August 19th, 2008


August Books 23) The Execution Channel

23) The Execution Channel, by Ken MacLeod

A departure from MacLeod's previous space-opera stamping grounds, this is a thriller set in the present or near future of a slightly alternate earth - Gore was elected in 2000, 9/11 hit Boston, and the War on Terror resulted in military operations in Iran and Central Asia as well as Afghanistan and Iraq. Secret technologies, disinformation through blogging, and confused but lethal rivalry between intelligence services all play a part, but the emotional dynamic that drives the narrative is the father-daughter relationship between the two key characters, perhaps the most successful characterisation in any of MacLeod's novels. There is a very memorable climactic scene set in the main square in Oslo as well. Really good stuff.

Bechdel test: scrapes a pass. The daughter has numerous conversations with other women, of which almost but not quite all are about men.

Telecoms package latest

As a result of my activism a few months ago, I have just received a reply from Flemish Socialist MEP Saïd El-Khadroui:
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My translation:
[after detailed explanation of the communications package as a whole> In addition, however, the Committee on Civil Liberties approved a number of amendments from Syed Kamall MEP. The amendments were intended to permit ISPs to examine data traffic in order to identify violations.

The Socialist Group voted against these amendments in the Civil Liberties Committee, but they were supported by a majority and therefore were approved.

Due to the parliamentary procedures regulating the relationship between the committeed, the Internal Market Committee, which generally should have the lead on this issue, was not able to overturn Kamall's contentious amendments.

After discussions with the Socialist Group and members of his own EPP group, however, Kamall appears to have realised that his amendments contain real dangers. With the other groups, he is apparently ready to rectify matters at the plenary sitting in September, and to propose amendments which will remove the contentious elements from the definitive text which the European Parliament will approve.

In any case, I and my group will continue working to ensure that civil liberties are not put under any threat from this new legislation. I and my group will ensure that the contentious amendments do not end up in the law.

Of course, there is the typical political thing of making it look like it is all the doing of El Khadroui and his Socialist colleagues; but the central message is clear - the relevant amendments are likely to be withdrawn, and our activism of early last month did have an effect. I hope that there will be a chance to have another go before the plenary session.