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FEMA Grounds Private Drones That Were Helping To Map Boulder Floods 356

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the we-don't-know-what-we're-doing-but-we'll-arrest-you dept.
First time accepted submitter MrMagooAZ writes "An interesting article about a questionable reaction by FEMA in response to the flooding in Colorado. It seems a small firm was working free of charge with County officials to use drones to map the area and provide near-real-time maps of the flood damage. When FEMA took control of operations one of their first acts appears to have been to not only ground the drones, but threaten the operators. 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help you?'" The drone model in question has permits from the FAA to be flown around even. The drones were replaced with manned craft that, due to the terrain, where unable to fly low enough to make useful maps.
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FEMA Grounds Private Drones That Were Helping To Map Boulder Floods

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    .. as is individual efforts and coming together in crisis..Technology *is* powerful so of course individuals can't use it, no matter if it is a time of community crisis or not.

  • Not autonomous? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 16, 2013 @10:17PM (#44869187)

    Can we stop referring to anything that is remotely controlled as a drone?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by camperdave (969942)

      Can we stop referring to anything that is remotely controlled as a drone?

      No. Otherwise we'll have to get into all sorts of grey areas. Is it a drone if it follows a pre-programmed flight path? is it a drone if it can be sent waypoints "on the fly"? At some point or another the unit is remotely controlled.

    • Re:Not autonomous? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Eyeball97 (816684) on Monday September 16, 2013 @11:01PM (#44869503)

      Sure. What's your noun to define, in general, a remote controlled unmanned vehicle?

      We'll start a campaign to have your word replace "drone" in the Oxford English, Merriam Webster, Collins dictionaries immediately.

      • Re:Not autonomous? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by I'm New Around Here (1154723) on Monday September 16, 2013 @11:19PM (#44869607)

        Sure. What's your noun to define, in general, a remote controlled unmanned vehicle?

        Toy helicopter.

        • I should say that every article in the last month that I've seen mention 'drones' has been about devices I would call 'toy helicopters'. None of them have been about the Predator drones we have carrying missiles in the Middle East.

          Maybe this one is about real drone-style craft.

        • by Barny (103770)

          Even for fixed wing aircraft that are remote control? Okay!

      • by gd2shoe (747932)

        Sure. What's your noun to define, in general, a remote controlled unmanned vehicle?

        We'll start a campaign to have your word replace "drone" in the Oxford English, Merriam Webster, Collins dictionaries immediately.

        Before the word "drone" really took off, they were called UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicle).

        (Drone is actually a broader term that could refer to land or sea based semi/fully-autonomous vehicles.)

        • I think "drone" is particular stupid when applied to the Predator. Since for the entire history of the English language, a "drone" was bee without a sting that contributed nothing to the hive except once in a while one of them would give a new queen a momentary thrill.

      • by tepples (727027) <tepples@gmaiBLUEl.com minus berry> on Monday September 16, 2013 @11:59PM (#44869823) Homepage Journal
        Phil's Hobby Shop appears to get away with calling them radio control airplanes and helicopters [philshobbyshop.com].
      • by Quasimodem (719423) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @01:18AM (#44870187)

        Sure. What's your noun to define, in general, a remote controlled unmanned vehicle?

        My wife following OnStar turn-by-turn directions in her Chevy. = starlost

        But that's another story.

      • Re:Not autonomous? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tlambert (566799) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @04:36AM (#44870887)

        Sure. What's your noun to define, in general, a remote controlled unmanned vehicle?

        We'll start a campaign to have your word replace "drone" in the Oxford English, Merriam Webster, Collins dictionaries immediately.

        ROV

        The taxonomy isn't actually that difficult to understand:

        Drone (Unmanned vehicle)
        ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle)
        RPV (Remotely Piloted Vehicle)
        UAV (Unmanned Ariel Vehicle)
        AV (Autonomous Vehicle)

        Technically, these things are Drones, but that's about the least specific thing you could call them.

