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Liberty

BUSINESS
May 28, 2013 | By Andrew Tangel and Chris O'Brien, Los Angeles Times
NEW YORK - In what was described as the biggest-ever international money-laundering scheme, a federal grand jury has indicted a company on criminal charges that it used "virtual" currency to launder more than $6 billion in ill-gotten gains. Liberty Reserve, a Costa Rica company founded in 2006, was so welcoming to criminals looking to cloak their identities that an undercover agent was able to register as "Joe Bogus," authorities said. The agent was then able to set up an account to supposedly rip off ATM customers and what he described as "for the cocaine.
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NATIONAL
May 11, 2013 | Kim Murphy
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, WASH. - The court-martial of Army Sgt. John Russell concluded Saturday with a military judge asked to decide whether the 14-year Army veteran was deluded by depression and despair as he shot five fellow service members in Iraq, or was executing a calculated plan of revenge against psychiatrists who had blocked his hopes for an early exit from the Army. In closing arguments after a week of testimony, Judge David L. Conn was presented two starkly different views of what drove Russell, 48, to seize his escort's M-16 rifle and gun down five people at the Camp Liberty combat stress center at the Baghdad airport on May 11, 2009.
NEWS
May 9, 2013 | By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Daily Deal and Travel Blogger
For travelers who want to be among the first to tour the Statue of Liberty when it reopens July 4, tickets are on sale for the ferry ride and tour options of the iconic landmark. The Statue of Liberty has been closed since Oct. 29 when Superstorm Sandy flooded Liberty Island and damaged a dock, brick walkways and the electrical system. The National Park Service in March promised to reopen the tourist attraction by the Fourth of July. Tickets to visit Liberty Island from July 4 to Sept.
NATIONAL
April 15, 2013 | Kim Murphy
SEATTLE - On the day Sgt. John Russell allegedly walked into the mental health clinic at Camp Liberty in Baghdad and shot five U.S. service members to death, Pfc. Jacob Barton was just signing in at the front desk. It was the day after Mother's Day, the first since his mother had died the previous year, and he was depressed. “He didn't have anyone to call,” said his sister, Hannah Barton, who had enlisted in the Army before her brother. As Barton, 20, prepared to check his weapon at the desk, Russell began shooting, prosecutors say, and another soldier tried in vain to grab Barton's weapon and return fire.
NATIONAL
March 20, 2013 | By Brian Bennett, Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - As federal authorities accelerate plans to license thousands of surveillance drones over U.S. soil by late 2015, some legal experts and lawmakers are warning that unmanned aircraft could threaten privacy on an unparalleled scale. An opening shot in an expected battle to limit use of domestic drones came Wednesday when 24 civil liberties and privacy organizations submitted a formal petition to U.S. Customs and Border Protection demanding that the agency stop flying 10 unarmed Predator drones along the Mexican and Canadian borders until clear guidelines are established.
SPORTS
March 19, 2013 | Staff and Wire reports
Bobby Braswell, the basketball coach at Cal State Northridge since 1996, is out as coach. The school announced that it would not renew his contract. Brandon Martin, the school's new athletic director, said in a statement Tuesday afternoon, "I want to thank Coach Braswell for his 17 years of service and contributions to our men's basketball program and the university community at large. I wish Coach Braswell and his family all the best moving forward. " Braswell, a Northridge graduate, had been the coach for 17 seasons, compiling a 251-258 record.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 19, 2013 | By Joe Flint
Media mogul John Malone is returning to his roots. Malone's Liberty Media is acquiring 27% of cable television operator Charter Communications for $2.62 billion. Liberty is buying 26.9 million Charter shares and 1.1 million warrants at a per-share price of $95.50 from private equity firms Apollo Management, Oaktree Capital Management and Crestview Partners. As part of the agreement, Liberty will have four seats on the Charter board. In return, Liberty said it would keep its holdings in Charter under 40% and not engage in lobbying on behalf of other potential board members as long as its own spots on the board were safe.
NATIONAL
March 19, 2013 | By Tina Susman
NEW YORK -- The Statue of Liberty, whose feet remained dry but whose home was badly damaged by Superstorm Sandy, will reopen July 4 after extensive work to repair the infrastructure on her perch in New York Harbor is completed, officials announced Tuesday. "What a fitting day for Lady Liberty's return," Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. From Washington, he joined Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the National Park Service's northeast regional director, Dennis R. Reidenbach, in making the announcement during a conference call with reporters.
NEWS
March 19, 2013 | By Mary Forgione, This post has been updated. See note below.
[ Updated, 1:45 p.m. March 19: The National Park Service announced Tuesday that it plans to reopen the Statue of Liberty to visitors by July 4. Repairs to the docks where visitors disembark would be fixed with federal transportation funds, the announcement said.] The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island received $59 million to repair damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in October, but how to fix them remains up in the air. "Should the island be patched up quickly and reopened at the risk of further flooding or should longer repairs be made to relocate infrastructure up higher, with the hopes of minimizing further flooding?
NATIONAL
February 8, 2013 | By David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - Judges across the country are increasingly split over whether private employers and their companies can cite their religious beliefs as a valid reason for denying birth control coverage to their employees. Earlier this month the Obama administration proposed a compromise for some nonprofit religious organizations, such as Catholic hospitals and colleges, that would allow them to avoid paying directly for such insurance. But the administration refused to consider a similar exemption for private, for-profit employers.
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