Have ever wondered about the government’s ability to control the civilian airwaves; well you will have your answer on November 9th when federal authorities plan to shut off all television and radio communications simultaneously at 2:00PM EST to complete the first ever test of the national Emergency Alert System (EAS).
This isn’t a wild conspiracy theory. The upcoming test is posted on the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau website.
Only the President has the authority to activate EAS at the national level, and he has delegated that authority to the Director of FEMA. The test will be conducted jointly by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through FEMA, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS).
In essence, the authority to seize control of all television and civilian communication has been asserted by the executive branch and handed to a government agency.
The EAS has been around since 1994. Its precursor, the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS), started back in 1963. Television and radio broadcasters, satellite radio and satellite television providers, cable television and wire line video providers are all involved in the system.
So this begs the question: is the first ever national EAS test really a big deal? Probably not; at least not at the moment.
But there are some troubling factors all coming together right now that could conceivably trigger a real usage of the EAS system in the not too distant future. A European financial collapse could bring down U.S. markets. What is now the “Occupy” movement could lead to widespread civil unrest; and there are ominous signs that radical groups such as Anonymous will attempt something major on November 5th, Guy Fawke’s day.
Now we know in the event of a major crisis, the American people will be told with one voice, at the same time, about an emergency. All that’s left to determine is who will have control of the EAS when that day comes, and what their message will be.
“Occupy” protesters in New York’s capital city, Albany, received an unexpected ally over the week: The state and local authorities.
According to Albany Times Union, New York state troopers and Albany police did not adhere to a curfew crackdown on protesters urged by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Albany mayor Gerald Jennings.
Mass arrests seemed to be in the cards once Jennings directed officers to enforce the curfew on roughly 700 protesters occupying the city owned park. But as state police joined the local cops, protesters moved past the property line dividing city and state land.
With protesters acting peacefully, local and state police agreed that low level arrests could cause a riot, so they decided instead to defy Cuomo and Jennings.
“We don’t have those resources, and these people were not causing trouble,” a state official said. “The bottom line is the police know policing, not the governor and not the mayor.”
Occupy Albany, an offspring of Occupy Wall Street, has seen its protesters remain as committed as those located at its parent site. At least 30 tents have remained in the park over the weekend.
The leaders of Iran and Venezuela hailed what they called their strong strategic relationship on Wednesday, saying they are united in efforts to establish a “new world order” that will eliminate Western dominance over global affairs.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and visiting Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez, watched as officials from both countries signed 11 agreements promoting cooperation in areas including oil, natural gas, textiles, trade and public housing.
Among the agreements, Venezuela's state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA said the South American country was forming a joint shipping venture with Iran to aid in delivering Venezuelan crude oil to Europe and Asia. It said in a statement that the agreement for a joint venture also would help supply Iran “due to its limited refining capacity.”
Both presidents denounced U.S. “imperialism” and said their opponents will not be able to impede cooperation between Iran and Venezuela.
Iran's state TV quoted both Ahmadinejad and Chavez as calling their relationship a “strategic alliance” that would eliminate the current global order.
“Iran and Venezuela are united to establish a new world order based on humanity and justice,” Ahmadinejad said, repeating his predictions that those who today seek “world domination are on the verge of collapse.”
Chavez said this is a time of “great threats” that make its necessary to swiftly “consolidate strategic alliances in political, economic, technological, energy and social areas,” according to the state-run Venezuelan News Agency.
Details of the latest accords were not released, and Chavez said some agreements went beyond those put on paper. He said a Venezuelan delegation will soon travel to Iran to follow up on the agreements.
Iran has become the closest Middle East ally to Chavez's government as the left-leaning leader has sought to build international alliances to counter what he sees as U.S. economic and political dominance.
“Imperialism has entered a decisive phase of decline and ... is headed, like elephants, to its graveyard,” Chavez said, according to the Venezuelan state news agency.
Chavez has staunchly defended Iran's nuclear energy program, siding with Tehran by insisting it is for peaceful uses and not for nuclear bombs.
U.S. officials have been worried that Iran may be using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop atomic weapons. Four rounds of U.N. sanctions, as well as broader severe U.S. and European Union sanctions have not persuaded Tehran to halt the program.
Chavez also has plans to develop a nuclear energy program in Venezuela and last week signed an agreement for Russia to help build a reactor.
Without mentioning the countries' nuclear ambitions, Chavez said his government demands respect for Iran's sovereignty and that “those who think they are most powerful and want to impose their will on the world respect Iran.”
Chavez's trip to Iran was his ninth as president. Before coming to Tehran, he made stops in Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Later Wednesday, Chavez arrived in Syria, and is due to travel next to Libya and Portugal.
Iran and Venezuela both belong to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. In recent years, the two oil-producing countries have also set up joint ventures to produce cars, tractors and bicycles in the South American country.
"The more, the merrier,” was how the white-shirted police inspector put it as he stood on the periphery of Liberty Plaza while Tom Morello, activist and Rage Against the Machine guitarist, played for Occupy Wall Street protesters.
“More” was the operative word. While the NYPD commander was glad-handing a elderly protester who was asking about his thoughts on all the people in the jam-packed park, it could have been a commentary on his department’s presence. The periphery of Liberty Plaza, formally known as Zuccotti Park, resembles an armed camp with surveillance equipment, police vehicles, armed officers, and metal barricades ringing a city square filled with unarmed activists, who openly advocate non-violence. The response is as disproportionate as it is superfluous, a point driven home by the utter apathy displayed by many of the security forces on the scene. Each day the occupiers face the real possibility that the overwhelming police presence will spring to life in order to evict them, end the month long people’s occupation and snuff out the new society they’re building.
