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French Government Acquires Major US Government Security Contractor

France’s Safran completed a $1 billion purchase of U.S. face-recognition software maker L-1 Identity Solutions after hiring a top former U.S. intelligence official to allay security concerns. Safran received approval for its purchase from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS).

The $1 billion cash deal gives the French state-owned company control of a Connecticut company which specializes in biometric recognition systems, passports and finger-printing as well as background checks for public and private clients.

Safran said on Tuesday it had agreed to set up a three-person proxy board to manage sensitive U.S. contracts that make up about 80 percent of L-1’s business.

The proposed proxy board would include Barbara McNamara, Deputy Director of the National Security Agency from October 1997 until June 2000, and William Schneider Jr, a former undersecretary of state under President Ronald Reagan. The presence of McNamara and Schneider is designed to ensure L-1 can keep open its lifeline of U.S. contracts while having the French government as its largest single shareholder.

The French aerospace and defense company said on Tuesday that L-1 would join Safran’s existing Morpho security business and would be renamed Morpho Trust.

Formed through the 2006 merger of Viisage, Identix, and Stamford, L-1 combines face and other biometric recognition technologies with credentialing and access control systems for protecting identity. Its main customers are  U.S. government agencies, which use its products for improving homeland security and border security.

L-1’s secure credentialing solution has been used to produce more than two billion government-issued IDs to date. These include driver’s licenses, passports and Visas, the U.S. Passport Card and Border Crossing Card, international voter registration and national ID cards, as well as the production platform for the U.S. DOD Common Access Card (CAC).

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is an inter-agency committee of the US Government that reviews transactions that could result in control of a U.S. business by a foreign person (“covered transactions”), in order to determine the effect of such transactions on the national security of the United States.

CFIUS includes representatives from 16 US departments and agencies and is chaired by the Secretary of the Treasury. Established by Gerald Ford under Executive Order 11858 in 1975, the committee gained additional authority after Ronald Reagan delegated Presidential oversight to CFIUS under Executive Order 12661 in 1988.

In February 2006, Richard Perle related to CBS News his experience on the CFIUS panel, “The committee almost never met, and when it deliberated it was usually at a fairly low bureaucratic level.” He also added, “I think it’s a bit of a joke if we were serious about scrutinizing foreign ownership and foreign control, particularly since 9/11.

July 30, 2011 Posted by | Government, Military, Privacy, TSA | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FLORIDA SCHOOLS REQUIRE PALM SCAN TO PURCHASE LUNCH

Starting this fall, in an obviously manufactured “Problem-Reaction-Solution” scenario some Pinellas County, Florida schools will become the first in the country to use an infrared beam to help zip students through cafeteria lunch lines.

The district is outfitting all of its middle and high schools with Fujitsu PalmSecure technology that will scan a student’s unique palm vein pattern and match it to his or her meal plan.

Faster lunch lines have become a priority for schools as they contend with overcrowding or squeeze lunch periods to increase class time and boost students’ scores. That’s what happened at Boca Ciega High School, which is under state oversight after receiving a low grade.  Boca Ciega which has about 200 students eat lunch in the cafeteria each day, piloted the devices late last school year, said Art Dunham, Pinellas’s food services director.

The pressure to incorporate more fresh produce into school lunch also makes quicker lines vital, said Diane Pratt-Heavner, a spokeswoman for the School Nutrition Association. “It takes longer to eat an apple, but you can slurp apple sauce more quickly,” she said.

A 2009 survey of 1,207 school districts showed that 4.4 percent used biometrics like fingerprinting, though Pratt-Heavner said she has never heard of a palm scan being used.

Pinellas students will have the option of using their 10-digit identification number rather than the scan, which is more numbers than Social Security uses to uniquely track every person born in the US.  But Dunham hopes students will become more comfortable with it.

So far, she said there have been few privacy complaints.

“Administrators’ view of it is that it sounds very sci-fi but works and does what it says it’s going to do,”  Will Geoghegan, a senior marketing manager for Fujitsu said. “Most kids are just happy they don’t have to wait in line.”

The Pinellas School Board approved a $234,000 contract on June 14 that includes nearly $80,000 for 200 of the new Fujitsu scanners and the remainder for software, upgrades and maintenance.

Jim Wayman, a biometrics expert at San Jose State University in California, said fingerprinting at schools in England has already set off a push to write a code of conduct for using biometrics with children. “But nothing has been put on paper so far,”  he said. “Pinellas County is going without established guidelines.

At least three other school districts in Florida already have expressed interest in it, as have schools in Maine, Alaska, California and Puerto Rico.

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ADDITIONAL TECHNICAL INFORMATION FROM FUJITSU

The PalmSecure technology has been integrated into [Pinellas County Schools] existing MCS Software’s Point-of-Sale system to provide a more reliable, hygienic, accurate, and secure authentication solution that is also easier to use and maintain. The fully integrated solution combines PalmSecure biometric technology and the MCS POS system to provide enhanced security without student PINs or fingerprint scanners and replaces them with a user-friendly PalmSecure palm vein authentication solution.

