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Scott Pruitt might be on the wrong end of a Trump tweet soon. Here’s why.

Common guesses include China, which is spending trillions to clean up transit, power plants, and factories. Or Germany, which has gone all-in on renewable energy. But the best answer might be the United Kingdom.

China’s emissions are still rising, and Germany’s are down 23 percent since 1990. Meanwhile, Britain has driven down its emissions by 43 percent since 1990, according to provisional data released Thursday. Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher Scott Burger helpfully turned the data into a graph:

So, has the U.K. simply moved its emissions to China by closing down the Sheffield steel plants and buying imported steel? Not quite — its overall emissions based on import consumption are down as well. (Though it’s true that the country’s traditional manufacturing sector has taken a hit, as you would know if you’ve seen The Full Monty.)

Of course, having low carbon emissions in the first place is better than polluting a bunch and making big improvements after the fact. All rich countries have pumped more than their share of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. But the Brits have provided a model for maintaining all the modern creature comforts while kicking their carbon habit.

How did they do it? Basically, clean energy replaced a lot of coal, industry put a lid on super pollutants, and dumps captured more methane.

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Scott Pruitt might be on the wrong end of a Trump tweet soon. Here’s why.

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Lawmakers are trying to criminalize pipeline protesters for “conspiracy.”

In 11th grade, I had an inane habit of staying up very late IMing my stoner boyfriend and/or stalking boys who were cuter than him on Myspace. As a result, I essentially never woke up on time for school — which, in my defense, started at 7:45 a.m. — but I REFUSED to acknowledge my role in that in any way.

“I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY THIS KEEPS HAPPENING,” I would moan at every tardiness slip. I understood extremely well why this kept happening.

According to a Huffington Post report by Alexander Kaufman, the EPA is taking a very similar approach to its communications on climate change. On Tuesday evening, the agency’s Office of Public Affairs sent around an internal set of talking points.

To sum up: The EPA is dealin’ with climate change! But it sure doesn’t know why it’s happenin’!

Consider some of the OPA-provided points:

Human activity impacts our changing climate in some manner. The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact, and what to do about it, are subject to continuing debate and dialogue.
While there has been extensive research and a host of published reports on climate change, clear gaps remain including our understanding of the role of human activity and what we can do about it.

Replace “human activity” with “staying up until 1 a.m. on the internet” and “changing climate” or “climate change” with “always being late to school,” and my point stands.

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Lawmakers are trying to criminalize pipeline protesters for “conspiracy.”

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Want to See What Donald Trump Is Doing to the Republican Party’s Future? Watch This Florida District

Mother Jones

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By 11 a.m. on the second-to-last Sunday before early voting began in Florida, Joe Garcia, a former Democratic congressman who is running to reclaim his old seat in the state’s 26th district, was going to church for the fourth time that day. “You can do one, maybe two sermons, but on the third one, you’re crying,” he said. He pulled his silver Nissan hatchback onto the grass across the street from the Greater Williams Freewill Baptist Church, a small white building amid fields of winter tomatoes in an African American neighborhood of Homestead, 40 minutes south of Miami.

Garcia is 53, with curly gray hair, glasses, and the wry smile of someone who is always on the verge of saying something he shouldn’t. His Republican opponent, Rep. Carlos Curbelo, points out that he often does. In 2013, during Garcia’s one term in Congress, he referred to obstructionist GOP colleagues as “Taliban“; in September, he told supporters that Hillary Clinton, whom he supports, “is under no illusions that you want to have sex with her.” He has run for the same seat four times and lost all but once to three different Republicans. But this fall, he believes Donald Trump will help propel him to victory.

Florida’s 26th district, which stretches from Key West to the edge of Little Havana, may be the swingiest seat in the nation’s swingiest state. The area, which was part of the 25th district before redistricting, has been represented by a different member of Congress every two years since 2008 and has flipped from red to blue to red in the last three elections. The seat is critical to Democrats’ longshot effort to take control of the House, and to Republicans’ plans to keep it. Combined, the two candidates and their allies have spent $14 million trying to break the stalemate. What’s happening in South Florida is emblematic of the drama playing out in jigsawed districts across the country: an embattled Republican incumbent struggling to escape Trump’s shadow, and a Democratic opponent fighting to keep him there.

But the district is an outlier in a few important ways: The majority of its voters are Hispanic, nearly half its residents are foreign-born, and the consequences of global warming are already being felt. Neighborhoods flood at high tide, immigrants arrive every day, and the most divisive political fights in some communities are over the threat posed by Zika, so Florida is on the frontlines of a fight that climate change may only exacerbate. In the 26th district, the future projected by atmospheric models and demographic trends is already here. The politics have evolved accordingly.

Curbelo is a GOP rising star who joined the party leadership’s whip team as a freshman. But as his party careens toward ethno-nationalism, he is waging his own campaign of mitigation and adaptation, condemning Trump’s candidacy and talking up his work as the co-founder of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in Congress. Whether or not he can survive will say a lot about what kind of future Republicans are building for themselves.

Democrats consider Curbelo’s moderation little more than a deathbed conversion, after a district he won by three points in the midterms was redrawn to become three points more Democratic. This was the message Garcia hammered home to the congregation in Homestead. He clapped along with the choir from the first pew and bounded up to a spot just below the pulpit when he was introduced. “First off, the chorus was on fire!” Garcia said. “They were on fire!”

“We’ve lived through eight years of attacks and abuse that we’ve seen on a national level,” he said. Republicans were to blame. “They have sowed this sick, sick seed. They’ve watered this wicked weed. And now comes time for their hateful harvest, and they’re running. They’re running because they’re now scared of what they did and they don’t want to be Republicans anymore, right? Because they’re scared of what they’ve wrought.” There was little doubt about whom he was referring to.

Former Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia talks to volunteers at his campaign office in Miami’s Sunset neighborhood. Tim Murphy/Mother Jones

Heading into the 2016 election, Miami-Dade County was the hottest place in Republican politics, home to Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, two bilingual candidates promising a friendlier, more diverse conservatism. They were also responding to a mathematical reality: If the party didn’t become more presentable to Hispanic voters and instead continued on the course pushed by Mitt Romney (of “self-deport” fame), it would be shut out of the White House indefinitely.

They bet on the wrong hand. Trump shredded Bush and Rubio by directly confronting their appeal. He mocked Bush’s Mexican-born wife, questioned whether the son of Cuban immigrants was even eligible for the presidency, and attacked anyone who crossed him as a water-carrier for undocumented immigrants. The party shrank toward its base of white men, and South Florida became home to a large and vocal contingent of Never Trump exiles.

