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U.S. military prepared to end ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon will announce on Friday that the military is ready to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the armed forces, the last major hurdle to formally ending the policy, U.S. officials said on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

President Barack Obama last year signed a landmark law to allow for the repeal of the nearly 18-year-old “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that forced gays to keep their sexual orientation secret in order to serve in the military.

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But Pentagon leaders first needed to certify that military readiness would not suffer as a result — something that will now be done by new U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Admiral Mike Mullen, the top U.S. military officer, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Once the Pentagon has signed off, Obama can certify the repeal — fulfilling a 2008 campaign promise to end a policy that saw more than 13,000 men and women expelled from the military because of their sexual orientation.

There is then a 60-day waiting period before the law is finally scrapped.

Ending the policy, enacted under then-President Bill Clinton in 1993, has been a top priority of gay rights activists, along with advancing same-sex marriage rights.

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Critics of repeal within the Pentagon had long argued it was too risky to pursue the change at a time when the military was stretched by the wars in Iraq in Afghanistan.

But a Pentagon study unveiled last year predicted that scrapping the policy would have little impact, and repeal won support from Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, and then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

U.S. courts also intervened, with a California district court judge last year finding that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy violated the U.S. constitution.

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The Obama administration managed to keep the policy partly in effect through court appeals in order to give the Defense Department time to prepare for repeal. Last week, a federal appeals court blocked the Pentagon from investigating or discharging anyone under the policy.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)

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Trump encourages China to take advantage of Jay Powell and Fed: They ‘don’t have a clue’

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President Donald Trump launched a new attack against his own Federal Reserve chairman in a pair of Monday morning tweets.

The president has been publicly pressuring Fed chairman Jerome Powell to lower interest rates in hopes of staving off a recession, but the Trump appointee has so far resisted his calls.

"Producer prices in China shrank most in 3 years due to China’s big devaluation of their currency, coupled with monetary stimulus," Trump tweeted. "Federal Reserve not watching? Will Fed ever get into the game? Dollar strongest EVER! Really bad for exports. No Inflation...Highest Interest Rates..."

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Internet pummels Trump for frantic demand to investigate Obama instead: ‘This is not the tweet of an innocent man’

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President Donald Trump jealously raged against Barack Obama's post-presidency business deals, which includes a production agreement with Netflix -- and other social media users ridiculed his apparent envy.

Trump questioned that deal and others in a pair of tweets complaining about an impeachment inquiry launched against him last week by the House Judiciary Committee, and he suggested Congress look at Obama's business since he left the White House.

....work that way. I have a better idea. Look at the Obama Book Deal, or the ridiculous Netflix deal. Then look at all the deals made by the Dems in Congress, the “Congressional Slush Fund,” and lastly the IG Reports. Take a look at them. Those investigations would be over FAST!

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Is the Trump administration squelching a whistleblower — and a major scandal?

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America's system of government has always worked on the honor system. With so few Senate-confirmed Cabinet and federal agency heads, and so many “acting” officials working in the Trump administration, people who are constantly forced to audition for permanent positions are now under tremendous pressure to protect a president hellbent on breaking every norm of good governance. Now a new possible political scandal could be brewing in the Trump administration that tests the loyalty of these “acting” officials — pitting their allegiance to the nation against their desire to impress their boss.

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