Forum, April 6: Many problems with Real ID

Friday, April 05, 2019
Many problems with Real ID

On Oct. 1, 2020, the federal government will require that your driver’s license or non-driver ID card become a “Real ID” if you wish to use it as identification for boarding an airplane or entering a secure federal facility. (A passport will work for these purposes.)

To obtain a Real ID, you must apply in person at a state motor vehicle office and submit a birth certificate or passport, an official, verifiable item bearing your Social Security number, and two forms that document your name and legal address. Your Social Security number and home address will be embedded both in your card and in the state’s data-keeping system, which will be linked to an interstate information sharing system.

Mandated by Congress’ 9/11 Commission, the intent underlying the creation of the Real ID was to standardize and authenticate identity documents across states to make it easier to apprehend terrorists and other undesirables. But two unforeseen consequences have become evident: compromised privacy and the possible extension of circumstances requiring use of the Real ID.

Privacy is compromised because the embedded identity data is not required to be encrypted, thus raising the risk of fraud and identity theft by anyone with a compatible scanner. The more parties that have access to your data, the greater the risk of being technologically stalked.

Further, Real IDs are supposed to be used “for official purposes.” But the phrase is vague and there is nothing in the law to prevent expanding the definition to include voting or receiving benefits like WIC or Social Security, or from becoming a national identity card.

Finally, obtaining a Real ID could be difficult for several vulnerable groups — foreign born persons, those with mobility or transportation challenges, and those who live far from DMV offices (and who may need to miss work to register.)

Many organizations and states are opposed to Real ID, and it’s optional in New Hampshire. Perhaps New Hampshire could make common cause with other states to revisit the Real ID law, whose potential for harm would seem to outweigh its putative benefit.



Feeling poisoned by fragrances

Here is some information that has been kept secret from consumers that might affect your health and the health of your loved ones.

Take a moment to read the list of ingredients on your laundry detergent, fabric softener or dryer sheet packaging, your body care products, cleaning products, disposable diapers, wipes, baby products, trash bags, room fresheners, scented candles, perfumes, cat litter — anything that is scented in your home. The word “fragrance” on the ingredients list means the product is chemically scented.

The fragrances used in virtually all consumer products are now chemically manufactured by a largely unregulated industry from mixtures of more than 4,000 largely unregulated and untested chemicals. These chemicals are not required to be listed in the product list of ingredients

One scent in your detergent or fabric softener can contain up to 600 toxic chemicals — many known or suspected to cause cancer, allergies, asthma, neurological diseases, etc.

This has become a significant danger in the last few years as the huge corporations that manufacture these products have switched from natural to chemical scents and fight for market share by bombarding us with ever-increasing numbers of cheaply made scented products.

I have had cancer. These fragrances make me feel sick. They are making all of us sick even though many of us are not aware of this fact.

I am one of a growing number of people, including children, who are being used as guinea pigs by the chemical industry. Start to lessen your chemical exposure by buying fragrance-free or products scented only with pure essential oils. You can find more information from the Environmental Working Group at ewg.org.



How far has this set us back?

God bless Willem Lange, who comes up with an interesting, pertinent and well-written column every week, whether on matters of long ago or issues very much in the news.

In his April 3 column (“What is this ‘truth’ of which you speak?”), the Yankee Bard wonders aloud about how it is that our current president can lie so often and so consistently — apparently even about golf. Writes Lange: “Where’s the sport in that? A self-aware person would realize he wasn’t testing himself against the course, but against his own integrity — and losing.”

Donald Trump: Self-aware, not; integrity, none. And the really scary part is that, although all this was plain to see long before 2016, we the people elected him to the highest office in the land.

There’s much to do and an unknown amount of time in which to do it before we learn how far back this is going to set us — along with the rest of the world.



Speaking of cheating at golf …

I grew up in the hills above Pawling, N.Y. As a teenager, one of the few ways to make money was caddying at a nearby golf course.

In 1954, when I was 15, I carried the clubs of former Gov. Tom Dewey and his one-time law partner, Richard Milhous Nixon, who had become vice president under Dwight Eisenhower. The other two in the foursome were Lowell Thomas, a well-known news broadcaster, and Frank Smith, who Thomas’ business adviser.

On the eighth hole (it was a nine-hole course with 18 tees), Nixon took a mighty swing and dubbed his ball. He threw his driver farther than he had hit the ball and said, F%#@ %&&@! #*$#!

It was a long par-five hole.

Other problems occurred, such as bunkers. After he had finally putted, I asked (caddy’s duty), “What shall I put you down for, sir?”

“Seven,” said he.

(He had taken seven shots by the time we reached the distance flag 150 yards from the hole.)

That was the day that I learned that I, too, could become vice president — or even president — of the United States.



A little political advice

Note to former Vice President Joe Biden: Politicians are only supposed to kiss babies.