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Stay Granted on Halting ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’; Arms Sale Planned for Saudi Arabia

A federal appeals court late Wednesday issued an emergency stay of a judge’s order halting the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, temporarily granting the Obama administration’s request for a freeze on the order.

The three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals instructed lawyers for the gay rights group that brought the lawsuit successfully challenging the policy to file arguments in response by Monday.

The judges will then decide whether to extend the stay while it considers the government’s appeal of U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips’ ruling that the policy is unconstitutional.

Walter Dellinger, the head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel from 1993 to 1996, writes in the New York Times:

“The decision will strike some people as odd, since popular belief holds that the president, who has said he opposes the law, can make the policy go away by simply letting the lower court order stand. In fact, the administration is required to comply with the law and defend it in court, regardless of Mr. Obama’s personal views.”

The Associated Press’ Julie Watson and Anne Flaherty surmise:

“It comes down to changing the culture, and top brass say they need more time. The military has been long resistant and, at times, hostile to gays, and it draws much of its 2.4 million members from socially conservative parts of the country.”

The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson wonders, “Why the wait?”

“We expect our soldiers and junior officers to walk into Afghan villages and organize shuras with elders. Do we really think that, put in a unit with a soldier who, like some people they went to high school with, may be gay, they can’t figure that one out.”

The AP reports that in light of the stay the Pentagon is working on new guidelines regarding gays serving in the military. The guidelines are expected to be announced later Thursday.

Pentagon Plans Major Weapons Sale to Saudi Arabia

The Defense Department has notified Congress that it wants to sell $60 billion worth of advanced aircraft and weapons to Saudi Arabia, the Washington Post reports. “The proposed sale, which includes helicopters, fighter jets, radar equipment and satellite-guided bombs, would be the largest arms deal to another country in U.S. history if the sale goes through and all purchases are made.”

Protests Continue in France

Protesters blockaded Marseille’s airport and attacked police in Lyon, and Lady Gaga canceled concerts in Paris as the French Senate prepares to vote on raising the retirement age.

A final parliamentary vote on President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plans for pension reforms seemed unlikely until the middle of next week, reports the New York Times.

French workers plan to step up their protests next week, according to the BBC.

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