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January 28th, 2010
01:49 PM ET

Gay soldier: Obama's 'don't ask' pledge a reprinted IOU

Editor’s note: Lt. Daniel Choi is an Iraq veteran and a West Point alumnus. He is facing discharge under "don't ask, don't tell," the 1993 law that bars openly gay and lesbian people from serving in the military. An estimated 65,000 LGBT Americans serve in the armed forces, according to the Urban Institute.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption= "Lt. Daniel Choi is an Iraq combat veteran and a West Point graduate with a degree in Arabic."]

By Lt. Daniel Choi, Special to CNN

As we watched our president speak so eloquently and thoughtfully about our country, many heard the resounding theme: "Jobs, jobs, jobs."

He spoke about the economy, then our national security, and then started speaking about our values. I wondered: "Is he going to address 'don't ask, don't tell'?"

We heard the buzz in the past days that he was going to mention it. I felt the speech was nearing the end and I was becoming a bit uncertain. And throughout this past year of coming out, standing trial for telling the truth, and fighting my discharge, I have become accustomed to this feeling of uncertainty.

This past year's journey has been a roller coaster for me. After returning home from Iraq and beginning my first love relationship, I realized that I could not lie anymore. Falling in love made me finally see why relationships make us more complete and more secure; I also began to understand my soldiers and their families.

As a leader, I always accepted the fact that my subordinates needed a support system at home, but now it became more than theory. The support and strength I got from my love relationship proved what I learned all along. It made me a better leader and soldier to finally understand true love.

So why should I lie about that?

When I came out publicly in March there was a great deal of uncertainty. Since I knew the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy would only require a statement as evidence to fire me, I was forced to choose: morals and honesty or career and rank?

But since my soldiers, peers and superiors knew about me being gay and there was no evidence of discomfort or chaos in my unit, I figured the military may indeed keep this Arabic linguist and West Point educated infantry officer.


Filed under: Gay Rights • Opinion
January 28th, 2010
01:18 PM ET

Ozzy Osbourne on 'American Morning' Friday

Editor's Note: Rock legend Ozzy Osbourne has written a new autobiography titled, "I Am Ozzy." He sat down with our John Roberts to discuss his book in a reunion interview that airs Friday on CNN's American Morning.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Ozzy Osbourne sits down with CNN's John Roberts almost 25 years to the day since their first interview."]

By John Roberts, CNN

It was January, 1985 in Rio De Janiero. I was a fresh-faced kid from Canada with a rather amusing mullet – he was a seasoned rock road warrior who had the rather dubious ability to consume lethal quantities of drugs and alcohol and somehow, miraculously, not die.

It was under the tropical Brazilian sun – the sweet sounds of samba in the air, that I was first introduced to Ozzy Osbourne – former lead singer of Black Sabbath – the Prince of Darkness – a man for whom extreme was just far too tame when it came to lifestyles.

Something had dawned on Ozzy several weeks earlier. He decided that he didn’t want to die before the age of 40, and checked himself into the Betty Ford clinic. We talked at length about his experiences – cleaning toilets, vacuuming the floor, making coffee for the staff and how he had decided that just because you’re a rock star doesn’t mean you have to be out of it ALL the time.

It was the first of what would be many attempts at rehab – a battle against an addiction that nearly destroyed him a dozen times, and came close to taking the life of his dear wife Sharon when – in the midst of an alcohol-induced rage, he tried to strangle her. Ozzy woke up in jail the next day with not a clue as to what had happened.

Somehow, against the odds, he managed to reach the ripe old age of 61, and pen one of the more compelling rock autobiographies I have ever read.

“I Am Ozzy” traces his journey from the humble streets of Aston, England through a blizzard of cocaine, prescription drugs, alcohol and rock and roll excess and finally finds him a sober, loving family man who is amazed that he actually survived it all. It’s a zany romp, if rather disturbing at times, for the sheer volume of substance abuse. Literally every funny story revolves around drugs, like the time he thought the band’s cocaine-filled house in L.A. was being raided by the police and he attempted to destroy a mountain of evidence by snorting it. Turns out, he had accidentally hit the burglar alarm while trying to adjust the thermostat.

