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January 25 2014

January 29, 2014




Security Expert: Business Owners Should Never Bank Online

By Karen Weise January 17, 2014


Security blogger Brian Krebs knows a thing or two about the risks of cybercrimes. The security blogger who broke the news of the Target (TGT) and Neiman Marcus data breaches spends his days investigating the cybercriminal underground and, as we reported in the recent issue of the magazine, has been the target of all sorts of digital, and at times physical, assaults. He’s got surveillance cameras around his home, keeps a shotgun in his office, and has thought through how best to protect his own bank accounts.

Krebs says he has no major qualms about doing his personal banking online—largely because there are so many protections for consumers. If a consumer’s bank account is hacked, the bank is generally responsible for covering the costs of the fraud. “If their account is emptied out, as long as the consumer notifies bank in a timely fashion, they don’t have to pay for that,” Krebs says.

According to the FTC (pdf), there are a few thresholds for what’s considered timely. (For those of you keeping track, this is mandated in Section 205.6 of Regulation E.) If consumers notify their bank within two days of learning about the loss or theft, the most they’ll have to pay is $50, no matter how much has been emptied from their checking account. (Consumers are also liable for only up to $50 of fraudulent credit card charges.) If they wait more than two days, but are still within 60 days after their account statement is sent to them, they could be responsible for up to $500.

Protections for business accounts are a whole other story: In general, banks aren’t on the hook in the event of a fraud. Krebs has spent years documenting the ways small businesses have been victimized by cyber attacks. The results can be devastating, at times forcing the business to close when thieves wipe out their payroll or checking accounts. Because of this, Krebs says he does none of his business banking online. He drives to his bank to deposit old-fashioned paper checks in person. Krebs says not enough people know about this distinction, including bank tellers. When he gives paid lectures, Krebs says he asks to travel in business class and often strikes up a conversation with his seatmates. When he mentions this business banking vulnerability, his seatmates are often dumbstruck. “OK,” Krebs says, “Let’s have a conversation about this.”



Insurance Coverage for Commercial Drones: Sky’s the Limit

by Press • 20 January 2014



Though the use of small, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)—more familiarly known as “drones”—is in its infancy, commercial growth is predicted to significantly increase in the next 10 years as businesses such as Amazon and UPS explore using them for deliveries and enthusiasts adopt them for commercial and recreational purposes.

Drones will require insurance coverage, which can open the door to new business for agents and brokers. But insuring an unmanned aircraft system means considering a multitude of insurance liability and coverage issues, ranging from personal injury and invasion of privacy to aerial surveillance and data collection.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that by 2020, about 30,000 small, unmanned aircrafts will be used for all types of business purposes. Worldwide, total spending for these aircraft systems is expected to top $89 billion in the next decade, thanks to strong military and commercial demand, according to a 2012 market study by Teal Group, an aerospace industry analyst.

The FAA has allocated $63.4 billion to modernize the country’s air traffic control systems and expand airspace to accommodate the commercial use of these aircrafts. As regulatory constraints are modified to reflect the introduction of these new aircraft systems, commercial markets for their use will expand rapidly. The FAA estimates that roughly 7,500 commercial drones could be viable in five years.

This is quite a change; before the FAA approved two flying robotics models for commercial operations, the only way the commercial/private sector could fly an unmanned aircraft in U.S. airspace was with an experimental airworthiness certification.

The FAA-approved drones each weigh less than 55 pounds and is about 4.5 feet long. They have no pilot on board but are controlled by an offsite operator using a sophisticated remote-control system and data link transmissions.

These flying systems can carry high-powered cameras, infrared sensors, facial-recognition technology and license plate readers.

Business uses are endless. Halstead Property, a real estate business in Darien, Conn., has been using aerial robotic cameras for almost four years to showcase home listings. The business recently demonstrated on the Today show how its drones capture footage of homes for sale, showcasing their interior and exterior features. The use of the technology has increased Halstead’s online listings views threefold, and clients are impressed by the company’s progressive marketing efforts and cutting-edge technology.

Congress has tasked the FAA with integrating unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system by late 2015. This demand requires the FAA to quickly develop a comprehensive plan focused on the safety of UAS technology as well as operator certification. To meet these objectives, the FAA created a new UAS Integration office in March 2012 to tap the knowledge of specialists in aviation safety and air traffic control.

The FAA must develop effective policies and standards to address the increasing number of drones taking to the skies, balancing efficiency and predictability while enhancing safety; operating globally; creating a viable system for airspace use and protecting both safety and the environment.

And legal issues will also arise: Can a property owner claim a drone is “trespassing” on his land? How will stalking, harassment and other laws regulating criminal behavior be applied to drone use? Does airspace ownership apply to unmanned aircraft systems? What about claims of invasion of privacy and spying?

And how will federal aviation law conflict with state law on some of these issues? The government has already made a foray into this quagmire with the Drone Aircraft Privacy & Transparency Act of 2013, introduced to create a regulatory structure for the private use of drones, including privacy protection, data collection and enforcement.

In addition to many regulatory and legal challenges, a slew of complex liability and coverage issues related to insuring unmanned aircraft systems for commercial use is on the horizon too. New and serious problems are likely to arise over airspace procedures, types of accidents and inadvertent eavesdropping.

Fewer than two dozen insurers provide insurance to the aircraft industry—up from less than a dozen a few years ago—and this number is likely to grow once the FAA gives its OK. Although carriers are developing policies to cover insurance exposures relating to drones, they don’t have much data to guide them as they branch into this new territory.

To properly insure these aircrafts, insurers will need to know their function or intent, their takeoff and landing locations, whether they will be operating over populated areas, and their flying altitude. And because these systems can collect massive amounts of data, they can pose a threat to individual privacy and a significant challenge for insurers. In drafting policies, insurers must know how the owner of these aircraft systems will use the data it has gathered and what steps it will take to safeguard or destroy the information it has amassed.

Two areas have the potential to raise huge red flags for the insurance industry: personal injury and invasion of privacy.

Unmanned aircraft systems will have much the same insurance requirements as other aircrafts—only on a smaller scale given their size, flying range and price tag. Given the inherently conservative nature of the insurance industry, carriers might require even stricter guidelines than what the FAA may mandate. Expect to see these types of coverage for drones and their ancillary business activities: liability, personal injury, invasion of privacy, property, and workers’ compensation.

Liability coverage typically includes protection for personal injury, which also covers invasion of privacy. The scope of coverage will depend on what the aircraft is meant to do. If it’s meant to gather data rather than deliver packages, the coverage may need to be broader to provide additional protection.

Property coverage broadly applies to the production, assembly and wholesaling process, which not only protects the parts and the finished product in a warehouse, but also the machinery.

In addition, although whole coverage will be essential, aircraft underwriters have not yet decided how to write these policies. Drones are significantly smaller than standard aircraft, and at this stage, it’s difficult to predict what they will or will not do.

Workers’ compensation coverage is necessary to protect the people working for and in the facilities of UAS-related businesses.

Also, since many of the businesses that will spring up around the UAS industry are likely to be entrepreneurial startups funded by investors, insurers would be wise to offer protection against financial loss due to mismanagement. Exploring directors and officers liability insurance is a prudent option under the circumstances.

