News in Brief: Pentagon Falsely Claimed Missile System Success and More ...

Tuesday, 18 May 2010 11:24 By Yana Kunichoff, t r u t h o u t | News in Brief | name.

A new report finds President Obama's antimissile defense system only has a success rate of 10 to 20 percent, reports The New York Times. The system was touted as "proved and effective" when it was introduced last year, but the study of the apparently successful test results by Theodore A. Postol and George N. Lewis found only one or two successful intercepts of missiles. The antimissile defense was part of the Pentagon's plans for reducing America's nuclear arsenal while defending the nation against potential missiles from Iran.

Meanwhile, Iran has made an apparent concession over its nuclear program, agreeing with Brazil and Turkey to send some of its uranium abroad in exchange for low-level nuclear fuel to run a medical reactor, reported Reuters. This step revives a fuel swap plan drafted by the UN to keep Iran's nuclear work in check. Iran, who has made clear they do not plan to suspend domestic enrichment, is facing possible UN sanctions.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the deal won't prompt a change in US policy, reported Democracy Now!.  "First and foremost, this proposal should be submitted directly to the IAEA to evaluate, fine print and all, so that the international community can take a look," said Gibbs. "But it does not change the steps that we are taking to hold Iran responsible for its obligations, including sanctions."

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A judge in Malawi has found a gay couple guilty of unnatural acts and gross indecency, reported the Guardian, setting off what critics fear may be an African precedent. The couple are facing up to 14 years in prison with hard labor after becoming the first gay couple in Malawi to commit to marriage publicly at a symbolic ceremony. Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, took a historic step in the Southern African state where homosexuality is illegal.

Gay sex remains outlawed in 37 countries in Africa and is widely vilified. Legislation was recently proposed in Uganda advocating punishments for gay couples that range from life imprisonment to the death penalty. According to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, 98 percent of people in Cameroon, Kenya and Zambia disapprove of homosexuality.

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Thailand's government has rejected an offer for peace talks by the red shirt protesters in Bangkok, reported the BBC. Following five days of increasingly violent confrontations that have left 37 people dead and scores injured, the red shirts had earlier accepted the offer of talks to be overseen by members of the Senate. But the government insisted the red shirts leave their camp in the center of the city, where they have been camping, to call for new elections the past two months, before any peace talks could begin.

Nattawut Saikua, leader of the red shirts, told journalists that the protesters backed the proposal because "if we allow things to go on like this, we don't know how many more lives will be lost."

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Voters in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Kentucky wait to hear the outcome of their Senate primary contests Tuesday, reported The New York Times, which may give new clues on the future Congressional landscape. In Pennsylvania, Sen. Arlen Specter (D), the former Republican, is facing a challenge from Rep. Joe Sestak. The winner will face former Republican member of Congress Pat Tooney in the fall. In Arkansas, Sen. Blanch Lincoln (D) has endured a fierce storm, with unions investing nearly $7 million against her third term. Polls so far show her to be withstanding attacks by her opponent, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. Meanwhile, in Kentucky, an eye surgeon has become one of the most visible symbols of the Tea Party. Rand Paul is running in the Republican Senate primary against Trey Grayson, the Kentucky secretary of state.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, a Democrat now running for the United State Senate, was outed Monday for lying about serving time in Vietnam. According to The New York Times, Blumenthal spoke of "the days that I served in Vietnam" during a ceremony honoring veterans and senior citizens who sent presents to soldiers overseas. In reality, he obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970, according to records. In 1970, with his last deferment in jeopardy, Blumenthal landed a spot in the Marine Reserves unit in Washington.

Indiana Republican Rep. Mark Souder announced he would be resigning from Congress, reported AP, following his affair with a female staffer. I have "sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff," Souder said in a statement. He had recently won a bruising Republican primary on May 4 to secure his nomination for his ninth term in Congress. Souder has said he will not be a candidate in the fall election.

Yana Kunichoff

Yana Kunichoff is an assistant editor at Truthout.

Last modified on Tuesday, 18 May 2010 12:15