Calling it a “moral decision,” Curbelo promised in March, when the nomination was still up for grabs, that he would not back Trump. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, whose majority-Hispanic district neighbors the 26th, followed suit. So did Miami mayor Tomás Regalado, Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Giménez, George W. Bush’s commerce secretary Carlos Gutierrez, mega-donor Mike Fernandez, talking-head Ana Navarro, and ex-Florida GOP spokesman Wadi Gaitan. Miami-Dade was the only county Trump lost in the primary, and many of those Republican voters who pulled the lever for Rubio never warmed to the nominee; one survey of the county in October showed Trump running 18 points behind Rubio’s re-election campaign in Miami-Dade.

Refusing to support Trump is a useful survival mechanism, but by itself it might not be enough. While Republicans in South Florida have mostly hidden from the presidential race, their opponents won’t stop talking about it. The county has gained 130,000 new Hispanic voters since 2012, and of those new voters, Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than a two-to-one margin. The Clinton campaign is saturating the airwaves and canvassing for Democrats up and down the ballot. One irony of Trump is that the Republicans most likely to take the fall for his politics are the ones who least subscribe to them.

Curbelo is 36, with short black hair and an almost permanent smirk. Like Garcia, he is the son of Cuban immigrants; they attended the same all-boys Catholic school, Belen Jesuit, which was relocated to Miami from Havana after another alum, Fidel Castro, shut it down. Even Garcia admits to having watched his opponent’s ascent with a certain amount of awe. Curbelo spent most of his early years in politics running campaigns for local Republicans, getting elected to the school board, and supplying occasional quotes to national reporters about how the party can win with Hispanics.

He owes his current job to a series of very Florida scandals. The area’s previous Republican congressman, David Rivera, lost to Garcia in 2012 amid an investigation into whether he had tried to rig the Democratic primary by paying a fake “straw” candidate to run against Garcia. (Rivera has not been charged, but an ally was convicted for her role in the scandal.) But not long after he took office, Garcia’s campaign manager Jeffrey Garcia (no relation) was investigated for funding a fake tea party candidate to draw votes from Rivera. Jeffrey Garcia was later convicted for both the straw candidate and for absentee ballot fraud and spent time in prison. The scandals were just enough for Curbelo to squeak past Garcia in a good Republican year.

So when Trump rose to the top of the Republican primary polls last summer, Curbelo’s first response made a certain amount of sense. “I think there’s a small possibility that this gentleman is a phantom candidate,” he said in a Spanish-language radio interview in July 2015. “Mr. Trump has a close friendship with Bill and Hillary Clinton. They were at his last wedding. He has contributed to the Clintons’ foundation. He has contributed to Mrs. Clinton’s Senate campaigns. All of this is very suspicious.”

Curbelo, who first supported Bush and then switched to Rubio, has since sobered up to the reality of Trump. At his first debate with Garcia in early October, in the auditorium of their old high school with their former civics teacher looking on, Curbelo was asked out of the gate about his presidential election vote. His mind hadn’t changed. “I will not be voting for either of these two candidates, because I believe we can do better,” he said.

Garcia pounced. “You know as members of Congress the only thing we do is vote—that’s the only thing we do,” he said. “The question is, what would Mr. Curbelo say to his daughters if the night of the election Donald Trump wins?”

Later, Curbelo was asked if he’d support Trump’s plan to construct a wall on the southern border. Again, Curbelo said no. When he was asked what his immigration plan would be, Curbelo offered up something that sounded a lot like Clinton’s: more money to secure the border, better visa tracking, and a path to citizenship for people who are here already. In explaining his support for that last plank, he told a story that might have gotten him booed out of the Republican National Convention, had he bothered to attend.

“I did something a few months ago, I stayed overnight at the home of someone who is undocumented,” he said. “Her name is Cristina, she has three children, one came with her to this country and two were born here. I slept over at her home and we woke up at four in the morning. I get choked up because this was one heck of an experience for me. We woke up at four in the morning and we went out and picked okra—quingombó, for those of you who speak Spanish. I was only able to do it for about three hours. She would do it for another six hours.”

Curbelo brought up Garcia’s past scandals at every opportunity, tarring, with some success, his opponent as a corrupt buffoon and a broken record. He bragged about working with Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) on gun control and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), a former NAACP official, on juvenile justice reform. If you were coming in blind, you might have thought Curbelo was a Democrat.

Garcia’s task has been to remind everyone he isn’t. In just a few days of following the race, I heard a variation of his favored retort a half dozen times. “He’s in the Republican leadership and voted to make women wait 48 hours after they were raped to get an abortion,” Garcia says. “He’s a guy who’s voted or tried to push back Obamacare on nine separate occasions with no replacement. He’s a guy who’s voted to block all the president’s EPA rules on clean water. But suddenly his road to epiphany, his road to Damascus, was the epiphany of the court drawing a more liberal district.”

The most contentious issue on the ballot in Key West this November isn’t control of Congress; it’s mosquitoes. Climate change is making the problem worse. Tim Murphy/Mother Jones

A few days after their first debate, Curbelo and Garcia faced off again at a forum for local candidates in Key West. A hundred or so residents gathered in an auditorium above an art gallery a short walk from Ernest Hemingway’s old home. The outer Keys are Garcia’s turf; he opened a district office there when he was congressman, and the area skews heavily Democratic. But Curbelo needs Democratic votes to win, and he believes he can get them by doing something Republicans are loath to do: talk about the environment.

Just getting to the event offered a glimpse of what the future has in store. The King Tide, an semi-annual event that produces super-tides similar to what regular tides will look like in a few decades, had turned roads and parking lots on both sides of the main highway into small lakes, as if a water main had burst. “I was out for a run with my dog yesterday, and I had to alternate my route because of the deep water in my street,” the Keys’ Republican state representative, Holly Raschein, told me as she gave away bottles of sunscreen before the forum. Raschein, like Curbelo, split with her party’s leaders to push for funding for adaptation.

More than an hour of the candidate forum was devoted to one issue: fighting mosquitoes and the diseases they carry, such as Zika. The most prominent campaign signs in Key West advertised seats on the mosquito control board, and two questions on the ballot in Monroe County will determine whether to allow a British company to release genetically modified mosquitoes. Opponents of the plan wore white badges that read, “I do not consent.”

Adaptation was the word of the night. On stage, Curbelo and Garcia clashed on Trump and Cuba, but Curbelo also went out of his way to talk about his work on water and climate. He boasted of securing $2 billion for Everglades restoration, blocking future flood-insurance hikes, and sponsoring a bill with the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, the working group he co-founded that now boasts 20 members. (The bill does not propose any measures to address climate change, but, in Washington fashion, would create a commission to study and propose measures to address climate change.) “We’re at the tip of the spear,” he said.

Afterward, Curbelo laughed off Garcia’s talk of a politically motivated conversion. He’d been confronted with the science by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration experts and he’d accepted it. So why did most of his colleagues still have their heads in the sand? Curbelo blamed Democrats. “You’ve gotta look at the history of this issue,” he told me. “When Vice President Gore adopted this cause, that resulted in just some natural polarization on the issue, because I think a lot of Republicans wrongly assumed that this was a Democratic issue or a liberal issue. I think hopefully if Mr. Gore could do it all over again, he would find a Republican partner and advocate together, but anyway that didn’t happen.”

