10-15-2019  2:13 pm   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Hank Willis Thomas Exhibit Opens at Portland Art Museum

One of the most important conceptual artists of our time, his works examine the representation of race and the politics of visual culture

Grocery Workers Union Ratifies Contract with Stores

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union has agreed a three-year contract for stores in Oregon and Southwest Washington

PCC Weighing Community Input on Workforce Training Center, Affordable Housing in Cully

Portland Community College is compiling the results of door-to-door and online surveys

Lawsuit Filed Against Hilton Hotels in “Calling His Mother While Black” Discrimination Case

Jermaine Massey was ousted from the DoubleTree Hotel in Portland where he was a guest and forced to find lodging at around midnight

NEWS BRIEFS

Protesters Rally in Ashland to Demand 'Impeach Trump Now'

Activists are rallying in Ashland Sunday Oct, 13 to demand impeachment proceedings ...

Black Women Help Kick off Sustainable Building Week

The event will be held at Portland’s first and only “green building” owned and operated by African-American women ...

Voter Registration Deadline for the November Special Election is Oct. 15 

The Special Election in Multnomah County will be held on Nov. 5, 2019 ...

Franklin High School’s Mercedes Muñoz Named Oregon Teacher of the Year

In a letter of recommendation, Muñoz was referred to as “a force of nurture.” ...

Founder of Black Panther Challenge Creates Brand To Support Mental Health

The launch comes during Mental Health Awareness Week. The creators say they want people around the world to know that they aren’t...

Authorities identify 63-year-old man in hunting accident

LONGVIEW, Wash. (AP) — Oregon county authorities have identified the man killed in a suspected accidental shooting while hunting near Washington state lines.The Longview Daily News reports that Columbia County Sheriff's Office identified 63-year-old Martin Fox of Portland.County deputies,...

Name of man released in Portland suspicious death Monday

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland police have released the name of a man who died of a gunshot wound Monday in North Portland.The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Ricky Malone Sr.'s death is being investigated as a homicide.Police say the man was found hurt during a welfare check Monday morning in...

Bryant bounces back to lead Missouri over Mississippi

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Last week, when he heard a pop in his left knee after being hit low, Missouri quarterback Kelly Bryant briefly saw his college football career pass before his eyes. The injury wasn't as bad as it looked, and Bryant played like his old self in a 38-27 victory over...

Missouri out to stop Ole Miss ground game in SEC matchup

Ole Miss coach Matt Luke has watched every game Missouri has played this season, and he was no doubt excited by the way Wyoming ran wild against the Tigers in their season opener.It should have portended good things for the Rebels' own vaunted rushing attack.But the more Luke looked at the video,...

OPINION

“Hell No!” That Is My Message to Those Who Would Divide Us 

Upon release from the South African jail, Nelson Mandela told UAW Local 600 members “It is you who have made the United States of America a superpower, a leader of the world" ...

Rep. Janelle Bynum Issues Response to the Latest Statement from Clackamas Town Center

State legislator questions official response after daughter questioned for ‘loitering’ in parking lot ...

Why Would HUD Gut Its Own Disparate Impact Rule?

"You can’t expand housing rights by limiting civil protections. The ’D’ in HUD doesn’t stand for ‘Discrimination’" ...

Despite U.S. Open Loss, Serena Williams Is Still the Greatest of All Time

Serena Williams lost her bid for what would have been her sixth U.S. Open Singles title ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Chief: Officer's Proud Boys membership didn't break policy

A Connecticut police officer's membership in the Proud Boys, a far-right group known for engaging in violent clashes at political rallies, didn't violate department policies, the town's police chief has concluded in response to a civil rights group's concerns.The East Hampton officer, Kevin P....

President of Bulgarian soccer resigns after fan racism, loss

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Criticized around Europe for the racist behavior of Bulgarian fans and under pressure from the country's prime minister following a run of poor results, the president of the country's soccer federation resigned on Tuesday.A few hours later, Bulgarian special police...

Money, hatred for the Kurds drives Turkey's Syrian fighters

BEIRUT (AP) — The Syrian fighters vowed to kill "pigs" and "infidels," paraded their Kurdish captives in front of cameras and, in one graphic video, fired several rounds into a man lying on the side of a highway with his hands bound behind his back.They are part of the self-styled Syrian...

ENTERTAINMENT

Q&A: Julie Andrews on new memoir and her 'second career'

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Julie Andrews hasn't appeared in front of the camera in a feature film for almost 10 years, but that doesn't mean the 84-year-old screen legend has slowed down. She's just moved on to other things, like voice work, book writing and even directing theater.In June, Andrews...

AP Exclusive: Julie Andrews reflects on her Hollywood years

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Everyone is on their best behavior when Julie Andrews is around.It's early June in Los Angeles and Andrews is coming to film segments for a night of guest programming on Turner Classic Movies and speak about her new book, "Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years," which...

Gina Rodriguez apologizes for singing N-word lyric

NEW YORK (AP) — Gina Rodriguez has apologized for singing along on her Instagram story to a Fugees verse that includes the N-word.The "Jane the Virgin" actress deleted the short video she posted Tuesday and replaced it with her apology, but not before memes and other backlash ensued....

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Mexico: Families of slain police angry, AMLO defends policy

MORELIA, Mexico (AP) — Grieving family members of the 13 police officers killed in an apparent cartel...

LeBron James no longer King James for Hong Kong protesters

HONG KONG (AP) — When the ball smashed into a photo of LeBron James' face stuck above the hoop and dropped...

12 Democrats meet for first debate since impeachment inquiry

WESTERVILLE, Ohio (AP) — Joe Biden is facing baseless but persistent allegations of wrongdoing overseas...

The Latest: Putin and Erdogan discuss situation in Syria

CEYLANPINAR, Turkey (AP) — The latest on Turkey's offensive in northern Syria (all times local):11:55...

EU: Brexit deal in sight but UK must still do more

LUXEMBOURG (AP) — European Union officials were hoping Tuesday that —after more than three years of...

Trump's sanctions won't bite a vulnerable Turkish economy

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The sanctions the U.S. announced against Turkey this week over its offensive in...

McMenamins
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?

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