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News in Brief: California Judge to End “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and More

A federal judge has ruled the military’s ban on openly gay service members unconstitutional, and will issue an order to halt the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

A federal judge has ruled the military’s ban on openly gay service members unconstitutional, and will issue an order to halt the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. US District Judge Virginia Phillips rules Thursday that the prohibition violated the First and Fifth Amendment rights of gays and lesbians, reported The Associated Press. The ruling said the policy did not help military readiness and instead had a “direct and deleterious effect” on the armed services by hurting recruitment efforts. Phillips will draft the injunction with input from the Log Cabin Republicans, who sued the federal government in 2004 to stop the policy, and the government will have a week to respond.

First Medal of Honor Awarded to Living Afghan Vet

For the first time since the Vietnam War, the president of the United States will award the Medal of Honor to a living soldier for this heroism in Afghanistan in 2007, reported The Sacramento Bee. Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta earned the honor for his “extraordinary bravery in battle,” the White House said. The Medal of Honor has been awarded only six times for service in Iraq or Afghanistan, compared to the 464 Medals of Honor awarded for service during World War II, 133 during the Korean War and 246 during the Vietnam War.

Appeals Court Rejects City’s Anti-Immigrant Measures

A federal appeals court upheld a lower-court ruling striking down ordinances adopted by Hazleton, Pennsylvania, that banned undocumented immigrants from renting homes or being employed. The ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit is the broadest statement so far on the authority of states and towns to act on immigration matters. The Hazleton ordinances were passed in 2006 and 2007, reported The New York Times.

Obama Names New Chairman of Council of Economic Advisers

President Obama has named Austan Goolsbee to be chairman of his Council of Economic Advisers, according to an Associated Press source. Goolsbee is a University of Chicago professor of economics, and one of three economists on the council, and is considered to be a centrist economist. He was Obama’s senior economic policy adviser during the 2008 president campaign, and gained some unwanted notoriety after a Canadian consulate memo asserted that he privately told Canadian officials that Obama’s public statements on trade were “political positioning.” He has already been confirmed to the council by the Senate.

Florida Pastor Calls Off Koran Burning

A Florida pastor who planned to burn copies of the Muslim holy book, the Koran, on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks canceled the event as part of a deal to move a proposed Manhattan Islamic center away from ground zero. Pastor Terry Jones said he would instead travel to New York City Saturday to meet with the Muslim leader in charge of the Islamic Center, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, reported The Hill. But it is unclear whether Rauf expected to meet Jones, and sources close to the imam said there was no plan to move the center.

Pentagon Considers Destroying Copies of Afghan War Memoir

Pentagon officials are negotiating to buy and destroy all 10,000 copies of an Afghan war memoir they say contains intelligence secrets, reported The New York Times. “Operation Dark Heart,” by former Defense Intelligence Agency Officer and Lt. Col. in the Army Reserve, Anthony Shaffer, was originally signed off by Army reviewers, but the Defense Intelligence Agency later identified more than 200 suspect passages. The book includes accounts of clandestine operations by the National Security Agency. Agents plan to buy all of the first printing.

European Parliament Tells Countries to Stop Expelling Roma

The European Parliament urged France and other European counties to immediately suspend all expulsions of Roma, an ethnic group with nomadic roots also known popularly as Gypsies. The French immigration minister said it was out of the question for France to suspend the deportations of foreigners who had overstayed their visa, and that the European Parliament had “exceeded its prerogatives,” reported The New York Times. The Roma population in France are EU citizens, mostly from Romania or Bulgaria, but are required by French law to have a work permit. The UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has criticized the tone of political discourse in France surrounding the Roma and other immigrant groups, saying racism and xenophobia were undergoing a resurgence in France.

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