Pentagon Set to End ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ Eastern U.S. Faces Excessive Heat
Pentagon leaders on Friday are set to formally end the 18-year-long ban that prevented gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. They are expected to notify President Obama, who will then send a letter to Congress. The policy will cease 60 days after that. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, his predecessor, Robert Gates, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen expressed support for overturning the ban.
A Senate vote in December repealed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. During the past seven months, the military has introduced new training manuals to prepare for the policy change and conducted training sessions for troops. Opponents of overturning the ban said it would disrupt units focused on fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Some details of the shift still need to be sorted out, according to the Washington Post:
“[S]everal unresolved issues remain regarding military spousal benefits for gay couples, including potential housing options and survivor benefits. Complicating any resolution is that the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages, will keep same-sex military couples from enjoying full spousal benefits.”
Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images.
Dangerous Heat Wave Unrelenting in Eastern United States
After a week of oppressive and record-breaking heat, Friday’s forecast for much of the East Coast is bringing further warnings from the National Weather Service as heat indices could reach 115 degrees in some places.
The heat was blamed for the deaths of at least 22 people and burdening power grids.
North Korea and South Korea Meet for Nuclear Talks
Top-ranking nuclear envoys from North and South Korea held their first meeting since 2008 on Friday during a session of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Bali. The meeting comes after a year of high tensions on the Korean peninsula, including the sinking of South Korean warship Cheonan, the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island and a November announcement by North Korea that it has a plant that can enrich uranium.
The meeting is seen as a possible precursor to resuming the six-party talks between the Koreas, Japan, China, Russia and the United States. Talks have stalled over myriad issues over the years, including what South Korea says is North Korea’s use of military provocations to gain concessions from other nations.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is also attending the ASEAN talks, will meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi to discuss the Korean Peninsula.
Al-Shabab Calls U.N. Famine Report ‘Propaganda’
The United Nations said Wednesday that parts of Somalia are suffering from a famine following the worst drought in decades and that millions are in urgent need of aid, but al-Shabab militants have said they will ban most aid workers from entering areas under their control and called the reports of famine “pure propaganda.”
Al-Shabab, which has been linked to al-Qaida, is considered a terrorist organization by the United States.
Tens of thousands of Somalis have been pouring into makeshift camps in Kenya as a result of the drought, which for a year has been killing off crops and livestock, pushing the price of already scarce food unattainably high.
Photo by R. Gangale/United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.