02-07-2023  1:13 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

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

Washington State Gov. Inslee Tests Positive for COVID-19

He plans to continue working. Trudi Inslee, the first spouse, has tested negative.

NEWS BRIEFS

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...

Bonamici Invites Portland Community College President to 2023 State of the Union

PCC recently received 0K to advance semiconductor, advanced manufacturing training ...

Market Features Work of Local Black-Owned Businesses for Black History Month

MESO Makers Market in Portland to feature the work of 40 local, Black-owned small businesses to celebrate Black History Month in...

The Seattle Public Library's Homework Help Program Expands to Eight Locations and Increases Hours

Homework Help, The Seattle Public Library’s free after school tutoring service, will add two locations and increase hours in...

County Seeks Community Needs Survey Responses From Residents

Clark County Community Services is asking residents who are low-income to complete a survey to help determine what resources and...

1 missing, 2 rescued from crab boat off Washington coast

RAYMOND, Wash. (AP) — A crew member remains missing and two others were rescued from crab boat that sank near Willapa Bay in southwest Washington on Sunday evening, according to the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard on Twitter posted a video and said a helicopter crew from Astoria,...

Proposed bill would pay incarcerated workers minimum wage

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A Washington state lawmaker who has spent time in prison wants the state to pay incarcerated workers minimum wage for doing their jobs. State Rep. Tarra Simmons, D-Bremerton, is sponsoring House Bill 1024, called the “Real Labor, Real Wages Act,” to raise...

Jones scores 18, Southern Illinois tops Missouri State 73-53

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — Lance Jones' 18 points helped Southern Illinois defeat Missouri State 73-53 on Sunday. Jones also added four steals for the Salukis (18-7, 10-4 Missouri Valley Conference). Troy D'Amico shot 5 of 6 from the field and 4 for 4 from the line to add 15 points....

DeVries and Drake earn 85-82 2OT win over Valparaiso

VALPARAISO, Ind. (AP) — Tucker DeVries scored a career-high 32 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Drake beat Valparaiso 85-82 in double overtime on Saturday night. Roman Penn scored 16 points and added 12 rebounds and six assists for the Bulldogs (19-6, 10-4 Missouri Valley...

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

Arkansas Gov. Sanders to offer State of the Union rebuttal

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, once a White House press secretary for President Donald Trump, is set to return to the national stage when she delivers the GOP response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address. Sanders, 40, is giving the...

State of the Union? Congress doesn't fully reflect diversity

WASHINGTON (AP) — When lawmakers gather for President Joe Biden's State of the Union address, the Republican side of the aisle will look slightly different than it did a few years ago. Rather than row after row of white men in suits, the House Republican majority increasingly has...

Missouri governor denies clemency for man facing execution

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said Monday he will not grant clemency and halt the execution of Raheem Taylor, who faces lethal injection for the deaths of his girlfriend and her three children. Taylor, 58, is scheduled to be put to death Tuesday evening at the state...

ENTERTAINMENT

List of Grammy winners in top categories

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Winners Sunday in the top categories at the 65th Grammy Awards: — Album of the year: “Harry’s House,” Harry Styles — Record of the year: “About Damn Time,” Lizzo — Song of the year (songwriter’s award): “Just Like...

Viola Davis' Grammy win for audiobook makes her an EGOT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Viola Davis has achieved EGOT status. The actor won a Grammy Award Sunday for best audio book, narration, and storytelling recording for her memoir “Finding Me.” “I just EGOT!” she shouted from the stage as she accepted the trophy, using the...

Grammys 2023 live updates: Latest news from red carpet, show

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Follow along for real-time, on-the-carpet and behind-the-scenes updates on the 2023 Grammy Awards from The Associated Press. Live updates — any times Pacific — are brought to you by AP journalists at the show in Los Angeles and around the country. ___ ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

The Grammys ended in controversy, again. Here’s what to know

NEW YORK (AP) — A night in music brimming with shocking upsets, historic wins, tributes for artists like the...

What to Watch: New political vibes this State of the Union

WASHINGTON (AP) — Look for new faces and fresh political dynamics as President Joe Biden delivers this year's...

Lucky player in Washington wins 7 million Powerball prize

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Someone in Washington state overcame steep odds Monday night to win an estimated 7...

EU Parliament planning for possible Zelenksyy visit in days

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union's legislature was preparing plans Monday to host Volodymyr Zelenskyy should...

India's aircraft carriers key to Indo-Pacific strategy

NEW DELHI (AP) — India is preparing to relaunch its INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier after a major refit, a...

Hong Kong transgender men win appeal over status change

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong’s top court ruled Monday that full sex reassignment surgery should not be a...

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.