Category Archives: News

In Case You Missed It… President Obama Has Evolved

-Casey Klekas

On Thursday, February 28, the Obama Administration submitted a legal brief to the Supreme Court in favor of ruling California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

The Administration filed an amicus, or friend-of-the-court, brief insisting that Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. A friend-of-the-court brief is an offering of case-bearing information to the court, which may be considered or thrown out. The brief also said that discrimination against same-sex couples deserves heightened scrutiny.

In effect, the Administration is siding with those who wish to overturn Proposition 8 and set a standard against similar laws across the country.

This seems to be another glimpse of the President’s “evolution” on the question of legalizing same-sex marriage. At one time he stood for traditional marriage, he but believed the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law defining marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution, should be struck down. President Obama said this was an issue that should be handled at the state level.

This evolution was hurried along when in May 2012 Vice-President Joe Biden said at a press conference, “I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties.”

This forced the President to publicly clarify his own views. On May 9, 2012 he said, “I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” Since then, the President hasn’t been shy about his views on same-sex marriage.

He was the first president in our history to mention gay rights in an inaugural address, saying, “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law—for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

Nine states plus the District of Columbia have already legalized same-sex marriage, including Maine, Maryland, and Washington, which were the first to do so as a result of popular vote. In those states, same-sex couples are entitled to the same benefits as are enjoyed by opposite-gender twosomes. This includes tax benefits, Social Security, and family medical leave protections.

The new move by the Obama Administration to file the friend-of-the-court brief is worth noting because the Administration was under no political obligation to get involved. The President could have simply let the two California couples who are appealing to the Supreme Court continue unaided by the White House in their fight to overturn Proposition 8. In a White House briefing on Friday, March 1, President Obama said the brief represented his Administration’s position on the matter, and that he wanted to help overturn something he thought unconstitutional and unfair.

In my opinion, the fact that we’re describing the issue as “marriage equality” rather than “gay” or “same-sex marriage” is of great value to the cause. The vocabulary of equality and fairness appeals to our national creed. Instead of using identity politics and demanding that special treatment be paid to a long-oppressed minority, the marriage equality movement has perhaps unconsciously enlisted public support by phrasing itself in moral terms rather than merely political ones. This is heartening news at a time when we need to be reminded of our country’s greatness. Most of our successful progressive movements have played a similar tune—a tune that shows the timeless dichotomy between the young and the old.

Image by JUZ © from http://www.flickr.com/photos/youthoughtyouhaditgood/8507055361/

Duck & Cover: UO Men's Basketball Grabs Win From Stanford

-Eleni Pappelis

Oregon’s men’s basketball team, now ranked twenty-fourth nationally, bounced back from a tough loss to California on a buzzer beater on February 21. Last week’s game was also the Duck’s lowest percentage of shots made during this season with an average below 27 percent.

To redeem themselves, the Ducks returned to Matthew Knight Arena not looking back at their last defeat. The Ducks took a victory against Stanford this past Saturday, February 23, where a loss could have cost them a ranking on the AP Top 25. Their last game against Stanford resulted in the Cardinals blowing out the Ducks 76-52 on January 30.

Stanford trailed Oregon 77-66. Oregon began the game with a sense of urgency in order to gain control of the game’s first half. Junior Johnathan Loyd, who started due to Dominic Artis’ injury, kept up the pace to rattle the Cardinals. The point guard had a great game both offensively with nine assists and fifteen points, and defensively with three steals. Senior forward Arsalan Kazemi also scored fifteen points, seven rebounds, and five steals of his own.

The Ducks’ victory also marked Head Coach Dana Altman’s 600th win in his coaching career.

Tonight, Matthew Knight Arena will host Oregon State for a Senior night at 8 p.m. The Ducks look forward to the Civil War but also to recognize seniors including Kazemi, E. J. Singler, and Tony Woods who will be playing their last game of the regular season. With only two other games to wind down the season, Altman’s team will then travel to Las Vegas for the Pac 12 Tournament, which begins March 13.

In Case You Missed It… Understanding Sequestration

-Casey Klekas

In case you missed it, sequestration is tomorrow. Funny word. What does it mean?

