Abolish Prison! The US Incarceration System Is Broken and Needs to Be Replaced
Prisons are terrible, torturous places where people—who are usually poor and disproportionately of color—are subjected daily to crimes more horrific than the ones that probably sent them there. The vast majority of individuals behind bars are there for nonviolent drug and property offenses. Now, which is worse, do you think: Stealing a late-90s Honda or putting someone in a cage for years where we know they will be physically and emotionally abused? We ask whether criminals can be reformed, when we think of them as people at all, but maybe we should stop to consider whether the idea of prisons and jails can be rehabilitated in the wake of all the injustice they have wrought.
Perhaps the evils of incarceration outweigh the good. Maybe the goal shouldn’t be reform, as welcome as that may be, but something more radical: release.
Russia’s aggression in Crimea gave GOP talking heads yet another chance to blather on about how weak Barack Obama is and how America needs to bomb more countries in order to gain respect. Don’t listen to them.
We Asked a Military Expert How to Invade and Conquer Russia
In the past, when I’ve asked military experts from IHS Jane’s what it would take to conquer, say,America, or the UK, the idea of it actually happening in the near future was relatively far fetched. But recent events in Crimea have raised the very real possibility of conflict, so when I asked IHS Jane’s Konrad Muzyka what it would take to conquer Russia, it all suddenly felt very real.
No one wants to see Putin riding into battle on the back of a nuclear warhead, but that said, I’d like to make it clear that I, for one, welcome our new Russian overlords and would like to remind them that I could be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground vodka caves.
VICE: I’m going to begin with a classic cliche. Over the centuries, plenty of power-hungry leaders have tried to take on Russia, convinced that they would be the first to overcome the brutal Russian winter. How could a modern army deal with this ancient problem? Konrad Muzyka: I agree that from a historical perspective this has been a problem many countries have succumbed to. But the advent of precision guided munitions and, more importantly, nuclear weapons have completely nullified the issue. Any potential conflict with the West would most likely be fought in the air, space, and sea. Any use of land forces would be limited to capturing strategically important facilities—bridges, airfields, and the like. Given the size of Russian territory, I don’t think anyone would be interested in moving their troops to Russia and holding them there.
So how quickly might any invading force find itself plunged into a nuclear winter? Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons even in a regional conflict scenario. As such, any country taking on Russia needs to be aware of a dramatic and quick escalation that could take place. But this is a sign of weakness rather than strength.
In the days of the Red Army, it felt as though there was an endless supply of men ready to die in the name of Mother Russia. Is this still true? What’s their manpower like? That’s true, but many of those sent into battle during the Second World War fought at gunpoint. Not only that of the Nazi Wehrmacht, but also that of their fellow Russian “comrades.” Retreat was usually forbidden, even in a tactical sense—those who were caught falling back were either shot on the spot or court-martialed… and then usually shot.
The forthcoming third issue of Mossless magazine is a nearly 300-page volume of new American documentary photography that will include the work of more than 180 photographers. A number of history’s greatest photographs come from this tradition—shooting people and places in the United States, addressing hidden attitudes and issues that would have otherwise gone unrecognized. In the last decade, the American landscape has changed immeasurably. There are countless photographers documenting every facet of these changes in their everyday lives, and many of them are sharing their work online. The caliber of these photographs is sometimes extraordinary, but the sheer amount of work online is staggering, and the the great mass of images can obscure even the best. Most publishers shy away from the online world because they feel the work has already been consumed, and galleries encourage represented artists to delete their online presence. But Romke Hoogwaerts and Grace Leigh, the publishers of Mossless, have continued to nest themselves inside online communities, compiling a huge sequence of photographs selected from deep corners of the web. They believe giving these lost images permanence in the form of a major photographic volume will give their readers a complete experience of not only the country but the online world of photography as well. And the best part is that they’ve done it all by themselves.
In Afghanistan, springtime starts with a bang as it marks the start of the “fighting season” between the Taliban and Afghan security forces. For the first time in 12 years, the Afghan National Army (ANA) has to operate without their American allies as US troops withdraw. VICE News’ Golareh Kiazand travels to Kandahar to see how the ANA, the police, and ordinary Afghans are dealing with this turning point in a very long war.
Eva O’Leary and Harry Griffin on Photographing the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg
Eva O’Leary and Harry Griffin are photographers who work together. Last year they funded a project called Devil’s Den using Kickstarter. For it, they photographed reenactors and spectators at the 150th-anniversary commemoration of the battle of Gettysburg. Juxtapositions within their images lay bare the differences between then and now. The project is featured in Mossless Issue 3, which is also currently on Kickstarter. We spoke with Eva and Harry about preconceptions drawn from history books, crowdfunding as a strategy for self-publishing, and the nature of collaboration.
Mossless: What made you want to shoot the Gettysburg reenactment?
Eva and Harry: The idea evolved from a shared interest. We had talked about collaborating before, but were waiting for the right idea. Some family had participated in the reenactment before, and they were talking about going again.
Gettysburg is a town of 7,645 residents. Once a year, in the last week of July, approximately 50,000 people travel from all over the world to bask in the glory, fascination, and nostalgia of a war fought in 1863. This year was the 150th anniversary and was particularly huge.
What surprised you most about it all?
The first time we went to Walmart and saw a rebel sharpshooter buying toilet paper.