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Entries in Identification (2)

Monday
May072012

Online Wine Merchants Fail to Check IDs

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) -- Many Internet alcohol vendors are lax at verifying that customers are of legal age, making it easy for teens to buy alcohol, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill asked eight volunteers between the ages of 18 and 20 to attempt to purchase alcohol from 100 of the most popular vendors using prepaid gift cards.

Nearly 60 percent of companies selling alcohol online made little, if any, effort to verify customers’ ages.  Of 45 successful orders, 51 percent didn’t use any type of age verification.

But the researchers also placed blame on the delivery companies, despite corporate policy that age verification is required for wine shipments.  Wine is the only alcoholic beverage that the shipping companies -- FedEx and UPS in this study -- will ship as per their regulations.

“Some packages were left at the door, or handed to recipients after checking an underage identification or simply asking if the person receiving the package was 21,” said Rebecca Williams, the study’s lead author and a research associate at the University of North Carolina Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Chapel Hill.

Driver’s licenses given to anyone younger than 21 are clearly marked in N.C., making anyone younger than the legal drinking age easy to identify.

Williams added that parents should also be aware of how easy it is to purchase alcohol online, and how easy it is for teens to obtain and use a parent’s driver’s license.

“Teens widely report having access to parents’ identifications and using them to purchase alcohol,” Williams explained.  “Children can also hide online purchases from parents by using prepaid cards they can buy with cash.”

In response to the study findings, a spokeswoman for UPS, who has not yet reviewed the study, stressed to ABC News that company policies regarding alcohol shipments are very strict.

“UPS procedures are put in place to reduce the risk that any minors would have access to illegal alcohol,” she said.  “If UPS is involved in deliveries containing alcohol, the delivery person would need to secure an adult signature.”

The spokeswoman also explained that wine delivered through UPS must have a sticker on the package that indicates an adult signature is required as part of the company’s wine shipping program that only allows approved vendors to ship wine.

A spokesman for FedEx said the company doesn’t condone the sale of alcohol to anyone underage and has policies in place to prevent it from happening.

“We take the findings in this report seriously. After we have had time to review the study, we will take any necessary corrective action to ensure our policies are being followed,” said company spokesman Scott Fiedler.

Williams said the study provides evidence that illegal alcohol sales are a significant problem.

“Part of why this problem exists is because there is little regulation to restrict online alcohol sales,” she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
May022011

Osama Bin Laden: Relatives' DNA Reliable Indication of Death

CNN via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An analysis of DNA from Osama bin Laden's relatives that federal authorities said they relied on to confirm his death with 99.9 percent certainty is identical to a paternity test that determines whether a father and child are related.

"As humans, all of us are 99.9 percent identical. It's that 0.1 percent variability that distinguishes us, and that's what DNA testing looks at," said Dr. Ronald Crystal, chairman of genetic medicine at Cornell University in New York City.

A DNA sample collected from bin Laden's body Sunday was compared to DNA from multiple relatives, a U.S. intelligence official told ABC News. The DNA sequence -- a series of letters that make up the genetic code -- was transmitted electronically from Bagram, Afghanistan, to Washington, D.C. Another sample will be physically transported to the United States.

It is unclear whether bin Laden's sister, who died of brain cancer in Boston in 2005, was one of the relatives used in the comparison.

When performed by trained technicians, the DNA-matching technique is almost 100-percent accurate.

"The chances that they're a match are probably 99.999 percent," Crystal said. "The probability that two unrelated DNAs would match so closely is extremely small, but you can never be 100-percent sure."

But the test can't rule out that the body was bin Laden's brother, according to Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky, a forensic scientist and chairman of science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.

"The best way to do it is if you've got some of his own DNA [for comparison]," Kobilinsky said. "That would be the best situation."

DNA testing is used widely in the U.S. justice system to match DNA from a crime scene with that of a suspect's. The hearty molecule can persist for years but is easiest to compare when it comes from a fresh tissue sample.

"I assume they had fresh tissue or blood that they could test very easily," Crystal said of the military personnel who tested DNA from bin Laden, who was shot dead in Abbottabad, Pakistan, Sunday. "DNA testing has become very sophisticated. You can even evaluate DNA from extinct animals or humans that have been dead for many years. It's pretty tough stuff."

Despite the 0.01 percent uncertainty, Crystal said, the 99.9 percent match is "absolutely" enough to be considered conclusive.

The al Qaeda leader was shot in the head after U.S. forces stormed the compound roughly 40 miles north of Pakistan's capital city of Islamabad. He was identified by two women in the compound and by members of U.S. military during the raid.

Facial recognition technology that revealed a 90-to-95 percent match between the corpse and photos of bin Laden reinforced the positive ID, officials said.

It is unclear whether officials will release a photo of his body.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 







ABC News Radio