Arab countries sever ties with Qatar

Accusing Qatar of supporting terrorist groups and backing Iran, Saudi Arabia was one of many Arab powers to sever diplomatic ties Monday with Qatar, moving to isolate the energy-rich nation that is home to a major U.S. military base, the Associated Press reports.

Qatar was plunged into chaos after the decision ignited the biggest diplomatic crisis in the Gulf since the 1991 war against Iraq, the AP reports.

The U.S. military base in Qatar is home to about 10,000 U.S. troops and the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The country criticized the move as a “violation of its sovereignty,” the AP reports.

Qatar has long denied any support for militant groups, describing the decision as stemming from “absolute fabrications.”

Saudi Arabia closed its land border with Qatar, through which the tiny Gulf nation and international travel hub imports most of its food, sparking a run on supermarkets, the AP reports.

Following the decision, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates began withdrawing their diplomatic staff from Qatar.

Regional airlines have also announced they would suspend service to its capital, Doha. Yemen and the Maldives have also cut ties with Qatar.

U.S. President Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia just two weeks before the move, where he vowed to improve ties with both Riyadh and Cairo in an effort to combat terrorism and contain Iran.

Countering suspicions that the president’s visit was related to the move, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the move was rooted in longstanding differences and urged the parties to resolve them, the AP reports.

Cosby goes on trial

Bill Cosby began his trial Monday on charges of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman more than a decade ago.

Once known as a TV star and America’s Dad, Cosby was accused by prosecutors as having drugged and assaulted more than one woman, the Associated Press reports.

The opening witness on the side of the prosecution, a woman who accused Cosby of abusing her in the mid-1990s at a hotel in Los Angeles, was not the woman who filed the charges Cosby is facing in the current trial.

The charges Cosby faces are for the 2004 assault of Andrea Constand, a former employee of Temple University’s basketball program.

Cosby could be served with a 10-year prison sentence if convicted.

The AP reports that Kristen Feden, prosecutor for the case, referred in her opening statement to an admission Cosby had previously given under oath, in which he said he gave Constand pills and touched her genitals as she lay on his couch.

“She couldn’t say no,” Feden said. “She can’t move, she can’t talk. Completely paralyzed. Frozen. Lifeless.”

Claiming that Cosby and Constand had a romantic relationship, defense attorney Brian McMonagle countered by attacking what he said were “inconsistencies in Constand’s story,” the AP reports.

McMonagle said Cosby gave Constand the cold and allergy medicine Benadryl when she complained of not being able to sleep and claimed that she had changed the date of the alleged incident from March to January, claiming she and Cosby never stopped talking after the incident.

Phone records show the two talked 72 times after mid-January — with 53 of those calls initiated by Constand, the AP reports.

Constand, 44, of the Toronto area, will tell her story to the public for the first time when she takes the stand later this week.

Compiled by Celia Raney