Friday, August 06, 2010


Sometimes I think I'm the only person in North America who is interested in what is happening in Saharawi (Western Sahara). Did anyone out there know that this week Moroccan security forces attacked a peaceful protest and left several injured?  Did you know that sever Saharawi human rights activists have been held in custody without any proceedings since last October?  Do you care?

The first two articles below are from the Sahara Press Service.  The third is from Human Rights Watch.

Read them and pass them along.  It is way past time that the talking stop and the  oppression of the Saharawi People by Morocco be done with once and for all. 

Saharawi Workers Condemn Moroccan Repression

Al Ayun (Occupied Territories), August 5, 2010 (SPS) - FOS Bukraa pensioners and workers and their families condemned Wednesday the violent repression by the Moroccan security forces against the peaceful protest that they organized Monday in the occupied city of Al Ayun, where dozens of Sahrawi demonstrators were injured.

The representative of FOS Bukraa pensioners and workers, Ahmed Moussa, confirmed to the Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA) that the peaceful protest organized by Saharawi workers was a form of struggle to defend and assert the rights seized by the Moroccan State, pointing out that the Sahrawi workers have vowed to continue struggle until they fully restore their rights.

The Saharawi trade unionist indicated that the presence of various Moroccan forces of repression prevented the Sahrawi citizens from their right to a peaceful demonstration to protest against the systematic policy for confiscating their rights, acquired during the Spanish colonialism era.

He called on the concerned international bodies and organizations to immediately intercede to realize the demands of the FOS Bukraa company pensioners and workers and other social groups, which have become alien in their own homeland of Western Sahara and do not benefit from its natural resources, which subjected to pillaging by the Moroccan State.

The FOS Bukraa company pensioners and workers, in a statement, signified that the Moroccan state has always resorted deliberately and consistently to seize the rights and privileges of these workers in a way contrary to the law and international treaties and conventions.

"The humiliating exploitation suffered by the working class since 1975 and denial of rights and spoiling them, including for example - the health services, promotion, obtaining the original salaries cut by the Moroccan state to more than half - fall within the purpose of systematic sequence of confiscation of such rights and arbitrarily destroying them," The Statement added. (SPS)

Union of Saharawi Lawyers Demands Release For Saharawi Political Prisoners

Shaheed Al Hafed (Refugee Camps), August 5, 2010 (SPS) - Union of Saharawi Lawyers called Tuesday on the United Nations to urgently intercede with the Moroccan authorities for the immediate and unconditional release of Sahrawi human rights defenders Ali Salem Tamek, Brahim Dahan and Hammadi Nassiri and all Saharawi political prisoners in Moroccan prisons.

They were among seven Sahrawi activists whom Moroccan police arrested immediately upon their return from visiting Sahrawi refugee camps, and awaiting martial trial in prison of Sale, since October.

In a letter to the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Union of Saharawi Lawyers appealed to justice and equity loving associations, parties, parliaments, media forums, personalities and the whole international community to apply pressure on Morocco to comply with international legitimacy and respect human rights in Western Sahara. As well as the need to establish a UN mechanism through its mission for the referendum (MINURSO) to provide international protection to Sahrawi citizens against the terror of the Moroccan state through colonial repressive methods.

It also strongly condemned the suppression by the Moroccan authorities of a peaceful protest Monday in the occupied city of Al Ayun, with violence and brutality against defenseless Saharawi citizens of Fos Boukraa company pensioners and workers, which left many seriously injured including women and elderly. (SPS) 

