How does a face recognition system work?

It is the era of multi-factor authentication, biometrics and wearable technology today with your face acting as your digital ID to authenticate your identity online. However, have you ever wondered how a face recognition system works and whether there are any challenges or not?

It is not a new technology

If you thought face recognition system is an absolutely fresh technology, you are sadly mistaken. Although, it has been only recently that the technology has managed to grab headlines. In fact, it was way back in the 1960s when the first experiments with this technology were done. However, at that time, the researches that were bring carried out were kept under the wraps.

On the other hand, the technique behind the software today is dominated by automatic systems, mathematical concepts and is supported by sophisticated and highly advanced computer power. Back then, the early versions required a great deal of human input because they were semi-automated. No one could believe in their wildest imagination that just 50 years down the line, the face recogntion software’s will be such a huge rage especially from the angle of security. The system today is being increasingly used by the government, security professionals and the police. It is also being deployed as a major consumer benefit like picking up,a person on a camera and even to keep a device password protected.

It is still an evolving technology

Although the technology is definitely commonplace now, its association with the face recognition system has just got started. It will take quite some time for it to reach the peak. For instance, IT giant Microsoft has deployed a face recognition solution to authenticate its Windows 10 operating system. Even Apple seems to be exploring new ways for its IOS users so that they will be able to share their pictures with their ‘tagged’ friends. On the other hand both Google and Facebook are using the technology so that their users can locate photos of themselves and tag friends respectively,

The Asian superpowers are not lagging far behind in this respect. Professors in China have made claims of creating the first such ATM in the world that works of the principle of face recognition. Meanwhile, around thirty churches located in various parts of the world are using a software called ‘Churchix’ to know who are attending, German researchers have been working to develop a highly advanced face recognition technology, which can function in the dark. These examples are strong indications that the Face recognition solutions have a really bright future in the coming years.

Today’s scenario

The recent years have seen the technology being mainly deployed on street corners, airports and other public areas. The use of this technology is relatively simple There is a video camera, which fathers image. These images are subsequently entered into a high-end video surveillance system, which a manual worker monitors. The manual worker then takes out the picture of an individual and tries to match with all those people whose images are available in the existing database. The system uses a computer algorithm to identify a person by measuring specific facial features such as the width of the person’s nose or the gap between two eyes.

Having said so, even today, the procedure is not that straightforward or simple, There are many video cameras that are able to record images only at an extremely low resolution. As a result, proper identification can be quite a tough task. You need to look out for a good video surveillance system that have a high tolerance level for pictures taken at various angles, and changes in facial expressions and light.

The good news is that there have been some encouraging developments in the space. The migration from 2D to three dimensional image processing is a major booster for improving identification.

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How self payment kiosks can imbibe discipline among customers?

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How does setting up surveillance camera benefit organisations?How does setting up surveillance camera benefit organisations?

Surveillance cameras are crucial for security and safety of your organisation. In today’s age, when espionage and white collared crimes are increasing by the day, not protecting your company against such possible felony is living in fool’s paradise. If you are the head of a large-scale organisation, then it is your moral duty to ensure the security and safety of your employees, visitors, clients and vendors. In effect, it is all about setting up a controlled environment, similar to how a queue management software works when implemented. One of the first steps that you must take is installing surveillance cameras at key points in and around your office building. The following are a few key installations:

1. Outside storage rooms

2. Depository of confidential documents

3. Across the lobby and office floor

4. Inside the pantry or cafeteria

5. Inside the elevator cars

6. At the entrance gate of building & office

7. Car parking and basement storage room
There are various reasons why installing a surveillance camera system will be worth your penny.

• Safety & Security: An employee working in your office does not want to become a victim of violence at any point in time. Even if there is any untoward incident, employees expect swift help, in terms of identifying the culprit and rescue during a dangerous situation. In most offices, many employees work late into the night, probably being the single person on the floor! In such cases, employees feel assured with a surveillance camera, as there is a sense of security that he or she is not alone on the floor.