He told me he was optimistic that climate change legislation could happen in a Republican House. “I’ve been very happy with the response I’ve been getting from Republicans,” he said. “Remember—no one’s worked on this! Very few people have worked on this on the Republican side, so I thought it was gonna be a lot tougher, but there’s a lot of interest.”

Curbelo was even optimistic, sort of, that climate legislation might pass under a President Trump—someone who has previously said that global warming is a Chinese hoax. “Who knows! I think he’s someone who’s clearly shown that he’s flexible on many issues,” he said, forcing a laugh. “Sometimes too flexible for my view, but who knows, maybe!”

But his sunny optimism about his party’s future speaks to the challenges facing Republicans like him. It isn’t true that Curbelo’s colleagues haven’t worked on climate issues—they have. But their work has been focused on blocking climate action and hounding scientists who are working on it. That level of obstruction has played well in deep-red patches of the country. But in educated, coastal swing districts, and in particular among millennial voters, it has contributed to a rising tide against Republicans. Garcia may be heavy-handed in his criticism, but his efforts to tie Curbelo to his party’s mainstream have a certain resonance; what’s the point of calling something an existential threat if you’re not even willing to pick a presidential candidate who will fight it?

Many House Republicans who have seen the light on climate change, including Illinois’ Bob Dold, Florida’s David Jolly, and New York’s Lee Zeldin, happen to be in similarly dire electoral straits. On Tuesday, thanks to losses and retirements, the number of Republican members of the Climate Solutions Caucus could easily be cut in half.

As Curbelo made small talk with a few constituents, and fended off questions from the mosquito people, a middle-aged man walked up. He was a biology professor at Florida Keys Community College and a Bernie Sanders supporter, but he wanted to thank Curbelo for his work on climate—he was still on the fence about which candidate to back. Next up was Jonathan Van Leer, a professor of physical oceanography at the University of Miami. He lives just outside the district but said he’d vote for Curbelo if he could. After he’d had a few words with the congressman, he told me, “I’ve been teaching climate change for a long time, and it’s the first time I haven’t felt depressed.”

Curbelo had a three-hour drive back to Miami, but he could not leave just yet. A filmmaker had released a new documentary about the effects of climate change on South Florida, and Curbelo, stepping out of campaign mode for a minute, had agreed to say a few words about his climate caucus and the challenges that lay ahead. As he and a few staffers lingered in the emptying theater, someone had turned on the documentary, and on the screen behind them a wave came crashing down.

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Want to See What Donald Trump Is Doing to the Republican Party’s Future? Watch This Florida District

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This coal baron is running for governor of West Virginia — and he owes millions in mine safety penalties.

Al Gore and Hillary Clinton appeared side-by-side in a Miami campaign stop that framed the climate-change challenge in an unusually optimistic light.

“Climate change is real. It’s urgent. And America can take the lead in the world in addressing it,” Clinton said. She focused on the U.S.’s capacity to lead the world in a climate deal and as a clean energy superpower in a speech that mostly rehashed familiar policy territory.

Clinton ran down her existing proposals on infrastructure, rooftop solar, energy efficiency, and more, though she omitted the more controversial subjects, like what to do about pipeline permits, that have dogged her campaign.

Though Clinton and Gore largely framed climate change as a challenge Americans must rise to, they didn’t miss an opportunity to jab at climate deniers.

“Our next president will either step up our efforts … or we will be dragged backwards and our whole future will be put at risk,” Clinton said.

Besides Donald Trump, Florida’s resident climate deniers Marco Rubio and Rick Scott got special shoutouts.

“The world is on the cusp of either building on the progress of solving the climate crisis or stepping back … and letting the big polluters call the shots,” Gore said.

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This coal baron is running for governor of West Virginia — and he owes millions in mine safety penalties.

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Meat giant, Tyson Foods, is betting on meat alternatives going big.

Al Gore and Hillary Clinton appeared side-by-side in a Miami campaign stop that framed the climate-change challenge in an unusually optimistic light.

“Climate change is real. It’s urgent. And America can take the lead in the world in addressing it,” Clinton said. She focused on the U.S.’s capacity to lead the world in a climate deal and as a clean energy superpower in a speech that mostly rehashed familiar policy territory.

Clinton ran down her existing proposals on infrastructure, rooftop solar, energy efficiency, and more, though she omitted the more controversial subjects, like what to do about pipeline permits, that have dogged her campaign.

Though Clinton and Gore largely framed climate change as a challenge Americans must rise to, they didn’t miss an opportunity to jab at climate deniers.

“Our next president will either step up our efforts … or we will be dragged backwards and our whole future will be put at risk,” Clinton said.

Besides Donald Trump, Florida’s resident climate deniers Marco Rubio and Rick Scott got special shoutouts.

“The world is on the cusp of either building on the progress of solving the climate crisis or stepping back … and letting the big polluters call the shots,” Gore said.

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Meat giant, Tyson Foods, is betting on meat alternatives going big.

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How to Harvest and Cook Fiddlehead Ferns

Fiddlehead ferns are a telltale sign that spring is coming to a close. Always appearing around the month of May, these delicious yet fleeting vegetables are the apples of many a forager’s eye. Even if youre not a forager yourself, you might want to buy these delicious, asparagus-like ferns from the store if you spot them. Theyre delicious, with a bright, lively taste and a versatile texture. Heres what you need to know about these tricky little delicacies.

What are Fiddlehead Ferns?

Most of the fiddleheads we associate with eating are ostrich ferns. This is important to note, because there are other varieties that may look similar, but are actually known to be toxic. They are the fronds of a young fern that has just begun to sprout. We pick them in the spring before theyve had the chance to mature and unfurl into what we usually recognize as a fern. As a result, they look, well, kind of like a curled-up green bean.

Where and When Do They Grow?

Fiddlehead ferns grow best on the Eastern side of the country, usually running from New England all the way up through Eastern Canada. They tend to sprout up in wet, marshy areas, so theyre kind of off the beaten path (this is one of the reasons theyre so expensive to buy in stores). They grow in clumps of two to three all the way up to the hundreds, and only hang around for a couple of weeks in mid-Spring.

Forage or Buy?

If you live in an area where fiddlehead ferns grow and youre an experienced forager, these little guys would be fun items to look for. However, its important to be careful about this. Similar plant species may look very similar to the fiddlehead, but are in fact toxic. Fearless eating recommends the book A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants if youre interested in foraging for fiddleheads. You could also go out on the hunt with a credible guide who could show you the ropes.

If you decide to pick these up at the grocery store, time is of the essence! Blink and you might miss them. Be prepared that theyre also expensive roughly $14-19 per pound.

