NPR News

DADT Ends, But What Will Actually Change?

Sep 20, 2011

On Tuesday, the Pentagon officially terminated "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." More than 14,000 troops were discharged under the law that banned gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. The repeal interrupted the discharge of Lt. Colonel Victor Fehrenbach. He speaks with host Michel Martin.

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, host: I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.

Coming up, a major civil rights victory for LGBT servicemembers. The policy which prevented them from serving openly in the military, the so-called "don't ask, don't tell" policy comes to an end today. We'll talk with a decorated Air Force veteran who's career came under a cloud because of "don't ask, don't tell." We'll ask him about his thoughts about this day.

The word is spreading about the $2 million — in cash — paid recently for a double-wide mobile home in Malibu, Calif.

A new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind paints an unflattering picture of rivalries and dysfunction within President Obama's first economic team — rivalries that Suskind says then slowed the administration's response to the financial crisis.

Many Are Myopic About Costs Of Short-Term Disability

Sep 20, 2011

Many people, if they think about disability insurance coverage at all, focus on their employer's long-term disability plan rather than any short-term coverage they may get on the job. That makes sense in many ways, since you face a bigger financial risk if you're unable to work for two years rather than for two months.

The "future of the American way of war," The Washington Post writes this morning, may be:

"A day when drones hunt, identify and kill the enemy based on calculations made by software, not decisions made by humans. Imagine aerial 'Terminators,' minus beefcake and time travel."

At attack at his home in Kabul has left former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani dead, "two government sources" tell The Associated Press.

Radiolab co-host and producer Jad Abumrad is among this year's 22 recipients of "genius" grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Each MacArthur fellow receives $500,000 "to advance their expertise, engage in bold new work, or, if they wish, to change fields or alter the direction of their careers."

"The state Board of Pardons and Paroles ... has denied clemency for Troy Anthony Davis after hearing pleas for mercy from Davis' family and calls for his execution by surviving relatives of a murdered Savannah police officer," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Now, the newspaper adds:

There are plenty of stories to choose from about today's milestone for the U.S. military — the end of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that barred openly gay Americans from serving in the armed forces.

Our NPR.org colleague Liz Halloran focused on two men who were "immersed in efforts to repeal the controversial measure."

There's a new development in the story that turned the U.K.'s "hacking scandal" into front-page news:

"Milly Dowler's family have been made a £3m offer by Rupert Murdoch's News International in an attempt to settle the phone-hacking case that led to the closure of the News of the World and the resignation of the company's chief executive, Rebekah Brooks," The Guardian reports.

As President Obama and other world leaders gather in New York City for the opening of the United Nations General Assembly session, one of the hottest issues is President Mahmoud Abbas' request to make Palestine a member of the U.N.

He's making that push over "heated Israeli objections and a promised U.S. veto" in the Security Council, The Associated Press notes.

The law that for almost 18 years has banned openly gay Americans from serving in the armed forces will be officially repealed Tuesday, nine months after Congress voted to end the Clinton-era edict.

President Obama signed the repeal into law last December, but its provisions required time for the Pentagon to prepare for the policy change, and for top military officials to "certify" the law's end.

Eying Senate, Tommy Thompson Must Face New GOP

Sep 20, 2011

Former Wisconsin governor and Bush Cabinet secretary Tommy Thompson is laying the groundwork for a run at his state's open U.S. Senate seat. But as Thompson prepares for his return to politics, the one-time standard bearer for Wisconsin Republicans appears to be facing a conservative backlash.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry likes to hold out the Lone Star State as a model — his vision for the country. But while Texas' growing economy has been a reliable jobs producer, the state's health care system is straining.

Only 48 percent of Texans have private health insurance, and more than a quarter of the state's population has no insurance at all, more than any other state. To fill this gap, the state's hospital emergency rooms and dozens of women's health clinics have stepped in to serve the uninsured across Texas.

Entrepreneurs Emerge As Cuba Loosens Control

Sep 20, 2011

Since Cuba's communist government loosened its grip on the economy, thousands of small private businesses have sprung up.