All food service program transactions will be done using PalmSecure biometric technology and the MCS Software POS system. The use of palm vein biometric scanning for food service program transactions has many advantages. For example, a simple palm vein scan rapidly identifies the student, assuring the students identity thereby reducing waste and impersonation, while providing a level of reliability not found in legacy fingerprint systems which often malfunctioned or simply froze, causing repeated disruptions in the student cafeteria service.

PalmSecure technology has been deployed worldwide in a wide range of vertical markets, including security, financial, banking, healthcare, commercial enterprises and educational facilities. Additional applications include physical access control, logical access control, retail POS systems, ATMs, kiosks, time and attendance management systems, visitor ID management and other industry-specific biometric applications.

July 30, 2011 Posted by | Government, Privacy | , , , , | 12 Comments

Coin Seigniorage – $1 Trillion Coins To Settle National Debt

There’s a statutory limit to the amount of paper currency that can be in circulation at any one time. There’s no similar limit on the amount of coinage. An obscure statute gives the secretary of the Treasury the authority to issue platinum coins in any denomination. Some have recently suggested that the Treasury create two $1 trillion coins, deposit them in its account in the Federal Reserve and write checks on the proceeds.

US CODE: TITLE 31   SUBTITLE IV  CHAPTER 51  SUBCHAPTER II  § 5112
Denominations, specifications, and design of coins
(k) The Secretary may mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins in accordance with such specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, may prescribe from time to time.

“Circulating coins are shipped to the Federal Reserve Banks (FRB) as needed to replenish inventory and fulfill commercial demand… Seigniorage is the difference between the face value and the gross costs of coins shipped. Seigniorage adds to the Federal Government’s cash balance, but unlike the payment of taxes or other receipts, seigniorage does not involve a transfer of financial assets from the public. Instead, it arises from the exercise of the Federal Government’s sovereign power to create money and the public’s desire to hold financial assets in the form of coins. The President’s Budget excludes seigniorage from receipts and treats it as a means of financing the national debt…” p. 28, US Mint, 2009 Annual Report

The United States doesn’t need, and shouldn’t have, a debt ceiling. The US is the only Democratic country besides Denmark with one. There is no debt limit in the Constitution. If Congress wants to cap and balance government debt, it already has a way that doesn’t risk economic chaos or a Constitutional meltdown — it’s called the annual budget.

If used routinely to close the revenue gap, such coin seigniorage would eventually reduce the national debt to zero, and remove it as an issue in US politics. In addition, the existence of platinum coin seigniorage as an option, removes the tension between the mandated debt ceiling and the 14th Amendment.

July 29, 2011 Posted by | Government | , , , , , | 3 Comments

US MILITARY NOW TRAINED AND READY TO DEPLOY IN THE UNITED STATES

The following information has been copied from official US Army sites as well as the Army Times and only scratches the surface. Our forefathers warned against a standing Army in the US,  never mind the Posse Comitatus Act (based on common law and codified in 1878).

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Over 80,000 US Army troops have been trained and held ready to “respond to” civil unrest conditions in the United States. As part of this mission a massive exercise is scheduled for next month.

The Vibrant Response 12 and 12A military exercise is scheduled for Aug. 16-28 at various venues in southern Indiana and northern Kentucky.

The exercise will be the fourth field training event in the Vibrant Response series, which trains federal military forces on their role in supporting civilian consequence managers in responding to catastrophic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear – or CBRN – incidents.

The event will be the first confirmation exercise for the 5,200-person Defense CBRN Response Force (DCRF).  They are among the more than 7,000 active and reserve Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and civilians who will train in the exercise.

The DCRF replaces the 4,500-person CBRN Consequence Management Response Force.

“We have forged a strong training partnership with the Indiana National Guard and the people who run Camp Atterbury and Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex,” said Paul Condon, Army North’s lead Vibrant Response exercise planner.

“We’ve worked with them to add several new venues at both Camp Atterbury and Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex in order to accommodate the larger DCRF,” Condon added.

Participating organizations include the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Army’s 9th Area Medical Laboratory, the Fort Knox Fire Department, and National Guard elements from Indiana, California, West Virginia, Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota.

“Even Verizon Wireless will participate,” said Clark Wigley, Army North joint exercise planner.“They also are providing some of their mock equipment for the military to transport.”

The DCRF was created as part of DOD’s transformation of the nation’s tiered CBRN response enterprise. The units will assume their mission on Oct. 1 as federal military initial CBRN response forces.
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Back in September 2008, the US Army’s 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team was back in the US after spending 35 of the previous 60 months in Iraq patrolling in “full battle rattle”.

For the next 12 months, the 1st BCT was under the day-to-day control of  U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or man-made emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.

This new mission marked the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.

