cc @willystaley RT @ProfJeffJarvis:#snowpocalypse already melting. A scuba diver now in the subway: image via Aaron Stein @aaronjstein, 27 January 2015
The best the meteorologists, those massively over-rated data-interpreting priestlets, had to offer, in the end, after the shelves had been emptied, the roads and schools closed, and the scare-movie forecasts of snowpocalypses and snowmageddons and snowzillas melted away to reveal not much more than a lot of studio-world panic and hype, a bit of drizzle, some snow flurries, a certain amount of slush, a few wind gusts... were a few mumbled half-apologies, and now over to you.. well, you know, maybe not the end of civilisation as known, after all that. Uh, beg your pardon, we were, uh, wrong.
Here come the snow bands at long last. We'll see what we can eke out: image via Kate Bilo CBS3 @katebilo, 27 January 2014
You can almost make out the thin edge of desperation in the hopeful on-air voodooing, the studio dummy squeezing the display pointer joystick hard, trying to shake a reluctant snowflake or two out of every possible shadowy bank of cloud... Poor things, harrowing work one imagines. They'll need a couple days off surely, after all this non-drama.
@Gary Szatkowski Very light snow here in Marlton, NJ: via Dan DiRico @Dan1248, 27 January 2015
@jesstutt We're going to get some snow. But not the amounts we forecast. Not even close: via Gary Szatkowski @Gary Szatkowski, 27 January 2015
@Bbmoney13 Brandon, I'm sorry for the poor quality weather forecast. That's not cryptic: via Gary Szatkowski @Gary Szatkowski, 27 January 2015
Yeah! It's starting!
Yeah, it's starting! #SNOWPOCALYPSE: image via Fred Graver @fredgraver, 26 January 2015
Dedicated public servants beginning their trek to work in Washington D.C. #blizzardof2015 #Snowmageddon: image via Bill Bee @BillBee2, 26 January 2015
Your IPO will not save you from Snowpocalypse
BEST. SNOW. SIGN. EVER! #Snowmageddon2015 #snowpocalypse: image via Trita Parsi @tparsi, 26 January 2015
Snowmageddon, I'm coming for you!
It's here! Blazing through the city and gaining traction like a huge damp fluffy earmuff!
#2300 and no private vehicles are allowed on the streets... Just the noise of the wind. #Snowpocalypse: image via Ross Fitzpatrick @kaled10, 26 January 2015 Brooklyn, NY
We've heard #snowpocalypse and #Snowmageddon RT what you'recalling it. @JoeRockWBAB2015: image via 102.3 WBAB 1023 @WBAB, 26 January 2015
Under the Brooklyn Bridge #East River #Snowstorm2015: image via scenesfromnyc @postcadsfromnycy, 26 January 2015
It's here! Blazing through the city. #snowday #snowstorm2015: image via Ester B. @nycjunkgirl, 26 January 2015
Rush hour heavy build up now at the BBT. #snowstorm2015: image via nycphotog @nycphotog, 26 January 2015
Interlude: Snowmageddon: A Co(s)mic Masque
I see potential for a #DoctorWho moment. #snowstorm 2015 @GMA: "Do you wanna build a snowman... or nine and a half?": image via Sarah Case @WYSarahC, 26 January 2015
We are the children of Snowmageddon. Take pity on us.
We cry out to be heard, but no one is listening.
We are hollow with sadness, yet we were meant to be bringing smiles!
Whatever molded us must have been attempting to create us in its own image.
You can see that the experiment was successful, no one wants to come near us.
Please, get us out of here!
Masks in showcase of first aid supplies shop, Berlin: photo by Till Krech, 2006
Mask after mask melted away, nothing of what may once have been inside us now remains
Mask found in window of Bodie, California ghost town school house: photo by Tahoenathan, 2009
Behind its empty eyesockets the same nothing is not going to be waiting up for us
Masks in showcase of first aid supplies shop, Berlin: photo by Till Krech, 2006
And while we hide, as it were, our [faces] from them, Its thoughts have collapsed inward upon themselves
MaskTV: photo by James Reynolds, 2006
Mask after mask melted away
The ancestors like stone guardians look on with eyes of stone, everything beneath their hollow gaze collapsingg
Masks in showcase of first aid supplies shop, Berlin: photo by Till Krech, 2006
And we hid as it were our [faces] from them
Mask found in window of Bodie, California ghost town school house: photo by Tahoenathan, 2009
Get the Milk! Get the Bread! Get the Toilet Paper! It's Snowmageddon!
