Competition Executive Order Requires Dept. of Transportation to Address Drone Privacy

drone privacy drones surveillance

Competition Executive Order Requires Dept. of Transportation to Address Drone Privacy

The Executive Order signed today by President Biden addressing competition in the American economy requires the Department of Transportation to address drone privacy. “[G]iven the emergence of new aerospace-based transportation technologies, such as low-altitude unmanned aircraft system deliveries, advanced air mobility, and high-altitude long endurance operations,” the Executive Order reads, the Secretary of Transportation shall ensure that the Department of Transportation take action to “facilitate innovation that fosters United States market leadership and market entry to promote competition and economic opportunity and to resist monopolization, while also ensuring safety, providing security and privacy, protecting the environment, and promoting equity.” EPIC has long highlighted the privacy and civil liberties implications of aerial surveillance technology and has called on Congress to “establish drone privacy safeguards that limit the risk of public surveillance.”

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Survival Garden: Fruits of Your Labor

For those lucky enough to acquire a property with a thriving orchard, the benefits are obvious in the first year. What’s not immediately clear is all the decision-making and patience that were necessary in the beginning. There’s an old proverb: “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is today.” That certainly applies to fruits. Once established, though, one can expect years of production. Blueberries, for instance, can produce for up to 50 years. Standard apples and pears can be productive for 35 to 45 years. Consider fruits a multigenerational investment. 

In addition to being long-lived, fruits are versatile, both in terms of usage and storage capacity. Fruits can be eaten fresh or rendered into jams, jellies, juices, fruit leathers, cider, and wine. They can be frozen, canned, or dehydrated. Some late-season apple varieties like Arkansas Black, Stayman, Pink Lady, and Fuji can keep up to five months if stored in a cool and humid environment.

The Planning Phase

Regardless of which fruits make sense for your situation, some basic homework beforehand will ensure successful establishment. Site selection is important. Vegetable gardens are challenging on sloped terrain, but fruits and slopes are a great fit. Placing fruits on a high point of the landscape allows heavy, cold air to flow past the plants rather than settling right on top of them. Be mindful that south-facing slopes warm up quicker in the winter, which sounds like a positive, but it can also encourage earlier blooming and subsequent damage by late frosts. 

Soil testing is always a good idea. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service about their procedures and fees. Normally, soil testing costs will range from free to $10. The results will give you an indication not only of nutrient needs, but also the natural pH of your soil. A soil pH between 6 and 6.5 will be perfect for tree fruits, strawberries, grapes, and brambles, such as raspberries and blackberries. Blueberries need more acidity, so a pH of 4.5 to 5.2 should be the target. If your score is too low, it can be raised with limestone. If too high, adjustment with sulfur may be in order.

PawPaw Fruit

Above: Pawpaw is a native fruit reminiscent in flavor to a banana, but the mushy texture is a turnoff to some.

The number of fruit cultivars is overwhelming, but a good starting point would be to speak with neighbors. What fruits have done well for them? Universities in your state with an agricultural program will periodically publish variety trials for common fruits, and while the list isn’t exhaustive, it can at least provide insight into a handful of varieties that do well. As an example, search online for “Growing blueberries in [your state] .edu.” A lot of first-time fruit growers make the mistake of planting supermarket varieties they’ve enjoyed — think Honeycrisp apples or Bing cherries — even if those aren’t adapted to their region.

Propagation

A seed will contain genetic material from both parents, and as a result, the fruit…

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Regen Ray Reflects: the Future of Agriculture and Food Security

While the above improvements are exciting, they also raised concerns. I would like to see improvements in the following areas: 

  • Uninspiring Farming—although the article in question revolved around the positive aspects of agriculture’s future, many of the photos used are uninspiring. We saw drab, brownfields, and pastures suffering from erosion. Get with it, in 2021 there are loads of Regen Ag Stock Photos!

It would be encouraging to see photos that inspire potential farmers—lush green pastures that yield their bounty to the animals they feed. 

  • Getting Students Interested Before University—most of the students studying agriculture have some family background in farming. 

We’d like to see an increase in attempts to reach students before they reach university age—imagine the innovation that could come from new recruits with no agricultural background. 

“When I grow up I want to be a farmer,” says no child nowadays! We need more of this and to normalise being a farmer for the future!

