News in Brief: Administration Backs Compromise on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and More ...

Tuesday, 25 May 2010 11:59 By Yana Kunichoff, t r u t h o u t | News in Brief | name.

The discriminatory "don't ask, don't tell" policy governing the presence of gays and lesbians in the military could be repealed, as President Obama reached a deal with key Democrats on Monday reported The Los Angeles Times. If Congress signs on to the law, and the president and top military leaders assure that the repeal wouldn't threaten the "readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention" of the military, openly gay people would be allowed to serve in the military. Voting before the November elections will give the proposal its best chance to be passed.

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Global stock markets took a heavy fall on Tuesday following the sell-off of global equities, reported Reuters and the BBC, as fears continue over eurozone debt problems and uncertainty in other parts of the globe. Banks became more wary of lending to European institutions after the Spanish government's rescue of a local bank over the weekend, and the euro fell to an eight and a half year low against the yen and came close to a four-year low versus the dollar.

The Dow Jones was 2.02 percent lower, the Standard and Poor 500 index was down by 2.04 percent and the Nasdaq by 2.33 percent. The major European stock markets saw falls ranging from the FTSE 100 in London falling by 2.53 percent to the Cac 40 index in France dropping by 3.41 percent. At one point, the FTSE hit 4,939,6 points, its lowest level for eight months.

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A broad expansion of clandestine military activity in the Middle East has been ordered by a top American commander, reported The New York Times, to disrupt militant groups or counter threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and other nations in the region, according to military documents and defense officials. Gen. David H. Petraeus signed the secret directive in September, which allows for the sending of American Special Operations troops to both hostile and friendly nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to build ties with local forces and father intelligence. It also permits reconnaissance that could pave the way for possible military strikes on Iran if nuclear tensions escalate.

This signifies an effort by the Army to move away from relying on the Central Intelligence Agency for information in countries with a significant American troop presence. The new order will make moves by the Bush administration toward clandestine military activities far from designated war zones more systematic and long-term.

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The North Korean leader has warned his military to be ready for combat in case South Korea attacks, according to a Seoul-based monitoring group, as tensions escalate following accusations that North Korea torpedoed a South Korean warship reported The Guardian UK. Kim Jong-il, the aging leader of North Korea, broadcast the statement hours after a report was released blaming his nation for the sinking of the warship at Cheonan. However, South Korean officials did not confirm the report of war allegations and there was no sign of unusual troop activity. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that he expected the Security Council to take action against North Korea after the sinking of the ship was initially uncovered, but China, the North's main ally, is a veto-wielding member of the Security Council.

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The US continues to fund the construction of segregated roads for Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank, reported Democracy Now!. The Nation, a United Arab Emirates-based newspaper reports that USAID - the US Agency for International Development- has financed 146 miles of West Bank roads that Palestinians are barred from or face severe restrictions on using, and is set to fund another 74 miles this year.

 

 

 

Yana Kunichoff

Yana Kunichoff is an assistant editor at Truthout.

Last modified on Tuesday, 25 May 2010 12:39