Trapped in an energy field
energy musings, renewables, regulation and policy wonkeshnessdom, polisci rantings, and ramblage. The comments expressed here are my own, and don't represent the position of any business or clients.

 I make no claim of ownership to reposted materials. Barney is a purple dinosaur of love.

DYK? Three of your next five breaths come to you courtesy of phytoplankton, the tiny marine algae that produce most of the planet’s oxygen?  


DYK? Three of your next five breaths come to you courtesy of phytoplankton, the tiny marine algae that produce most of the planet’s oxygen?  

Today’s Long Read: Meet Carolina, Who Brought Her Daughters 1,500 Miles To The U.S. So They Wouldn’t Be Raped


McALLEN, TEXAS — We met Carolina while visiting a “welcome center” for recently-processed immigrants at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas. She emerged from a sweltering relief tent that sheltered a handful of other fatigued travelers, most of whom, like her, had been released by Border Patrol just hours prior. She stood what couldn’t have been more than five feet tall, but her weary eyes hinted at her age. She looked tired, but then, she should: she reportedly had just finished a journey of more than a thousand miles, and still had more to go.

Concern has been growing about the ever-increasing number of children and families — including tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors — crossing the U.S.-Mexico border as they flee violence and poverty in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The humanitarian situation has sparked a range of passionate responses across the country, triggering anti-immigrant protests sponsored by various Tea Party groups and calls for compassion from pro-immigrant advocacy organizations and people of faith. The federal government, for its part, is currently engaged in a heated debate over how to deal with the issue; President Barack Obama is seeking $3.7 billion in emergency funds from Congress to help address the surge, but a rival plan unveiled by House Republicans on July 29 asks for a significantly reduced amount — $659 million. Still others in the Obama administration are discussing the possibility of granting Hondurans — and eventually Guatemalans and Salvadorans — formal refugee status, so people can be evacuated directly to the U.S. without having to make the treacherous northward journey.

But too often lost among the drama of Washington political battles are the stories of the actual people crossing the border — men, women, and especially young children who have risked everything to make the dangerous trek to the U.S. People like Carolina.

Speaking through a translator and using exaggerated hand gestures to emphasize her points, Carolina told ThinkProgress how she came to the U.S. from the La Unión municipality of El Salvador, a coastal region nestled next to the eastern border with Honduras. Her 14-year-old daughter, who we will not name for privacy reasons, stood beside her as she talked, and she mentioned another 5-year-old girl, who she said was “over there somewhere, playing,” that also accompanied them on the journey. It was not immediately clear whether or not the second girl was her own daughter, but Carolina referred to her as part of their family unit. We cannot verify the details of her story, only that the families who come to Sacred Heart Church are reportedly bused there after being processed by Border Patrol, and that stories like Carolina’s are all too typical among those at the welcome center.

Why they left

Carolina was quick to explain that she left El Salvador because of a common concern among those fleeing Central America: gang violence.

“The crime, the gangs, it’s terrible, especially with little girls like her,” she said, pointing to her daughter. “I left because of fear, because of threats — threats to mothers, saying that if you don’t go along with [gang members] they’ll take your daughters from you.”




These kinds of horror stories are increasingly the norm among those crossing the U.S. border. In 2012, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala had a higher homicide rate for civilians than Iraq during the height of the Iraq War, a disturbing trend that is almost entirely attributable to an explosion of gang activity in the region. Two of the largest street gangs — MS18 and MS13 — have founded chapters in cities throughout the “northern triangle,” using increasingly brutal tactics to terrorize local populations as they battle for power and turf. In addition to beating or killing young men who refuse to join their ranks, they are known to use rape as a weapon, pushing sexual violence to all-time highs in El Salvador. They regularly force young women to be their “girlfriends,” subjecting them to frequent rape at the hands of one — or often, multiple — gang members.

Carolina said she had seen the tragic impact of such violence firsthand.

“Usually once they take [the girls] they cut their throats,” she said. “They rape them, then they cut their throats. Or if they don’t rape them [and kill them], they leave them pregnant. And if we try to rat them out or go to the police, they’ll kill us. They put us in plastic bags and leave us on the shore.”

“And they leave them pregnant, little girls of her age,” she said, her voice rising. “She’s fourteen.”

