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Energy Squeeze: European and California Energy Crisis 

California and Europe are facing a monumental energy squeeze right now. So, what’s the solution?

Energy is what makes modern civilization possible. Without it, lights, smartphones, the internet, and many other conveniences simply cease to exist and we are thrown back to 1850 where we have to draw water from a well whose cleanliness is in question. Right now, Europe and California are facing an energy crisis (something many are calling the ‘energy squeeze’). The California energy crisis comes from a lack of capacity and water and the European energy crisis is the uncomfortable middleman in a great power struggle. What’s at the center of these problems and more importantly, how can we solve them?

California’s Water and Power Crisis

California has faced electrical system issues for some years now. Back in the early Aughts, the power crisis was so bad it toppled a governor and ushered actor Arnold Schwarzenegger into office. Recently, downed power lines caused the massive Paradise fire that burnt down whole towns due to its fierce flames. In the intervening years, California has led the nation in green energy development. However, this has come at a cost; California relies on base generation from hydroelectric power plants along the Colorado River and the Pacific Northwest. 

Unfortunately, the west has been hit by a terrible drought this year, and rivers throughout the western United States are simply drying up. This means that there is no water to run through dams to make power. The solar panels and wind farms cannot keep up with the extra demand and California faces rolling brownouts and blackouts again. This has led to dual water and power crisis that has left Governor Gavin Newsom asking Californians to turn up their air conditioning so that they use less power and not charge their electric cars. The reality is that California needs a diverse array of power generation stations that may need to include fossil fuels just to keep the lights on. Whether California will be willing to delay shutting down its last nuclear power plant or even permit new plants to be built remains to be seen. For many in the state, this could be the new normal. 

energy squeeze
@ Getty Images

Europe and Gas

Europe, Germany in particular, made a rather Faustian bargain regarding their energy needs over the past 15 years. In the zeal to meet decarbonization goals and to use more green energy, Germany and other European powers switched off their coal plants and a few nuclear plants and build windmills and solar panels with natural gas used as a backup and for heavy industry.

For a long time, it seemed unlikely that Russia would interrupt the flow of gas and the flow of Euros flowing into the pockets of the oligarchs. However, the war in Ukraine has changed everything. The EU has now banned the import of Russian gas. As of September 28th, the Nord Stream pipeline system has suffered a major accident and may not be back online for months, if ever. The reality is that Europe is already feeling the squeeze on gas and this energy squeeze will tank the European economy. 

Europeans are already fearing that the winter will only be worse with no gas to heat their homes or even keep them in employment. A cost of living crisis has hit the entire continent. Cost of Living has been a central part of the discussion as Liz Truss takes over number 10 Downing street in London. German industry has cut production or closed entirely and the average german is seeing a rise in prices on everything. And, the Euro has lost value due to inflation and is nearly at par with the US Dollar for the first time in its history.

As a result, Europe will need to find a new source of gas. Right now, American oil companies are building new liquid natural gas facilities to ship gas to Europe but those facilities won’t be online until next year at the earliest. It may be a long, cold winter ahead for Europeans trying to stay warm. 

Give Me Power!

Electricity is vital for modern life and most people don’t understand the complicated web of treaties, agreements, business relationships, and infrastructure that goes into making sure that when they flip a switch, something happens. While both Europe and California are facing the same problem with different causes the solution is the same: more power. California needs to improve its grid and its power generation and Europe needs to find a new source of gas with countries that are far more friendly to the bloc. Europe faces a humanitarian crisis and an economic meltdown without a new supply of gas. California faces an uncertain future. California represents 1/7th of the US Economy and is the world’s 9th largest economy. The implications of these energy issues are profound for us all. 

Community Featured

Volodymyr Zelenskyy Causes Stir Over Vogue Feature

Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife have appeared in the famed magazine

The Ukrainian leader, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and the first lady, Olena Zelenska, have been highly criticised domestically in Ukraine and internationally as they appeared in the latest edition of Vogue Magazine. Despite the narrative of the article focussing heavily on war and their strong relationship, many critics are in agreement that the shoot is in bad taste, considering the ongoing war with Russia.

