prisoners

Photo of the Day

North Korean Propaganda Photograph of prisoners of USS Pueblo. Photo and explanation from the Time article that blew the Hawaiian Good Luck Sign secret. The sailors were flipping the middle finger, as a way to covertly protest their captivity in North Korea, and the propaganda on their treatment and guilt. The North Koreans for months photographed them without knowing the real meaning of flipping the middle finger, while the sailors explained that the sign meant good luck in Hawaii.

Flipping the North

North Korean Officials Had No Idea What Their Hostages Were Signaling in This Photo

The men in the photos look a little bored and awkward, maybe uncomfortable or even tense. The more you know about the photos, the more you read into them. But without context, what you see is young men assembled in rows for a formal group photo, staring into the camera or glumly off to the side. It could be a group photo of colleagues or a social club—a hum-drum setup. But stare longer and it’s obvious: In each photo, one or more of them is giving the finger.

All of these men are prisoners, pawns during a politically tense time, and they’re defying their captors in one of the only ways available to them: By flipping the bird.

It was 1968 and the United States was solidly mired in the Cold War, spying on the Soviet Union and its allies and being spied upon in return. The U.S.S. Pueblo was a Navy intelligence ship whose cover was collecting oceanographic data (of the 83 crewmen there were two civilian oceanographers aboard), but its actual duty was collecting intelligence on Russia and North Korea.

On January 23, 1968—just 18 days into its first mission—the Pueblo was approached by a North Korean vessel near the port of Wonsan. The vessel asked them their nationality, and the Pueblo hoisted the American flag. They were told to slow and prepare to be boarded; the Pueblo crew responded that they were 15.8 miles from land, and thus in international waters. But the situation quickly grew dire—three more North Korean boats appeared, and fighter jets flew overhead.

The North Korean ship opened fire on the Pueblo, killing one of the crew and wounding others. The Pueblo was barely armed; rather than fight back they began to frantically burn and dump documents, smashing equipment with axes and hammers. The ship was boarded and the crew taken captive. Bed sheets were cut up into blindfolds; they were tied up, punched, kicked, and prodded with bayonets.

“My mother’s prediction that I would die in dirty sheets was about to come true,”wrote one crew member, Stu Russell. “And to make it worse, I had my boots on.”

Read more »

Photo of the Day

Throughout Chillingham Castle’s years of restoration, countless bodies have been discovered hidden in various hidden rooms, crawlspaces, and behind brick walls. Perhaps most notable of the discoveries where the skeletons of a man and child found hiding in a small underground vault. No one knows who they are, or why they were hiding in the tiny stone vault in the first place.

The Chilling History of Chillingham Castle

Believed to be the most horrific place in Europe, the Chillingham Castle has seen many wars, deaths and tortures since the 12th century.

In North Northumberland, within sight of the Cheviot Hills, lies the medieval stronghold of Chillingham Castle. Tucked away on the outskirts of the village of the same name, it is remote and forbidding in aspect. Wild cattle still live in these parts, descendants of the beasts that once roamed the ancient forests of Britain. This was once a lawless land, subject to violent cross-border raids during the constant bloody warfare between England and Scotland. It seems peaceful now, but that peace may be deceptive.

Built in the 12th century in the northern part of Northumberland, England, Chillingham was originally intended to be a monastery, but since 1246 the infamous castle has been owned by the same continuous bloodline, and not all of them were very nice. It was the distinguished Grey family who scooped up the surrounding forest and palace, and while renovating the massive building, they added a dungeon and torture chamber or two. It is purportedly quite haunted, with some, however, refusing to go … cries of terror and pain can be heard emanating from a passage in the wall. When those cries fade, it is said that a halo of blue light has been known appear. A figure of a boy in blue was seen as it approached a guest’s bed during a refurbishing of the castle, after which the bones of a boy along with fragments of a blue dress were found in a wall of the room.

It is estimated that over 7500 Scots, including men, women and children of all ages were tortured and killed in this dungeon over a three-year period.

Read more »

Photo of the Day

The punishment pool in San Pedro Prison. Inmates’ children are pictured surrounding a pool inside San Pedro prison, the biggest in Bolivia’s main city, La Paz. The children play in the pool during the day, and at night it is used to drown inmates who do not respect the inmates who run the prison.

The City Within a City

Inside the prison where guards are too scared to enter

Located only meters away from the tranquil Plaza San Pedro, lies one of the word’s most notorious and corrupt institutions, San Pedro Prison. San Pedro Prison is one of the biggest in Bolivia and the common destination for people convicted of breaking the countries drug laws. It is found in the heart of the country’s administrative capital, La Paz.