• Increased productivity: If your employees are aware that they are being watched constantly and continuously, then they follow discipline at work. It invokes a sense of fear, forcing the employee to be in check and not cross any boundaries. Once the surveillance camera is set-up, those employees who would take five breaks in a day, will cut it down to two. Those employees who whiled away time chatting with and disturbing the other employees will focus on finishing their own work. In effect, the overall productivity will increase tremendously.

• Reduced burglary: Surveillance cameras are your eyes inside your organisation. If any of your employees even thinks of stealing, then he will always, at the back of his mind, know that he is being watched. Even if he takes the risks of stealing from your company, he will be caught immediately. Consequentially, any employee will think twice before taking anything without authorization in your company.

• Real time monitoring: Interestingly, surveillance camera allows you watch the workings inside and outside the office as they happens. Therefore, if there is an emergency such as fire or an earthquake, then it is easier to guide people and take them through the rescue efforts. In addition, if there is an accident or a conflict on the premises of the office, then real time monitoring will enable timely intervention.

• Evidence against crime: If someone has stolen confidential documents or design from your office and if it the surveillance camera records the act of crime, then the guilty can be punished effectively. The footage from the video cameras will be used as evidence in court to prove the thief guilty of espionage and other corporate crimes.

• Overall environment improves: While setting up the surveillance camera system may seem a little costly initially, the return on investment come in ripples. Since the threat of theft has reduced, there is more security among the employees. In addition, since employees are working in discipline, thereby increasing the productivity.

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All the Essential Features of CCTV That You Need To Know

CCTV or closed-circuit television camera is the most effective security system that provides round-the-clock surveillance. It can capture the slightest movements, help to conduct surveys, record events, etc. CCTV cameras are able to do vast number of things and with each day and advancement of technology the scope increases manifold. Only the best CCTV and video analytics solutions provider can give you a wide range of features

The main features:

There are many types of CCTV cameras

CCTV cameras are available in many forms and shapes for you to choose from.

Available in black and white, and colour

Night vision features or able to capture images in low light

Storage up to 30 frames per second. Though usually people select one to 6 frames per second especially when there’s storage involved

Pan tilt zoom features ability to control the surveillance and be able zoom in and out remotely. These cameras are movable, can pan from left to right, up and down and zoom in and out

Audio recording features

Some cameras are waterproof and can be used outside as they are rain resistant

Some are designed in a way that they are inconspicuous

Video analytics solutions software

The software takes the camera to the next level by the amazing facilities it offers.

Remote access and access control system on tablet/smart phone

Motion detection of even the slightest movement

Identify abandoned objects, vehicles, etc in the premises

Alert whenever there is something amiss or out of order

Facial recognition

Count people, identify gender split in a retail store

Alert when there’s overcrowding in a store or a restaurant, etc

Identify which areas in a store have more footfall

License plate registration

Edge based solutions where video is transmitted only after the software prioritises it, uses less bandwidth and provides higher results

Some really high end software can even be used for heat mapping and monitor queues required especially by the retail and hospitality sectors

CCTV can run on both wired and wireless connections

It depends totally on how many cameras you are installing, based on which, you can choose a method.

Every day with new technology, the software and cameras are capable of doing newer things in a better way. While this list is comprehensive, it isn’t exhaustive, so do speak to your CCTV and video analytics solutions provider and ask about the latest features available and what you should go for.

To know more about CCTVs visit http://www.attsystemsgroup.com/cctv-and-video-analytic-solutions-2/ OR RSVP now.

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Commercial technology in real estate sector

Technological advancements:

Real estate is no exception when it comes to technology being the catalyst of change. Nowadays, workers are more connected through their mobile devices. This means that businesses can be operated anywhere and everywhere. In some of the more urbanized centres, there is a pushback in real estate leasing and escalation of ownership costs. But it is also true that many companies have used the remote work model to a great success. This is reducing infrastructural cost to a great extent. What are the ways in which technology has invaded the work space?

Innovative cloud-based system of storing data

A rise in communicating software like Skype and GoToMeeting

Use of advanced enterprise software like OneDrive or Microsoft SharePoint

Better network coverage and decreased prices of internet connections

A robust online market such as Upwork and Behance, where you can apply now for online work assignments

Automated collection system when you can collect both offline and real time data on customers.

