Archive for June 2010
Bloomberg June 29, 2010
Just before sunset on April 10, 2006, a DC-9 jet landed at the international airport in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, 500 miles east of Mexico City. As soldiers on the ground approached the plane, the crew tried to shoo them away, saying there was a dangerous oil leak. So the troops grew suspicious and searched the jet.
They found 128 black suitcases, packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100 million. The stash was supposed to have been delivered from Caracas to drug traffickers in Toluca, near Mexico City, Mexican prosecutors later found. Law enforcement officials also discovered something else…..
The smugglers had bought the DC-9 with laundered funds they transferred through two of the biggest banks in the U.S.: Wachovia Corp. and Bank of America Corp., Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its August 2010 issue.
This was no isolated incident. Wachovia, it turns out, had made a habit of helping move money for Mexican drug smugglers. Wells Fargo & Co., which bought Wachovia in 2008, has admitted in court that its unit failed to monitor and report suspected money laundering by narcotics traffickers — including the cash used to buy four planes that shipped a total of 22 tons of cocaine.
The admission came in an agreement that Charlotte, North Carolina-based Wachovia struck with federal prosecutors in March, and it sheds light on the largely undocumented role of U.S. banks in contributing to the violent drug trade that has convulsed Mexico for the past four years.
Wachovia admitted it didn’t do enough to spot illicit funds in handling $378.4 billion for Mexican-currency-exchange houses from 2004 to 2007. That’s the largest violation of the Bank Secrecy Act, an anti-money-laundering law, in U.S. history — a sum equal to one-third of Mexico’s current gross domestic product.
“Wachovia’s blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations,” says Jeffrey Sloman, the federal prosecutor who handled the case.
Since 2006, more than 22,000 people have been killed in drug-related battles that have raged mostly along the 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) border that Mexico shares with the U.S.
read the rest of this article here
Sheila Samples, a former Army Public Info Officer, wrote an article in Feb of this year that presaged the current flap created by the Rolling Stone article, The Runaway General, by Michael Hastings. Sounds like insubordination has been an open secret for a long time.
I have two questions:
- Why did it take an expose to get the Obama Admin to address the problem?
- And why do we have to get this kind of news from Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, or not at all?
Some may characterize this as just the latest public relations blunder.
It’s much more than that. But I fear the major problem is hypocrisy: We have Imperialist motives and goals, but insist on dressing them up as benign. It’s not surprising those on the front lines feel scorn for their leaders. They risk their lives for Imperialism without being given free rein to pursue it.
We need to get out of Afghanistan now. We no longer have the resources to sustain Empire-building. Not to mention that it is antithetical to what we’re supposed to believe in.
Why can’t we see what dangerous territory our decline is getting us into at home? We might as well be advertising in red-white-blue neon- “Tyrant wanted”.
Update: see also this premonitory article from June 15th about that other mighty warrior “King” David Petraeus and the joys of insubordination:
…… A May 24 New York Times story by Mark Mazzetti informed us that last September “King David” Petraeus empowered himself, through a secret directive, to expand “clandestine military activity” throughout his Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility without seeking permission of Congress or the commander in chief. “Clandestine military activity” involves SOCOM assets…..
The GM clause to food security
The US Global Food Security Act of 2009 (S. 384) sponsored by Richard Lugar (Indiana, Republican), Robert Casey (Pennsylvania, Democrat) and seven other US Senators in February 2009 is [1, 2] “A bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal years 2010 through 2014 to provide assistance to foreign countries to promote food security, to stimulate rural economies, and to improve emergency response to food crises, to amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, and for other purposes.”
However, the proposed amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) of 1961 has proven controversial. It would “include research on biotechnological advances appropriate to local ecological conditions, including genetically modified technology.”
The bill is supported by the US land grant colleges as well as InterAction (American Council for Voluntary International Action) and its 26 member organizations including WWF, Oxfam, Bread for the World CARE, Save the Children, and ONE . The bill was passed through the Senate foreign Relations Committee on 31 March 2009, and the Senate is expected to vote on it soon in 2010.
Widespread opposition to GM mandate
In April 2010, 140 civil society groups, scientists, and development experts signed an open letter to US Senators, urging them to “strip the GM mandate” from the Global Food Security Act . While the petitioners applaud the bill’s intention to reform aid programmes to focus on longer-term agricultural development and restructure aid agencies to better respond to crises, they object to the clause effectively earmarking one agricultural technology – genetic modification – for billions of dollars in federal funding. US$7.7 billion goes with the bill, and no other farming methods or technologies are mentioned.
Not surprisingly, Monsanto has lobbied the hardest to support the bill. The US company is the world’s leader in the increasingly concentrated agricultural biotech industry, which is already subject to an anti-trust inquiry (see  US Farmers Oppose ‘Big Ag’ in Anti-Trust Hearing, SiS 46). Monsanto is likely to benefit most from the new research funding stream, and to profit from its patented products (both GM seeds and pesticides).
The petitioning groups represent the anti-hunger, family farms, farm-workers, consumers and those practicing and supporting sustainable agriculture. The letter delivered urges the Senate to reject the bill until it is made technology-neutral, and calls for agricultural research funding to concentrate on addressing local challenges faced by small-scale farmers, instead of mandating a specific and narrow technological fix, particularly one with little prospect of success and increasingly rejected by countries around the world.