Volodomyr Zelenskyy
Zelenskyy and Zelenska (NY Post)

In the fashion magazine piece, the pair discuss the impact of war on their personal lives with respect to their relationship and family dynamic. “[the war] has been the most terrible months of my life,” said Zelenska. “Frankly I don’t think anyone is aware of how we have managed emotionally.” What inspires her, she told me, is her fellow Ukrainians. “We’re looking forward to victory. We have no doubt we will prevail. And this is what keeps us going.”

Volodymyr Zelenskyy was also present in the interview, expressing his concern for the safety of his family, and the country in which he was elected to protect. “Like any ordinary man, I have been worried sick about them, about their safety. I didn’t want them to be put in danger,” he said, referring to the time the family spent apart at the beginning of the war. “It’s not about romance. It’s about horrors that were happening here in Kyiv’s outskirts and all those horrors that are happening now in our country, in occupied territories.” He continued: “But of course, I’ve been missing them. I’ve wanted to hug them so much. I’ve wanted to be able to touch them.”

Zelenska in the Vogue shoot (TFI Post)

Despite the patriotic and well intentional content of the interview, the main areas of controversy lie in the photos themselves. The sheer fact that two are posing for photos with world-renowned photographer, Annie Leibovitz — in some cases next to military equipment — is infuriating many. “Has Zelenskyy forgotten there is a war going on,” says one Twitter user. “Ordinary Ukrainians are dying every single day in a war they can’t win while Zelenskyy is busy doing photoshoots for Vogue,” said Greg Price.

But, on the other hand, Ukraine’s future depends just as much on international support as it does on its own military strength. Therefore, all publicity is good publicity. And being on the cover of Vogue is huge international exposure for drumming up Ukrainian support, especially at a time when inevitable fatigue begins to creep into the media. “A big part of Zelensky’s job is doing as much PR for Western audiences as possible, to keep the war in the public consciousness,” said another account, who agrees with the tactics. “Ukraine needs to keep talking to the world to counter fatigue and disinterest,” says another corroborative voice.

Olena in a shelter (

Since February of this year, Russia has launched a full-scale invasion of its neighbour, Ukraine. Over 6 months later, thousands of innocent people have lost their lives. Each day, that number increases, whilst missiles destroy important Ukrainian infrastructure, including hospitals and schools. In order to win this war, momentum is needed on all fronts: military and media. Exposure means more money, and strategists agree that money is crucial to winning a war and defending a nation.

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Russian Tennis Player Daria Kasatkina Comes Out As Gay

Daria Kasatkina speaks her truth and slams Russia’s war in Ukraine as a “complete nightmare”

Coming out of the closet is a hard thing to do. It takes immense courage, and often, a close network of support. Tennis star, Daria Kasatkina braved the inevitable backlash surrounding ‘coming out’ in a country that is notoriously hostile.

Daria Kasatkina
Daria (Sky News)

Daria Kasatkina is officially Russia’s highest-ranked female tennis player and sits at number 12 worldwide. A well-known figure in Russian society, the 25-year-old finally decided to announce that she is in a relationship with Natalia Zabiiako, a successful Russian-Estonian figure skater from Tallin. Daria decided to break the news on Instagram, through a video interview with Russian blogger, Vitya Kravchnko – after declaring that “living in the closet” is unbearable.

“Living in peace with yourself is all that matters,” said Kasatkina. “So many subjects are taboo in Russia,” she said, slating her home country’s homophobic laws. “This notion of someone wanting to be gay or becoming [gay] is ridiculous. I think there is nothing easier in this world than being straight.” The unapologetic interview has been received well by queer Russians on social media, who see Kasatkina as a brave role model.

