, the judge ruled today. She also denied the state's motion for a gag order in the case."

Happy Tuesday and welcome back to the Slatest PM, follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

Obama's Trip to the Shore: Star-Ledger: "Seven months after President Barack Obama toured the Jersey Shore and viewed the damage wrought by Sandy, he returned today to praise the progress that has been made and noted the long way it has to go. ... Invoking the slogan from the state’s federally funded marking campaign, Obama said: 'After all you’ve dealt with, after all you’ve been through, the Jersey Shore is back and it is open for business, and they want all Americans to know that they’re ready to welcome you here.' ... In introducing Obama, [Chris] Christie invoked the controversy he spurred when Obama first visited in the days after Sandy made landfall – and days before the presidential election. 'We all came together because New Jersey is more important and our citizens’ lives are more important than any kind of politics at all,' said Christie, who is seeking re-election."

Chinese Hackers Access Designs for U.S. Weapons: Washington Post: "Designs for many of the nation’s most sensitive advanced weapons systems have been compromised by Chinese hackers, according to a report prepared for the Pentagon and to officials from government and the defense industry. Among more than two dozen major weapons systems whose designs were breached were programs critical to U.S. missile defenses and combat aircraft and ships, according to a previously undisclosed section of a confidential report prepared for Pentagon leaders by the Defense Science Board. Experts warn that the electronic intrusions gave China access to advanced technology that could accelerate the development of its weapons systems and weaken the U.S. military advantage in a future conflict."

Big Box, Big Pollution: Associated Press: " Wal-Mart Stores Inc. pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges the company dumped hazardous waste in California. Wal-Mart entered the plea in federal court in San Francisco to misdemeanor counts of negligently dumping pollutants from Walmart stores into sanitation drains across California, a company spokeswoman said. As part of the plea, the company will pay $81 million, which will also cover charges in Missouri."

Good Day on Wall Street: Wall Street Journal: "U.S. stocks climbed to a new high as strong housing and consumer confidence data fueled a surge in Treasury yields and economically-sensitive financial, energy and consumer stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 106.29 points, or 0.69%, to 15409.39, for its 20th consecutive Tuesday of gains. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, meantime, climbed 10.46 points, or 0.63%, to 1660.06, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 29.74 points, or 0.86%, to 3488.89."

A Few More Quick Hits From Slate's Blogs:

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