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BVT News Roundup 30 January 2014.

(Photo: Splash News)

BVT News Roundup 14 January 2014.

(Photo of tennis player Frank Dancevic being tended to after fainting at the Australian Open by Aijaz Rahi / AP via The Guardian)

Evening News Wrap 16 December 2013.

(*Just kidding.  Photo illustration: The Atlantic)

Evening News Read 25 November 2013.

(via GeeksofDoom)

(Waaaaaay late) Weekend News Read 24 November 2013.

(This is not Captain James A. Kirk of the USS Zumwalt.  Sigh.)

Afternoon News Read 13 November 2013.

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Morning News Read 28 October 2013.

Morning News Read 2 October 2013.

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Morning News Read 23 August 2013.

Morning News Read 22 August 2013

AP: "An Israeli drone strike inside Egypt killed five suspected Islamic militants and destroyed a rocket launcher Friday, two senior Egyptian security officials said, marking a rare Israeli operation carried out in its Arab neighbor's territory. The strike, coming after a warning from Egypt caused Israel to briefly close an airport Thursday, potentially signals a significant new level of cooperation between the two former foes over security matters in the largely lawless Sinai Peninsula after a military coup ousted Egypt's president." »

WASHINGTON — Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will resume peace talks here on Monday night, the State Department said in a statement on Sunday afternoon. It will be the first time that the two have held direct talks since 2010.

Clearing the last obstacle to resuming peace talks, the Israeli cabinet voted Sunday to approve the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners, an unpopular move with many Israelis.

Secretary of State John Kerry then spoke with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to formally invite them to send their negotiating teams to Washington. “Both leaders have demonstrated a willingness to make difficult decisions that have been instrumental in getting to this point,” Mr. Kerry said in a statement. “We are grateful for their leadership.”

The goal of the negotiations will be to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel with agreed-upon borders and security arrangements.

Officials said that talks are initially expected to focus on procedural issues, like the location, schedule and format of negotiating sessions, before moving on to tackle the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Israeli side will be represented by Israel’s justice minister, Tzipi Livni, and Isaac Molho, Mr. Netanyahu’s special envoy. On the Palestinian side will be Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator, and Mohammed Shtayyeh, a close adviser to Mr. Abbas.

The Monday evening session will be a working dinner at the State Department, hosted by Mr. Kerry, who has made an intensive effort to revive the moribund talks. The Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams are to meet again on Tuesday before heading home.

The next round of talks would be held in the Middle East. Martin Indyk, the former United States ambassador to Israel, whom Mr. Kerry is expected to name on Monday to manage the talks for the United States, would attend that round.

The New York Times, "Israel and Palestinians Set to Resume Peace Talks, U.S. Announces"

Heeding calls from their rabbis, thousands of ultra-Orthodox teenaged girls and women flooded the Western Wall early Friday morning to prevent close access by a group of women who pray in garments traditionally used by men, while hundreds of black-hatted Orthodox men heckled the group from behind, whistling, catcalling and throwing water, candy and a few chairs at them.

Scores of uniformed police hands locked hands in cordons to protect the group of about 100 women from Women of the Wall, in a tense standoff that exemplified the broad battle in Israel over identity and religion in the public sphere, where holy sites and rites like marriage, divorce and conversion have for decades been controlled by the ultra-Orthodox minority, known here as Haredim.

The confrontation came after a court ruled last month that the women should be allowed to wear prayer shawls and sing out loud at the wall, challenging years of policy and practice that had required visitors to the wall to follow ultra-Orthodox custom. Recently, women in the group had been arrested as they prayed at the wall once a month, sparking outcry among Jews worldwide and prompting a government initiative to reexamine the regulations at the site.

“All this commotion because of a group of women who want to pray to God,” Lesley Sachs, director of Women of the Wall, said after the confrontation. “We hope that the government won’t succumb to any kinds of threats or bullying and they will let us continue praying. This is part of the social battle. They need to get used to us.”

The New York Times, "Three Ultra-Orthodox Men Are Arrested In Confrontation at Western Wall"

Israel’s reported airstrikes in Syria — and the threat of a retaliatory strike by the Syrian government — are likely to accelerate the decision-making of the Obama administration, which was already moving toward a sharp escalation of U.S. involvement in the two-year-old crisis.

Senior officials said the deployment of U.S. troops to Syria remains unlikely, but they have indicated that a decision will come within weeks on options ranging from the supply of weapons to the Syrian rebels to the use of U.S. aircraft and missiles to ground President Bashar al-Assad’s air power by destroying planes, runways and missile sites inside Syria.

Neither Israeli nor U.S. officials confirmed an attack Sunday morning that reportedly hit a weapons shipment in Syria — including sophisticated missiles and air defense equipment — about to be transferred to Lebanon-based Hezbollah.

But President Obama, in an interview broadcast just hours later Sunday, said Israel is justified in preventing the provision of weapons to Hezbollah.

“We coordinate very closely with the Israelis, recognizing that . . . they are very close to Syria, they’re very close to Lebanon,” Obama said in the interview, recorded Saturday with the Spanish-language Telemundo, after an earlier Israeli attack reported late Friday.

Throughout the Syrian crisis, the administration has repeatedly voiced the belief that Syria is already awash in weapons and that sending more will not tip the balance in favor of the rebels.

Now, in part because of growing confidence in the rebel Free Syrian Army, “the national security team and the diplomatic team around the president” favor increased involvement, and their views are gaining momentum despite the caution expressed by Obama’s political advisers, according to a senior Western official whose government has closely coordinated its Syria policy with Washington and who spoke before the reported Israeli strikes. The official discussed sensitive diplomatic assessments on the condition of anonymity.

The Washington Post, "Reported Israeli Airstrikes In Syria Could Accelerate U.S. Decision Process"