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Military policy on gays to stand, pending appeal

A federal appeals court will allow the military to continue enforcing the law restricting the service of openly gay men and women in the military while a lower court decision that struck the law down as unconstitutional is being appealed.

A federal judge in California, Virginia A. Phillips, ruled Sept. 9 that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law violated the equal protection and First Amendment rights of service members and wrote that it had a “direct and deleterious effect” on the armed services. On Oct. 12, she ordered the military to stop enforcing the law nationwide.

The Defense Department asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to allow the status quo to continue as the case made its way through the courts. It has narrowed its own process for dismissing openly gay people under the policy.

Last month, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit granted a temporary stay of Phillips’ ruling; yesterday it extended the stay.

For some local TV stations, a gold mine in attack ads

In Waco, Texas, $350 will usually buy 30 seconds of advertising time on a local evening newscast. But not this week.

In a scene being repeated in markets across the country, the Democratic congressman who represents Waco and the surrounding region, Chet Edwards, has been fighting off a potent Republican challenger, Bill Flores, ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections.

The beneficiaries are the local stations that have been inundated by campaign attack ads.

“It’s swamped us,” said Phil Hurley of KCEN, the NBC affiliate in Waco, which has been charging closer to $500 for a 30-second spot on the 10 p.m. news.

There has been a nationwide surge in TV ad spending for the midterms, which one group projects could top out at $3 billion this year, up from $2.7 billion in 2008. The victims, so to speak, are the local businesses whose ads are drowned out by the political din and the viewers who quickly tire of seeing the same attack ads over and over.

Rather than being squashed between attack ads, Tariq Sekander, the sales manager at Waco Hyundai, decided to keep the dealership’s ad spending at a minimum in the weeks leading up to the election. He usually spends $13,000 to $15,000 a month.

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 could face additional costs

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the nation’s most expensive arms program, could face additional costs and delays beyond those that prompted the Pentagon to overhaul the effort earlier this year, an industry consultant said Monday.

Loren B. Thompson, who advises Lockheed Martin and other contractors, said some Pentagon officials believed that more flight tests would be needed, especially on one version of the plane that recently had suffered from parts failures.

More money and engineers will also be needed to finish the millions of lines of software programs that would control the radar-evading plane and its weapons, Thompson said in an interview.

The possible delays were first reported by Bloomberg on Monday. It said projections based on preliminary test data indicated that development of the planes could cost as much as $5 billion more than previously estimated. That comes on top of a $2.8 billion increase in the spring, which brought the total for development alone to $50 billion.