Morocco: Release or Try Sahrawi Activists Held 10 Months

Seven Facing Charges in Military Court After Visiting Tindouf Refugee Camps
August 2, 2010
(New York) - Moroccan authorities should release three well-known Sahrawi activists held since October 8, 2009, on charges of "harming state security," or provide them with a prompt and transparent trial, Human Rights Watch said today. If Morocco insists on going forward with such a trial, it should be transferred from the military to a civilian court, Human Rights Watch said.
Ali Salem Tamek, Brahim Dahane, and Ahmed Naciri are among seven Sahrawi activists who Moroccan police arrested immediately upon their return from visiting Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria. Moroccan authorities have provisionally released the other four activists facing the same accusations, Degja Lachgar, Yahdih Etarrouzi, Rachid Sghaier, and Saleh Lebaihi.
Unlike previous low-profile family visits by Sahrawis from the disputed, Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara to the refugee camps, this delegation openly met there with officials of the Polisario, the Sahrawi independence movement that runs a government-in-exile and administers the camps.
"In the past Morocco has unjustly imprisoned these and many other Sahrawis for their nonviolent political and human rights activism," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "And after almost a year behind bars, the world is still waiting for evidence that would justify their detention this time around."
During the activists' two-week visit to Tindouf, some Moroccan political parties and newspapers, including the organ of the prime minister's party, denounced the seven as "traitors." After their arrests, King Mohammed VI gave a speech indicating that Morocco would take a harder line toward Sahrawis who advocate self-determination for Western Sahara, which Morocco claims as part of its territory.
The case against the seven remains with the investigating judge at the Rabat military court, who has yet to complete the investigation and decide whether to refer the defendants to trial, and on what formal charges. The investigating judge has not questioned them since December. Under Moroccan law, pre-trial detention is limited to two months, but the court can renew the two-month period five times, for a maximum of one year.
According to a report issued on October 8 by the state news agency, Maghreb Arabe Presse (MAP), the prosecutor ordered the seven arrested because of their meetings with "bodies opposing Morocco," a probable reference to their meetings with Polisario Front officials, including, the president in exile Mohamed Abdelaziz. The police also reportedly questioned the defendants about meetings with Algerian officials.
The MAP report said the seven are under investigation on charges of "contacts with parties hostile to the kingdom," "undermining Morocco's internal and external security," "undermining citizens' loyalty to the kingdom", "undermining Morocco's diplomacy," and "receiving donations from hostile foreign parties for the purpose of organizing hostile demonstrations and sowing confusion."
The investigating judge of the civilian court referred the case to military court because Morocco's Code of Military Justice in Article 4 allows military trials for civilians when the charges include "undermining external state security." The case is number 2837/2546/09 before the first trial chamber of the military court in Rabat.
To date, Moroccan authorities have released no evidence to substantiate the accusations against the seven. Interviewed since their provisional release on May 18, Etarrouzi and Sghaier said their review of the case file apparently showed no evidence to substantiate the charges but, rather, consisted of contemporary broadcast and print media reports about the men being received by Polisario Front officials. The activists said in a statement on March 18, that their visit to Tindouf was "for humanitarian and purely human rights reasons." They have denied accepting money to fund or stir up unrest among Sahrawis in Morocco or Western Sahara.
"The longer this case drags on the more obvious is the Moroccan government's repression toward those who peacefully defy its position on Western Sahara," said Whitson.
The six men and one woman are all advocates of self-determination for Western Sahara, a vast disputed territory that Morocco has administered de facto since seizing control of it in 1975, after Spain, the colonial power, withdrew. The Polisario Front favors a popular vote on self-determination, including the option of full independence, while Morocco proposes a measure of autonomy for the region but rejects independence as an option. Morocco and the Polisario, which Algeria supports, have engaged in fitful and so-far fruitless negotiations.
