The Orwellian Present

Interesting news today about the wiretapping fiasco in the US. Seems that a lawsuit against AT&T brought on by the ACLU in the name of AT&T customers has been dismissed by a US court. In case you're not aware, AT&T and several other large American telecoms freely gave information to the US government such as phone records and all this without warrant or consent of any kind. The NSA had offices within all the large telecoms where they gathered information relating to "security purposes".

It turns out that the lawsuit was dismissed by the courts today under the grounds that forcing AT&T to disclose information about this program and whether or not it did indeed give access to large amounts of phone records would give the US' enemies valuable insight into the government's intelligence activities.

This is a really disgusting situation to be in. Here is something that is completely unconstitutional -- essentially a broad domestic surveillance program without any kind of court approval, and the court itself refuses to hear a case as to the legality of this surveillance. In effect, they are endorsing the program. We have to be very careful about things like these. The loss of rights in the name of security happens on a step-by-step basis, not from one day to the next. This is a huge step in the wrong direction.


On Israel and Religious Conflict

The current situation in the Middle East is absolutely disgusting. Israel has responded to a few terrorist attacks by invading two countries and essentially triggering a war. Today, they bombed the civilian international airport in Lebanon, rendering it useless, as well as several military bases. Lebanon, of course, has no significant military aircraft that it could launch in retaliation, so this was simply a show of power on Israel's part. Israel has admitted to hitting hundreds of targets in Lebanon, and is currently considering sending in ground troops. A few days ago, we saw Israel invade Palestine with similarly devastating results.

Across the ocean, the United States used its veto in the United Nations today to block a resolution asking for a ceasefire. Bush stated that it's every State's right to defend themselves against terrorism with any means necessary. This is certainly a fitting and predictable response considering the disproportionate force the United States have used in retaliation for a single act of terrorism.

To me, this whole situation, as we watch it unfold and deteriorate over the coming days and weeks, represents little more than the proof of religion's negative effects. These conflicts are rooted in religion, and we are watching clashes of spirituality and mysticism in full, devastating force.