  • Well... (Score:3, Informative)

    by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Monday September 16, 2013 @10:18PM (#44869199)
    It was Colorado. Wasn't there a town that was talking about selling drone hunting licenses. The last thing they need are people shooting into the air.
  • by Virtucon (127420) on Monday September 16, 2013 @10:19PM (#44869203)

    Yes, your little, puny drones are no match for our US Defense Contractor drones that have a staff of thousands and bases all over the world. Trust us, we're much more capable of doing this job once we get the emergency congressional appropriations bill through and sign a new contract with the firm to load the special cameras we should be able to start mapping in about two years. By then we'll have this situation well in hand.

    "Every Nation gets the government it deserves" - Joseph de Maistre
     

    • by russotto (537200) on Monday September 16, 2013 @10:32PM (#44869275) Journal

      Yes, your little, puny drones are no match for our US Defense Contractor drones that have a staff of thousands and bases all over the world.

      I cheated and read the article. They WERE US Defense Contractor drones that FEMA shut down.

      • by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Monday September 16, 2013 @10:44PM (#44869365)

        Yes, your little, puny drones are no match for our US Defense Contractor drones that have a staff of thousands and bases all over the world.

        I cheated and read the article. They WERE US Defense Contractor drones that FEMA shut down.

        That were replaced by manned aircraft that couldn't fly low enough to be as useful. So to summarize,: FEMA came in and replaced something that was probably cheaper, more effective, and safer with something that was more expensive, considerably more dangerous, and useless.

        And we wonder why the government can't pass a budget, let alone one that lowers spending.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gandhi_2 (1108023)

          The best way to clear airspace is to... clear the airspace.

          No one wants a UAV thru their helecopter windscreen.

          • by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Monday September 16, 2013 @11:50PM (#44869771)
            Except that's not what happened. from TFA:

            On Thursday afternoon while all National Guard aircraft were grounded due to weather Falcon UAV was proud to have been the only aircraft that was able to take flight to support the flood efforts in Lyons.

            So nothing was flying that day. Except for the drones.

            Just as Falcon UAV was off to another damage assessment in Lyons, Colorado we were requested to standdown for National Guard helicopters now supporting evacuation efforts.

            So they stopped flying due to this request.

            Enter FEMA.......

            Early Saturday morning Falcon UAV was heading up to Lyons to complete a damage assessment mapping flight when we received a call from our Boulder EOC point of contact who notified us that FEMA had taken over operations and our request to fly drones was not only denied but more specifically we were told by FEMA that anyone flying drones would be arrested. Not being one to bow to federal bureaucrats we still went up to Lyons to do a site survey for how we can conduct a mission in the near future to provide an adequate damage assessment to this storm raveged community.

            While we were up there we noticed that Civil Air Patrol and private aircraft were authorized to fly over the small town tucked into the base of Rockies. Unfortunately due to the high terrain around Lyons and large turn radius of manned aircraft they were flying well out of a useful visual range and didn't employ cameras or live video feed to support the recovery effort. Meanwhile we were grounded on the Lyons high school football field with two Falcons that could have mapped the entire town in less than 30 minutes with another few hours to process the data providing a near real time map of the entire town.

            So helicopters were not the issue. The CAP as well as civilians had planes in the air. Do you really think the national guard would have wanted civilians in the air if they were conducting helicopter flights? If FEMA would have had any intelligence they would have given them the 30 minutes to image the area. This had nothing to do with helicopter safety. It was some ass at FEMA on a power trip and not wanting to look bad because they couldn't have done this. Or best case, who ever made the decision at FEMA didn't want to be held accountable if something went wrong.

            • by mysidia (191772)

              had taken over operations and our request to fly drones was not only denied but more specifically we were told by FEMA that anyone flying drones would be arrested.

              Diabolical Reply: We have state national guard standing by, authorized to utilize deadly force, against anyone attempting to arrest any drone operators or otherwise disrupt our drone operations.

        • by plopez (54068)

          Yes, because flying low and making vertical landings to drop supplies or pick up survivors is useless.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Yes, I fly them, and work with the engineers who design them. These things, and more specifically, the people who advocate for them, are a menace. They have no semblance of airworthiness, are not designed to be safe in the airspace, and are generally (the small ones) flown by people who have neither the training nor the operating procedures to safely fly them. There's a reason the global hawk costs $200M and the reaper $60M. That because more than a million engineering hours has been put into each to make t

          • by dywolf (2673597)

            First off, the air force drones cost so much because they are high tech defense contracts and fully sized airplanes lacking only a cockpit and light years beyond anything in the article called a "drone". you're comparing a luxury equipped privately owned 747-800 personal jet with a 15th hand Piper Cub. They also are capable of fully autonomous flight. the article drones are just R/C planes with a gyro stabilized camera. the military drones are huge and will take out a house or two if they crash. the article

  • I don't remember when FEMA last responded promptly and appropriately to a disaster.

