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New York Times still desperate for OWS revolution

Shocking, breaking story here. The Times still craves a pro-Democratic Party movement so they’re beating this dying horse to…um…well, death.

Read the whole strained piece here (complete with unwarranted hope and disappointment):

In the wake of this week’s eviction of protesters from Zuccotti Park in New York and other urban campgrounds around the country, it’s tempting to dismiss the Occupy Wall Street movement as little more than a short-lived media phenomenon. The issues that spawned the movement — income inequality, money in politics and Wall Street’s influence — were being drowned out by debates over personal hygiene, noise and crime.

By Wednesday morning, when I dropped by the park, about 20 people, including some who looked disheveled and homeless, shared food and barely listened to a speaker with a graying ponytail who denounced New York as an “illegitimate police state.” Thursday’s “Day of Action” led to some more arrests, but it didn’t spawn the mass demonstrations some local politicians had predicted, let alone attract the throngs that the Tea Party mustered for a march on Washington in 2009.

But critics and supporters alike suggest that the influence of the movement could last decades, and that it might even evolve into a more potent force. “A lot of people brush off Occupy Wall Street as incoherent and inconsequential,” Michael Prell told me. “I disagree.”

Mr. Prell is a strategist for the Tea Party Patriots, a grass-roots organization that advocates Tea Party goals of fiscal responsibility, free markets and constitutionally limited government. He’s the author of “Underdogma,” a critique of left-wing anti-Americanism, which includes a chapter on the Berkeley Free Speech movement of the 1960s, which may be the closest historical parallel to the Occupy movement.

“They claim to stand up on behalf of the ‘little guy’ (the 99 percent), while raising a fist of protest against the big, rich, greedy and powerful 1 percent,” he said of the Occupy movement. “The parallels between Occupy Wall Street and the Berkeley Free Speech Movement are too clear to ignore — right down to the babbling incoherence of the participants. The lesson from Berkeley in the 1960s and the protest movement they spawned is: it doesn’t matter that they don’t make sense. What matters is they are tapping into a gut-level instinct that is alive, or lying dormant, in almost every human being. And, when they unleash the power of standing up for the powerless against the powerful — David vs. Goliath — the repercussions can ripple throughout our society for decades.”

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WATCH YOUR WALLET! Smith & Wollensky Steakhouse Waiters Busted in $600,000 Credit Card Scam

Waiters at some of New York’s swankiest eateries were part of a criminal crew that stole credit card information to create counterfeit cards — and then racked up some $600,000 in purchases, prosecutors revealed Friday.

Led by Luis Damian “DJ” Jacas, the crooks equipped waiters at Smith & Wollensky, The Capital Grille, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse and JoJo — and at two restaurants outside the city — with electronic “scimmers” to steal the info from at least 50 customers, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said.

Then Jacas used a “network of shoppers” to go on shopping sprees at high-end Manhattan stores like Chanel, Neiman Marcus, Cartier, Hermes of Paris, Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman, Waldmann’s, London Jewelers, Burberry, Jimmy Choo, Lord & Taylor, prosecutors said.

They even used the phony American Express cards to refuel at Starbucks and also hit stores in Westchester County, Long Island, Boston, Chicago and Florida.

The ill-gotten goods were then fenced to “complicit customers” for cash, prosecutors said.

“The high-end targets of this case make it notable, but disturbingly this case is far from unique,” said District Attorney Cy Vance, whose 18-month joint investigation with the Secret Service ended Thursday with the arrests of 27 people.

The suspects were hit with 172 counts of felony enterprise corruption, conspiracy, grand larceny and other charges.

One of the key players in the ring was Brian Torrey, 34, of Bronxville, a longtime Smith & Wollensky waiter.

“Over 60 credit cards were stolen by Mr. Torrey,” Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Kern said.

Two of Jacas’ alleged fences, Eric Brahms, 42, and his wife, Emily, 30, both of Manhattan, were busted at Mt. Sinai Hospital while she was in labor, sources said.

Another alleged member of the ring, 46-year-old Anthony Coffarro, of Brooklyn, was apparently rousted from his bed and arrived at his arraignment Friday dressed in long johns.