“The sequester,” as it’s being called, is a series of broad, automatic cuts to federal government spending. $85.3 billion will be cut from the 2013 budget, but it doesn’t stop there. Spending cuts will increase every year, for ten years, totaling a $1.2 trillion reduction in spending by 2022.

This is the newest in a series of our “manufactured crises.” Actually, it’s a leftover from a previous crises. Remember the debt-ceiling? Last year, part of the bargain in the debt deals was that in order to get Republicans to raise the debt limit, the other side of the aisle would pledge to get serious about cutting government spending. These cuts were supposed to take place once we hit the dreaded “fiscal cliff,” but congress agreed to move the deadline for the cuts three months down the road. The debt-ceiling gave way to the Budget Control Act which designated a super committee to produce a bipartisan “grand bargain” that would get our financial house in order. As an extra incentive, if they failed to come up with something, a sequester would cut programs that are dear to both Democrats and Republicans. In other words, the cuts are split evenly between defense and non-defense spending. This year, the military budget will be cut by 7.3 percent and domestic discretionary programs cut by 5 percent.

Most experts agree that this will have a significant drag on our economic recovery. That was kind of the point of agreeing to sequestration, that it would be a consequence so ugly that congress would be forced to do something about its spending problem. However, “the sequester” hasn’t inspired anything more than a blame game. This will just impair government function and won’t help to put us on a path to a sustainable budget.

Spending cuts will take effect on March 1–that’s tomorrow. But the really scary deadline is March 27 when we will face a government shutdown. Any thing deemed “non-essential” would be closed.Those directly effected by “the sequester” will be people who plan on receiving money from the federal government. It won’t touch Social Security, Medicaid, military pay, or any costs of the war in Afghanistan. But don’t plan a trip to a National Park, because it will be closed. Don’t try to file a visa or apply for a passport. Hopefully a pandemic won’t break out because the Centers for Disease Control will be on leave, as well.

I’m pretty sick of this “kicking the can down the road” business. You cannot operate a business with this kind of attitude, nor can you run a government. The greatest enemies of the economy should not be our elected officials. This bunch of old people, most of whom are wiser and cleverer than I, has grown stale. I’m convinced that every member in congress is genuinely acting in what they believe to be the best interests of the country they love. But their actions, or inactions, are convincing my generation that we have to settle for a narrow-minded, crisis averting, unimaginative system of self-government. I’m sick of it. We’re better than this.

Illustration by Lily Nelson

In Case You Missed It… Pope Stepping Down Raises Many Never-Answered Questions

-Casey Klekas

At the end of this month, the office of the Bishop of Rome will be vacant. Pope Benedict XVI will abdicate his position as leader of the Catholic Church and as Vatican head-of-state on February 28. The last Pope that resigned by means other than death was Pope Gregory XII in 1415 C.E., and the last one to do so voluntarily was Pope Celestine V in 1294. This leaves many technical questions left hanging. Why did the pope resign? Where will he live? Will the election of a new pope go on as usual? Will he go back to being called Joseph? Will he still have the power of infallibility (that is, saying things that cannot be proven false)? Will his personalized ring, the Ring of the Fisherman, be destroyed as is customary when a pope leaves office—though normally it’s because he’s dead? Will he get to keep his wardrobe? Could he theoretically be re-elected pope? Some of these questions are buried deep in Catholic law, and my Latin isn’t all that it could be, but others have already been answered in English.

The Pope has announced that health conditions brought on by old age are the reason for his early retirement. Benedict, now age 85, was the oldest pope to be elected in nearly three hundred years and among the top five all-time oldest popes at the end of their papacy. The Pope has been in poor health for some time, at least since his last spring break in Mexico when he hit his head (you’ve got to wear the pope helmet, Benedict!). It has also been revealed that the pope has had a pacemaker for several years, replacing the batteries only a few months ago. In his official announcement of resignation, he said, “in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.” Since then, he has added, “I did this in full liberty for the good of the church.”