Morocco considers peaceful advocacy of independence, or even of a referendum where independence is one option, as an attack on its "territorial integrity," punishable by law. Tamek, Dahane, Etarrouzi, Sghaier, and Naciri have all been previously imprisoned by Morocco - along with hundreds of other Sahrawis - for their pro-independence activities. Dahane and Lachgar are both former victims of forcible disappearance.
Moroccan authorities arrested the seven on October 8 at Casablanca's Mohammed V airport upon their return from the visit to the refugee camps. They spent eight days at the headquarters of the Judiciary Police in Casablanca, four of them blindfolded and handcuffed in individual cells, according to Sghaier and Etarrouzi.
The Moroccan authorities did not inform the detainees' relatives of their arrest until the evening of 12 October, according to Sghaier and Etarrouzi, in contravention of Article 67 of the Moroccan Code of Criminal Procedure, which stipulates that the judicial police must notify the family of the suspects as soon as it decides to place them in pre-arraignment detention (garde à vue). The judge to whom they were presented on October 15 remanded them to Salé Prison.
On November 4, after the seven had been in detention for four weeks, King Mohammed VI gave a speech that signaled a hard line on Sahrawi activists, declaring:
Now is the time for all government authorities concerned to strive doubly hard, show great resolve and vigilance, enforce the law and deal vigorously with any infringement of the nation's sovereignty, security, stability and public order....Let me clearly say there is no more room for ambiguity or deceit: either a person is Moroccan, or is not....One is either a patriot, or a traitor....One cannot enjoy the rights and privileges of citizenship, only to abuse them and conspire with the enemies of the homeland...
On January 28, Moroccan authorities provisionally released Lachgar, the only woman in the group, following reports that her health was poor. On March 18, the remaining six detainees started a hunger strike that lasted 41 days to protest their continuing detention without trial. On May 18, authorities provisionally released Etarrouzi and Lebeihi, both of El-Ayoun, and Sghaier, of Dakhla, but did not end the criminal investigation against them.
Tamek, Dahane, and Naciri remain in Salé Prison. All three are active in Sahrawi human rights organizations. Tamek, a resident of El Ayoun, is vice-president of the Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA). Dahane, of El-Ayoun, is president of the Sahrawi Association of Victims of Grave Human Rights Violations (ASVDH). Naciri is vice-president of the Smara-based Committee for the Defense of Human Rights. Moroccan authorities have refused to grant legal recognition to CODESA and the ASVDH.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Morocco in 1979, states that anyone detained on a criminal charge is entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. The Human Rights Committee, which interprets this treaty, has stated the right to a fair trial under Article 14 of the Covenant means that military courts should only exceptionally, if ever, try civilians. It has stated, "[t]hat the State party must demonstrate, with regard to the specific class of individuals at issue, that the regular civilian courts are unable to undertake the trials, that other alternative forms of special or high-security civilian courts are inadequate to the task and that recourse to military courts is unavoidable. The State party must further demonstrate how military courts ensure the full protection of the rights of the accused pursuant to article 14 [...]." The committee has also noted that, "Nor does the mere invocation of domestic legal provisions for the trial by military court of certain categories of serious offences constitute an argument under the Covenant in support of recourse to such tribunals. " In Morocco, the verdict of a military court is not subject to appeal; the only available level of judicial review is the court of cassation.
"If Morocco wants to prove these seven people did more than advocate self-determination and meet with Polisario, they should bring the case quickly to trial," said Whitson. "The prolonged detention of these men without charge is unjust and cruel."
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Thursday, August 05, 2010