The NYPD is making it a numbers game. The sheer numbers tell the story when it comes to the NYPD’s response to the Occupy Wall Street movement. On this misty morning as the park was just coming to life, there were 22 uniformed police officers, as well as two white-shirted commanders, already ringing the square. A rainbow coalition, men and women: Thompson, Brancaccio, Yusuff, Badillo, Jacob, Sanchez, Lagani, they stood looking disinterested, or texted on their smart phones or answered tourists’ questions, forming an intermittent chain of dark blue enforcers with little to enforce.
Their numbers were exceeded (and augmented) by the metal barricades that similarly ring the park, leaving openings only at the plaza’s four corners. Roughly 150 individual fences surround the park itself; counting those that are doubled up and can be used to seal the plaza entirely should the police decide to do so.
Along Liberty Street a phalanx of police vehicles that come and go, but mostly stay put. In front of One Liberty Plaza, the 54-story tower just north of the park (whose owners, Brookfield Properties, also own Zuccotti Park), counted were seven squad cars, two full-size police vans, one police minivan, and one, to lapse into political incorrectness, “paddy wagon.”In most of these vehicles uniformed police officers sat talking on phones, texting, eating, or dozing. Later in the morning, the total count had increased to 16 police vehicles, in addition to a number of unmarked cars, most of which proved to belong to police officers, too.
The police state ethos did not, however, end with the NYPD presence surrounding the park’s perimeter. Across Broadway and up Liberty Street, the security forces maintained a reserve contingent of 11 police cars, five police vans, and one paddy wagon from precincts all over the city: the 1st, 5th, 9th, 10th, 13th, 20th, 83rd, 94th(Brooklyn!), as well as the Fleet Services Division which oversees the NYPD’s inventory of cars. There was even a large NYPD Communications Division bus that sat in front of the century-old New York Chamber of Commerce building. Through the lone window not blocked by curtains a sergeant was visible sitting and texting, while sipping from a juice bottle.
Even before the protesters began their occupation of the block-long, half-acre park of granite walls and honey-locust trees, the NYPD had a permanent presence on site. Just across the street, a fixed, black NYPD security camera provides the police with an all-seeing eye on the surrounding environs. Across the intersection from it, just above the sign for Liberty Street (and apparently with no intended irony), a large sign announces “NYPD Security Camera in Area.”
That stationary camera is, however, apparently not sufficient for the NYPD’s surveillance needs. Not 10 feet from the NYPD camera sign sits an unmarked white truck with a 15-foot, camera-topped pole sticking out of its roof. Only its license plate brands it as the property of the police department.
One block down, at the foot of the park on the corner of Liberty and Cedar Streets, an NYPD sky watch tower; a Panoptical-like structure outfitted with black-tinted windows, a spotlight, sensors, and multiple cameras (originally used by hunters to shoot quarry from overhead and now also used by the Department of Homeland Security along the Mexican border) provides further over watch.
Later in the day, a second inventory of the police presence ringing the park was taken. Around the plaza perimeter the run-of-the-mill beat cops in blue and their white-shirted superiors had been joined by members of NYPD's Technical Assistance Response Unit (TARU), the outfit that films protests, suit-wearing plainclothes detectives, sore-thumb plainclothesmen (middle-aged white men, wearing out-of-fashion jeans and white sneakers who just happen to loiter on the edges of protests) and even a uniformed member of the Disorder Control Unit; the special cadre tasked with suppressing riots. In all, the NYPD’s numbers had increased to 42 police on the immediate periphery of the park (not counting who knows how many undercover officers), but just about all the policing any of them actually did was hassle reporters and day trippers, telling them to keep moving and stand in the park, not on the sidewalk if they wanted to gawk, talk or text; precisely what most of the cops were doing at one point or another themselves.
Earlier in the protests Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Liberty Park would be closed for cleaning at 7am on Friday and scrubbed down in a four-step process, one quadrant at a time.“After it’s cleaned, they’ll be able to come back,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said of the protesters later. “But they won’t be able to bring back the gear. The sleeping bags, that sort of thing will not be able to be brought back into the park.”
During an emergency General Assembly at Liberty Plaza to deal with the city’s plans, one activist had an answer for Bloomberg and Kelly. "We see this as a pretext to shut the occupation down,” he told the crowd."They will not foreclose our home! This is an occupation, not a permitted picnic. We won't allow them to come in!"
At dawn, the apathy of napping, texting police officers may be replaced by an aggressive attempt by the city to take back the park. They have the numbers and the equipment and more is certainly on the way. The protesters are, however, confident and defiant; vowing to link arms and non-violently resist the police.
More than one Occupy Wall Street protester said that a police crackdown would strengthen the movement, and in its short history, heavy-handed police tactics have galvanized the most support for the new society taking shape in Liberty Plaza.“Get up, get down, there’s revolution in this town,” protesters chanted as sirens wailed during their emergency assembly.
Friday was certainly the most salient test yet of the young movement’s people power in the face of police-state tactics. The NYPD has overwhelming force, but right now, Occupy Wall Street still holds the park and is still building, they shouted in unison, “The society that we envision for the world!”