The crimes charged in the indictments occurred between April 2010 and November 2011.

Jacas, 41, of Manhattan, also had phony drivers licenses made in the names of the customers whose credit card information was stolen, prosecutors said.

Jacas “oversaw and managed all aspects of the criminal operation,” prosecutors said. He directed his “shoppers” to buy watches, handbags, wallets and other easilly-fenced items.

In addition to the luxury items, investigators who raided the crews’ storage unit at Manhattan Mini Storage on East 62nd St. found a stash of expensive wine, more than $1 million in cash, the skimming devices and the equipment used to make the bogus credit cards and drivers licenses.

The American Express card holders victimized by the gang were not stuck with the bill, prosecutors said.

Read more: http://trade.cc/ijk

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ANOTHER COACHING PERVERT! Long-Time Syracuse Basketball Assistant Bernie Fine Under Fire


Syracuse Police have confirmed to CNY Central they are in the very early stages of an investigation into allegations made against Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine.

Police would not elaborate on what those allegations are, but ESPN.com is reporting that those allegations involve molesting a team ball boy. Syracuse Police say the information came to the department today.

According to ESPN.com, the alleged abuse started in the mid-1980s and lasted for more than a dozen years. The alleged victim told ESPN’s Outside the Lines that he was entering the seventh grade at the time it started.

We have put in several calls to the Syracuse University Athletics Department. So far, no calls have been returned.

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Detroit to run out of money by April

I cannot wait for the entire span of city officials to be replaced with an emergency financial manager. Bring on Caesar! Democracy cannot survive when your people are this stupid.

Read here:

A closely guarded report on Detroit’s finances paints an alarming picture of a city that will run out of cash by April unless officials make immediate, painful reductions that will cut deeply in to public services.

The report, obtained by the Free Press, outlines some drastic scenarios that illustrate how steep those cuts must be for the city to stay afloat.

For example, if the city laid off 2,200 employees — a third of its workforce — the city still would run out of cash by July.

No one has said the city is considering that as an option, but it demonstrates the severity of the financial crisis.

Mayor Dave Bing and the City Council have said the solution lies in getting major concessions from reluctant labor unions and reducing the city’s skyrocketing costs for retirees.

Bing is planning a public address Wednesday regarding the financial crisis.

“Mayor Bing inherited a city in fiscal, operational and ethical crisis,” his spokesman Dan Lijana said Monday. “Rather than continuing business as usual and sweeping problems under the rug, Mayor Bing has taken on the tough issues and had an honest dialogue with Detroit about our fiscal challenges.”

The problems are so severe and immediate, restructuring experts said, that the state may have no choice but to appoint an emergency manager with the authority to gut union contracts, sell assets, restructure the government and end nonessential services.

“At the point where Detroit is, they need an emergency manager,” said Pontiac’s emergency manager Louis Schimmel, who also took over the shrinking budgets of Hamtramck and Ecorse years ago. “What are they going to do when they run out of cash?”

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OUTRAGEOUS! Why Higher Education is in a Bubble on Top of Student Debt Issues

Out-of-touch professors + Debt-ridden students = Bad combination


Sacramento State professor George Parrott walked out of his Psychology 101 lab class Thursday morning because his students didn’t bring any snacks.

Instead, he says, he went to breakfast with his teaching assistant.

The professor said students are told of the requirement to bring snacks on the first day of class. A handout from the teacher is clear – “Not having a snack = no Dr. Parrott or TAs. Now you are responsible for your own lab assignment.”

He said the snack obligation is his way of encouraging students to work collectively. It connects students who might not otherwise interact on a commuter campus, said the professor.

“Having these goodies in the class breaks down some of the formality and some of the rigidity in the class, which is one of the most stressful for students,” Parrott said.

But students are crying foul, saying the teacher left before a review for a midterm to be given Monday. The test accounts for a good portion of their grade.

“Our education isn’t worth food, it’s for us,” said Francisco Chavez, a student in the class.

It’s also not clear why homemade baked goods would teach teamwork better than a box of Oreos. The handout offers suggestions and pictures of which snacks are preferred. It lists homemade or bakery items and vegetable or fruit platters under “Good Ideas” and Nabisco products or pre-packaged items under “Bad Ideas.”

