07-07-2020  5:33 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Portland Black Community Frustrated as Violence Mars Protests

Black leaders condemn violence from small group of mostly-white activists as Rose City Justice suspends nightly marches

Protester Dies After Car Hits Two on Closed Freeway

Summer Taylor, 24, of Seattle died and Taylor and Diaz Love of Portland were injured. The driver, Dawit Kelete has been arrested

Police Union Contract Extended, Bargaining to Continue

Negotiations will resume in January 2021.

Inslee Heckled Off Stage During Tri-Cities Appearance

Speaking outdoors in Eastern Washington, the governor was repeatedly interrupted by hecklers as he urged residents to wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

NEWS BRIEFS

AG Rosenblum Highlights First Report on Oregon’s New Hate and Bias Crimes Laws

In 2019, the Oregon legislature passed Senate Bill 577, which updated Oregon’s hate and bias crimes law for the first time in over...

Trump Blows His Twitter Dog Whistle on America’s Fair Housing Policies in the Suburbs

The president could be Tweeting on unemployment or COVID-19 infections but instead pushes housing discrimination ...

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Awards Historic $100,000 Founders' Centennial Scholarship

Zeta celebrates 100 years with largest single recipient scholarship awarded by a historically Black Greek-lettered sorority or...

Nominations Being Accepted for the Gladys McCoy Lifetime Achievement Award

Gladys McCoy Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 1994 to honor Multnomah County residents who have contributed outstanding...

Shatter, LLC Launches to Elevate Diverse Voices in Progressive Politics

A collaboration of leading female political strategists aims to fill a void in the world of political consulting ...

jumi.2 million bail for driver that hit 2 Seattle protesters

SEATTLE (AP) — A judge on Monday set a jumi.2 million bail for the man accused of driving a Jaguar on to a closed Seattle freeway and hitting two protesters, killing one and seriously injuring the other.Dawit Kelete, who is Black, drove the car around vehicles that were parked on Interstate 5...

Sheriff: At least 8 killed in plane collision at Idaho lake

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — At least eight people, including three children, were killed when two airplanes collided over a scenic mountain lake in northern Idaho, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.One of the aircraft was a float plane operated by Brooks Seaplane of Coeur...

Iowa defensive back Jack Koerner hurt in jet ski accident

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa defensive back Jack Koerner sustained serious injuries when he and a passenger on a jet ski collided with a boat on the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.According to a police report, Koerner and Cole Coffin were hurt at about 6:30 p.m. Friday when their watercraft...

Missouri football program pushes again for racial justice

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Ryan Walters had just arrived at the University of Missouri to coach safeties for the football program when a series of protests related to racial injustice led to the resignations of the system president and the chancellor of its flagship campus.The student-led movement...

OPINION

Letter to the Community From Eckhart Tolle Foundation

The Eckhart Tolle Foundation is donating more than 250,000 dollars to organizations that are fighting racism ...

Editorial From the Publisher: Vote as Your Life Depends on It

The Republican-controlled Senate won’t pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, no matter how hard Oregon’s senators and others work to push for change. ...

Banana Republic or Constitutional Democracy? The US Military May Decide

Will the military, when and if the chips are down, acts in accord with the Constitution and not out of loyalty to its commander-in-chief? ...

To Save Black Lives, and the Soul of Our Nation, Congress Must Act Boldly

For too long, Black people in America have been burdened with the unjust responsibility of keeping ourselves safe from police. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Mississippi board votes 'no' on moving Confederate monument

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Officials in a Mississippi county unanimously voted to keep a Confederate monument where it stands, saying moving the statue wouldn't fix racial tensions.In a 5-0 vote, the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors rejected a proposal to relocate the Confederate statue,...

AMERICA DISRUPTED: Troubles cleave a nation, and a city

SAGINAW, Mich. (AP) — It was difficult to celebrate America in Saginaw this year. The deadly coronavirus had torn through the county. Unemployment had surged five-fold. Weeks of protest over racial inequality left many debating what should be hallowed and what must be changed.But Tom Roy had...

Red Sox dogged by claims of racism, sexual abuse

NEW YORK (AP) — Last month, when former Major League All-star Torii Hunter said he’d been called the N-word “a hundred times” at Boston’s storied Fenway Park, the Red Sox were quick to back him up with a promise to fight racism.“Torii Hunter’s...

ENTERTAINMENT

Executive turmoil at Essence, Ebony magazines prompt changes

NEW YORK (AP) — Two storied magazines that focus on news and culture in the Black community, Essence and Ebony, are in the midst of turmoil at their top levels.Ebony late last week forced out CEO Willard Jackson following an initial inquiry into some of his financial transactions. The...

Country rocker and fiddler Charlie Daniels dies at age 83

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Charlie Daniels, who went from being an in-demand session musician to a staple of Southern rock with his hit “Devil Went Down to Georgia,” has died at 83.A statement from his publicist said the Country Music Hall of Famer died Monday at a hospital in...

Tom Hanks on COVID-19, 'Greyhound' and wartime mentality

NEW YORK (AP) — Since contracting COVID-19 in March, Tom Hanks has been, by most measures, busy. He and his wife, Rita Wilson, flew home after recuperating in Australia, where he had been shooting Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley film. He hosted a from-home episode of “Saturday...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

How risky is dining out during the COVID-19 pandemic?

How risky is dining out during the COVID-19 pandemic? There is some risk, but health officials say there are...