These are some of the ways in which technological invasions have affected various commercial sectors, including the real estate sector. The commercial real estate dynamics is up for a change with collaborative organizations breaking down walls literally and figuratively.

How will technology change the real estate sector?

The real estate sector is profoundly affected by technological advancements. However, experts had not anticipated that the change would happen in such a manner. Technology has also affected other big sectors like healthcare, financial services, transportation, hospitality and retail. In the real estate sector, technological invasions have been less disruptive and more powerful. In the biggest part of the business, that is, giving advice on what to buy to customers, real estate still greatly rely on human intervention as science has not developed to such an extent that algorithms will be able to tell people which house to buy.

Still, the impact of technology on real estate has specifically been in the commercial side:

Transparency: there are numerous websites that provide information to customers for free. This has led to a transparency in proliferation of data.

Speed: previously, months went into closing a transaction. But now with new sites like TenX, the transaction time has been reduced considerably.

Marketing: marketing has been greatly influenced by technology. Increasing property visibility and reaching out to thousands of people through the internet has indeed increased business prospects.

Leasing efficiency: many websites help professional with leasing tools that make their job far easy. In an app they have all relevant data organized.

Real time data: you can get a fair idea about the pricing and availability on a real time basis and not depend on past research.

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Why A Small Business Requires ERP?

Though you may be running a small business, you could still require an erp software singapore to expand it . As far as your business is concerned, have you ever thought where you want to see it in a few years from now? Are you really serious about boosting your business revenue? Is it a top priority for you to see your business flourish? You might have observed that often, owners of small businesses get stuck with the word “small”. These owners do not like to depend on good assets like ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning software since they are of the viewpoint that it is not required. Following are some of the reasons why small businesses also require ERP systems.

For maintaining good rapport with their customers

If you believe in customer loyalty and its impact on the growth of your small business, then a reputable Enterprise Resource Planning could come extremely handy for you. ERP software can be deployed in a small business for managing the customer relationship. Typically, information on customer contact and billing are stored at the same location in the form of consumer behavior data. Hence, it is easy to keep a close tab it on it as and when you wish for it,

Reducing repetitive tasks

Employees could get bored doing the same kind of activities repeatedly. Entering figures in an Excel Spreadsheet or checking the item codes in the database could quite a mundane activity that may make them feel frustrated or bored. When an ETP system is implemented within a firm, it lowers monotonous and repetitive tasks for your workers. For example, they donor need to enter information several times. Additionally, reports from various teams or employees could be clubbed quite easily with a single button click.

Information stored in centralized location

Many entrepreneurs would not like to launch multiple software applications on their computers for getting the desired information. Rather, they would like it better when the data is stored in a single location. Moreover, they may want to see their employees getting the same view as them. Such jobs can be done through an ERP system. Starting from inventory and sales to accounting and distribution, only one database can store all the valuable business metrics. Storing data in a centralized location makes sense logically and also saves time.

Getting a head’s up on critical concerns

A major USP for ERP system is that data can be updated in real time. It is possible to view any module to check its current state and then act promptly whenever you observe any issues. For instance, in case inventory level of an item that is in high-demand in the store reaches to zero, you can immediately get in touch with the concerned distributor and try to come to a decision on its immediate delivery.

For more details on the services of the service provider, you can visit http://www.hitachi.com.sg/ict-solutions/solutions/sap/erp.html OR Apply now OR RSVP now.

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Essential Tips about How to Pick a Retail POS in Singapore

A POS system is a very crucial investment for businesses of all sizes. This is because this system streamlines the business process, tracks inventory, and helps with cash flow. A POS system for retail also tracks important information that can improve your businesss investments and customers experience. There are many POS systems available, which can make it difficult to find the right system for your business. Here are a few key tips to help you pick a great POS system.

1. Talk to Your Employees

Before you start looking at POS systems, you should take the time to speak with your employees. It is common that business owners do not talk to their employees about installing a POS system, until after it is installed. This is a huge mistake because your employees are the people who are using the system every day.

