The Null Device
Nato commits itself to action alongside the US, by invoking Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which states that an atack on one NATO member is an attack on all. Australia is expected to do the same with the ANZUS treaty. The support that may be required may invovle anything from use of facilities to providing troops for a large-scale ground war in Afghanistan.
The spammers have been capitalising on the WTC tragedy: already I have received two copies of a "Faces of Terror" spam (a HTML document with pictures of Bin Laden and Arafat; could it be the work of right-wing pro-Israeli/anti-Arab spammers mentioned here previously?), and an appeal for "donations to the relief effort" to be sent to a site hosted on a free web page/email address (almost certainly someone trying to con well-meaning people out of money). Opportunistic scumbags.
Voices in the Wilderness: Known libertarian fringe kook John Perry Barlow on the WTO attack, and the extinguishment of remaining freedoms that will follow:
I beg you to begin NOW to do whatever you can - whether writing your public officials, joining the ACLU or EFF, taking to the streets, or living visibly free and fearless lives - to prevent the spasm of control mania from destroying the dreams that far more have died for over the last two hundred twenty five years than died this morning.
That decided it; I just bit the bullet and joined the EFF. I had been meaning to do so to make up for donating money to the Recording Racket's total-copy-control fund by buying CDs, and to head off the SSSCA (rest assured that once copy-control policeware is mandatory in all US-market devices, it will become so everywhere else), but the unprecedented opportunity Mr. Bin Laden has handed the fascist lobby clinched it. Never mind that I don't live in the US; we all follow the US's lead sooner or later (and sooner when your Prime Minister is best buddies with the current Resident of the White House). (I'm also a member of Electronic Frontiers Australia, so I am not neglecting the home front.)
Why ve I changed this blog's design to austere grey? Because, over the past 48 hours, the world became a much grimmer place. It had been doing so for a while (witness things like the concentration of power in the hands of huge corporations, the DMCA and SSSCA bill and their ilk across the world, the appointment of George W. Bush to the US presidency), but the horrific terrorist attack in the US has taken things to a new level. The fact that we (both the US and Australia) are likely to be enmeshed in a Vietnam-level war very soon (do you really think Bush will let this slide once they hand over Bin Laden or whoever it was?) hangs like a toxic black cloud over everything. And even if the war doesn't come, or is over in days, this is likely to be used to centralise power and strip away more of the freedoms people take for granted (the FBI will probably get its mandatory key escrow laws after all; in fact, perhaps FBI-approved keystroke loggers will be built into all new computers alongside the copyright-enforcement chips). One way or another, we're all going to hell.
Yesterday I picked up the local street press (printed before news of the attack) and Fringe Festival guide; reading them has been like looking at artefacts from a parallel universe, a much more innocent, pleasant and less scary one. A world in which people thought about seeing shows and listening to music rather than whether they were to be the next casualties in an insane war. It now seems that everything before those airliners full of terrified people slammed into the World Trade Centre, all that frivolity, belongs to a different world, one forever lost to us. The time for frivolity is over.
Those are dangerous ideas there, citizen: In the US, deluded libertarian extremist Harry Browne has claimed that the terrorist attack was a response to "insane" US foreign policy. Which makes some sense (witness the US government's history of unilateral bombing of troublesome Middle Eastern states, overthrowing of inconvenient democratically-elected governments in Latin America, support of murderous yet friendly military dictatorships and so on; not quite the republic that Jefferson et al. had in mind, and one can see how some people could be pissed off about this). Not that that in any way excuses the horrific atrocities committed against innocent civilians in New York and Washington. Sometimes it seems like there is little hope for humanity.