Rising violence in Mexico puts pressure on president

Restaurant CEO Sees Menus Offerings Staying Lean Post-Pandemic

Restaurantsslashed their menus early in the coronavirus pandemic to preserve cash. It worked so well, some companies are now considering making the changes permanent.

Bloomin’ Brands Inc. Chief Executive Officer David Deno said Friday that “menu simplification” helped the operator of Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba’s Italian Grill to preserve profitability during the second quarter. Fewer choices means less food waste and reduced labor due to quick prep times.

“That is absolutely something we want to preserve moving forward,” he said during a company earnings call.

Restaurants have been clobbered by the pandemic, which has forced many into entirely new delivery or pickup businesses. Menu cuts are a simple way to save a bit of cash compared with furloughs or closures.

Companies such asMcDonald’s Corp., which eliminated all-day breakfast, and Romano’s Macaroni Grill have also moved to reduce menu offerings in recent months. Paring offerings also allows restaurants to focus on foods that are easier to deliver.

“Chains need to offset higher delivery and packaging costs with higher-margin menu items that travel well,” said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Michael Halen.

ITC’s Q1 profit drops 25% to ₹2,567 crore

Diversified group ITC Ltd. on Friday reported a 25% decline in consolidated profit after tax (PAT) at ₹2,567 crore for the first quarter ended June 30 amid COVID-19 challenges.

ITC had posted a consolidated PAT of ₹3,437 crore in the year-earlier period. Consolidated revenue from operations stood at ₹10,478 crore in April-June 2020, down 17% from a year earlier, the company said in a filing.

New York Fed's gold vault: How much does it hold?

Coronavirus fears cause unprecedented demand for gold

Fosterville South Exploration CEO Bryan Slusarchuk on the rising demand for gold.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s vault holds gold for central banks, governments and official organizations.

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The vault, which is located 80 feet below street level, held about 497,000 gold bars that had a combined weight of 6,190 tons as of 2019, according to the New York Fed, which doesn't own any of the metal there itself.

Capacity topped out in 1973, at more than 12,000 tons, after former President Richard Nixon untethered the U.S. dollar from gold.

Whenever gold is deposited or a section of the vault is opened, three members of the New York Fed, two staffers and one auditor, must be present to ensure safekeeping.

Gold within the vault is protected by an intricate security system that features 24-hour surveillance including an armed police force, security cameras and motion detectors and a 90-ton steel cylinder defending the only entry, among other things, the New York Fed said.

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The Fed prices gold within the vault at a fixed $42.2222 per troy ounce for bookkeeping purposes. The precious metal is currently trading at around $1,900 an ounce on the COMEX exchange, owned by CME Group.

France charges Chilean over murder of Japanese ex-girlfriend

BESANCON, FRANCE (AFP) – Chilean Nicolas Zepeda has been charged in France with the murder in 2016 of his Japanese ex-girlfriend, French prosecutors said on Friday (July 24).

The 29-year-old suspect, who had been extradited from Chile on Thursday, “has been charged with the murder of Narumi Kurosaki”, the prosecutor in the town of Besancon, Etienne Manteaux, told AFP.

Zepeda is the only suspect in the murder and disappearance of Kurosaki, a 21-year-old student at Besancon university who disappeared in December 2016.

Wood Is Beating Gold as a Shelter From Pandemic Upheavals

As economies struggle to recover in the pandemic and U.S.-China tensions flare, investorspiling into precious metals may be overlooking another potential haven: wood.

Lumber futures have doubled since early April and are level pegging with silver as the top-performing major commodity this year. Surprisingly, wood is even outshining gold — the go-to haven investment.

While lockdowns and stay-in-place restrictions were expected to curb demand for building materials, North Americans stuck inside decided to spend money andrenovate their homes just as aggressive production cuts tightened supplies.

To be sure, lumber trades at much lower volume than gold and other metals and is prone to wild price swings. But producers such as Canfor Corp.expect strong demand and prices will continue into early fall.

“The home-center demand has been so strong compared to what anybody would’ve expected,” Canfor Chief Executive Officer Don Kayne said Friday on the company’s quarterly earnings call.

— With assistance by Patrick McKiernan

Rising violence in Mexico puts pressure on president

Amid coronavirus lockdowns across Mexico, at least six states report higher homicide rates than the previous year.

Violence in Mexico has been on the rise for decades, fuelled in part by a flow of illegal firearms from the United States.

Much of the blame recently has fallen on Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who was elected on a platform of scaling back violent crime.

Many worry the worsening security crisis could set a new record for violence by the end of 2020.

Al Jazeera’s Manuel Rapalo reports.