Tuesday, November 08, 2005

11/7/05 - 11/13/05

It looks like more and more stores are jumping on the biometrics bandwagon. This is going to pick up steam really fast. Look for aggressive promotion of the “efficiency and eas of use” of he touch and pay method. You do know where this is leading right?

Changing the way the world pays
Biometrics is a technology that enables consumers to pay for products by merely scanning a finger, but some question whether it could make it easier to steal personal information
By Melanie Cleveland
The Tribune

Imagine buying groceries by scanning your index finger. No cash, checks or credit cards required.
It may sound like science fiction, but systems that use biometric technology to identify people using their fingerprints have already debuted in major grocery stores across the country, including Albertsons, Kroger Foods, Lowes Foods and Piggly Wiggly.
It hasn't arrived in San Luis Obispo County. But Pay By Touch Solutions, the company that installed the systems in a pilot program with Albertsons and Piggly Wiggly stores in nine states, says one grocery store giant -- with a large West Coast presence -- will announce a rollout of the technology this month.
The pay-by-finger touch system works by storing a consumer's finger images and personal financial information in a retail outlet's database. Shoppers can tap into that information on a touch pad when they make a purchase. A computer recognizes their finger image, automatically charges their account, and the transaction is complete.
"We are changing the way the world pays," said John Rogers, founder and chief executive officer of San Francisco-based Pay By Touch.
Grocery stores are only the beginning, he said. Rogers hopes that Pay By Touch will be used in more than 10,000 locations -- hotels, gas stations, fast food restaurants, health care facilities and sports stadiums -- by the end of 2006.
"The opportunities," Rogers said, "are boundless."
His company, funded by the Gordon P. Getty Family Trust and other major investment groups, recently received a major cash boost --
$130 million -- to ramp up its development of biometric products and services.
BioPay, which is Pay By Touch's closest competitor, already has 2 million consumers across the United States who use the system to purchase items and to cash payroll checks. That translates to 17 million transactions worth $6.9 billion as of June 2005, said Donita Prakash, vice president of marketing.
Technology in use for years
Biometric technology has been used for years by the military, to identify criminals and control access into high-security facilities. The technology's recent foray into the grocery industry and other retail outlets was prompted by worries about identity theft and heightened security concerns after Sept. 11, 2001.
Service providers and customers worry more about key personal information being stolen and used fraudulently from PIN numbers and ID cards -- so a system that requires nothing but a finger image to access and protect financial information is more convenient and secure, say industry experts.
"There's no question it can help identity fraud," said Albertsons spokeswoman Shannon Bennett. "Only the customer can access this system: It's easier and faster and safer."
Biometrics technology and its associated software have also become more sophisticated and reliable because of recent advances in computer science and trials in the marketplace.
"For instance, algorithms that the system uses to match the minutia in a finger image to a person's financial information in a store database have gotten more efficient," said Walter Hamilton, chairman of the International Biometric Industry Association.
"If a customer has difficulty using the device, a manufacturer will come out with a newer product to answer their concerns," Hamilton said.
The cost of finger scanners has also dropped dramatically -- from a few thousand dollars
10 years ago to $50 today. That's the result of an increase in volume in the industry, Hamilton said.
Jim Burke, vice president of AuthenTec, said his company, which sells its finger sensors to computer, cell phone and access control retail markets, took five years to sell its first million finger sensors. AuthenTec now sell that many every three months.
Not only are more stores using it, more retail and electronics stores, such as Best Buy and Fry's Electronics, are selling it directly to consumers, Hamilton noted.
Finally, merchants want to use a system that saves them money. If finger scan systems can prevent people from using fake IDs, they can prevent loss in cashing payroll checks, biometrics experts say.
Retail stores also save on transaction fees.
Pay By Touch Solutions, for example, charges its stores a flat fee, ranging from 9 to 13 cents per transaction.
"That's very low compared to credit cards, checks or debits, which range -- plus or minus -- at 35 cents a transaction," said Shannon Riordan, a Pay By Touch spokeswoman.
But will U.S. consumers embrace the technology?
The key question is whether customers will accept a finger-scanning system.
"The whole thing is neat, but the benefits of the system are really questionable," said Chris Hoofnagle, senior counsel with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a public interest research center with offices in San Francisco.
Hoofngle contends that the systems are not worth the security risks and are "not really any faster than cash."
"The systems can be easily fooled," he said. "When most people think of biometric systems, they're thinking of police level, quality equipment. The police have very accurate systems and scanners that cost thousands of dollars and can pick up on nuances of the print."
Some people in San Luis Obispo County are concerned that their personal information will be stolen or abused. Others believe that such technology is invasive.
"What's the matter with a driver's license and a Social Security card?" said Elizabeth Stephenson, a shopper at Ralphs in San Luis Obispo. "What else do they need? I don't like it. It's un-American. That's a problem. If I commit a crime, OK, but shopping is not a crime."
Biometrics-industry advocates, such as Burke and Hamilton, say that worry is misplaced.
"While we are very sensitive to the fear, people need to know, biometrics is designed to protect privacy and deter crime, not violate or abuse it," Burke said.
Hamilton added, "We're not tracking anyone with pay-by- touch systems -- any more than grocery stores do with their loyalty cards. And we've been doing fingerprinting for many service professions, nurses, stock brokers, home-care workers, school bus drivers, members of Congress, policemen -- and they don't consider it an invasion."
Companies like BioPay and Pay By Touch use a template of a fingerprint, which is less invasive because it cannot be reversed into a full fingerprint image, said Raj Nanavati, a partner at the International Biometrics Group, a company that analyzes the biometrics industry.
"That means there is less likelihood that someone could break into the financial information and commit fraud," he said.
Nanavati compared the financial database used by stores with pay-by-touch systems to the information stored by credit card companies.
"These systems will track no more than MasterCard or Visa have done for 20 years," Nanavati said, "and no one has much of a problem with that."
Even so, Nanavati said people should question whether they have the option to be removed from the system.
"Know what you're getting into and have the ability to opt out if you want," he said.
It may be too soon to say how San Luis Obispo County shoppers will react to the technology -- if and when it comes. But biometric proponents hope to win over people like Debbie Hoffman.
"I think that with nothing to hide, it's no big deal," said Hoffman, a Trader Joe's customer. "Fraud and scamming ... costs us all a lot, and it's a pain in the neck to present a driver's license and identification. If you are who you say you are, what's the problem?"
News assistant Jeanne Kinney contributed to this report.
Copyright San Luis Obispo Tribune