I sat down with Ozzy – 25 years almost to the day we first met to discuss the book, and his remarkable tale of survival. He is incredibly lucid for a man who should have few neural neurons left at his disposal and is in surprisingly good health (a function of working out almost every day). He’s also a great story teller – the natural frontman – and can still recount things that happened 50 years ago in extraordinary detail.

Meanwhile, I can’t remember what I did last week.

Program Note: Watch the full interview with Ozzy Osbourne on CNN's American Morning, Friday 6-9 a.m. ET.

Filed under: Entertainment
January 28th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Middle class voters react to Obama's address

President Obama says jobs will be his top priority in 2010. He reached out to the middle class in last night's State of the Union, but did he make a connection?

Our Carol Costello visited Youngstown, Ohio to talk with voters there. The city is heavily Democratic – 70% voted for President Obama.

Yesterday, residents told us what they wanted to hear from the president and today Carol is asking them, "did he deliver?"

Filed under: Politics
January 28th, 2010
08:00 AM ET

Obama calls for 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal

Washington (CNN) - President Obama said Wednesday night he will work with Congress and the military to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bars gays and lesbians from openly serving in the armed forces.

Obama made the remark in his first State of the Union speech during a short litany of civil rights issues, which included his successful hate crimes bill, a move to "crack down on equal-pay laws" and improvement of the immigration system.

"We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we are all created equal, that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it," he said.

"We must continually renew this promise. My administration has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination. We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate," he said.

"This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are."

Keep reading this story »

Filed under: Gay Rights • Military • Politics
January 28th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

Health care takes back seat to jobs

It is the pivot his critics believe President Obama should have made months ago – health care now on the back burner, the pain of a lingering economic recession front and center. CNN's Ed Henry reports.

Filed under: Politics
January 28th, 2010
06:00 AM ET

A small town's big bridge called a stimulus waste

Editor's Note: All week, CNN examines the stimulus and looks at one of the greatest areas of concern for Americans: the economy. Today, our Christine Romans finds out why a bridge that was built to make residents safe is now being called a waste of their money. Friday on American Morning, our Gerri Willis has the story of one man in Ohio who says the stimulus saved his family from losing everything and is giving them hope for the future.

By Christine Romans and Julian Cummings, CNN

Thedford, Nebraska (CNN) – Sixty to eighty trains rumble through this ranching town in the Nebraska sand hills every day. The roar of the coal cars and the scream of the whistle and the wait at the crossing for the train to pass are a way of life.

An almost $7 million coal bridge will change that. Instead of waiting for 30 seconds to 3 minutes for a train to pass, cars will now pass over the railroad tracks on a massive bridge. Since this is a town of just 168 people, the bridge is the largest per-capita stimulus project in the state.

So how does Thedford feel about its stimulus money?

"We haven’t seen any money. Not yet," says Judy Taylor, Thomas County treasurer and Thedford town chairman.

Some long-time residents openly scoff at the title of biggest per-capita recipients of stimulus dollars in the state.

Marv Blauvelt was born and raised in this town. He says the bridge is a waste.

"Well, really in all honesty we don't know what the point is, except some design engineer in Lincoln decided that this is what needed to be done and they said it would take ten to fifteen years to make it happen. Well it happened a lot quicker than that because of the stimulus," said Blauvelt.

The project was indeed "shovel ready," sitting on the books just waiting for funding. When the stimulus was passed, the process moved quickly and construction began last summer on Thedford's new bridge.

Learn more about Thedford's history Video

Nebraska Department of Roads Director Monty Fredrickson says the crossing was a traffic and safety issue.

"The conflict between the rail and the highway is an important feature both from a safety aspect, continuity, mobility and especially emergency services," said Frederickson.

And he defended the project, saying it would indeed stimulate the economy.


Filed under: Economy • The Stimulus Project
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