It also suggests that two people take responsibility for each day’s snack – in case one forgets – and that they should avoid bringing the same thing every week.

The professor said he has required classes to bring snacks for at least 39 years.

His afternoon lab class brought pizza Friday, he said. But they haven’t always followed instructions either. “The afternoon lab had an externally similar failure to be collectively involved a month ago,” Parrott said, adding that he left that class, too. “They were taken aback. Their collective involvement has been more cooperative since.”

Parrott listed additional benefits of requiring “goodies” in an email to The Bee. He said the snacks maintain glucose levels that affect mental sharpness, keep students from leaving class to find food and alleviate stress in what he calls one of the most difficult courses in the department.

But the goodies aren’t just for the students. The teacher and his teaching assistants eat, but don’t contribute, according to students.

“I’m not always observing how much the TAs eat,” Parrott said Friday. “In the last month I’ve had one mini cupcake and maybe six or eight carrot sticks.”

Parrott said he doesn’t feel bad about asking college students to bring food to class. The cost, he says, is offset by savings – about $200 – which students realize by not having to buy a textbook for the course.

“This is also designed to relieve financially strained CSUS students from typical costs for texts and to provide each student the token resources to buy, bake, or otherwise access the snacks/goodies when their once per semester turn would occur,” he said in an email to The Bee.

The professor, who is 67 and retired in 2006, works part time at the university. His salary for 2010 was $44,000, according to state data.

Parrott doesn’t regret his decision to walk out Thursday. “I can understand the immediate frustration,” he said. “I’m sympathetic, but I’m absolutely comfortable with the conclusion. The ethos I’m trying to promote is incredibly important. It may not be appreciated, and that’s even more unfortunate. It speaks to their lack of understanding of higher education.”

University officials, contacted Thursday, said they take the allegations seriously and will investigate.
Read more: http://trade.cc/gtm

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Years before he was arrested for allegedly molesting children, former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky said he loved being around children and having “a good time with them.”

“I enjoy being around children,” Sandusky said in a 1987 NBC interview made public today. “Their enthusiasm. I just have a good time with them.”

Of course, Sandusky’s comments now have a chilling connotation to them after he was recently arrested for molesting eight boys and charged with 40 counts in connection with a string of sex abuse claims dating back 13 years.

“Everybody needs people to care for them. … Kids are growing up awfully fast these days,” Sandusky said in that same interview when asked about his charity work with troubled kids.

In 1997, ten years after that NBC interview, Sandusky was first accused of showering with and fondling a boy at Penn State.


No charges were filed at the time and a year later Sandusky retired as an assistant coach to spend more time with his Second Mile charity.

This comes as the president of the charity linked to Sandusky resigned today, saying he hopes his departure after 28 years as the group’s CEO would help restore faith in its mission.

The Second Mile’s board of directors said in a statement it had accepted the resignation of Jack Raykovitz.

Raykovitz, a psychologist, had testified before the grand jury that indicted Sandusky. The grand jury said Sandusky found his victims through the charity’s programs.

The board also said that would conduct an internal investigation to assess policies and make recommendations regarding future operations.

Raykovitz said in a statement that he hopes his resignation would mark the beginning of a “restoration of faith in the community of volunteers and staff” at The Second Mile.

Sandusky founded The Second Mile in 1977. The group has said that its youth programs serve as many as 100,000 children a year.

With AP

Read more: http://trade.cc/gtd

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Revealed: U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus’s Trades in Fidelity Account Suggest ‘Insider Trading’

U.S. Representative Spencer Bachus (R-AL) had access to highly sensitive financial information during the 2008 bailout debates that may have helped him earn tens of thousands of dollars by trading stock options, even as most Americans’ portfolios took a beating.

On Sunday, Rep. Bachus’s trading behavior came under fire in a 60 Minutes report based on Throw Them All Out, the book by investigative journalist and Breitbart editor that has triggered a political earthquake in Washington. Schweizer, who is also a Breitbart editor, devotes a significant portion of the book to exposing possible congressional insider trading.