  • Yield-Focused Farming—many of the agricultural technologies that manufacturers create focuses on crop yields. This focus doesn’t align with natural farming techniques. I believe that we need to focus on growing quality crops with a high nutritional density instead of large quantities of nutritionally deficient produce.

    It’s like eating cardboard, because you can produce a lot, when a steak is much tastier and more nutritious!

  • Soilless Food Production—we can all agree that systems like hydroponics and aquaponics have a place in society. However, I don’t believe that should be the main thrust of our efforts.

    Raising food without soil is like asking a human to surrender a full life and live in a bare cell. Plants’ basic requirements get met, but they have none of the joy of a natural experience.

With so much life in our soil, why wouldn’t you want your food grown in soil that is connected to the earth and nourishes the human body?

Research shows that the soil food web is vast. Mycorrhizal fungi spread their nets far to gain food for the plants we grow and offer micronutrients. Plants grown in soilless media don’t have access to the natural soil food web. Therefore, while this type of food production is useful, it doesn’t align with our values. 

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How to Have Good OPSEC in the Garden With Edible Landscaping –

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by Jayne Rising

Why do you need good OPSEC in the garden? Well, when SHTF, rest assured hungry and unprepared neighbors will look upon your preps with great desire. And that includes your garden. 

For those new to the world of prepping, OPSEC means Operational Security. The term is military in origin and means, in the vernacular, to keep your preps secret. The Organic Prepper has many articles stressing the importance of good OPSEC. 

So how can we maintain good OPSEC in the garden? 

Fences are one obvious method. Fences make it a bit more difficult for nimble (thieving) feet as well. But there are more subtle ways to hide a garden, most notably the idea of edible landscaping.

One note for clarity: I am NOT advocating tearing up functional garden space in favor of edible landscaping. I AM suggesting a way to turn otherwise unproductive spaces, such as front and street-facing side yards, into productive food areas. This method can also work for apartment and condo dwellers, who may be dealing with property management/condo associations who want to see flowers growing, not food.

There are also many edible plants growing in city yards that most people have no idea are edible. Some are very decorative. Be aware, however, that some are considered noxious weeds. Your municipality may fine you for growing them. As always, I suggest some research into your municipalities’ regulations.

Identifying edible plants to use as landscaping

A plant identification app in addition to books on local plants might also be helpful. My favorites are Picture This ( app ) and a book called Midwest Foraging. I would suggest obtaining a book on foraging in your specific area.

The suggestions below are by no means an exhaustive list. Most of the plants listed as examples in this article are from my yard. I discovered these plants one year when I couldn’t garden due to health issues. I decided to get to know my yard and the plants growing there. If there’s a plant that you love, look it up! Or take your favorite plant ID app and check out what’s in your yard. You may be wonderfully surprised.

Fill deck containers with edible beauty for good OPSEC in the garden!

Some, like the humble hosta, are both traditional and edible. The best part is: few people know that! So it’s possible to decorate the more visible spots in the yard with a food source hiding in plain sight. Rapini, aka broccoli raab, is tasty, nutritious, and in warm climates,…

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The Global Minimum Corporate Tax Exposes the G-7’s Hypocrisy

Austrian school economists have long demonstrated that monopolies only tend to form as a result of government intervention, and “natural monopolies” have virtually never actually existed. Nonetheless, we are continually told by political and academic “experts” that unregulated economies inevitably give rise to monopolies, business trusts, and cartels, all of which they assure us have disastrous consequences for ordinary people. Therefore, we are told, governments are justified in taking forceful action to prevent monopolies from developing or to break them apart.

In this debate, the interventionists frame themselves as opposing the anticompetitive forces of large corporations having too much control over the lives of ordinary people. It is noteworthy, then, that these same interventionists support similar kinds of anticompetitive practices, and the increased control over people’s lives they entail, when they are employed by governments instead.

To that end, the leaders of the G-7 nations have recently gathered to propose a global minimum corporate tax that would allow national governments to exert a form of monopoly power of their own over the taxation of business within their borders. A major element of the proposal, if brought to fruition, is the requirement that every nation impose a minimum corporate tax rate of at least 15 percent. The clear purpose of this part of the proposal is to eliminate the so-called race to the bottom in corporate taxes, which is a euphemism for high-tax nations’ hopes of shielding themselves from competition from nations with low tax rates seeking to attract businesses away from them.

