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Senate to Vote on START, Obama Signs DADT Repeal, Tensions in Ivory Coast

Updated 5:00 p.m. ET
The Senate gave final approval to the New START treaty on Wednesday by a vote of 71-26.

Posted 9:45 a.m. ET
The Senate appears poised to approve a nuclear arms pact with Russia, known as New START, on Wednesday, delivering a significant bipartisan foreign policy victory to President Obama.
Eleven Republicans joined Democrats in a vote to end debate on the treaty Tuesday, signaling that a final vote on approval was all but assured.

NPR’s Alan Greenblatt reports that after settling the New START treaty, more difficult negotiations loom between the U.S. and Russia on defense issues.

Any further talks between the two countries will take up issues that are more complicated and difficult to resolve than those addressed by New START, including tactical nuclear weapons and direct limits on U.S. missile defense ambitions.

The Christian Science Monitor looks at three things the treaty will do, and three things it won’t.

On a trip to Mumbai, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he was optimistic that the Senate would ratify the pact. According to Reuters, Medvedev also said that if Russia failed to find its place in a missile defense system with NATO, Moscow and Washington would face “unpleasant decisions” — reviving the Kremlin’s demand for a satisfactory role in a European missile shield.

Obama Signs ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal

President Obama signed a landmark law Wednesday that will discontinue the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prohibited gays from serving openly in the military.

In remarks at the ceremony to sign the measure, the president said the government will not be “dragging its feet” to enforce the repeal.

While the president’s signature will mark a long-awaited moment for gay activists, military officials still have to complete implementation plans on how exactly how the policy will be executed. Judy Woodruff talked to two military experts this week about how the process might be handled:



Tensions Rise in Ivory Coast

The BBC reports Wednesday that France has warned its nationals to leave Ivory Coast as a dispute over elections lingers.

The United Nations and other world leaders have recognized Alassane Ouattara as the winner of the Nov. 28 runoff vote. But incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refuses to concede defeat, saying late Tuesday that “the international community has declared war on Ivory Coast.”

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday the country faces a “real risk” of tumbling into civil war and said Gbagbo’s forces are attempting to blockade a U.N. peacekeeping mission in the country.

Mudslides in California After Heavy Rains

Heavy rains have been soaking California this week, leading to mudslides, flooding and other difficult conditions. The Los Angeles Times reports Wednesday that Southern California is bracing for another round of strong storms.

Mudslides in Pasadena have made some roads unpassable and led to orders of evacuations for some residents.

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