Where will the Pope go after February 28? Most reports say he’ll stay in the Vatican for some time, and he has plenty of good reasons to do so. Initially after he steps down, he will spend the papal election season in Castel Gandolfo, a summer residence in the hills outside Rome. Then it’s back to the Vatican to live in a monastery, currently under renovation. There, Benedict XVI can stay out of the spotlight so as not to divert attention from the new pope. Indeed, many worry that the authority from the chair of St. Peter could be divided and a rivalry could ensue between papal factions. What if the new pope held views radically different from Benedict XVI, like in the handling of child sex abuse scandals? Would the former pope watch quietly?

When Pope Benedict XVI was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Since May 2001, this has been the organization in charge of handling child abuse cases across the world and deciding the best course of action. The current Pope was accused of being personally responsible for moving around pedophiles and concealing crimes of child rape for the good of the church in his former occupation. These accusations gained further attention in 2010 when there was an effort to have him arrested when he traveled to the United Kingdom. When Benedict XVI is no longer the pope, he will not enjoy the level of security he has now, Popemobile included. This seems to have affected his choice to remain in the Vatican upon retirement. Inside Vatican City, he will receive protection and immunity from further investigations into his connections with child abuse scandals.

So, when walking the halls of the Vatican, enjoying his retirement in the presence of Michelangelo and Raphael, how are we to address his current Holiness? Will he respond to Benedict or will he be plain ol’ Joseph Ratzinger? Certainly he will not be called Papa, Papst, or Pope. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales claim he will go back to Cardinal Ratzinger, yet Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said it would be pretty weird for him to go back to being called cardinal.

Since nobody is really asking what will happen to his ring, his hats, and his papal slippers, it’s hard to get a straight answer. My guess is that Benedict won’t voluntarily relinquish his hat or slippers, and he’ll say he lost the ring (“I don’t know what happened to it!”).

Most importantly, will he keep his twitter account @pontifex, or will he create a new one? Will we see @stilldapope or @lostmykeys?

Image by Sergey Gabdurakhmanov from http://www.flickr.com/photos/gabdurakhmanov/4365482009/

In Case You Missed It… My take on the gun debate – I’m confused and indecisive

-Casey Klekas

My gut and my head are at odds when it comes to gun control. Instinct has been useless for making decisions on sensible limitations to the right to keep and bear arms. Here’s my profile: I own three guns, I like to shoot for recreation, and I’m from Utah (Go Jazz!). I don’t own an assault rifle, but a number (alright, a good number) of my friends do. Three of my friends have their concealed weapons permit and only take their Glocks off their belts when they’re in the shower or making love. One of them I trust with my life; the other I wouldn’t trust with a marshmallow gun. Yet most troubling is that while the third friend is the most gun-loving person I know, he might also be the least mentally stable.

My friend, let’s call him Steak, is a model citizen. He is the consummate gun-owning young man. He’s intelligent and thoughtful and owns multiple firearms, including assault rifles. Steak doesn’t feel that he and the majority of AR-15 owners should be penalized for the acts of a handful of lunatics who commit mass murder. Steak also cites that the majority of gun violence is committed with handguns and resents that gun control is only given attention when a drop of the everyday violence in the slums of Chicago and Detroit spills into suburbia. Although Steak tends to side with deregulation, he agrees that requiring universal background checks on all firearm transactions is a practical way of keeping guns away from goons.

My other friend, let’s call him Ham, isn’t as open-minded as Steak. Ham is against any infringement on gun rights. Mostly, he fears that regulations will only limit the ability of the good guys to protect themselves from the criminals who give no regards to regulations anyway. In addition to his noisy and half-baked rhetoric, Ham’s actions have shaken my confidence in him. An example: on at least one occasion, he unholstered his semi-automatic sidearm and fired repeatedly at a defenseless street sign—whilst drunk driving, mind you (I can’t tell you how many laws you broke, Ham).

