Slatest PM: The MH370 Search Goes Low-Tech

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 21 2014 4:32 PM

Slatest PM: The MH370 Search Goes Low-Tech

478600993-crew-member-uses-binoculars-onboard-a-malaysian-air
A crew member uses binoculars onboard a Malaysian Air Force CN235 aircraft during a search and rescue (SAR) operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370

Photo by Mohd Rasfan/AFP/Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

The Search Goes Low-Tech: Wall Street Journal: "Australian authorities called on Friday for more aircraft and satellite surveillance in pursuit of possible debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, even as the stepped-up search increasingly relied on low-tech tactics. Air crews scanned the surface of the southern Indian Ocean with binoculars from low-flying planes Friday as the massive multinational operation to find the missing plane entered its 13th day, focusing on a region where satellites had detected objects in the water. ... The shift to human spotters on Friday followed an improvement in the weather after squalls, low cloud cover and high waves frustrated efforts on Thursday and limited air crews to using radar within a revised zone about 1,550 miles from the Western Australian capital of Perth. ... John Young, an official at the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, or AMSA, said search teams would persist with the tactics on Saturday.... 'Although this search area is much smaller than we started with, it nonetheless is a big area when you are looking out the window and trying to see something by eye,' Mr. Young said."

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China Finds Itself in an Unusual Position: New York Times: "China has not held back in forcing the pace of the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. It has deployed 21 satellites and a flotilla of naval ships. It has dispatched investigators to Malaysia, run background checks on the Chinese passengers, and scoured radar images of its vast western regions. Every day it has cajoled, chided and criticized Malaysian officials. And still it has come up empty-handed. Two weeks after the plane vanished on an overnight flight to Beijing, no trace of the Boeing 777 jet or the 239 people on board, two-thirds of whom are Chinese, has been found. The painful process of working with Malaysia... has revealed the limits of China’s power, influence and technological and military might in the region, despite its rapid rise as a rival to the United States and American strategic dominance of the Western Pacific. ... Malaysia has been keeping other nations, including China, at a distance, to the frustration of officials here, according to political observers. ... China is out of its comfort zone, no longer in the position of strength from which it usually deals with smaller Asian nations, including Malaysia."

It's Friday, March 21st, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees, and the whole team at @Slatest.

"The New Post-Cold War Order": Associated Press: "Two almost simultaneous signatures Friday on opposite sides of Europe deepened the divide between East and West, as Russia formally annexed Crimea and the European Union pulled Ukraine closer into its orbit. In this 'new post-Cold War order' as the Ukrainian prime minister called it, besieged Ukrainian troops on the Crimean Peninsula faced a critical choice: leave, join the Russian military or demobilize. Ukraine was working on evacuating its outnumbered troops in Crimea, but some said they were still awaiting orders. The chief of the U.N. came to Kiev and urged calm on all sides. ... Putin sounded a conciliatory note Friday, almost joking about U.S. and EU sanctions squeezing his inner circle and saying he saw no reason to retaliate. But his government later warned of further action."

Obama's Google Hangout: Reuters: "Executives of several large U.S. Internet companies, including Google Inc and Facebook Inc, were to meet with President Barack Obama on Friday to discuss changes to government surveillance programs. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama will meet with six tech executives to 'continue his dialogue with them on the issues of privacy, technology and intelligence following his January 17 speech.' ... Carney said Obama will speak with Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, the world's largest Internet search engine; Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook, the world's biggest social network; and Reed Hastings, chief executive officer of Netflix Inc, an online video streaming service. ...Obama in January outlined a series of limited reforms to NSA data gathering, banning eavesdropping on the leaders of friendly or allied nations and proposing some changes to how NSA treats Americans' phone data."

Pope Francis Takes Aim at the Mob: ABC/AP: "Pope Francis has a warning for Italy's mobsters: They will go to hell if they don't repent and renounce their 'blood-stained money and blood-stained power.' The pontiff on Friday delivered his most forceful denunciation yet of organized crime. The occasion was a prayer vigil at a Roman church for relatives of innocents killed by the mafia, during which the names of 842 victims were read aloud as a somber Francis looked on. After voicing his solidarity with the family members, Francis said he couldn't leave the service without speaking to those not present: the 'protagonists' of mafia violence. Addressing these absentee mafiosi, Francis was unsparing: 'This life that you live now won't give you pleasure. It won't give you joy or happiness,' he said. 'Blood-stained money, blood-stained power, you can't bring it with you to your next life. Repent. There's still time to not end up in hell, which is what awaits you if you continue on this path.'"

Down Goes Duke: ESPN: "Senior-laden Mercer went into Duke's backyard and pulled off the biggest upset of the NCAA tournament so far Friday, beating the Blue Devils 78-71 and likely ending Jabari Parker's short college career. The 14th-seeded Bears, from the same league that produced last year's tournament darlings 'Dunk City' of Florida Gulf Coast, came back from five points down in the last 4:52 as Duke's offense collapsed. ... Mercer qualified for the tournament by winning the Atlantic Sun conference championship over Florida Gulf Coast. A year earlier, the Bears lost that game and watched FGCU advance to the Sweet 16. Mercer scored 11 straight points during the late 20-5 run that clinched the biggest victory in school history. It's the second one-and-done in three years for the third-seeded Blue Devils."

That's all for this week. See you back here on Monday. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.