4.1 Miles: A Must-See Video About the Mediterranean Refugee Problem

This 21 minute video by filmmaker Daphne Matziaraki vividly documents the ongoing crisis as refugees from Asia attempt to cross the 4.1 miles from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos. The video is so compelling that it’s been nominated for a 2017 Academy Award. You can see it here

Here are comments from the filmmaker: “When I returned home to Greece last fall to make a film about the refugee crisis, I discovered a situation I had never imagined possible. The turquoise sea that surrounds the beautiful Greek island of Lesbos, just 4.1 miles from the Turkish coast, is these days a deadly gantlet, choked with terrified adults and small children on flimsy, dangerous boats. I had never seen people escaping war before, and neither had the island’s residents. I couldn’t believe there was no support for these families to safely escape whatever conflict had caused them to flee. The scene was haunting. Syrian and Afghan refugees fall into the sea after their dinghy deflated some 100m away before reaching the Greek island of Lesbos

“The Greek Coast Guard, especially when I was there, has been completely unprepared to deal with the constant flow of rescues necessary to save refugees from drowning as they attempt to cross to Europe from Turkey. When I was there filming, Lesbos had about 40 local coast guard officers, who before the refugee crisis generally spent their time conducting routine border patrols. Most didn’t have CPR training. Their vessels didn’t have thermal cameras or any equipment necessary for tremendous emergencies.

“Suddenly, the crew was charged with keeping the small bit of water they patrolled from becoming a mass grave. Each day, thousands of refugees crossed the water on tiny, dangerous inflatable rafts. Most of the passengers, sometimes including whoever was operating the boat, had never seen the sea. Often a motor would stall and passengers would be stranded for hours, floating tenuously on a cold, volatile sea. Or the bottom of a dinghy would simply tear away and all the passengers would be cast into the water. The coast guard felt completely abandoned, they told me, as if the world had left them to handle a huge humanitarian crisis — or allow thousands to drown offshore.

“I followed a coast guard captain for three weeks as he pulled family after family, child after child, from the ocean and saved their lives. All the ones in this film were shot on a single day, October 28, 2015. Two additional rescues happened that same day but were not included.”




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Posted by on January 28, 2017 in Uncategorized


2016 World’s Warmest Year: the 3d record-breaker in a row


from the New York Times, January 18, 2017

Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016 — trouncing a record set only a year earlier, which beat one set in 2014. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row. In 2015 and 2016, the planetary warming was intensified by the weather pattern known as El Niño, in which the Pacific Ocean released a huge burst of energy and water vapor into the atmosphere. But the bigger factor in setting the records was the long-term trend of rising temperature, which scientists say is being driven by increasing levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

The heat extremes were especially pervasive in the Arctic, with temperatures in the fall running 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit above normal across large stretches of the Arctic Ocean. Sea ice in that region has been in precipitous decline for years, and Arctic communities are already wrestling with enormous problems, such as rapid coastal erosion, caused by the changing climate.



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Posted by on January 18, 2017 in Uncategorized


Europe’s Anti-Migrant Fence Building Spree


In 2015 Europe was overwhelmed with over a million extralegal migrants (mainly refugees from Syria) seeking amnesty somewhere in the continent. So far in 2016, however, this number has been reduced by two-thirds, mainly because the difficulties of getting to the western European countries has been much more difficult by a new landscape of border fences that keeps extralegal migrants out. One of the most formidable is along the Greek-Macedonian border (show above) that has effectively stanched the flow of Syrian refugees who entered Greece either by sea or from Turkey with hopes of moving northward through the Balkan countries to Austria and Germany.

Not only has this new array of border fences discourage potential migrants from attempting to enter Europe but, tragically, it has trapped thousands of refugees in Greece where makeshift camps have arisen along the Macedonian border.

The Washington Post recently put together an informative multi-media feature story on this important topic which you’ll find here. Check it out.

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Posted by on October 25, 2016 in Uncategorized


Germany Still Divided (in Some Ways) 26 Years After Unification

Germany celebrated (sort of) 26 years of unification last week but economic and demographic daBrandenburg Gate and Wallta show that in many ways the country still remains divided between the former East and West. Down below are a series of maps from a recent article  by Rick Noack in the Washington Post showing those differences. More details about each more are found in the article (which can be  can be found here), but in brief the unemployment rate is higher in the former East because after Unification many firms relocated to the former West, leaving fewer job opportunities in the eastern states. That relocation process also explains the income disparity (map two). With more employment in the former West, young people in the East tend to migrate to those opportunities, resulting in the disparity between younger and older populations. Last, these socioeconomic factors seem to have created a more inviting environment in the former East for far-right political parties.


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Posted by on October 5, 2016 in Uncategorized


Vacation Time

Be back online in late August

Sunrise on the dock

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Posted by on August 8, 2016 in Uncategorized


Pardon Us While We Move Australia 1.5 Meters to the North

earth-moving1Australia is to shift its longitude and latitude to address a gap between local co-ordinates and those from global navigation satellite systems (GNSS).

Local co-ordinates, used to produce maps and measurements, and global ones differ by more than 1m.The body responsible for the change said it would help the development of self- driving cars, which need accurate location data to navigate.

Australia moves about 7cm north annually because of tectonic movements. Modern satellite systems provide location data based on global lines of longitude and latitude, which do not move even if the continents on Earth shift. However, many countries produce maps and measurements with the lines of longitude and latitude fixed to their local continent.

“If the lines are fixed, you can put a mark in the ground, measure its co-ordinate, and it will be the same co-ordinate in 20 years,” explained Dan Jaksa of Geoscience Australia. “It’s the classical way of doing it.”

Because of the movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates, these local co-ordinates drift apart from the Earth’s global co-ordinates over time.The Geocentric Datum of Australia, the country’s local co-ordinate system, was last updated in 1994. Since then, Australia has moved about 1.5 metros north.

So on 1 January 2017, the country’s local co-ordinates will also be shifted further north – by 1.8m. The over-correction means Australia’s local co-ordinates and the Earth’s global co- ordinates will align in 2020.

Source: BBC News. July 29, 2016

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Posted by on July 31, 2016 in Uncategorized


Climate Change Claims a Lake and a Way of Life in Bolivia

Llamas,_Laguna_Milluni_y_Nevado_Huayna_Potosí_(La_Paz_-_Bolivia)There’s a fabulous multi-media feature written by Nicholas Casey on the New York Times website today about the effects of climate change on the environment and people of the Bolivian highlands. Here’s the link.

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Posted by on July 7, 2016 in Uncategorized