Teen Vogue: Remote Proctoring Services Are Facing Legal, Legislative Challenges

That lack of negotiating power makes students vulnerable, says Sara Geoghegan, counsel for EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center), which filed a complaint against five online test-proctoring services claiming they violated students’ privacy rights. She describes her experience taking the 2020 California bar exam, a proctored test she couldn’t object to if she wanted to practice law. Because Geoghegan took the exam from a multiunit housing complex in Chicago, she worried about noise. She posted signs asking people to be quiet, fearful that a post office worker on the phone while delivering mail or a parent talking to a child or a dog barking in a neighboring unit could set off a red flag that she was potentially cheating.

“We should be focused on education, not surveillance,” Geoghegan says. She thinks the pushback against schools and proctoring companies is appropriate. “Students should not have to trade over-broad data collection [as alleged in the EPIC complaint] in order to receive or earn an education.” 

Read more here.

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How LiDAR Drones are Used in Agriculture and Forestry Management

2. Areal Imaging and LiDAR Sensors are Good For Plant Health Monitoring

Forests are dense and sometimes hard to traverse, making it difficult to track plant life. Especially when the weather is erratic, you expend double the energy and time checking on them. Not to mention, it’s also hazardous to do so, but such are occupational hazards.

However, we now have drones that can lend a helping hand through this task. Specifically, LiDAR drones with artificial intelligence have been advantageous in monitoring plant health. The sensors can help gather and process data regarding the well-being of trees, vegetation, and bushlands. 

Using thermal and areal imagery, and topographic surveillance, they can locate diseased flora. They can also lead horticulturists and forest officials to those locations. And with the collected data, they can begin applying the proper treatment needed.

3. Forest and Land Stewardship Strategies

Organizations that manage vast forests can use LiDAR drones to gather data for their strategies. They can monitor the land and send you updates regularly. Excellent drone photography or a 3D-rendered version of the forest will allow them to make accurate decisions.

LiDAR drones can also send data regarding the health of your land so you can act immediately. If you need a layout of your property, a drone can bring you the data needed for a 3D map. The data is so accurate you can even create comprehensive maps of the place.

And because the drone will be scouting the area, you’ll also know which spots are prone to landslides. Hence, you can avoid accidents and ecological disease based on gathered, accurate data.

4. Watch Out for Forest Fires

Forest fires are common occurrences and it’s nearly impossible to eradicate them. There are as many causes as they are menacing and devastating. All we can do is prevent them from happening as much as possible with the right data and action.

Because drones are fast and precise, they can scan areas of a vast forest for potential threats of fires. The LiDAR sensors should be able to pick up these sources so you can act. These precautions will help prevent fires from starting and uncontrollably razing the forest. The forest ecosystem, animals, and plants will be safe from the danger caused by forest fires.

5. Save the Lives of Forest Officials and Other People

Forests are dangerous places and accidents can happen anytime so drones are used to help with rescue missions. Especially with search missions, drones can save lives, more so with LiDAR sensors.

Imagine letting out the drone for the usual wildlife monitoring and biodiversity checking. And then, it picks up a human heat signature that isn’t in a good spot. If they just got in an accident, they won’t have to wait until someone asks about their whereabouts. It was a completely random time but the drone essentially saved someone.

Drones are also efficient in delivering emergency medication or surveying harmful activities. Flying them saves so much time than operating on food that they can very well save a life.

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The Best Water Storage Containers for Long-Term Prepping

large water storage container and running taplarge water storage container and running tap

The most important thing you need for emergency preparedness is water. While you can store bottled water, eventually, you’ll want to invest in some water storage containers.

Good emergency water storage containers will allow you to store larger amounts of water in less space, prevent leaking, and algae growth, and have features that make it easier to use your water during a disaster.

Below we will cover the best emergency water storage containers, including small containers and solutions for storing large amounts of water.

We’ve also included a buying guide to help you understand what size water containers you need and which features to look for.

Our Advice: To get the benefits of storage and practicality, buy a mixture of both small and large water storage containers. So long as you have a system for easily removing water from the larger containers (such as a hose or spigot), you can refill the smaller containers and carry them where needed.

Best Water Storage Containers

These water storage containers range from smaller 2.5-gallon jugs to large water barrels. Most people will need small water containers (around 5 gallons).

However, you might also want a few medium or larger water containers. These aren’t portable but can be used to fill smaller containers when they empty.

WaterBrick 3.5 Gallon Water Containers

Best For: Limited Space

WaterBrick 3.5 Gallon – 6 PackWaterBrick 3.5 Gallon – 6 Pack

WaterBrick is a very popular brand of water containers, and some preppers use them for storing dry food too.

They are made from thick, durable plastic that withstands much abuse.

The lids are also made well and don’t leak. This is important because WaterBricks are designed to be stacked, so you won’t be storing them with the lid upright.

