Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Happy Thanksgiving!

As we look forward to the Thanksgiving holiday this week, there are numerous things to be thankful for. Our great American freedoms, good health, financial stability, and having wonderful family and friends are among many of our greatest blessings that we should be grateful for.

We must also remember that gratitude is another part of being thankful that we should be aware of. Expressing gratitude in your life will open up your heart to more compassion and kindness, and will make you feel more alive and happier overall.

Thanksgiving is a time to look back on the challenges we may have overcome, to reflect on all of our blessings, and to be thankful and grateful for all our successes. I hope we can all find the true meaning of success this holiday season through contentment, peace, and gratitude.

Happy Independence Day!

Summer time in the United States can be celebrated with outdoor activities, picnics and barbecues. Families and friends join together to enjoy nice weather and spend quality time together. Though summer starts on June 21st, for some it is not official until the 4th of July, a day that marks many beginnings for Americans.

One important day in the history of our country is July 4th which represents independence from British rule. Our forefathers fought for freedom from a tyrannical king that was ruling them from across an ocean. They were tired of living under the British and being taxed by a British Government that was so far away and doing so little to help them. It was then that the spirit of patriotism, liberty, and independence came to life.

The American Revolutionary War began in April of 1775, and not even one year later the colonists and militias had successfully driven the British out of New England. By the morning of July 4th 1776, the Declaration of Independence was completed and  presented to congress where it was signed for approval.

It was on that day that a free and independent country was born. A new mentality and attitude was burning strong in the hearts of the men and women of the United States of America. Beating the British was a remarkable achievement for the colonists who had very little training and inferior weapons. The determination and perseverance to stand up and fight a war, knowing that they may not win, is what defined those Americans. Believing so strongly in Liberty and Freedom is what drove them to push through the hard times to victory. It is because of them and what they went through to achieve freedom. That is the reason why we celebrate the independence and liberty that are such a strong part of our American identity. Happy 4th of July to you and your families.

 

Thought of the Day: What if no one was watching?

By Mary Davis Meile

A gatekeeper position is critical and can be compared to a watchman on the wall. During ancient times the watchman would sit on a tower overlooking the entire city, ready to alert of any impending danger. Security was not complete without watchmen in their places, shouting, or reporting what they saw that was out of the ordinary. If they did not stay awake and sound the alarm it would be devastating for an entire city and nation.

I suspect some BSA professionals may find this to be a lonely and discouraging work at times. You may find yourself growing tired with all the regulatory challenges and not putting in as much effort as you use to. Some may have given up and want to leave the profession, and others have grown weary when warnings are rejected, or they do not see results. Many ask themselves and their peers, is this work making a difference, is there tangible value to what we are doing? The answer is a resounding yes!

The main question that I want you to ponder today is what if the AML monitoring went away and was no longer a regulatory requirement to report unusual or suspect activity? What if no one in the world was required to look, watch and report? There would be an immediate negative impact with an acceleration of criminal activity or social injustices. Crimes against humanity would run rampant without any hope of justice, support or protection. The criminal would go under the radar screen without law enforcement being alerted. In short, it would be devastating in all areas of society. Can you see how it all fits together? The watching and reporting role is critical to the stability of our nation and others. The results are global, and they impact individual nations, cities, communities, households, and individuals. I encourage you to continue to do a good work. Be the eyes and ears on the wall of your workplace. Remain diligent. You do make a difference!

A quote from the late President John F. Kennedy that still holds true today. The excerpt comes from a document titled, “Remarks Prepared for Delivery at the Trade Mart in Dallas, TX, November 22, 1963.” The speech went undelivered as he was assassinated that very day.

We in this country, in this generation, are–by destiny rather than choice–the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of “peace on earth, good will toward men.” That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: “except the Lord keep the city, the watchman wakes but in vain.”

We are here to equip you with the resources to get the job done. Explore our self-paced Certified Bank Secrecy Officer (CBO) courses and let us know if we can help.

Time For Action Against America’s Drug Addiction and Opioid Crises

On October 26, 2017, President Donald J. Trump took action on Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis according to a press release from the White House Office of the Press Secretary. Donald Trump declared at a White House event that opioid abuse represents a public-health emergency.

“The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place.  If they don’t start, they won’t have a problem.” – President Donald J. Trump

DRUG ADDICTION AND OPIOIDS ARE RAVAGING AMERICA: Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost their lives to drug abuse, and it will only get worse unless action is taken. THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS FIGHTING BACK: The Trump White House has moved quickly to address the drug addiction and opioid crisis, with the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis leading the way.

The numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared more than 64,000 drug overdose deaths estimated in 2016, the sharpest increase occurred among deaths related to fentanyl and fentanyl analogs (synthetic opioids) with over 20,000 overdose deaths. Source: CDC WONDER

In a recent related news article, a U.S. billionaire founder of a drug company was charged with opioid bribery. This is just a taste of what is taking place. https://ethixbase.com/eanews/united-states-billionaire-founder-charged-in-opioid-bribery-case/

Not only is the Trump Administration fighting back but there is also another familiar player on the scene that is ready to join in on the fight. His name is Mike Moore and is well known as the AG Lawyer who took down the big tobacco companies back in the 90’s. Now he is back and plans to take on the big pharmaceutical companies that are part of the opioid crises. I wish him much success in the fight as there needs to be accountability and justice where it is due.

We need Whistleblowers! So many people are afraid to report drug dealers or other drug-related activity. There is a way to safely report using CrimeStoppers and others such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) or the Department of Justice (DOJ). Both have websites and phone numbers to anonymously report drug activity or submit tips through a hotline. You can also use several other tips on how to report anonymously found at https://www.projectknow.com/speak-up-how-to-safely-and-anonymously-report-drug-activity/. 

Mike Moore at his home in Florida on Sept. 28, 2017. PHOTOGRAPHER IRINA ROZOVSKY FOR BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK

July 4th, A Time To be Thankful For Our Freedom

As the 4th of July arrives upon us, Patriots all across the Untied States will be celebrating the day of our Independence. Year after year we have the opportunity to reflect on the day our Declaration of Independence was signed, which gave us independence from the tyrannical British King George III. Thomas Jefferson, the main author of the Declaration of Independence, stated in his works that:

“…We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness … “

These are words that we must cherish and embrace while remembering that we as a society, though we may be different from each other, are ultimately Americans. Most importantly though, we are humans that are blessed with certain rights and the permission and ability to create our own happiness. As Americans it is also our commitment to pledge allegiance to our flag, to the United States, and to each other. And we shall do this as “one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.”

In these uncertain times that have been darkened by evil, we must remember the vision of our forefathers and apply it to our lives. It is imperative to know that our nation will stand together against any evil, and never forget that “In God We Trust.” We are a nation of freedom, liberty, and honor and will never be a nation in fear. Our freedoms and liberties have come at an ultimate cost, and must be defended, but these are the prices we have to pay. Freedom is not free, and we remember those who have lost their lives to protect us and defend our freedom.

Independence Day encompasses all that it means to be an American. We are truly blessed to have been born in a country where anything is possible to anyone. Our freedoms, equality, and fellow countrymen are all very important things to celebrate on the 4th of July, along with the birth of our great nation the United States of America.

John Adams, himself a signer of the Declaration, thought that Americans should henceforth celebrate a “great anniversary festival.” In a letter to his wife Abigail he wrote, “It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.”

And so it began in 1776, the celebration of Independence and the beginning of one of the greatest nations on earth. Let us remember that a nation is only as good as its people are to each other. Be unified, go in love and go in peace.

 

They Gave Their Lives, We Owe Them Respect

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who lost their lives while serving in our country’s armed forces. It is formerly known as Decoration Day, and commemorates all men and women who have died in military service for the United States. The first large-scale observance of what was originally called Decoration Day took place at Arlington Cemetery in 1868, three years after the bloody U.S. Civil War that killed more than 600,000 people. Today many Americans celebrate with their families and friends, usually with a cookout or picnic, a fun day spent outdoors, and in moments of prayer and silence.

In the word “memorial”, we notice the root word “memory” which is exactly the purpose of such a somber yet cheerful day. We are forced to look back on our existence as Americans, and the trials and tribulations that we had to conquer to maintain our precious freedoms. The opportunity arises for us to appreciate and thank the men and women that are still with us for the patriotism they have displayed to protect the people, freedoms, and liberties of our great nation. Memorial Day is the perfect time to send prayers and thoughts out to the families whose loved ones have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. For one to give their life for a cause that is greatly larger than them is truly selfless and noble. We owe it to them, their families, and our fellow countrymen to observe such an important holiday with the utmost respect and empathy.

Our prayers, thoughts, and hearts go out to all that have lost loved ones. To those that are gone; your efforts have not gone unnoticed, your courage will never be forgotten, and your patriotism will live on forever.

“Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.”- Unknown

What is Wildlife Trafficking and Illicit Trade?

The AMLA is beginning to reach out to numerous nonprofit and governmental organizations, national and international, that are at the forefront of battling wildlife trafficking and the illicit trade of wildlife, wildlife products, and flora and fauna. We feel it is very important to do as much as we can in this effort in order to conserve and sustain biological and human impacts that are associated with wildlife crimes. Along with the environmental impacts, there are major economic impacts as well. Financially speaking, hundreds of billions of dollars per year are generated from illegal wildlife poaching and trade, illegal logging, and the poaching of fisheries and marine resources. Wildlife trade has no borders, and as long as the human footprint keeps expanding so will the crimes that correlate with the depletion of the natural resources that all humans and animals rely upon on a daily basis.

The purpose of this publication is to introduce the major components of wildlife trafficking and illicit trade, as well as the impacts that these activities have on the environment along with global and local societies and their economies. The AMLA wishes to show how its VISION coincides with these issues, and hopes to exemplify its reasoning for involvement on the financial and economic side of these ongoing problems.