“Right now, the response force requirement will be an enduring mission. How the [Defense Department] chooses to source that and whether or not they continue to assign them to NorthCom, that could change in the future,” said Army Col. Louis Vogler, chief of NorthCom future operations. “Now, the plan is to assign a [new] force every year.”

The 1st BCT’s soldiers learned how to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.

“It’s a new modular package of nonlethal capabilities that they’re fielding. They’ve been using pieces of it in Iraq, but this is the first time that these modules were consolidated and this package fielded, and because of this mission we’re undertaking we were the first to get it,” Cloutier said.

The package includes equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets along with pepper spray and tasers.

“If we go in, we’re going in to …restore normalcy and support whatever local agencies need us to do, so it’s kind of a different role,” said Cloutier.

This new mission is part of a NorthCom and DOD response package where active-duty soldiers will be part of a force that includes elements from other military branches and dedicated National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction & Civil Support Teams.

“I don’t know what America’s overall plan is — I just know that 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there are soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that are standing by to come and help if they’re called,” Cloutier added.

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10 U.S.C. (United States Code) 375

Sec. 375. Restriction on direct participation by military personnel:
The Secretary of Defense shall prescribe such regulations as may be necessary to ensure that any activity (including the provision of any equipment or facility or the assignment or detail of any personnel) under this chapter does not include or permit direct participation by a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps in a search, seizure, arrest, or other similar activity unless participation in such activity by such member is otherwise authorized by law.

18 U.S.C. 1385

Sec. 1385. Use of Army and Air Force as posse comitatus:
Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of
Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to
execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

NOTE: The only exemption has to do with nuclear materials (18 U.S.C. 831 (e))

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July 26, 2011 Posted by | Military, Terrorism | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Unprecedented No Fly Zones In Effect In US

The table below is a list of  Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) copied from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) website. The twenty-two restrictions are all  for  “Security” and are in effect during the last week of July, 2011.

This is an unusually large number of TFRs.  Previously, between March 2008 and the current period there have been only nine other Security TFRs; and those were general in nature covering Washington, DC  and airspace over large sporting events.

What is happening this week that requires these measures?

One thing stands out. Grand Forks Air Force Base is slated to receive 10 of the new Global Hawk Block 40 aircraft. Maj. Gen. Thomas Andersen, who oversees acquisition of weapons systems for the Air Force,  said the first one could arrive by July.

The Global Hawk is an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft (drone) with advanced capabilities and range.

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NOTE: The chart below was created on July 26. Please click on the FAA link to see that additional TFRs have been added to extend into August!

Sources: http://www.commerce.nd.gov/news/detail.asp?newsID=9          http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html

http://www.airforce-technology.com/projects/rq4-global-hawk-uav/

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DATE                DESCRIPTION (click on descriptions below to see full data)

07/25/2011 Corpus Christi, TX, Friday, July 29, 2011 through Friday, July 29, 2011 Local
07/23/2011 Andersen AFB, GU, Saturday, July 30, 2011 through Saturday, July 30, 2011 Local
07/23/2011 Corpus Christi, TX, Thursday, July 28, 2011 Local
07/23/2011 Corpus Christi, TX, Wednesday, July 27, 2011 Local
07/23/2011 Corpus Christi, TX, Tuesday, July 26, 2011 Local
07/23/2011 Corpus Christi, TX, Monday, July 25, 2011 Local
07/23/2011 Andersen AFB, GU, Friday, July 29, 2011 through Friday, July 29, 2011 Local
07/23/2011 Beale AFB, CA, Sunday, July 31, 2011 Local
07/23/2011 Beale AFB, CA, Saturday, July 30, 2011 through Saturday, July 30, 2011 Local
07/23/2011 Beale AFB, CA, Friday, July 29, 2011 Local
07/23/2011 Beale AFB, CA, Thursday, July 28, 2011 Local
07/23/2011 Beale AFB, CA, Wednesday, July 27, 2011 Local
07/23/2011 Beale AFB, CA, Tuesday, July 26, 2011 Local
07/23/2011 Beale AFB, CA, Thursday, July 28, 2011 Local
07/23/2011 Beale AFB, CA, Friday, July 29, 2011 Local
07/23/2011 Beale AFB, CA, Wednesday, July 27, 2011 Local
07/23/2011 Beale AFB, CA, Tuesday, July 26, 2011 Local
07/22/2011 Grand Forks AFB, ND, Saturday, July 30, 2011 Local
07/22/2011 Grand Forks AFB, ND, Friday, July 29, 2011 through Friday, July 29, 2011 Local
07/22/2011 Grand Forks AFB, ND, Thursday, July 28, 2011 through Thursday, July 28, 2011 Local
07/22/2011 Grand Forks AFB, ND, Wednesday, July 27, 2011 through Wednesday, July 27, 2011 Local
07/22/2011 Grand Forks AFB, ND, Tuesday, July 26, 2011 through Tuesday, July 26, 2011 Local

July 26, 2011 Posted by | FAA, Military | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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