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News in Brief: House Repeals “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and More

House Repeals “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

House Repeals “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to repeal the Clinton-era “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on openly gay and lesbian military members, according to The New York Times. The House passed the repeal as part of a military policy bill by a vote of 250 to 175. Another Republican filibuster prevented a Senate vote on a repeal last week, but civil rights advocates are hoping the bill approved by the House will attract some Republicans and finally do away with the ban on outing gays in the armed forces.

Justice Department Seeks to Prosecute Assange via Manning

The US Justice Department is looking for reasons to prosecute Julian Assange for obtaining and publishing thousands of secret government documents, according to The New York Times. Justice Department investigators want to know if Assange encouraged Pfc. Bradley Manning, a military analyst accused of stealing the classified documents, to extract the files from a large government computer network. Assange could be charged with conspiracy if he encouraged Manning, and investigators are looking into encrypted Internet messages between the rogue journalist and the alleged whistleblower.

Assange Freed From Jail Despite Prosecutor’s Appeal

A British judge on Thursday rejected a prosecutor’s appeal seeking to keep WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in jail, and Assange will be allowed to go free on bail while awaiting an extradition hearing, according to NPR. Assange, a former hacker from Australia, has been accused of sex-crimes unrelated to the WikiLeaks organization.

Angry House Democrats Still Trying to Tax the Rich

The House is expected to vote in favor of the tax-compromise package that sailed through the Senate yesterday, but first it will consider a proposal to raise an estate tax supported by liberal Democrats, according to The Hill. The bill is the result of a compromise between Republicans and the Obama administration that would extend Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans, even the wealthiest, and extend unemployment benefits. Still reeling from the compromise that extended tax cuts for the richest Americans, progressives in the House want to raise an inheritance tax on estates worth more than $3.5 million from 35 to 45 percent, a level previously set by the House.

Unemployment Numbers Drop

Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits this week than in recent weeks, according to The Washington Post. The Labor Department reported that applications for unemployment benefits dropped by 3,000 to about 420,000. Experts say the numbers hint at job and economic growth, which is good news for the struggling economy. Unemployment applications during the current recession peaked at 651,000 in March 2009.