For this proposal to have its intended effect, several nations outside of the G-7 would need to voluntarily raise their corporate tax rates. Ireland, for example, sets corporate taxes at 12.5 percent, and a substantial part of its tax base is located there specifically because it is a comparative tax haven. Other parts of the proposal therefore appear to be intended to induce low-tax nations like Ireland, who are not likely keen on raising their tax rates and losing the main attraction they have for multinational companies headquartering there, to participate. For example, the proposal would also redirect the payment of corporate taxes to ensure that the world’s largest companies pay some taxes to the nations where they do business, rather than where they are physically located. These provisions appear designed to compensate low-tax nations for the loss in tax base they will surely suffer if they adopt the G-7 proposal.

In short, wealthy nations know they can only tax businesses so much before those businesses find it profitable to move to competing jurisdictions with lower tax rates, and the G-7 leaders are now openly seeking to collude with other nations to put a stop to that competition. There is little meaningful distinction between this and the alleged anticompetitive practices of private businesses—complete with “kickbacks” promised to cooperating participants—that the same governments continually vilify.

Governments Still Oppose Private Monopolies

Despite this apparent embrace of monopolistic practices, the federal government still seeks to purge what it sees as private monopolies…

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Survival Farming Guide: 10 Things To Know

Having a renewable source of water, food, and other materials is one of the only ways to successfully survive a large-scale disaster. And I hate to tell you that the store down the street or that website you order from is not a renewable source of supplies. 

Let me present you with a question I have asked other upcoming preppers in the past. 

“Where do you get “X” product, that you need?” Fill in the blank with whatever product you like but I will use meat as an example Across the board, the answer is almost always, “I buy it from the grocery store.”

The follow-up question is, “Where would you get your meat if all the grocery stores in the regions were gone?” Again, the answer is almost always, “I do not know.”

Some people might find an issue with this question and think it is a bit farfetched, and I might be inclined to agree if it pertained to items that people wanted, like a T.V. But not knowing where to get basic needs if they are not sitting on a shelf in front of you is a pretty big problem. 

When there is a shift in how the world operates, possibly due to a disaster, one of the few solutions to making it through is to have a survival farm.

Now a survival farm is not just for “the end of days,” but it is a great way for removing the shackles of dependency and it can also be an incredibly rewarding way of living.

What is a Survival Farm?

A survival farm is going to look and operate a bit differently than farms you may be familiar with today. Modern farms are usually extremely large and may only produce one or two things in mass quantity to sell. For example, a farm that plants hundreds of acres of corn or raises thousands of chickens.

Unless you have big ideas and equally as deep pockets, a survival farm is not going to resemble that. It’s going to be smaller and be able to produce several things so that a person can live sustainably off the fruits of their labors.

It is unlikely that a single farm will be able to produce everything that might be needed but the basics, like shelter, water, and food should certainly be covered.

Below is a guide, think of it as a getting started guide, of things to consider and ideas for putting together your survival farm.

10 Need To Knows About Survival Farming

There are a lot of things to consider and that go into having a successful piece of property that you may not know, which in part is why you are reading this guide and that is a good first step. 

But this guide is more of an overview. For example, later in the guide, I will touch on raising animals, however, I will not go into great detail…

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Federal Court Rejects Challenge to Census Privacy Protections

census privacy

Federal Court Rejects Challenge to Census Privacy Protections

A federal court has rejected an effort by Alabama to scrap the Census Bureau’s system for protecting personal data collected in the 2020 Census. Earlier this year, Alabama filed a lawsuit challenging the Bureau’s deployment of differential privacy, in which controlled amounts of statistical noise are added to published census data to prevent individuals from being identified and linked with their census responses. The Bureau recently demonstrated that sophisticated “attacks” can identify tens of millions of people from published census data unless robust privacy safeguards are implemented. Alabama sought a preliminary injunction blocking the Bureau’s use of differential privacy, but the court denied that motion this week and dismissed many of the claims in the case. Alabama said that it does not plan to appeal this week’s ruling, but the case may develop further after the Bureau publishes redistricting data in August. EPIC filed an amicus brief in the case arguing that differential privacy is “the only credible technique” to guard against reidentification attacks. EPIC also argued that differential privacy “is not the enemy of statistical accuracy,” but rather “vital to securing robust public participation in Census Bureau surveys[.]” EPIC has long advocated for the confidentiality of personal data collected by the Census Bureau. In 2004, Bureau revised its “sensitive data” policy after an EPIC FOIA request revealed that the Department of Homeland Security had improperly acquired census data on Arab Americans from following 9/11. In 2018, EPIC filed suit to block the citizenship question from the 2020 Census, alleging that the Bureau failed to complete several privacy impact assessments required under the E-Government Act.

