Thursday, July 14, 2011
Starting as early as September, cops across the country may be using a new iphone-based device to identify people based on a picture of their face, iris scan, or a fingerprint reader, raising concerns about how the data will be gathered, stored, and used.
The device in question is called the MORIS, which stands for Mobile Offender Recognition and Information System. Made by BI2 Technologies of Plymouth, Mass, it runs on the iphone platform. The company states that it has contracts with 40 government agencies to deliver 1,000 devices this fall.
Unlike other currently used biometric technologies, the MORIS does not require a separate digital camera or upload time, and automatically scans known databases for criminal warrants and other relevant history. The Wall Street Journal gives specifics on how this new device works:
“To scan a person’s iris, police officers can hold the special iris-scanning camera on device, called MORIS, about 5 to 6 inches away from an individual’s irises. After snapping a high resolution photo, the MORIS system analyzes 235 unique features in each iris and uses an algorithm to match that person with their identity if they are in the database.”
“For the facial recognition, an officer takes a photo of a person at a distance of about 2 feet to 5 feet. Based on technologies from Animetrics Inc., the system analyzes about 130 distinguishing points on the face, such as the distance between a person’s eye and nose. It then scans the database for likely matches.”The Blaze
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Iran is moving its nuclear program into a mountain facility able to withstand air and missile strikes, the Telegraph reported Thursday, citing recent intelligence reports.
The report says Iran disclosed the Fowrdow facility's location, inside a mountain near Qom, after Western intelligence sources reported of its existence.
Experts fear that Tehran's decision to begin moving some 3,000 centrifuges to Fowdrow could signal its final push for a nuclear weapon.
"We see Iran moving in the direction of becoming a nuclear weapons capable state," Olli Heinonen, a former head of UN nuclear inspections worldwide, told the Telegraph.
The International Atomic Energy Agency expressed concern over the move, though it had reported that no centrifuges had been moved to the facility by May 21.
The IAEA's May report said Iran was conducting tests involving materials that could only be explained by a desire to produce a nuclear warhead – specifically explosives and a ballistic missile cone.
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Call this the year of catastrophes – and not just the financial kind that the guys in Washington and Brussels seem resolved to lead us into.
Halfway through, this year is already the costliest on record for natural catastrophes, insurer Munich Re said Tuesday in its first-half review. Losses hit $265 billion in the first six months of 2011 – which exceeds the $220 billion in losses in the biggest previous year for natural disasters, 2005.
Expect more of these, unfortunately
Most of the losses this year stem from the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which caused more than 15,000 deaths and accounted for $210 billion in economic losses. That is another record, beating out the $125 billion in losses caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Losses tied to the quake have already taken a toll on insurance industry profits. First-half insured losses hit $60 billion, Munich Re said – five times the annual average over the past decade.
Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA), which last year took a big stake in Munich Re, said in April that it would likely report an insurance underwriting loss this year for the first time in almost a decade, thanks to the Japanese disaster and other calamities, mostly in Asia.
That said, the Japan quake stands to be less costly than Katrina. Munich Re said insured claims from March's disaster stand at around $30 billion, compared with the $44 billion the government estimated for Katrina. Insured losses on the World Trade Center terrorist attacks a decade ago have been estimated at around $40 billion, by comparison.
The question now is how high this year's record toll might rise. Munich said first-half losses "are generally lower than second-half losses, which are often affected by hurricanes in the North Atlantic and typhoons in the Northwest Pacific." Just another way in which the coming months promise to be eventful, and not in a good way.
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The U.S. trade deficit soared 15% month over month in May to $50.2 billion, which was the highest amount of red ink since October of 2008. Despite what some claim, we don’t have a diversified manufacturing base in this country and the percentage of our economy that is devoted to manufacturing has progressively slumped in the last 6 decades to the lowest level ever (11%). Year over year the trade gap widened 19% from the previous reading of $42.3 billion.
However, this data will not deter the economic geniuses to proclaim that a lower dollar can save the U.S. economy from hemorrhaging its wealth to foreigners. The fact is that the greenback has lost 12% of its value Y.O.Y. and the trade deficit has surged. That’s because the lower dollar increases the prices of everything sold in dollars. So foreigners can’t buy more of the stuff we make; but the lower dollar does make everything we still need to buy overseas more expensive. And the trade gap widens!
Is that a problem? Well, only if you care about selling away the future productive output of the economy with interest to people other than Americans or worry about the chronic weakness of the U.S. currency that could eventually lead to its total collapse.
Michael Pento, Senior Economist at Euro Pacific Capital is a well-established specialist in the “Austrian School” of economics. He is a regular guest on CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox Business, and other national media outlets and his market analysis can be read in most major financial publications, including the Wall Street Journal. Prior to joining Euro Pacific, Michael worked for a boutique investment advisory firm to create ETFs and UITs that were sold throughout Wall Street. Earlier in his career, he worked on the floor of the NYSE.
