02-08-2023  3:22 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek: Agency Leaders Used Jobs for Personal Gain

Kotek on Wednesday asked the board of commissioners of the state's marijuana and alcohol regulating authority to remove its executive director and other leaders

Arrest Made in Stolen Yacht Rescue, 'Goonies' Fish Incident

Oregon police called it a series of “really odd” events along the Pacific Northwest coast spanning 48 hours that concluded Friday night with the arrest of a Canadian man.

Portland Cop Fired for Leaking False Allegations Against City Commissioner Reinstated

Mayor Ted Wheeler fired Brian Hunzeker after he leaked a false complaint saying city Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty had been involved in a hit-and-run crash.

Hundreds of Portland City Workers on Strike for Better Pay

Workers represented by the union Laborers’ Local 483 have been without a contract since June. Negotiations over a new four-year deal broke down in December

NEWS BRIEFS

Open Call for PNW Emerging Artists

'Timescape' submissions due March 15 ...

Merkley Applauds President Biden’s 2023 State of the Union Address: America is Stronger When We Come Together to Lift Everyone Up

If there’s one takeaway tonight that will stick with me, it’s how much stronger our country can be when our leaders focus on...

Washington State Arts Commission and Department of Veteran Affairs Partner to Support Veterans Through the Arts

0,000 in grants will support arts programming across four Veteran Homes ...

The Black Business Association of Oregon Hires its First Communications Director

Previously, Sommer Martin was director of downtown marketing for the Portland Business Alliance ...

Allen Temple C.M.E. Church Announces Annual Unsung Heroes & Heroines Award Luncheon

The purpose of the award is to acknowledge and honor individuals and/or organizations who are unsung heroes/heroines who make a...

Family, community still searching missing crabber

LONG BEACH, Wash. (AP) — Family and members of the community are still searching for a missing crabber days after two others were rescued from a boat that sank near southwest Washington’s Willapa Bay, officials said. The Pacific County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday that the...

Famed Portland goats let loose in protest of homeless sweep

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A herd of city goats well-known in Portland, Oregon, were temporarily set free Tuesday morning in what appeared to be an act of protest against a planned sweep of a nearby homeless encampment. The fence of the goats' enclosure in north Portland was cut,...

Missouri has 4 in double figures, beats South Carolina 83-74

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Kobe Brown scored 19 points to lead four in double figures as Missouri rolled past South Carolina 83-74 on Tuesday night. Missouri (18-6, 6-5 SEC), which rebounded from a 63-52 loss at Mississippi State, has won four of its last five games while South Carolina...

DeVries scores 32 as Drake downs Murray State 92-68

MURRAY, Ky. (AP) — Tucker DeVries' 32 points led Drake over Murray State 92-68 on Tuesday night. DeVries also contributed six rebounds for the Bulldogs (20-6, 11-4 Missouri Valley Conference). Roman Penn scored 18 points while going 7 of 12 and 4 of 5 from the free throw line, and...

OPINION

Updates That May Affect Your Tax Season

The IRS released a statement that taxpayers should brace themselves for small tax refunds due to no economic impact payments ...

Unaffordable Rental Costs Now Plague 44 Million People in Every State Economic Inequality Places Most Risk of Eviction on Blacks and the Poor

For the first time in more than two decades of research, every state now has renters who are nearing a financial breaking point in housing affordability. ...

The Beating and Murder of Mr. Tyre Nichols, A Black Man

Time to Abolish the Criminal Injustice System ...

It's Time to Irrigate the Fallow Ground of Minority Media Ownership

In 2023, one aspect of civil rights and racial justice that barely remains addressed is racial inclusion in media ownership. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Stella Jean quits Milan Fashion Week over lack of inclusion

MILAN (AP) — The only Black designer belonging to Italy’s fashion chamber withdrew Wednesday from this month’s Milan Fashion Week, alleging a lack of support for diversity and inclusion after the chamber “abandoned” a project to promote young designers of color working in Italy. ...

