FCC Commissioner Starks Urges Data Minimization in Broadcast Industry

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, speaking last week at the Center for Technology, Innovation & Competition, called on broadcasters to minimize the personal data they collect from individuals and suggested the FCC might step in as a regulator. “I have seen distinct harm in the [broadcast media] ecosystem where the sale of geographic location information and other data to third parties and data brokers distinctly doesn’t benefit the user,” Starks said. “We have a unique opportunity to get ahead of this, to make sure that broadcasters are good actors in the market from the start instead of racing to unwind any privacy harms—ex ante, not ex post.” Starks stressed the need to focus on data minimization, secondary uses of data, and targeted advertising in the broadcast industry. “[I]s there perhaps an effort for the FCC to lead here?” Starks added, noting that the FCC might rely on its “role as the regulator of television equipment.” Starks delivered his remarks at an October 18 event titled “The Future of Broadcast Television.” His speech comes on the heels of a recent inquiry by FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel regarding the collection and use of geolocation data by telephone carriers.

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Recipe of the Week: Improved Canned Soup. Improve the taste of a store-bought canned soup.

The following recipe is from reader S.A..  The intent of this flexible recipe is to improve the taste of a store-bought canned soup.

S.A. Asks: Are you practicing cooing with storage foods from your survival pantry? Are you serving and teaching your children and grandchildren to eat foods that may become very familiar and repetitive yet vital with essential minerals and vitamins in the coming months —  such as green salads, or rice and beans, or hot soup?Because I store cases of Campbell’s Chunky Chicken and Vegetable soup, I’ve been on a quest to improve the flavor. To me, the chicken cubes taste tinny and mechanized. The addition of some beef marrow bones totally changes the flavor. These bones also add delightful tiny beef bits to the soup.

We make this soup once a week.

  • 1 can of Campbell’s Chunky Soup
  • 1 soup can of water
  • 2 beef marrow bones
  • Leftover chicken piece (optional)
  • A handful of frozen green peas
  • 1/4 c of a starch such as lentils, orzo, leftover rice, leftover pinto beans, barley, or ramen noodles
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Lightly oil-coat or PAM the crockpot. Pour in one can of soup. Add the starch, bones, chicken, and peas. Cover with a can of water. You can also add a small, hard crusty bread or leftover cornbread muffin to not let it go to waste and also to thicken the soup. This adds calories and carbs.

Cook on high until the beef is falling off the bones. You will be surprised how the soup no longer tastes so “canned.” Scoop the marrow out of the bones, cut the beef bits off, and stir in.

Use your creativity to feed the family with soup. This soup is never the same twice. It’s easy, filling, nutritious, hearty, and delicious. It’s not a huge pot of soup.


Serve hot.  Thus recipe serves 4. If you need more, then just add water.

Do you have a favorite recipe that would be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers? In this weekly recipe column, we place emphasis on recipes that use long term storage foods, recipes for wild game, dutch oven and slow cooker recipes, and any that use home garden produce. If you have any favorite recipes, then please send them via e-mail. Thanks!

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USDA Encourages Registration of “People’s Gardens” to Advance Equity

As we’ve said countless times in the past, gardening is a great way to build self-sufficiency and ensure a healthy food supply for times of crisis. This might range from a few small planters on an apartment balcony to a backyard garden with several large plots — either way, the goal is to have a renewable source of calories in case a disaster impacts the supply chain. In a recent press release, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced an expanding initiative for registration of “People’s Gardens” which meet criteria that include “benefitting the community, working collaboratively, incorporating conservation practices, and educating the public.” Although joining the program is voluntary, some members of the preparedness community have expressed concern that this national garden database might lead to redistribution of privately-grown food resources in the future.

Above: A map showing the current locations of registered People’s Gardens in the United States.

What are People’s Gardens?

The USDA press release, published September 9th, 2022, summarizes as follows:

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“We welcome gardens nationwide to join us in the People’s Garden effort and all it represents,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, “Local gardens across the country share USDA’s goals of building more diversified and resilient local food systems, empowering communities to come together around expanding access to healthy food, addressing climate change and advancing equity.” Vilsack continued, “We encourage existing gardens and new gardens to join the movement. Growing local food benefits local communities in so many ways, and we offer technical resources to help. Also, it’s a great way to connect with your local USDA team members.”

Above: Registered People’s Gardens will be required to submit information regarding the type of growing methods used.

