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)

Md. Lawmakers Call For Crude Oil Train Shipment Risk Assessment, More Railroad Transparency

Maryland lawmakers concerned about increasingly common rail shipments of crude oil through Maryland are calling for the state to conduct a full assessment of the risks and for railroads to be more transparent about their operations, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Norfolk-Southern train transporting crude oil

CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern bring train shipments of crude oil into Maryland, including to a barge terminal in South Baltimore’s Fairfield area and through Cecil County on the way to refineries in Delaware.

Legislation filed last week in Annapolis, Md. would require the state’s health and environment departments to establish statewide accident prevention, emergency response and contingency plans in the case of a major railroad disaster involving crude oil. It also would require both railroads to disclose more information about their crude shipments to the public.

Recently, a recent derailment of a CSX crude oil train during a snowstorm in West Virginia burned one home to the ground, forced hundreds of others to be evacuated, shuttered water treatment plants and sparked concern about pollution to the nearby Kanawha River, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Under a federal law that took effect in May, railroads are required to disclose to local jurisdictions the volumes, routes and frequency of all Bakken crude-oil shipments that are more than 1 million gallons.  However, in the past, much of that information has been unavailable to the public in Maryland.

Germany To Deliver Arms To Kurds In Iraq

According to ABC News, Germany will send high-end rifles, tank-busting weapons and armored vehicles to aid Kurdish fighters battling Islamic extremists in Iraq, officials said Sunday.

Germany’s defense minister said the arms would be sent in three shipments, starting next month, and would initially be enough to equip a brigade of 4,000 Peshmerga fighters.  

Deutsche Welle states that Germany has shipped more than 100 tons of aid deliveries to help refugees in the country. In addition to humanitarian aid, Germany is also going to send military equipment to help support Kurdish fighters. The first package has already been put together. It contains defensive equipment such as helmets, body armor and walkie-talkies but not weapons.

There are six soldiers based at the German consulate general in Erbil that have been tasked with delivering military equipment.  If needed, they will also coordinate instructions on site, according to the website of the German armed forces.

There are some critics in Merkel’s government coalition. Opposition Left party is critical of arms transfers to crisis areas; the Green opposition party has not yet expressed a party view on the issue.

The German government has announced that they will let parliamentarians vote Monday on sending weapons to Kurds in Iraq, even though the government doesn’t have to follow this procedure from a formal point of view. It’s widely expected to achieve a majority in parliament.

However, according to a recent poll, two thirds of Germans are against weapons deliveries.

Since the beginning of June, the United States has helped peshmerga fighters and the Iraqi army by carrying out air strikes and supplying military equipment.  Other countries have said they intend to send weapons and ammunition as well, including Albania, France, the UK, Canada and Croatia. Denmark wants to provide a cargo plane. Iran delivered weapons last Tuesday.

Update:  German intelligence estimates at least 400 Germans have joined the ISIS.