Cell phones the police can’t tap into

You can set up a passcode to protect the information on your cell phone.  But the manufacturers can still unlock that information if given a court order, giving police and other government agencies access to people’s private data.  But Apple has announced that the new operating system for iPhones, iOS 8, will not give the company access to passcode-protected phones, making it technologically impossible to comply with snooping requests.  Android is following suit.

What do you think of this?  Is it a commendable blow for personal privacy against government surveillance?  Or is it an abdication of responsibility to help authorities fight crime?

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Congress approves war with ISIL with little debate

Congress signed off on President Obama’s plan for an air war against the Islamic State, both in Iraq and in Syria.  The war authorization was attached to a budget bill, and it passed both the House and the Senate on a bi-partisan vote with virtually no debate.

The last two times we entered a war in Iraq, Congress held extensive hearings and debates.  But not this time. [Read more…]

Air Force will now allow atheist oaths

We blogged about the atheist airman who was not allowed to re-enlist unless he could swear the military oath to protect the Constitution “so help me God.”  The Air Force has changed its policy to allow that part to be left out, a move being applauded by religious liberty groups. [Read more…]

Religious liberty for atheists, too

Enlisting or re-enlisting in a military service requires taking an oath, ending in the words “so help me God.”  An atheist airman trying to re-enlist in the Air Force has crossed out those words in the paperwork he is supposed to sign.  So the Air Force is not letting him re-enlist.

Lawsuits are in the works.  But does it make sense to require a person to swear in the name of a deity he does not believe in?  And doesn’t requiring a religious oath for military service constitute a “religious test” for public office, which the Constitution does not allow?  More to the point, in a time when the religious liberty of Christians is threatened more and more, don’t Christians need to support the religious liberty of everyone, including atheists? [Read more…]

Obama delays amnesty until after the elections

President Obama had said that since Congress won’t pass immigration reform, he will push it through using executive action.  Though he had said he would do so by the end of the summer, he has decided to wait until after the midterm elections in November.   He and other Democrats are worried that if he grants some kind of amnesty to illegal immigrants, which he is apparently planning to do, the public outcry would be so great that it would hurt Democrats in the elections.

But if they think the American people are going to react that way, why are they still going to do it?  And do they really think the public is so stupid that voters who would be up in arms over this issue would vote for Democrats, knowing their post-election plans?  And if the President is doing this in the name of a noble principle, why doesn’t he just do it, instead of playing politics with the issue?  Isn’t this an embarrassingly cynical political game?  Interestingly, now even immigration activists feel betrayed. [Read more…]

Federal judge throws out ban on polygamy

A federal judge in Utah has ruled that the state’s law banning polygamy is unconstitutional.  If the ruling is upheld on appeal–and how could it not be?–that would have a big impact not only on radical Mormons but on American Muslims.  And, of course, anyone else who might like to try that lifestyle.  (Think there would be many takers?) [Read more…]