Journalist Benjamin Wallace-Wells explains how 4 leaders of rival prison gangs launched a hunger strike against long-term solitary confinement. One of the 4 leaders,Todd Ashker, has been in solitary for over 20 years. On the first day of the strike, 30,000 inmates across the state of CA participated. The men were all in small pods in the SHU and communicated by shouting through walls and drains:
I think it took a long time. These four men who led the hunger strike — Todd Ashker, [allegedly] of the Aryan Brotherhood, had the initial idea; Sitawa Jamaa, who is allegedly from the Black Guerilla Family; and Arturo Castellanos, allegedly a senior leader of the Mexican Mafia; and Antonio Guillen, allegedly one of the three “generals” of Nuestra Familia — they were put together in basically the same space years ago, in 2006, and it took five years for them come together.
That was a long process. They were very wary around one another at first, but they are each in their own way political and both Ashker and Sitawa Jamaa in particular had been reading revolutionary texts for years. In their own way, each of them had come to see their fight as fundamentally with the system itself rather than fundamentally with each other.
They also are all about the same age. They’re now in their late 40s and early 50s and they had a ton of time in the pod and they had nothing to do but talk. So what they will say is that they first came together, they first developed some intimacy, not by talking about the abuses that they believed they were suffering and not by talking about gang politics, but by talking about their families. The kind of catalyst, after all, of that was Ashker and the other white inmate on the pod … had become a kind of revolutionary book club and they would talk about these books by shouting through the pod. The impact for Ashker was to kind of highlight that they were members of a prisoner class, that the racial divisions among them were artificial and had been coached along by the guards.
Also on the show, Professor Craig Haney shares his research on the psychological impact of long-term solitary confinement.
photo of the Pelican Bay Short Corridor (SHU) via flyingoverwalls
Those body scanners that the #TSA uses to see & collect your images, well don’t believe them when they say they are delete those images. They are Not! They are storing and collecting your personal data, it is a dragnet.
#privacy #snowden #dragnets #nsa
New York Times Mideast Correspondent David Kirkpatrick went to Benghazi after the 2012 attack on the U.S. Diplomatic Mission that killed 4 Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Today he shares some of the questions he hoped to answer in his investigation:
The killing of Ambassador Stevens had become a major issue in American politics and also just a murder mystery. There was an astonishing number and variety of theories about how and why he had died on the night of Sept. 11, 2012 at the American Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi.
Part of what was so astounding about the debate and the variety of the theories is that it was an event that took place more or less in the open. It wasn’t like someone surreptitiously stuck a car bomb under his car, or quietly assassinated him with a sniper’s bullet; this was an event that drew a crowd, a crowd that grew all night, where there were dozens or hundreds of witnesses to the main events.
When I visited Benghazi in the immediate aftermath, I got the feeling that a lot of people in Benghazi actually had a pretty good idea of what went down. So I felt, and my editors felt, like that — given that this was a pressing question of political consequence and public interest in the United States — the least we could do is spend some time in Benghazi asking the people who actually live there what happened.
photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images via NPR
"Kill a tree! Save a book!"
Our #TBT is dedicated to Carrie Brownstein, wunderhost of our 2013 5 Under 35 Celebration last November. (Awesome party photos here.) Carrie’s hit series Portlandia returns tonight on IFC. As a warm up to its premiere, watch Carrie share her alt-reality vision of our 5 Under 35 selection process.
“Since when did trees have it so good?”
For good measure: Here’s our interview with Carrie and Fred