Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Calling It Quits With Qatar

It will be my last post of the day, too.

"5 Arab states break ties with Qatar, complicating US coalition-building" by Anne Barnard New York Times   June 05, 2017

BEIRUT — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and three other Arab countries severed all ties with Qatar on Monday, in a renewal of a four-year effort to isolate it and in a sign of a new boldness after a visit to the region by President Trump.

WTF did he say when he was over there?

In an abrupt and surprising move, the five Arab states not only suspended diplomatic relations, as they have in the past, but also cut off land, air, and sea travel to and from Qatar. All but Egypt, which has many thousands of people working there, ordered their citizens to leave the country.

Qatar, like other monarchies in the Persian Gulf, is a Washington ally, and it hosts a major US military base that commands the US-led air campaign against the Islamic State.

As such, the feud among regional allies threatens to stress the operations of the US-led coalition and complicate efforts in the region to confront Iran — but could also be a heavy blow to Tehran’s regional ambitions, if Qatar is forced to sever ties.

Just give Ayatollah Mike a call. He'll fix it.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson offered to mediate the impasse Monday in the hope of preserving the Trump administration’s efforts to create broad coalitions against Iran and terrorist groups in the Mideast.

“We certainly would encourage the parties to sit down together and address these differences,” Tillerson said.

The severing of all connections by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen created an immediate crisis for Qatar. Qatari diplomats were given 48 hours to leave their posts in Bahrain, while Qatari citizens were allotted two weeks to depart Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar, a relatively small country jutting into the Persian Gulf, has a border with Saudi Arabia and is vulnerable to its larger neighbor. It imports almost all of its food, about 40 percent of it directly from Saudi Arabia. Several residents, reached on the Internet chat, said people were stocking up on food and cash.

Air traffic was disrupted, with the United Arab Emirates suspending service to Qatar by its three carriers, Etihad Airways, Emirates, and FlyDubai, beginning Tuesday morning. Qatar Airways was banned from Saudi airspace.

Saudi Arabia said it was taking the action to “protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism.” The Foreign Ministry of Qatar said the action had “no basis in fact” and was “unjustified.”

The Iranian government criticized the Saudi-led action against Qatar in a diplomatically worded rebuke. “Neighbors are permanent; geography can’t be changed,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on his Twitter account.

This is strange. Driving the Sunni Qatar into Iran's embrace.

“Coercion is never the solution,” Zarif said. “Dialogue is imperative, especially during blessed Ramadan.”

Will you guys knock it off with the peace talk please?

It was not immediately clear why the five countries decided to take this action now. Last month, Qatar’s state news media published comments attributed to the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr Al Thani, referring to tension with Washington over Iran policy and saying Trump might not be in power for long. Qatar denied the comments, saying it had been the victim of a “cybercrime.”

Why, what have you heard? 

You think the CIA is framing them?

Tensions had been building for years, beginning with Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and through the broadcasts of the Pan-Arab news network Al-Jazeera, which Qatar funds.

Oh, I see. The old MB. That's part of the battle for power within the Sunni realm of Islam. The Qatari version (of an organization that was began by British intelligence back in the 1920s), if you look at it, is one more evenhanded towards Palestinians. Morsi was from the MB, and he flung open the border. That is why he had to go! That doesn't make MB-backed candidates saints, far from it (and if I'm not mistaken, the government Qatar backed in Tunisia was taken down, too). It's just the more moderate version of Islamic rule, as opposed to the Wahhabism of USrael's favorite Arab ally.

As for Al-Jazeera, they wholeheartedly backed the overthrow of Assad, but went places you don't go -- and then they were gone.

Qatar’s rivals have also faulted it for condoning fund-raising for militant Islamist groups fighting in Syria, although several of the other Sunni-led monarchies in the region have played similar roles.


Qatar terrorists bad, Saudi terrorists good!

Qatar’s opponents have recently added a third allegation to those grievances: that it is conspiring with their regional rival, Iran.


However the crisis is resolved, if at all, Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in Sydney, after talks with their Australian counterparts, that it would not undermine the fight against the Islamic State.

I thought that conference ended Sunday.


Sun has now gone down, time to break the fast:

"Trial will decide if ABC sullied company with ‘pink slime’ report" by Niraj Chokshi New York Times  June 05, 2017

A defamation trial over an ABC News report about so-called pink slime, a once-common ingredient in ground beef, began Monday. A South Dakota meat processing company says the report wreaked havoc on its business after it aired in 2012.

The term refers to low-cost processed beef trimmings sold by Beef Products Inc.

The first use of “pink slime” is widely credited to Gerald Zirnstein, a former Agriculture Department scientist, who used it in a 2002 e-mail to colleagues in which he expressed concerns about the product.

The processed trimmings — officially known as lean finely textured beef — were once a popular ingredient in ground beef and were found in hamburgers at McDonald’s and Burger King and in grocery chains and schools across the country.

The product is created by placing trimmings in centrifuges to separate lean meat from fat. The lean meat is then treated with ammonia to remove pathogens. That process, the company has said, was perfected over years and can produce 10 to 20 extra pounds of lean beef per cow.

I always thought the burgers smelled funny.

In 1993, the Agriculture Department approved the processed trimmings for use in ground beef.

Thanks, Bill Clinton.

Concerns about the product had been mounting for years when, in 2012, ABC News aired an investigation into its widespread use in ground beef.

In the report by correspondent Jim Avila, Zirnstein called the trimmings “a cheap substitute” and said allowing them to be sold as ground beef amounted to “economic fraud.”

It was USDA approved!

Later that year, Beef Products sued ABC for defamation, arguing that the segment and several subsequent reports were rife with inaccuracies and had created a consumer backlash with a “devastating impact” on its bottom line.

I'm no defender of the pre$$, but if they can't even do this then they might as well stop their pre$$es and shut down the websites. Otherwise, it's all corporate garbage coming from them.

The company is now seeking $1.9 billion in damages, but that figure could grow to as much as $5.7 billion under a South Dakota law, according to a recent financial report by the Walt Disney Co., which owns ABC.

Although it became the target of the lawsuit, ABC News was far from alone in raising questions about the processed trimmings.

In 2010, The New York Times won a Pulitzer Prize for a series on food safety that included a story on concerns about the Beef Products process. In 2011, the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver described the process on his show, broadcast on ABC, and said that it showed “no respect for food.”

By the time the ABC News report was broadcast, three major fast food chains — McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King — had already committed to dropping the trimmings from their food.

The trial over the ABC News report is expected to last about eight weeks. It will focus on claims by Beef Products that ABC News had launched a “disinformation campaign” and acted “with reckless disregard” for the truth.

It wouldn't be the first time for them. There is the Gulf of Tonkin, kids being thrown out of Kuwait incubators, and the phantom WMD of Iraq, to name just three.

In its own court filings, ABC argued that the central question in the case was whether its reporters had acted with “actual malice,” which it said they had not. “We believe in the principle that people deserve to know what’s in the food they eat and ... ABC’s reporting will be fully vindicated,” Kevin Baine, a lawyer representing ABC and Avila, said.


Maybe I'll have pasta instead. 

This is pasta, isn't it?

Weird thing is, Gandhi is on tonight.

UPDATE: Saudi Arabia Gives Qatar 24 Hour Ultimatum As Analysts Warn Of "Military Confrontation"