    Wait... yes I do. Never.
    • by Hartree (191324)

      Actually, they did pretty well during the Mississippi River flooding in 1993.

      • Now that you mention it, I think that's right. But that's the only one I actually remember.

        Hurricane responses have been abysmal. New Orleans was nothing short of tragedy. Etc.
        • by jythie (914043) on Monday September 16, 2013 @10:49PM (#44869403)
          Success is not very news worthy. FEMA does pretty well on any number of smaller disasters, but more things go wrong in big disasters and just like the CDC, FEMA has become associated with 'bad things' and thus people tend to focus on the negative.
          • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Monday September 16, 2013 @10:57PM (#44869475)

            "FEMA does pretty well on any number of smaller disasters, but more things go wrong in big disasters..."

            But see, that's the whole point. Their REASON FOR EXISTENCE is basically big disasters. If they can't do that well (and arguably, they have demonstrated that they can't), they should be disbanded and the money redistributed to the states, which would at least do no worse.

          • by amiga3D (567632)

            Small disasters are handled by mid level management who are somewhat competent. The big disasters they call in the high level bureaucrats to handle it and those are the truly incompetent ones. Actually they are really just politicians and good at kissing ass and things like that but not good at handling disasters.

          • by ultranova (717540)

            Success is not very news worthy.

            Especially when most news outlets are owned by media moguls with a vested interest in making the government look bad, so they get leverage to deregulate and thus transfer more of its power to themselves.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          You'll note that they seem to do the poorest job in areas where people were told to evacuate, but didn't for whatever reason. I think there might be a connection.

          • by Obfuscant (592200) on Monday September 16, 2013 @11:56PM (#44869799)

            You'll note that they seem to do the poorest job in areas where people were told to evacuate, but didn't for whatever reason. I think there might be a connection.

            I think there is a bigger connection between "FEMA not taking over an incident" and "Governor of state refusing to ask for aide from FEMA when it would have done the most good." You know, like three days before Katrina made landfall and everything could have been staged while the roads were still passable and stuff, instead of several days after and the police of a major city involved fled in panic.

            Now, the company who is trying to make themselves look good has claimed that CAP didn't carry cameras or video. Yes, CAP has an entire ES qualification dealing with aerial photography (i.e., they were almost certainly carrying cameras) but are hindered in real time video by managing a data link of sufficient bandwidth. The FCC rules prohibit use of cell phones (and data) while airborne, so it's not just a case of slapping a cell data card in a laptop and firing off the data. That's not to say that GIIEP [capmembers.com] should be as stupidly complex as it is, however. Forcing all data through one military system with associated military level authentication and sucky bandwidth is a mistake, but the approved cell data cards are not generally available as far as I know.

        • by gandhi_2 (1108023)

          The funny thing about disasters is that they are disastrous.

          Know what else is disastrous? Public outcry from people who have no idea what it might take to respond to a large scale disaster.

          No one REALLY wants to pay for emergency preparation. How many people do you know who have no appreciable food / water / emergency supplies, emergency plans in place, and conduct any kind of training or rehersals with their families? Most people have no real will to prepare themselves, and that mentality shows in governme

    • by PPH (736903) on Monday September 16, 2013 @11:04PM (#44869517)

      Hurricane Sandy. Even Governor Christie (GOP) complemented [thehill.com] the Obama administration on its response. Which incurred a political cost. So I don't think he made his comments lightly.

      • Okay, maybe. I don't deny that Sandy was bad, but it was mainly bad because of its trajectory. It hit a much large part of the United States than most such storms. So it wasn't so much a local disaster as a distributed one. Still bad, I grant.