The handles are sturdy and designed, so they don’t take up any extra space.

See our full waterbrick review.

  • Bundle packs available
  • Hideaway spigot sold separately
  • Stackable
  • Very sturdy
  • Food-grade HDPE (BPA-free)
  • The 6-pack is decent value

5 Gallon Stackable Water Containers Set

Best for: Value

Thereadystore - 5-Gallon Water ContainerThereadystore - 5-Gallon Water Container

These 5-gallon containers are a simple water storage solution that will work for most people’s needs.

They are designed to be stackable and have an air vent, so water flows evenly when pouring.

The caps are reliable, so you can store them on their side (though storing upright is still recommended). The spigots will leak a bit, so you’ll need to keep a bucket under the tap once turned on its side.

You can buy these 5-gallon containers individually. They also come in sets that include spits, a wrench for tightening or removing the cap, and water preserver drops.

  • Come in sets
  • Stackable
  • Set includes a hideaway spigot…

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So, Are Corn Snakes Poisonous?

One of the most commonly encountered snakes in the southeastern United States is the corn snake. Commonly encountered creeping around buildings and investigating grain storage sites, these colorful snakes are major predators of mice and rats.

man holding a corn snake on handman holding a corn snake on hand

They are also commonly confused with copperheads, and some folks warn that corn snakes are in fact about as dangerous as copperheads. Is this true? Is the corn snake poisonous?

No, the corn snake is not at all poisonous, although it does have a distant ancestor species that was. Corn snakes kill by constriction, not venom, and accordingly are no threat to humans.

Compared to other species, corn snakes have a relatively small geographical range in the United States, but they are important predators of grain and household pests.

This propensity combined with their docile, nearly friendly temperament has made them a friend of every farmer and gardener, and an extremely popular pet snake. Keep reading to learn more.

Physical Characteristics of the Corn Snake

Corn snakes are slim snakes, and anywhere from two to six feet long, though usually shorter.

Their primary coloration is an ochre- or brown-yellow to rusty orange with patches of red running along the entirety of their length.

These patches are outlined in black or a very dark brown. The head of a corn snake is broadly triangular and characterized by its large, round eyes with round pupils.

The belly of a corn snake is invariably a paler color with a distinctive, regular grid-like pattern that is sometimes said to be the reason for the corn snake’s name.

Ostensibly, this pattern is said to resemble Indian corn. However, the common name of the corn snake was earned way back in the 17th century owing to its aptitude for prowling around corn and grain storage sites while hunting for rats and mice.

Are Corn Snakes Poisonous?

No, the corn snake is not poisonous, at all. It is a constrictor, and so crushes or asphyxiates prey by squeezing it.

However, corn snakes are commonly mistaken for dangerous copperheads, which are poisonous, owing to their similar coloration and markings.

Where are Corn Snakes Usually Found?

Corn snakes are most common throughout the American South, and their range extends as far north as Kentucky with sparse populations in New Jersey.

The corn snake is a terrestrial creature that prefers habitats with open fields, tree lines, and abandoned structures where they can shelter and hunt for prey.

Because they hunt small mammals, corn snakes are also frequently found near human habitation where there is a reliable food source. As mentioned, corn snakes hunt small mammals such as rodents and birds.

In the wild, their diet includes mice, chipmunks, and young rats. Baby rabbits and lizards are also sometimes eaten.

Anywhere such prey can be found in their range, corn snakes will be found, too. Of note, corn snakes are excellent climbers and can regularly be found…

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From Sap To Syrup | How to Make Syrup: A Golden Gift From The Trees

From Sap To Syrup | How to Make Syrup: A Golden Gift From The Trees <![CDATA[ window._wpemojiSettings = {"baseUrl":"https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/14.0.0/72×72/","ext":".png","svgUrl":"https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/14.0.0/svg/","svgExt":".svg","source":{"concatemoji":"https://homesteading.com/wp-includes/js/wp-emoji-release.min.js?ver=6.0.2"}}; /*! This file is auto-generated */ !function(e,a,t){var n,r,o,i=a.createElement("canvas"),p=i.getContext&&i.getContext("2d");function s(e,t){var a=String.fromCharCode,e=(p.clearRect(0,0,i.width,i.height),p.fillText(a.apply(this,e),0,0),i.toDataURL());return p.clearRect(0,0,i.width,i.height),p.fillText(a.apply(this,t),0,0),e===i.toDataURL()}function c(e){var t=a.createElement("script");t.src=e,t.defer=t.type="text/javascript",a.getElementsByTagName("head")[0].appendChild(t)}for(o=Array("flag","emoji"),t.supports={everything:!0,everythingExceptFlag:!0},r=0;r tallest) { tallest = thisHeight; } }); group.height(tallest); } equalHeight($(“.dg-grid-shortcode .dg_grid-shortcode-col”)); $(window).resize(function() { equalHeight($(“.dg-grid-shortcode .dg_grid-shortcode-col”)); }); }); ]]>

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Medicinal Uses For Weeds Commonly Found Around Your Home

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Free-Ranging Chickens, By The Seasons

Nutritionism, a concept that writer Michael Pollan has addressed and condemned in recent years in his book In Defense of Food (2009), suggests that individual nutrients can provide a complete diet, rather than whole foods themselves. Simply, it’s the idea that the nutritional value of a food is only equal to the sum of its presently identifiable parts.