Are you ready? @peers @LivingfreeNYC @HarlemHCL @DesksNearMe @impacthubnyc @tummler10 #Snowmageddon2015 #Snowmageddon: image via weleet @Weleetweet, 26 January 2015
When you really want McDonalds and you just dgaf #Murica: image via Hayley Thompson @Hayleymarie326, 26 January 2015
Luckily we got everything we need yesterday #snowpocalypse: image via Chelsea Northrup @ChelseaNorthrup, 26 January 2015
The great bread crisis of 2015. #blizzard2015 #snowpocalypse: image via Meredith Frazier @MeredithF, 26 January 2015
This is what a grocery store in my neighborhood looked like earlier this evening #snowpocalypse: image via Tonya J. Powers @tonyajpowers, 26 January 2015
Side-note: The struggle is real! #snowstorm2015: image via Madame Dumas @AHumanLearning, 26 January 2015
GUYS! We've got #BreadandMilk...shelves have just been restocked.#stockedup #snowstorm2015 #snowpocalypse: image via Palmer's Market @PalmersMarket, 26 January 2015 Darien, CT
The shape of a possible post-snowpocalyptic future world
guuuuuuuys, you ready? #snowstorm2015 #thedayaftertomorrow: image via Emily @Emmbaly, 26 January, 2015 Brooklyn, NY
Don't worry East Coast. Help is on the way. #Snowpocalypse: image via Danny Sullivan @dannysullivan, 26 January 2015
#Boston warns residents of #Juno via @triciamcc1: image via Andrew P. Marcinek @andycinek, 26 January 2015 Grafton, MA
2:50 pm: Right now at Times Square in NYC where moderate to heavy snow is falling. #Juno Webcam image via @EarthCam: image via The Weather Channel @weatherchannel, 26 January 2015
storm #JUNO ooking solid from space in this last @nasa image ... should intensify tonight along the eastern seaboard: image via Mario Picazo @picazomario, 26 January 2015
@NOAASatellites eyes developing US Nor'easter. Blizzard conditions expected #Snowmageddon: image NASA @NASA, 26 January 2015
Sorry @CP0031 looks like I arrived in Montreal first #snowpocalypse: image via Tyler Seguin, 26 January 2015
In the Ice Box -- where the cold is deep and real
'It was cold, very cold': migrant children endure border patrol 'ice boxes': Carla’s recollections are all too familiar to immigration lawyers and advocacy groups who have long complained about the brutal conditions in temporary holding cells for undocumented border-crossers of all ages.But of all the stories that have been recounted, those involving children are the most visceral.
Ed Pilkington in Bay Shore, New York for The Guardian, 26 January 2015
Imagine being taken into a room. It is cold – very, very cold – and you shiver under the single layer of clothes that is all you are allowed to wear. The room is concrete and entirely bare: nothing on the walls, no furniture, no bedding of any sort other than the thin sheet you have been given. The only window allows guards to look in at you, but gives you no view of the world outside.
You sit in the room, huddled on the cold, hard floor, seeking warmth under the sheet. The room is lit by neon lights that are kept on 24 hours a day, and after a while you lose track of time. Is it day, is it night – you no longer know. Though there are many other people in the room with you, they are all strangers and no-one speaks to you. You are utterly alone.
And you are 7 years old.
Carla (not her real name) was 7 years old when she was picked up by officers of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) last June, after she crossed the Mexican border into the US near Hidalgo, Texas. At the end of a grueling 10-day journey from El Salvador, which she left to escape danger and poverty and in the hope of being reunited with her parents in New York, she was taken by border patrol officers to a temporary holding station.
For the first two days, Carla had the company of her cousin, a woman in her early 20s, who had made the journey with her. But then her relative was separated from her and released. For the following 13 days – as official immigration papers record – Carla was detained in the concrete room, surrounded by about 15 other undocumented immigrants like herself.