Brokers looking to get into the UAS industry must ask extensive questions and “go deep” as they gather information. For example, brokers should inquire about data collection, storage and usage policies as well as a drone’s particular purpose and other physical specifications. This information is essential to help the underwriter prepare a policy that takes all risks into account and provides the proper coverage.


Expect to see the capacity to underwrite drone policies increase as insurers become more familiar with the territory. But insurance is about the collective, so when insurers are hit with the first few claims alleging serious injury or death, they will inevitably start to pull back, resulting in less available coverage and higher prices.



Senators question FAA about faster drone regulation

by Press • 20 January 2014

Bart Jansen USA Today


WASHINGTON — Drone advocates urged the Federal Aviation Administration at a Senate hearing Wednesday to allow the aircraft into general airspace faster because countries such as Japan are friendlier to the innovative technology.

Some members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee voiced concern about maintaining drone safety and protecting privacy as more drones fill the skies.

“Lives are at stake,” said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., the panel chairman. “One of the most important problems the FAA and the industry are trying to solve is avoiding collisions between unmanned and piloted aircraft.”

There is a sense of urgency to the testing and development of regulations. Congress set a September 2015 deadline for the FAA to regulate sharing the skies between drones and commercial airliners.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said the agency must set standards for safely operating drones, making sure they avoid other aircraft and ensuring they land safely if they lose connection with the remote pilot.

“There will be challenges to this integration,” Huerta said.

He released a road map for the industry in November and named six test groups in December. The FAA anticipates 7,500 drones in the skies within five years, if regulations allow. Huerta said regulations will be prioritized and phased in.

“We must meet these obligations in a thoughtful and careful manner,” Huerta said.

Missy Cummings, a former Navy fight pilot who is director of the humans and autonomy lab at Duke University, doubted the FAA would meet the 2015 deadline.

“While we are making some progress towards this goal, the United States is lagging, not leading, the commercial drone boom,” she said.


Manufacturers are impatient.

Yamaha Motor’s RMAX drone has been fertilizing crops in Japan for 20 years and more recently in Australia and South Korea, according to Henio Arcangeli, vice president for new business development. Drones fertilize a part of Japan equal in size to Delaware and Rhode Island combined, he said.

At 140 pounds and 9 feet long, the $100,000 remote-piloted helicopter is larger than hand-held hobbyist aircraft that could win earlier federal approval.

Trained pilots keep an eye on the drone during daylight hours, Arcangeli said. The drones can fertilize 11 acres of vineyards in Napa Valley in the time it takes a tractor to cover 1 acre, he said.

“There is no reason to delay all commercial (drone) use for the several years it will take the FAA to develop more comprehensive regulations,” Arcangeli said.

Rockefeller and Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, one of the six testing locations, asked why the FAA is 20 years behind other countries in developing drone regulations.

“Why are we not at the forefront of the world?” Heller asked.

Huerta said U.S. airspace is much more complicated than Japan’s because of many more general-aviation planes. Drone technology has grown quickly and unpredictably, he said.

“Even today, we don’t have a complete understanding of where this might go in the future,” Huerta said.



Bordeaux Classified Vineyards Invest in UAS Technology

by Press • 19 January 2014


Bernard Magrez is to roll out newly-developed vineyard UAS in his four classified Bordeaux estates – Pape Clement, La Tour Carnet, Fombrauge and Haut Peyraguay – before eventually extending them to his entire portfolio of Bordeaux properties, and those in the south of France.

The technology, which involves unmanned mini-helicopter UAS equipped with cameras and other sensors, can be used to fly over vineyards measuring plant damage, disease, hydric stress, grape ripeness and various other parameters, including soil specificities and land contours for drainage.

Chateau Luchey-Halde in AOC Pessac Léognan tested the Scancopter 450, from Fly-n-Sense, back in May 2011, while several estates in California and Oregon have begun using similar technology. Both Chateau Bouscaut and Chateau La Dauphine have also used UAS technology in recent months to create aerial marketing videos of their estates.

Jeanne Lacombe, technical director of all eleven Magrez Médoc estates, including La Tour Carnet and Les Grands Chenes, told that a single UAS has been ordered, at the cost of €50,000, and will begin work in April of this year.

‘We have done tests so far, and are very happy with the results. It can cover 1.5 ha of vines in four minutes, so we expect around one week for a property of the size of La Tour Carnet, which extends over 120 hectares.

‘We envisage using the UAS three or four weeks of the year at each property, moving between them as needed, and will buy others in the future if the experiment proves successful.’

Lacombe expects the drone to offer significant manpower reductions, and ensure that all Magrez estates can employ the same levels of plot-by-plot precision viticulture.

‘We expect to make significant reductions also in the use of fertilisers and any vineyard treatments, as the UAS measures requirements so precisely. It also means cutting down on use of tractors. We are training in using the technology right now, and will at first employ manual controls, but in the future the drone will be operated simply by programming from the computer’.

Magrez himself said being a precursor in the use of new technologies was a ‘point of pride’.


Global Hawk, U-2 Duel Resumes in ’15 Budget Fight

By Amy Butler

Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

January 20, 2014 

My how times—and political winds—have changed for the beleaguered Global Hawk unmanned reconnaissance aircraft.

Less than two years after proposing termination and premature mothballing of the new Block 30 version—once eyed as a replacement for the venerable, high-flying U-2 reconnaissance aircraft—the Pentagon leadership is toying with a complete reversal on its position as it works through options for the fiscal 2015 budget proposal.

In a resourcing management decision—the mechanism by which the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) responds to the services’ annual spending plans—Pentagon budgeters gutted U-2 funding, shifting more than $3 billion into the Global Hawk Block 30 account. The decision is not yet final, and it remains to be seen whether the service will maintain its position from the fiscal 2013 budget. It favored halting Block 30 work and operations and focusing solely on the Lockheed Martin U-2 as the high-altitude, standoff intelligence collector for the next decade or more.

Officials in the OSD and the Air Force do not comment on funding decisions prior to their delivery to Congress. But there are a variety of reasons behind the possible reversal of course by the Pentagon’s leadership. These include politics and a shift in the cost estimate to operate the fleet.

The outcome of this debate could be a bellwether for other such squabbles down the road as the Pentagon proposes fleet terminations—including the A-10, Kiowa and TH-67—in the wake of sequestration and other fiscal pressures. Will the Pentagon and the service capitulate to parochial pressure from Capitol Hill to save a politically popular program? Or will they go to bat for the savings plans they have devised in light of dramatically declining investment budgets? Defense planners argue that if each fleet cut is adjusted, overall savings will be eroded, leaving the Pentagon with a “hollow force” of many platforms that it cannot afford to fly and keep current.

At issue for the Global Hawk is a dive in the cost per flying hour (CPFH) for the aircraft. In earlier fiscal years, CPFH was near that of the U-2 at roughly $33,000 per hr. Fiscal 2013 numbers, recently in from the field, point to a CPFH closer to $25,000, according to a program source.