Processed foods, including chicken feeds, often contain synthetic versions of added nutrients. We tend to value a nutrient itself, rather than the whole of its natural food origin. Foods in their most natural forms possibly contain beneficial nutrients or combinations of them we’ve yet to discover.

Chicken-feed labels reinforce the reliability of laboratory nutrition analyses. But do industry standards beat the entirety of known and unknown nutrition in a natural polyculture lawn?

Due to the demands we place on our livestock, like laying an egg every 25 hours, there’s no disputing the continued need for grain feed. The ideal nutrient formulations are developed to get maximum output from feathered egg machines. But, if we imagine that nutrition is complete in processed feeds, should we assume that grain feed is enough to satisfy a plant- and animal-eating omnivore? 

Consuming nutrients is only one reason to eat. The rituals of finding food and the act of eating that we humans enjoy are not lost on chickens. Like a human going out for a steak and a salad, the act of foraging for plants and animals—foods that birds can smell and taste—completes the satiating meal experience.

For satisfying diets that nurture the whole chicken, providing access to forage through every season is essential for raising a healthy and happy backyard flock. Here are some free-ranging tips, by the season.

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Autumn Answers

As the days grow shorter, chickens have fewer daylight hours to feed and forage. But they still need to produce enough heat to last through longer, colder nights.


As the flock adapts to these changes in preparation for winter, minimal human clearing of the garden will have free-ranging chickens wild with purpose. They will turn the soil, clearing it of weeds as they unearth pests, loosen roots and fertilize the garden.

Haul in some compost, and the flock will mix it in for you. They’ll munch on some of the organisms that have been multiplying in the warmth of the decomposing pile. Others will survive and contribute to the garden’s ecosystem.


While mice are year-round pests, fall sends these little mammals looking for warmer locations to nest. With cozy bedding and plentiful grains nearby, a ­chicken coop is an oasis for a squeaky ­little mouse. 

Passive chickens will coexist with small rodents. But an aggressive forager won’t ­hesitate to stuff its crop with a mouse.

Once it catches the mouse, it incapacitates it by hitting it against the ground, likely killing it. Then the ­chicken will swallow it whole, like a gull eating a fish. It’s a horrifying but fascinating…

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AI Bill of Rights Provides Actionable Instructions for Companies, Agencies, and Legislators

By Ben Winters, EPIC Counsel

Rens Dimmendaal / Better Images of AI / Man / CC-BY 4.0

Last week, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released a “Blueprint” for an “AI Bill of Rights.”The five major principles are Safe and Effective Systems; Freedom from Algorithmic Discrimination; Data Privacy; Notice and Explanation; Human Alternatives, Consideration, and Fallback. EPIC published an Op-Ed in Protocol outlining specifically how the White House can act to enact the principles from the blueprint.

In their own words, “The Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights is not intended to, and does not, create any legal right, benefit, or defense, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person, nor does it constitute a waiver of sovereign immunity.”

However, the Office of Science Technology Policy did outline several expectations of how people should be able to experience automated decision-making systems and how entities should act when developing and using automated decision-making systems.

EPIC will continue to push for laws to ensure these and many more protections are legally enshrined and protected. The specific actions are isolated in this post below (emphasis added by EPIC)

-[During development of a system] Consultation should directly engage diverse impacted communities to consider concerns and risks that may be unique to those communities, or disproportionately prevalent or severe for them. Concerns raised in this consultation should be documented, and the automated system developers were proposing to create, use, or deploy should be reconsidered based on this feedback.

–Systems should undergo extensive testing before deployment. “Systems should undergo pre-deployment testing, risk identification and mitigation, and ongoing monitoring that demonstrate they are safe and effective based on their intended use, mitigation of unsafe outcomes including those beyond the intended use, and adherence to domain-specific standards.”

–Outcomes of these protective measures ( pre-deployment testing, risk identification and mitigation, and ongoing monitoring) should include the possibility of not deploying the system or removing a system from use

-Should be designed to proactively protect you from harms stemming from unintended, yet foreseeable, uses or impacts of automated systems.

–Independent evaluation and reporting that confirms that the system is safe and effective, including reporting of steps taken to mitigate potential harms, should be performed and the results made public whenever possible.

