TDB Top 5 International Stories: Thursday 20th July 2017

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5:  The US Military Is Renting an Apartment in Trump Tower for $130,000 a Month
4:  Palestinians clash with Israeli forces outside al-Aqsa
3:   Gaza on Verge of Collapse as Israel Sends 2.2M People “Back to Middle Ages” in Electricity Crisis
2:   U.S. Lawmakers Seek to Criminally Outlaw Support for Boycott Campaign Against Israel
1:   Plastic pollution risks ‘near permanent contamination of natural environment’

5:  The US Military Is Renting an Apartment in Trump Tower for $130,000 a Month

Although Trump hasn’t spent a night there since he took office.

The branch of the military supporting the White House is dropping roughly $130,000 a month to rent an apartment in Trump Tower—a rate more than twice as high as the most expensive listing in the building, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The Department of Defense indicated it hoped to lease a space in the president’s namesake New York skyscraper back in February. It then set up an HQ for the White House Military Office (WHMO) at the Midtown high-rise in April. Aside from protecting Trump and his family, the WHMO also makes sure the “nuclear football”—a briefcase containing all the president needs to launch a nuclear attack—is constantly on-hand.

Vice News

4:  Palestinians clash with Israeli forces outside al-Aqsa

Palestinian worshippers have clashed with Israeli security forces outside a gate to the Old City in Jerusalem, as tensions continue over the new security measures implemented at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Israeli security forces were seen dragging a worshipper, while another police officer appeared to punch a Palestinian man during the confrontation on Wednesday.

Stun grenades were fired as police forces tried to disperse the crowd, while several people were seen throwing objects in response, said Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from the scene of the clashes in East Jerusalem.

Aljazeera

3:   Gaza on Verge of Collapse as Israel Sends 2.2M People “Back to Middle Ages” in Electricity Crisis

Israeli-imposed restrictions have limited electricity in Gaza to barely four hours a day, creating a humanitarian catastrophe for its 2 million residents. In 2012, the World Health Organization warned that Gaza would be uninhabitable by 2020. The U.N. now says the area has already become unlivable, with living conditions in Gaza deteriorating faster than expected. We go directly to Gaza to speak with Raji Sourani, an award-winning human rights lawyer and director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza. We also speak with Tareq Baconi, author of the forthcoming book, “Hamas Contained: The Rise & Pacification of Palestinian Resistance.” He is a policy fellow at Al-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network.
Democracy Now

2:   U.S. Lawmakers Seek to Criminally Outlaw Support for Boycott Campaign Against Israel

THE CRIMINALIZATION OF political speech and activism against Israel has become one of the gravest threats to free speech in the west. In France, activists have been arrested and prosecuted for wearing t-shirts advocating a boycott of Israel. The U.K. has enacted a series of measures designed to outlaw such activism. In the U.S., governors compete with one another over who can implement the most extreme regulations to bar businesses from participating in any boycotts aimed even at Israeli settlements, which the world regards as illegal. On U.S. campuses, punishment of pro-Palestinian students for expressing criticisms of Israel is so commonplace that the Center for Constitutional Rights refers to it as “the Palestine Exception” to free speech.

But now, a group of 43 Senators – 29 Republicans and 14 Democrats – want to implement a law that would make it a felony for Americans to support the international boycott against Israel, which was launched in protest of that country’s decades-old occupation of Palestine. The two primary sponsors of the bill are Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio. Perhaps the most shocking aspect is the punishment: anyone guilty of violating its prohibitions will face a minimum civil penalty of $250,000, and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.

The Intercept

1:   Plastic pollution risks ‘near permanent contamination of natural environment’

Humans have produced 8.3bn tonnes of plastic since the 1950s with the majority ending up in landfill or polluting the world’s continents and oceans, according to a new report.

The first global analysis of all mass–produced plastics has found that it has outstripped most other man-made materials, threatening a “near permanent contamination of the natural environment”.

The study by US academics found that the total amount of plastic produced – equivalent in weight to one billion elephants – will last for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. And with production expected to accelerate over the coming decades, campaigners warn it is creating an environmental crisis comparable to climate change.

“We are increasingly smothering ecosystems in plastic and I am very worried that there may be all kinds of unintended, adverse consequences that we will only find out about once it is too late,” said Roland Geyer, from the University of California and Santa Barbara, who led the project.

The Guardian 

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