More worrying than Ham is another friend of mine, let’s call him Club Sauce. I say “friend” in the loosest possible definition. Club Sauce speaks in a wild, nasally Texan accent and his obsessions include guns, Gundams, and Ted Nugent. School days with Club Sauce were punctuated by his animal tirades complete with full sound effects. Thankfully, he moved away before we experienced further complications brought on by puberty. Club Sauce has since become the perfect Tea Partier as his every Facebook status—ever—will demonstrate. He writes things like, “Keep Your Laws Off My Guns!” and “Gun control made the Holocaust possible.” He “likes” groups such as “Gun control kills” and “We will protect the Second Amendment.” But, what frightens me more than his silly, conspiratorial, shit-headedness is that Club Sauce is probably mentally unstable, yet he is still allowed access to the same killing machines as Steak.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no way of getting the guns out of the hands of people like Club Sauce without infringing on the rights of people like Steak. Requiring universal background checks and psychological exams for gun ownership, including a license and registration, are good places to start. I think the greater the killing power of a weapon (ammunition capacity multiplied by fire-rate) the stricter the regulations should be. I think it should be difficult to buy assault weapons—a real royal pain-in-the-ass—but I don’t think they should be banned. Who among you wants the job of confiscating the arsenal of Club Sauce? Ideally, we would consider the Second Amendment thinking it was only Steaks out there. But, the unpleasant fact is that you can’t have Steak without some Club Sauce.

Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/95413346@N00/8439371212 by Elvert Barnes

Livewrong: Lance Armstrong’s sordid confession

-Casey Klekas

I’m watching her part one interview with Lance Armstrong in January and all I can think is, “God, Oprah is hot.” Beauty, class, power—the woman has it all. If she ever interviewed me, I would happily admit to my sickest impulses and darkest secrets. But right now she’s got Lance Armstrong by the balls—excuse me, ball.

After years of brashly denying accusations of cheating and finally being convicted of doping by the United States Anti-Doping Agency in June 2012, Lance Armstrong attempted to “come clean,” if you will, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. The attention this two-hour confession has received by the media annoyed me enough to express myself through F-book status. My status read, “‘Biker confesses to steroid use’ and ‘college linebacker makes up dead girlfriend’ are not headline news stories.” It got the average seven “likes.” I stand behind my who-gives-a-shit attitude to the “hoax” by Manti Te’o (god, I’m so embarrassed that I even know his name) and the fake dead girlfriend he was pretending to grieve. I’m physically upset right now just thinking about it.

But Ms. Winfrey’s interrogation of Mr. Armstrong deserves better than my youthful flippancy. I just wanted to get away from it like every other American who gets a quiver of embarrassment at the sound of his name.

I think Lance thought that he’d get some relief if he completely exposed himself to Oprah. It felt like I was watching a soft-core inquisition. She started out with the yes and no questions: “Yes or no: did you ever take banned substances to enhance your cycling performance?”

“Yes.”

(Breath.)

“Yes or no: Was one of those banned substances EPO (erythropoietin, a hormone that boosts red blood cell production)?”

“Yes,” (Nod.)

“Did you ever blood dope or use blood transfusions to enhance your cycling performance?”

“Yes.” (Nod. Squint.)

“Did you ever use any other banned substances like testosterone, cortisone or human growth hormone?”

“Yes.”

“Yes or no: In all seven of your Tour de France victories, did you ever take banned substances or blood dope?”

Quickly, “Yes.”

During the whole interview, Lance rubs his lips together like he just put on chapstick. Oprah shows Lance video clips of himself brazenly responding to previous accusations of doping. Former accusers include wives of teammates, like professional cyclist Frankie Andreu’s wife, Betsy. Lance told Oprah about his apologetic phone call to Betsy in which he had a chance to straighten some things out. He claims, “I said, ‘Listen, I called you crazy. I called you a bitch. I called you all these things. But I never called you fat.’” Thanks for clearing that up, Lance.

Lance Armstrong began the interview with an honest face. This wears off by the time Oprah asks if he had bullied his teammates into doping with him. Lance ends up distancing himself from his old self, a common tactic among those who are unused to apologizing. “I’m a flawed character, as we well know,” he says like he’s one of us. When people talk about their own history as if they’re talking about another person, they seem to think that it pardons them of some responsibility. It’s like when people try to use the excuse, “I was drunk!” or “I haven’t been myself lately.” Who have you been? And who was the one who paid for all those drinks?