The journey

Carolina said the journey — with her 14- and 5-year-olds in tow — took 12 days total; nine from El Salvador to Mexico, three from Mexico to the U.S. border. She told us that travel through Mexico was quicker because they rode buses, but hunger remained a constant issue throughout the trip.

“[There were] long days, some days going 12 hours without stopping,” she said. “We had to put up with a lot of hunger. Lack of food. Because on foot, we’d start around 11 at night and we’d go sometimes until 10 in the morning. The whole way we would have to put up with hunger, because they didn’t sell any food on the buses.”

In addition to starvation and exhaustion, Carolina said their travels were also fraught with dangers. She detailed one especially harrowing incident on the Guatemala-Mexico border.

“[We went up] to the border with Mexico. At that point we stopped at the river to cross the water. The water was up to here,” she said, motioning with her hands at her waist. “They put down some little boats, and we rowed them with our hands.”

“Then we were running scared, scared because we could hear gunfire in the distance. One little girl ran out in front, with the rest of us all behind her, all scared. We thought they were going to shoot us from above,” — she waved her hand over her head, mimicking the spin of a helicopter blade — “so we ran out and hid ourselves in the forest. We jumped out of the boats so quickly because we thought the helicopter was going to shoot and maybe even kill us. But the little five-year-old ran ahead of us, [leading us] into the forest.”


The possible route of Carolina and her two young companions. NOTE: This projected path is an approximation based solely on their point of origin and final destination.

Some people who make the journey north enlist the help of so-called “coyotes,” or people paid to guide children and families up through Mexico to the U.S. border. These men can quicken the trip, but at a price: a 2013 reportfrom the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops lists the average cost of a coyote as somewhere between $5,000-$7,000, or roughly twice the average annual income for a Salvadoran.

(Carolina couldn’t afford a coyote. She couldn’t even afford to bring everyone with her. “I did leave my 12-year-old son in El Salvador … with his father,” she said. “It’s because the money I had…It wasn’t enough to bring him all the way from Mexico to here – we ran out. It’s incredible how much you spend from there to here in Mexico. We spent like 500 dollars!” )

In addition to guidance, travelers who hire coyotes are looking for some modicum of protection from Mexican kidnappers and gangs. These groups — especially Mexico’s infamous Los Zetas drug cartelare known for extorting, killing, or raping Central American women they capture, and sometimes selling them to sex trafficking rings. But being able to afford a coyote isn’t always a luxury. Many of those who flee from Central America also report that coyotes will sometimes rape the girls they escort, spurring some women to preemptively take contraceptives — often in the form of injections — during their travels as a means of protection.

Carolina said neither she nor her girls had taken contraception, but understood the fear of those who do.

They do say that when the girls, the young girls, come by those means, that’s when they get raped.

“It depends on when you come, ” she said. “There are many that do say that they are raped. But we weren’t as afraid of being raped, [because] we came alone. But sometimes when they come with coyotes…”

“They do say that when the girls, the young girls, come by those means, that’s when they get raped.”

Given all these potential dangers, our translator expressed shock that Carolina and her daughters had made the trek by themselves. Carolina shrugged; they had made do by relying on the kindness of strangers, or, as she put it, “Asking, asking, asking.”

What kept Carolina and her girls going in the midst of such hardship? Perhaps it was courage? Raw determination? Maybe religious faith? “The fear,” she said. “The fear of being in El Salvador. The fear. We had to have the courage to come to do this.”

The arrival

When Carolina and her two young companions finally arrived in Texas, they were quickly apprehended by Border Patrol agents. They were then sent to one of the multiple processing centers along the border, where she and her daughters spent four days in detention with other immigrants. She said her experience with Border Patrol was “more or less good,” although she noted that the food was “really nasty.”

“We slept on the floor,” she said. “It was freezing! And they took all our clothes — everything. The extra clothes we brought. They only left us with the shirts we were wearing. We brought sweaters, caps, but they took everything. We couldn’t change clothes.”

She also corroborated reports of notorious overcrowding at the Border Patrol’s makeshift shelters, where the raw influx of desperate children and families is putting increased strain on federal resources.

“When we got there, there were about 30 [people], but when we left today there were 80,” she said. “It was full! Full! We didn’t fit!”

What now?