-Expansive set of classes that should not face discrimination by algorithms and systems should be used and designed in an equitable way: Algorithmic discrimination occurs when automated systems contribute to unjustified different treatment or impacts disfavoring people based on their race, color, ethnicity, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, gender identity, intersex status, and sexual orientation), religion, age, national origin, disability, veteran status, genetic information, or any other classification protected by law.

-Protection should include proactive equity assessments as part of the system design, use of representative data and protection against proxies for…

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What Are the Best Dog Breeds for Survival? It Depends on the Job

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The doomsday clock has been at 100 seconds to midnight for a few years. Food is being stored, equipment is being stashed, and people are gearing up to fight for their lives for the inevitable apocalypse. And there’s one prep you may not have thought of.

A faithful, skilled, and well-trained canine companion could be the reason you survive another day. Humans have domesticated animals forever knowing that animals can do things humans can’t, saving time and energy. In a survival situation, both of these factors become precious.

Here are some of the best jobs for dogs during a survival situation and the breeds that excel at them…

Watchdog Breeds

Tibetan terrier

Watchdogs are good at their jobs because they can sense things that people can’t and never will. Traits like a sensitive nose or seeing in the dark go a long way when you are trying to find something out of place in the dead of night.  

When they sense an unwanted presence, they alert their owners so the owner can take care of the problem. This works with many kinds of intruders and keeps people safe from threats they weren’t even aware were there. 

Additionally, almost any kind of dog can be trained to do this, though it tends to be a job geared toward smaller dogs. Here are some breeds known for being good watchdogs:

  • Chihuahuas
  • Cairn Terriers
  • Dachshund
  • Tibetan Terrier

Guard/Attack Dogs Breeds


A guard dog is a dog that will actively defend its home against intruders instead of just sounding an alarm. 

Attack dogs will go a step further and attack on the command of their owner. Examples of effective attack dogs include:

  • Akita
  • German Shepherd
  • Mastiff
  • Doberman Pinscher

This can be dangerous, though. It is highly recommended to get professional help when training these skills in a dog. A poorly trained attack dog could mean someone getting seriously hurt or worse. 

These dogs are trained to be dangerous, and it is a disservice to them to go about it without the proper care. 

(Check out our free QUICKSTART Guide to learn about the four levels of disasters.)

Drafting Dog Breeds

St. Bernard

Big, lumbering, working dogs will haul stuff all day with the right incentive. The following dogs typically make excellent drafting dogs: 

  • Newfoundland
  • Saint Bernard
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

The job of these…

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President Biden Signs Executive Order Creating New Safeguards for U.S. Surveillance Programs

Today, President Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) which imposes new limitations on U.S. surveillance programs and creates a new redress mechanism for EU residents. Though the EO takes substantial steps to address the problems that ultimately led to Privacy Shield being invalidated, the EO is unlikely to satisfy the Court of Justice of the European Union’s (CJEU) standards for privacy protections. The EO, which outlines the steps the U.S. government will take to implement the new EU-U.S. Data Privacy Framework (EU-U.S. DPF), places new requirements on the collection and handling of personal information by U.S. intelligence agencies, regardless of nationality of the data subject. The EO also creates a new redress mechanism for qualifying individuals claiming their personal information was unlawfully collected under these programs. This mechanism—which replaces the former Privacy Shield Ombudsperson mechanism invalidated by the CJEU in Schrems II—includes an initial investigation and determination by the Civil Liberties Protection Officer at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), followed by the opportunity for review by a new Data Protection Review Court within the Department of Justice (DOJ). 

However, it remains to be seen whether the new EU-U.S. DPF will survive a future challenge at the CJEU. While the EO does provide some privacy safeguards, it does not fully bar the use of bulk collection programs by U.S. intelligence agencies. Further, the complexity of the new redress mechanism—and the lack of any notice provisions—will likely raise concerns among Europeans that it is not a meaningfully accessible way to exercise their rights. Finally, because the EO’s protections are not legislative in nature, they likely lack the stability to withstand future challenges at the CJEU. 

“The Administration’s new Executive Order is a meaningful improvement over the prior privacy framework which has operated to the exclusion of non-U.S. persons, but these new safeguards and redress mechanism are unlikely to persuade the CJEU that U.S. law adequately protects privacy,” EPIC Executive Director Alan Butler said. “The new Data Protection Review Court is a step in the right direction, but the Administration must ensure that existing barriers to redress—such as notice, excessive secrecy, and undue deference to national security authorities—do not continue to stymie independent, meaningful efforts to vindicate privacy rights.” 

EPIC has supported calls for enhanced privacy protections prior to establishing a new data transfer framework. EPIC also participated as an amicus curiae in the Schrems II case, arguing that U.S. surveillance law does not provide adequate privacy protections or remedies for non-U.S. persons abroad. 

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