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Good Reads: the Anwar al-Awlaki effect, Amanda Knox verdict, and Israel's offer

Foreign Policy magazine questions how much safer the world is without Al Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki; the press awaits the Amanda Knox verdict; and Israel offers peace talks, again.

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American papers seem to be less interested than British ones. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Knox’s hometown newspaper, has a reporter, Andrea Vogt, at the courtroom, but the Washington Post and The New York Times have largely contented themselves to cover the trial through wires services like the Associated Press.

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But behind the hoopla and the sexed-up headlines, there are serious issues at stake, as Nick Squires reminds us in his piece last Friday for the Monitor. Did the Italian prosecutor cut corners in this case in his bid to guarantee a conviction? Was it possible for Knox to receive a fair trial, when so much evidence was leaked to the news media before the trial even began?

Movement on the Israel-Palestinian issue

Something to watch this week is the one tiny glimmer of hope from the Middle East, as Israel announces it is ready to return to peace talks with the Palestinian Authority. There is a problem, though. The Israelis refuse to halt construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which just happens to be the same territory where the Palestinian Authority was planning to build its future state.

Isabel Kershner does a fine job of parsing out the issues in The New York Times here, and she notes that part of the problem is that the Israelis and Palestinians have very different ideas about what they will be discussing. The Voice of America news service quotes US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as saying that Israel risks eroding its own security if it fails to reach out to its neighbors. Mr. Panetta is traveling to Israel this week to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

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