Wednesday, August 04, 2010


Myths are created for a reason. The one that Haitians are living better in the IDP camps, than they did before the earthquake is a beauty. This myth is mostly put out by American politicians and some relief workers. Maybe it makes them feel better about themselves. Maybe they don't want us to think about the struggles of the Haitian people too much. Maybe they just want to make us believe what good people we are for helping these poor suffering people. I think it helps justify hundreds of years of Western imperialism.

What do you think is behind this myth?

The following is from the Institute for Justice in Haiti.

(I apologize for all the spacing issues in the article below.  I have no idea what the cause was, but I tried to correct as many as I could find.  But I didn't get to them all)

“Haitians in IDP Camps are living better now than before the earthquake? Are you kidding me?”

Update from Nicole Phillips, IJDH Staff Attorney currently working in Haiti

I find it difficult to write about Haiti when in Haiti because the experience is over­whelming.  I spend my days there try ing to make some thing happen for people strug gling to survive day after day.  People all around me are los ing hope that their coun try and their lives will ever get better — from our staff at BAI who lost fam ily mem bers, to vic tims of rape who remain in the same camp as their rapists, to fam i lies with out any income strug gling to feed their children.
Walk ing or dri ving around Port au Prince you see families liv ing in home less encamp ments every where you go.  (1,342 inter nal dis place ment (IDP) camps in the Port au Prince area was the offi cial count in June)  It’s what I imagine refugee camps to be like in armed conflict zones like Sudan or Rwanda.  I’m told that those camps had refugee organizations living with the survivors.  In Haiti, most camp communities are on their own to scrounge for food, shel ter and other basic services.

Chil dren at Camp Palais de L’Art
Every poor Haitian has had their life torn upside down by the earth quake.   Every story of desperation I hear crushes me.  One young man waited all day at our office to speak with me.  I had never met him before, but some one told him that I was there and may be able to help.  He wanted me to help his com mu nity in Grand Ravine who had lost every thing and asked for build ing mate ri als, food, clothes, any thing?  We spoke for about 45 minutes as he told me how hard it is to grow up in Haiti right now.  He graduated from col lege at 20 years old with excellent grades and wants to be a doc­tor.  He wondered if I could sponsor his visa to study in the U.S., or pay for his school in Haiti, or just find him work, any work.  I hated saying no to him.  I spoke with dozens of young, educated women and men who may never have the opportunity to realize their potential.
Fam i lies are suf fer ing in the IDP camps we visited.

There is a myth out there, prop a gated by American politicians and relief work ers in Haiti, that Haitians are living bet ter in IDP camps now than they were living before the earth quake.  These same peo ple clar ify that the role of disaster relief is not to raise the standard of living of poor people.

Camp Acra Sud
I men tioned this myth to a group of law stu dents from the University of San Fran­cisco, School of Law who came with me to Haiti to do a survey on conditions in IDP camps.  We were debrief ing last night from our trip and strategizing on how to expose the human rights violations we witnessed.  The students all laughed as if it were a joke.  People we interviewed in the sur vey were employed before the earth quake and pro vided for their families.  Now their children are sleep ing on mud soaked with raw sewage from the last rain storm.   Conditions are not bet ter than before the earth quake, in fact, they couldn’t get any worse.
We visited 6 IDP camps around Port au Prince (I visited about a dozen camps total).  The con di tions in all of them were unbear able by any human being’s standard.  Tents and tarps that finally reached Haiti in Feb ru ary and March are now falling apart from con tin u ous use.  Families are living and sleep ing exposed to the elements, with out protection from rain, wind, mal nu tri tion, or dis ease.  One young man living in Camp Acra Sud invited us into his tent to meet his mother.   He told me that he lost his job and his home after the earth quake.  He said that his family could not afford to eat and were desperate.

Mother and Son at Acra Sud
Most camps we saw did have access to non-potable water, mostly sup plied by the Red Cross or Doctors with out Borders.  Most also had a few portable toilets and show ers (about 1 toi let for every 50–100 people).  The toi ets were changed 1–2 times a month and smelled so pun gent that it is hard to be within 100 feet of them.  People eat and sleep around them.  There is also lit tle to no secu rity or light ing in the camps we saw, mak ing peo ple vul­nerable to theft and rape.
One camp I visited, Bar ban court II, had a cesspool the diam e ter of a large swim ming pool.  The water is nor mally a foot high but when it rains the water rises to 3 feet and creeps into people’s tents.  The smelly, stag nant water was bub bling before us.  (Is that mos quito larva? I asked myself)  Space is so lim ited in the camp that tents are pitched right next to the cesspool.  It’s a health dis as ter wait ing to happen.

I worry that Americans and the rest of the international community think that Haitians in IDP camps are living better now than before the earth quake.  I worry about how this myth may affect aid efforts.   But I also feel that the myth fails to appreciate Haitians’ amazing day-to-day survival in uninhabit­able conditions.

For more information on camp conditions, see Neglect in the Encamp­ments: Haiti’s Second-Wave Humanitarian Disaster (, a report released in March.  We will be releasing a follow-up report next month based on our surveys in 6IDP camps.