It's a new frontier for budding capitalists, but competition is fierce and advertising is still tightly restricted.

Snack bars and food stalls are now all over Havana, but there aren't many as distinctive as Tio Tito, or Uncle Tito. The first thing you notice is the uniformed employees, scrambling to serve up Hawaiian pizzas and fruit drinks as music videos play on a monitor behind the counter.

Two of this week's most talked-about TV premieres have very similar settings: Pan Am, first airing on Sunday, is about attractive young women working as Pan Am flight attendants in the 1960s. The Playboy Club, which premiered Monday night, is about — well, attractive young women working as Playboy bunnies in the 1960s. Both shows are trying to imitate the success of another show set in the '60s: Mad Men.

"Don't ask, don't tell" is over Tuesday.

The ban against gays serving openly in the military has been repealed. Starting Tuesday, gay service members cannot be discriminated against for their sexual identity. But the policy has affected the lives of thousands of people during the 18 years it was in place. NPR spoke with two of them: one who was discharged from the military under the law eight years ago; the other a gay Marine who has been keeping his sexual identity a secret for 14 years.

The Former Army Soldier

Since Yemen's president Ali Abdullah Saleh left for Saudi Arabia to seek medical treatment after an assassination attempt in June, things had been relatively quiet in Yemen. Saleh remained in power, but there were talks about a transition.

Surely, it's not an extinction that will cause many tears: This afternoon Department of Transportation crews ripped out the last single-space parking meter in Manhattan. You know, the kind of meter that sits atop poll and takes quarters.

The New York Times paid its respects, yesterday, with a long obit:

Wherever he goes, GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry proudly waves the flag of conservatism, often introducing himself with, "I simply want to get America working again and make Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as I can."

But the Texas governor, a favorite of conservatives overall, is taking criticism for being too moderate when it comes to immigration. The reason: In 2001, his first full year in office, he signed legislation that grants in-state tuition rates at Texas colleges and universities to some illegal immigrants.

If enacted, President Obama's deficit-reduction plan would increase tax revenues by about $1.5 trillion over the coming decade. The wealthiest taxpayers could see significantly higher taxes, but the vast majority of Americans would pay less, at least through 2012.

These are some of the groups that could see higher tax bills starting in 2013:

See, Mom? Playing online video games can pay off.

An online group of gamers has correctly deduced the structure of an enzyme that AIDS-like viruses use for reproduction. By playing the online-game Foldit, the group figured out the structure of an important viral protein that has baffled scientists for more than a decade.

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera earned his 602nd career save, today, making him the top closer in baseball history. In a drama-free, 1-2-3 inning, Rivera surpassed Trevor Hoffman as the new record holder for most saves.

ESPN reports:

The United States Justice Department expressed concern Monday about whether new Texas redistricting plans for four U.S. House seats comply with the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which protects the interests of minority voters.

In a filing with a special three-judge court panel in Washington D.C., civil rights lawyers at Justice wrote that they doubted new boundaries for the House seats "maintain or increase the ability of minority voters to elect their candidate of choice."

Residents are waving the flag in Brookline, Mass., both for — and against — the Pledge of Allegiance.

Courts have ruled that public schools cannot compel students to recite the pledge, so in Brookline, as elsewhere, the pledge is voluntary.

But critics say there's still pressure on students to conform, and they want the pledge out of the classroom altogether.

A Concern About Peer Pressure

Pirate Party Wins Seats In Berlin Elections

Sep 19, 2011

Germany's state parliament now has representatives from a brand new political party that focuses heavily on Internet freedoms. The Pirate Party won 8.5 percent of the vote for the Berlin state parliament and ousted the Free Democrats, which is part of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition.

And who are the party members? Here's how Der Spiegel opens their story today:

"A painting considered beyond repair after being submerged in filthy floodwater when the Thames breached its banks in 1928 will be seen in something approaching its wild and lurid former glory on Tuesday when it goes on public display for the first time in a century," The Guardian writes.

President Obama's plan to cut the deficit doesn't exactly spare Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health programs. But he also doesn't propose the sweeping sorts of changes envisioned by House Republicans earlier this year.

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