Bachus’s trades during debate over the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) raise serious questions about whether he invested based on information he acquired as a result of his political power.

“Here’s the rub: all too often his trades coincided with his congressional work,” says Schweizer. “Bachus was neck-deep in crucial financial decision-making at the highest levels.”

BigGovernment.com has obtained and reviewed Rep. Bachus’s Fidelity stock options trading records. The dates of the congressman’s trading patterns paint a troubling picture.

Read the rest, including actual Fidelity records of Bachus’s trades, here.

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CBS Reports: Is Congress Trading Stocks on Inside Information?

(CBS News)

Washington, D.C. is a town that runs on inside information – but should our elected officials be able to use that information to pad their own pockets? As Steve Kroft reports, members of Congress and their aides have regular access to powerful political intelligence, and many have made well-timed stock market trades in the very industries they regulate. For now, the practice is perfectly legal, but some say it’s time for the law to change.

The following is a script of “Insiders” which aired on Nov. 13, 2011. Steve Kroft is correspondent, Ira Rosen and Gabrielle Schonder, producers.

The next national election is now less than a year away and congressmen and senators are expending much of their time and their energy raising the millions of dollars in campaign funds they’ll need just to hold onto a job that pays $174,000 a year.

Few of them are doing it for the salary and all of them will say they are doing it to serve the public. But there are other benefits: Power, prestige, and the opportunity to become a Washington insider with access to information and connections that no one else has, in an environment of privilege where rules that govern the rest of the country, don’t always apply to them.

Questioning Pelosi: Steve Kroft heads to D.C.
When Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, and other lawmakers wouldn’t answer Steve Kroft’s questions, he headed to Washington to get some answers about their stock trades.

Most former congressmen and senators manage to leave Washington – if they ever leave Washington – with more money in their pockets than they had when they arrived, and as you are about to see, the biggest challenge is often avoiding temptation.

Peter Schweizer: This is a venture opportunity. This is an opportunity to leverage your position in public service and use that position to enrich yourself, your friends, and your family.

Peter Schweizer is a fellow at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank at Stanford University. A year ago he began working on a book about soft corruption in Washington with a team of eight student researchers, who reviewed financial disclosure records. It became a jumping off point for our own story, and we have independently verified the material we’ve used.

Schweizer says he wanted to know why some congressmen and senators managed to accumulate significant wealth beyond their salaries, and proved particularly adept at buying and selling stocks.

Schweizer: There are all sorts of forms of honest grafts that congressmen engage in that allow them to become very, very wealthy. So it’s not illegal, but I think it’s highly unethical, I think it’s highly offensive, and wrong.

Steve Kroft: What do you mean honest graft?

Schweizer: For example insider trading on the stock market. If you are a member of Congress, those laws are deemed not to apply.

Kroft: So congressman get a pass on insider trading?

Schweizer: They do. The fact is, if you sit on a healthcare committee and you know that Medicare, for example, is– is considering not reimbursing for a certain drug that’s market moving information. And if you can trade stock on– off of that information and do so legally, that’s a great profit making opportunity. And that sort of behavior goes on.

Kroft: Why does Congress get a pass on this?

Schweizer: It’s really the way the rules have been defined. And the people who make the rules are the political class in Washington. And they’ve conveniently written them in such a way that they don’t apply to themselves.

The buying and selling of stock by corporate insiders who have access to non-public information that could affect the stock price can be a criminal offense, just ask hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam who recently got 11 years in prison for doing it. But, congressional lawmakers have no corporate responsibilities and have long been considered exempt from insider trading laws, even though they have daily access to non-public information and plenty of opportunities to trade on it.

Schweizer: We know that during the healthcare debate people were trading healthcare stocks. We know that during the financial crisis of 2008 they were getting out of the market before the rest of America really knew what was going on.

In mid September 2008 with the Dow Jones Industrial average still above ten thousand, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke were holding closed door briefings with congressional leaders, and privately warning them that a global financial meltdown could occur within a few days. One of those attending was Alabama Representative Spencer Bachus, then the ranking Republican member on the House Financial Services Committee and now its chairman.

