Top News Stories For Today – Dec 7, 2017
Jerusalem decision spoils Mideast peace
President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — and eventually move the US embassy there — could temporarily derail the Mideast peace process, two White House officials told CNN. Others think it will destroy any chance for peace.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the move will only aid extremist organizations that want to wage so-called holy wars. The Palestine Liberation Organization called it the “death knell” of the peace process. Regional allies like Saudi Arabia and Jordan expressed disappointment. Trump’s decision isn’t playing well in Europe or Asia, either, with officials in France, Germany, China, Indonesia and other countries all expressing their displeasure. Palestinians closed schools and shops and called for protests in West Bank towns Thursday, in a show of anger at Trump’s Decision. US Embassies across much of the Middle East and parts of Africa warned American citizens of possible protests following Trump’s move. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday accused Trump of throwing the Middle East into a “ring of fire”. VOA
Australia approves same-sex marriage
On Thursday, Australia’s House of Representatives approved a measure to redefine marriage as “a union of two people,” not just a man and a woman, paving the way for the first same-sex marriage in February. The Senate had passed the measure last week, 43-12. The lower house of Parliament rejected all amendments, including ones on freedom of speech and religion, meaning the bill will become law as is after royal assent and some other formalities.
Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull’s government had introduced the bill after 62 percent of Australians voted in favor of same-sex marriage in an eight-week national poll; turnout was 79.5 percent of eligible voters, or 12.7 million people. BBC News, The Associated Press
US House Condemns Myanmar
The US House of Representatives condemned the “ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya” on Wednesday, passing a resolution by a two-thirds voice vote “calling for an end to the attacks” against the Muslim minority in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
The resolution is the first step in congressional action that could eventually include a stand-alone sanctions bill aimed at putting financial pressure on the Burmese military and providing US economic assistance to Myanmar for the resettlement of Rohingya refugees. The resolution was co-sponsored by Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley of New York and Republican Representative Steve Chabot of Ohio. VOA
Wildfires still raging in Southern California
Wildfires have burned close to 120,000 acres across Southern California, spurred by unusually strong Santa Ana winds and dry terrain. The Thomas Fire, burning in Ventura County just northwest of Los Angeles, is the largest blaze, spanning more than 90,000 acres and prompting the mandatory evacuation of 50,000 residents; it has crossed the 101 Freeway and is only five percent contained.
A separate fire sprung up early Wednesday morning in Bel-Air, a wealthy area of Los Angeles. As of Wednesday evening, the 475-acre blaze has destroyed four to six houses and damaged 11 structures; it is just five percent contained. Los Angeles Times, CNN
Democrats call on Al Franken to resign
More than two dozen Democratic senators on Wednesday called on their colleague, Sen. Al Franken, to resign, following a seventh and eighth woman coming forward Wednesday with sexual harassment allegations. Just hours before the first senators came forward to renounce Franken, Politico published a story detailing a former Democratic congressional aide’s claim that Franken tried to kiss her without her consent during a taping of his radio show in 2006, an allegation Franken said was “categorically not true.”
Later in the afternoon, Tina Dupuy wrote for The Atlantic that Franken groped her in 2009, making her the eighth woman to bring accusations of misconduct. Franken’s office said the senator will make a statement Thursday. Politico, CNN, The Week
More than 200 nations to stop ocean plastic waste
More than 200 countries signed a UN resolution in Nairobi on Wednesday to eliminate plastic pollution in the sea, a move some delegates hoped would pave the way to a legally binding treaty. If current pollution rates continue, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050, said the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) which organized the meeting.
Eight million tons of plastic – bottles, packaging and other waste – are dumped into the ocean every year, killing marine life and entering the human food chain, UNEP added. Norway, which initiated the resolution, has seen the evidence of the damage the pollution causes first hand. China is the biggest producer of plastic waste but has started making efforts to cut down. Chile, Oman, Sri Lanka and South Africa announced measures including plastic bag bans. VOA
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