Installing a POS system that does not work with your employees can cause longer lines and makes your employees look like they do not know their jobs. Even easy to use POS software can cause issues if your employees are not involved in the planning phase. They know what does and does not work, so they can tell you the features they want and need the most.

2. Understand What Your Business Needs

When you are thinking about upgrading to a POS system, you need to think about what you require from the system. A POS system does not only track your sales and inventory. These systems can track other information and require different devices work correctly. This is why it is important to take time to figure out what you need for your business. This software can track a huge amount of information, so you should know what you are looking for.

3. Price Point

The price of the POS system will depend greatly on the size of your business and the features that you are looking for. When you are looking at prices, it should be clear about what you are getting and if there are any extra fees. Some companies will hide credit card processing or will not include this service at all. You need to take the time to read the fine print and make sure that you understand the price and the fees for the system.

4. Avoid One-Size-Fit-All Systems

There is no single POS system that works perfectly for all types of businesses. There are different types of retail businesses, and your business is unique. This is why you should find a POS system that is tailored to your businesss needs. The POS system features should fit the unique needs of your business and employees, who will help you, gain a better return on the investment. A pre-made system can be cheaper, but you will end up spending more, in the long run, trying to make it work correctly for your business.

In this case for restaurants, an emenu is a very simple and clear part of the POS system as it speeds up orders from customers.

POS systems are used by many businesses, so there is software available that is specially designed for different businesses. Picking the right POS in Singapore for your business is important because it is a large investment.

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Get Rid of that Cash Register

Change is inevitable, but this does not mean that it is easy for everyone. Most people are quite rigid and resistant to change. This is why some people maintain the traditional cash register and are yet to move to the POS system. In most cases, people are afraid of the unknown, but there are so many benefits that you can by using a POS. Here are some of the key advantages.

Better Service to Customers

With a POS software, you will be able to serve your customers in a more efficient manner. This is due to the fact the POS system can generate any data, that it has captured, in a split second. This is unlike the manual cash registers and balance sheets that would take a whole of time to retrieve information. The POS comes with a CRM tool, which helps you to interact with your customers in a better manner.

Curb Theft Risks

The POS software in Singapore has the capacity to capture as many details as possible, in relation to your business. This will include inventories, customer details, and the sales. As such, you will be able to safeguard your business against any probable theft. This captures all the details of the transactions in your business in a given day, with specific details of the particular product, date, time and the store it was purchased in among others.

Exceptional Business Management

A POS system will streamline the management of your business. You will be able to have an accurate audit and inventory. With this system, you will be able to keep track of everything in your business, without too much effort. You can monitor your business remotely, without necessarily being present at the store.

The traditional way of keeping cash books and balance sheets is effective. However, it would be much easier to digitize the data and save a whole lot of time. For any business to be successful; time and accuracy are some of the main pillars, and this is what the POS offers you.

Great Convenience

While you may assume that the POS is of great benefit to you, your customers will also appreciate it. For instance, they are able to pay using different methods as it supports various methods of payment. As much as you may not give every customer the option to pay in the way that they want, you will have several options, which they can pick from.

If you need to take a quick look at the inventory, the Singapore POS system will allow you to achieve this This makes it easier when a customer wants to find details about a specific product that is in the store. This serves as a database for all your products, which enhances the management of your business.

Get in touch with Solution Details to be able to make the big switch to the POS. This is the only way you will be able to get rid of the manual records.

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Defense attorneys cheer DNA sampling decision

Kristine Kolar, chief public defender for the 9th Judicial District, said, “This is being considered a very important victory for public defense.”

Prosecutors argue the decision unnecessarily takes out of the hands of law-enforcement officials a valuable tool for bringing perpetrators to justice.

Ramsey County attorney Susan Gaertner said the opinion was contrary to a national trend that is “accepting” of arrestee databases.

“(Minnesota) is really bucking the trend,” she said. “This decision is an unfortunate stumbling block.”