Tuesday, August 03, 2010


I don't know who this guy is but I really like his idea. Some blogger going by "General J.C. Christian" is promoting September 12th as "Burn the Confederate Flag Day." He suggests Tea Party events would be a sweet place for a burning. My only suggestion is make sure to take some non, non violent folks with you, if you catch my drift. Although since all those baggers claim they aren't a pack of racists, you'd think they'd join right in, but somehow I've got my doubts.

By the way September 12 is a big day for the tea bag crew so they shouldn't be hard to locate. Look for the folks with the bermuda shorts and funny hats gearing up fight off the invasion from Mexico which I hear has already seized several ranches in the Lone Star Republic.

The only problem with t
he idea is how to acquire a racist confederate flag without paying for it. Hmmm...there must be some way.

The following is from TPM.

A pseudonymous liberal blogger in Washington state hopes that progressives across the country will show up to tea party rallies on September 12 and -- if it's legal -- light up a confederate flag so tea partiers can watch it burn.

"I think that it would start a great conversation about race and about how it's being used for political gain right now," the blogger, who preferred to be identified by his online handle, "General J.C. Christian," told me Monday. "I can imagine people showing up at the tea parties, which I'll do at my local one, and the tea party backers will start explaining why [the flag] is about state's rights, not slavery, and all that and basically hang themselves."
"I think that will be one of the messages that come out of the tea party events if my idea works out and people actually embrace it," he added.
General JC Christian, who writes the satirical anti-conservative blog Jesus' General, says he's serious about Burn The Confederate Flag Day, which he announced Sunday night on Facebookand the web. And while there's no sign so far that Burn The Confederate Flag Day will spread across the nation, the idea seems sure to at least ruffle some tea party feathers.
September 12 is right up there with Tax Day in importance on the tea party calendar. The date comes from Glenn Beck, who helped launch the movement as we know it today with the first 9/12 rally in Washington, DC back in 2009. The 9/12 Project, as Beck's yearly protest is named, is "designed to bring us all back to the place we were on September 12, 2001," according to the project's website. "The day after America was attacked we were not obsessed with Red States, Blue States or political parties. We were united as Americans, standing together to protect the greatest nation ever created."
Of course what that actually meant in practice was thousands of angry conservatives converging on the National Mall to hear Glenn Beck and national Tea Party leaders whip up opposition to Democratic control of Congress and the White House. The 2009 9/12 tea party day became best known for the high-profile spat over how many people actually showed up in DC, though hundreds of sister rallies were held across the country.
This year, with the midterm election looming, tea partiers are expected to head out in to parks and public squares to make their voices heard again this September.
General JC Christian says he hopes Burn The Confederate Flag Day will expose what he says are the racial motivations of the tea party movement. The logistics are simple: protesters are urged to show up to the rallies and, if local laws allow a fire to be set, light a Confederate flag (or whatever approximation of one they can get their hands on -- the blogger told me he's not picky.) If laws don't allow the flag to be burned in a public place, the protesters are urged to show up with a singed flag they burned at home and display it prominently.
The blogger told me that even as the tea party has publicly struggled to shake off its racist image, the movement has continued to be fueled by prejudice.
"Sure, after all the publicity, the leaders are trying to clean up their act," General JC Christian told me. "But you're looking at a group I think is fundamentally racist...I think there's a conscious effort to show African Americans as subversive and anti-American and to tie that to Obama."
The ongoing debate over the Confederate flag is the perfect way to expose those racial motivations, the blogger predicts. He posits that most tea partiers will be supportive of the Confederate flag, which he says means they've got issues with race.
"I refer to that kind of mindset as being from Confederate Americans," he said, adding that the symbolism of the flag knows no geographic boundary. "I saw plenty of Confederate flags in Utah, I see plenty up here in Washington and you know if you get talking to the people [carrying them] you don't have to scratch the surface much to find racism."
It's because of the prevalence of those views in otherwise blue state Washington that General JC Christian told me he has to remain pseudonymous, even as he tries to spark a national movement to publicly expose racist ideology in tea party ranks.
"You know, I've received some pretty credible death threats in the past," he told me. "Also the nature of my work -- I'm in a fairly conservative area of Washington state and I have to work very closely with some pretty scary right-wing people."


