Duped By Saudi Arabia & The Return Of The McRib
October 27, 2022
Gaslit By Gas Giant
Following the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the behest of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, President Biden promised to treat the Saudi head of state as a “pariah.” However, the president’s aides saw opportunity in reforging the U.S.’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. They began planning a fun trip to the Middle East. The stops? Israel and Saudi Arabia, where they hoped to get a Saudi guarantee to convince OPEC to increase oil production.
Before the trip, Biden’s advisors met with Prince Mohammed, securing a two-part deal with the suspected journalist-killer. First, the Saudis would push a 400,000 barrel per day increase in OPEC oil production, moving up the production bump from the planned September date to July. Next, the Saudis would advocate expanding production by 200,000 barrels per day each month from September to December of 2022. When the oil kingdom met the first part of the deal, Biden announced his trip. After first stopping by Israel, the president headed to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on July 15 to meet Prince Mohammed in person. The two fist-bumped for the cameras and talked behind closed doors, leading U.S. diplomats to believe that the relationship was on the mend.
By August, it became clear that this was not the case. Instead of the expected 200,000 barrel per day bump, OPEC only announced a production increase of 100,000 barrels. In September, U.S. officials began hearing rumors that Saudi leaders might push OPEC to actually cut production for October. Despite Prince Mohammed’s assurance that no such cut was coming, on October 5, OPEC announced a decrease of two million barrels per day. Now it looks like the U.S. and the Saudi kingdom are back to square one. The U.S. is now scrambling to deal with the effects on inflation and prices at the pump. (NYT, $)
Some Good News
- For Disabled Workers, a Tight Labor Market Opens New Doors (NYT, $)
- Do You Talk to Your Cat Like a Baby? (Pssst. It Knows You Do) (CNET)
Just Compromise On Your Immutable Characteristics
- In an appearance on a U.K. radio station Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly (a Conservative) declared that LGBT fans attending the World Cup in Qatar should show “a little bit of flex and compromise” for the host country’s laws. Same-sex activity is illegal in Qatar and is sometimes punishable by death.
- He continued, saying that fans from England and Wales should be “respectful of the host nation.” Soon after the remarks, the prime minister’s spokesman declared that LGBT fans should not have to “compromise who they are” to have fun at the soccer matches. The Labour Party called Cleverly’s comments “shockingly tone-deaf.”
- In another interview with Sky News, the Foreign Secretary doubled down on his statement, saying that “These are Muslim countries, they have very different cultural starting point for us. I think it’s important when you’re a visitor to a country that you respect the culture of your host nation.” (BBC)
That Good German Ganja
- On Wednesday, Germany announced plans to legalize recreational cannabis, making it one of the first European countries to do so. Currently, medical cannabis use is legal in many European states and some countries have even decriminalized the drug, stopping just short of full recreational legalization. Legalization would allow buying and possession of between 20 to 30 grams (around 1 oz for our American users) of recreational cannabis for personal use.
- According to a survey conducted last year, legalizing weed could increase Germany’s annual tax revenues and cost savings by about 4.7 billion euros while also creating 27,000 new jobs nationwide. The government stated that 4 million people in Germany consumed cannabis last year alone, many of whom were between the ages of 18 and 24.
- Responses to the move have been varied. Bavaria’s health minister warned against making Germany a drug tourism destination, while other lawmakers have lauded the move as a good way to regulate the cannabis market. “Too-restrictive conditions for the legal market only promote the black market for particularly strong cannabis,” said legislator Kirsten Kappert-Gonther on Wednesday. (Reuters)
Additional World News
- Putin Repeats Unsubstantiated ‘Dirty Bomb’ Claim, Adding to Concerns Over Escalation (NYT, $)
- Rishi Sunak defends return of Suella Braverman to Home Office (BBC)
- Suspected Russian spy arrested in Norway (NBC)
- Iran protests: Clashes after crowds gather at Mahsa Amini’s grave (BBC)
- At least 26 injured in magnitude 6.4 earthquake in Philippines (Al Jazeera)
- South Africa to let Russian billionaire’s superyacht dock (ABC)
- UK tax and spending plan pushed back by two weeks, says Hunt (BBC)
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor Frankl
Actually Getting Out The Vote This Time
- Georgia’s secretary of state’s office announced that over 1 million Georgians have voted early, a significant increase from the last midterm election in 2018 and nearly on track to match the 2020 presidential election. A majority of voters have dropped off their ballots in person, and mail-in-ballot requests have fallen significantly from past election cycles.