The notable decrease is due to a substantial spike in the number of hours flown, a shift partly related to the fielding of the first Block 40s outfitted with active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radars for ground surveillance, an Air Force official says. The official did not provide a total number for the year, but a larger number of hours allows fixed costs to be more diluted in the calculation. Though the Air Force has not publicly proposed terminating the Block 40 in budget plans, last year senior leaders were eyeing it for a kill. It was likely saved owing to the then open debate on the fate of Block 30.

Even if this new CPFH holds true in coming years, one program official notes that for some regions—such as the Pacific—Global Hawk must fly more hours to have an equitable time on station as the U-2. While CPFH may be lower for the Global Hawk, the figure is not reflective of the total cost to gather the needed intelligence.

To give an example, the unmanned air system (UAS) would have to fly 54% more flight hours to collect intelligence on areas in North Korea, the Middle East and Iran.

Nor is CPFH reflective of mission success rates between the two platforms. Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance collection is in high demand, and aircraft downtime is extremely worrisome for combatant commanders. In the Pacific, 55% of Global Hawk’s missions were canceled in fiscal 2013; 96% of the U-2’s missions were achieved. The U-2 was also scheduled for nearly three times as many missions. Global Hawk lacks anti-icing equipment and is not able to operate in severe weather. An upgrade to remedy the shortcoming is being developed by the Navy for its Triton Global Hawk variant, but it would cost money and time to field.

The program source argues that CPFH is not an accurate metric on which to make a decision. He notes that Global Hawks based in Guam have to transit for hours just to reach North Korea, whereas the U-2, based at Osan air base, South Korea, has a shorter commute.

Additionally, the service originally opted to terminate the aircraft because of the lackluster performance by its Raytheon Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suite—the camera used to collect visual, infrared, and radar images. Global Hawk also flies at a lower altitude—typically close to 50,000 ft.—making it more susceptible to some weather and offering less-than-optimal ranges for peering into an enemy’s territory. The U-2, by contrast, operates above 60,000 ft., and has nearly twice as much onboard power at the ready for collecting radar images. Forthcoming fielding of the secret, stealthy RQ-180 UAS (also developed by Northrop Grumman) probably contributed to the Air Force’s view that the Global Hawk is excessive (AW&ST Dec, 9, 2013, p. 20).

Northrop Grumman did not discuss the newest CPFH figures. “[We are] working closely with the Air Force to reduce Global Hawk costs and enhance the system’s outstanding performance. Global Hawk costs per flight hour have gone down significantly since 2010 and continue to decline as the system increases its operational tempo,” says Rene Freeland, a company spokeswoman.

The cost argument could, ultimately, be a cover for OSD simply succumbing to pressure from Capitol Hill, according to some program officials. Lawmakers have gone to bat for the system repeatedly, and Northrop Grumman has aggressively lobbied to keep Global Hawk alive.


Navy Helps Fund 3D Printing of Buildings



Partially funded by the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation Countour Crafting is trying to develop 3D printed buildings using concrete. Company founder Behrokh Khoshnevis is a professor and director of Manufacturing Engineering Graduate Program at the University of Southern California.

Concrete printers would be able to build a 2,500-square-foot building within a single day, according to Khoshnevis.

For the military, that means soldiers deploying to a remote location with little or no infrastructure could be operating out of permanent structures pretty soon after a combat engineer unit arrived with printers and material aboard a C-17.

Essentially, building via printer would work just like any computer assisted manufacturing program. But instead of a robotic tap and die machine turning out parts according to a program, it would be an oversized printer following programmed schematics to lay down, layer by layer, a building, including outside and interior walls, spaces for doors and windows and all electrical, plumbing and air-conditioning conduits, according to Khoshnevis’ website.

In a video of a presentation he made last year Khoshnevis says the machines he is working with now are capable of printing out concrete walls able to bear a compressive stress of 10,000 pounds per square inch. According to the Portland Concrete Association, which represents concrete manufacturers nationwide, conventional concrete has a psi of 7,000 or less.

Anything above that, up to 14,500 psi, is considered high strength.

Building construction is about the only thing that is not automated today, Khoshnevis says. At the same time it kills about 10,000 people a year and injures about 400,000.

Given the history of U.S. military and related missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Khoshnevis observations on other aspects of conventional construction should also have meaning to the Pentagon.

“The [existing] process is pretty corruption prone,” he said. “It’s very costly and always over budget.”

Looking even further ahead, and farther away, Khoshnevis says 3D construction is likely the solution to be “one of the very few feasible approaches for building structures on the Moon and Mars, which are being targeted for human colonization before the end of the new century.”

Read more:



BlackBerrys Will Make Up 98% of Mobile Devices on New Defensewide System

By Aliya Sternstein

January 17, 2014


A Pentagon system intended to secure a mix of brand name smartphones for warfighters will primarily support BlackBerrys when the tool starts launching later this month, according to Defense Department officials.

About 80,000 BlackBerrys and 1,800 Defense-owned Apple and Android-based phones and tablets will begin being hooked up to the new management system on Jan. 31, officials announced on Friday.

A transition from tethered workstation computers to mobile information access that began in 2012 is contingent on this system functioning. The $16 million project aims to ensure users — potentially 300,000 of them – don’t compromise military data on their phones or corrupt defense networks when on-the-go.

Popular devices expected to go online include the iPad 3 and 4, iPhone 4S and 5, Samsung 10.1 tablets and Samsung 3S, and Motorola RAZR devices.

“The new year will bring new mobile capabilities to as many as 100,000 DoD users,” Pentagon officials said in a statement. “DoD will begin deploying version 1.0 of the unclassified mobility capability Jan. 31 and will build out capacity to support up to 100,000 users by the end of the fiscal year.”

At the end of the month, users of the mobile device management system will have access to an app store, support for Defense encryption keys, and several departmentwide services, including enterprise email and Defense Connect Online.

Around May, the Pentagon will add a business software package so that users can edit Word documents and other Microsoft Office files.

There currently are 16 apps available, and 90 programs under evaluation.

DISA did not test the system before awarding a contract for installation to DMI last year, according to Defense officials. Questions have been raised about the ability to deploy one part that protects email and Web browsing under an aggressive timeline without short-changing security.

Last year, some military members working off Apple and Android electronics had to revert to older model BlackBerrys because of the system changeover. At the time, Pentagon spokesman Damien Pickart said in an email. “We are delaying provisioning of those devices until the [mobile device management] environment is ready in Jan 2014. We will provision new devices as rapidly as possible starting in January 2014.”



Drone Hunting in Colorado

JANUARY 20, 2014

By Matt Pearce


Wearing a black duster and a black cowboy hat, Phil Steel walked to the front of the meeting room armed with a Nerf gun and a smile. The U.S. Army veteran was there to pitch his big idea: an ordinance that would legalize and regulate drone hunting inside Deer Trail city limits. If approved, residents could pay $25 to get a drone-hunting license; the town would pay a bounty for every drone bagged.

“Really?” someone asked sarcastically as the theme music to “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” blared during Steel’s entrance. Laughter rippled through the room.

Steel had hammered out the 2,800-word ordinance in just four hours. Its key points:

When a drone flies into its airspace, Deer Trail will consider it an act of war.

You can only shoot at drones flying lower than 1,000 feet.

Unless your life is in danger, you can only fire up to three shots at a drone.

