Editor's Letter

Did you know that the man credited with creating modern polygraphy – the technology behind the lie detector machine – was the same person who invented the Wonder Woman cartoon strip? Don't believe me? Well I'm prepared to take a lie test. Not that it would reveal very much since as our US correspondent, Andrew Stephen, points out everyone knows they are no good anyway. That being so, he questions why such a machine remains so beloved by the US government.

Talking of quackery, George Monbiot treats us to the tale of a man who claimed he had created a car that could run on water and then conjured his disappearance when the vehicle failed to start. Meanwhile, Martin Bright examines some of the tales of mental instability at the heart of New Labour before questioning the alarming situation in English and Welsh prisons where many mentally ill people are being "warehoused" in overcrowded conditions. Which sadly brings us on to our cover story, in which Alice O'Keeffe notes the rising number of prosecutions of UK youth. Have we demonised a generation?

Harriet Harman, interviewed by Mary Riddell, talks about her ambition to be Gordon Brown's deputy. Elsewhere, Lindsey Hilsum writes from China on the diplomatic shockwaves caused by North Korea going nuclear and – in a new feature - Nick Cohen spends time with the writer Jonathan Franzen.

Oh, and look out for your verdict on the Turner Prize in last week’s online vote. We asked if it was worth all the fuss. An astonishing 93 per cent of you said "No"!

Well there's no need to sit on the fence.

Ben Davies trained as a journalist after taking most of the 1990s off. Prior to joining the New Statesman he spent five years working as a politics reporter for the BBC News website. He lives in North London.

This article first appeared in the 16 October 2006 issue of the New Statesman, The war on youth