When she described the room to the Guardian she called it an “hielera” – “ice box” in Spanish. “It was cold, very cold,” she said, through a translator. “The lights were on all the time, and the floor was hard. I couldn’t sleep.”
She was fed an apple and milk for breakfast, the same for lunch, and a sandwich at night. “I was hungry all the time.”
After her cousin left, she was scared. She had no idea what would happen to her or how long she would be kept there, and she feared she would never see her parents again. She cried a lot; so much so that other children in the room were irritated. “They told me to shut up,” she said.
In all, she spent 15 days in the border station, far longer than the 72-hour limit set out in federal guidelines. She was granted two calls to her parents, who were already living in Long Island, having themselves made the journey from El Salvador the previous year.
Carla’s parents remember what she said to them when she phoned: “I’m cold, I’m very tired, I want to leave this place,” she said.Carla’s recollections are all-too familiar to immigration lawyers and advocacy groups who have long complained about the brutal conditions in temporary holding cells for undocumented border-crossers of all ages. But of all the stories that have been recounted, those involving children are the most visceral.
Carla’s attorney, Bryan Johnson, runs a law firm in Bay Shore, Long Island that deals exclusively with immigration cases. He has more than 200 unaccompanied minors on his books. Since last summer he has seen more and more children passing through his office with harrowing stories to tell about their harsh treatment in border stations.
Johnson grew increasingly concerned about what he believed to be flagrant violations of official guidelines about the care of children. Eventually he decided that he had to take action, in an attempt to deter government officials from continuing the breaches.
He has lodged a legal petition aimed at senior officials within the Obama administration. He has written to a federal prosecutor in Texas whose district covers the border zone, calling for the criminal prosecution of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary, Jeh Johnson, and his predecessor Janet Napolitano.
The dramatic request for a criminal prosecution is justified, Johnson believes, because the DHS presides over a system that has deprived his child clients of their constitutional rights to adequate food, shelter, clothing and medical care while detained at border stations.
“We are talking here about a violation of the laws and of the US constitution which states very clearly how the government must treat people in its custody. It has been stunning to me to discover how bad the conditions are. I knew about the ‘hieleras’ but I didn’t know that children were being subjected to the same brutal conditions with no regard to the law,” he said.
Last week, Jeh Johnson posted an open letter on the DHS website in which he explained the Obama administration’s current approach to immigration. He said that while the president had announced an executive action to allow up to 5 million undocumented immigrants to “come out of the shadows” and become taxpayers, that related only to those who have lived in the US for at least five years.
Johnson went on to warn more recent arrivals that the administration has clamped down on border crossers. Anyone they found would be “apprehended, detained, and turned back in accordance with our laws”.
He had a particular message for children: “Children in Central America looking for family and a safer life in the United States must be … discouraged from the unlawful, dangerous path through Mexico, in the hands of a criminal smuggling organisation. Last summer I personally saw hundreds of children who made that journey. It brought tears to my eyes. No child should ever face that ordeal; it is not for children.”
The DHS secretary made no reference to the conditions that such children are forced to endure in US government holding cells along the border. Conditions like those experienced by Tatiana (not her real name), who is cited in the legal petition calling for Johnson to be prosecuted. Speaking through a translator, she described to the Guardian what happened to her and her nine-month-baby Rafael (also a pseudonym) when they were detained at a border station in Texas in July, having travelled by bus and boat to the US from Honduras.
“I’d heard about the ice boxes, that they were very cold, but I had no idea they were quite that bad,” she said. “We were so cold all the time.”
She said she was shocked by the concrete cell in which she and her baby were kept for 10 days. “I thought of the US as a country where human rights are respected, especially of children. I thought of it as a place of freedom, full of sunlight, where you’d feel the wind like you were outside.”
The Guardian has seen official documents that record the number of days both Tatiana and Carla spent in the holding cells. The documents also confirm the girls’ real names, which are not being disclosed here at the request of their legal representatives and families.
