Bureaucrats 1, Guerilla Geeks 0

On Tuesday, an FCC-sanctioned team of techies landed in Houston, ready to set up a low-power radio station that would keep the Katrina evacuees housed there informed of the relief effort.41273505_189e3ed47d.jpgBut even before the radio crew set foot in the Astrodome, the local paper-pushers have been working overtime to scuttle the project.First, they demanded that the team come up with 10,000 portable radios before they could begin their broadcasts. No sweat: by Wednesday, the crew had Sony and Democracy Now ready to provide the gear.So then, volunteer Jacob Appelbaum tells us, the bureacrats came up with more reasons -- or really, non-reasons -- why the radio station couldn't go on-air.

Rita Obey is the person that told Austin Airwaves they had to have 10,000 radios before they could broadcast. We purchased a number of radios and while weve had some issues with this, it was just a meaningless golden egg. We called her bluff by getting the radios lined up to be purchased and they threw something else out.At 16:29 (CST) today, RW Royal Jr. Incident Commander of the JIC (Joint Information Committee) has denied Austin Airwaves the ability to run the emergency low power FM radio station inside of the dome. This is contrary to the FCC licenses that have been issued to Austin Airwaves. However, R.W. Royal Jr. is a member of the JIC. He has decided to deny the request. When they asked why they were being turned down, they were told that the Astrodome could not provide them with electricity. When the Austin Airwaves team offered to run on battery backup, they were still denied.This is an OUTRAGE.The people on the ground I spoke with personally asked me why I was there. I told them that I was with a group helping to bring emergency radio information to them. Broadcast from right inside the dome. Those people were overjoyed to hear that they would get a radio station with emergency information, with information on job interviews, food, housing, lost children, found person, clothing and other important information. It breaks my heart.Why has this man denied this? Why is the government going out of its way to stop us from helping people?
Why? Here's a hint.THERE'S MORE: Of course, the ones at the Astrodome are lucky. In Oklahoma, evacuees have been herded by FEMA into what appear to be detention camps.
FEMA will not allow any of the kitchen facilities in any of the cabins to be used by the occupants due to fire hazards. FEMA will deliver meals to the cabins. The refugees will be given two meals per day by FEMA. They will not be able to cook. In fact, the "host" goes on to explain, some churches had already enquired about whether they could come in on weekends and fix meals for the people staying in their cabin. FEMA won't allow it because there could be a situation where one cabin gets steaks and another gets hot dogs - and... it could cause a riot. It gets worse.He then precedes to tell us that some churches had already enquired into whether they could send a van or bus on Sundays to pick up any occupants of their cabins who might be interested in attending church. FEMA will not allow this. The occupants of the camp cannot leave the camp for any reason. If they leave the camp they may never return. They will be issued FEMA identification cards and "a sum of money" and they will remain within the camp for the next 5 months
(Big ups: Xeni)AND MORE: Over at Wired News, Joel sets the Astrodome radio story straight.
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