How to Cook Fiddlehead Ferns

The Kitchn advises that you shouldnt eat these ferns raw. Theyve been known to cause illness when eaten raw in large quantities. However, that shouldnt be a problem, because cooking these guys is easy! You can cook them any way youd cook asparagus: sauteed, steamed, boiled, etc.

My personal favorite idea is to blanch and then saute them. Bring your water to a roaring boil, add your fiddleheads, and allow the water to return to a boil. Then let the boil continue for about four minutes before placing the fiddleheads in a bowl of ice water. After theyve cooled a bit, sautee them with some butter, coconut oil or olive oil. Delish!

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How to Harvest and Cook Fiddlehead Ferns

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How a Confused Mom Drove Through a White House Checkpoint and Ended Up Dead

Mother Jones

By Jennifer Gonnerman | Thurs Mar. 11, 2015 03:00 PM ET

At 2:13 p.m. on October 3, 2013—10 months before Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri, nine months before Eric Garner was choked in Staten Island—a 34-year-old African American woman drove into a checkpoint in Washington, DC. Her car, a Nissan Infiniti, had Connecticut license plates; her one-year-old daughter sat in the back. Maybe the driver knew this checkpoint leads to the White House. Or maybe not. She did soon appear to realize, however, that she was somewhere that she did not belong: Secret Service officers began hollering at her—”Whoa! Whoa!”—and she turned her car around. When she attempted to drive out of the checkpoint area, an off-duty Secret Service officer placed a section of metal fencing in front of her, even as he held on to what appeared to be a cooler and a plastic bag. She pressed on the gas, knocking the officer and barricade to the ground, and zoomed down Pennsylvania Avenue.

A Secret Service officer blocks Miriam Carey’s car with a metal fence. Photo: US Attorney General

There was less traffic than usual this afternoon; the federal government had shut down after Congress had failed to approve a budget on time. Despite the relative quiet, a sense of unease pervaded the capital: 17 days earlier, a former Navy reservist had killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard. Maybe the lingering memory of this mass murder helps explain what happened next. Maybe not. Either way, the driver was now “weaving through traffic and ignoring red lights,” according to a later government account, with Secret Service in hot pursuit. Soon she arrived on the west side of the US Capitol, where she drove the wrong way around Garfield Circle “almost hitting another vehicle head-on.”

She stopped next to a curb, and six officers on foot surrounded her Infiniti. Guns drawn, they yanked on the doors, demanding she step out. Instead, she put the car in reverse, slammed into a police cruiser behind her, then lurched forward onto a sidewalk, forcing officers to scatter. Three officers—two from the Secret Service, one from the Capitol Police—fired eight rounds at her. But she kept going, careening down First Street NW, turning right on Constitution Avenue, police cruisers tailing her, lights spinning and sirens screaming.

Soon she encountered a raised barrier. With nowhere else to go, she pulled the steering wheel to the left, rode onto a grassy median, and plowed into a parked car. Then she shifted into reverse, forcing a Capitol police officer to dart out of the way. That officer and a Secret Service officer each fired nine rounds at the Infiniti. Finally the vehicle stopped, its tires atop the median. The driver was taken to a hospital; her baby was somehow unharmed.

A damaged Capitol Hill police car is surrounded by crime scene tape after a collision on October 3, 2013.* Evan Vucci/AP

Only seven minutes had elapsed from the moment the car chase began until it ended, and throughout the rest of the day, CNN broadcast footage of it over and over. Within hours, the whole country knew the driver’s name. Hundreds of law enforcement officers raced to her condo in Connecticut, with hazmat suits, bomb-sniffing dogs, body armor, assault weapons, and a bomb-detecting robot. Reports of “shots fired” had sent Capitol Hill into a frenzy, sparking a temporary lockdown, and terrifying politicians and staffers alike. At 4:38 p.m., Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House Minority Whip, stood up on the floor of the House to express “our gratitude to the Capitol Police.” Members of Congress rose from their seats to applaud, giving the officers a 35-second standing ovation.

Ninety minutes earlier, at a hospital nearby, a doctor had declared the Infiniti’s driver dead.

At first, October 3, 2013, looked like it was going to be a slow-news day. Senate and House leaders were still bickering about who was to blame for the government shutdown, now three days old. Samantha Power, then the newly appointed ambassador to the United Nations, appeared on the Today Show to talk about, as the tagline read, “balancing diplomats and diapers.” The trial of a lawsuit brought by Michael Jackson’s family had just ended, with a jury deciding that the concert promoter (which had hired Dr. Conrad Murray) was not responsible for the singer’s death. And then, at 2:30 p.m., a story pushed the cable TV networks into overdrive.

“Gunshots have been reported on Capitol Hill,” Wolf Blitzer told CNN’s viewers. “There are at least two dozen police vehicles and multiple emergency response vehicles arriving on the scene…This situation is unfolding even as we speak…We’re here on Capitol Hill ourselves, and we can hear the sirens going off…This is a serious situation, clearly, and we have no clue as to what exactly, what exactly happened.” A witness reported that he could make out “the sulfur smell of gunshots.” Blitzer described it as “an extremely tense situation.”

Soon one CNN correspondent after another filled the screen. “This is early information. As we know, sometimes early information is not correct,” Jake Tapper said, then reported that “gunfire was exchanged.” In fact, no gunfire was exchanged; the Infiniti driver did not have a gun. Tapper also said that “one officer was injured at the Capitol.” This was true: A Capitol Police officer had been injured, though not by gunshots or because he was hit by a car; rather, he had driven into a concrete barrier during the chase and crumpled his own cruiser.

Shortly after 4 p.m., a clearer picture emerged. “It basically looked like a car chase that went really bad,” said Evan Perez, who covers the Justice Department for CNN. “And it appears that none of the shots were fired by any suspect.”

Even after these revelations, after it was confirmed that the driver was not a terrorist and had not been armed, CNN did not dial down the fear and panic. Instead, many of its on-air personalities continued to play to their viewers’ anxiety—and applaud the actions of the police. Dana Bash, CNN’s chief congressional correspondent, told viewers that the Capitol Police “got a standing ovation on the House floor, and they deserved that and much, much more.”

Carey did not try to “ram” through any White House gate or White House barrier. The only barrier she banged into was the metal barricade that an off-duty Secret Service officer placed in front of her car—not to stop her from getting close to the White House, but to prevent her from leaving the checkpoint area.

Eight and a half hours of coverage culminated at 11 p.m. with a “CNN Special” titled Capitol Scare. Tapper filled viewers in on the “frantic car chase” that “left lawmakers on lockdown” and the “Capitol police officer who was hurt while trying to keep others safe.”