Schweizer: These meetings were so sensitive– that they would actually confiscate cell phones and Blackberries going into those meetings. What we know is that those meetings were held one day and literally the next day Congressman Bachus would engage in buying stock options based on apocalyptic briefings he had the day before from the Fed chairman and treasury secretary. I mean, talk about a stock tip.

While Congressman Bachus was publicly trying to keep the economy from cratering, he was privately betting that it would, buying option funds that would go up in value if the market went down. He would make a variety of trades and profited at a time when most Americans were losing their shirts.

Congressman Bachus declined to talk to us, so we went to his office and ran into his Press Secretary Tim Johnson.

Read the rest here.

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Revealed: Nancy Pelosi Blocked Credit Card Reform While Investing Millions in Visa IPO

Former Speaker of the House–and current Minority Leader–Nancy Pelosi apparently bought $1 million to $5 million of Visa stock in one of the most sought-after and profitable initial public offerings (IPO) in American history, thwarted serious credit card reform for two years, and then watched her investment skyrocket 203%.

The revelation appears in Throw Them All Out, the new book by investigative journalist and Breitbart editor Peter Schweizer, which was the focus of 60 Minutes on CBS this evening, and which is featured in this week’s issue of Newsweek.

Schweizer’s investigation of Pelosi and other members of Congress–from both parties–raises a critical question:  should it be legal for lawmakers to buy stocks in companies directly affected by their legislative efforts?

In early 2008, Nancy Pelosi and her real estate developer husband, Paul, were given an opportunity to buy into a Visa IPO. It was a nearly impossible feat–one that average citizens almost certainly could never achieve. The vast majority of purchase opportunities went to institutional investors, large mutual funds, or pension funds.

Despite Pelosi’s consistent railing against credit card companies, on March 18, 2008, the Pelosis bought between $1 million and $5 million (politicians do not have to report the exact amounts, only ranges) worth of Visa stock at the IPO price of $44 per share. Two days later, the stock price rocketed to $65 per share, yielding a 50% profit. The Pelosis then bought Visa twice more. By their third purchase on June 4, 2008, Visa was worth $85 per share.

How did Nancy Pelosi snag one of the most coveted initial public offerings in history? The facts are still emerging. Yet according to Schweizer, corporations that wish to build congressional allies will sometimes hand-pick members of Congress to receive IPOs. Pelosi received her Visa IPO almost two weeks after a potentially damaging piece of legislation for Visa, the Credit Card Fair Fee Act, had been introduced in the House. If passed, the bill would have cut into Visa’s profits substantially by lowering so-called “interchange fees,” the 1% to 3% charge retailers pay Visa when customers use Visa cards for purchases. Interchange fees are a critical source of revenue for the four credit card companies–$48 billion in 2008, to be exact.

If the Credit Card Fair Fee Act had been passed into effect, it would have amended antitrust laws to require credit card companies to enter negotiations with merchants over interchange fees, and it would have given the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission the power to arbitrate if the two sides failed to come to an agreement. For that reason, Visa and the other credit card companies strongly opposed the bill.

The Credit Card Fair Fee Act was exactly the kind of bill one would think then-Speaker Pelosi would have backed. “She had been outspoken about antitrust problems posed by insurance, oil, and pharmaceutical companies,” Schweizer notes, “and she was vocal about the need for controlling interest rates individual banks charged to use their credit cards.”

Initially, the Credit Card Fair Fee Act cleared the Judiciary Committee on a 19-16 vote, and the National Association of Convenience Stores began lobbying for a vote on the floor of the House. “It is imperative to tell your Representatives to request a vote on the House Floor from Nancy Pelosi,” the association urged its members. Still, with at least ten percent of the Pelosi family’s entire stock portfolio invested in a single stock, Nancy Pelosi clearly had a vested interest in ensuring that Visa’s profits were protected. And that is exactly what she accomplished. Despite broad public support for the bill—77% in one study—Pelosi saw to it that the bill never made it to the House floor.

Shortly thereafter, a second bill limiting collusion by the credit card companies on interchange fees was proposed. The Credit Card Interchange Fee Act of 2008, while not as strong as the first bill, would have required greater transparency from credit card companies in informing customers how much they were paying in interchange fees. Yet again, reports Schweizer, “this second bill suffered the same fate as the first, never making it to the House floor.”