Arkansas Gov. Sanders slams Biden for 'woke fantasies'

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders painted a dystopian portrait of the country in her rebuttal to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, leaning heavily into Republican culture war issues and accusing Biden of pursuing “woke fantasies.” ...

Douglas Emmett: Q4 Earnings Snapshot

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — Douglas Emmett Inc. (DEI) on Tuesday reported a key measure of profitability in its fourth quarter. The results did not meet Wall Street expectations. The Santa Monica, California-based real estate investment trust said it...

ENTERTAINMENT

At last: Streisand memoir 'My Name is Barbra' coming Nov. 7

NEW YORK (AP) — Barbra Streisand's very long and very long-awaited memoir, a project she has talked about for years, is coming out this fall. Viking, a Penguin Random House imprint, will release “My Name is Barbra” on Nov. 7. Her memoir, fitting for a superstar of the grandest...

After ticket flap, Springsteen's fan magazine shutting down

NEW YORK (AP) — A magazine and website that has served Bruce Springsteen's fans for 43 years is shutting down, with its publisher writing that he's been disillusioned by the debate over ticket prices for their hero's current tour. Backstreets had been an unusually robust publication...

Dudamel to become NY Philharmonic music director, leave LA

NEW YORK (AP) — Gustavo Dudamel will become music director of the New York Philharmonic for the 2026-27 season, ending a heralded tenure with the Los Angeles Philharmonic that began in 2009. The 42-year-old Venezuelan conductor agreed to a five-year contract as New York’s artistic...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Scenes of devastation as Turkey, Syria quake kills thousands

With the death toll climbing after the deadliest earthquake in over a decade brought massive destruction to parts...

Microsoft's Activision deal hurts gamers, UK watchdog says

LONDON (AP) — Microsoft’s stalled .7 billion deal to buy video game company Activision Blizzard has hit a...

Day care in Canada struck by city bus; 2 children dead

A city bus crashed into a day care center north of Montreal on Wednesday, killing two children and injuring six,...

Danish queen to undergo 'major back surgery'

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II, whose half-century reign makes her Europe’s...

Blaze at US drone plant in Latvia; arson not suspected

HELSINKI (AP) — Firefighters worked for a second day Wednesday to fully extinguish a blaze at a U.S. company’s...

Stella Jean quits Milan Fashion Week over lack of inclusion

MILAN (AP) — The only Black designer belonging to Italy’s fashion chamber withdrew Wednesday from this...

Louis Nevaer New America Media

Editor's Note: Recent media reports of money laundering activities involving U.S. banks and Mexico's drug cartels point to a disturbing trend. NAM contributor Louis Nevaer says that everything taken into account, the amounts involved rival investments made by some of the U.S.'s largest trade partners.

The six-year War on Drugs that Mexican president Felipe Calderon has waged since 2007 has resulted in one consequence no one anticipated: Mexican drug cartels have sent upwards of $1 trillion to the U.S.

This staggering sum of money has been funneled through U.S. financial institutions, almost always in violation of U.S. laws, and at times even with the cooperation of American federal agencies.

In fact, if the Mexican drug cartels were a sovereign nation, they would qualify to be part of the G-20, ahead of Indonesia (GNP: $845 billion) and behind South Korea (GNP: $1.1 trillion). Yet, this is the cumulative sum of money that Mexican drug cartels have funneled through the U.S. economy.

A New York Times story published last month reporting that federal authorities busted a cartel boss accused of laundering $1 million a month pales in comparison to the hundreds of billions of dollars that drug organizations have moved through U.S. banks.

Who cares about a $12,000,000 a year operation when one American bank was found to have laundered $378,400,000,000 before it was caught? After federal prosecutors started criminal proceedings against the bank, it agreed to hand $110 million over to federal authorities, for allowing banking transactions with proven connections to drug smuggling operations. And the same bank subsequently paid the government a $50 million fine for failing to monitor cash used to ship 22 tons of cocaine.

In other words, the bank paid $160 million to make the case go away. No bank official was ever charged with a crime, and the monies ended up dispersed throughout the United States.

The bank? Wachovia. The year? 2010.