Specimens collected

Under a Minnesota law passed as part of the Omnibus Public Safety Finance Bill in 2005, law-enforcement personnel were directed to take biological specimens from juveniles and adults who have had a probable-cause determination on a charged offense but had not been convicted.
Under the law, if the person is found not guilty, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is required to destroy the specimen taken; if the charges against the person are dropped, upon request, the BCA must also destroy the specimen. The BCA is also required to remove the person’s information from the BCA’s combined DNA index system.

The Court of Appeals found the law violated the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article 1, Section 10, of the Minnesota Constitution. The privacy interest of a person who has been charged with a criminal offense but not convicted is not outweighed by the state’s interest in taking a biological specimen from the person for purpose of DNA analysis, the court reasoned.

Rights preserved

Defense attorneys think the decision is an important step in preserving individual rights and privacy.

“It was heartening to read,” 3rd Judicial District Chief Public Defender Carol Weissenborn said. “It preserves the presumption of innocence.”

Criminal defense attorneys contend that the statute’s requirement that individuals against whom charges were dismissed request removal of their DNA from the database was unrealistic.

The DNA is destroyed only if the defendant initiated the request, Weissenborn explained.

“The onus was on the individual,” she said.

Many individuals who’ve given DNA samples after an arrest don’t even know they can have it removed if charges are dropped, Kolar said.

“Once your name is in the database, it’s difficult to get it out,” she said. “People have to have the savvy to initiate it and the ability to initiate it.”

As law enforcement becomes more technical, Weissenborn said, it’s more important to avoid the possibility that technology will “swamp the rights of ordinary citizens.”

“The statute didn’t make sense,” she said. “It’s long been understood that invading the body and taking DNA – is invasive, and it’s a search.”

Invasiveness challenged

Prosecutors dispute the degree of invasiveness involved in taking a DNA sample from an individual.

Assistant Washington County attorney Richard D. Hodsdon, who represents the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association, said the procedures for collecting and analyzing DNA had advanced over the years.

“It seems as if the court doesn’t have a good comprehension of the evolution of biomedic samples,” he said.

Some prosecutors contend that obtaining a DNA sample is really no different than fingerprinting or taking a booking photo, which is done as a matter of course following an arrest.

There is no objection to taking fingerprints as part of the booking process, Hodsdon said.

“That is not protected as a Fourth Amendment search,” he said.

Taking a photo of someone’s distinguishing marks, like tattoos for example, may actually be more intrusive than taking a DNA sample, Hodsdon said.

“A DNA swab is minimally intrusive,” he said.

According to Gaertner, the American Bar Association has come out with new DNA standards that approve of arrestee databases. She also said the federal government allowed collection of DNA samples, and more and more states were going in that direction as well.

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Ammunition sales – Buyers Guide

If you’re like most dealers, you experienced the buying frenzy last year. Customers, concerned with potential bans by the federal government snapped up just about everything shooting-related, including ammunition. Many dealers were caught off guard with a short inventory of this very expendable commodity and had to watch while other dealers, who had planned ahead, made some serious sales.
Most of these first-time customers are anxious to learn more about their new sport. Much of that learning involves shooting, and the new gun owners are doing lots of it! Retailers are discovering that a well-stocked ammunition shelf, with a range of ammo from premium brands to inexpensive, reloads, has paid off in repeat sales to these eager new shooters.

With most hunting seasons over, dealers look forward to ammunition sales continuing with all those new target shooters, skeet shooters, and just plain plinkers. Here’s a sample of what’s available for your ammo shelves.

A-Square Company

If you think big-bore, think A-Square. How about the .700 N.E. or the .50-70? If that’s not big-bore to you, you probably need a gun carnage to wheel around what you shoot!

A-Square’s line starts with the .22 PPC – I believe the only factory loading of this caliber – and ends with the .700 N.E. with a 1,200-grain Monolithic bullet! In between is a comprehensive line loaded with their famous Monolithic Solids, Dead Tough Soft Points and Lion Load Soft Points (along with selected Nosler and Sierra bullets).
A-Square continues to offer proof ammunition in a wide variety of calibers to bona fide type 07 or 08 license holders, and they have the ability to custom manufacture cartridge cases (from .222 to .50 BMG) in lots as small as 5,000 rounds. Their in-house ballistic lab can offer a complete workup on whatever load a customer desires.