        Severe, local disasters (e.g., New Orleans) have been where FEMA has pretty much stunk.
    • by faffod (905810)
      Oh, I don't know... maybe in 2011? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/28/hurricane-irene-fema-response_n_939545.html [huffingtonpost.com]
      • I think it's kind of interesting that they were praising FEMA before Irene hit the coast.

        If it were me, I'd wait until after the hurricane to give my praise.
  • by Above (100351) on Monday September 16, 2013 @10:32PM (#44869271)

    Speculation on my part...

    There are a large number of military helicopters operating in the area carrying relief supplies and evacuating people and all sorts of other activities. They can get on the radio and tell other (human) traffic in the area to get out of the way. I'm betting this drone can't respond to such verbal requests.

    So if I was FEMA and I was tasked with coordinating all of these helicopter flights I might also say no to any drones I wasn't positive wouldn't be accidentally running into a helicopter full of evacuees.

    I'm curious if there is a current NOTAM requiring special clearance to fly, or to obey extra rules in the area (like a specific radio frequency). If there is and the drone isn't following them, it is in violation.

    • by Above (100351) on Monday September 16, 2013 @10:34PM (#44869285)

      Bah, hate replying to my own comment, there is a NOTAM: http://tfr.faa.gov/save_pages/detail_3_4481.html

      "No pilots may operate an aircraft in the areas covered by this NOTAM (except as described)."

      Reason for NOTAM : TO PROVIDE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR LARIMER COUNTY FLOODING SAR

      So the drone operators are in violation of FAA rules.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Thesis (1983882)
        According to the articles linked, they have FAA approval to fly in the area at this time. Also, they were wanting to fly mapping operations to help local officials while the weather grounded all other aircraft operations, hence there would be no air traffic issues. The drones are far more capable of imaging and mapping the flooded area in a timely manner than any manned aircraft available.
        • by Above (100351) on Monday September 16, 2013 @10:51PM (#44869419)

          I don't think that's what the article says, but you might have to know some things about FAA regs for them to make sense.

          "It has public safety flight approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fly in some parts of Colorado."

          They most likely have a conditional certificate to fly only in particular areas of low traffic/population for an experimental drone. That's similar to having a pilots license (approval to fly a plane), or even a drivers license (approval to drive a car).

          NOTAM's, or NOTice to AirMen are temporary restrictions on ALL flight operators. Think of them as a construction detour in your car, or a bridge washed out barricade. A common NOTAM might be that a runway is closed for resurfacing, or that a chuck of airspace is blocked off for an air show.

          So while they may have general approval to fly, the NOTAM cancels that for the specific area covered. Most likely the FAA has delegated to FEMA the ability to control all flights in this box as they coordinate SAR, Search and Rescue operations.

          So to extend my car analogy, it's like there's a washed out bridge from a flood, and they put up a barricade across the road while they tried to recuse someone from the flood waters and these people simply drove around the barricade and said "we're here to help!". The answer was get back on the other side of the barricade, or be arrested.

          • by khallow (566160)

            So to extend my car analogy, it's like there's a washed out bridge from a flood, and they put up a barricade across the road while they tried to recuse someone from the flood waters and these people simply drove around the barricade and said "we're here to help!". The answer was get back on the other side of the barricade, or be arrested.

            And what happens if those people really were more capable of helping than the government which is threatening arrest? After all, trying to rescue someone is not quite the same as actually rescuing someone.

            • by Camael (1048726) on Monday September 16, 2013 @11:36PM (#44869699)

              And what happens if those people really were more capable of helping than the government which is threatening arrest? After all, trying to rescue someone is not quite the same as actually rescuing someone.

              A little bit of context. Rescue operations were then ongoing, in fact what is now deemed the largest aerial rescue operation since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 [yahoo.com]. More than 700 people were evacuated by air.

              The rescue operations also included the town of Lyons, Colorado which is the same location where the UAVs were operating.

              It is not inconceivable given the scale of the rescue operations that the UAVs were impeding the helicopters. And to use your analogy, the helicopters were actively 'rescuing someone' compared to UAVs which were... mapping. You can draw your own conclusions which is more important.

              • by khallow (566160)
                Apparently, other planes with lower priority missions were allowed to fly in these areas. Perhaps FEMA already had mapping capability in place. Else it does seem a bit foolish.
      • Exactly correct, and why I hate the concept of drones (or other pilotless aircraft) in our airspace - they violate that prime directive of VFR flying, "See and be seen". An RPV or drone simply can't scan the sky for other aircraft, and frankly have a lot less to lose from not seeing another aircraft than a manned plane.

