Drug War Backfire? Jalisco Cartel Shoots Down Mexican Gov’t Helicopter

Secular Talk

Six soldiers were killed when gunmen from the New Generation Jalisco Cartel used a rocket-propelled grenade to bring down an army helicopter that was pursuing a cartel convoy on Friday, the national security commissioner, Monte Alejandro Rubido, told Televisa.

At least 15 other people were killed and 19 injured in a coordinated show of strength by the cartel which included several shootouts with soldiers and police, and involved hundreds of low-level operatives who set up roadblocks with burning cars, buses and trucks in Jalisco and three neighbouring states. Eleven banks and five petrol stations were also set ablaze.

Areas of drug cartel influence are located in red.  Jalisco is a “state” in southern Mexico, the capital of which is is Guadalajara.

(Updated article)

What’s Happening To McDonald’s?

Sources are reporting that McDonald’s is closing hundreds of its stores as it continues to struggle financially.

syracuse.com states: “Around the world, the company said that it was doubling the number of store closures this year to about 700.”

Eater.com states:  “The chain revealed today in its first quarter earnings report that McDonald’s plans to slash costs by closing ‘about 220 under-performing restaurants primarily in the U.S. and China.’ There are also plans to shutter 130 restaurants in Japan. This is on top of the 350 restaurants the chain already shut down during the quarter.”

The company’s global sales dropped by 2.3 percent and there was an 11 percent decrease in total revenues. Bloomberg adds that same store sales fell by 2.6 percent this quarter and net income fell by 33 percent.

Fortune Magazine writes:

“The restaurant company closed 350 stores in early 2015, on top of the 350 it had already said it would shutter, as the burger purveyor seeks to stanch sales declines…”

“Those previously unannounced closings, disclosed on a conference call with Wall Street analysts on Wednesday, are on top of the 350 shutterings the world’s largest restaurant chain had already targeted for the year.”

700 restaurants is still just a small part of the 32,000 or more restaurants that McDonald’s operates.

In other McDonald’s News, one man is dead and two others are injured after a rash of gunfire outside a McDonald’s in Jacksonville, Florida.  It happened in the parking lot of the McDonald’s around 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

The victims’ identities have not yet been publicly released.

Police respond to the scene after receiving calls of

Sergeant T.K. Waters with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s department said one victim in his mid-to-early 20’s was found slumped over the steering wheel of a white vehicle.

The other two victims, he said, went into the restaurant looking for help before they were transported to a local hospital. The men were last listed in critical and stable condition.

(Updated article)


Elizabeth Warren

Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren spoke at the National Summit on Raising Wages conference hosted by the AFL-CIO in Washington, DC. She used the platform to discuss trickle-down economics.

After the midterm election , Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid announced that he had expanded leadership to include a position specifically for Warren to shape the party’s policy and messaging.

Even with this increased power, Warren did not stray from criticizing the Democrats role in crafting the current economic policy.

Secular Talk

China Shuts Down Gmail, Google

The last easy way to access Gmail was apparently blocked, and state-run media in China said that Google’s unwillingness to obey Chinese law is to blame for the shutdown.

“China welcomes the company to do business on the prerequisite that it obeys Chinese law; however Google values more its reluctance to be restricted by Chinese law, resulting in conflict,” the Global Times said in an editorial.

Gmail, the world’s biggest email service, has been largely inaccessible from within China since the runup to the 25th anniversary in June of the Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

Users could access the service by using third-party mail applications but Jeremy Goldkorn, the founder of Danwei, a Beijing-based firm that tracks Chinese media and the internet, said that has also been barred by the government.

China operates the world’s most extensive and sophisticated internet censorship system, known as the “great firewall”. Foreign websites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are routinely blocked and content that the ruling Communist party deems offensive is often quickly deleted.

Google withdrew from China in 2010 after a fallout with Beijing over censorship issues.

“The issue at heart is to what extent Google is willing to obey Chinese law, on which China’s attitude is steadfast,” said the Global Times, which is close to the Communist party.

Access problems could be “caused by the China side, by Google itself or a combination of the two”, it added.

A Google spokesman said that an internal check had found “nothing wrong on our end”.

If China did block Gmail, the Global Times said, it “must have been prompted by newly emerged security reasons” and users should “accept the reality”.

“We only need to have faith that China has its own logic in terms of internet policy and it is made and runs in accordance with the country’s fundamental interests,” it added.

“We don’t want to be shut off, as it obviously doesn’t serve our own interests.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she was not aware of the blocking of the service when asked about the issue at a press conference on Monday.

“I would like to stress that China always welcomes and supports foreign investors’ legal business operations in China,” she said.

Video by The Lip TV.



Adult Cigarette Smoking Is At An All-Time Low

According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the percentage of adults who smoke in the U.S. dropped from 20.9 percent in 2005 to 17.8 percent in 2013.

This information comes from new data published by Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

That is the lowest prevalence of adult smoking since the CDC’s Nation Health Interview Survey (NHIS) began keeping such records in 1965.

The report also shows the number of cigarette smokers dropped from 45.1 million in 2005 to 42.1 million in 2013, despite the increasing population in the U.S., the CDC said in a press release.

“There is encouraging news in this study, but we still have much more work to do to help people quit,” said Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.

“We can bring down cigarette smoking rates much further, much faster, if strategies proven to work are put in place like funding tobacco control programs at the CDC-recommended levels, increasing prices of tobacco products, implementing and enforcing comprehensive smoke-free laws, and sustaining hard-hitting media campaigns,” he said.