Some at the August meeting thought the drone-hunting ordinance might be a good idea. Others used words like “stupid” and “a joke” to describe a proposal that they worried might become an embarrassment.

To many, that’s exactly what it has become.

Out in the loping, golden plains about an hour’s drive east of Denver, this little town of lonesome homes and chain-link fences looks a lot like the other hubs that sit astride Interstate 70 as traffic streaks toward Kansas: Blink, and you miss it.

Then things in Deer Trail (population about 550) changed when the town’s trustees split 3 to 3 on the ordinance, automatically kicking the proposal to the residents for a vote. In doing so, the trustees managed to garner national media attention for Deer Trail at a time when drones are poised to become a part of everyday life.

Mention the word “drone” and locals hang their heads or throw up their hands. The idea is either a money-raiser for the town, a dangerous joke, or _ according to its creator _ a stand against the federal government, corporations and drug dealers.

“I have declared the sovereignty and the supremacy of the airspace of my town,” said Steel, 49. “This is an act of sedition, and I proudly state that.”

___ Just by the interstate, there used to be a big white sign sitting next to a pink tractor outside the mayor’s welding shop. “No drone zone,” it said, before somebody stole it in December.

The mayor said he’d put the sign up as a joke when the drone debate first started. But who’s laughing anymore?

“Nobody likes humor,” Frank Fields said recently of the town that he runs.

Before last year, the town was most famous for claiming to be the home of America’s first rodeo in 1869; now, it’s Steel’s contentious proposal.

Steel’s involvement in the drone ordinance has antagonized many of the town’s residents, including some of those who support the measure.

“I agree with the Fourth Amendment rights (argument), but I don’t like him,” said one resident waiting by the pump at the Deer Trail Phillips 66 gas station. She declined to give her name for fear of causing trouble.

The proposal to legalize drone hunting by selling licenses appealed to Fields purely as a source of income, the mayor said, because the town’s coffers are bare and residents can’t agree to pass a sales tax.

“A little bit of free money is going be good, we thought,” said Fields, 57. “Evidently, nobody wanted that either. … Now people are trying to oust me and the town clerk because we went kind of far.”

After a little prodding, Fields acknowledged that the town clerk is, yes, also his wife. That’s just the kind of place Deer Trail is.

___ There are no drones flying over Deer Trail, it should be mentioned. At midday, when everybody is at work, there is hardly even any traffic: All you might hear is the snort of a horse fenced in somebody’s yard, or the croak of a rooster.

“Across the board, very good people,” said Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson, who is retiring at the end of January. “I’m very proud to serve every one of them. There’s a bit of an independent streak out there, which I have no objection to.

“But,” the sheriff adds, “I obviously object to the ordinance.” Domestic drones are coming. The Federal Aviation Administration is working on plans to integrate drones into civilian airspace as soon as 2015. It has taken notice of Deer Trail’s proposal.

“A (drone) hit by gunfire could crash, causing damage to persons or property on the ground, or it could collide with other objects in the air,” the FAA said in a statement. “Shooting at an unmanned aircraft could result in criminal or civil liability, just as would firing at a manned airplane.”

But these arguments _ and especially Amazon’s recent announcement about considering drone package deliveries _ only bolstered Steel’s quest.

“You think they’re the only ones?” Steel said of the Amazon drones. “There will be millions of these. … Which drones are being flown by drug dealers? … Burglars who want to case neighborhoods? If you can also deliver a pizza, you can deliver a bomb, anywhere _ at a crowded football stadium, at the Boston Marathon.”

Even though the measure hasn’t been passed, Steel has sold drone-hunting licenses to buyers around the country for $25 a pop, raising suspicions around town that he’s just in it for the money. He had a spreadsheet detailing several hundred PayPal transactions from 41 states and two provinces in Canada.

Lonneke, Steel’s neighbor, bragged on Facebook about buying a license: “Today is the best day of my life I GOT MY DRONE HUNTING LICENSE TODAY!!!!!!”

The licenses are printed on vellum, and come with the warning that they “may not be recognized by tyrannical municipal, state or federal governments.” Even though the licenses have no legal value, Fields, the mayor, has abetted Steel’s private sales.

“I was all about it _ heck yeah! I signed it as sovereign mayor, and town clerk signed it as a witness,” Fields said, adding that he signed about 100 licenses personally before Steel got a stamp with Fields’ signature on it to print on the rest.

“We kind of stirred it up a little,” Fields said. “Once it’s all said, I don’t have regrets. It is what it is.”

Deer Trail, with its pretty, painted gazebos mixed in with rusted-out cars parked on lawns, still could be released from its notoriety _ and the occasional drone tourist _ should the measure fail at the ballot box in April.

If Deer Trail says no to drone hunting, fine, Steel said. There are lots of other little towns in Colorado.



Federal ban on drones doesn’t stop photography

by Press • 22 January 2014

By Peter Corbett


Valley real-estate photographers are using drones to shoot aerial shots of residential properties despite a federal ban on the use of unmanned aircraft.

Using lightweight radio-controlled helicopters to shoot photos and videos that show homes in context to neighbors, golf courses and other nearby landmarks, the photographers are finding ways to work around federal rules.

“Technically, I can’t charge for any of the flying,” said Luke Pierzina of Aerial Raiders. “I charge for editing.”

Commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, is expected to be an emerging line of business worth billions of dollars within a few years.

That includes low-flying aircraft of less than 10 pounds all the way up to planes as large as commercial airliners that can fly above 60,000 feet.

The Federal Aviation Administration estimates that more than 7,500 small UAVs will be flying in the national airspace in the next five years.

Pierzina, 40, of Aerial Raiders, said he has used his radio-controlled four-blade helicopter to shoot real-estate photographs, snowboarder video and even a wedding on a remote mesa near Sedona.

The 5-pound aircraft with 14-inch blades can fly on battery power for about six minutes with a camera or 25 minutes without, he said.

The FAA chose six U.S. test sites in December to review UAV technology and develop regulations for their use.

Arizona was not among the sites chosen for testing, but it hopes to remain involved in development of commercial UAV applications.

The FAA is scheduled to set rules for small UAVs this year with a review period to follow before implementation.

The agency claims jurisdiction of the entire U.S. airspace and relies on a 1981 advisory circular regulating model aircraft as the basis for standards for small UAV use.

The circular encourages voluntary compliance and advises model-aircraft fliers to keep their planes below 400 feet and to notify an airport operator if they are flying within 3 miles of the airport.


Commercial use banned

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said in a statement that an operator of radio-controlled aircraft can mount a camera on it and shoot video for his or her personal use.

“But if the same person flies the same aircraft and then tries to sell the video, or uses it to promote a business, or accepts payments from someone else to shoot the video, that would be a prohibited commercial operation,” said Gregor, who works out of the FAA’s Pacific Division office.

The FAA is not a prosecutorial agency, but it would send a UAV operator a cease-and-desist letter if it became aware of the unauthorized commercial use of a UAV, he added.

The FAA is in litigation with Raphael Pirker, an aerial photographer who in 2011 shot pictures with a UAV at the University of Virginia.

Pirker, who was assessed a $10,000 fine, is challenging the FAA’s jurisdiction.

UAV users, including real-estate photographers and journalists, are carefully watching the case.