      • by russotto (537200) on Monday September 16, 2013 @10:47PM (#44869387) Journal
        Wrong NOTAM, as they were in Boulder County, not Larimer County. There is a NOTAM [faa.gov] for Lyons, but since the drone operators were operating under Boulder County SAR's authority, they were not violating it.
        • by Above (100351)

          Ah, thanks for the geographic correction.

          I wasn't aware any counties had delegated authority from the FAA, I've only ever seen that given to other federal agencies (like FEMA), or sometimes state level agencies. Did Boulder County actually have the ability to approve such a thing in the first place?

          • by Obfuscant (592200)

            Did Boulder County actually have the ability to approve such a thing in the first place?

            No. The text of the NOTAM says "FORT COLLINS DISPATCH CENTER" is in charge of the authorizations through Denver ARTCC. Wikipedia tells us that "Fort Collins is a Home Rule Municipality in and the county seat of Larimer County, Colorado".

            TFRs are issued by the FAA upon the request of civil agencies and the civil agencies are given control. Some are long term (NCAA football game TFRs, for example, under a blanket overarching TFR.)

    • by jythie (914043)
      That is generally what I suspect. They have exclusive priority access to the airspace right now and do not want to deal with private aircraft which are not coordinated with them and do not have the time to tie their communication together.
    • So if I was FEMA and I was tasked with coordinating all of these helicopter flights I might also say no to any drones I wasn't positive wouldn't be accidentally running into a helicopter full of evacuees.

      I have a relative who works with the FAA regarding drones. They cannot be flown in US airspace without someone either on the ground or in a chase plane to keep it in line-of-sight at all times. You may find this interesting: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R42718.pdf [fas.org]

      I don't think there was much danger of one hitting a helicopter if those are the restrictions on their operation.

    • I'm betting this drone can't respond to such verbal requests.

      That's just what they want you to think.

    • Your comments exactly mirror the ones I intended to post. I would have expected that slashdotters would have taken a more intelligent response to this article instead of an instant "pile on" mentality
    • Local news say, YES, it's so the drones will not interefere with helicopter rescue operations:

      http://www.9news.com/news/article/355477/188/Colorado-Floods-Myths-debunked [9news.com]

      (The segment also covers several other rumors so all you tin-foil-hat types need to go back to spotting Elvis interviewing aliens in Area 51)

      Cheers,
      Dave

    • by sjames (1099)

      The problem with them is that even if the decision was justified, what justification is there to issue a threat of arrest before a volunteer makes even th slightest sign of protest?

      Going directly to a threat against someone with no history of animosity is usually the sign of an unjustifiable demand.

  • by lunatick (32698) on Monday September 16, 2013 @10:33PM (#44869281) Homepage

    If it is not in the written procedure STOP IT NOW!!!!
    Seriously. They have a procedure they have to go through and follow to the letter. There is no room for innovation or individual thinking when it comes to Federal agencies. You deviate from written procedure you get written up or lose your job.
    I have run into it enough times in action to know this was probably the case.

  • That statement about manned aircraft not being suitable for mapping was brain-torturing nonsense.

    They've been used for mapping for generations and you can even make useful maps from _orbit_.

  • Beside overspend, run up deficits, and generally behave according to the Peter Principle? The federal government is a Dilbert cartoon.

  • Reality... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MasseKid (1294554) on Monday September 16, 2013 @10:59PM (#44869483)
    The reality here is someone with some authority was an idiot. This is getting spun as "evil fema shut down the little nice drone maker" which clearly isn't accurate at all. It wasn't FEMA that did this, it was a guy who works at FEMA. I very much doubt the W. Craig Fugate ordered this, nor any of his staff. It was some idiot that works there without the knowledge of his superiors (although I bet they know now...). Also, he didn't just shut down the drone guy, this guy at FEMA is also clearly stepping on the toes of all the local authorities already on the scene.

