Culture Note

PlaneCourtney Love, Aviation Reporter
by Johnny Beaver

This just in: Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 was found by way of an oil slick near 5°39’08.5″N 98°50’38.0″E. Seriously. What, you don’t believe me? Well, I read it on Huffington Post, where they devoted an entire article to this claim… which came from a Facebook post by washed-up rock n’ roller Courtney Love. Because that’s how sad our news organizations have become. Not only is it so incredibly pathetic that I have a hard time actualizing it in my brain, but it stands as just one example in a filthy, stinking sea of them.

Let’s see. Rush Limbaugh suggested it was shot down, others hinted at a cyberattack, media mogul Rupert Murdoch tweeted that it “confirms jihadists [trying] to make trouble for China” or something like that. Still others claimed the U.S. military had stolen the plane, or that it was hijacked by terrorists or those that want to steal technical knowledge of classified patents held by some travelers. Alien abduction, anyone? My Lord.

Although aviation experts systematically debunked these theories while they were trying to actually find the damn plane, there wasn’t a major news source in this country that didn’t spin every ridiculous tale as long as it could. Is the human race so terribly ^%#$@! bored that it had to latch onto every scrap of this story like it were the last Butterfinger after the apocalypse? All signs point to yes.

Out of respect to the human beings that likely lost their lives, as well as their family members… please slap yourself in the face, as hard as you can, if you played any part in perpetuating this insanity.

Ron Wyden­ Should Make Oregon Proud
By Nathaniel Brodie

President Barack Obama is soon to call for reductions in the government’s power to collect and store American phone records. This is welcome news. Obama is owed some kudos. As is Edward Snowden. But so is Ron Wyden, senior U.S. senator of Oregon.

Wyden has been fighting for almost a decade to preserve individual liberties against the combined forces of the CIA, FBI, NSA, and DoD. He has been an especially vocal critic against the NSA’s recent and questionably legal domestic surveillance programs.

Last September, James Clapper, Obama’s director of national intelligence, openly lied to the Senate Committee on intelligence about whether or not the NSA collects any type of data on millions of Americans. It was Senator Wyden who pointedly asked him that question, hoping to expose at least one of the discrepancies between what these agencies tell the public—and, to a large degree, the rest of the government—and what they actually do behind the scenes.

In the days after 9/11, the Patriot Act was passed, and is now used as dubious legal cover for many of the surveillance programs Snowden revealed. Again, Wyden was there, helping to attach time limitations to the act’s most contentious provisions. When the Patriot Act was up for reauthorization in 2006, Wyden was one of 10 senators to vote against it. He was a vocal critic of Obama’s extension of the act in 2011.

Whether or not Obama’s upcoming reforms will ensure the rights enshrined in the Fourth Amendment remains to be seen. But it’s reassuring that an Oregon senator is fighting for those rights.