News in Brief: President Obama Signs Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Into Law, and More

President Obama Signs Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Into Law

Wednesday morning, President Obama signed into law the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the policy banning lesbian, gay and bisexual service members from serving openly in the armed forces, according to The AP. Calling it a “good day,” a “beaming” President Obama signed the repeal into law to a celebratory, uproarious crowd. “No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie, or look over their shoulder in order to serve the country that they love,” Obama said.

WikiLeaks Cables: Iraq Security Firms Run “Mafia”

A cable released by WikiLeaks to The Guardian UK reveals a senior Halliburton official “accused private security companies of operating a ‘mafia’ to artificially inflate their ‘outrageous prices.'” In the cable, John Naland, head of the provincial reconstruction team in Basra, “complains of ‘unwarranted high prices’ given an improving security situation since 2008.” Tensions have risen among security contractors, oil companies and the Iraqi government “as coalition forces withdraw from protecting foreign business interests.”

Obama Administration Pens New Rules to Deter Extensive Rate Hikes

Under new rules proposed by the Obama administration, health insurers who plan to raise rates by 10 percent or more must publicly detail “why the increase is needed,” according to Kaiser Health News. Under the rules, ” flagged premium increases would be subject to review by the states – or the federal government, in some cases – to determine whether they’re unreasonable.” The rules only affect health insurance policies “sold to individuals and small businesses but not large employers” and should be implemented within six months after an open comment period ends.

South Korea Prepares for Military Exercises

South Korea plans to “conduct a land drill involving artillery, fighter jets and the largest number of personnel” in peacetime in South Korea’s history tomorrow, according to Democracy Now!. Vowing to “completely punish” North Korea if it attacks again, the land exercise is assumed to be preparation for an attack, should it occur, and signals, ” South Korea is willing to risk further escalating tensions with North Korea.”

Federal Judge Rules Bush Illegally Spied on Islamic Charity

Federal Judge Vaughn Walker has ruled that the federal government pay nearly $2.6 million to officials with a shuttered Islamic charity in Oregon, whom the judge said were wiretapped without a court order under the surveillance program approved by President George W. Bush after the attacks of September 11, 2001,” The New York Times reports. Officials with the National Security Agency program” showed reckless or callous indifference” to officials with the Al-Haramain’s Oregon affiliate, which is now defunct, Walker ruled.