Nation/World Briefly: Officials to study lifting military’s ban on gays

  • Mon Feb 1st, 2010 10:32pm
  • News

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert Gates today will take the first real steps toward lifting the ban on gays serving openly in the military, announcing a yearlong review aimed at answering practical and emotional questions about the effect of lifting the ban, and imposing looser standards for enforcing the ban in the meantime.

According to U.S. officials, the senior-level study will be co-chaired by a top-ranked civilian and a senior uniformed officer. It would recommend the best way to go about lifting the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, starting from the premise that it will take time to accomplish that goal but that it can be done without harming the capabilities or cohesion of the military force, officials said.

The review is likely to take a year to complete.

Overall, nearly 11,000 troops have been dismissed under the policy.

Colorado: Air Force Academy sets up a worship area for Pagans, Wiccans

The Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs has set aside an outdoor worship area for Pagans, Wiccans, Druids and other Earth-centered believers, school officials said Monday. A double circle of stones atop a hill on the campus near Colorado Springs has been designated for the group, which previously met indoors. The school also has worship facilities for Protestant and Catholic Christians, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists. The academy superintendent, Lt. Gen. Michael Gould, has made religious tolerance a priority.

Pennsylvania: Experimental abstinence program seeing success

An experimental abstinence-only program without a moralistic tone can delay teens from having sex, a provocative study found. The study differed from traditional programs that have lost federal and state support in recent years in that the classes didn’t preach saving sex until marriage or disparage condom use. Instead, it involved assignments to help sixth- and seventh graders see the drawbacks to sexual activity at their age, including having them list the pros and cons themselves. The study’s lead author is psychologist John Jemmott III, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Illinois: Fish oil may help prevent schizophrenia in young people

Fish oil pills may be able to save some young people with signs of mental illness from descending into schizophrenia, according to a preliminary study. Researchers are beginning a larger international study with hopes of replicating their findings, which appear in the Archives of General Psychiatry, released Monday in Chicago. No one knows what causes schizophrenia but one hypothesis says people with the disease don’t process fatty acids correctly, leading to damaged brain cells. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil could help brain cells to stabilize, the researchers speculate.

Iraq: Suicide bomber kills 54

A female suicide bomber detonated her explosives inside a way station for Shiite pilgrims on the outskirts of Baghdad on Monday, killing 54 people. The attack was the third major strike by suspected Sunni insurgents in a week and left Baghdad’s top security official acknowledging that extremists are adopting new methods to outwit bomb-detection squads such as stashing explosives deep inside the engines and frames of vehicles. Shiite pilgrims are easy targets for bombers who can mingle with the crowds.

From Herald news services