Tatiana was 16 at the time of her detention, a child herself. “The room was so cold you almost couldn’t breathe, it made your nose hurt,” she said. There was no bedding, not even a blanket, and she slept fitfully with Rafael in her arms. After a few days the baby caught a cold and stopped eating solids, and for a couple of days he wouldn’t even take his mother’s milk. His weight fell from 23lbs when he arrived at the border station to 15lbs.
She said she didn’t ask for medical treatment for her son because of an incident she had witnessed involving another mother in the holding cell. The other woman had asked a guard for help with her infant child who was suffering from the cold, and the guard replied: “Why do you come here if you don’t like it? You should go back home.”
After that, Tatiana decided to keep quiet about her own son’s difficulties. “It felt bad: your son is sick but you say nothing because you’re scared,” she said.
Both Tatiana and Carla were detained last summer during an exceptional surge of unaccompanied child immigrants crossing the border illegally. More than 50,000, largely from Honduras and other Central American countries, arrived in a matter of weeks, overwhelming the CBP and child services
Since then, the numbers have receded. But groups working with undocumented immigrants warn that children continue to be subjected to harsh conditions in the “ice boxes” in border stations.
“Nothing has changed in terms of the abuse and impunity of border agencies, and nothing has changed in terms of the brutal conditions that children endure in confinement,” said James Lyall, a staff attorney in the Tucson, Arizona office of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
He added: “We consistently continue to hear stories of people locked in ‘hieleras’ in isolation, without medical care, lights on all night, no blankets – that remains a constant theme.”
In a statement to the Guardian, the CBP said that the border stations where Carla and Tatiana were held were “designed to provide for the security, safety and well-being of those in our custody and are maintained in accordance with applicable laws and policies. Temperatures are set at 70F (21C) and detainees are provided blankets. Facilities are illuminated to provide for the safety of those in custody and agency personnel.”
The statement goes on to say that the CBP “investigates all allegations of misconduct, and is committed to improving on the progress made in detainee treatment and continuing to emphasise policies that protect human life and treat individuals with dignity and respect”.
That conflicts, however, with the ACLU’s account of events. Together with a coalition of immigration advocacy and civil rights groups, the organisation filed a complaint last summer on behalf of 116 unaccompanied minors aged 5 to 17 who it alleged had experienced “abuse and mistreatment” while in CBP custody.
Despite early promises by the Obama administration to conduct a full investigation into the allegations, none has been forthcoming, and the Office of Inspector General, which oversees civil rights at the border, has yet to issue its response.
Both Carla and Tatiana, now 8 and 17 respectively, eventually made it to Long Island to be reunited with their parents. Both are prospering: they are at school, and say that they are happy and are being treated well. Their American dream has begun.
Tatiana said she doesn’t regret having come to the US, despite her experiences at the border. “I’m with my parents and my child,” she said. “I’m safe. You don’t get hurt or killed just by stepping outside in Long Island.”
But she still thinks about the 10 days she spent with her baby in an ice box. And she has a message for the government: “Have a little heart when you see children sleeping on the hard floor in the cold. Treat people better. Make changes. We are all human beings.”
Migrants without papers sit in a holding cell at the US Border Patrol detainee processing center in McAllen, Texas: photo by John Moore via the Guardian, 12 December 2014
Freezing cells and sleep deprivation: the brutal conditions migrants still face after capture: In a week of outcry over the Senate’s report on CIA torture, human rights groups say harsh treatment of migrants still meted out the on US border: Ed Pilkington in New York for The Guardian, 12 December 2014
Peralta (not her real name) was put into a 15ft by 45ft concrete cell with about 30 other migrants from Central America who had made the similar dangerous and traumatic journey. Her clothes were still wet from crossing the river, but according to the account she gave human rights researchers, CBP officers wouldn’t let her change into the dry clothes she had ready in her backpack.
The cell was a “cold box”, she said, and she and her child shivered on the concrete floor. She reported losing sense of time, as there were no windows in the border station where they were being held.
She was detained in the border station for two nights and two days, by her estimation, then flown to the Tucson border station, where she was held for a further seven days. There she and her daughter were again put into a cell so cold that her lips chapped, she developed a cough and eventually contracted a fever that led to a brief hospitalisation.
