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BBC news with Jonathan Izard The United States Senate has voted to scrap the 17-year-long ban on gay men and lesbians openly serving in the military. Senators voted 65-31 to end the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that's forced gay soldiers to conceal their sexuality. Supporters of the ban claimed that scrapping it during wartime would damage troop morale. From Washington, Iain MacKenzie reports. "Don't ask, don't tell" had divided Congress along party lines. In the end, a number of moderate Republicans joined the Democrats to end the 17-year-old policy. The decision is a major victory for President Obama, who had made an election promise to repeal "don't ask, don't tell". He welcomed the Senate vote, saying no longer would patriotic Americans be asked to lie to serve their country. The timescale for its phasing out is not immediately clear. However, the Defence Department is expected to be given some time to implement the change. Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused to step down as president of Ivory Coast, has demanded that peacekeeping troops from France and the United Nations leave the country immediately. His spokeswoman accused them of colluding with former rebels. The UN is among several international organisations that say Laurent Gbagbo's rival Alassane Ouattara won the recent election. A spokesman for the UN force in Ivory Coast, Hamadoun Toure, warned that its troops had a mandate to return fire if necessary. "The situation is very serious. It's not an easy one. But we hope and call on them not to use violence to settle problems. We call on them to show serenity and calm. The will which should prevail is the will of the people of Cote d'Ivoire as expressed on 28 November, 2010. So it's not a showdown between Laurent Gbagbo and United Nations." Earlier, a UN patrol came under fire as it entered the mission compound in Abidjan. A militant group fighting Nato forces in Afghanistan has expressed strong support for an ambitious gas pipeline project, saying it's willing to help lay the pipe and provide security for it. The group, Hezb-e-Islami Hekmatyar, called the pipeline a benefit for the Afghan nation. Iran is cutting the large state subsidies which allow Iranians to buy cheap food and fuel. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran could no longer afford the cost, which amounts to $100bn each year. The government plans to withdraw them completely by 2015. James Reynolds is our Iran correspondent. For some time, Iran's president has made it clear: ordinary people are going to have to start paying more for food and energy. Now, after several months of delay, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has told state TV that cuts to fuel and food subsidies will begin almost immediately. The cut to subsidies may have a significant effect on life in Iran. The government will be watching closely for unrest. In 2007, there were riots when the government decided to begin rationing subsidised petrol. World news from the BBC China has said it's deeply concerned about the heightened tension between North and South Korea, which it believes is now extremely precarious. A statement from a senior foreign ministry official said that if a bloody conflict broke out, it would be a national tragedy that would cause suffering to both sides in Korea and in neighbouring countries. Russia has called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council. Prosecutors in Bolivia have charged 39 people over an alleged plot to assassinate President Evo Morales and lead an armed rebellion last year. The accused include prominent opposition politicians from the eastern city of Santa Cruz. Here's James Read. The alleged plot to kill Evo Morales came to light in April last year when police shot dead three Europeans in a hotel in Santa Cruz, and seized weapons and ammunition. Police said the men were mercenaries, who had been brought to Bolivia to assassinate the president and fight for the independence of Santa Cruz. Investigators went on to accuse local opposition leaders of being behind the conspiracy, and these men have now been formally charged. Some are already under arrest, but the most prominent figures are outside Bolivia, from where they dismissed the charges as political persecution. One of the United States leading banks, the Bank of America, has become the latest financial institution to say it will no longer process payments for the whistle-blowing website, Wikileaks. The bank said the decision was based on a reasonable belief that Wikileaks could be engaged in activities inconsistent with its internal policies. MasterCard, Visa and PayPal have already taken similar action. Wikileaks has condemned the decision and urged supporters to close their accounts at the bank. The African football champions TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo have failed in their attempt to win this year's Club World Cup tournament in Abu Dhabi. The team, the first African side to play in the final, were beaten 3-0 by the Italian giants Inter Milan. That's the latest BBC World Service News. 来自:VOA英语网 文章地址: http://www.tingvoa.com/html/20101222/33203.html
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