Daria Kasatkina and her partner
Daria and her partner, Natalia (Yahoo Sport Australia)

Kasatkina continues to sink her teeth into Putin’s laws that have destroyed the lives of many innocent queer people. “Seriously, if there is a choice, no one would choose being gay. Why make your life harder, especially in Russia? What’s the point?” Here Kasatkina is referring to Russia’s “gay propaganda law” which was controversially passed in 2013. The law prohibits pride marches, allows the detainment of gay rights activists and even prohibits the “promotion of homosexuality.” These laws have had a catastrophic impact on queen people in Russia, which effectively attempts to make the community invisible. Kasatkina’s statement, therefore, is an act of defiance.

Kasatkina doesn’t stop there, she also condemns Russia’s war in Ukraine. When asked what she wants the most in life, Kasatkina says, “for the war to end.” She then labels the conflict as a “complete nightmare.” Due to the political nature of her comments, it is unlikely that Kasatkina can continue living in Russia. There are significant fears for the safety of the tennis player and her family.

Daria Kasatkina now represents a suppressed queer community that has been starved of a voice. “Living in peace with yourself is the only thing that matters, and fuck everyone else.”

Art + Culture Featured

Little Big Releases Anti-War Song and Flees Russia

Little Big is now blacklisted from performing!

Little Big is one of Russia’s biggest musical exports. With music videos racking up over a billion hits, this unusual band has a surprisingly powerful platform amongst young people in Russia. Now, Little Big has broken its silence and has expressed its disapproval of the war in Ukraine. Not only that, but the band has also decided to leave the country entirely.

little big press image
Little Big (from IMDB)

“War is not over. Stop war in Ukraine. Stop wars worldwide. No one deserves war,” read the lyrics in their latest single, Generation Cancellation. Like many of their other projects, the music video is an incredible spectacle, full of satire and political commentary. With Generation Cancellation, Little Big has been brutally honest in an attempt to wake up and indoctrinated Russian youth. The video depicts evil political figures using soldiers as chess pieces, and also shows a brainwashed public breathing in the toxic fumes of the propaganda machine. Even though the video doesn’t directly reference Putin and his regime, the video is a clear attack on the current political situation in their home country.

Since March 2022, Russia has been attempting a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. So far, thousands of soldiers and innocent civilians have lost their lives, and over 20% of Ukrainian land is now under Russian control. Meanwhile, the Russian propaganda machine is working at full capacity, pumping harmful and untrue narratives that Ukraine is engulfed by Nazism, and therefore needs saving by ‘mother Russia’. The Kremlin has a monopoly of media outlets in Russia, meaning that there are very few ways in which unbiased and balanced news can be shared. Music, however, is one of the few outlets in which the truth can be told. And, with a huge band like Little Big announcing their disapproval, this could help change some minds.

Ilya Prusikin recently addressed the band’s viewpoint on Newsweek, saying, “We adore our country, but we completely disagree with the war in Ukraine, moreover, we believe that any war is unacceptable. We condemn the actions of the Russian government, and we are so disgusted by the Russian military propaganda machine that we decided to drop everything and leave the country.” The 37-year-old then continued to express his concerns for the future if the war isn’t de-escalated, “The main message is that we live in fear,” he said. “We don’t know what to expect right now. At this point, even an atomic war seems a possibility.”

Little Big Press shot
Little Big (from Eurovision)

Little Big has paid a huge price for speaking out. The band is expecting their citizenship to be renounced and they have already lost thousands of devoted fans. Although, many stuck around, as Little Big’s main appeal is its controversial nature and its social/political commentary. Ilya hopes to return to his homeland one day, to see his friends and family, but Russia has blacklisted the band from playing live shows. A return to Russia now looks unlikely. “I’ve got no voice, die or leave, die or leave, I’ve got no choice,” says some hard-hitting lyrics in Generation Cancellation. Little Big has had to pay a high price for speaking their mind. Let’s hope it has an impact.

Community Featured

Patron the Bomb-Sniffing Dog Receives a Medal From Zelenskyy

The Jack Russel who’s earned admiration for assisting in neutralizing hundreds of explosives found in Ukraine

In total, Patron has detected more than 200 undetonated bombs and other explosive devices since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February. And, despite being only two years old, cynologists have trained Patron professionally since he was a puppy. But, his training didn’t begin in the military area.