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(Reuters) - The dollar tumbled as the Asian trading session got underway after Moody's warned the United States may lose its top-notch credit rating if lawmakers fail to increase the country's debt ceiling.
The dollar was already weak after Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke said the Fed could inject more stimulus to the U.S. economy if it weakens further.
The currency fell to a record low against the Swiss franc. The greenback hit a trough of 0.8095 franc, on electronic trading platform EBS.
Moody's Investors Service was the first among the big-three rating agencies to place the United States' Aaa rating on review for a possible downgrade, which means a negative rating action could happen in the next few weeks.
In a statement, Moody's said it sees a "rising possibility that the statutory debt limit will not be raised on a timely basis, leading to a default on U.S. Treasury debt obligations."
"Moody's might be doing this based on the politics as much as the threat of default, because the politics have become so problematic," said Brian Dolan, chief strategist at Forex.com in Bedminster, New Jersey. "Between this and Bernanke talking about QE3, the dollar could be entering a new downward phase."
The euro was last at $1.4188, up 0.2 percent.
The euro held gains even after Fitch earlier downgraded Greece deeper into junk territory, citing the absence of a new and fully funded financing program.
Bernanke "is making it plain that QE3 is still in the Fed's mind and is on the table," said Douglas Borthwick, managing director at Faros Trading in Stamford, Connecticut.
"With a Fed on hold and contemplating more quantitative easing we see euro/dollar rallying and the dollar index dropping through the end of the year," he added.
Bernanke, in testimony before a House of Representatives committee, said: "The possibility remains that the recent economic weakness may prove more persistent than expected and that deflationary risks might re-emerge, implying a need for additional policy support.
The Fed ended its most recent asset-purchase program in June. Traders said another round of easing would flood the financial system with more money and encourage investors to reach for higher-yielding currencies and assets.
While most analysts believed the bar for another round of quantitative easing would be quite high, David Gilmore, a partner at FX Analytics in Essex, Connecticut, said a "Lehman-like event that drives the economy off a cliff" could accelerate the introduction of further monetary accommodation.
The European debt crisis, if it gets out of hand, could be one such event, Gilmore said.
Fitch's remarks on Italy eased worries about the country, whose borrowing costs soared this week on fear that a default in Greece would hurt European banks and strain other countries' finances.
Italy is considered especially vulnerable, as it has the euro zone's second largest debt-to-output ratio.
Still, some analysts said the euro's strength could be quickly cut short. European leaders, set to convene an emergency meeting on Friday, have yet to agree on a second Greek bailout.
The dollar was down 0.2 percent at 78.823 yen, not far from the four-month low touched on EBS in the Wednesday global session.
Traders said markets were also on edge about a pending deadline to lift the debt ceiling.
"We still have not seen the political will in either Europe or the United States to resolve the key issues," BMO's Askari said, which makes positioning tough for currency investors.
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Outcasts: Tonight Tens Of Thousands Of Formerly Middle Class Americans Will Be Sleeping In Their Cars, In Tent Cities Or On The Streets
Economic despair is beginning to spread rapidly in America. As you read this, there are millions of American families that are just barely hanging on by their fingernails. For a growing number of Americans, it has become an all-out battle just to be able to afford to sleep under a roof and put a little bit of food on the table. Sadly, there are more people than ever that are losing that battle. Tonight, tens of thousands of formerly middle class Americans will be sleeping in their cars, even though that is illegal in many U.S. cities. Tens of thousands of others will be sleeping in tent cities or on the streets. Meanwhile, communities all over America are passing measures that are meant to push tent cities and homeless people out of their areas. It turns out that once you lose your job and your home in this country you become something of an outcast. Sadly, the number of "outcasts" is going to continue to grow as the U.S. economy continues to collapse.
Most Americans that end up living in their cars on in tent cities never thought that it would happen to them.
An article in Der Spiegel profiled one American couple that is absolutely shocked at what has happened to them....
Chanelle Sabedra is already on that road. She and her husband have been sleeping in their car for almost three weeks now. "We never saw this coming, never ever," says Sabedra. She starts to cry. "I'm an adult, I can take care of myself one way or another, and same with my husband, but (my kids are) too little to go through these things." She has three children; they are nine, five and three years old.
"We had a house further south, in San Bernardino," says Sabedra. Her husband lost his job building prefab houses in July 2009. The utility company turned off the gas. "We were boiling water on the barbeque to bathe our kids," she says. No longer able to pay the rent, the Sabedras were evicted from their house in August.
How would you feel if you had a 3 year old kid and a 5 year old kid and you were sleeping in a car?
Sadly, if child protective services finds out about that family those kids will probably be stolen away and never returned.