Aerial Raiders and other Valley operators such as Greg Utton of Mesa have websites that advertise their photography services with UAVs.

Another local UAV operator declined to comment on the record because of fears of FAA enforcement.

Utton, 66, said that he thinks there are thousands of UAV photographers around the country and that the FAA cannot police them all.

He started doing real-estate photography three years ago and added the option of aerial images last year.

Flying radio-controlled aircraft has been a hobby since the mid-1970s.

Utton has three radio-controlled helicopters for photographs and a six-blade rotorcraft for video.

The lightweight copters can cost as much as $5,000, Utton said.

He assembles the aircraft and builds the rigging for his cameras, which include a small GoPro unit and a full-size digital camera.


Safety, privacy issues

For safety and privacy, Utton said he always keeps the copters in view and restricts flights to over the street and the property he is shooting.

He won’t fly near power lines, in high winds or if a site is too congested with people or cars.

“I’m not flying very high, maybe 100 feet,” he said. “You want to show the front of the house and the landscaping. When you get one of these expensive houses, that’s what you’re selling.”

Utton charges $150 for shooting with his small helicopter and $375 for the large UAV. But that is far less than hiring a full-size aircraft to do aerial photography.

Bruce Haffner, a pilot and TV reporter, said he charges $1,575 per hour to take HD video footage for commercial work in his full-size helicopter.

“We can go to higher altitudes and travel farther,” he said of the helicopter. “But the quadcopter has its place. There is a place for them once the FAA figures it out (on safety issues).”

Utton and others in the UAV industry have complained that the United States is falling behind other nations in using UAVs for commercial use while the FAA is taking years to set its policies.


“Why is it that I can’t do this here because I live in the United States?” said Utton, a Vietnam veteran who was an Army helicopter crew chief.

The federal government has not contacted him about his UAV use for real-estate photography, Utton said.

Real-estate photography is becoming an important part of marketing properties, especially high-end homes, because nine out of 10 buyers start home searches online, said Kevin Crosse of Arizona Imaging.

He started his company in 2001.

Some photographers use truck-mounted booms to get aerial shots, but the height is limited and access can be restricted, as well, he said.

Crosse does not have a UAV but has contracted with an operator for aerial shots. That operator declined to be identified for this story.

Rebecca Grossman, Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors president and CEO, said the association is aware that some of its members offer aerial videos.

“But we were not aware that they are violating FAA rules, and we have not received any complaints in that regard,” she said.

In January 2012, the California Association of Realtors warned its members that use of UAVs for video or photographs of high-end properties “may violate … the FAA policy on unmanned aircraft.”

Lexa Garrett, president of the Saguaro chapter of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, said the FAA has established a distinct line between hobbyists and commercial operators of UAVs.

Safety is the agency’s top priority, she said.

“The FAA doesn’t want things falling out of the sky” and landing on a neighbor’s property, said Garrett, a commercial-airline pilot from southern Arizona.




Drones for farms a challenge, but popular topic at Precision Ag Summit

by Press • 22 January 2014

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek


JAMESTOWN, N.D. — Technology might be a limit in precision agriculture, but the biggest limitation is imagination.

Topics at this year’s Precision Ag Action Summit in Jamestown, N.D., ranged from Google Glass, a technology for putting a smartphone into eyeglass frames, to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), to the quality and ability to use data, which is becoming so voluminous that it has its own name — big data.

After two full days of hearing speakers at the summit, farmer Kerby Weets from Ashby, Minn., rose to ask how much the far-flung drone systems might actually cost a farmer. Answers varied.

“Our system is made to cover a lot of acres really fast, really quickly,” assured Zach Fiene, co-founder of DMZ Ariel, in Prairie Du Sac, Wis., a UAS panelist who said his systems would be at the low end of the cost spectrum for UAS machines, at $2,500 to $5,500.

More expensive systems do more and might cost $15,000, said supplier Ryan Jensen, CEO and co-founder of HoneyComb UAS. Jensen said his system is used in the potato industry in western states.

“We found that crop value and monitoring frequency are important,” Jensen said. “The other thing to consider is the processing that needs to be done.”


What will it cost?

Despite variability and complexity, the costs don’t seem daunting to some farmers.

“I think right now it’s a little pricey,” Weets said. “As we get more technology rolling out, I can see a lot of that stuff cheapening up. I think this is a big thing. We’re on the cutting edge of a lot of this stuff.”

Weets could think of ways to use the new systems on a farm he operates with a brother near Alexandria, Minn., or on the tiling business he co-owns, or in his other work as an agronomist for a local cooperative.

“A system like this could add a lot of value to what I do on a day-to-day basis,” he said. With the tiling system, he could use 1-inch accuracy instead of remote sensing imagery, which he said has a resolution of about 3 feet. He said he’s going to buy and learn to fly a hobby model airplane to practice with.

Some 340 people attended the event in the two-day period. Ryan Aasheim, event coordinator for the Red River Valley Research Corridor, one of the main sponsors, along with the North Dakota Farmers Union, said attendance increased by nearly 100 over last year.

Aasheim said more UAS content drove this year’s interest, but there was a cross-section of people, sampling different software applications and technologies. He said the event had increased some of the break times, adding to the networking.

The show expanded this year into livestock to attract speakers and attendees. Mark Watne, president of the NDFU, said the event fits well into his organization’s educational goals.

“It’s exposing people, letting them decide whether they want to get involved,” Aasheim said.


Landing on the moon

Dale Reimers, a 55-year-old Jamestown farmer, said technology is something farms and organizations need to focus on more. He likened the messages from the conference to the John F. Kennedy challenge to put a man on the moon.

“It’s huge,” he said. Some of the technology will be tested this summer on Reimers’ brother’s farm operation east of Casselton, N.D. The study involves North Dakota State University and is funded by the North Dakota Soybean Council.

The event’s most impressive drone demonstration may have been one by Eric Harnisch, an NDSU electrical engineering graduate who lives in the Minneapolis area and works with Pulsar Operational Boundaries, based in Duluth, Minn., and Minot, N.D.

“You need to figure out the minimum information you need to make a business decision,” Harnisch said, demonstrating the difference between 2.5 centimeters of resolution and 10 centimeters. He said farmers will decide on resolution that doesn’t simply “pile more gigabytes” of data. He said cutting the data needed can mean changing the camera angle, reducing the amount of acreage taken in.

Harnisch said things such as wind speed and direction affect how the vehicles are flown, or how many flights are needed to collect data, as well as the load on batteries. Changes in weather and sun will dictate whether the data needs to be adjusted for interpretation to help farmers and crop consultants decide whether crops have problems with insect, disease or weed pests, among other things.


Waiting on FAA approval

The Federal Aviation Administration is in the process of changing regulations on drones. John Nowatzki, a North Dakota State University Extension Service agricultural engineer who works with the technology, said the FAA might change some of the rules that require levels of written pilot training to operate the devices, but he thinks it might take more time than some people expect.

Issues of safety and privacy are the most difficult. Some demonstrations of just the smaller versions of the drones have been called off because of liability issues. Farmers may be asked to keep the devices specific distances from airports or other sensitive places.