What is Wildlife Trade?

Wildlife trade is any sale or exchange of wild animal and plant resources by people. This can involve live animals and plants or a diverse range of products needed or prized by humans—including skins, medicinal ingredients, tourist curios, timber, fish and other food products. Most wildlife trade is probably within national borders, but there is a large volume of wildlife in trade internationally.

Why?

There are many reasons why wildlife is traded, including:

  • food—fruits, mushrooms, nuts, leaves and tubers, are particular important resources in sustaining livelihoods in many rural areas. Wild animals (including fish) contribute at least a fifth of the animal protein in rural diets in more than 60 countries. A TRAFFIC study demonstrated reliance on wild meat is growing in Eastern and Southern Africa in response to increased human populations and poverty.
  • fuel—trees and plants are an important source of fuel for cooking and heating, especially in rural areas
  • fodder—considered very important non-wood forest products in arid regions of Asia and Africa
  • building materials—for example, timber for furniture and housing to ingredients in manufacturing processes, such as gums and resins
  • clothing and ornaments—leather, furs, feathers etc.
  • sport—from falconry to trophy hunting
  • healthcare—everything from herbal remedies, traditional medicines to ingredients for industrial pharmaceuticals. An estimated 80 % of the world’s population are said to rely for primary health care on traditional medicines
  • religion—many animals and plants or derivatives are used for religious purposes
  • collections—many wildlife specimens and curios are collected by museums and private individuals

The primary motivating factor for wildlife traffickers is economic. This can range from small scale local income generation to major profit-oriented business, such as marine fisheries and logging companies.

Between collectors of wildlife and the ultimate users, any number of middlemen may be involved in the wildlife trade, including specialists involved in storage, handling, transport, manufacturing, industrial production, marketing, and the export and retail businesses. 

Environmental and Social Problems

As human populations have grown, so has the demand for wildlife. People in developed countries have become used to a lifestyle which fuels demand for wildlife; they expect to have access to a variety of seafood, leather goods, timbers, medicinal ingredients, textiles etc. Conversely, extreme poverty of others means they regard wildlife as a means to meet their short-term needs and will trade it for whatever they can get.

Over-exploitation is a major concern:

  • Wildlife is vital to a high proportion of the world’s population. People depend directly on wildlife for consumption and as a way of earning cash. However, irresponsible wildlife trade is threatening this resource, and those most affected tend to be the poorest people, in developing nations.
  • Wildlife trade causes additional problems. The species traded are often already highly threatened and in danger of extinction, conditions under which wildlife is transport are often appalling, operators are unscrupulous and do not care how they damage the environment (for example they use cyanide to kill fish, or log in protected areas; illegal trade undermines nations’ efforts to manage their natural resources sustainably and causes massive economic losses in lost earnings. It is often said that illegal wildlife trade is the third most valuable illicit commerce behind drugs and arms.
  • Introducing invasive species that prey upon, or out compete native species. Invasive species are a major cause of recent extinctions. Wildlife traders have purposely introduced many invasive species, such as American Mink, Red-eared Terrapin and many plant species.

Economic Problems

Wildlife crimes pose many economical problems on a local and regional level. Indigenous peoples directly affected by the exploitation of their natural resources, that they may use for survival or income, may endure socioeconomic hardships. They will often times resort to the very peoples that are exploiting their resources for financial relief. On a regional level, this raises crime and poverty levels, and compromises the overall safety and well being of the region’s communities. As a result, the revenue related to wildlife crimes are distributed among other regions of the world which funds more violent crimes and global terrorism.

Response and Solutions

Organizations

There are a many organizations throughout countries all over the world that are at the forefront of battling wildlife crimes. With major organizations such as the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), the World Customs Organization (WCO), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) working in conjunction with INTERPOL, the F.B.I, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there are many agencies and officers working together to combat wildlife crimes.

Laws

The United States, as well as numerous other countries, has instilled branches and sectors of their government to build laws and penalties for such crimes. Though legislation is a key to control wildlife trade, these laws need to be accepted, practical, and understood in order for them to be successful.

Education

Educating the general public, lawmakers, and individuals in the wildlife trade with reliable and current information regarding environmental impacts, sustainability, and penalties is a very important step towards reducing environmental harm.

For those interested in Wildlife Trafficking, we encourage you to visit these organizations and become aware of the problems they face and the research being done to resolve wildlife crime issues.

Please donate to the cause if possible, and help to educate others by making them aware of this ever present issue that we face today.

 

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/wildlife-and-forest-crime/index.html

International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) https://www.interpol.int/

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  https://www.fws.gov/

International Wildlife Crimestoppers (IWC) http://wildlifecrimestoppers.org/

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) https://cites.org/

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) https://www.worldwildlife.org/

The Nature Conservancy https://www.nature.org/?intc=nature.tnav.logo