are national ID cards imminent?

National ID cards on the way?
— reported by CNET.COM

A recent vote in Congress endorsing standardized, electronically readable driver’s licenses has raised fears about whether the proposal would usher in what amounts to a national ID card.

In a vote that largely divided along party lines, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a Republican-backed measure that would compel states to design their driver’s licenses by 2008 to comply with federal antiterrorist standards. Federal employees would reject licenses or identity cards that don’t comply, which could curb Americans’ access to everything from airplanes to national parks and some courthouses.

The congressional maneuvering takes place as governments are growing more interested in implanting technology in ID cards to make them smarter and more secure. The U.S. State Department soon will begin issuing passports with radio frequency identification, or RFID, chips embedded in them, and Virginia may become the first state to glue RFID tags into all its driver’s licenses.


Paul warned that the legislation, called the Real ID Act, gives unfettered authority to the Department of Homeland Security to design state ID cards and driver’s licenses. Among the possibilities: biometric information such as retinal scans, fingerprints, DNA data and RFID tracking technology.


Now the Real ID Act heads to the Senate, where its future is less certain. Senate rules make it easier for politicians to derail legislation, and an aide said Friday that Sen. Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, was concerned about portions of the bill.


Houston Public Library gets $10,000 donation

Library youth program aims to make reading cool
Texas initiative to feature contests, scholarships and a hip-hop cafe

— reported by the Houston Chronicle

Citing a need to get more teens to enjoy reading and writing, the Houston Public Library and the H-E-B supermarket chain announced a statewide literacy initiative that will include the creation of a hip-hop cafe featuring poetry slams, teen book discussions and author visits.


The initiative will include a short story contest open to Texas middle and high school students.

Two grand prizes of four years tuition to any Texas state university will be awarded.


places to go for early voting

32 sites available around Harris County for early voting
— reported by the Houston Chronicle

Inside Loop 610
• Downtown: Anderson-Clayton Building, Annex 44, 1310 Prairie, 16th floor.
• Moody Park area: Moody Park Recreation Center, 3725 Fulton.
• Kashmere area: Kashmere Multi-Service Center, 4802 Lockwood.
• Southeast Houston: HCCS Southeast College, 2524 Garland at Rustic, East Campus Annex.
• Palm Center: Justice of the peace-constable entry, 5300 Griggs.
• Astrodome Area: Fiesta Mart, 8130 Kirby.
• Neartown: Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, 1475 W. Gray.

Outside Loop 610
• Northeast Houston: BeBe Tabernacle Methodist Church, 7210 Langley.
• Galena Park: Galena Park Branch Library, 1500 Keene, Galena Park.
• Hobby Area: I.B.E.W. Hall #66, 4345 Allen Genoa.
• Sunnyside: Sunnyside Multi-Service Center, 4605 Wilmington.
• South Houston Area: The Power Center, 12401 South Post Oak.
• Southwest Houston: Bayland Park Community Center, 6400 Bissonnet near Hillcroft.
• Near West Side: Tracy Gee Community Center, 3599 Westcenter.
• Spring Branch: Harris County Courthouse Annex No. 35, 1721 Pech, second floor.
• Acres Homes: Multi-Service Center, 6719 W. Montgomery, second floor.
• North: Hardy Senior Center, 11901 West Hardy.

Outside Beltway 8
• Humble: Octavia Fields Branch Library, 1503 South Houston, Humble.
• Kingwood: Fire Station 102, 4102 Lake Houston.
• Wallisville: North Channel Library, 15741 Wallisville Road.
• Baytown: Remington Park Assisted Living, 901 W. Baker, Baytown.
• Pasadena: Harris County Courthouse Annex No. 25, 7330 Spencer Highway, Pasadena.
• Clear Lake: Freeman Branch Library, 16616 Diana Lane, Clear Lake.
• Alief: Alief Regional Library, 7979 South Kirkwood.
• West Houston: Lac Hong Square, 6628 Wilcrest.
• Far West/Katy: Harris County M.U.D. No. 81, 805 Hidden Canyon at Cimmaron, Katy.
• Far West Houston: Courtyard by Marriott, 12401 Katy Freeway at Dairy Ashford.
• Bear Creek: Bear Creek Park Community Center, Bear Creek at Patterson.
• Jersey Village: Epiphany Lutheran Church, 8101 Senate.
• Tomball: Tomball Public Works Building, 501 B James, Tomball.
• Cypress Creek: Barbara Bush Library, 6817 Cypresswood, Spring.
• Far North: Ponderosa Fire Station No. 1, 17061 Rolling Creek.

More information

Harris County

Surrounding counties

• Brazoria: 281-756-1371, 979-864-1371 or 979-388-1371
• Chambers: 409-267-8309
• Fort Bend: 281-341-8670
• Galveston: 409-766-2200
• Liberty: 936-336-4670
• Montgomery: 936-539-7843

another reason not to drive to Mexico

Car checks at Mexican border cause traffic delays
— reported by KTRK ABC Channel 13

Mexican soldiers have started searching vehicles crossing the border into Texas as part of a program to stop drugs and weapons trafficking, officials said.

Some motorists said they were delayed up to an hour Tuesday as soldiers posted at 11 bridges between Brownsville and Laredo searched each car.


Car checks will affect motorists attempting to leave Mexico across the bridges from Reynosa into Pharr and Hidalgo, as well as the three bridges to Brownsville and each bridge to Progreso, Rio Grande City and Roma. They will also affect both of Laredo’s international crossings.


despite use of technology, use of libraries grows

In electronic age, Americans’ use of library services grows
National study finds Americans value, see future need for public libraries

— found on the ALA Web site

A new national study from the American Library Association (ALA) finds that Americans overwhelmingly are very satisfied with their public libraries, agree more public library funding is needed and believe public libraries will be needed in the future. Two-thirds of adult Americans (roughly 135 million people) visited their public libraries last year.


Libraries and librarians – as well as the services they offer – are clearly valuable to Americans. Findings show that:

  • Seven out of 10 Americans report being extremely or very satisfied with their public libraries – up 10 points from 2002.
  • More than 8 in 10 Americans (85 percent) agree that their public libraries deserve more funding – including 58 percent who strongly agree.
  • More than half of survey respondents (52 percent) believe $41 or more should be spent. Americans currently provide, on average, about $25 per year per person in local tax support for public libraries.
  • Ninety-two percent of survey respondents believe libraries will still be needed in the future – even with all of the information available on the Internet.
  • More than one-third of Americans put the benefits of libraries at the top of the public services list – as compared to schools, roads and parks – up 6 points from 2002.

The more frequent the user, the more satisfied she or he is with libraries. In fact, Americans’ use of library services has grown in almost every category – from taking out books (up 14 points) to consulting with librarians (up 7 points) to taking out CDs, videos and computer software (up 13 points) to attending cultural programs like speakers or movie showings (up 8 points).


Sixty-one percent of library users report using the computer in some way – including checking the online catalog, connecting to the Internet and writing a paper or preparing a resume – when they visited the library. African American and Hispanic adults are significantly more likely to use their public library for job searches or writing resumes than Caucasian adults.


Nearly two-thirds of Americans own library cards and report that taking out books and using computers/Internet are the top services they use in public libraries. The most frequent library users are women, younger adults (ages 25 to 44), college-educated adults and parents of younger children. Adults in the Midwest and West are more likely to have visited their public library than their counterparts in the South and Northeast.

For more information on this study, please visit