There is always someone(s) who pops us and says don't be too militant or you'll just help the other side, or drive away support, or something like that. To them, I say get a life. I refuse to be held responsible for what someone else uses as an excuse to remain mum, to remain a tool of "the empire."

It is always righ
t to stand up to racists and fascists. It is always right to confront them head on. If you want to clap and sing, well, I guess that is your business, but those who take on the jackals are fine by me.

The following is from  the UK's Socialist Worker online.

It is right to march against the racist EDL

Racist and fascist thugs are planning to descend on Bradford over the August bank holiday weekend.

The English Defence League (EDL) has one aim—to terrorise and intimidate Bradford’s Muslim population.

Yet some people are arguing that it is a mistake for anti-racists to hold a counter-protest.
They say that previous counter-protests have not stopped the EDL and that the best strategy is to call on the police and government to ban the EDL’s demonstration.

But where the EDL has been met with only limited opposition on the streets, the consequences have been dire. In Stoke at the start of the year hundreds of EDL thugs rampaged through Asian areas, smashing shops and homes.

Since January, counter-protests have gathered support and checked the EDL—in Bolton, Dudley, Newcastle, Cardiff and elsewhere.

A massive anti-racist mobilisation in Tower Hamlets in London’s East End forced the EDL to cancel their racist rally.

Anti-racist protests serve another purpose too. They are a tangible demonstration of solidarity by anti-racists with Muslim communities under attack by the EDL.

The EDL are calling Bradford “the Big One”.

Stoke was a warning about what happens when our side doesn’t mobilise on the streets.

There must be no repeat of Stoke in Bradford—a city with one of the largest Muslim populations outside London.

That’s why it’s right that a “We are Bradford” event to celebrate the city’s multicultural diversity is being held in opposition to the EDL’s racist demonstration.

All anti-racists should campaign to make this as big as possible.

Monday, August 02, 2010


As anyone who follows my posts here knows, I'm a fan of the San Francisco Bay View. The Bay View is a national Black newspaper founded back in 1976. The paper is never afraid to take on the powers that be and to stand up for the oppressed, including those locked away in America's prisons.

Now California prison authori
ies are doing their damnedest to keep the Bay View out of the hands of prisoners and punishing those who dare to read it.

The San Francisco Bay View isn't going to weakly submit to this injustice, nor are those languishing in the prisons of California.

We all need to join them.

The following is from the San Francisco Bay View.

California prisons silencing SF Bay View
by Nick Theodosis

Drawing titled "Under Lock & Key" by Michael A. Wortham, H-69234, D-Fac, P.O. Box 8504, PVSP, Coalinga CA 93210

In 1974 (Procunier v. Martinez) U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall sought to protect the practice of free speech by challenging a standard illegitimate dictate of prison authority: censorship of prisoners’ mail. In opposition to prison officials’ desire to quell dissent and regulate opinion in the yard, Marshall appropriated – indeed, elevated – the discussion to the level of moral indignation:
“The First Amendment serves not only the needs of the polity but also those of the human spirit – a spirit that demands self-expression. Such expression is an integral part of the development of ideas and a sense of identity. To suppress expression is to reject the basic human desire for recognition and affront the individual’s worth and dignity.”
Just over a decade later (Turner v. Safley) Sandra Day O’Connor agreed, asserting that “prison walls do not form a barrier separating prisoners from the protections of the Constitution.”
Yet such bold proclamations from the bench rarely provide comfort to those who need it most.

“To suppress expression is to reject the basic human desire for recognition and affront the individual’s worth and dignity.”