I don’t mind that he tried to save a little dignity for himself, saying that the last time he doped was in 2005, and not during his unsuccessful comeback in 2009 (when he placed third) and 2010 (when he placed twenty-third). He said his doping “cocktail” consisted of EPO (“not that much!”), blood transfusions, and testosterone. Of the testosterone, he said, “In a weird way, I almost justified because of . . . because of my history, obviously with having testicular cancer,” swinging his head and speaking quickly, “and losing [a testicle] . . . I thought, surely I was running low,” he said frowning.

That was just part one of the interview. To be honest, I don’t know if I can stomach another hour of this.

Nope, I could. I watched part two. Lance talks about what he’s lost. Within a few days of each other, he lost all sponsorships, and therefore, all forms of income (Nike, Trek, Oakley, all adding up to “a seventy-five-million-dollar day”). He talks about being ejected from his own foundation, Livestrong, in which he understandably sounded like he’d lost a child. Speaking of his children, it was only when he heard that his son, Luke, was defending his father from accusations of cheating that Lance decided to end the lie. This is what finally made Lance cry, but didn’t seem to arouse more than my pity.

I keep thinking about his appearance in Dodgeball, when he guilts a fleeing Peter LaFleur into overcoming his fear. He says he thought of giving up after being diagnosed with three cancers at once, but instead came back to win the Tour de France (however) many times. It doesn’t seem so funny now. I also keep thinking about Robin Williams, Live on Broadway, when he talks about his friend in the Tour de France. The French, he says, are always accusing Lance of being on chemicals and Robin says, “It’s chemo-therapy you little toad-sucker!” We wish.

What makes this news and much more than the phony story about some deceased sweetheart is that Lance Armstrong was a hero. He was diagnosed with three cancers at once, lost a nut, beat the disease, then came back to win seven Tour de France titles. He was an American hero, our hero, and if he’s a no-good bully and a cheater, it makes us all feel like cheats, liars, and bullies. Does this throw suspicion on his only unsoiled victory, the one against cancer? It wasn’t enough for Lance to cheat death; he had to cheat all of us too.

And the worst part is he said, “ex cetra,” which if you’ve ever translated the abbreviation etc., you’d know its et cetera and it’s pronounced like it’s spelled. God, what a prick.

Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/55269648@N04/8392000414

In Case You Missed It… God asked to bless America, again

-Casey Klekas

I must have missed the performance of “God Bless America” during the 57th Presidential Inauguration, because it was the only thing absent from a full day of mixing religious rhetoric into political ceremony. Watching the inauguration, you would have thought we were living in a Christian nation, whatever that means. It seems God has a monopoly on our political ceremonies. I guess it’s natural that the main provider of rituals for life’s other great events—weddings and deaths—should be brought into governmental processions. The official theme of the day was, “Faith in America’s Future,” and was stressed by traditional invocations and benedictions, hands on bibles, and almighty welcomings. The question we should ask ourselves as citizens is how much use do we have for religious rhetoric in politics?

Whatever private consolation or strength a person gets from his or her religion is none of my business. On the contrary, it’s my business to make sure their beliefs are protected from infringement. It is not for me to tell them otherwise if they use their religion as motivation and guidance in political positions, just as they couldn’t tell me not to be ethically motivated by the writings of philosophers and poets. It would be impossible to imagine a scenario where the books we read couldn’t be used to justify beliefs we held in the public sphere. Even references to these texts shouldn’t be frowned upon. One man’s, “Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness,” is another man’s, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Whether it’s John Stuart Mill or Jesus of Nazareth, I say to each his own.

There are at least two cases of religious language in politics that should be frowned upon: one is that these quotes are used to justify or incite hatred and intolerance. We should only have hatred towards and intolerance of people who are hateful and intolerant, and if they cite their favorite texts as justification, we should disqualify them from the argument. The other move that should be a disqualifier is if someone tries to force his or her private beliefs onto someone else.