Hong Kong grappling with future under national security law

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam offered scant reassurance Tuesday over a new national...

Jerusalem offers a grim model for a post-annexation future

JERUSALEM (AP) — It's hard to say what exactly will change in the West Bank if Israel follows through on...

Cyprus: EU partners aim to rein in Turkey's 'expansionism'

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus and its European Union partners are working to rein in Turkey’s...

North Korea rejects talks as US envoy arrives in Seoul

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Tuesday said it has no immediate intent to resume a dialogue with...

Depp takes stand in libel trial, claims Amber Heard hit him

LONDON (AP) — Johnny Depp gave evidence in a London court on Tuesday, denying claims that he hit ex-wife...

McMenamins
Eileen Aj Connelly AP Personal Finance Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- A proposed cap on the fees that banks charge for debit card transactions would substantially reduce the cost for businesses. But it's started a death watch for debit card rewards and renewed predictions that free checking is done for.

At issue is who will ultimately benefit from the savings? The Federal Reserve's proposal to cap these fees, officially known as interchange fees, at 12 cents per transaction would enable retailers to pass on annual savings of $10 billion to $13 billion to consumers. But banks and card networks maintain that retailers will pocket the saving s. This would leave consumers to bear the brunt of the new law through higher costs for banking and reduced rewards programs.

In releasing its proposal this month, Fed staff said they found the cost to banks for processing is between 7 cents and 12 cents per transaction. Yet every time a customer swipes a debit card, the average fee is 44 cents.

"The banks have a very sweet deal here," said Sen. Dick Durbin, who sponsored the provision in the financial regulatory overhaul that ordered the Fed to set rules on these fees. The Illinois Democrat acknowledged that the legislation does not require merchants to share any cost reductions with customers, but said they're likely to benefit at the checkout.

"The retailer who is in competition with the restaurant around the corner is going to use this as an opportunity to lower prices," Durbin said, comparing the swipe fee reduction to a business tax cut.

If implemented, slashing interchange rates would be another revenue hit for banks. They're already dealing with increased costs linked to other regulations in the financial overhaul, plus restrictions on overdraft fees and credit cards.

Shawn Miles, group head of public policy for MasterCard Inc., said banks will have to compensate for the loss of revenue by adjusting the fees they charge consumers. "That's the only way they could deal with something that was this dramatic," he said. Wall Street and the banking industry were expecting the proposed cut would call for fee cuts of no more than 60 percent. The proposal is close to a 73 percent cut.

"A very large percent of the consumers in the U.S. have access to low- or no- cost checking accounts and debit cards that give them ubiquitous access to their funds," said Bill Sheedy, the head of Visa Inc.'s operations in the Americas. "You can't squeeze the balloon and assume that the changes being proposed by the Fed won't have a negative impact on how the industry operates."

Banks may see another, indirect, impact if debit fees are lowered so sharply. Analyst Burt Flickinger of Strategic Resource Group suggested many retailers will encourage consumers to use their debit cards instead of credit cards, which carry higher interchange fees that are not addressed in the law.

Industry watchers predict banks will respond by trying to make up at least some of the lost merchant revenue from consumers. Among the possibilities they are expected to test out:

-- Explicit fees for debit cards, maintenance fees on the checking accounts the cards are linked to and the elimination of debit rewards programs.

Debit rewards programs are funded by interchange fees, said Bart Narter, a banking analyst with the consultant Celent. "Rewards are if not dead, then very, very sick, because funding for rewards just shriveled."

Others suggest that rewards programs won't disappear, they'll simply change.

-- More programs may be funded by merchants, rather than banks. There's already a trend toward merchant-funded rewards programs with popular coupon and deal programs like Groupon and Living Social, noted Jonathan Silver, CEO of Affinity Solutions, which administers about 400 rewards and loyalty programs, about 60 percent of which are linked to debit cards.

-- Another option could be programs linked to other accounts at the same bank, like Citibank's "Thank You" program, which offers rewards for banking activity and credit card use in addition to debit card use; or Bank of America's "Keep the Change," program, which shifts money into a savings account when a debit card is used. "If they get customer centric, they can reward you elsewhere," said Brian Riley, a bank card analyst for the consultant TowerGroup. "They have the ability to be more flexible."

Supporters of the lower fees say the loss of debit rewards won't be that painful. The programs are not that widespread. Only about 16 percent of checking accounts have programs, and an estimated 30 to 50 percent of rewards are left unused.

"We were never getting debit card usage for free, it was just a pretense," said David Balto, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank. The price of interchange was simply hidden from customers because they didn't see it added to the costs of what they purchased, he said.

In countries such as Canada, where there are no interchange fees, Balto said, there are fees on bank accounts. "It's better for consumers to pay a transparent price than a hidden price."

Customers of smaller banks and credit unions may also feel a negative impact from the regulation even though smaller institutions are left out of the law and won't face a cap on their fees. "The legislation says we are carved out, but there's no real enforcement provisions," said Bill Cheney, CEO of the Credit Union National Association.

While a two-tier system with higher interchange fees for small banks may result from the regulation, that creates a new set of concerns, he said. One fear is that if small banks and credit unions charge higher fees, merchants may shun their cards. If small institutions find they have to shift to the lower fees, the revenue loss would be significant, and would have to be made up from customers, Cheney said. "The last thing that credit unions want to do is raise their fees."



AP Retail Writer Sarah Skidmore in Portland contributed to this report.

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