Imagine a tough and dangerous men’s prison full of violence, drugs and corruption that is also home to families of women and children. A place where cells, some with cable television, kitchens and private bathrooms, are bought and sold, complete with title deeds, and the real estate market has bubbles, just like on the outside. A place where backpackers pay to go on tours, guided by inmates. A place where the police rarely venture, except to collect bribes. A place with its own strict set of rules and regulations, where prisoners elect their own leaders, who enforce the law in the only way they know how, violently. A society that lives and dies by the cocaine economy. A vibrant collection of small businesses flourishes – photographic studios, restaurants, messenger services, market stalls, copying shops, shoeshine boys, and grocery stores.

Originally built to accommodate 600 prisoners, San Pedro holds over 3000 inmates and their families at any one time. Entire families live in San Pedro men’s prison, as it’s often cheaper and safer on the inside.

Read more »

Photo Of The Day

Scan-76-e1441226008163Busting Out of Mexico

It Couldn’t Happen This Way In A Million Years

But It Did!

When the American inmates at Piedras Negras talked to Blake Davis, they sometimes caught themselves staring at the jagged, reddened scar that under­lined the ridge of his jaw. Blake Davis was ebullient, powerfully built, well liked by the other Americans. Even in moments of discouragement he some­how managed a rueful smile. “Next week” was always the time of Blake’s anticipated departure from the Piedras Negras jail. He always had a scam.

Blake did not mind talking about his scar. He said he’d been arrested near Saltillo and charged with transporting 175 pounds of marijuana. For three weeks, Blake said, he was strapped naked to a bed while federales interro­gated him, until finally he signed a Spanish confession he could not read. While he was in prison at Saltillo, Blake claimed he bribed a warden for $2000, but when the tunneling started the war­den alerted the guards. Blake said he unwisely cried foul; the warden referred the matter to Mexican inmates who set upon Blake with crude knives and razor blades. Hence the scar. Blake’s tale of horror did not rate him special privileges in the Piedras Negras seniority system. When he was transferred there in Au­gust 1975, like all other new arrivals he took a seat on the floor.

When a Mexican attorney arranged his transfer from Saltillo, Blake thought he was destined for a federal prison in Piedras Negras called Penal. But Mexi­can officials claimed Penal was over­crowded, and they blamed Americans for a November 1974 breakout in which 24 prisoners tunnelled to freedom. Blake Davis was thus assigned to the Piedras Negras municipal jail. Inside the jail were five cells for men, one cell for women, and a drunk tank, each of which measured eight feet by nine. The win­dowless cells contained four bunks, a toilet, a water faucet, and from six to twelve sweating, panting, claustrophobic prisoners. Mexican national inmates were eventually transferred to Penal, but the Americans waited for enough seniority to occupy one of the bunks. When they moved around their cells they shuffled. They never breathed fresh air, never saw the sky.

Read more »

Photo Of The Day

In 1946 the British government awarded Judy the Dickin Medal, which honors the extraordinary wartime service of animals. PHOTOGRAPH BY TOPICAL PRESS AGENCY/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY

In 1946 the British government awarded Judy the Dickin Medal, which honors the extraordinary wartime service of animals.
PHOTOGRAPH BY TOPICAL PRESS AGENCY/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY

Judy, the Only Canine POW

in World War II

Judy, a beautiful liver and white English pointer, and the only animal POW of WWII, truly was a dog in a million. Whether she was dragging men to safety from the wreckage of a torpedoed ship, scavenging food to help feed the starving inmates of a hellish Japanese POW camp, or by her presence alone bringing inspiration and hope to men living through the 20th century’s darkest days, she was cherished and adored by the British, Australian, American and other Allied servicemen who fought to survive alongside her.

Viewed largely as human by those who shared her extraordinary life, Judy’s uncanny ability to sense danger, matched with her quick-thinking and impossible daring saved countless lives. She was a close companion to men who became like a family to her, sharing in both the tragedies and joys they faced. It was in recognition of the extraordinary friendship and protection she offered amidst the unforgiving and savage environment of a Japanese prison camp in Indonesia that she gained her formal status as a POW.

Judy’s unique combination of courage, kindness, and fun repaid that honour a thousand times over.

Read more »

A message from the Internet Party’s legal counsel

Graeme Edgeler is a lawyer and he has joined the Internet Party as their legal beagle.

Yesterday, he tweeted this to the world.

dear oh dear

Oh dear.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…