Some 1,300 miles away, in a very different sort of newsroom in Texas, another media personality had a completely different take on the events of the afternoon. Two hours after the car chase ended, Alex Jones, America’s best-known conspiracy theorist, stood in front of a video camera and delivered a six-minute rant: “A woman drove around a roundabout not knowing how to get out of there, so they killed her! And that’s what they do in America now…This is a crazy police state, with a system where they’re power-mad and out of control…It is insane…It’s just total mental illness.” He pivoted to face a flat-screen behind him, where CNN showed footage of the chase. “There they are, breathlessly just hyperventilating over the fear, and the great job they did killing the woman with the kid in the car…This is really making me sick…I’m actually sad for the dead lady….This is nuts. She’s dead, and they’re up there talking about what heroes they are.”

In the late afternoon of October 3, 2013, Valarie Carey was at her apartment in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, getting ready to go out for the night, when her cellphone rang. She didn’t recognize the number, so she let the call go straight to voicemail. Soon the same thing happened again. And again. She ignored the calls, until she saw one with a Connecticut area code—her sister lived there; maybe it was her?—and she picked it up. A man on the other end of the line identified himself as a reporter. As she recalls, he told her: “Turn your TV to CNN.”

That’s how she found out that her sister Miriam, a dental hygienist and mother of one, had been in a car chase near the Capitol. Staring at the screen, Valarie, who’s a former NYPD police officer, thought the car looked like her sister’s. The baby who’d been removed from the backseat had her face blurred to conceal her identity, but Valarie saw enough to think the girl resembled her niece. What was going on? The whole thing made zero sense: Her sister and niece lived in Stamford, Connecticut. What were they doing in DC?

“I can’t talk to you right now,” she told the reporter, and hung up.

As she flipped back and forth between stations, trying to get more information, her phone kept buzzing.

Photo courtesy Valarie Carey

“Call me. It’s about Miriam,” somebody texted her at 5:17 p.m.

“Who ARE you?” she wrote back.

“I’m a reporter with abc news. Do you have a minute?”

“No I do not.”

At 6 p.m., in Washington, DC, Cathy Lanier, the chief of the DC police, held a press conference. When asked the name of the woman driving the Infiniti, she refused to reveal it. (“We would make next-of-kin notification before we released that information,” she said.) By then, however, Valarie’s cellphone was already blowing up. Throughout the evening, reporters kept texting her, trying to confirm that the driver of the Infiniti was definitely her sister.

“Hey Val! What did you find out. This is david in new haven.”

“Have cops reached out to you to tell u it was Miriam. We want to respect your family and don’t want to report anything until police speak with you. Please let me know.”

“Can you confirm that you’re Marian’s sister? We haven’t reported her name yet on CNN.”

Reporters had good reason to be extra cautious about publicly identifying the driver. Two weeks earlier, CBS and NBC had mistakenly named the wrong guy on Twitter as the mass murderer in the Navy Yard shootings. From what Valarie could see on the television, switching from station to station, it seemed her sister was dead. But how could she be sure? No law enforcement official had called to notify her of her sister’s death—or to tell her anything at all.

At 6:43 p.m., she wrote back to the ABC reporter who kept sending text messages: “So are you saying my sister is dead?”

“Police said the suspect is dead,” he wrote, “we want to make sure it’s Miriam.”

Meanwhile, three miles across Brooklyn, Idella Carey, 68, was babysitting one of her granddaughters inside her apartment when she got a call from a reporter about her daughter Miriam. Soon Idella’s telephone was ringing nonstop, and she could hear a swarm of strangers outside her front door. Terrified, she retreated to a bedroom and huddled there with her granddaughter. Elsewhere in Brooklyn, Amy Carey-Jones, another of Miriam’s sisters, had run out of power on her cellphone; as soon as she plugged it in, it began ringing too. The first call came from a reporter, who, she recalls, told her: “Turn on the TV.”

Miriam at age 7. Photo courtesy Valarie Carey

The Pink Houses—a housing project in one of the poorest parts of Brooklyn—popped up in the news last November after an NYPD officer killed a young man there by firing his gun inside a darkened stairwell. Three decades earlier, the Pink Houses were Miriam Carey’s home. Her mother, Idella, raised five daughters there; Miriam was the fourth. After high school, Miriam enrolled in a dental-hygienist program at a community college in the Bronx, then went on to Brooklyn College. Photos from the early 2000s show Miriam with her older sisters Amy and Valarie, now all adults, out together at night, each wearing a stylish outfit and radiant grin.

One especially memorable party, a Kwanzaa celebration, took place at Valarie’s apartment near the end of 2005. Valarie served champagne and apple martinis, and laid out a book for guests to record their resolutions. In careful, slanted print, Miriam wrote:

Miriam at age 11. Photo courtesy Valarie Carey

Goals 2006

Complete spring semester at Brooklyn College

Buy a car

Better money management

Take anesthesia course at NYU in March

Go on a vacation

She finished her degree—a bachelor’s in science—in 2007, and before long moved to Stamford, Connecticut, where she bought her own condo, decorating it with framed copies of her diplomas. Her apartment, 1-C, was located on the first floor of an aging brick building in a complex called Woodside Green. A dental practice in Hamden later hired her, announcing in its newsletter: “We are excited to have Miriam!” Finding a decent guy proved harder. “I need to start doing reference and back ground checks on men lol,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “its 2010 and the BS is getting tired.”

By 2011, however, she had found a boyfriend, and in early 2012, she discovered that she was pregnant. One week after her 33rd birthday on August 12, 2012, she gave birth to a girl. Soon pictures of the baby started popping up on her Facebook page. “She was ecstatic about her daughter because she had waited so many years,” says Melony Nunez, a childhood friend. “She was crazy about the baby, absolutely crazy about her.”

Miriam (left) with sisters Amy (center) and Valarie at a New Year’s Eve party in 2007. Photo courtesy Valarie Carey

Before long, however, things began to go awry. Shortly after 9 p.m. on November 29, Miriam called the Stamford Police. “I have some people prowling outside of my window,” she said. “They’ve been prowling outside of my window for all day.”

The 911 operator said, “They’re what outside your window? Loitering?”

“Loitering and actually trying to videotape me though my window.”

The operator asked, “Why are they trying to videotape you?”

“Because they’ve been stalking me for the past several months.”

“And why are they stalking you?”

“I don’t know. I mean they have special interests and items…”

The operator sent officers to her condo, but they found nobody loitering or videotaping or stalking. The call was classified as an EDP or “Emotionally Disturbed Person.”

Eleven days later, Miriam’s boyfriend called 911 from her home and told the police that they “need to take her somewhere to get help.” When officers arrived, she told the cops that she wanted her boyfriend out of her apartment. When an officer asked her why, she said “it was because Stamford and the state of Connecticut is on a security lock down,” an officer later wrote in a report. “She stated that President Obama put Stamford in lock down after speaking to her because she is the Prophet of Stamford. She further stated that President Obama had put her residence under electronic surveillance and that it was being fed live to all the national news outlets.”

