Trust Us

by Maria on August 18, 2013

The Guardian reports that David Miranda, the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, was held at Heathrow all day today under schedule 7 of the 2000 Terrorism Act. Miranda was held for the longest time allowable, nine hours, and released without charge and also without all his consumer electronics.

It’s hard to believe that the UK authorities sincerely believe Miranda, who was transiting through Heathrow, is a bona fide terrorism threat. Greenwald, the journalist who broke the Edward Snowden story, has interpreted his partner’s detention as an act of intimidation or retaliation. It may also be a simple fishing expedition to seize information about third parties such as the documentary-maker Miranda had traveled to Berlin to meet. What, if any, connection these journalists may have to terrorism remains to be seen.

I remember quite vividly when the 2000 Terrorism Act was passed. Although it pre-dated post-September 11 power grabs such as the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act, the 2000 legislation was criticised for being loosely drafted and open to the unaccountable abuse of state power. Section 7 is for use only in ports, airports and similar transit zones, and the authorities do not need to have any reasonable suspicion of wrong-doing to invoke it. Those detained have no recourse to legal representation but their refusal to answer questions can be prosecuted as an offense. This law drives a coach and horses through an individual’s right not to be arbitrarily detained or have their belongings confiscated, and the right – conditional in the UK in any case – to silence.

At the time it was passed, the Home Office made the usual airy claims that the Terrorism Act would not be abused. And at the time, campaigners insisted that these claims were not worth the paper they were not written on. The Act itself doesn’t require the government to give any justification for today’s detention, but if the UK border authorities want to clear their name of abuse of state power against individuals a foreign government, the United States, is angry with, they should speak up now.

Krugman, Keynes, Kalecki, Konczal

by John Q on August 18, 2013

Paul Krugman’s recent columns, responding in various ways to JM Keynes, Michal Kalecki and Mike Konczal have made interesting reading, signalling a marked shift to the left both on economic theory and on issues of political economy.[^1] Among the critical points he has made

* Endorsement of Kalecki’s argument (which he got via Konczal) that “hatred for Keynesian economics has less to do with the notion that unemployment isn’t a proper subject of policy than about the notion of shifting power over the economy’s destiny away from big business and toward elected officials.”

* Rejection of the Hicks-Samuelson synthesis of Keynesian macroeconomics and neoclassical microeconomics and advocacy of (at a minimum) comprehensive financial controls

* Abandonment of the idea that the economics profession is engaged in honest intellectual debate, in favor of the conclusion that the rightwing of the profession, including leading economists, is characterized by denialism and bad faith. As he says, while many economists would like to believe otherwise ” you go to economic debates with the profession you have, not the profession you want.”

[click to continue…]

If you are only going to read one book on Hamlet this week … well, I guess it could be Stay, Illusion, by Critchley and Webster. (If you’d like to read about it, go here.) But it could also be To Be Or Not To Be, a Chooseable Path Adventure, by Ryan North, Shakespeare, and You! (If you would like to read an interview with Ryan North, click here.)


The girls and I explored a few paths yesterday. I thought maybe it would be a bit too old for the younger one. It is the story of Hamlet, ‘a teenager in his late thirties’, after all. But she really liked it. Later she asked for the iPad. ‘I was the ghost and I had a chance to explore the bottom of the ocean some more, but I didn’t take it. I wanna do that.’ Fair words! “The ocean, overpeering of his list/ Eats not the flats with more impetuous haste!” than a young lady, playing as Hamlet, Sr., in a chooseable path adventure. “Nothing of him that doth fade, But doth suffer a sea-choice, via author’s snarky voice.”

(Just so you know: it’s not written in mock-Shakespeare-ese. Ryan North is a writer for “Adventure Time” comics, and he goes more for that tone.) [click to continue…]