Today, according to numerous reports from inmates in several California state prisons, free speech inside the penitentiary is increasingly becoming a scant luxury, not the universally recognized right abstracted by federal judges. Reality, it seems, is closer to the view offered by the ACLU that “prisoners’ First Amendment rights are far more limited than those of non-prisoners, and prison officials can significantly restrict the publications prisoners receive.”
Stifle tactics: Bay View as prison contraband
As early as March 2008, the San Francisco Bay View began receiving dispatches from California prisoners alerting the newspaper that prisoners in possession of the newspaper were being charged with gang affiliation and having their subscriptions withheld.
Ed Furnace, formerly at Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP), informed the Bay View that he had been segregated from the general inmate population and exiled to solitary confinement in part for possessing a Bay View article on Black August, the commemoration of Black radical resistance centered on the Marin courthouse rebellion that occurred Aug. 7, 1970. Furnace believes the segregation violated his First Amendment rights and possibly constitutes defamation: They (SVSP) are “essentially saying that the article is gang recruitment material when it is not.”
When Furnace challenged court authorities in June to demonstrate how his possession of the Bay View and other so-called gang “source items” provided the requisite “direct” link to gang activity, the court appealed to Webster’s dictionary, ruling, “While neither the statute nor case authority specifically defines the term, the dictionary defines ‘direct’ as meaning, among other things ‘without interruption or diversion,’ and ‘without any intervening agency or step.’” Despite no evidence of prior or current affiliation, the California prison system has thus acknowledged that Furnace’s fate will not be decided empirically, but rather by manipulative word play.
On June 10, 2010, Derick Lovings, a prisoner at Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP), was subjected to what he believed at first to be a routine cell search. “I was told it was a random cell search. However, after speaking with the sergeant I was informed it was for a Bay View magazine.”
According to prisoner reports, prisoners at Corcoran, Chuckawalla, Kern and Pelican Bay state prisons are facing punitive action by prison officials including what’s known as administrative segregation, leading to an unofficial yet effective ban on the Bay View newspaper.

“I was told it was a random cell search. However, after speaking with the sergeant I was informed it was for a Bay View magazine.”

Administrative segregation, or “AdSeg,” is a process used to isolate prisoners from the general inmate population. Once segregated, prisoners are often placed in solitary confinement, formally called Specialized Housing Units (SHU). In the SHU, prisoners experience extreme sensory deprivation – a clear form of psychological torture according to mental health experts and prisoner advocates, who continue to castigate the process as inhumane.
It is also well documented that in addition to the psychological effects of such confinement practices, prison guard brutality is not uncommon in the SHU. According to the Prison Law Office, a leading public interest law firm, Corcoran State Prison, one of the institutions implicated in the current ban, gained particular “notoriety for [SHU] violence, including ‘gladiator fights’ in which prison guards put hostile prisoners on group yards, bet on the resulting fights, and sometimes shot the prisoners involved.”
Stays in the SHU commonly follow what are known as “validations.” Inmates get validated when prison officials decide that the prisoner fits one of their criteria for gang affiliation. Possession of gang-related contraband is one such criterion and according to recent reports from California prisoners, the Bay View is now being compared to white supremacist and other racist propaganda.
What’s the justification for this claim? According to Derick Lovings, prison officials are arguing for the need to uphold standards of objectivity. “Is this some sort of Black Panther paper?” reportedly queried a certain Captain Flores of KVSP. “You know we don’t allow the white supremacist literature inside.”
Aside from the transparent ignorance of the actual content of the Bay View, what is more disturbing is the obvious assumption that the Black Panthers and, by implication, the Bay View, represent racist opinion. Assuming the Bay View can be likened to white supremacist literature adds validity to Ed Furnace’s claim that the actions of recent California prisons border on libel.
At the very least, it reinforces the understanding, perhaps now simply taken for granted, that behind the walls of the penitentiary, where rights are “more limited,” such absurdities are commonly upheld as instances of objectivity.
Banned in the CDCR
While some prisoners are being punished for possessing copies of the Bay View, others in the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation (CDCR) system are having their subscriptions withheld and, in some cases, charging that their outgoing mail is not being sent.
Randall Ellis, a prisoner at Pelican Bay, filed a lawsuit July 6 against the prison for withholding a letter sent to the Bay View back in August 2009. Keith Barnett, a former Corcoran, now at Kern Valley, has not received his subscription to the Bay View since August 2008 despite the papers’ consistent mailing. In February of this year Barnett wrote that he had begun to “believe that the prisoncrats were censoring the publications allowed into the SHU at Corcoran” and suggested the Bay View pursue legal action.