By 2009, both bills had garnered even broader bipartisan support and were reintroduced. Under Speaker Pelosi, however, neither bill lived to see a vote on the House floor.

Read the rest here.

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In response to the leaked email, Bachmann’s campaign released this statement:

“The liberal mainstream media elites are manipulating the Republican debates by purposely suppressing our conservative message and limiting Michele’s questions,” said campaign manager Keith Nahigian. “We need to show the liberal media elite that we won’t stand for this outrageous manipulation. Help us fight this affront by sharing this with your friends.”

A CBS spokesperson released a statement to Fox News stating: “It was a candid exchange about the reality of the circumstances — Bachmann remains at 4% in the polls.”

Congressman Ron Paul’s team was also upset with the lack of air time during the CBS debate.

“CBS’s treatment of Congressman Paul is disgraceful, especially given that tonight’s debate centered on foreign policy and national security,” wrote Gary Howard, Paul’s national campaign chairman. “Congressman Paul was only allocated 90 seconds of speaking in one televised hour.”

“CBS News, in their arrogance, may think they can choose the next president,” Howard said. “Fortunately, the people of Iowa, New Hampshire and across America get to vote and not the media elites.”

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Flash: Here Come the Orwellians with First-Ever Nationwide Emergency Test

It’s Only a Test, but What a Test


At 2 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday all television channels and radio stations in the United States will be interrupted by a brief test of the nation’s Emergency Alert System.

Viewers and listeners are accustomed to hearing the tones and reminders — “this is just a test” — when the systems are activated locally each week by broadcasters. But government officials say the national system has never been tested before as a whole, nor has it ever been used in an emergency, allowing the president to address the public during a national emergency.

Officials said the nationwide test should last about 30 seconds as it digitally ripples across the country. Government agencies and media companies have sought to spread the word about the test so that it does sneak up on, and potentially scare, the public.

Michael Powell, the head of the Cable and Telecommunications Trade Association, wrote on Twitter, “No one wants a ‘War of the Worlds’ sequel!”

In a blog post, the trade association wrote: “Our message is simple: This is just a test of the system, and no action is required.”

The Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are leading the effort to carry out what is formally called the Presidential Emergency Action Notification. The test “will allow
emergency personnel to assess and improve our alerting capabilities in the event of a crisis,” the White House wrote Tuesday in a blog post.

During the test, the on-screen text set up by the government will say, “This is an Emergency Action Notification.” It will not specify that the notification is only a test because officials want the test to duplicate actual alert conditions “as closely as possible,” according to an F.C.C. planning document. But voiceovers and other on-screen graphics will indicate that there is no need for alarm.

Planning for the test has not been without its hiccups. Last month, the cable trade association asked the government to postpone it because some cable systems appeared to be unable to include their won “this is just a test” graphics. Perhaps to alleviate their concerns, the government shortened the test to 30 seconds, after having planned for it to last for up to three minutes.

Television and radio stations will have to report back to the agency about whether they received the test message and whether they rebroadcast it. “We’re confident that the vast majority of local radio and TV stations will participate in the E.A.S. test, and that those tests will be successful,” a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters said.

Satellite distributors like DirecTV and cable distributors like Comcast will participate along with over-the-air stations. DirecTV said its customer service agents are prepared to answer questions from customers about the interruption, adding, “we expect the test to go smoothly.”

Internet connections are not included in the test.

Notifications about the test have been hard to miss — though some people surely will be surprised by it anyway. Public service announcements and graphics have run on local stations, messages have appeared on cable customer bills and Web sites and news segments have informed people about the plan.

What is now called the emergency alert system was first authorized in 1951 by President Harry Truman. It was first intended to inform Americans about an impending nuclear attack and was called CONELRAD, short for “Control of Electromagnetic Radiation.” The system was superseded by the emergency broadcast system, which was used primarily for local weather alerts and was replaced by the current emergency alert system in 1997.

The current system has never been turned on nationwide. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush addressed the nation through the major television networks without activating the emergency alert system. The networks were able to transmit Mr. Bush’s statements live on their own.


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