"The [American] authorities uncovered billions of dollars in wire transfers, traveler's checks and cash shipments through Mexican exchanges into Wachovia accounts," Ed Vulliamy reported in the Guardian of London on April 2, 2011. "Wachovia was put under immediate investigation for failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program… Criminal proceedings were brought against Wachovia, though not against any individual, but the case never came to court."

In March 2010, Wachovia settled in what became the biggest action brought under the U.S. bank secrecy act, through the US district court in Miami.

Wells Fargo acquired Wachovia in October 2008 as part of the banking consolidation after the real estate market bubble burst.

Wachovia is not alone in laundering hundreds of millions of dollars for Mexican drug lords. American Express Bank International is believed to have laundered more than $100 million, paying a fine of $14 million in 1994 and another fine of $65 million in 2007. American Express Co. subsequently sold that bank to the London-based Standard Charter PLC in 2008.

Western Union is also in on the action. In February 2010 Western Union agreed to pay $94 million in fines in order to avoid prosecution for money laundering. The sum believed to have been laundered? More than $250 billion.

Of course, the U.S. government is part of this money laundering enterprise.

"Undercover American narcotics agents have laundered or smuggled millions of dollars in drug proceeds as part of Washington's expanding role in Mexico's fight against drug cartels, according to current and former federal law enforcement officials," Ginger Thompson reported in the New York Times in December 2011. "The agents, primarily with the Drug Enforcement Administration, have handled shipments of hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal cash across borders, those officials said, to identify how criminal organizations move their money, where they keep their assets and, most important, who their leaders are. They said agents had deposited the drug proceeds in accounts designated by traffickers, or in shell accounts set up by agents."

And so it goes.

The result is that, if these funds were seen as foreign direct investments, Mexican drug cartels would surpass Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Japan as having a stake in the U.S. economy.

The driving force behind the push to launder drug proceeds through the U.S. banking system is driven by tough new laws in Mexico that seek to limit the ability to carry out cash transactions. "The new laws [put in place in 2010] would also limit the purchase of vehicles, boats, airplanes and luxury goods to 100,000 pesos in cash, or about $7,700.

Violators could be sentenced to five to 15 years in prison," William Booth reported in the Washington Post. "Criminals here are increasingly using cash transactions to launder their vast profits, according to a senior Mexican official who investigates financial crimes but spoke on the condition of anonymity because of security protocols."

Since then, additional laws have made it difficult to deal in cash. Mexican banks will not accept dollars, unless a person has a bank account at that institution. And then customers are required to deposit the dollars, which are then converted to pesos and credited to their peso-accounts. Similarly, it's no longer possible to walk in with Mexican pesos and buy U.S. dollars, unless the customer has an account at the bank.

Foreign tourists are limited to exchanging no more than $1,500 USD a week, and then they have to provide a copy of their passports. If they wish to engage in larger transactions, they have to open a bank account, or execute wire transfers from their own institution in the U.S. Most tourists simply use ATM machines to withdraw cash, or use their credit cards.

This process of frustrating cash transactions is the impetus for drug organizations to shift their financial operations to the U.S. where, once the monies have entered the U.S. banking system, they can purchase homes, airplanes, businesses, and weapons. Indeed, in one astonishing incident, several operatives attempted to purchase military weapons for the cartels.

According to CNN, the shopping list included, "a Stinger surface-to-air-missile at a negotiated price of $200,000; a Dragon fire anti-tank weapon for a cost of $100,000; a Law Rocket anti-tank weapon for $20,000; and two AT-4 recoilless anti-tank guns for $20,000. The indictment says the defendants were to pay with some cash and also with illegal drugs."

None of that would have been possible in Mexico, which now requires that transactions valued at more than $10,000 USD be done by check, not cash.

The U.S., of course, is completely different.

If one's idea of "bling" is a Stinger surface-to-air missile for $200,000, then who wouldn't want a dozen or so for their backyard?

What's a trillion dollars for?

MLK Breakfast 2023

Photos from The Skanner Foundation's 37th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast.