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Scores dead in Gaza fence protest as U.S. moves embassy to Jerusalem

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The Israeli military said the demonstration involved 40,000 people “taking part in violent riots” at 13 locations along the boundary. Israel built the 40-mile fence along Gaza’s land border for security reasons in 1994.

The Gaza protest started on March 30. Monday’s march was meant to express anger over the inauguration of the U.S. Embassy, while Tuesday is “Nakba,” or Catastrophe Day, so named for the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled or were expelled after Israel was founded in 1948.

Moving the embassy from Tel Aviv breaks with decades of Washington policy and distances the United States from its allies. Palestinians also consider Jerusalem their capital.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, the only majority Muslim member of NATO, declared three days of mourning on Monday and withdrew his ambassadors in Washington and Tel Aviv for consultations.

“With this latest step, the United States has chosen to be a part of the problem and not the solution and has ceased to be and has lost its role as mediator in the Middle East peace process,” Erdogan said during a visit to London, where he met with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Eric Pahon, a spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department, called Turkey “an indispensable partner in operations to defeat ISIS,” saying the two countries were continuing to work “on a variety of mutual security concerns.”

Image: Gaza clashes
Palestinians run for cover from tear gas east of Jabalia in the Gaza Strip on Monday.Mohammed Abed / AFP – Getty Images

The protest movement started not with a bullet or a bomb, but with a hashtag.

“What if 200,000 demonstrators came out in a peaceful march and broke into the barbed wire east of Gaza?” Ahmed Abu Artema, 32, a Palestinian journalist, wrote on Facebook on Jan. 7.

“What can a heavily armed occupation do to those peaceful human waves?” he asked.

Artema ended the post with #GreatMarchofReturn — a slogan that went viral and then, two months later, blossomed into reality.

More than 100 people have died and about 11,500 others have been wounded since the protests began on March 30, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. Several hundred of the injured were children, according to Save the Children.

Addressing the bloodshed on Twitter, Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu wrote in Hebrew:

“Every country has an obligation to defend its borders. The Hamas terrorist organisation declares it intends to destroy Israel and sends thousands to breach the border fence in order to achieve this goal. We will continue to act with determination to protect our sovereignty and citizens.”

Image: Clashes in Gaza
A Palestinian woman joins protests Monday over the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.Mohammed Salem / Reuters

Marchers say they have continued to turn out for the weekly demonstrations because they have so little to lose. More than a decade under Israeli and then Egyptian blockades has left the enclave’s 2 million people, particularly its youth, largely jobless and hopeless.

Peace seems increasingly far off, and, for most Gazans, gaining permission to leave is impossible without solid education or job opportunities abroad.

“The youth really struggle with a lack of prospects and hope of a good life,” said a recent graduate, Anass Jnena, 23. “I have seen friends really weep in silence because they could not get to travel out.”

The movement spawned from Artema’s Facebook post has defied much of the conventional wisdom about Gazan resistance to the Israeli blockade. It has remained relatively peaceful and largely free from domination by powerful militant factions, while including female activists.

“Everybody agrees that this is a kind of public struggle,” Artema told NBC News as he strolled through clumps of men, women and children sitting on the ground and in tents near the fence on Friday during the seventh weekly demonstration since the protests began. “We are against any faction or party taking this march into their agenda.”

The movement’s explicit demand is what Palestinians refer to as their “right of return” — the demand that Israel allow the return of millions of Palestinians whose families left or were removed from Israel at its founding in 1948. Refugees and their descendants make up more than two-thirds of Gaza’s population.

Decades of Israeli leaders have argued that allowing millions of Palestinians to return would diminish Israel’s foundational character. But it was the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem that became the major motivating factor, according to organizers and participants.



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Ministers fear 'anti-British' Joe Biden could wreck UK/US trade deal

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SENIOR ministers in the Cabinet are extremely worried about Joe Biden winning the Presidential election because they believe he is “anti-British”.

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Kentucky millennials with felony records head to the polls for first time

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With the election just days away, Mirage Davis is both excited and anxious. For the first time, she will be casting a ballot, and she doesn’t take her right to vote lightly.

Davis, 29, who lives in eastern Kentucky, is enthusiastic about Democratic Senate candidate Amy McGrath, but is still undecided in the presidential election. Seeing a woman on the ticket compelled her to vote inthis year’s election, Davis said, adding that she wants to see more women run for office in the state.

But Davis, a registered independent, didn’t always have a say in politics; convicted of possessing stolen property and drugs, she and tens of thousands others with felony records had been barred from voting until last year, when Kentucky’s governor gave them back that most democratic of rights.

“I’ve gone my whole life feeling like I’m invisible — and I’m not invisible,” said Davis, who is making a point to vote in person. “And it’s empowering being a woman, a felon, and having the right to vote.”

Nearly 5.2 million Americans are unable to cast a ballot in this year’s election because of felony convictions, according to the Sentencing Project, a group that advocates for criminal justice changes. Many states automatically restore voting rights to those who complete their prison sentences, but Kentucky, along with Iowa, Florida, and Virginia, until recently had permanently disenfranchised the majority of felons.

Just after taking office last December, Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, ended the state’s lifetime voting ban for more than 170,000 Kentuckians who have completed their sentences for nonviolent crimes.

“I believe in the power of forgiveness, and those who have committed nonviolent, nonsexual crimes and have served their time deserve to be full participants in society,” Beshear told NBC News in a recent interview. “Part of the dignity in being an American is the ability to make your voice heard through your vote.”

Voters cast their ballots in Louisville, Ky., on Oct. 13, 2020.Jon Cherry / Getty Images
Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear ended the state’s lifetime voting ban for more than 170,000 Kentuckians who have completed their sentences for nonviolent crimes.Bryan Woolston / AP file

Unlike some other states, those who are re-enfranchised in Kentucky are not required to pay fines or restitution before regaining their right to vote — an issue that has become a major political conflict in the key election battleground of Florida. Before Beshear’s executive order, about 9 percent of Kentuckians were ineligible because of their felony records, making the state’s disenfranchisement rate the third highest in the country, according to the Sentencing Project.

Now, as a result of the order, Kentucky millennials with a felony record, like Davis, will be able to vote for the first time this year. While some have been left out of the political process for much of their adult lives, many say they are now motivated to cast their ballots for a variety of reasons — and they hope to see more people their age vote given the low turnout among the state’s millennials in 2016.

“Women for centuries have been working really hard to make a change, and it would be a shame for us to stop that progression by not casting a vote,” Davis said. “I want women like me to know that they have a voice in this election.”

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Brexit deadline: Boris Johnson has just HOURS to respond to huge EU legal threat

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BORIS JOHNSON has just hours to respond to a legal threat from the European Union over the implementation of the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill, with the consequences potentially shaping the outcome of post-Brexit trade talks.

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