Politicians Call on Army to Review Hazing and Harassment Policies Following Death of Danny Chen (UPDATED)

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This week, elected officials are calling on the U.S. Army to conduct a comprehensive review of hazing incidents and training in response to the death of Private Danny Chen, a teenager from Chinatown. Chen, 19, was found dead in October in Afghanistan from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His death has raised questions about Army practices and culture, and some local electeds have been speaking out about the incident.

In the latest development, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Nydia Velazquez -- who represents parts of Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens -- today called on the Army to review the way it tracks hazing and harassment incidents as well as its anti-hazing training. Along with Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Mike Honda (D-CA), the pols sent a letter requesting details on what current measures are in place for soldiers in remote bases to report hazing incidents.

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Don't Ask, Don't Tell Bites the Dust Today (For Real This Time)

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It's had a long, zombie-like death, but Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the military's policy of barring homosexuals from serving openly, is finally over for real.

If you're confused and thought that this happened already, you've got good reason to be. The judicial, legislative and executive branches of the government have all had their moments of declaring it dead in the past year.

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Barack Obama Ends Don't Ask, Don't Tell... Again

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President Barack Obama formally certified the end of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy today, the Human Rights Campaign is reporting. The repeal will take place on September 20th.

The President signed legislation ending the policy in December of last year, but it had to occur after a formal review was signed off by the Pentagon and the White House. That happened today.

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A War Dog Helped Catch Osama Bin Laden

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War dogs: They are dogs that help fight war. The U.S. has some 2,700 of them deployed on active duty, and they are a key part of U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of them -- who, at this point, "remains an enigma" -- was involved in the raid on Osama bin Laden. We imagine that if we were being lowered out of a helicopter to go catch and kill Osama bin Laden, it would probably rather reassuring to have a trained fighting best friend along with us -- not least because these dogs are pretty bad-ass. Foreign Policy has a great photo essay on them. After the jump, some fascinating facts about "Military Working Dogs," or "WMDs."

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'Holy Grail' of Missile Defense Reached

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From 'Goldeneye,' not real life.
They help predict your weather, connect your phone calls, and broadcast your CSI: Miami. Add one more thing to the list of what satellites can do: Watch your ass. Space News (a great source for space news) reports that a pair of Northrop Grumman satellites tracked a ballistic missile launch through every stage of its flight. This is the first time orbiting satellites have been able to accomplish such a feat. Northrop Grumman's Doug Young boasted, "It's the Holy Grail for missile defense." Good, no more wars. Anyone got any playing cards?

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Qaddafi Vows 'Long War'; Two Saved From Rubble in Japan; Wyclef Jean Shot in Haiti

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A Libyan jet crashes in Benghazi. NYT via Patrick Baz/AFP
  • The U.N.-sanctioned allied attack on Libyan targets continues today as Muammar Qaddafi promises a "long war," telling state television that "We will not leave our land and we will liberate it." U.S., French, and British forces began air strikes yesterday, reportedly destroying one of Qaddafi's convoys in eastern Libya. The New York Times is reporting that American B-2 bombers have struck a major Libyan airfield. The coalition is targeting Libya's air defense systems near the capital of Tripoli. Rebel-controlled Benghazi was quieter today after yesterday's heavy fighting that led thousands of people to flee. Interestingly, Operation Odyssey Dawn (that's what they're calling it) coincides almost to the day with the beginning of the war in Iraq eight years ago. [LA Times, NYT, CNN]
  • Meanwhile in Japan, the official death toll has climbed to 8,277. On a more hopeful note, an 80-year-old woman and her teenage grandson have been rescued nine days after the quake from their destroyed house. The boy was able to pull himself out and lead rescuers to his grandmother. [MSNBC]


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Allies Begin Libyan Intervention as French Jets Hit Government Tanks (Update)

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via Reuters
French fighter jets have reportedly struck four tanks belonging to Qaddafi's forces in Benghazi, beginning the allied military intervention in Libya. They've entered Libyan airspace to enforce the no-fly zone and protect civilians following a U.N. resolution authorizing military action by the U.K., France, the U.S., and the Arab League. Western leaders convened in Paris today over the Libyan crisis; French President Nicolas Sarkozy said after the meeting that "Our air force will oppose any aggression by Colonel Gadhafi against the population of Benghazi."More »

Daniel Choi, Driven Crazy By "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Hopes to Rejoin the Military

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Lt. Daniel Choi, who became the face of the movement to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on gays on the military, says he plans to rejoin the Army now that he can serve openly. Choi was discharged after two tours of duty in Iraq because he outed himself on national television. (You can read more about him in Steven Thrasher's Village Voice cover story "Bad Lieutenant.") Earlier this week, when things weren't looking so good for the repeal, Choi checked himself into a mental health facility, writing: "My breakdown was a result of a cumulative array of stressors but there is no doubt that the composite betrayals felt on Thursday, by elected leaders and gay organizations as well as many who have exploited my name for their marketing purposes have added to the result." Things are better now!

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'Don't Ask Don't Tell' Repealed by House, Again

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The U.S. House of Representatives today voted 250 to 175 (almost straight down party lines) to repeal the ban on openly gay and lesbian soldiers in the U.S. military. This is the second time a repeal has been approved by the House. Previously it was repealed in connection with a defense spending bill, which stalled in the Senate a week ago.

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Barack Obama: Twisting Words in the Wind on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

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President Obama covered a lot of ground on gay and lesbian rights in the middle of the four o'clock hour on Thursday. In the end, he wound up saying one thing and doing another.

In a cleverly worded statement, he vowed that "don't ask, don't tell" will end on his watch. He did not mean that he will end it. He passed the buck to Congress. (Obama's statement was so muddied that the Washington Post had to, understandably, rewrite its headline to try to reflect what he and his administration were doing.)

Here's how the hazy, foggy, blurry hour of misdirection went down:

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