- The Washington Post found that the lift has been seen across the state, but that it’s more notable among women, Black people, and voters over 50 years old. The increases have been largest in the Atlanta region, and in counties in the southwest and along the southeast coast, early vote counts are far ahead of 2018 levels.
- Early voting is underway in Virginia, Texas, North Carolina, and more, but Georgia releases the most data of the states. Virginia is ahead of 2018 numbers, but North Carolina and Texas are slightly behind. It’s possible that people of color are voting early due to efforts at disenfranchisement, while those on the right may be voting in person in the wake of Trump’s election fraud claims. (WaPo, $)
County Courtroom Chaos
- A Waukesha County jury on Wednesday found Darrell Brooks Jr. guilty on all 76 charges against him for driving his SUV through a Christmas parade last year. The conclusion comes after weeks of erratic courtroom behavior from Brooks, who decided to pull his initial not guilty by reason of insanity plea, fire his public defender, and represent himself. He tried to argue that a manufacturer’s defect was to blame, but was unsuccessful. Brooks faces six counts of first-degree intentional homicide, which hold mandatory life sentences.
- The trial began early in October. On Monday, he was removed from the courtroom after he got into an argument with the judge. Earlier in the trial, the judge had to call 10 recesses before ultimately forcing Brooks to watch the proceedings on video in another room, and at another point, Brooks was removed from the courtroom after he interrupted the judge repeatedly. He then took off his shirt, sat on the defense table with his back to the camera, and stuck a sign that read “objection” down his pants. (NBC)
Additional USA News
- Authorities ‘actively investigating’ after woman claims her late father was a prolific serial killer (CNN)
- L.A.P.D. Opens Criminal Inquiry Into Recording That Captured Racist Remarks (NYT, $)
- Judge rules DeSantis administration must turn over records relating to migrant flights (CNN)
- Alito: Leaked draft opinion endangered lives of justices (Politico)
- U.S. and allies warn of ‘unparalleled’ response if North Korea holds nuclear test (NBC)
- Democrats scramble to avert shock Senate loss in Washington state (Politico)
- U.S. blasts verdict against Hong Kong democracy advocate Jimmy Lai (Reuters)
It’s Back, But It’s Going Away, But It’ll Be Back Again
- By “it,” we’re talking about the McRib, and the title basically sums it up. Earlier this week, McDonald’s announced that everyone’s favorite (is this actually anyone’s favorite?) limited-time sandwich is coming back to the golden arches on October 31.
- “This could be your last chance to taste it,” read the announcement of the sandwich’s triumphant return. McDonald’s confirmed that this would be the last time customers would be able to enjoy the rib-shaped pork patty for a while. Accompanying the sandwich’s “farewell tour” is a “nostalgic McRib merch line,” which will be available in early November.
- “Like any true farewell tour, we’re hoping this isn’t a ‘goodbye’ but a ‘see you later.’ Because as our McRib stans have experienced time and time again: you never know when — or if — the McRib is coming back,” said McDonald’s. The McRib is a staple seasonal promotion like Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte and the McDonald’s Shamrock Shake, both of which tap into seasonal nostalgia and FOMO (fear of missing out). We’re sure the sandwich will be back soon, so no worries – unless you don’t think you’ll survive for about another year. (CNN)
- World ‘nowhere near’ hitting Paris climate targets, U.N. warns (NBC)
- Python swallows woman at plantation in Indonesia (Guardian)
- Webb telescope shares unique peek inside the early universe (CNN)
- International Space Station had to move to dodge space junk (NPR)
- Global health at mercy of fossil fuel addiction, warn scientists (Guardian)
- New NASA instrument detects methane ‘super-emitters’ from space (Al Jazeera)
- Florida teen captures 28 Burmese pythons, gets top prize (ABC)
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