USA

FBI agents arrested at least 45 Wall Street traders suspected of foreign currency exchange crimes Tuesday, sources said. The Wall Street Journal reported that traders at more than a dozen firms would be charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, and securities fraud. US Attorney James Comey was expected to announce the charges against the traders involved in the crackdown on the financial market, after the Monitor went to press. In one alleged case at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Swiss firm UBS, employees were accused of arranging deals in which their companies lost money, but customers profited, the Journal said.

After a decision by the Bush administration to limit imports of some textiles and apparel from China, the US dollar plummeted to a record low against the euro. Traders began selling dollars as concern rose about a possible trade war between the US and key trading partners. National Security Council spokesman Sean McCormack said Tuesday's move was "consistent with our commitment to ensure that US companies have time to adjust to market disruptions caused by rising imports." As the dollar fell against the euro, gold rose above $400 an ounce for the first time in seven years.

Backers of the Republican-crafted US energy bill hit a snag in the Senate Wednesday in a dispute involving a gasoline additive that has allegedly contaminated drinking water in more than 24 states. But despite some Democrats' complaints of special-interest handouts and threats of a filibuster, the overhaul of energy policy had broad GOP and Democratic support. Debate on the Republican Medicare prescription drug plan also continued, as Democrats criticized provisions for private insurers and pharmaceutical companies. AARP endorsement of the bill reinvigorated GOP strategists, who hope it will help win support from moderate or conservative Democrats, should some Republicans in the Senate and House reject the measure.

The public had its first glimpse of the World Trade Center memorial's finalist designs Wednesday, when the eight proposals were displayed at the World Financial Center's Winter Garden. All eight designs, chosen from a pool of 5,200, list the names of those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, as well as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. A 13-member jury will pick a final winner by the end of the year.

Storms brought heavy rain and wind through the central Appalachians and into the Eastern seaboard, flooding roads and closing some schools in West Virginia and North Carolina. The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings for areas from northern Florida to North Carolina. The storm system came on the heels of similar weather in Gulf states this week, where more than 50 people were injured from Texas to Alabama and 50,000 customers lost power in Texas and Mississippi.

Police issued an arrest warrant for Michael Jackson after they raided the singer's Neverland Ranch in Los Olivos, Calif., Tuesday. The Santa Barbara sheriff's department did not specify the charges of the warrant, but the search was linked to a child molestation allegation made by a boy who stayed at the ranch several months ago, according to Brian Oxman, a longtime attorney for the Jackson family.

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