Peralta’s story is told as part of a survey of Central American migrants who passed over the US border illegally this summer and who were held in temporary detention facilities in southern Arizona. The report, produced by human rights activists working with Guatemalan migrants along the border, found a pattern of alleged violations in CBP border stations that included widespread reporting of the extreme cold of the sort that made Peralta sick.
Of the 33 adult migrants who were interviewed in depth for the report after coming through Tucson-area border stations between May and July, 94% complained that the bare concrete cells in which they were kept had been too cold or even freezing. Each detainee was allowed only a single garment in which to sleep, with only a bare concrete floor to lie on.
Many complained of sleep deprivation, having been disturbed by the cold, the lack of bedding, loud noises outside the cells and being woken up in the middle of the night by agents to sign release papers. Thirty of the 33 individuals in the survey said they had been unable to sleep because of the bright lights that were kept blazing inside the cells 24 hours a day.
The experiences of Peralta and her fellow migrant detainees are not isolated. Immigration lawyers and human rights groups have long reported a pattern of alleged violations by CBP officers – a trend which, the organizations believe, suggests a systemic level of abuse designed to punish those who have illegally entered the US, intimidate them into waiving their rights and submitting to instant repatriation, and deter others who might follow them.
In the week of the explosive Senate intelligence committee report on the CIA's interrogations of terror suspects under the Bush administration, parallels are being drawn with the abusive detention techniques still routinely practiced on US soil. Though the more recent reported abuses are nowhere near as grotesque as the torture revealed by the Senate report, they do amount, advocacy groups say, to systematic rights violations that incorporate some techniques also deployed in the CIA’s now-discredited rulebook, including sleep deprivation, disorientation and psychological abuse.
Blake Gentry, the Tucson-based researcher who compiled the survey in which Peralta’s story is told, said that many of the temporary detention centres were built in remote areas along the southern border in the wake of 9/11, following the same architectural principles as the secret prisons developed by the CIA in Afghanistan and other countries. The buildings are often windowless, the absence of natural light causing disorientation among detainees.
“When we asked former detainees how long they were held in the border stations, we heard over and over again that they did not know. We asked why, and they said because they weren’t sure whether it was night or day.”
Accounts of harsh treatment in CBP border stations have been recorded persistently over several years. In 2011, the border organization No More Deaths carried out a survey of 13,000 migrants in which more than half reported inhumane conditions in temporary holding cells, with one of the most common complaints being extreme cold.
The report compared the experience of detainees against the UN’s definition of “psychological abuse”, as given in the convention against torture, and found several similarities. In addition to extreme temperatures, there were instances of detainees being forced to stand in strenuous or painful positions, apparently as a form of humiliation; prevention of sleep through forced standing or banging on cell doors; and “playing music, such as traumatizing songs about people dying in the desert, loudly and continuously”. (The use of loud music in border stations appears to have been stopped.)
No More Death’s Hannah Hafter said that what concerned the group most was the lack of oversight of the border patrol stations, which are often located in remote, rural areas. She said the absence of scrutiny allowed an official view to proliferate that she described as the “dehumanization of immigrants in custody – the message is going out that they do not deserve basic human rights”.
In response to Guardian questions, the CBP said that the border stations were designed to provide for the “security, safety and well-being of those in our custody”. In a statement, the agency said that temperatures in the cells were set to 70F (21C) and detainees were given blankets, while facilities were lit to ensure the safety of the immigrants in custody and border agents.
“As a matter of policy, border patrol agents are required to treat all those they encounter with respect and dignity. This requirement is consistently addressed in training and consistently reinforced throughout an agent’s career. On a daily basis, agents make every effort to ensure that people in our custody are given food, water, and medical attention as needed. CBP takes the welfare of detainees seriously and does not tolerate agent misconduct or abuse and investigates all allegations of misconduct.”
Yet human rights groups report a continuing and persistent pattern of alleged abuses along the border. Americans for Immigrant Justice has chronicled the use of so-called “Hieleras” or “ice boxes” in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, where migrants who have illegally crossed into the US are kept in freezing holding cells, in some cases for several days.
