America’s Investigative Reports covers the photojournalists who created Unembedded, a book and photo exhibit by four independent photojournalists on the war in Iraq.
Will Drones Assassinate When Pigs Fly?
Date: Sun, 21 Apr 2013 22:49:37 -0500
From: Gregory Foster
Subject: [drone-list] Can drone flight paths be private?
WSJ (Apr 18) – “Why Jet Owners Don’t Want to be Tracked”:
Earlier this week, while some drone pundits were seizing the moment to advocate for law enforcement access to drone technology, this article was also being passed around. Although the article is full of examples of corporations that allege security threats to their employees, the most often re-cited concern was an assassination plot, “a retaliatory act meant to dissuade Lockheed Martin from producing drone weaponry.”
The article is sourced from a 2011 FOIA request to the FAA, so the timing of the article’s release and promotion struck me as trying to generate sympathy for the woes endured by drone manufacturers.
The intent of Rupert Murdoch’s WSJ aside, the other examples of corporate insecurity in this article warrant reading. From big pharma, to the fossil-fuel energy giants, to Disney – they’re all concerned (I’m sure quite reasonably) that there are people out there who are quite angry with them.
I also highlight this article because of discussions that circulated on this list a few months ago concerning just how the FAA intends to track tens of thousands of private and public drones in American skies – and just how much transparency the public can expect to receive into that flight path information. This article confirms that the FAA does maintain exceptions to disclosure of flight path information for privately owned jets, and all the owner has to do is fill out what sounds like a very simple form. The FAA does not question the legitimacy of any request, just makes sure the form is filled out. I don’t see why we should expect that policy to change for privately owned drones.
Here’s the question I have: can the FAA regulate my ability to see, with my own eyes (or a camera, or a radio receiver), what is in the sky? I don’t think so.
And my follow up question: can the FAA regulate my ability to tell someone else, with my own voice (or an email, or a database), what I saw in the sky?
If not, I think we should crowdsource observed and correlated flight paths.
After all, communities are being asked to assume the costs of operating 149 air-traffic control towers by June 15, or they will be shut down.
Those costs run to the tune of $30-40M and the jobs of 1,000 air-traffic controllers.
Seems like a good opportunity to do things differently.
Gregory Foster || gfoster[at]entersection.org
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From: “Al Mac Wow”
Date: Mon, 22 Apr 2013 02:41:19 -0500
Cc: ‘Bob Speth’
Subject: Re: [drone-list] Can drone flight paths be private?
> When is it reasonable for a drone flight path to be kept confidential?
The only time drones should be carrying passengers is when they are used as air ambulances to transport victims to hospital, more rapidly than ground transportation is capable of.
Such vehicles should be marked on the bottom with a red cross, and/or medical caduceus, so it is crystal clear to everyone what their function is.
Outside the USA, drones are already being used to transport medical supplies to hard to reach places, in support of disaster recovery.
> Can the FAA regulate my ability to see, with my own eyes (or a camera, or a radio receiver), what is in the sky? I don’t think so.
The military has stealth drones. This means they are microscopic on radar. Some of them look like the same color as clouds, and blue sky. I know that technology exists to have something change color, as the background changes, adaptive camouflage. I do not know if that has been incorporated into drones, how expensively prohibitive it might be.
I do not know if it is legal for big corporations to have private stealth jets. If there is no regulation against it, I guess it is.
With stealth there is a risk of collision between such aircraft controlled by different interests, and there have already been several near misses.
> Can the FAA regulate my ability to tell someone else, with my own voice (or an email, or a database, or blog), what I saw in the sky?
Currently in some US states, if we are driving and we see a police radar trap for motorists traveling at speeds in excess of posted limits, and we communicate this info to motorists who have not yet driven into the trap, this action is in violation of the law.
Making something illegal does not put a stop to the activity.
Al Mac (
In 2013, the Opium Risk Assessment was carried out in two phases similar to the year before. The first phase was implemented between December 2012 and January 2013 and covered the Central, Eastern, Southern and Western region, where opium was sown in fall 2012.