America is becoming a very cruel place.
Unfortunately, what has happened to that family is not an isolated incident. Asrampant unemployment has spread across America, the number of people that have lost their homes has soared.
Today, it is estimated that approximately a third of the homeless population in Seattle live in their cars.
It is even happening to my readers. A reader named JD left the following comment on one of my articles a while back....
I was laid off from my construction job almost 2 yrs ago was on unenjoyment for over a yr they cut me off last september so i lost my apartment. Since then ive been couch surfing and hotel hopping. Now i occaisonally sleep in my car. I was lucky enough to have a friend with a lawn care business so i can at least put ever increasing gas in my car\house. I hate to say it but i think we will see hoovervilles in the major cities soon. When the welfare & food stamps & all the other govt. programs end the anarchy begins.
Desperation is rising all over America. Most people had hoped to see aneconomic recovery by now but it just hasn't happened.
The phenomenon of Americans living in their cars has become so prominent that even Time Magazine has done a story about it....
For people who cannot afford rent, a car is the last rung of dignity and sanity above the despair of the streets. A home on wheels is a classic American affair, from the wagon train to the RV. Now, for some formerly upwardly mobile Americans, the economic storm has turned the backseat or the rear of the van into the bedroom. "We found six people sleeping in their cars on an overnight police ride-along in December," says John Edmund, chief of staff to Long Beach councilman Dee Andrews. "One was a widow living in a four-door sedan. She and her husband had been Air Force veterans. She did not know about the agencies that could help her. I had tears in my eyes afterwards."
Unfortunately, it turns out that sleeping in cars has been made illegal in many areas of the United States.
In many cities, police are putting boots on the cars and when the homeless owners can't pay the fines the vehicles are being taken away from them.
Venice, California is one place where people have been arrested for living in vehicles. Venice had been a popular spot for people living in their RVs to go, but police started arresting people that were living in RVs and they began towing away their vehicles. The following is an excerpt from an article that appeared on the Daily Kos website....
They took Eric while he was changing his battery in his car. Claimed he lived in his car. A few days later they went to 3th Street and took his RV because he was in jail and no one moved it for 72 hours. Saturday they did a sweep of 7th and took Bear and his RV. They also took Elizabeth's RV but do not know if they took Elizabeth but can not find her. The police went to 6th and took the white RV that always parks by Broadway on 6th. Everyday they take 1 to 4 RVs. Very soon there will be no one left.
Once you are down on your luck in America you will quickly find that authorities will try to take everything else you still have away from you.
The United States can be a very brutal place to be if you are poor.
All over America, communities are making tent cities illegal or they are simply just chasing them away.
It turns out that many Americans really don't like large numbers of homeless people camping out in their neighborhoods.
But many of those now living in tent cities used to be just like you and me.
What is being done to tent cities in some areas of the country is absolutely disgusting.
The Economic Collapse
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Gold (GC-FT1,582.7020.401.31%) rallied to all-time highs on Tuesday, as investors sought a safe haven on fears that European officials were failing to stop a debt crisis from spreading and uncertainty related to frantic U.S. talks to raise its debt limit.
After trading flat for most of the day, bullion suddenly spiked at the end of the U.S. pit session to extend its rally for a seventh day, as crude oil and other commodities rallied and as the euro pared gains.
Bullion has gained over 6 per cent this month on fears about a deepening euro zone crisis, now trading less than $5 below its all-time high of $1,575.79 (U.S.) set on May 2. Gold priced in euro and sterling hit record highs for a second consecutive day.
“With the euro zone debt crisis and the U.S. debt ceiling talks, there is a tremendous flight to quality. Gold is the commodity to invest in because the currencies aren’t doing well,” said Mihir Dange, COMEX gold options floor trader for Arbitrage LLC.
Spot gold was up 1 per cent at $1,568.89 an ounce by 2:43 p.m. (ET). U.S. COMEX August gold futures settled up $13.10 at $1,562.30 - a record settlement price - after trading between $1,541.10 and $1,574.30.
The previous record was $1,557.10 on May 2, when the intraday price reached an all-time high of $1,577.40.
U.S. trading volume was around 170,000 lots, one of the heaviest since the start of June, as investors switched their focus back on the gold market as equities have slumped Financial markets hammered European assets after euro zone finance ministers opened the door to a possible Greek default and failed to prevent contagion spreading to Italy and Spain.
Gold in euros rose for a third day, climbing 1.5 per cent to hit a record above 1,123 euros.
Gold priced in higher-yielding currencies, which also suffered the brunt of investor distaste for risk, such as the Australian dollar, the South African rand or the Canadian dollar, also rallied.
“If you live in Greece, you are going to buy gold because that’s the hard money you still trust,” said Axel Merk, portfolio manager who oversees $700-million in mutual fund assets at Merk Investments.
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