National Briefs: Hagel questions transgender ban

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WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Sunday that the military should "continually" review its prohibition on transgender people serving in the armed forces, calling into question whether the Pentagon's ban may eventually be lifted, as was the ban on gay men and lesbians in the military.

While such a reversal appears to be far in the future -- the Pentagon's stock talking points on the issue have been that it is under continuous review -- Mr. Hagel, appearing on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, pronounced himself "open" to a review of the policy and added, "Every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it."

But he allowed that the transgender issue was "a bit more complicated because it has a medical component to it."

Rubio: Ready for presidency

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Marco Rubio on Sunday said he was ready to be president, becoming the second potential Republican candidate recently to drop big hints about 2016 as he vies for early attention in a crowded field of maybes.

Mr. Rubio of Florida said on ABC's "This Week" that while he was waiting until the end of the year to consider the decision, he thought he had a "vision" for the nation's future and a strategy for achieving it, among other qualifications that he said he shared with other potential candidates.

Mr. Rubio's assertion came a week after Gov. Rick Perry of Texas offered perhaps his clearest indication yet that he was considering another run, talking about his "botched" campaign in 2012 on NBC's "Meet the Press" and emphasizing that Americans believe in "second chances."

With Mr. Rubio and Mr. Perry trailing other potential candidates like Jeb Bush, a former governor of Florida, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in recent polls, the remarks could be interpreted as an early attempt to stand out in a field where there is no front-runner.

Snowstorm hits Rockies

DENVER -- A powerful spring storm dropped more than a foot of sloppy, wet snow in parts of Colorado and Wyoming on Mother's Day, and forecasters warned that instability ahead of the cold front created conditions ripe for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms in the Plains states.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for most of northern Colorado and parts of southern Wyoming for all of Sunday and for this morning. Strong thunderstorms and tornadoes developed in Nebraska and were threatening to push south Sunday. The storm also created high winds across the West.

Obama congratulates Sam

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama sent his congratulations Sunday to Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by a National Football League team, calling his selection "an important step forward."

Mr. Sam was The Associated Press defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference. He was picked late Saturday in the third and final day of the NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams. Mr. Sam played college football at the University of Missouri and came out as openly gay in media interviews earlier this year.

Monument reopens today

WASHINGTON -- The cracks have been repaired. The stone has been patched. The elevator is fixed.

The 500 tons of scaffolding have been down for weeks, and the lawn is freshly mowed.

Today, 994 days since an earthquake shook the Washington Monument from top to bottom, the marble-and-granite national landmark reopens to the public.

Tours resume at 1 p.m., following a 10 a.m. reopening ceremony.


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