June 18, 2011 By Bill Schrier
It is fascinating how words and phrases take on differeNT nuances of meaning depending upon their context. I guess that's why it is so hard for computers (IBM's Watson notwithstanding) to understand and properly interpret human speech or, in many cases, writing.
Take "911". In most contexts and for most people, that would be the police/fire emergency number . The number you'd call to get help with a heart attack or a burglary-in-progress or a lost child.
But 9/11 refers to that infamous day when terrorist Osama bin Laden's gang of terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City.
Now, today, 911 has a new meaning. S.911 is the United States Senate bill sponsored by Senators Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, which allocates additional spectrum and $11.75 billion in funding to build a nationwide interoperable public safety wireless broadband network. That bill passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee on a vote of 21 to 4 on June 8th.
On June 16th, Vice President Joe Biden and public safety officials from cities and states across the country celebrated this huge step forward on a long road toward building that network. Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and many others called upon the full Senate and House to pass the bill, so the President could sign it this year.
You don't usually think of Senators as "courageous", but we have twenty-one really courageous Senators on that Commerce Committee (and a courageous former senator in Vice President Biden).
They faced (and continue to face) a wide variety of pressures:
These are all poor reasons used to justify voting "no" on S.911. Reasons to justify inaction. Reasons to put the safety of 300 million Americans aside.
The campaign to pass S.911 - to fund and build this vital network - is significantly helped by the leadership of President Obama and Vice-President Biden, who allocated the money in their 2012 budget. The Vice-President is especially active leading the charge to build this nationwide public safety wireless broadband network. The Administration just issued a report describing the urgent need.
Yes, there is a lot of courage on that Senate Commerce Committee, and hopefully the courage is infectious and spreads to at least the 51 Senators and 217 members of the House needed to pass the legislation.
Because 9/11 is looming again.
The 10th Anniversary of the terrorism at New York City's World Trade Center. Where hundreds of firefighters and police officers lost their lives because their radio communications networks didn't get them the order to evacuate the buildings which were about to collapse.
Will the rest of Congress have the courage to act?