One attendee, Laney Faleide, president and CEO of North Dakota-based SatShot LLC, which works with bringing satellite imaging technology to farmers, said all of the technologies have their role. Satellite imagery has 10- to 15-foot resolution. He thinks the system will be complementary, with satellite imagery used to see larger problems and drones used to take a closer look. Faleide said more satellites are being launched to improve that system.

Studies have shown that if UASs are developed by 2025, it will be an $82 billion industry, with 80 percent of the benefits seen in agriculture, said Kevin Price, a professor of agronomy at Kansas State University.


Inviting competitors

“The longer the FAA continues to hold the commercialization up, the more revenue will be lost in the United States to foreign countries that will be moving much further ahead of us,” Price said. “An entire industry will be held up.”

He said one area that will need to be addressed is how large the fields are, and whether line-of-sight rules will persist for farm applications.

Kansas started early in the technology, with the military working with the Kansas State campus in Salina.

“When we wanted to start moving into agricultural applications, it was speeding our progress, because (the military) already knew how to get the certificates from the FAA.”

Nowatzki emphasized it is “pretty obvious” that NDSU needs to be working with the University of North Dakota, with the school of aerospace and UAS center, and is already doing so. Similarly, Paul Gunderson, director of the Dakota Precision Ag Center at Lake Region State College in Devils Lake, N.D., said his organization moved into the study of the UASs early-on, but cautioned against seeing it as too simple and urged more research, as well as more collaborative research among institutions.


UND-NDSU collaboration

“These platforms are inherently unstable, even with gyroscope technology,” Gunderson said. He said his center puts a priority on “hang times” for the vehicles and for ruggedness. He said they must be able to withstand 35 mph winds or more, which are ordinary in the Dakotas.

“Because of that, there are variations in camera angles, shadows, variations from morning to evening time.” He said some problems can be overcome with technology, but it’s important to stay in the real world — not adding six hours of flight to save 33 seconds of data downloading.

“From my perspective, there has to be a practicality that has to infuse this entire arena,” he said. “That doesn’t, however, negate the importance of the technology.”


– See more at:


Trimble Adds Unmanned Aircraft System to its Agriculture Portfolio for Aerial Imaging and Mapping

by Press • 21 January 2014



Trimble (NASDAQ: TRMB) announced today the addition of its Trimble® UX5 unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to its Agriculture product portfolio for aerial imaging and mapping. The Trimble UX5 system can enable Ag service providers to easily capture aerial images for scouting and monitoring crop health such as detecting pests, weeds and nitrogen deficiencies. The system can locate cattle and their available forage over large areas, measure crop height, and generate topographic maps and models for land leveling and drainage applications. As a result, the system provides farmers’ trusted advisors—such as agronomists, Trimble resellers, and other Ag service providers—with a powerful data collection tool that can aid with recommendations to improve farming operations.

The Trimble UX5 system flies at 80 kilometers/hour (50 mph) and is stable in significant crosswinds and even light rain. In a single 50-minute flight, the Trimble UX5 system can cover a two square kilometer (0.8 square mile) area at five centimeter (two inch) image resolution. It comes with a camera modified to capture the near-infrared spectrum, which helps in deducing vegetation indexes for crop health assessment. The Trimble UX5 system can capture a variety of images to be processed post flight. The output of a single flight provides geo-referenced precision images, a digital surface model (DSM) showing elevations as a color image, and a dense 3D point cloud that includes elevations.

“The addition of the Trimble UX5 system strengthens our agriculture product portfolio and enables us to provide a solution that benefits a broad range of customers including growers, ranchers, water management contractors, agronomists and other Ag service providers,” said Joe Denniston, vice president of Trimble’s Agriculture Division. “High-speed aerial imaging is a powerful tool that can quickly and easily locate problem areas to be addressed. The faster a problem area is discovered, the better the chance it can be evaluated and resolved before crop yield is impacted.”

Trimble provides training for system operators and their observers, which focuses on safety precautions and the application of the Trimble UX5 system for maximum success. The Trimble UX5 system is available from Authorized Agriculture Distribution Partners and is subject to regulations and restrictions defined by local civil aviation authorities. Unmanned aircraft systems are currently not allowed to be flown in some regions or for certain applications. For more information on the Trimble UX5 system, visit:



Neiman Marcus Reveals Breach Details

More Than 1 Million Cards Likely Exposed in Malware Attack

By Tracy Kitten, January 23, 2014. Follow Tracy @FraudBlogger


Neiman Marcus, the luxury retailer that in mid-January acknowledged its payments system may have been compromised, now says that between July 16 and Oct. 30 last year, more than 1 million credit and debit cards may have been breached.

In a statement issued Jan. 22, Neiman Marcus President and CEO Karen Katz says a network malware attack designed “to collect or scrape payment card data” had been identified by forensics investigators. The investigation is ongoing.

“To date, Visa, MasterCard and Discover have notified us that approximately 2,400 unique customer payment cards used at Neiman Marcus and Last Call stores were subsequently used fraudulently,” Katz says in the company’s statement. Last Call is a retail clearance center with 28 locations owned by Neiman Marcus.

No fraudulent activity has yet been linked to Neiman Marcus or Bergdorf Goodman payment cards, the statement notes. Bergdorf Goodman is a subsidiary of Neiman Marcus.

So far, the retailer says its investigation has revealed that personally identifiable information, such as Social Security numbers and dates of birth, was not compromised. The retailer also notes that online purchases and PINs were not adversely affected by the breach. “We do not use PIN pads in our stores,” Katz states in the Jan. 22 statement.

Like Target Corp., which announced its network breach Dec. 19, Neiman Marcus is stressing its zero liability for consumers adversely affected by fraudulent charges.

“The policies of the payment brands such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and the Neiman Marcus card provide that you have zero liability for any unauthorized charges if you report them in a timely manner,” the company says. “Please contact your card brand or issuing bank for more information about the policy that applies to you.”

Neiman Marcus also is offering free credit monitoring to all customers who conducted transactions at Neiman Marcus or Last Call from January 2013 to January 2014. “We are notifying all customers for whom we have addresses or e-mail,” the company says.

Additional information is available for consumers under the general questions section on Neiman Marcus’ website.


Internet of Things: Calamity in Making?

Imagining a Cyber 9/11

By Robert Bigman, January 23, 2014.


Imagine this: It’s 8:40 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 11, 2015, and eastbound trains speeding along the Long Island Railroad and New York City subway lines switch tracks, causing scores of fatal, head-on collisions. Though alerted by sensors, transit personnel monitoring rail traffic couldn’t override the track switching.

Two-hundred and fifty miles to the south, at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., the computer in the cockpit of a departing Boeing 757 flight bound for Los Angeles receives orders to switch to runway 1L/19R, unknown to traffic controllers, and begins its takeoff as a Boeing 767 from Zurich lands on the same runway.

Will America’s infatuation with the Internet of Things eventually result in momentous losses of life?

An hour later, President Obama appears on national TV, announcing that cyberterrorists caused the catastrophes in New York and northern Virginia, comparing the day to Sept. 11, 2001.

An unnerved public knows that the attacks nearly 12½ years ago were localized events carried out by terrorists who could be seen and heard. But the latest incidents were carried out by unseen and silent cyberterrorists who exploited the same Internet in which their own lives are connected.