Former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall

The apparent censorship of the Bay View in California prisons coincides with accounts of another banned periodical, Revolution, the newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. According to Revolution, officials at two California prisons where bans are alleged to be instituted have had little to say. Officials at Pelican Bay have remained silent on the issue except to emphasize that “no ban of Revolution Newspaper is in effect.” Similarly, the assistant warden of Chuckawalla Valley State Prison (CVSP) claims, “Revolution does not have a blanket ban at Chuckawalla.” Both statements do not deny that a prior ban had been in place, merely that they are not instituting one currently. However, Revolution maintains that prisoners, as recently as June, continue to be denied their subscriptions.
Rebellion is printing the Black voice
Regardless of the outcome of his lawsuit against Pelican Bay, Randall Ellis vows to continue to speak out in support of “Blacks’ various struggles in this country and shed light on the false attacks levied against [Blacks] for writing about and studying [their] history.” An admirable task not pursued nearly enough and a call to arms for those who enjoy far greater freedoms.
The Bay View is often the only window to the world for countless Black prisoners. It provides perspective and insight into issues facing the Black community long ignored by the mass and most independent media. Attempts to silence or pacify its content only serve as a reminder that, as Black radical activist Ashanti Alston points out, “The state is inherently oppressive as a mechanism that cannot give, grant, guarantee or preserve freedom.”
Freedom is not a gift or benevolent judicial gesture; it is something fought for by people like California prisoners, enlightened souls with little left to lose. So long as their freedoms are left to the whims of wardens, the Bay View will continue to share their voice and support their struggle. That they’ll likely be denied the freedom to read this article is, in Thurgood Marshall’s words, perhaps the greatest assault on an their “worth and dignity.”
Nick Theodosis is a graduate student in philosophy at San Francisco State University. He can be reached at [4]
How you can help
Legal assistance to help the Bay View and prisoner subscribers pursue their rights is welcome. So are contributions to the Bay View’s Prisoner Subscription Fund, so more prisoners can read the Bay View and join the many subscribers behind enemy lines who say, “The Bay View keeps me alive.”
Contribute online by clicking on Support SF BayView near the top left of every page at [5]. Scroll down to the section headed “DONATE” for simple instructions on contributing to the Prisoners Subscription Fund. If you’d like to give a gift subscription to a prisoner you know, scroll down further to the section headed “SUBSCRIBE” to read the easy instructions.
And send our brothers who are taking the lead in this freedom fight some love and light: Edward Furnace, H-33245, CSP4B-4R-31, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran, CA 93212; Derick Lovings, T-42634, A-8-211, P.O. Box 5101, Delano, CA 93216; and Randall Sondai Ellis, C-68764, SHU D2-213, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95531.

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 The aviation industry, along with the shipping industry, has been one of the most recalcitrant industry sectors in addressing global warming. This denial of culpability flies in the face of the fact that one round trip from NY to LA or Trans Atlantic round trip is equal to 2,000 pounds of CO2; in a year air travel releases 600 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. As air traffic emissions double — or even triple — by 2050, a recent study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology indicates that air travel will become one of the significant factors in global warming.

Now it's no doubt true that we could all cut down on our air travel one way or another. The biggest villains here are not you and me flying off somewhere to visit aunt Ruth. No, we should look at corporate America.

The airline industry has a responsibility to, for example, to increase the rate of technological development and uptake for fuel efficiency measures as well as well as look at alternative fuels. The business world has numerous ways to cut down on business travel and they need to do it now, not tomorrow, but now. Most business travel is really a communications issue anyway and does not require person to person real life contact.

The following is from rabble.

Up in the air, destroying the planet