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Busy Day: 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'; Defense Review; Oscars; And 'Lost'

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Busy Day: 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'; Defense Review; Oscars; And 'Lost'

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Busy Day: 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'; Defense Review; Oscars; And 'Lost'

Good morning. There's a lot going on today, from the very serious to the not-so. Let's get right to it.

On Capitol Hill, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staf, will testify about the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that bars homosexuals from openly serving in the military, as NPR's Tom Bowman reported on Morning Edition:

From a related story by The Washington Post — " 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Policy To Change": "President Obama's top defense officials will tell the Senate on Tuesday that the military will no longer aggressively pursue disciplinary action against gay service members whose orientation is revealed against their will by third parties, sources say."

Also today at the Capitol, the Pentagon presents its latest "Quadrennial Defense Review." As the Christian Science Monitor has reported:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates's efforts to focus the Defense Department on the wars at hand — not the ones being waged in the minds of futurists fixated on China or Russia — is the guiding principle behind a new strategic document that sets the Pentagon's priorities for the next several years.

Yesterday, as The Washington Post writes, the Obama administration gave Congress the first "Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, defining homeland security for the first time as including hazards beyond terrorism, in a strategic document intended to drive long-term budget decisions."

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National security, intelligence and the terror threat are very much in the news today. On Morning Edition, NPR's Tom Gjelten reported that "the militant Islamist groups based in the rugged Afghanistan-Pakistan border region — from al-Qaida to the Taliban — have apparently forged new 'connections,' according to U.S. intelligence officials, and may now be working together to target U.S. forces in Afghanistan":

Busy Day: 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'; Defense Review; Oscars; And 'Lost'

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The Washington Post, however, writes that "the reported death of the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, a violent Islamist group with close links to al-Qaida, leaves the predatory and feared militia effectively decapitated, with its fighters on the run from the Pakistani army and public sympathy running low."

Sticking with Washington news for one more moment, there's sure to be lots more discussion and argument today about the $3.8 trillion budget plan President Barack Obama unveiled yesterday. As NPR's Scott Horsley reported on Morning Edition, the budget deficit is headed for another record:

Busy Day: 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'; Defense Review; Oscars; And 'Lost'

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There's politics to watch today. In Illinois, there are primaries to choose candidates for Senate, governor and key local posts. As the Chicago Tribune writes, "Illinois' first Groundhog Day primary has finally arrived, but the only thing certain before the results are in is that the now familiar cycle of escalating partisan snarkiness will be replayed over and over and over through the November general election."

Also this morning, as the Buffalo News writes: "Three hundred and fifty-five days after Continental Connection Flight 3407 plummeted into a home in Clarence Center, the families of the 50 victims and the rest of the world will learn what most likely caused the crash — and what can be done to prevent such a tragedy from happening again."

As for the much less serious stuff:

— Out in Hollywood, everybody will be watching the 8:30 a.m. ET announcement of the Oscar nominations. (If you want to talk about the nominations, head over to Monkey See at 12:30 p.m. ET.) ABC-TV, which will broadcast the awards show on March 7, will be posting the nominations here.

— ABC-TV's Lost returns for its final season tonight (the two-hour season premiere airs at 9 p.m. ET; there's a "recap" of sorts on at 8 p.m. ET). Some fans in Hawaii have already gotten a sneak preview. By season's end, will it all make sense?