In the case of the inauguration, I think that individuals, such as poets and presidents, should speak openly on their motivations and aspirations.  But, we should not make room in the schedule of our political events for the religious impulse. We should not have public prayers, invocations, or benedictions. I would hope that all God-talk would be kept to a minimum during speeches, and I’d prefer to be left out of the personal prayers of others. But, we should absolutely not be having opening and closing prayers as part of the procession. No inviting the nation to pray during inauguration day. No, thank you.

Lastly, in his inaugural address, President Obama should feel free to make reference to any religious tradition he’d like. If he wants to harness the momentum of the social gospel movements to limit cruelty and promote liberty, be my guest. He said, “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

If he wants to promote marriage equality through almighty references, I say power to him.

If he wants to promise equal opportunity to all children, to say of a little girl born into poverty, “She is equal not just in the eyes of God but also in our own,” I say hurrah!

If he wants to say we should face the threat of climate change and preserve our planet, as “commanded to our care by God,” I say Hallelujah!

If he says that his oath of office was not to party or faction, but “an oath to God and country,” as a way of saying he’ll do what he thinks is best for the country as if he were being divinely supervised, I guess that’s fine.

Still, I would prefer he didn’t end every speech by asking God to forever bless these United States. Divine favor hasn’t lowered the debt and it’s not going to pass immigration reform. Let’s try and stay secular people!

Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/56619626@N05/8403967894

Terms of Abuse? A Look Into Social Media's Fine Print

-Marissa Tomko

I feel like my answer to everything these days is “I saw it on the internet.” From the catchy “Call Me Maybe” tune to Lance Armstrong’s confessions, I am constantly scrolling through notifications, Tweets, and articles about the world around me, and what is happening at that very moment. It takes mere minutes for news to go viral, and there is never a way to tell when it will happen.

The modern-day sensation of insta-news was especially appropriate last month, when the social media company Instagram changed its “Terms of Use.” Instagram’s new policy stated that it would be able to use the photos of any Instagrammer for advertisements, or sell them to services with no obligation to notify or compensate the user. This realization sparked internet pandemonium—people were outraged at the company. Account holders threatened to delete their photo streams for good, including celebrities with large followings and National Geographic. These threats did not go unnoticed. After all, what is social media without users?

Consequently, less than a week later on December 20, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom wrote in a blogpost that the language surrounding the public’s issues would be removed, and that the new new policy would go into effect on January 19, 2013. Last week, an email went out reminding users that the policy will take effect on Saturday. The email was sure to remind users that they will have control over the privacy of their photos.

After all of the controversy and change, there are some that believe that while the protests of users were commanding and influential, they weren’t completely aware of the situation. In an interview with The Washington Post, Susan Scafidi, a professor of law at Fordham University, says that these were probably Instagram’s policies all along.

“The issue was never that Instagram could sell your images. The issue was that, under the ‘Terms of Use,’ they could license them to anyone, anywhere, for virtually any purpose.” Users of social media such as Instagram are unaware of what companies can actually do with their content and user data, the knowledge of which might make one wary of what they choose to do online.

Like most people, I’m probably still not going to read all of the fine print every time I purchase a new app for my phone. But I do take comfort in knowing that if something is brought to the attention of my fellow online addicts, I’ll be able to find out at the refresh of a Twitter feed. Meanwhile, I’ll just be watching the newest cat video.

In Case You Missed It… Cheap Gas Saves World

‘In Case You Missed It…’ is a weekly current events post, offering commentary on some of our most pressing issues and some you might have missed. Casey Klekas is a senior at the UO and studies philosophy and history. He enjoys coffee when he’s not listening to Bob Dylan, but he refuses to combine the two.”

-Casey Klekas
In case you missed it, the average price for regular unleaded gasoline in Eugene is lower than $3.50 a gallon. Costco is dealing it out for a quarter less. Why the hell is gas so cheap? I don’t remember it being this low since Dubbya was in office. Aren’t we crippling Iran with sanctions, the world’s third largest oil producer? You bet we are! So, what’s the deal?