Among those subjected to harsh treatment, the group has found, are numerous migrant children. Children have described temperatures in the cells that turned their lips blue and made their fingers numb.
AI Justice’s executive director, Cheryl Little, said that though the complaints “do not rise to the level of the Senate intelligence report, we are talking about systemic techniques that could be described as abusive. These are people who have risked their lives to cross the border in search of security and freedom – all they are looking for is due process.”
In several cases, AI Justice has found, the brutal conditions in the border stations intimidated detainees into signing documents in which they waived their rights to a full hearing, thus prompting instant deportation. “It’s a common belief among immigrants that the system is designed to force them into giving up their rights.”
In October, the American Civil Liberties Union presented evidence to the UN's committee against torture in Geneva in which it itemised cases of what it called the “abhorrent treatment of unaccompanied minors at border patrol stations”. It cited instances of children being forced to stand in stress positions for long periods of time and consistent reports of minors “being held in unsanitary, overcrowded, and freezing-cold cells”.
The ACLU’s border litigation staff attorney, Mitra Ebadolahi, said: “The core question at play here is whether people are treated with a basic level of dignity in their encounters with law enforcement officers. It may not amount to torture, but it’s still a form of very serious abuse, particularly when we are dealing with a population that has already suffered extreme trauma crossing the border.”
The relative absence of oversight for the temporary holding stations along the border has attracted Congressional attention. Lucille Roybal-Allard, a Democratic representative to Congress from California who has introduced legislation to ensure humane treatment of immigrant families at the border, told the Guardian: “We have an obligation as Americans to ensure that everyone in our government’s custody is treated with basic human dignity. I remain extremely concerned about the conditions in which migrants, including young children, are held at border patrol stations.”
Roybal-Allard is pressing CBP to implement improvements to standards and oversights as quickly as possible. She also wants to see “complete and independent investigation of at least 28 fatalities involving CBP personnel since 2010.”
US border patrol vehicle drives along the US-Mexico border fence near Nogales, Arizona: photo by John Moore via the Guardian, 12 December 2014
Ok, we're totally ready for this. Bring it!
Warm in my house during #snowmageddon: image via Rachel Geller @DrRachelGeller, 26 January 2015
Blizzard is just starting, looking at my house during #snowmageddon: image via Rachel Geller @DrRachelGeller, 26 January 2015
My dog's totally ready for this. Bring it, #snowmageddon #blizzardof2015: image Kyle Becker @IJReviewEditor, 26 January 2015
And don't forget that this storm could be history-making, potentially, so plan ahead now!
A tugboat sails on the East River during the early hours of the snow storm in New York: photo by Jewel Samad/AFP via The Guardian, 26 January 2015
People look out from office building windows as snow falls in downtown Philadelphia on Monday. The Philadelphia-to-Boston corridor of more than 35 million people began shutting down and bundling up against a potentially history-making storm: photo by Michael R. Sisak/AP via The Guardian, 26 January 2015
A man with multiple bags of groceries from Fairway food market in New York City ahead of the approaching blizzard on Monday The predicted extreme snowfall is triggering panic-buying of supplies at local stores: photo by Ruaridh Connellan/Barcroft USA via The Guardian, 26 January 2015
The deserted East River ferry path in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, at the start of winter snowstorm Juno on Monday. The major snowstorm has the potential for blizzard conditions and could drop more than 2ft of snow: photo by Laurentiu Garofeanu/Barcroft USA via The Guardian, 26 January 2015
With a road sign warning of an expected blizzard, morning commuters travel across the Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge into downtown Boston on Monday. The Boston area is expected to get hit with about two feet of snow in the winter storm: photo by Charles Krupa/AP via The Guardian, 26 January 2015
People walk along a Manhattan street in heavy snow on January 26, 2015 in New York City: photo by Spencer Platt via The Guardian, 26 January 2015
People cross a snow covered Broadway in the Upper West Side neighborhood of New York: photo by Craig Ruttle/AP via The Guardian, 26 January 2015
A pedestrian walks across 8th avenue following road closures on January 26, 2015 in New York City: photo byAlex Trautwig via The Guardian, 27 January 2015