Patron is owned by Mykhailo Iliev of the Civil Protection Service. Iliev hails from Chernihiv and purchased him from a workmate as a pet for his son. In an unexpected turn of events due to the war’s circumstances, they began working together to neutralize leftover landmines, missiles and other potentially dangerous explosives left by the Russian invaders. When Patron smells gunpowder, he signals to Illiev and his human team to defuse the devices.

The award was handed out during a news conference with Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister in Kyiv. The medal was given for dedicated work in the Ukrainian Army. Zelenskyy himself described Patron as a “small but very famous sapper,” meaning an elite combat engineer skilled in minefield placement, demolitions and airfield construction. Of course, the dog is not an explosives engineer but rather a detector. The recognition of the medal was recorded and shared on Twitter.

Patron the Dog
Patron © Efrem Lutatsky

Patron’s name translates into “ammo” in Ukrainian and his labour has inspired fan art illustrations and even knit plushies. He also has his own Instagram page, which as of writing, has over 243k followers featuring fan art and pictures of the dog in his military outfit. And after work, Iliev mentions how Patron loves cheese and likes to have good runs with other dogs.

Patron’s work is essential because not only does it help clean the Ukrainian lands from the remnants of war, but it also teaches children how to be safe around mines. The young dog also helps the community with charity work for an added dose of heartwarming.

According to Ukraine’s Centre for Strategic Communications’ Twitter posts, everyone in Ukraine knows Patron. And many have shared images of him greeting children from the Okhmatdyt children’s hospital in Kyiv.

Now, Patron is a living symbol of patriotism in Ukraine.

Community Featured LGBTQ

The Fight for Ukraine and its Impact on LGBTQ+ Rights

“A war within a war,” Zi Faámelu, a transgender woman living in Ukraine.

The recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia has sparked a lot of uncertainty and fear throughout both countries and across the world. But, a much under-reported impact of the war is the toll it’s taking on those within the LGBTQ+ community.

While private same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults and gender-reassignment surgery are both legal in Ukraine, the country’s attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community are lagging far behind many other European countries. And, with Russia’s invasion, it is now feared that things might worsen.

Not only does Russia impose far stricter rules on LGBTQ+ people and provides no protection against hate crimes, but the incitement of the war also means many LGBTQ+ people are forced to flee to countries with anti-gay laws or are unable to flee at all due to their gender identity.

For example, in neighbouring Poland, same-sex couples cannot marry or form civil partnerships, and there are unofficial ‘LGBTQ-free zones’. In a study conducted in 2019, it was also found that as many as 25% of those living in Poland believe homosexuality should not be tolerated. However, many Ukrainians have chosen to cross the border into Poland face discrimination if it means saving their lives from being destroyed by war.

Ukraine © Dimitar Dilkoff

Furthermore, many transgender women who were assigned male at birth are unable to leave Ukraine due to the gender on their passports. Zi Faámelu, a 31-year-old transgender woman, cannot flee the war as her passport states she is male. Due to the current situation, all Ukrainian males of fighting age are prohibited from leaving the country, and are encouraged to become involved with the war effort.

While legislation introduced in 2017 lessened the process transgender people must go through to change their legal gender, the process still requires people to undergo outpatient psychiatric examination, which many feel is unnecessary and invasive.

Speaking to CBS News of the situation, Faámelu said, “I don’t want to go through that. I decided to keep my passport, keep male in my passport, and now I cannot leave this country.” She continued, “[it’s] a war within a war, truly,”

As the situation between Ukraine and Russia worsens, as do fears over the safety and rights of those in the LGBTQ+ community. But, despite the uncertainty, many Ukrainians have chosen to remain positive, just like Faámelu, “You don’t know if you’re going to be alive the next morning. So what are you going to do? I just prefer to dance in the kitchen, to be honest. Because if this is the last moment of my life, I just want to celebrate.”