The second phase took place in February-March 2013 and covered the Northern and North-eastern regions, where opium poppy is mainly cultivated in spring. This report presents the findings of both phases. According to the 2013 Opium Risk Assessment increases in poppy cultivation are expected in most regions and in the main poppy-growing provinces.
In the Southern region, the Risk Assessment indicated that the largest opium cultivating provinces, Hilmand and Kandahar, are likely to see an increase in opium cultivation due to the current high price of opium and to compensate the low opium yield in 2012 which was caused by a combination of a disease of the opium poppy and unfavourable weather conditions. An increase in opium poppy cultivation is also expected in Uruzgan and Zabul province. No major changes are expected in Daykundi province. In the western provinces, namely in Farah and Ghor, opium cultivation is also expected to increase. A decrease in opium poppy cultivation is however expected in Hirat province. Increasing trends were reported from Nangarhar and Kapisa provinces in the Eastern region. No major changes in opium cultivation are expected in Nimroz, Badghis, Kabul, Kunar and Laghman provinces.
Balkh and Faryab in northern region are likely to see an increase in opium cultivation in 2013. These two provinces may lose their poppy-free status if timely effective eradication is not implemented. No major changes are expected in Baghlan province. The largest cultivating province in the north-east, Badakhshan is likely to see an increase in opium cultivation in 2013. The increase in opium cultivation is also expected in Takhar province. Takhar may lose its poppy-free status unless effective eradication is implemented in time. The remaining provinces in the northern and north-eastern regions are expected to remain poppy-free in 2013.
The Risk Assessment 2013 indicated that a strong association between insecurity, lack of agricultural assistance and opium cultivation continues to exist. Villages with a low level of security and those which had not received agricultural assistance in the previous year were significantly more likely to grow poppy in 2013 than villages with good security and those, which had received assistance. Similarly, villages which had been reached by anti-poppy awareness campaigns were significantly less likely to grow poppy in 2013.
Fear of eradication was the most frequent reason reported for not cultivating poppy in 2013 in Southern, Western, Eastern and Central region, unlike in previous years, when eradication was rarely mentioned by respondents. The large increase in eradication in 2012 compared to previous years and the fact that it happened in major poppy cultivating areas are likely reasons for this result. However, in the Northern and North-eastern region the most frequent reason for not cultivating opium was “ not enough yield in the previous year” followed by the government’s opium ban.
The findings of the 2013 Opium Risk Assessment in the Southern, Eastern, Western and Central regions points to a worrying situation. The assessment suggests that poppy cultivation is not only expected to expand in areas where it already existed in 2012, e.g. in the area north of the Boghra canal in Hilmand province or in Bawka district in Farah province but also in new areas or in areas where poppy cultivation was stopped. In eastern Afghanistan, in Nangarhar province, farmers resumed cultivation even in districts where poppy has not been present for the last four years. In the Northern and Northeastern region, the provinces of Balkh and Takhar which were poppy-free for many years are at risk of resuming poppy cultivation.
On a more positive note, some provinces with a low level of poppy cultivation, namely Ghor, Kabul, Kapisa, Hirat Zabul and Baghlan may gain poppy-free status in 2013 if effective eradication is implemented on time.
Bob Woodward explains the three ways journalists get their information and comments on the future of in-depth journalism in the digital age.
On February 1, 2013, Tokyo Electric Power released over 100 Zipped files containing several hundred photos of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station taken from time of the tsunami on March 11, 2011 to April 11, 2011. They are among the earliest TEPCO photos which show the initial damage by the tsunami, aftermath of the explosions and efforts to survey, control and stabilize the plant. Most have not been widely published. These are selections.
Compare to high-resolution aerial photos taken March 24-30, 2011:
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Early Photos
Photos of March 15, 2011. Captions by TEPCO.
Appearance of Unit 3 Reactor Building after explosion. Photo taken on 2011.3.15