Hysteria spreads quickly beyond New York and Washington as Americans refuse to fly or take mass transit. Media reports of blackouts, and unconfirmed Internet postings claiming that nation’s power grid will be taken down, cause citizens to hoard gasoline, food and home supplies. Banks experience runs on their ATMs. Cybersecurity experts, appearing on news programs, begin to discuss the death of the Internet of Things, a web of devices embedded with sensors.


Reality Setting In

What went wrong when everything seemed to be going so right? The White House and other senior government officials had loudly praised the implementation of cybersecurity framework a year-and-a-half earlier as a watershed moment in improving the security of industry-operated critical IT infrastructure. Indeed, the number of successful penetrations of private and public organizations had fallen as a few misinformed cyberpundits predicted “the decline of the easy hack.”

Then came 9/11/2015 and reality set in. While the security of traditional government and business IT systems improved, the infatuation with the Internet of Things soared. In fact, the appeal of the Internet of Things proved too much for some members of the nation’s transportation network critical infrastructure. In response to corporate demands on IT staffs to “do more with less,” these organizations exploited the Internet of Things to interconnect transportation monitoring and control systems to their corporate networks, which were connected to the Internet.

All these networks satisfied the recommendations in the cybersecurity framework, a set of IT security best practices developed by the government and business (slated to be released next month) that critical infrastructure operators can voluntarily adopt. All these networks secured their interfaces to the monitoring and control networks with sophisticated cybersecurity software protection measures and employed the latest cyber-intelligence services and products. All these networks, however, were “hacked” and accessible to cyberterrorists.


What went wrong?

First, the cybersecurity framework was only a high-level collection of risk management security suggestions, without mandatory standards.

Second, and more importantly, even before America’s infatuation with the Internet of Things, it was clear that we had not solved the underlying problem – that the computer systems, networks and applications that constitute the Internet are inherently insecure.


Infatuation with the Internet of Things

Today’s commercial and open source operating systems still cannot, for example, secure critical kernel processes. TCP/IP networks remain vulnerable to even fairly simple man-in-the-middle attacks. While no system can ever be 100 percent secure, these security risks have been with us since the introduction of the microcomputer.

Nearly two decades ago, the Internet exposed these operating system and network security frailties. Twenty years later, expanded connectivity of these very same insecure systems continues to result in significant financial losses. Will America’s infatuation with the Internet of Things eventually result in momentous losses of life?

Obviously, the catastrophic scenarios described above are presented for effect, and these transportation services may or may not be at risk. Yet, if we do not pursue truly purposeful security standards for our critical infrastructure and greatly enhance the security of our commercial and open source operating systems and networks, then leaping blindly into the Internet of Things could open the door to these types of disasters.

So far we haven’t learned this lesson. Reports surfaced earlier this month about a computer network at the fast breeder reactor in Monju, Japan, being infected with malware that originated out on the Internet. Hmmm.



A Case For Abolishing The Air Force

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


The U.S. Air Force was founded in 1947, right after the heroics of American flyers during World War II, and with the Cold War looming. But a new book argues the Air Force, as a separate branch of the military, should be abolished.

In “Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force,” author Robert Farley says that while the U.S. still needs air power, that power shouldn’t be segregated — it should be part of the Navy or the Army.

Farley, who is also an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School of Diplomacy, joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to make his case.

Read Farley’s op-ed in Foreign Affairs, “Ground the Air Force”


On the problem with a separate Air Force


“The creation of the Air Force, which started in 1947, erected unnecessary bureaucratic barriers between the missions the military most often does. Pretty much everything the military does on a daily basis requires some sort of conjunction between air power and sea power and land power. And we created the air force with the idea that air power could do a lot of the jobs by itself. And I think that idea was wrongheaded in 1947 and I think we have much more evidence that it’s wrongheaded today.”

“The capabilities that we’ve allocated to the Air Force we have largely allocated by choice, rather than by any chance of natural design. So for example the Army doesn’t have any capability — besides helicopters, doesn’t have any capability of medical rescue. But the reason it doesn’t have that capability is essentially because the Air Force took that responsibility away from it.”


On the timing of his proposal

“I think actually right now is ideal in terms of thinking about potential for military reform. We’re winding down the two wars we’re having right now and we are re-orientating toward an entirely different form of military preparedness, which is in terms of what we’ve heard about the Pacific pivot … and it seems to me that right now when we don’t actually see a lot of conflicts on the immediate horizon, it’s a great time to think about how we might reform our military services for the future.”

On the idea of the Air Force projecting power around the globe

“It’s an argument that people commonly make as to why we need the Air Force — that we need the global capability to strike anywhere in the world. But it’s interesting that when we look at how we’ve actually used that strike capability in the past, and how we’re using it right now, very often our global strike is through tomahawk missiles that are launched by U.S. surface ships and U.S. submarines. And so while this idea of having this 24-hour, anywhere in the world, 15-minute strike capability, sounds kind of awesome, it always runs into political difficulties and all sorts of political obstacles and we never seem to really take advantage of it.



Robert Farley, assistant professor at the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School of Diplomacy and the author of “Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force.” He tweets @drfarls.



The image of the U.S. Air Force took a hit recently when more than two dozen officers responsible for launching nuclear weapons were pulled off the job because they were caught cheating on a proficiency exam or failed to report cheating. But should the entire Air Force go away and be folded into other branches of the military?

That’s the view of our next guest, Robert Farley. He’s an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School of Diplomacy, and he’s author of “Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force.” He’s with us from WUKY in Lexington, Kentucky. Dr. Farley, welcome.

ROBERT FARLEY: Oh, thanks for having me.

HOBSON: And we should say right at the top, you’re not arguing that the U.S. doesn’t need airpower.

FARLEY: That’s correct. I think that the United States does not need an independent air force and that the assets that we currently allocate to the Air Force should, in most cases, be shifted and amalgamated with the Army and the Navy.

HOBSON: Why is that? Why don’t we need an Air Force?

FARLEY: I think that the creation of the Air Force, which started in 1947, erected unnecessary bureaucratic barriers between the missions that the military most often does. Pretty much everything the military does on a day-to-day basis requires some sort of conjunction of airpower and sea power and land power. And we created an air force in the idea that airpower could do a lot of jobs by itself. And I think that idea was wrongheaded in 1947, and I think we have lots more evidence that it’s wrongheaded today.

HOBSON: Why is it wrongheaded today more than it was, in your view, in 1947?

FARLEY: Well, in 1947 there were a lot of people who were still sufficiently optimistic about the idea of airpower that it could win wars all on its own, that we could strike over the horizon, avoid enemy armies, tear apart the sinews of an enemy state. And I think that we found over the years that the information demands for that are just so awesome that we can never quite be able to defeat an adversary, especially a determined adversary, just with airpower. And that just about everything we do requires that ground and air forces cooperate with one another for the best effect.

HOBSON: You write that in Afghanistan and Iraq, neither of those conflicts required flashy strategic airpower.

