House votes to end ban on gays in u.s. military, sending fight to senate
The House on Friday passed a defense spending bill that paves the way for gays to serve openly in the military for the first time, but advocates on both sides geared up for a fight in the Senate. Normally, defense bills pass by wider margins than Friday's 229-186 vote, but many Republicans and a few conservative Democrats said they voted no because the bill contains the provision to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" law. The bill would give the Pentagon the rest of the year to study the issue before the repeal would take effect. In a direct address to troops, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he wanted to assure them that their views on the divisive question still matter.
Jobless benefits win approval
The House passed a $93 billion package of jobless benefits and business tax breaks Friday after moderate Democrats fed up with deficit spending forced leaders to slice billions of additional dollars from the legislation. The House voted 215-204 to approve the measure, which would extend expanded benefits for the unemployed through November and renew dozens of expired tax credits and deductions for businesses and individuals. The House also voted 245-171 to approve a $23 billion plan to postpone a pay cut for doctors who see Medicare patients. The Senate left town Thursday for a Memorial Day recess without voting.
Children's medicines recalled
More children's medicines are being recalled because they were made at the same Johnson & Johnson plant in Fort Washington, Pa., where federal health authorities found poor quality standards. Blacksmith Brands Inc. announced a recall on Friday for about 100,000 units of four PediaCare items: PediaCare Multi-Symptom Cold, PediaCare Long Acting Cough, PediaCare Decongestant and PediaCare Allergy and Cold. Consumers can call toll-free 1-888-474-3099 or go to blacksmithbrands.com.
Review of immigrant law urged
The Obama administration on Friday urged the Supreme Court to review and set aside an Arizona law that sanctions employers who hire illegal immigrants, saying it would disrupt the "careful balance" that Congress struck in federal immigration law. The statute is not the strict new Arizona law that requires police to question anyone who appears to be in the country illegally. If the court hears the sanctions case, its ruling could show how receptive the justices would be to arguments that enforcing immigration laws is a federal responsibility.
SOUTH KOREA: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao tried to soothe an angry South Korean leadership on Friday with condolences for the deaths of 46 sailors who died in the sinking of a warship and promises to investigate North Korea's culpability in it, but stopped short of making any commitments while on a trip to Seoul.
GUATEMALA: Guatemala City was under a state of emergency and its airport closed Friday after the Pacaya volcano spewed black ash for miles. A TV reporter was killed and more than 65 people were injured. An eruption at a volcano in Ecuador forced the evacuations of three villages in that country.
UNITED NATIONS: Countries attending a global meeting on nuclear weapons agreed Friday to open talks on establishing a nuclear-free zone in the Mideast, but U.S. officials said the plan might go nowhere because of language singling out Israel's secret nuclear program. The planned talks were the most prominent result of the meeting, held every five years to review the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
JAPAN: Washington and Tokyo agreed Friday to keep a contentious U.S. Marine base on Okinawa but relocate it to a less populated area.