Launched in 2009, the People’s Garden initiative is named after President Lincoln’s nickname for the USDA, “the People’s Department.” Currently, 18 flagship “urban hub” People’s Gardens have been established by the department, with the first being located at USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. The initiative is now being expanded to include gardens on private property, such as “school gardens, community gardens, urban farms, and small-scale agriculture projects in rural, suburban and urban areas.”

To participate in the program, garden owners must go to usda.gov/peoples-garden to fill out a form that requests details such as the garden’s address, type of organization managing the garden, purpose of the garden, estimated size, and type of growing medium (e.g. raised beds, hydroponics, and/or greenhouses). The form also requires photos of the garden, and a certification that no federally-prohibited plants will be grown by garden administrators:

What’s the Incentive?

USDA’s press release states that those who register for the People’s Garden initiative will receive the following:

  • Location and information displayed on USDA’s interactive map (as seen at the beginning of this article)
  • A free People’s Garden sign with the logo above
  • “Continued engagement through photos and information sharing”

Purpose and Implications

There’s no clear explanation of the purpose of this voluntary garden database, beyond…

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Commitment To Permaculture Blossoms At Indara Farms

The roots of Indara Farms‘s permaculture operation go back to the days when founder Stephanie Cutmore grew up on a hobby farm. Cutmore says she has fond memories of “having the space and a large backyard that became my playground, making cubby houses in old gum trees, searching for tadpoles in creeks [and] making picnics on granite outcrops.”

Years later, Cutmore eventually founded her own venture, which is situated in Meckering, Western Australia. Along with an emphasis on permaculture farming techniques, the hobby farm also maintains a strong focus on producing vibrant flowers.

We spoke to Cutmore about her commitment to a permaculture philosophy and her recommended entry level tips. We also got into the importance of to-do lists.

Following the Permaculture Philosophy

“I was studying permaculture. While a lot of people associate permaculture with food, it also encourages you to think of ways to make the farm self-sustainable,” says Cutmore when asked about why she decided to make flowers such a focus of her farm.

“I am in a semi-arid area where a beautiful market garden probably wasn’t going to be sustainable, at least over the summer months where we lack rainfall,” she explains. “I was looking at our soil types and what would grow well here and realized that cut native flowers could work. They required a lot less water. They suited the soil types because I would choose ones that were suited to our growing conditions here. And they were being illegally harvested in the natural environment or grown overseas and imported with lots of chemical use involved.”

Cutmore sensed that she was being presented with an opportunity to not just grow flowers in a sustainable fashion and with permaculture principles in mind, but to also “educate people about the slow flower local movement that was starting to happen around the world.”

Lavender, Eucalyptus & Acacias

When it comes to selecting flowers for the farm, Cutmore says that she has been “planting tube stock since last year.” The most bountiful varieties to date, she adds, are acacias and eucalyptus.

“There is also an old lavender planting here which also does incredibly well,” she adds. “That is one underestimated tough Mediterranean plant! Our summers we can reach up to 48 degrees Celsius and can go five months with no rain so it is a harsh hot summer for plants.”

Read more: Grow these old-fashioned flowers in your garden for something ‘new.’

Committing to Permaculture

“Permaculture has given me the tools and guidance I needed to get started,” says Cutmore of her abiding farming principles. She adds that these ethics are now “engrained in the way I think and help guide me to make decisions on the farm.”

The Importance of Planning

Keen to add permaculture tactics to your own gardening and farming routine? Cutmore suggests spending time teaching yourself about the key principles through reading books, watching YouTube videos and…

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The Rise of Chinese Surveillance Technology in Africa (Part 6 of 6)

Regulatory Responses to the Spread of Surveillance Tools in Africa

By Bulelani Jili, EPIC Scholar-in-Residence

Digital surveillance technologies are often presented as a solution to longstanding structural problems like crime. However, there is no robust empirical evidence that the adoption of Chinese surveillance tools results in the reduction of crime. The continual procurement of these tools despite lack of evidence of efficacy raises a series of questions: why are local elites interested in procuring these tools? To what extent do these tools empower new forms of governmentality? What are the hidden costs of adopting digital surveillance tools for Kenya and other African states?