Social media doomscrolling and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

How much do netizens actually understand about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, geopolitics, nuclear weapons and international diplomacy? 

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, declared the largest warfare operation in Europe since WW2, prompted widespread reactions by governments, global institutions and, of course, social media. 

Live streams with cameras on major cities of Ukraine, such as one in several points of Kyiv, were shared on YouTube, many of them updating their comments section every millisecond. As expected from modern social media, propaganda from both sides and misinformation have been rampant.

On February 24th, when the invasion began, belief in Russia’s victory over Ukraine seemed prevalent, with people online going as far as to comment that Kyiv would fall by Sunday, February 27th. As of writing, Kyiv remains under Ukrainian control.

Ukraine has been trending on Twitter since February 24th, while the r/worldnews subreddit has created more than 75 live threads with news updates, each capped at roughly 10k comments and rising higher as of writing.

Currently, there are nearly a million comments just on the live threads and many netizens have mentioned being glued to their computers for 24-48 hours straight, updating news outlets and relevant Twitter accounts in fear of missing out on an important update from the invasion. Many of these are doomscrollers; people addicted to the absorption of digital negative news to the point the war hasn’t allowed them to work or carry on with their lives. 

© Ukraine State Emergency Press

After analyzing the r/worldnews Ukraine vs. Russia live thread, the main takeaways from the thread regarding reactions, thoughts, and concerns of doomscrollers commenting on the war were the following:

  • Outspoken armchair generals, who’d make outlandish predictions of the invasion and war effort that wouldn’t have been out of place in a 90’s action film or a Call of Duty game. 
  • Constant mentions of Aleksandr Dugin’s “The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia” (1997) cited by unofficial sources as the foundation for the Russian military’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • Memes and propaganda of the yet unidentified “Ghost of Kyiv”, an alleged Ukrainian ace fighter who allegedly took down six Russian soldiers using dated equipment on the first day of the invasion. The ghost of Kyiv practically dominated the web during February 25th. At the start of day two, he was compared with Red Baron and even called the Ukrainian Simo Häyhä.
  • Kyiv live stream viewers confusing filtered wind and car sounds with shelling and missile sounds. Viewers seemed flabbergasted that during the first days of the invasion, “people seemed to go about their daily lives.” 
  • The widespread belief that Russia invading Ukraine would set a precedent for China invading Taiwan, with Taiwan trending on Twitter on Friday 25th. 
  • Praise to Ukrainian president Zelensky for his speeches, actions and remaining in Kyiv, and constant criticisms of the actions of Vladimir Putin and Russian oligarchs.
  • Misunderstandings on how global entities such as the UN and primarily NATO functioned, deriding them for not “doing something,” yet forgoing the intricacies of worldwide diplomacy and ignoring how they can realistically act in the grand scheme of things.
  • A particularly unsavory breed of posters seemed eager to see the possible destruction that any nuclear weapon could cause.
  • “I had to work, update me on what happened in the last X hours” comments, which were promptly disregarded and told off to “go and read Twitter .”Eventually, r/worldnews posted an alternate thread for significant updates.
  • Recurring “remember to take a break from the doomscrolling” comments.

Misinformation, sensationalism and desperate forum mods attempting to keep the overwhelming deluge of armchair generals chiming in with their takes on the war were the bread and butter for social media doomscrollers throughout the week.

The fog of war on the invasion has been worsened by the social media “nuclear WW3” panic that took over Twitter, Reddit, Instagram and TikTok for the last couple of days. And, for many doomscrollers, keeping their brains updated with bad news is what enables them to feel a sense of control over the situation. However, it increases anxiety without truly providing any actual control. More importantly, having an online echo chamber of fearful thoughts on the war has worsened many people’s mental health. 

Our mental health needs to be self-aware of doomscrolling and establish boundaries on the updates of the current situation. Limiting your time reading about news of the war will decrease your chances of becoming addicted to doomscrolling. As commenters in the thread will say: take a break, go for a walk, drink some water and continue your day.