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Smart farming on a large lot

The desire to own land has been moving the prepping and off-grid communities for generations. Having a few acres that give you room to do almost anything you can think of is a dream for many of us. Even more, achieving self-sufficiency on such a lot, and having a large pond or a small woodlot, is the ultimate life goal for some.

Owning half an acre or more provides you with endless possibilities when it comes to farming and you must become as efficient as possible to avoid wasting time and resources. With a large lot, you just won’t have the time to do everything you want, and you will keep yourself busy all day trying to cover everything that needs to be done.

Tools are needed

If you have a plot of land ranging from one to five acres, you will need certain tools to make your life easier. For example, a chainsaw can be used for both landscaping jobs and rough carpentry if needed.

If you plan to build a fence, you will need various tools to do the job right. A 13-pounds maul is an indispensable tool for wooden posts, and if you use fence wire, you’ll need wire stretchers.

The more fencing you have; the more work will be needed to keep vegetation from growing up in the fence lines. In such a case, a string trimmer becomes mandatory to clear the weeds.

Pulling and lifting jobs become impossible chores without a hand winch, a tool that becomes indispensable at times.

A sturdy barn

As time goes by, you will acquire more and more tools, and you’ll find that a barn will become the ideal place to store all those tools. Even more, it will keep feed dry, it can host machinery and protect it from the elements, and it can accommodate your livestock. It can host a milking parlor for goats and pretty much all the utilities you can think of.

Most people go with the two-story, gable-roofed barn since this design passed the efficiency and time-lasting tests. Some folks incorporate their chicken coop into their barn, especially if one side of the building provides access to a pasture area. Also, keep in mind that your barn should be connected to a corral. By doing so, you will be able to move livestock between pens but also load them into a truck with ease.

Building a barn is not easy since you’re dealing with a large construction project, and it becomes a major responsibility. Your barn needs to be strong enough to hold a heavy load in the upper loft and be able to also keep the elements out.

When you decide to build a barn, look up the term “pole barns” since these empty shells can be erected for a reasonable price. Once you have the framework up and the roof in place, you will also be able to work on the rest of the…

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Maine Becomes First State to Enact Statewide Ban on Face Surveillance

facial recognition surveillance

Maine Becomes First State to Enact Statewide Ban on Face Surveillance

The Maine Legislature has enacted the country’s strongest statewide facial recognition law. Maine’s new law prohibits public officials and public employees at the state, county and municipal levels from possessing and using facial recognition technology, with extremely limited exceptions. EPIC Board Member Shoshana Zuboff testified in support of the legislation. “An individual’s ability to control access to his or her identity and personal information, including determining when, how, and to what purpose these are revealed, is an essential aspect of personal security and privacy guaranteed by the Bill of Rights,” Professor Zuboff said. “The use of facial recognition technology erodes that ability.” EPIC has joined a number of coalitions urging a ban on facial recognition including: an international letter opposing the technology, a statement of concerns on police use of FR, and EPIC’s Ban Face Surveillance campaign. EPIC recently endorsed legislation that would ban federal law enforcement use of facial recognition and pressure state law enforcement to do the same.

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EPIC Signs on to Protect Encryption in the Brazilian Code of Criminal Procedure Updates

Apple v. FBI cybersecurity encryption international privacy

EPIC Signs on to Protect Encryption in the Brazilian Code of Criminal Procedure Updates

EPIC has joined other members of the Global Encryption Coalition in a letter urging Brazil to address proposed updates to the Brazilian Code of Criminal Procedure that would threaten encryption and data security in Brazil. The text as it stands could force companies using strong security protections – such as end-to-end encryption – to introduce security flaws into their systems to be used as backdoors for law enforcement. Such measures endanger users and encourage exploitation of these weaknesses. EPIC led the effort in the United States in the 1990s to support strong encryption tools and played a key role in the development of the international framework for cryptography policy that favored the deployment of strong security measures to safeguard personal information. EPIC also filed an amicus brief in Apple v. FBI in support of encryption.

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