The Vatican is starting to address this issue. Who would have thought? How will people of the world react when the Vatican publically admits their knowledge of extra-terrestrial life?

Do space aliens have souls? Inquiring minds can check Jesuit's book

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Galaxy-gazing scientists surely wonder about what kind of impact finding life or intelligent beings on another planet would have on the world.

But what sort of effect would it have on Catholic beliefs? Would Christian theology be rocked to the core if science someday found a distant orb teeming with little green men, women or other intelligent forms of alien life? Would the church send missionaries to spread the Gospel to aliens? Could aliens even be baptized? Or would they have had their own version of Jesus and have already experienced his universal or galactic plan of salvation?

Curious Catholics need not be space buffs to want answers to these questions and others when they pick up a 48-page booklet by a Vatican astronomer.

Through the British-based Catholic Truth Society, U.S. Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno has penned his response to what he says are questions he gets from the public "all the time" when he gives talks on his work with the Vatican Observatory.

Titled "Intelligent Life in the Universe? Catholic Belief and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life," the pocket-sized booklet is the latest addition to the society's "Explanations Series," which explores Catholic teaching on current social and ethical issues.

Brother Consolmagno told Catholic News Service that the whole question of how Catholicism would hold up if some form of life were discovered on another planet has piqued people's curiosity "for centuries."

He said his aim with the booklet was to reassure Catholics "that you shouldn't be afraid of these questions" and that "no matter what we learn, it doesn't invalidate what we already know" and believe. In other words, scientific study and discovery and religion enrich one another, not cancel out each other.

If new forms of life were to be discovered or highly advanced beings from outer space were to touch down on planet Earth, it would not mean "everything we believe in is wrong," rather, "we're going to find out that everything is truer in ways we couldn't even yet have imagined," he said.

The Book of Genesis describes two stories of creation, and science, too, has more than one version of how the cosmos may have come into being.

"However you picture the universe being created, says Genesis, the essential point is that ultimately it was a deliberate, loving act of a God who exists outside of space and time," Brother Consolmagno said in his booklet.

"The Bible is divine science, a work about God. It does not intend to be physical science" and explain the making of planets and solar systems, the Jesuit astronomer wrote.

Pope John Paul II once told scientists, "Truth does not contradict truth," meaning scientific truths will never eradicate religious truths and vice versa.

"What Genesis says about creation is true. God did it; God willed it; and God loves it. When science fills in the details of how God did it, science helps get a flavor of how rich and beautiful and inventive God really is, more than even the writer of Genesis could ever have imagined," Brother Consolmagno wrote.

The limitless universe "might even include other planets with other beings created by that same loving God," he added. "The idea of there being other races and other intelligences is not contrary to traditional Christian thought.

