The government is hard at work on updating the Emergency Broadcast System, moving it away from the TV, where you could not see a warning until you watch that TiVo'd episode of Battlestar a week after a tornado swept away your trailer home. It's instead at work creating an emergency text message program, allowing the government to send you a text message if some bad shit starts going down near you.
The alerts would fall into three categories: the first would be a national alert from the president for things such as terrorist attacks or natural disasters. The second would involve "imminent threats" such as hurricanes or escaped criminals. The third would be for child abductions.
The best part? You "may not be charged for receiving alerts." Oh, we may not be charged for hearing about every half-retarded kid that was tempted into a van with promises of candy? Let's make that will not be charged, shall we? At least there will be an opt out program for people who are just too damned tough to need the government looking out for them.
In any case, the program may be in place by 2010 if the government can get their shit together, which, as we know, may or may not happen. But hey, thanks for looking out for us, guys! [NY Times]