Well, it turns out the United States is weaning off the foreign oil nipple and has developed its own lactating knockers to suck on. The International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook released a report in November 2012 where they predict the United States will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer by 2020, and become a net oil exporter by 2030. But, as CNN columnist Frida Ghitis pointed out in an article titled “America, the Saudi Arabia of tomorrow,” the U.S. already exported more petroleum products like gasoline than it imported in 2011. After peaking in 2005, our reliance on foreign oil has decreased significantly. In fact, in 2011, we imported only 45 percent of the petroleum we consumed and more than half of that came from countries in the western hemisphere.

This is a good thing for many reasons. Chief among them, I believe, is having an approach toward the Middle East that is consistent with American rhetoric: it seems we’ve had enough of all the hidden fees and obligations that come with buying from foreign dealers. We can make it a general policy that we’ll no longer tolerate or support repressive regimes just because they’re selling us flammable fossilized zooplankton at a good price. Our lenses are cleaner for viewing the Middle East, and now we can just worry about whether or not Arab democracy is synonymous with political Islam.

Not only will it lessen our obligations to reactionary governments, but it could actually foster liberal democracy. There is a thing called the “resource curse,” where countries rich in natural resources rely heavily on this sector of their economy. This inherited wealth normally goes to a small group of people who’ve accumulated political power and can afford reactionary governments. But without the steady dough coming in from dealing out the oil, these nations won’t be able to sustain political repression and near-feudal inequality. Instead, they’ll be forced to invest in a middle class who can pay taxes. People will only pay taxes if they have a stake in their government, therefore we’ll see a burgeoning demand for political rights in the Middle East and Central Asia.

So, cheap American gasoline is good for us and it’s good for them. Surely, there must be some horrible catch.

Welp . . . Lower gas prices means less motivation for using renewable energy. The boom in hybrids, electrics, and the rest has been largely the result of the high gas prices of the last few years.  So perhaps we’ll see less of the Prius around town. (I was going to say “Priuses” but it didn’t look right. It turns out Toyota has officially declared the plural of Prius to be “Prii,” I’m guessing pronounced pree-eye, but you be the judge.)

But large reforms towards green energy have already been made and the public seems to have adopted the mindset of a moderate San Franciscan. The Obama Administration has already passed regulations requiring all new vehicles to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. And the drive toward low-emissions standards won’t be dulled simply because there’s cheap gas out there. According to the EPA, this also means less oil will be used overall, so we’ll be conserving what remains of our black, buried treasure while we switch to cleaner energy. This sounds debatable, but who’s going to question the EPA? You? That’s what I thought.

Gas is expected to get even cheaper in the next few years, and I just wanted to give a hurrah for a largely unnoticed move toward energy independence, something that was met with thunderous applause at every campaign rally over the past twelve years. It’s also nice to know that some Saudi prince will no longer rejoice every time I fill up my tank.

Student Athletes’ Love For Bras


-Sara Bianchetti

University of Oregon student athletes are not only inspirations on the field, but they are also inspirations off the field and in the community. O Heroes, a student athlete organization servicing thousands of people through volunteer work in the Eugene/Springfield community, launched a new philanthropic event called Support Sport. O Heroes’ goal for this initiative was to promote global female participation in athletics. Through this event, O Heroes reached out into the Eugene and Springfield community to donate sports bras, which were sent directly to West Ambrym, an island located in the Pacific.

The Support Sport drive ended on Monday, November 26. Donations were taken in the form of sports bras (either brand new or lightly worn) and also as gift cards from local department stores were used to purchase new sport bras. 240 bras were collected by the end of the drive.

Brooke Strawn, a freshman forward on the Oregon’s women’s soccer team, created this drive along with her older sister, Kirsten Strawn, who is an Oregon alumni and current Peace Corp member. Inspired by her sister’s Peace Corp experiences in West Ambrym, Brooke wanted to help the women in the Pacific Islands and decided to mobilize this idea into a drive along with her fellow O Heroes.

Image from http://www.footballfanatics.com/COLLEGE_Oregon_Ducks_Ladies_Intimates/Oregon_Ducks_Ladies_Studio_Sports_Bra_-_Black