The Week in Headlines: Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Debt
What happened this week? Lots. And our friends at theSkimm have you covered with a run-down of the top headlines. (Want them delivered daily to your inbox? Sign up at theskimm.com)
Federal prosecutors have broken up a huge international money-laundering cyber network. Those involved in the network are accused of laundering more than $6 billion. If you see a cybercriminal looking sad, give him a hug.
Who Did Something Bad?
Those behind an online payments processor and currency exchange called Liberty Reserve, allegedly. The Costa Rica-based company’s founder has been arrested, along with a few others. The founder gave up his U.S. citizenship a few years ago after having some issues following the law with other money-transmitting businesses. Red flag?
What is Liberty Reserve?
A payment network that you should give money to only after you’re done lending to your Nigerian cousin. It made 12 million transactions annually and allegedly promised users that it could be used to send and receive payments from anyone to anywhere in the world. It really hit a niche market and apparently became the “PayPal for criminals.”
How'd It Work?
Anyone could open an account with a name, address, and a birthday, with no questions asked. This is probably how “Russia Hackers” and “Joe Bogus” at “123 Fake Main Street” in “Completely Made Up City, New York,” joined the club. Liberty made it very easy to be anonymous and charged a small fee for transactions through middlemen (big surprise: Liberty pre-approved them) known as “exchangers.” The exchangers converted real currency into virtual funds and then back into cash.
One thing in its favor? Liberty Reserve was clearly watching out for the environment, as it eliminated virtually any paper trail. Funds are said to have gone towards identity theft, drug trafficking, bank hacking, child porn, and more.
Virtual currencies—think Bitcoin—make some people nervous, and there’s a reason why. Authorities are worried that the rise of these types of transactions leave room for money to be moved outside the regulated world of banks and into the dark underbelly of the interwebs, where you need to learn words like Bitcoin.
Repeat After Me
What to Say When the WiFi Goes Out
Ugh. If only I were in sub-Saharan Africa. The Google is at it again and this time, it could involve blimps. Google wants to finance, build, and operate wireless networks, helping to bring together about a billion people from emerging countries in sub-Saharan Africa to Southeast Asia into an internet union. The Big G isn’t shy about wanting everyone to get in on the World Wide Web and is playing with different technologies (like cheap cell phones or blimps to transmit signals) and chatting with regulators. Bringing more people to the web means bringing them into the world of Google (or just bringing in more revenue). Muahaha.
What to Say When You Quit
Rest assured, I’m only leaving because I want to. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) did not do her surprised eyes when she announced via video she would not seek a fifth congressional term. But if you thought the former presidential candidate, who had a rough reelection this past year, is out because she might lose her next election, she says no way. And if you thought the Tea Party fave was out because of certain inquiries she misused her presidential campaign funds, still no, apparently. Uh huh.
What to Say After a Break Up
You know that awkward thing we still share? It’s time to cut ties—or in this case, yellow wristbands. Nike broke up with Livestrong founder Lance Armstrong, the cyclist who doped, lied, and talked to Oprah, last fall, but the company now says it is further distancing itself from Lance by announcing it will stop making products for the Livestrong Foundation. Armstrong, a cancer survivor, founded the company in 1997 but stepped down as chairman so he wouldn’t taint the brand.
The Livestrong Foundation provides free support services and programs to help people affected by cancer. Nike has raised millions for the charity, in large part due to the signature yellow Livestrong wristband you once rocked, and will continue to support it through direct funding.
What to Say When You See a "For Sale" Sign
Things are looking up. The U.S. posted its biggest annual gain in home prices in seven years. Home prices rose 10.9% over the last year, reinforcing why the housing recovery is a big factor in driving economic growth. A stronger housing market is like a welcome home basket to the rest of the economy, especially with government spending cuts (the sequester) going on. Some say these gains aren’t sustainable, but when home values rise, home owners feel wealthier. This can lead to more shopping, which makes everyone happier and better dressed.
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We are two women in their 20s who hail from New York and Chicago. Our startup romance is one for the books — we met on a rainy day in Rome while we were both studying abroad in college. We bonded over a mutual love of fried artichokes. What we didn’t know as we struggled to order in Italian, was that we’d reconnect years later working in our own country’s capital. By that point, we had become professional storytellers, as producers for NBC News- working in breaking news, political news, and documentaries. We clicked as colleagues and as friends and it didn’t take long for theSkimm to take form. We see ourselves as a part of a generation where women are out-earning men in paychecks and degrees. We’ve grabbed our seats at the table, now it’s time to Skimm to the head.More from this Author