A-Square also offers black-powder loads and cases, such as the .40-70. These are loaded to original specs, using black powder and newly manufactured brass.

Obsolete British cartridges are a specialty for A-Square, particularly double rifle cartridges.

American Ammunition

American has, in a short time, established itself as a supplier of quality newly manufactured ammunition, from 9mm to .45 ACP. Their lead-free ammo, loaded with American’s C3 bullets, help to eliminate lead contamination in both indoor and outdoor ranges.

American’s newest innovation is Alpha Delayed Expansion ammo, a new style of hollowpoint. Available in 9mm 115 grain, 40 S&W 180 grain and .45 Auto 185 grain, the ammo is packed in air-tight aluminum pull-top cans with a plastic see-thru cover.

American offers the dealer an alternative and gives the customer another choice at the ammo shelf.

Black Hills Ammunition

The Black Hills reports no new products this year because the demand for its current line precluded them from adding the predicted new calibers. Their status as a “mid-level” producer is rapidly changing as they’ve added new equipment and employees, increasing their production by 50 percent.

Black Hill’s 68-grain .223 Heavy Match HP, specifically designed for the fast rifling twist in the AR-15A2 or Mini-14, has been winning high-power rifle matches since its introduction. Freedom Arms has chosen the Black Hills to manufacture their specialty .454 Casull loads.

Complementing the .223 ammo is a complete line of handgun loads in both newly manufactured and reloaded variants. The Black Hills assures customer satisfaction with a money-back guarantee on their products and makes it clear in their catalog that everything is American Made. The Black Hills recommends placing orders now. They anticipate demands to continue at current levels through most of 1995 but said they will honor the prices in effect when orders are placed.

Blount

Known throughout the world for their Speer/CCI lines, Blount continues their legacy of producing quality premium and practice ammunition. Most shooters are familiar with the “Blazer” line of aluminum-cased, non-reloadable ammo. CCI’s Clean-Fire ammo uses a Uni-Core bullet, fully encased in a copper jacket, plus primers that contain no lead, barium or other toxic metals. As a result, it virtually eliminates lead at the firing point, yet still, packs the punch of regular service loads.

Speer continues to offer the premium “Gold Dot” ammunition in their “Lawman” series. The Gold Dot bullet jackets are electrochemically bonded to help virtually eliminate core/jacket separation, the main cause of bullet failure. Gold Dots are engineered to expand at least 150 percent of their original diameter. The Gold Dot bullet is also offered in Blount’s Blazer line, which gives shooters an inexpensive way to experience the reliable stopping power of the Gold Dot bullet.

C.P. Bullets

Makers of new and reloaded production ammunition, C.P. has announced the introduction of their new 9×23 Super brass. This is a new caliber patented by C.P. Bullets and manufactured under contract by Winchester/Olin. The CP 9×23 Super casing has the overall length of a standard .38 Super, fully tapered and without the rim, similar to the 9×19. The result is a rimless casing with nearly double the wall thickness of a standard .38 Super forward of the extractor groove. There are many applications in the competition, police/military and personal protection markets where this casing will prove ideal.

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Attorney twist for Greens

Some court observers believe that Leavitt lost his re-election bid for Juab County attorney in part because of the controversy surrounding his prosecution of Green. But the former prosecutor has also reached out to the polygamist’s family, helping them relocate from their compound of mobile homes in Utah’s western desert to Utah County.

Leavitt said it was family members who contacted him about defending William Green. One of Tom Green’s ex-wives is the teenager’s mother.

“My feeling is that Bill Green is as much a victim of polygamy as any child bride,” Leavitt said.
The lawyer, who is former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt’s brother, said several people he has prosecuted have turned around and hired him as a defense attorney. Asked why, Leavitt said he could only guess they felt that even though he “hit ‘em hard,” they also believed he was fair.