In the hours after her death, reporters raced to uncover every detail about Miriam’s life, tracking down relatives, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, former employers, neighbors of her sister, neighbors of her mother, a neighbor of her boyfriend. The public learned all sorts of details, relevant or not: The tires on her Infiniti had been stolen several months earlier; she had once been fired from a dental-hygienist job; her condo had cost almost $250,000; discharge papers from a 2012 mental-health evaluation were found in her home. The same questions hung over every news story: Why had she driven with her baby to DC? And why had she turned into a checkpoint that leads to the White House? Had she been trying to target the president?

The day after her death, her sister Amy told reporters that Miriam had been diagnosed with “postpartum depression with psychosis” after the birth of her daughter. This condition is extremely rare, affecting only 1 or 2 out of every 1,000 women who give birth, and it’s considered temporary as long as it’s treated. Symptoms include delusions, paranoia, hyperactivity, hallucinations. Miriam had been “very compliant with her medication,” her sister Amy said; she had “worked very closely with her doctor to taper off” and was not “walking around with delusions.” Indeed, one day before the car chase, she had gone to her job at a dental office and seemed fine. Whether or not she was delusional when she drove to DC, nobody seemed to know for certain.

Her sister Amy told reporters that Miriam had been diagnosed with “postpartum depression with psychosis.” One day before the car chase, she had gone to her job at a dental office and seemed fine. Whether or not she was delusional when she drove to DC, nobody seemed to know for certain.

As quickly as Miriam popped onto the radar of the national media, she disappeared. Calls to her family members stopped; her name dropped out of the papers; reporters moved on to the next tragedy. Despite her sisters’ efforts to raise questions about her death—was it totally necessary to gun her down? Had there really been no other options?—there was virtually no debate in the mainstream media about whether her shooting was justified. As Talking Points Memo put it: “If you try to ram through the White House security barrier with a car, I think there’s little question the Secret Service immediately goes into attempted assassination, car bomb mode and proceeds accordingly. If you flee toward the US Capitol and resist arrest, I think you’ve probably signed your death warrant unless you very clearly surrender.”

The notion that Miriam Carey tried to “ram through the White House security barrier” ran through virtually all the coverage of her car chase, including many headlines:

Attempt to Ram White House Gate Ends With Conn. Woman Dead.

Woman Who Tried to Ram Car Through White House Barrier Had Delusions About President Obama.

Woman Killed After Trying to Ram White House Barrier Buried in N.Y.

The only problem with these stories was that they weren’t quite true: Carey did not try to “ram” through any White House gate or White House barrier. The only barrier she banged into was the metal barricade that an off-duty Secret Service officer placed in front of her car—not to stop her from getting close to the White House, but to prevent her from leaving the checkpoint area. This distinction did not get made in the mainstream media, however, before most reporters had moved on. And her case didn’t receive scrutiny even after the Secret Service found itself embroiled in scandal last fall. (An exception was this fine piece by the Washington Post’s David Montgomery.) Nor did it receive much attention yesterday, when it was revealed that on March 4th two Secret Service agents drove their own government-issued car into a White House barricade allegedly after a night of drinking.

Also Read: What Killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones?

After Miriam’s death, the progressive voices one might have expected to take up her cause—Al Sharpton, the NAACP, the Congressional Black Caucus—remained silent. And in a strange reversal, media outlets on the opposite end of the political spectrum embraced her: conservative, libertarian, conspiracy-minded. Alex Jones’s rage in the hours after her shooting was shared by the American Spectator, which soon ran a piece with the headline: “Why Is This Not a National Tragedy? A troubled young mother is shot dead and our ruling class applauds.” The media outlet that pursued Miriam’s story with the most zeal was WorldNetDaily (WND), a conservative news site, which published more than 50 pieces about her.

Perhaps it is inevitable that any tragedy that grabs the attention of the national media will eventually spawn a hundred conspiracy theories, but there was something about Carey’s story—the media mishaps, the fact that even her family did not know why she was in DC, the reports of her having delusions about the president—that became catnip for a certain sort of internet junkie. On blogs, in homemade YouTube videos, in the comment sections of news sites, myriad theories popped up to explain why she had driven into a White House checkpoint: She got lost and made a wrong turn; she had to get a message to Obama; she was mad about the government shutdown; she was mad about Obamacare; she was a “targeted individual” with her mind controlled by the government; her car was remote controlled; she had cleaned Obama’s teeth in the past and knew him. And then there was the inevitable claim that the whole event was a “false flag,” intended to distract the public from some other, more nefarious government activity occurring at the same time. But perhaps the most creative theory was the one pushed by James David Manning, a Harlem pastor with a deep dislike of Obama. His theory: Someone had Miriam “assassinated” so that nobody would discover the truth about her daughter in the backseat—that the baby was “Obama’s love child.”

One afternoon last August, Miriam’s mother and sisters Valarie and Amy gathered in Valarie’s apartment, and they invited me to join them. Ten months had passed since Miriam’s death; in Valarie’s foyer, a shrine to Miriam greeted visitors with the smell of lilies. I sat down in the living room, where a framed portrait of President Obama hung near the entrance to the kitchen. Soon the family’s lawyer, Eric Sanders, a former NYPD officer and Valarie’s friend, showed up too. (Sanders has filed a claim—the precursor to a lawsuit—on the family’s behalf against the federal government, the Secret Service, and the Capitol Police.) Valarie offered glasses of ginger ale and set out some mixed nuts. The mood was friendly, but wary too; the family did not seem especially eager to talk to another reporter, but they did have a few things they wanted to say.

As it happened, on this same day at a church in St. Louis, thousands of people were gathering for the funeral of 18-year-old Michael Brown, whose death at the hands of a police officer had sparked two weeks of angry protests. The fact that Eric Holder, the US attorney general, had already traveled to Missouri and met with Brown’s parents had not gone unnoticed. “I just find it interesting that nobody in Washington has commented on Miriam,” Valarie says. “But you can leave from your capital and travel to a location where a young man was shot. These are the people who are there to protect the capitol—the Capitol Police, the Secret Service—and you don’t hear any comment from President Obama. You don’t hear any comment from Eric Holder. And this woman was unarmed, she was a law-abiding citizen, she was a professional.”

DV.load(“//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1686350-miriam-carey-amended-legal-claim.js”, width: 300, height: 400, sidebar: false, container: “#DV-viewer-1686350-miriam-carey-amended-legal-claim” ); Miriam Carey’s Amended Legal Claim (PDF)
Miriam Carey’s Amended Legal Claim (Text)

Read the Carey family’s legal claim.

