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In brief: U.S. diplomats arrive in Israel

Thu., Sept. 15, 2011

Jerusalem – A high-level U.S. team kicked off a new round of shuttle diplomacy on Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to contain the diplomatic fallout from the Palestinian statehood push, but the odds of a breakthrough appeared slim as the Palestinians pledged to go ahead with mass rallies to draw world attention to their bid.

U.S. diplomats Dennis Ross and David Hale arrived late Wednesday for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders. They were to travel to the West Bank today to talk with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Washington is trying to persuade the Palestinians to drop their plan to ask the United Nations to recognize an independent Palestinian state, but so far without success.

Yemen regime working with U.S.

Washington – The embattled regime in Yemen has boosted its cooperation with U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism efforts in recent months as it tries to push back al-Qaida militants and other insurgents who have captured towns and other territory in the impoverished nation, according to U.S. defense officials.

The U.S. officials said al-Qaida’s Yemen affiliate, known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, may have “overreached” by deploying its fighters to overwhelm local security forces in the southern province of Abyan.

Better-equipped Yemeni troops have mounted operations in the area and killed a number of militants.

Australia adds new gender status

Canberra, Australia – Australian passports will now have three gender options – male, female and indeterminate – under new guidelines to remove discrimination against transgender people, the government said today.

Transgender people and those of ambiguous sex will now be able to list their gender on passports with an ‘X’ if their choice is supported by a doctor’s statement.

Previously, gender was a choice of only male or female, and people were not allowed to change their gender on their passport without having had a sex-change operation.

Sen. Louise Pratt, whose partner was born female and is now identified as a man, said the reform was a major improvement for travelers who face questioning and detention at airports because their appearance does not match their gender status.


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