Doctors to Train for Emergency Response; Emergency Alert System Full of Holes; Opinion: Dereliction of Duty; Power Failure Leads to BT Opensource Blackout

Doctors to Train for Emergency Response

According to a UPI story today, The American Medical Association has instituted a 16-hour course designed to give doctors the information and knowledge they need to cope with disaster—and perhaps prevent the disaster from becoming a catastrophe. Who gets treated first in case of mass injuries? Who needs to be notified if a suspected chemical or biological agent is at play? Who needs to be isolated in the case of a communicable disease such as SARS? These are the types of issues the course will cover. "Doctors will be asked to do the most good for the most people," UPI quotes one spokesman, detailing the course outline. Although the courses will help doctors deal individually with disasters or terrorist attacks with weapons of mass destruction, coordination on the local, state, regional and national levels would be critical. Jerome Hauer, acting assistant secretary for the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said the federal government should give grants to states to create coordinated responses to disasters. Emergency Alert System Full of HolesUSA Today, despite frequent warnings from federal officials that terrorists could strike again, little has been done since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to fix it. Decades after the Emergency Alert System (formerly the Emergency Broadcast System) was created, the system is hobbled by outdated equipment and lack of local participation. Partnership for Public Warning, an organization of government emergency managers and industry executives, and members of the FCC are pushing for high-tech solutions that wont require people to be already tuned in to their TV or radio to get a warning. For example, information could be delivered by telephones, cell phones, pagers and computers. Computer chips could be embedded in TVs and radios to make them turn on automatically when warnings are broadcast. USA Today reports that the Senate tried to include $10 million toward developing such technologies in this year's budget—a small amount by federal government standards but more than enough, experts say, to develop a decent public-warning system. But the money was stripped out of the budget.

If something goes badly wrong in your community, how will you be warned and told what to do? Chances are you won't. According to a story in

Opinion: Dereliction of DutyNew York Times, columnist Paul Krugman writes, Behind the [homeland security] rhetoric—and behind the veil of secrecy, invoked in the name of national security but actually used to prevent public scrutiny—lies a pattern of neglect, of refusal to take crucial actions to protect us from terrorists. Why, Krugman asks, did the administration fail to press Saudi Arabia (the home of most of the Sept. 11 terrorists) to do anything; allow Afghanistan to relapse into chaos; and allocate less money for homeland security than last year? Because, he surmises, key figures in the administration just didnt feel like dealing with it: Real counterterrorism mainly involves police work and precautionary measures; it doesn't look impressive on TV, and it doesn't provide many occasions for victory celebrations. Conventional war makes a better show. But by committing our military to Iraq, antagonizing our allies, and inspiring fundamentalist groups by our presence there, we may have made ourselves a lot less secure.

In todays

Power Failure Leads to BT Opensource BlackoutThe Register today, hitting both home and business users. BTs ISP said that the source of the incident was traced to a point between the main power feed and its narrowband and ADSL servers. The cause of the power outage remains under investigation. News that BT's ISP went down yesterday coincided with the announcement that the monster telco was pensioning off BTO in favor of a new relationship with Yahoo!.

In the U.K., BTO's tech support said that ADSL service was "down for half the country" yesterday afternoon, according to

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