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Syria: Battle for Daria rages as Syrian Army pushes forward1:25

Syrian Army troops were seen fighting against militants in Daria, Saturday, as government forces continued to push forward against the Islamic State and other militant groups near Damascus. The Syrian Army reported retaking more than 40 blocks from militants in Daria in the latest assault. According to General Ali Abdullah Ayyoub, the head of the Syrian General Staff, the Syrian Army’s advance has been made possible due to Russian Air Force jets managing to destroy various important targets controlled by militant groups in the area. Russia began conducting airstrikes against IS positions in Syria on September 30. Earlier on Saturday, Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Major General Igor Konashenkov confirmed that the Russian Air Force had stepped up its air campaign against ISIS. According to French government sources, Cairo will pay around $1 billion (?950 million) for the vessels, using financing from Saudi Arabia. The French Defense Ministry announced last month that the Mistrals would be delivered to Egypt around March 2016. The contract also provides four months of training in France for around 400 Egyptian sailors. Russia ordered the construction of the two ‘Mistral’ class helicopter carriers from France back in 2011. The ships were meant to be delivered in 2014, but the process was delayed as a result of the European Union imposed sanctions against Russia. Moscow was paid ?950 million ($1 billion) by Paris in compensation money. Footage courtesy of Egypt State TelevisionCam Inman: Jarryd Hayne handled release ‘really well’1:17

Violent clashes continued in Bethlehem as Palestinian protesters battled with Israeli security forces, on Saturday. Dozens of Palestinians were injured during the clashes, among many erupting across the Occupied Palestinian Territories as protests have escalated in the West Bank and Gaza due to rising political tensions over the Al Aqsa mosque, as well as the continued construction of illegal Israeli settlements. At least 42 Palestinians and seven Israelis have died in the latest round of violence.

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About this blog
Four longtime Journal News reporters share their insights about fiction, non-fiction, poetry and short stories by bringing books discussions online and exploring the local literati scene. Lots of people say they are booklovers, but Elizabeth Ganga, Barbara Livingston Nackman, Ken Valenti and Randi Weiner really are!

What they blog about
Book Notes: An ongoing chat about events, authors and news items about books, libraries, authors and everything literary from metro news reporters Barbara Livingston Nackman and Elizabeth Ganga. Barbara has been a reporter for The Journal News since 1997. She covers municipalities in Putnam County and keeps track of book events everywhere - and began her career writing about books and libraries. Lisa has been a reporter for The Journal News since 2000, after working at several newspapers in Connecticut. She has covered cities and town in sourthern and northern Westchester and is a big Jane Austen fan (though she reads everything from history to mysteries). Both reporters work out of the Mount Kisco bureau and frequently trade tidbits about books and events.

Novel Pursuits: Ken Valenti sheds light on his ongoing experiences as a novelist and poet.  He talks about his trials and tribulations including musings about projects, readings, successes, and even insights into what he is reading and finds interesting. A reporter for The Journal News and its forerunners for more than 20 years, Ken now covers transportation. His first love has been writing fiction, but he's only begun pursuing that dream in recent years. He has been a reader and fiction editor for the journal Inkwell, and has published one short story in another fiction journal.

Seasoned Works: Randi Weiner dishes up an ongoing discussion about all books - old and savory. Though Randi keeps readers abreast of school issues most days and reads lots of children's and young adult books, current science fiction and murder mysteries, her overriding passion is older works generally written before 1940. She chats online about favorites and newly discovered treasures as well as book exhibits and talks related to the dusty, the musty and the marvelous illustrators of the past. She has been a reporter since 1976, with Gannett since 1989. And for the record, she says she has a personal library of more than 4,000 volumes.

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