Archive for May 10, 2011
Can You Hear Me Now?
The Federal Communications Commission(FCC) is teaming up with federal emergency officials and wireless communications companies to launch a public alert system that will send warnings to people’s mobile phones when they are in a threat area.
Known as PLAN (for Personal Localized Alerting Network), the new public alert system will allow mobile phone customers to receive geographically-focused text-like messages about imminent threats to safety.
The alerts will be localized – say within a few blocks of a suspicious vehicle or within a few miles of an approaching tornado or hurricane – through short, relayed messages from a local cell phone tower.
The service is slated to start by the end of the year in New York City and Washington, and in the rest of the country by mid-2012. All major U.S. Cell phone systems will participate in the system, which is being supervised by the FCC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – a branch of the Department of Homeland Security.
The wireless industry will have to add a necessary chip that only a few types of phones have right now. They have agreed to add the chip to new phones and wireless devices rolling out by 2012.
The chip means people in threatened geographic areas with enabled phones will receive the alerts regardless of where they are from or where the phone was purchased, according to the New York Post.
– — –
Was al Qaeda Getting into Training?
Amtrak, the U.S. National Railroad Passenger Corp., used to advertise with the catch phrase “America is Getting into Training.”
According to the documents seized by U.S. agents in Pakistan following the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, it appears the terrorist organization he founded and led planned to do a little “training,” itself.
Information obtained following the raid on bin Laden’s compound indicates the terrorist organization was planning – as recently as February 2010 – to launch attacks on U.S. passenger trains,possibly during the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Although the U.S. has long labeled al Qaeda a threat to air transportation, the terrorist network has also launched attacks on big city transit systems — in London (July 2005) and Madrid (March 2004) — killing and injuring hundreds of people.
The intelligence coming out of the bin Laden compound raid led Sen. Charles Schumer of New York to suggest imposing a “No Ride List” for Amtrak similar to the “No Fly List” of known and suspected terrorists to be kept off airline flights. The New York Democrat wants the Department of Homeland Security to expand the Secure Flight program that pre-screens airline passengers for terrorists, to Amtrak in order to protect the nation’s railroad infrastructure.
Amtrak says such a system may be worth looking into, but an awful lot of planning has to go into any such security system to ensure passenger rights are protected and commerce isn’t slowed down, according to Fox News.