state of exception
The recent, very violent policing of protests against the G20 meeting in London has become a matter of concern. The story that the authorities tell is one of disobedient police officers. The story, with a bit of imagination, could be understood as if, perhaps, there aren’t just a few bad apples in the barrel, some individuals: maybe there is a disease inside the institution, indeed it is “very worrying“:
“Some officers now appeared prepared to flout recent orders from senior commanders to display their numbers, Huhne said, with another officer photographed at the protest staged by Tamils in Parliament Square with his numbers disguised. “What we appear to have is repeated cases of police officers ignoring the direct orders of their police supervisors and this is very worrying.
“There’s only one motive for a police officer disguising his identity and that’s because he thinks he’s going to be doing something reprehensible.”
Senior Metropolitan police officers held a series of crisis meetings throughout last week and sources said Sir Paul Stephenson, the new commissioner, was determined to get a grip. One Met source said he was ready to “kick some ass” among senior officers. The IPCC has received more than 185 complaints about the G20 protests, of which 44 are not eligible for consideration, including complaints from people who saw footage on TV. Around 90 complaints about use of force included witness accounts as well as those from alleged victims.”
It is obviously wishful thinking that the current concern will translate into institutional reforms on a large scale. Most likely it will subside into a few firings, extended suspensions (paid holidays) and early retirements with golden handshakes. The police as an institution is intricately connected to the economy and representative democracy, representing industrial, private interests, as such it is a force of violence that is mobilised when the masses threaten the elite. The police are the arms of the agents of waste.
Assuming that there is a global crisis – financial, climate change and starvation – and assuming that something could be done about it – what would it be? The initial reaction has been to push for more of the same – more debts to be created in order to keep economic power in the same hands. Maybe a few policy changes to avoid too extreme corruption and self-aggrandisement, removal of some draconian measures, but that’s about it. Spend more, that is way to go. It sounds so simple and in a sense it is: wiping the rich people’s slates clean so that they can lend more money for the poor to spend. If it makes you think of spiralling further down into an abyss we’re on the same wave length.
In order, then, to get the American people to spend more money that they don’t have – the total outstanding credit card debt carried by Americans reached a record $951 billion in 2008, constituting a next level in the financial collapse of a system based on ever-increasing debt – president Obama is suggesting “a $410bn (£290bn) spending bill due to be voted on this week“. Part of this bill seeks to lift some of the extreme anti-Cuban legislation that was introduced during the administration of Bush the Second.
There is no doubt about it, Obama – the man in the White House – gives good speeches, but even an old World Banker takes note of the fact that Obama’s grand plan to save the world and “the hardest working people on Earth” (he says it as if it a good thing??) from their predicaments is insubstantial (These videos gives you an insight from the inside – if you really want to know about all the little sheenanigans of a failed system or just want to see the Emperor of the Free World sit before you in his shiny new clothes. Characteristic of times of crisis he looks and sounds like a rhetorical stooge with a nationalistic appeal “the greatest force of progress and prosperity [and climate change?!]”)
Anyway, the Cuban news is a tangent that invites viewing the world from a Latin American perspective.
Update on Nottingham “terror” arrest: A lying University will not be an “open and free arena for debate and dissent”
This is a follow-up to the recent case at Nottingham University where the combination of misinformed, xenophobic colleagues, an administration without perspective and law making far beyond the rule of law led to the arrest and prolonged detainment of a student and staff and confiscation of their belongings simply for doing their job: finding, printing and investigating documents.
What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate and a sheepish, dependent and pathetic bunch of business administrators – jacks of all administrative trades, masters of no intellect – who call the anti terror cops on their own students and staff without reflection, without (reasonable) thought and with no sense of reality at all.
Colonos have just written to Alf Nilsen to clarify the exact meaning of the third last paragraph, which commences: “Fourthly, the claim that…” which appears to be written a bit too hastily or merely goes right over my head :)
However, for now – here goes, see for yourself where it’s at:
Dear all – some of you may have written to the Registrar at the University of Nottingham, Dr. Paul Greatrix, to protest the recent false terror arrests at our university, and some of you might also have received a reply. My colleagues and I would like to point out a number of inconsistencies in this reply – see below, and as always: please circulate!!
Comments on University Communication on Recent Events
CONSIDER THIS. A fine example of the distortion of the rule of law that the Terrorism Act of 2000 is. It provides the opportunity to switch of due process and being innocent until proven guilty – moreover, and the important catalyst here, it encourages mis- and uninformed people to call the authorities on their neighbour. Boy Cry wolf, where do we go from here? Like climate change processes operate through positive feedback loops, so do law and culture. Two people have probably just been radicalised – and thousands give them their support. As the leaders of the world creep further and deeper into the ir castles their guns and laws are all the more loud. A downward spiral for profit.
I’m writing to call your attention to a recent incident at the University of Nottingham, where one of our graduate students at the School of Politics and International Relations and an administrative member of staff at the Department of Engineering were arrested by armed police under the Terrorism Act of 2000.
Their alleged “crime” was that the graduate student had downloaded an Al-Qaeda training manual from a US government website for research purposes, as he’s writing his MA dissertation on Islamic extremism and international terrorist networks. He had then sent this to his friend in the Department of Engineering for printing. The printed material had been spotted by other staff and reported to the University authorities who passed on the information to the police.
The two were then arrested by armed police on May 14 and held for six days without charge, before being released without charge on May 20. During the six days they were imprisoned, the men had their homes raided and their families harassed by the police. It is worth noticing that in talking to one of my colleagues, a police officer remarked that the incident would never have occurred if the people involved had been blonde, Swedish PhD students (the two men were of British-Pakistani and Algerian backgrounds respectively).
The incident was recently reported in the Times Higher Education Supplement online:
Needless to say, this raises hugely important issues both about academic freedom and civil liberties. Obviously, there is the issue that for those of us involved in research on contentious issues we will by necessity have to consult primary materials of a controversial nature, and the fact that the material is controversial should not lead to it being deemed as illegitimate research material. Moreover, we should not under any circumstances have to fear for infringements upon our civil liberties as a consequence of doing our jobs. Moreover, it goes without saying that the university should guarantee the academic freedom, freedom of speech and expression, and civil liberties of all members of staff and students, irrespective of ethnic and religious background or political beliefs!
I would be most grateful if you could circulate this e-mail as widely as possible in the interest of raising awareness and attention about this incident and the wider issues of academic freedom that it gives rise to, to as many of your friends and colleagues as possible!
Please consider writing to the University of Nottingham to express your concern about this case. Letters should be sent to the Registrar, Dr Paul Greatrix, at firstname.lastname@example.org; please send a copy to email@example.com.
Dr. Alf Gunvald Nilsen
RCUK Fellow, Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice, School of Politics and International Relations, University of Nottingham
University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, England, UK
Office: (0044) (0) 1159514032