Carolina’s moment of reflection was powerful, but brief. She and her girls had to catch a bus later that evening, which she said would take them north to stay with a family member before their required court hearing. Someday soon, a judge will decide whether to grant them family asylum as refugees or deport them back to gang-ridden El Salvador. In the meantime, Carolina said she wanted to stay focused on practical matters — although her words seemed tinged with the guilt of leaving behind her son.

I don’t even want to remember the journey.

“We’ll see if we can work,” she said. “And we’ll see if we can get our other child back in El Salvador [to come here]. And the girls are going to study.”

When asked whether she would take the journey again, she closed her eyes tightly, pausing for a moment before speaking.

“I don’t even want to remember the journey,” she said sullenly, shaking her head. “When we crossed the border, we were all so afraid, we heard gunshots, and you imagine you’re going to die. It was so awful I don’t want to remember it.”

As we closed the interview, we asked one last question — indirectly — to Carolina’s daughter who stood nearby: what do you want to be when you grow up?

“A teacher,” she said, grinning bashfully and staring at her feet, just like any 14-year-old would.

Few could doubt that this young woman — who has reportedly traveled thousands of miles, endured unspeakable hardships, and learned so many life lessons at such as young age — would have much to teach American students.

But only if she is allowed stay.

Initial translation for this conversation was provided on-site by a volunteer from Sacred Heart Church. Later translation and transcription of the recorded conversation was provided by Tanya Arditi and Alfredo Garcia Mora.

CNN Anchor Bill Weir Angers Fox Nation, Calling Them 'Ignorant F*cksticks'


CNN Anchor Bill Weir Angers Fox Nation, Calling Them 'Ignorant F*cksticks'

Bill Weir of CNN doesn’t think much of climate change deniers, and let out a ‘colorful’ tweet earlier today you don’t often see from cable news anchors.

via The Wrap

Bill Weir is not impressed with Fox News site’s weather story

CNN anchor Bill Weir didn’t mince words in his assessment of a Fox Nation post.

“Climate Doesn’t Cooperate With Al Gore Group’s Visit to Denver EPA Hearings,” read the headline of a post on Fox News’ opinion and aggregation site. The story, from the Washington Times, noted that while Gore’s group has linked global warming to hot temperatures, Denver was 58 degress and rainy on the day of the hearings.

To which Weir replied on Twitter: “Weather is not climate, you willfully ignorant fucksticks.”

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1386288741770-3’); });

fucksticktard (tm pending)


Néle Azevedo :Ice Men Figuriines in Belfast, Ireland

brazilian artist néle azevedo ,presented as part of the belfast
festival at queen’s university in northern ireland.
the artwork is a collection of hundreds of carved ‘ice-men’, ‘Monumento Minimo’, perched readily side by side on the steps of custom house in the city of belfast, a carefully prepared intervention that slowly thawed under the heat of the day. the figures sit slouched, with legs dangling – an oddly charming set of characters
full of aloof charisma. the project was selected by the curator of the event as a tribute to titanic victims,  the ephemeral artwork a powerful expression of  the transitory nature of life, and death.

(via asylum-art)

cayugaway: happy (pretend?) birthday belladonna. 

cayugaway: happy (pretend?) birthday belladonna. 

Stephen Hawking: Why I support Assisted Dying


Cambridge scientist Stephen Hawking is backing the Assisted Dying Bill which is being debated by peers on Friday.

The 72-year-old cosmologist said it was “discrimination against the disabled to deny them the right to kill themselves that able bodied people have.”

He said safeguards would be needed to ensure the person truly wanted to die.

Lord Falconers’s bill proposes allowing doctors to prescribe a lethal dose to terminally ill patients judged to have less than six months to live.

More than 130 peers have put their names down to speak.

The Bill would enable doctors to help patients die by prescribing a lethal dose of drugs.

Two physicians would have to certify that the patient was terminally ill and expected to die within six months.

'Freedom of the individual'

Prof Hawking said it would be “wrong to despair and commit suicide, unless one is in great pain, but that is a matter of choice.

"We should not take away the freedom of the individual to choose to die."

But he admitted that he had once briefly tried to end his life when he had a tracheostomy - an operation to fit a breathing tube.

"I briefly tried to commit suicide by not breathing. However, the reflex to breathe was too strong."


A very unusual genetic color variation in white-tailed deer — rarer even than albinism — produces all-black offspring in that species which are known as “melanistic” or “melanic” deer.