"There is nothing in Holy Scripture that could confirm or contradict the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe," he wrote.

Brother Consolmagno said that, like scientists, people of faith should not be afraid of saying "I just don't know."

Human understanding "is always incomplete. It is crazy to underestimate God's ability to create in depths of ways that we will never completely understand. It is equally dangerous to think that we understand God completely," he said in his booklet.

He told CNS that his booklet tries to show "the fun of thinking" about what it would mean if God had created more than life on Earth. Such speculation "is very worthwhile if it makes us reflect on things we do know and have taken for granted," he said.

He said asking such questions as "Would aliens have souls?" or "Does the salvation of Christ apply to them?" helps one "appreciate what it means for us to have a soul" and helps one better "recognize what the salvation of Christ means to us."

Brother Consolmagno said he tried to show in the booklet that "the church is not afraid of science" and that Catholics, too, should be unafraid and confident in confronting all types of speculation, no matter how "far out" and spacey it may be.

For science fiction fans, Trekkies, or telescope-toting space enthusiasts, the booklet's last chapter reveals where there are references to extraterrestrials in the Bible.

Brother Consolmagno said the Bible is also replete with references to or descriptions of "nonhuman intelligent beings" who worship God. For example, he said the Scriptures talk about angels, "sons of God" who took human wives, and "heavenly beings" that "shouted for joy" when God created the earth.

The booklet, however, offers no "hard and fast answers" to extraterrestrial life, since such speculation is "better served by science fiction or poetry than by definitions of science and theology," he wrote.

He said the booklet is meant "to put a smile on your face" and, perhaps, make people think twice about who could be peeking at Earth from alien telescopes far, far away.
- - -

Editors: Readers in the United States and Canada can order this booklet and other CTS publications through the society's Web site, www.cts-online.org.uk, or by e-mail, orders@cts-online.org.uk.

Copyright (c) 2005 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.

Will this spread throughout Europe? I don’t buy into the official story on the cause of this riot. As far as I’m concerned, I think this conflict was planed. The New Orleans social unrest after Katrina was a micro-cosm of what’s to come on a larger scale. Perhaps the racially charged riots in France is a micro-cosm of what’s to come on a larger scale. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you can definitely sense racial tension rising.

Rioting Spreads to 300 Towns in France
ANGELA DOLAND, Associated Press | November 7 2005
PARIS - Rioting by French youths spread to 300 towns overnight and a man hurt in the violence died of his wounds, the first fatality in 11 days of unrest that has shocked the country, police said Monday.
As urban unrest spread to neighboring Belgium and possibly Germany, the French government faced growing criticism for its inability to stop the violence, despite massive police deployment and continued calls for calm.
On Sunday night, vandals burned more than 1,400 vehicles, and clashes around the country left 36 police injured, setting a new high for overnight arson and violence since rioting started Oct. 27, Michel Gaudin told a news conference.
Australia, Austria, Britain, Germany and Hungary advised their citizens to exercise care in France, joining the United States and Russia in warning tourists to stay away from violence-hit areas.
Alain Rahmouni, a national police spokesman, said the man who was beaten died at a hospital from injuries sustained in the attack, but he had no immediate details of the victim's age or his attacker.
The man was caught by surprise by an attacker after rushing out of his apartment building to put out a trash can fire, Rahmouni said.
Apparent copycat attacks spread outside France for the first time, with five cars torched outside Brussels' main train station, police in the Belgian capital said.
The mayhem started as an outburst of anger in suburban Paris housing projects and has fanned out nationwide among disaffected youths, mostly of Muslim or African origin, to become France's worst civil unrest in over a decade.
Attacks overnight Sunday to Monday were reported in 274 towns, and police made 395 arrests, Gaudin said.
"This spread, with a sort of shock wave spreading across the country, shows up in the number of towns affected," Gaudin said, noting that the violence appeared to be sliding away from its flash point in the Parisian suburbs and worsening elsewhere.
It was the first time police had been injured by weapons' fire and there were signs that rioters were deliberately seeking out clashes with police, officials said.
Among the injured police, 10 were hurt by youths firing fine-grain birdshot in a late-night clash in the southern Paris suburb of Grigny, national police spokesman Patrick Hamon said. Two were hospitalized, but their lives were not considered in danger. One was wounded in the neck, the other in the legs.
The unrest began Oct. 27 in the low-income Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, after the deaths of two teenagers of Mauritanian and Tunisian origin. The youths were accidentally electrocuted as they hid from police in a power substation. They apparently thought they were being chased.
All told, 4,700 cars have been burned in France since the rioting began and 1,200 suspects were detained at least temporarily, Gaudin said.
The growing violence is forcing France to confront long-simmering anger in its suburbs, where many Africans and their French-born children live on society's margins, struggling with high unemployment, racial discrimination and despair — fertile terrain for crime of all sorts as well as for Muslim extremists offering frustrated youths a way out.
France, with some 5 million Muslims, has the largest Islamic population in Western Europe.
President Jacques Chirac, whose government is under intense pressure to halt the violence, promised stern punishment for those behind the attacks, making his first public comments Sunday since the riots started.
"The law must have the last word," Chirac said Sunday after a security meeting with top ministers. France is determined "to be stronger than those who want to sow violence or fear, and they will be arrested, judged and punished."
France's biggest Muslim fundamentalist organization, the Union for Islamic Organizations of France, issued a fatwa, or religious decree. It forbade all those "who seek divine grace from taking part in any action that blindly strikes private or public property or can harm others."
Arsonists burned two schools and a bus in the central city of Saint-Etienne and its suburbs, and two people were injured in the bus attack. Churches were set ablaze in northern Lens and southern Sete, he said.
In Colombes in suburban Paris, youths pelted a bus with rocks, sending a 13-month-old child to the hospital with a head injury, Hamon said, while a daycare center was burned in Saint-Maurice, another Paris suburb.
Much of the youths' anger has focused on law-and-order Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, whose reference to the troublemakers as "scum" appeared to inflame passions.