    I'm not saying the correct response here isn't to make it into a story, or to be upset about how this was handled. But the anger shouldn't be directed against the agency, it should be directed against the individual who made this call. I know big governmental agencies are faceless organizations, but it is nothing but a collection of people, and it's actions are those of the people it employees. If you want change, then demand change of the people and you'll get change of an organization.
    • by mysidia (191772)

      The reality here is someone with some authority was an idiot.

      And we'll never know who, unless he put it in writing, and it becomes a documented fact that person X made this decision --- instead; whoever the actor is, has FEMA to hide behind.

      We'll probably never know who. BUT if FEMA gets a sufficiently bad rap, and this comes back at the US administration; there's a slim chance that it could result in an investigation, with possible negative consequences for the person.

  • Was anyone expecting FEMA to just suddenly pull its head out of its ass? There weren't any real consequences imposed after their abortion of a performance in Louisiana so why would they do anything differently? Until we hold those fuckers directly, and personally, accountable for their actions we aren't going to see any changes. Lock up the director and some of the managers for 5 years for contributing to the deaths and injuries of hundreds of people and maybe we'll see some intelligent work being done o
  • They still have people living in mold-infested trailers in New Orleans.

  • They do not care about other people. They do not care about results. They do care about their dominance, hence this massively unethical decision which places them squarely in the "evil" corner.

  • Because anything that the people do that's ad-hoc, effective and lower in cost threatens not only the government but the consultants and planning-boards and corporations that get the big tax bucks we pay. The System routing around potential damage

  • They are static they cannot tell you as examples; where survivors are clusters, which way the channel is shifting, assess damage to roads, assess damage to utilities, drop supplies, relay messages, extract survivors, etc. So GET THOSE POS OUT OF MY WAY SO I CAN DO MY JOB!

  • by Almost-Retired (637760) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @04:50AM (#44870943)

    I've tried to read through this thread, and 2 things impress the hell out of me.

    1. The number of posts which are nothing more than duplicates, more than 10 of each scattered through the thread, stop it slashdot!

    2. The number of folks who are apologists for FEMA's past performances. This is the same runaway agency that has freshly constructed around 200 so called 'camps' which can contain, behind tall human proof fences, several thousand people per 'camp'.

    This is the same runaway agency that authorized LE to shoot to kill, anyone in N.O. who armed themselves against the looters, people who were doing the only thing they knew how to do to survive when there was little food and NO potable water. With no help from FEMA other than confiscating weapons, they interfered with the survival of some of those who had the foresight to prepare themselves and survive, while dooming to a neglected or drowning death, a considerable number of folks in the many hospitals and care homes. They blocked the roads leaving, preventing the many who had their own transportation from getting the hell of of Dodge. That damned sure doesn't fit this old farts definition of a relief agency, but it sure reminds me of Hitler's Gestapo, rounding up the Jews.

    This is the same agency that left nearly 100k folks locked in the superdome with no food, water, or sanitation. For several days .

    If anything, Katrina taught me that FEMA , under the ultimate direction of Bush 2, has well exceeded the level of uselessness usually attributed to the teats on a board hog.

    It is decade's past time to cut our loses with FEMA, it has turned into an agency with a black budget that will never be audited, and whose sole directive is to survive by sucking the public money trough dry. Other than helping to arrange overpriced loans after Sandy, they have done so little to earn their keep that any corporations board of directors would have pulled the plug on them 20 or more years back.

    However, I do think we need an agency to give instant aid in situations such as Katrina, Sandy, and now this unprecedented 500 year flooding. But FEMA is not that agency when they refuse to make use of today's technology. As presently operated, it isn't capable of doing useful work when needed. Stop the bleeding. If done quickly enough, the patient, us, might even survive.

  • New policy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Somebody Is Using My (985418) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @09:32AM (#44872337) Homepage

    It's no longer, " 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help you", which was laughable even amongst its supporters.

    Now it's the slightly more terrifying 'I'm from the government* and I am the ONLY one who is allowed help you".

    An idea which they enforce with far more efficiency. After all, an independent, self-sufficient populace might get ideas otherwise. Why, they might even come up with the notion that the government is beholden to its people rather than the other way around!

    I suppose the idea of working with these guys never occurred to FEMA? It sounds like they were providing useful data.

    * (or one of its overpaid contractors)

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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