Procuring digital surveillance tools in Kenya, and across the continent, tends to be justified by governments as a means to deliver development and public security. The establishment of the National Security Surveillance, Communication and Control System, which utilizes CCTV surveillance to detect, prevent, and respond to crime in Nairobi and Mombasa, demonstrates the Kenyan state’s belief that facial recognition capabilities are the answer to public security goals. The system also includes a vehicle registration plate recognition platform that identifies the number plate of vehicles. Yet, there is no evidence that these systems actually achieve the stated goal of increasing public security.

This fetish for digital solutions arises when it is presumed that crime reduction simply relies on applying surveillance technologies. However, monitoring tools like AI CCTV cameras are not smooth-functioning systems that automatically provide efficacious public security. Rather, they are complex platforms that are embedded in a broader social context. Indeed, elites are often blinded by their parochial commitment to surveillance tools as de facto solutions, despite continued lack of evidence that these tools actually deliver better social conditions or solutions to crime. More to the point, the lacuna between the use of digital surveillance technologies and robust legal protections for those surveilled fuels concern. Adoption of surveillance technologies is rarely accompanied by robust regulatory measures.

Currently, there is no Kenyan national policy regulating the installment and use of CCTV cameras. Despite the assumed benefits of these digital tools, the worry is that the system was introduced without the necessary data protection laws in Kenya.

Data Protection Act

Only half of the countries on the continent of Africa have laws on data protection. About two years ago, the Kenyan state produced the Data Protection Act (DPA) of 2019. It gives effect to Article 31 (c) and (d) of the constitution, which speaks to the right to privacy. It also establishes the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, which outlines the rights of data subjects and seeks to manage and protect data once it is acquired, processed, and stored. The DPA commissioner and the ICT Cabinet Secretary published three draft regulations under the DPA. Notwithstanding these changes, multiple advocates have identified inadequacies in the regulations. Thus far, the DPA has been insufficient in protecting the data of citizens and their right to privacy. Crucially, it also remains unclear how regulations or…

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Can Your Pumpkin For On-Demand, Anytime Pie Puree

I was ecstatic the first time we grew pumpkins. My kids anxiously awaited their homegrown jack-o’-lanterns while I eagerly envisioned homemade pumpkin pies. Pie pumpkins, jacks, miniatures and even Cinderellas sprawled across our too-small garden that year. Our family was surprised at the sheer quantity of pumpkins a tiny patch can provide! 

In the years since, we have narrowed down our selection of pumpkin varieties to those that make the best decorations and the best pumpkin pies. Even better, all those pumpkins are readily preserved with a pressure canner, a few jars and a bit of time.

Here’s how we turn our pumpkin patch into a larder full of jars, each ready to make a pie.

Pumpkin Selection

The good news is that it only takes two to four plants to produce all the pumpkin puree a small family will likely need for an entire year. However, you don’t have to grow your own pumpkins to achieve that sought-after, fresh-from-the-farm flavor.

Beginning around September and running through the holidays, most regions maintain a steady supply of these delectable orbs in the stores and the farmers markets. From-scratch baking is just a simple matter of making a quick trip to town. 

The best pumpkins to use in any type of recipe are by far the pie pumpkins. Also commonly called sugar pumpkins, these varieties are much smaller than the more recognizable jack-o’-lantern varieties and boast a significantly higher sugar content. Most pie pumpkins also produce a smoother final product than others, such as the jack-o’-lantern varieties. 

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However, don’t be discouraged if a large jack-o’-lantern is the only pumpkin you have access to. While technically not the best for pies or other pumpkin-based food fare, these will still produce a fine end product with a little extra prep. Most often, this simply means adding more sugar to the recipe than originally called for to offset the lower sugar content.

These pumpkins also tend to be stringier than their smaller counterparts and may require additional runs through a sieve or blender to create the smoothest texture possible. So don’t worry if you can’t find those little pie pumpkins.

Regardless which type of pumpkin you select, always go for the firmest pumpkins available with little to no blemishes. Stems should be firm and connected solidly to the pumpkin. You should notice no soft spots, including on the bottom of the pumpkin.

When handling, hold pumpkins by the sides and not the stem to avoid damaging the tender flesh inside. Store pumpkins in a cool, preferably dark, location until ready to process.

Read more: Save seeds from your pumpkins! This video shows you how.

Canning Help

While it’s true that pumpkin can be easily frozen for future use, not everyone has access to extra freezer space. By using a pressure canner, however, enough pumpkin can be processed within a few short hours to supply a small family with an entire year’s worth of pumpkin…

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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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