Draper police have said William Green’s case has nothing to do with polygamy. The 18-year-old is accused of meeting the 13-year- old girl through the Web site, MySpace.com. According to documents filed in West Jordan’s 3rd District Court, Green is accused of having sexual relations with the girl this past February and March.

“There’s no indication or nothing in our complaint” that links the incident to Tom Green’s ideology, Draper Police Sgt. Gerry Allred said at the time of the arrest.

Leavitt declined to discuss the specific allegations against William Green.

“We don’t believe that he’s a predator or that he’s a sex offender,” he said. “He doesn’t merit being posted on the Internet as a sex offender. We don’t think society will be better off having him being painted that way.

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ESTABLISHMENT SEEKS A FEDERAL CHARTER, THE

“Although the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has been working for years to create a modernized and uniform state regulatory system, such a system has not yet been achieved and seems unlikely to be realized in the near future. Under these circumstances, an optional federal chartering system for insurance companies seems to be an idea whose time has come,” according to Wallison.

For many years, the AEI beat an incessant drum urging the transfer of regulatory jurisdiction from the federal government to the states. In a report released in early March 2006, the AEI espoused the creation of an optional federal charter for insurers.
Traditionally, the AEI has used the following modus operandi:

1) Identify stringent federal rules

2) Urge transfer of authority to the states

3) Threaten any state jurisdiction that actually uses the authority with an industry boycott.

Reversal

The AEI reverses itself with the call for federal insurance oversight. Without drawing attention to the policy reversal, the think tank explains its flip flop by blaming the states for not deregulating fast enough after the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933.

One can quibble with the extent of competitive change that occurred after the repeal of the venerable act, which established legal firewalls between the three financial services sectors, helping to rebuild the American financial system after its collapse in 1929. Decades of seriously damaging court decisions and Federal Reserve Board rulings had weakened the Glass-Steagall Act so much that competition among banks, insurers and life insurance companies was already rampant by the time the act was repealed. As early as April 7, 1998, the financial historian Ron Chernow told The New York Times, “[The Act] is so riddled with loopholes at this point that it is effectively dead-Congress just refuses to give the last rites and bury it.”

The true change brought on by repeal related to the ability of financial institutions from one sector to own an institution in another sector. Investment and commercial banks have been hesitant to buy or establish insurance companies that are not subject to the subservient world of banking supervision. Ownership and not competition seems to be inhibited.

It is important to note that the AEI points toward the notoriously docile Office of Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) when it discusses an optional federal charter. By highlighting the OCC, the AEI is very clear that the national framework that it is now advocating should not be loaded down with consumer protections or enforcement mechanisms.

As Wamson points out, the banking lobby proposed an optional federal charter even when it was clear that the Congress would repeal the Glass-Steagall Act. This new competitive environment forced insurance companies and their associations to consider the advantages of a new regulatory framework; and at an AEI conference in June 1999, the American Bankers Insurance Association-an affiliate of the American Bankers Association-proposed the idea of an optional federal charter for insurance companies.

President Clinton did not sign the repeal legislation until November 12, 1999, so it’s difficult to see how the proposal responds to the post-repeal market.

The “Fetcher Bill” phase

The AEI report seems to be part of a growing campaign to revive the optional federal charter legislation. Many observers expect legislation to be introduced this year, but no one expects its passage.

Opponents of the optional federal charter proposal still rally behind the banner of the State Modernization and Regulatory Transparency (SMART) Act. This proposed legislation may actually be introduced this year as well. Once again, no one expects this legislation to pass.

Regular readers of this column will recognize the elaborate ruse being carried out with the introduction of each piece of insurance legislation. The old name for such legislation is “Fetcher Bills.” While they cannot pass, members of Congress can use the legislation to attract campaign donations from interested parties.

A major shift

Still, the move by the AEI should not go unnoticed by those who support a streamlined but effective system of state insurance regulation. The AEI is not an industry trade association that sends out cheerleading press releases for membership consumption. The AEI is a think tank that melds policy development and political action into one powerful force. At times it serves as a government in waiting. Proposals honed by the AEI result in laws, insurgencies and wars. The AEI is not just any think tank.

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