Miriam Carey’s death certificate lists the manner of death as “homicide,” but her family has yet to receive a full account of exactly what occurred. In the absence of answers, Valarie and Sanders have come up with their own theory (as outlined in the family’s legal claim): Miriam turned into the White House checkpoint by mistake; an off-duty Secret Service officer who happened to be there overreacted, grabbed a metal barricade, and “threw himself in front of her vehicle”; she panicked and tried to drive around the officer to escape; there wasn’t enough room, so she bumped into him. The family’s legal claim refers to this off-duty officer as “an unidentified aggressive Caucasian Male,” and posits that once Miriam banged into him with her car, he became “completely agitated,” jumped into a car, and the chase began. (Footage does show an officer at the Capitol four minutes later who appears to match the description of the one who blocked her car at the checkpoint; the Secret Service has released no details about any personnel involved in the incident.)

A tourist from Oregon who saw Miriam’s Infiniti enter the White House checkpoint did later tell a reporter that “the Secret Service guy was just having a cow,” that he was “yelling at her and banging on the car.” A surveillance photo, released by the US Attorney in DC, shows Miriam’s Infiniti knocking into the off-duty officer, in his shorts and holding a cooler, as he jams the metal barricade into her car. Maybe Miriam didn’t realize he was a cop, notes Valerie. “His actions were very aggressive,” she says. “Where in your police training does it state to take a metal barricade and block a moving vehicle? I’m sure it doesn’t.” Analyzing the car-chase video, Valarie says, “What I saw was that my sister was afraid, and she was trying to get away, because there was something in her mind that that guy said to her that incited her to flee.”

DV.load(“//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1686389-the-autopsy-report-of-miriam-iris-carey.js”, width: 300, height: 400, sidebar: false, container: “#DV-viewer-1686389-the-autopsy-report-of-miriam-iris-carey” ); The Autopsy Report of Miriam Iris Carey (PDF)
The Autopsy Report of Miriam Iris Carey (Text)

Read Miriam Carey’s autopsy report.

As devastating as Miriam’s death had been, in some ways the months that followed were even more upsetting. The family says it never received official notification of her death. No letter explaining what happened, no condolence note from any elected official in Washington. When Miriam’s autopsy report was made public last April, her family learned that she had been shot once in the arm, once in the head, and three times in the back.

Last July, nine months after her death, the US Attorney’s Office in DC and the Metropolitan Police Department finally announced that they had finished reviewing her shooting, only to conclude there was not enough evidence to bring charges against the officers. This was not surprising; proving that officers used excessive force and “willfully deprived an individual of a constitutional right” is extremely difficult. But the news still stung. “When an injustice is committed against you or your family,” Valarie wrote on Twitter that day, “it cuts DEEP and sharp like a hot knife.”

Of all the Carey family members, Valarie spends the most time on the internet, tracking everything that anyone is saying about her sister. In the days after Miriam’s death, Valarie says, strangers sent her messages through Facebook and Twitter along the lines of: “I have information about your sister. She was being mind-controlled. I’m being mind-controlled, too.” One woman in California even emailed a packet of mind-control information to the family, addressed to the funeral home. When I ask to see it, Valarie disappears into the back of her apartment, then returns with a thick envelope.

In the months that followed, when protesters took to the streets to rally on behalf of people killed by the police—Eric Garner and Michael Brown and others—Miriam’s name did not show up on their posters.

She pulls out a stack of papers and spreads them on the sofa. One page shows the results of a Google search for “GOVT MIND CONTROL TECHNOLOGY.” Another is a collage made with a photocopier, which features a picture of Miriam, a photo of officers aiming their guns at her car, and hand-scrawled messages, like: “Miriam Carey was not crazy. She was under a microwave attack.” The envelope also includes one highly unusual condolence note: “IN MEMORIES OF MIRIAM CAREY FROM THE (TI) TARGETED INDIVIDUAL COMMUNITY,” it states. “WE ARE HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST AND LEADERS WHO FIGHTS AGAINST ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE HARASSMENT AND TORTURE USED ON THE MINDS OF HUMANS — MAY HER SOUL REST IN PEACE…SHE WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN.”

On the first anniversary of Miriam’s death—on an unusually warm afternoon this past autumn—a charter bus traveled from Brooklyn to Washington, DC, arriving at Garfield Circle at 1:30 p.m. Miriam’s mother, two sisters, and a slew of friends, relatives, and supporters exited. They walked toward the US Capitol, each holding up a poster with a picture of Miriam and a message: “Miriam Carey Mattered” or “Why was Miriam Carey Killed???” For the next 30 minutes, they held a “silent protest” on the steps of the Capitol, then chanted Miriam’s name five times, once for each bullet that hit her.

Miriam’s name on the buzzer at the Stamford condo where she lived.

Afterward, everyone walked the route that Miriam had driven, beginning on the sidewalk here, where officers had first discharged their weapons at her. The family’s attorney led the way down 1st Street SW and along Constitution Avenue before stopping near 2nd Street SE. “This is where the last shots were fired at Miriam,” he says, pointing toward the middle of the street. “This is where she died.” Everyone turned to study the strip of grass in the center of the road, not far from a sign directing drivers to I-95. There was nothing to mark the spot, nothing that made this median seem any different from any other one in America.

In the months that followed, when protesters took to the streets to rally on behalf of people killed by the police—Eric Garner and Michael Brown and others—Miriam’s name did not show up on their posters. There was, however, one place where her name did still appear. Inside the entryway to the building in Stamford where she last lived, next to a row of buzzers, one name-label still read: “MCarey 1C.” A year after her death, her condo appeared unoccupied, and the shades remained closed. Her daughter, now two years old, had moved in with her father. And Miriam’s bullet-marked body lay buried at a cemetery on Long Island, sealed inside an orchid-gray steel casket.

Family and friends of Miriam Carey protest her death on the West Front of the Capitol on October 3, 2014. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/AP

Correction: A previous caption for this image misstated that the damage to the police car was inflicted by Miriam Carey’s car. The damage was in fact the result of a separate collision.

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How a Confused Mom Drove Through a White House Checkpoint and Ended Up Dead

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Today Brings Us Three Rays of Economic Sunshine

Mother Jones

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd”>

Would you like some good news? Well, here you go. Manufacturing orders are way up:

The Institute for Supply Management’s survey of manufacturers showed its new orders index increased to 63.2 in August from 58.3 in July. It was the third consecutive monthly gain in demand and the highest reading since April 2011.

Auto sales are near record highs:

With numbers due out Wednesday, analysts have predicted that August will prove to be the best month for auto sales since before the recession….Automakers are ramping up production and hiring workers to keep pace with demand, which analysts project will result in as many as 16 million new-vehicle sales in 2013 — not far off the record 17 million sales achieved before the downturn.

And the housing market is coming back:

Private residential construction spending rose 0.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $334.58 billion, the Commerce Department said Tuesday….A rebounding housing market has boosted the economy–making homeowners feel more confident, driving spending on building materials and creating construction jobs.

