Daily Archives: September 3, 2006

Weapons cover-up revealed

THE Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, issued instructions to suppress a damning letter about the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after the war, a former senior diplomat says. Dr John Gee, an expert on chemical weapons, worked with the US-led weapons hunter, the Iraq Survey Group, after the war and wrote the critical six-page letter when he decided to resign in March 2004. In it he warned the Federal Government the hunt was, “fundamentally flawed” and there was a “reluctance on the part of many here and in Washington to face the facts” that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.


New Federal IDs Could Increase Use of Biometrics

New federal employee identification cards being issued in October could spark a boom in biometrics,  and  increase the use of  the technology to authenticate banking customers, according to The Ithaca Journal.
The new cards will require fingerprints and possibly retinal scans or other forms of biometric identification, depending on the federal agency. They will have magnetic strips, personal identification numbers, and digital photos, as well as holograms and watermarks to deter forgers. The cards will be used to gain access to federal facilities and, ultimately, to grant access to computer applications and files. Other industries, such as healthcare and banking, will likely borrow from the new standards for government workers. At minimum, widespread use of biometrics by the federal government is expected to drive down the cost of the technology, which could spur adoption in the private sector.


Europe pushes for study of biometrics to screen passengers

Europe is stepping up efforts to explore the use of eye scans and other biometric technology to screen airline passengers who volunteer for background security checks. The goal is to see whether airport security can be enhanced and congestion eased by encouraging frequent fliers to undergo pre-screening. In return, cleared passengers could pass through immigration and security checkpoints more easily by identifying themselves through biometric scans of their irises or fingerprints. European airports use a variety of screening methods. Some nations might balk at two-tiered security checks. And privacy advocates question the reliability of biometric technology and whether any voluntary program would become mandatory. Privacy advocates worry that pre-screening of all passengers and the use of biometric technology could become mandatory. “In Europe … any system that begins voluntary will end up mandatory,” says Simon Davies, director of Privacy International, a London-based surveillance watchdog. Davies says the accuracy of biometric identification is overstated. Iris scans, touted as nearly foolproof, can register false positives, he says. “People have been sold this lie of infallibility,” he says. “It isn’t.”


Tax havens ‘put Britain high on list of corrupt countries’

Britain is high on a list of the world’s most corrupt countries, along with the United States and Switzerland, because of the refuge it offers to dirty money in tax havens such as the Channel Isles and the Isle of Man, researchers said yesterday.
Britain deserves inclusion high on any list of corrupt countries because of its “pinstripe infrastructure” of financial advisers squirrelling away money offshore and because of its reluctance to close down its tax havens, the Royal Geographical Society’s annual conference was told. John Christensen, of the Tax Justice Network, whose research is funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, criticised the ranking of the world’s most corrupt nations compiled annually by Transparency International, a not-for-profit organisation, in which African countries come out as the most corrupt.


The House of Astor’s Dirty Laundry

“They were incredibly rich and incredible sparing to handing out money to good causes,” Kaplan told ABC News. “They were not generous people.”
there was ever hard proof that the gilded age was over, it’s the sad, sordid story of alleged greed, wealth and family dysfunction that has surrounded one of America’s great philanthropic ladies. The lawsuit launched by Philip Marshall included supporting affidavits by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and banking executive David Rockefeller. The two men, both friends of Brooke Astor, support Philip’s request to have his father replaced as Astor’s guardian and manager of her estate.


Blair: No more pussyfooting around over problem children

Tony Blair has today pledged to intervene far earlier if the government feels a child will grow up to be a menace to society. In his first interview since returning from holiday the prime minister said he believed it was possible to predict who would cause problems from birth.

And in order to prevent them from growing up to be a strain on society pre-emptive action was needed, he added, saying that there was no point “pussyfooting” around the issue. “If we’re not prepared to predict and intervene far more early then there are children that are going to grow up in families that we know are perfectly dysfunctional and the children will grow up to be a menace to society,” he told BBC News.


Disney’s Finger Scan Upgrade Raises Privacy Concerns

An upgrade on Disney’s finger scanning technology implemented to prevent ticket fraud or resale is raising concerns from privacy advocates, according to Local 6 News. For years, Walt Disney World has been reading the shape of visitors’ fingers on its property. Now, the upgraded controversial finger scanning machines scan fingerprint information. “Privacy advocates worry that Disney is getting too much of your personal information and their concern is where that information goes after it is scanned,” Local 6 reporter Jessica D’Onofrio said.