With any natural disaster, communication can often become a matter of life and death, and if phone lines are broken and cell towers crumble, relaying messages to the outside world and coordinating rescue efforts becomes that much more difficult. Add to that the fact that Nepal’s government is woefully unprepared to handle such a humanitarian crisis, and chaos reigns.
Still, some volunteers are trying to impose order on the chaos. After the quake, which shook cities in India as well as Nepal, volunteer ham radio operators from India traveled to the region to relay messages from areas whose communications infrastructure is broken or overloaded. Ham radio, also called amateur radio, is a means of sending and receiving messages over a specific radio frequency, and it is often used in disaster situations because it operates well off the grid; transceivers can be powered by generators and set up just about anywhere.
I’m looking forward to getting my Ham license this summer. I have a nifty little handheld radio and I’m ready to chat, just have to learn my frequenencies, hertzes, and bandwidtherwizers.
The FBI incited some terrorism and then arrested the patsies before actually goading them into doing anything. And Feinstein reacts by being so appalled at the Internet-recources the FBI pointed their fall-guys to that she wants to ban it again, even though the FBI already told her she can’t.
The experience with another case can be taken to suggest that there could be an alternative, and far less costly, approach to dealing with would-be terrorists, one that might generally (but not always) be effective at stopping them without actually having to jail them.
It involves a hothead in Virginia who ranted about jihad on Facebook, bragging about how “we dropped the twin towers.” He then told a correspondent in New Orleans that he was going to bomb the Washington, D.C. Metro the next day. Not wanting to take any chances and not having the time to insinuate an informant, the FBI arrested him. Not surprisingly, they found no bomb materials in his possession. Since irresponsible bloviating is not illegal (if it were, Washington would quickly become severely underpopulated), the police could only charge him with a minor crime – making an interstate threat. He received only a good scare, a penalty of time served and two years of supervised release.
Sounds like a decent plan, but it’s too reasonable to be implemented.