California authorities are threatening disciplinary measures as more than 12,000 inmates in the state's prisons have missed nine consecutive meals over three days in a hunger strike against solitary confinement. The nine-meal point is considered a critical benchmark that requires officials to recognize the action as a hunger strike. About 30,000 prisoners across the state began refusing meals on July 8 in support of supposedly "gang-affiliated" inmates being held in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison. Some prisoners are also refusing to work and to attend classes. "Participating in a mass disturbance and refusing to participate in a work assignment are violations of state law, and any participating inmates will receive disciplinary action," California prison officials said in a statement. A total of 4,527 inmates at four state prisons are now in solitary confinement.
US District Judge Murray Snow ruled May 24 that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office illegally engaged in racial profiling, and prohibited deputies from using race as a factor in law-enforcement decisions, detaining people solely for suspected immigration violations, or contacting federal immigration authorities to arrest suspected undocumented immigrants who are not accused of committing state crimes. Critics of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's controversial immigration enforcement efforts said they felt vindicated by the ruling. "In my mind, people have been very abused in our communities," said Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox. "We knew racial profiling was taking place and it was very hard to prove it."
Why now? On May 2—the 40th anniversary of the New Jersey Turnpike gun-fight that landed her in prison—the FBI made veteran Black Panther Assata Shakur the first woman on its "Most Wanted Terrorists" list, doubling the reward for her capture to $2 million. Shakur is in exile in Cuba, and Cuba's own right-wing exiles in Miami have campaigned for her extradition. But it's the NJ State Police that seem to have brought the pressure, with Trenton putting up the extra million dollars. "She continues to flaunt her freedom in the face of this horrific crime," State Police superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes said at a press conference, calling the case "an open wound" for troopers in New Jersey and around the country.
The American left's schizophrenic love-hate relationship with jihadism now manifests maddeningly regarding the Boston attacks—as exemplified in the cowardly commentaries of the grievous Glenn Greenwald. The last time we checked in on him, Glenn was condescending to the Malians that they have no right to any help from the outside world becuase it was Western intervention that got them into that mess in the first place by destabilizing Libya and setting off a domino effect. Of course, this actually means the Malians are more entitled to help in beating back the jihadists, but note the inherent double standard: the Libya intervention was bad because it unleashed jihadists, but when those jihadists seize northern Mali... it's not so bad. His screed objected to use of the inevitable "terrorist" label for the jihadist militias in Mali. What Greenwald didn't get is that by using the "terrorist" label, the media are actually giving these ultra-fundamentalist hoodlums a free ride. All the concern is for the purely hypothetical notion that Mali could be a staging ground for attacks on the West. The Malians getting stoned to death, or having their hands amputated, or the Fulani nomads who have been cleansed from their homeland? Who cares, except the guys on the West Africa desk at Amnesty International? Certainly not Glenn Greenwald—who now applies similar intellectual contortions to the case of the Boston bombings...
With Boston under "lockdown" and a manhunt underway, leaders of the Chechen insurgency issued a statement April 19 casting doubt on police claims that the two suspects in the Marathon bombing—young brothers of Chechen origin—carried out the attacks. The official media arm of the Chechen mujahedeen, the Kavkaz Center, published a blog post that suggested a frame-up as part of a "PR campaign" to discredit the insurgency. The statement mocked the "lightning speed" at which the two suspects were identified, and called the investigation "completely muddled." From a translation by NBC News: "The news that the brothers attacked police officers, carjacked a man and did an array of other things, instead of going into hiding, looks strange at the very least." The statement argued that the younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was "very far from your typical 'Islamic terrorist.' He named career and money as his main credo. What's more, he just logged onto his Russian social networking site a few hours ago." Indeed, an overview of the young man's Twitter and other social media posts on AtlanticWire notes that he listed his "personal priority" as "career and money"—but his "worldview" as "Islam." He also made some ominously foreshadowing tweets, including "I will die young."
OK, so twin bombs go off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three—including an 8-year-old child—and injuring over 100. And the Internet conspiranoia crowd, led by the indefatigable Alex Jones, jump on the attack in record time, even faster than they did with the Newtown massacre. Salon notes that on his radio show, Jones speculated the Boston blasts are linked to the price of gold: "With gold plunging, what could this signify?" He also noted that one of the 9-11 planes took off from Boston, and claimed to have predicted the attack: "I said on air that they're getting ready to blow something up. To fire a shot heard round the world like at Lexington and Concord, and then they do it at this same place on the same day!" Well, if you always predict attacks, sooner or later you're going to be right...
On March 13 a federal magistrate judge in Columbus, Georgia, sentenced Robert Norman "Nashua" Chantal to a six-month prison term for trespassing on the US Army's Fort Benning base during a protest against the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly the US Army School of the Americas (SOA), on Nov. 18. SOA Watch, an organization that has sponsored protests at the base each November since 1990, opposes the US Army's training of Latin American soldiers, charging that SOA graduates have been among the region's most notorious human rights violators.
Jury selection is underway in the terrorism trial of Mohamed Mohamud, a Somali-American accused of attempting to ignite a "weapon of mass destruction" at Portland's 2010 holiday tree-lighting ceremony, The Oregonian reports Jan. 10. But an NPR report states: "There was no bomb—the defendant was the target of an FBI sting operation... His lawyers are expected to argue their client was entrapped... The car bombing plot—the purchasing of the car, the gathering of explosives, the plan itself—was orchestrated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation." True, the guy came to the attention of the FBI when he started posting to online jihadist forums. But he was only 19 years old when he was arrested, and therefore could try "to convince the jury he was manipulated by the FBI." Good to see the media finally raising some skepticism about a specious terrorism case. Additionally, although no media account has mentioned this angle, we strongly object to calling a conventional explosive a "weapon of mass destruction." Much less one that didn't even exist! What's up with that?