The bad news is that this is all good news, but not great news. What’s more, thanks to the drag of federal spending cuts, broader economic measures remain stuck in OK range, not in the “catching up from a horrible recession” range. Still, it’s all modestly promising stuff. And the car story includes this:

Boosted by the robust sales and healthy profits, automakers are planning to move long-discussed innovation from the test track to the road. General Motors has said it will develop a car by the end of the decade that will be able to drive itself in most circumstances. Nissan, meanwhile, has said it will introduce a driverless car by 2020.

Really? I’m usually the most rah-rah guy in the room when it comes to advances in AI, but even I wouldn’t have guessed that truly autonomous cars would be ready before 2025 or so. I wonder just how autonomous these Nissan and GM cars will be by 2020? Really, truly able to acccept a destination and just drive you there with no help? Or kinda sorta autonomous in most situations, but they still can’t navigate in parking lots or in the fog? I guess we’ll all find out in seven years.

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Today Brings Us Three Rays of Economic Sunshine

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BMW’s i3 electric car earns gushing praise

BMW’s i3 electric car earns gushing praise

The BMW i3 electric sedan, officially unveiled this week, is getting rave reviews.

The car sells for as little as $41,350 — not bad for a Bimmer, and that’s before the $7,500 federal EV rebate. Those with range anxiety can drop a few grand more for a small backup gas-burning engine (or just take advantage of BMW’s nifty SUV-sharing offer).


Here’s some of what Wired has to say about the car, which weighs in at 2,700 pounds:

The reason the i3 is so svelte compared to other EVs is two-fold. First, it was designed to be an electric car from the beginning. Unlike BMW’s previous EV efforts — the Mini E (3,300 pounds, the same as a Nissan Leaf) and the BMW ActiveE (4,000 pounds) — they shaped the chassis and body around the motor and batteries to create a compact package with a low center of gravity. And then they got serious about weight savings.

For the first time in a mass-market car, the structure that makes up the i3′s passenger compartment is comprised entirely of carbon fiber reinforced plastic. That means it’s ultra-safe and as strong as metal, while being 50 percent lighter than steel and 30 percent lighter than aluminum. With less weight to move around, efficiency goes through the roof. And that allowed BMW to use a smaller, 450-pound battery enclosed in an aluminum shell to remove even more weight, boosting driving range and reducing charge times. (By comparison, the Nissan Leaf uses a 600-pound battery with only two more kWh of juice, and takes longer to charge because of its puny 3.3 kW on-board charger.)

The Christian Science Monitor touts the car as well-suited for city life:

“[BMW] is taking a very holistic approach to the electric vehicle and the idea of future transportation,” John O’Dell, senior editor for fuel efficiency and green cars at Edmunds, said in a telephone interview. “They see the world becoming more urbanized, with greater parts of the population living in urban areas, and they see the electrified car as making sense in that increasingly urbanized world.”

The introduction of the i3 means another contender in what is currently a three-car race for electric car dominance. Tesla Motors has had a strong run recently, nabbing a handful of major accolades and paying back a half-billion-dollar federal loan years ahead of schedule. Nissan has enjoyed a surge in sales after slashing the price of its Nissan Leaf in January.

The i3 will hit showrooms in the U.S. in spring 2014.

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants: johnupton@gmail.com.

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Think you can’t afford an EV? Think again

Think you can’t afford an EV? Think again

Tom Raftery

You could be as happy as this guy.

It’s easy to see the electric car as a symbol of the kind of offbeat elitism often associated with eco-conscious living — the rich man’s veggie oil-powered VW bus, if you will. But that could change as the industry starts going Model T on EVs, making them more affordable for the masses. Automakers are now offering an array of discount leases and perks that, when combined with government tax incentives, make EV ownership accessible for a much broader segment of the population.

Owning an electric vehicle automatically slashes drivers’ fuel costs by as much as 80 percent. But it’s the up-front cash that presents a barrier to most prospective buyers, not to mention the lack of widespread charging infrastructure. Of course, growing ranks of EV drivers would spur the construction of more charging stations and attract still more electric converts. But with so few choices on the market, none of them wildly affordable, it’s hard to get that cycle started.

Until now. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Bronson Beisel, 46, says he was looking last fall for an alternative to driving his gas-guzzling Ford Expedition sport utility around suburban Atlanta, when he saw a discounted lease offer for an all-electric Nissan Leaf. With $1,000 down, Mr. Beisel says he got a two-year lease for total out-of-pocket payments of $7,009, a deal that reflects a $7,500 federal tax credit.

As a resident of Georgia, Mr. Beisel is also eligible for a $5,000 subsidy from the state government. Now, he says, his out-of-pocket costs for 24 months in the Leaf are just over $2,000. Factor in the $200 a month he reckons he isn’t paying for gasoline to fill up his hulking SUV, and Mr. Beisel says “suddenly the car puts $2,000 in my pocket.”

Beisel also got a charging station installed at his house for no up-front cost. He’s spending less than $15 a month so far for the electricity needed to power the Leaf. That means that, including charging costs, he’s paying no more than $1,180 a year to drive his EV around town. Compare that to the $9,000 per year it costs to own and operate a typical gas-powered car.

Beisel compared the deal to “a two-year test drive, free.” Another Leaf driver is taking that approach literally:

Matt Brooks, a software engineer in Rochester, N.Y., says he decided to replace a hybrid Prius with a Leaf because the lease was so cheap. He’s paying $239 a month for 24 months with no money down. Mr. Brooks says he likes the car, but doesn’t expect to buy it when the lease is done. Used Leafs are selling below the purchase price written into his lease, he says.

Manufacturers are under pressure to comply with state regulations like California’s, which requires that by 2018, 4.5 percent of cars sold in the state be zero-emission vehicles; by 2025, 15 percent. Only the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S sold more than 1,000 cars during the first quarter this year. But discount leases like the ones Brooks and Beisel have could help those numbers rapidly accelerate.

In an effort to ramp up production and lower costs, Nissan is increasingly manufacturing the Leaf and its pricey battery packs at factories in Tennessee instead of in Japan (creating American jobs in the process). This helped drop the 2013 Leaf’s starting price ($28,800) by $6,400 compared to last year’s model.

Of course, the one major drawback of EVs is that they’re primarily city cars because most roads still lack charging stations. That’s why many EV owners still keep a gas guzzler around for out-of-town trips. But one automaker has a solution to that problem: As part of the $32,500-plus cost of its new 500e electric, Fiat USA offers 12 days a year of free access to a gas-powered rental car. So unless you’re planning a truly epic road trip, you don’t need to own a second car in order to hit the highway.

And hey, if a guy with a name as bro-y as Bronson Beisel, not to mention a veteran New York cabbie, can proudly pilot an electric car, they’re clearly not just for highfalutin hippies anymore.

Claire Thompson is an editorial assistant at Grist.

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Think you can’t afford an EV? Think again

Posted in Anchor, ATTRA, Dolphin, FF, G & F, GE, Nissan, ONA, PUR, solar, solar power, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Think you can’t afford an EV? Think again