(via the-smiling-wolf)

Selfie-Incrimination: Does This Soldier's Instagram Account Prove Russia Is Covertly Operating In Ukraine?


A Russian soldier has posted pictures to Instagram that show him operating military equipment inside Ukraine, including manning a missile launcher system of the type used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Alexander Sotkin, 24, first posted a photo from a base in southern Russia, on June 23, a day after Russia began building up its forces there. Kiev accused Moscow of attacking its positions across the border with mortar fire and unguided Grad missiles.

A week later, Sotkin, whose social media profiles say he is a communications specialist stationed near the Ukrainian border, posted a photo to Instagram from the village of Krasna Talychka in rebel-controlled territory in east Ukraine.

“sitting around at night… we’re working our faces are sweaty #army #exercises2014 #night #comms”

It’s not entirely clear what Sotkin was doing in Ukraine, or how long he was there. He took this photo in Russia on July 3, seemingly while in an armored personnel carrier.

“the local population here are organizing a concert, but some of us are on guard 😔 #fail #army #exercises2014 #comms #selfie #apc #boredom #summer #july

But in the early hours of July 5, Sotkin posted another photograph from the village of Krasnyi Derkul on the Ukrainian side of the border. Ukraine accused rebels of firing mortars at a border point there at that time.

“time to sleep! 💤💤💤🌙⛺️ #army #exercises2014 #night #sleep #selfie”

According to Sotkin’s photo map, the photos were taken about 9 miles from the base in Voloshino, Russia, where he appears to be stationed.

According to Sotkin's photo map, the photos were taken about 9 miles from the base in Voloshino, Russia, where he appears to be stationed.

By July 7, he appeared to be back in Russia for good. “I still don’t understand what we’re doing here, so we’re continuing to go slightly crazy, listen to #swedishhousemafia and wait for new news from Ukraine!” he wrote.

#army #summer #fuckedup #comms #boredom #exercises2014 #without

On Sunday, Sotkin posted another photo in which he claimed to be working on a Buk missile launcher. Ukrainian and U.S. officials say rebels used a Buk to shoot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 two weeks ago, killing all 298 on board.

“sitting around, working on a buk, listening to music, basically a good sunday”

To operate a Buk, the rebels would have neededtrained communications specialists like Sotkin to operate a sophisticated radar station, which can be stationed independently of the surface-to-air missile launcher.

To operate a Buk, the rebels would have needed trained communications specialists like Sotkin to operate a sophisticated radar station, which can be stationed independently of the surface-to-air missile launcher.

Alexander Natruskin / Reuters

Nothing directly links Sotkin to the Malaysia Airlines attack. Ukraine has, however, accused Russia of firing surface-to-air missiles across the border at its aircraft, most recently in an attack that downed two fighterslast week.

Sotkin isn’t the only soldier whose social media postssuggest Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict. Last week, a VK user named Vadim Grigoriev posted several images of Russian artillery positions. One was captioned “We pounded Ukraine all night.”

Grigoriev then appeared on Russian state TV and claimed his account had been hacked.

The U.S. released satellite images on Sunday that it said proved Russia was shelling Ukrainian positions across the border. Russia’s defense ministry said that the claims were untrue because the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine posted the pictures to Twitter.

The U.S. released satellite images on Sunday that it said proved Russia was shelling Ukrainian positions across the border. Russia's defense ministry said that the claims were untrue because the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine posted the pictures to Twitter.

“These materials were posted to Twitter not by accident, as their authenticity is impossible to prove — due to the absence of the attribution to the exact area, and an extremely low resolution. Let alone using them as ‘photographic evidence,’” defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told state newswire Itar-TASS. Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Instagram’s geolocating tool, however, is highly accurate. The only plausible way it could have misplaced Sotkin’s photos on the map is if he had used a trick called GPS ghosting to make his iPad think he was elsewhere.

Though Sotkin, as a communications specialist, could credibly have the ability to do this, the obviously compromising nature of his posts makes it far more likely that he did not realize that Instagram posts all photos to the map by default.

A Russian lawmaker announced plans on Tuesday to ban all soldiers from posting to social media while on active duty.

“In the conditions of the informational warfare that the foe is waging, even the most insignificant details can become weapons used against us,” Vadim Soloviev told pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia.

Siraj Datoo contributed reporting from London.

Source: Max Seddon for Buzzfeed