Today’s Top World News from The Washington Post

Today’s Top World News from The Washington Post

--In Egypt’s Sinai, insurgency taking root- More than three weeks after the military coup that ousted this nation’s first democratically elected — and Islamist — president from power, the roots of a violent insurgency are burrowing fast into the sands of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. The rapid thud of machine-gun fire and the explosions of rocket-propelled grenades have begun to shatter the silence of the desert days and nights here with startling regularity, as militants assault the military and police forces stationed across this volatile territory that borders Israel and the Gaza Strip, reports Abigail Hauslohner.


-Peace talks set to begin after Israel agrees to free 104 Palestinian prisoners- The first substantive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in years will begin Monday evening in Washington, the Obama administration announced, after Israeli leaders agreed Sunday to release 104 Palestinian prisoners. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the preliminary talks will be led by Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. The talks, which will continue Tuesday, are expected to address the framework for full negotiations to follow — the talks about talks that had preceded past attempts at a deal, reports William Booth.


-Malians vote in crucial elections- Thousands of Malians went to the polls Sunday in the country’s first presidential election since a military coup last year, a vote that could have a deep impact on the future of democracy and militancy in, as well as American aid to, this strategic West African nation. Once considered one of the continent’s most politically stable nations, Mali crumbled early last year when a separatist Tuareg rebellion helped trigger a military coup that destabilized the government. The rebels, joined by radical Islamists and fighters from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the terror network’s West and North African branch, swiftly overran northern Mali, an area the size of France. The Islamists subsequently pushed the Tuareg rebels out and seized control of major northern cities, imposing strict sharia laws marked by public amputations and stonings, reports Sudarsan Raghavan.



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-The Fix: Hillary Clinton 2016 might look a lot like Barack Obama 2012- President Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton are having lunch today at the White House. It’s easy to overanalyze What It All Means — given the Obama and Clinton are not only the two most famous politicians in the country but also have, well, a past.  Once rivals for the top office, they became allies of a sort with Clinton serving as Obama’s top diplomat. But, Clinton isn’t announcing for president anytime soon (although we do believe she will run) and Obama isn’t endorsing anyone for president anytime soon (and probably won’t ever), report Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan.


-With NSA revelations, Sen. Ron Wyden’s vague warnings about privacy finally become clear- It was one of the strangest personal crusades on Capitol Hill: For years, Sen. Ron Wyden said he was worried that intelligence agencies were violating Americans’ privacy. But he couldn’t say how. That was a secret. Wyden’s outrage, he said, stemmed from top-secret information he had learned as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. But Wyden (D-Ore.) was bound by secrecy rules, unable to reveal what he knew, reports David A. Fahrenthold.


-‘The Butler’ movie: Forest, Oprah and me- It’s after midnight on a side street here in this Southern city. There’s moonlight and klieg lights touching the front porch where Oprah Winfrey and Terrence Howard are sitting. They’re chatting a late night away, dressed coolly inside of a movie scene. Terrence sports a short-sleeve knit shirt like hipster Negro men used to wear in urban neighborhoods in the 1960s. They’re filming “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” a major motion picture adapted from a story I wrote for The Washington Post in 2008. I’m standing across the street — blocked off by police cars — watching with crew members and actors as the scene unfolds, writes Wil Haygood.


-Obama’s Keystone comments give opponents reason for hope- For those trying to decipher which way President Obama is leaning on whether to grant the Keystone XL pipeline a presidential permit, the comments he made in an interview with The New York Times published this weekend suggest he accepts much of the criticism opponents have lodged against the project. In the interview, which was posted online Saturday night, Obama questioned the project’s economic benefits, saying “there is no evidence” to the Republican argument that “this would be a big jobs generator,” reports Juliet Eilperin.


-Amazon to hire 5,000 for warehouse jobs- Amazon on Monday is set to announce plans to hire 5,000 employees in its U.S. distribution warehouses, part of an ambitious growth strategy that has come at a financial cost to the company in the near term. The announcement comes ahead of President Obama’s visit Tuesday to Amazon’s Chattanooga, Tenn., fulfillment center, where he is expected to outline policy proposals to spur the creation of middle-class jobs, reports Cecilia Kang.


-Small business contracting numbers inflated by errors and exclusions, data show-  The federal government is required by law to try to direct nearly a quarter of all contracting dollars to small businesses, and every year since 2005, officials have reported missing the goal by the slimmest of margins. Then again, it depends on who is counting. A number of contractors and advocacy groups say the government has repeatedly inflated the share of contracting dollars awarded annually to small firms, masking serious problems in the procurement process that prevent small businesses from securing more government work, reports J.D. Harrison.


-Capital Business: The Download: Social Tables attracts money from investors- District-based Social Tables, an upstart that makes software for event organizers, has attracted money from local investors, including $1 million in fresh capital and $600,000 in converted debt, executives plan to announce this week. The round was led by Lansdowne-based Militello Capital. Existing investors, including 500 Startups and Fortify Ventures, also contributed. The young firm has expanded to 18 employees from four in the past year, adding more developers as well as a team of sales and marketing people. The software has also evolved significantly in that time, reports Steven Overly.


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