The riots in France were allegedly caused by minority racial groups who felt that they were being mistreated and treated unequally. They couldn’t take it anymore. The anger reached a boiling point and all hell broke loose. What will it take for the same thing to happen in LA? Remember what happened with Rodney King over a decade ago? It doesn’t take much. Would other minority groups in other cities follow? Is this incident in France the first domino piece to fall?

Leader Of Racist Aztlan Movement Calls For French-Style Riots In US
World Net Daily | November 8 2005
As we have previously documented, these Mexican Klan groups call for killing all white and black people and taking over the southern states with bloody conquest and yet Alex Jones has been called racist for protesting them. Take a look at what they're advocating and then decide who the real racists are.

Giant bilboards are now proclaiming that LA belongs to Mexico in ads for radio stations.

FLASHBACK: Protesting Aztlan and the Plan of San Diego
FLASHBACK: Nightmare Racism and Open Call for Revolution: Alex Jones Reports on Mexican Independence Day in Austin, Texas
While Many Americans are watching the chaos unfold following 12 nights of mayhem by largely Muslim immigrants in the streets of France, a leader of the separatist Aztlan movement in the U.S. says it's only a matter of time before worse unrest hits the streets of America.
"Can a similar insurrection occur in the USA?" asks Ernesto Cienfuegos of La Voz de Aztlan.
Yes, he concludes.
"Today, here in Los Angeles, we are already seeing ominous signs of an impending social explosion that will make the French rebellion by Muslim and immigrant youths seem 'tame' by comparison," he writes. "All the ingredients are present including a hostile and racist police as in France. In fact, we came close to having major riots on three separate occasions just this year alone."
Aztlan activists, who see themselves as "America's Palestinians," want to carve out of most of the southwestern United States an independent, Spanish-speaking nation known as the Republica del Norte.
According to earlier reports in La Voz de Aztlan, the leaders of this movement are meeting continuously with extremists from the Islamic world.
"There are great similarities between the political and economic condition of the Palestinians in occupied Palestine and that of La Raza in the southwest United States," explained one 2001 editorial in La Voz de Aztlan.
Los Angeles is perceived as the future capital of Aztlan or Republica de Norte.
Cienfuegos continued in today's dispatch: "On top of all this, there are major rumblings in the high schools of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest in the USA. A few days ago, thousands of students, predominantly of Mexican descent, simply walked out of their schools to protest overcrowding, lack of texts, lack of desks and unqualified teachers. There is a strange feeling here in Los Angeles that something sinister is about to happen, but no one knows when. All it will take is for a 'bird-brain cop' to do something stupid and all hell will break loose. If another major rebellion breaks out here in L.A. it could rapidly spread throughout the USA as it has spread in France."
"The social and economic conditions that exist in France that adversely affect its immigrant and Muslim populations also exist here in the USA," Cienfuegos writes. "These conditions negatively affect our black, Latino and immigrant populations in the same way. The rebellion that is occurring in France can and will most probably happen here. If it does, it will have grave consequences on the social, political and economic structures of the country and it could possibly topple a government already weakened by the Iraq War and corruption within its ranks."