FARLEY: That’s correct. I think that in both cases what we found was that the most fancy air power assets, the ones that have been designed to fight the Soviet Union, have been reduced to jobs such as killing groups of insurgents in the middle of the desert. This is something that we would never consider that the B-52 and the B-1 would have done but they’ve been pressed into in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. And I think that’s really, in a lot of ways, has been the reality of air power, and it’s likely to continue to be the future of air power.

HOBSON: Now, the air power that we have outside of the Air Force, in the Army, in the Navy, in the Marine Corps, even in the Coast Guard, I’ve been speaking to military experts who say that the Air Force has capacities and capabilities that those other branches do not have and that there would be massive disruption if you were to try to fold some of the capabilities of the Air Force into, say, the Army’s air power.

FARLEY: Well, I think that there are two responses to that. The first is that the capabilities that we’ve allocated the Air Force we have largely allocated by choice rather than by any sort of natural design. So for example, the Army doesn’t have any capability or doesn’t have – besides helicopters – any capability of medical rescue. But the reason it doesn’t have that capability is because the Air Force essentially took that responsibility away from it.

There’s a very similar story to be told about drones, that there was a big fight between the Army and the Air Force over who would control drones and that essentially came down to a bureaucratic decision. And the second response is that there are a lot of reforms that have short-term costs and that have long-term benefits.

And I don’t think there’s any question that in the short term folding the Air Force back into the other services would be extremely costly. For one, you would have to buy a lot of new uniforms for Air Force personnel. But in the long term, I think there are going to be a lot of benefits.

HOBSON: But could you afford that short-term cost? Could you afford a short-term disruption in the military like that?

FARLEY: I actually think right now is ideal in terms of thinking about potential for military reform. We’re winding down the two wars that we are having right now, and we are reorienting towards an entirely different form of military preparedness, which is what we’ve heard of in terms of the Pacific pivot.

And the Pacific pivot is going to require the Air Force and the Navy to work together very closely. And it seems to me that right now, when we don’t actually see a lot of conflicts on the immediate horizon, it’s a great time to think about how we might reform our military services for the future.

HOBSON: On the other hand, right now is not a time that Congress can agree on much, let alone getting rid of one of the main branches of the military.

FARLEY: That’s true. I can’t really tell you that I’m super-optimistic about this Congress or the next Congress passing a – really a tremendous bill for reform of the armed forces, but at the same time there seems to be some indication that there could be a growing coalition of Republicans and Democrats who are interested in significant military reform, who are worried about the direction that the national security state has taken and who might be interested in what amount to innovative proposals for rethinking how the United States uses its military force.

HOBSON: What about the idea of the Air Force as able to project the massive power of the United States, that you have to have these incredible assets of the Air Force to show the world the power of the U.S., especially with the rise of China?

FARLEY: I think it’s an argument that people commonly make about why we need the Air Force, that we need the global capability to strike anywhere in the world. But it’s interesting that when we look at how we’ve actually used that strike capability in the past, and how we’re using it right now, very often our global strike is through tomahawk missiles that are launched by U.S. surface ships and U.S. submarines.

Our global strike right now in places like Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia is carried out by aircraft that aren’t actually very sophisticated at all. They’re not very fast, they’re not very modern in terms of sort of hyper-modern fighter jets, But they’re Predator drones that we’re using for political reasons.

And so while this idea of having this 24-hour, anywhere in the world, 15-minute strike capability sounds kind of awesome, it always runs into all sorts of political difficulties and all sorts of political obstacles. And we never seem to be able to really take advantage of it, even when we have an Air Force. And so as a reason for keeping an Air Force, I don’t find it terribly compelling.

HOBSON: There are a lot of comments on the Foreign Affairs website after your story was published. And one of them says: Abolish the Air Force? Why not just go all the way and look at the Canadian model – combine all three services and establish a true joint force. What do you think of that?

FARLEY: The Canadian model has ended up – it created this unified structure, but it’s ended up deteriorating back into what amounts to an Army, an Air Force and a Navy. And what I’m hoping to achieve here is a genuine reprioritization of the military missions that we have. And so putting parts of the Air Force into the Army, in my view, will force the Army and the Air Force to be more collaborative with one another, in a way that they really haven’t since the 1940s.

And that’s part of the point. And similarly, putting parts of the Air Force into the Navy will force more collaboration there, whereas if you just created a unified three-structure system, it might not actually result in tighter cooperation than we have right now.

HOBSON: Ideally for you, 20 years from now, would you like to see the military much smaller than it is today?

FARLEY: I do think that our military forces right now – for the tasks that we have, the task that the United States requires – are a bit too large. I think it’s very difficult to project 20 years in the future. Twenty years in the future the Chinese military budget could be larger than the U.S., and there might be all sorts of different changes in the strategic landscape.

And so it’s hard to say that – or what the defense budget should look like. But I think we have allowed it to grow too large given the tasks that we face right now.

HOBSON: Robert Farley is assistant professor at the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School of Diplomacy. He’s the author of “Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force.” Professor, thanks so much for joining us.

FARLEY: Thank you for having me.

HOBSON: And let us know what you think. Should the Air Force be abolished and folded into the other branches of the military? You can go to This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


Rasmussen Reports


What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls


Bottom of Form

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Voters are increasingly pessimistic about the War on Terror even as they continue to question the National Security Agency’s spying efforts to fight it.

Thirty percent (30%) now think the terrorists are winning the War on Terror, the highest level of pessimism in three years.

Most voters (53%) believe the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans killed in Benghazi, Libya in September 2012 died in terrorist attacks. A recent bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report confirms this belief. Only 13% think they were killed in a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Islamic video as the Obama administration and the New York Times claim is the case. Forty-six percent (46%) also now think former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations are likely to suffer because of the Benghazi affair.

Voters are wary of a new treaty to slow Iran’s nuclear program, but 24% think Iran should be part of the Syrian peace talks that began this week.

A rogue intelligence analyst last June exposed the NSA’s spying on the phone calls and e-mails of millions of ordinary Americans. Voters are conflicted about the program despite the government’s insistence that it is part of the fight against terrorism. President Obama has now announced tighter controls on the NSA’s domestic spying efforts, but two-out-of-three voters (68%) think spying on the phone calls of ordinary Americans will stay the same or increase.

Forty-two percent (42%) of voters rate the president’s handling of issues related to national security as good or excellent, while 34% believe he’s doing a poor job. These attitudes have changed little in recent months.

Obama’s daily job approval ratings remain at levels seen for much of his presidency.

Democrats have a six-point lead over Republicans on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot.

In Rasmussen Reports’ only horse race survey of the week, incumbent Democrat Mark Warner holds a 14-point lead over Republican challenger Ed Gillespie among Likely Virginia Voters – 51% to 37% in our first look at the 2014 U.S. Senate race in that state.

Thirty percent (30%) of voters nationwide think the country is heading in the right direction. A year ago, 35% felt that way.

Just 34% think America’s best days are still to come.

Twenty-four percent (24%) now say their home is worth less than when they purchased it, a five-point increase from November and the highest level of pessimism since June.

Fifty-three percent (53%) still feel the value of their home is more than what they owe on their mortgage. But that’s down from 62% in December, the highest finding since Rasmussen Reports began regular tracking on this question in April 2009.

However, 35% of homeowners expect their home’s value to go up over the next year. That compares to 29% a year ago.

Fifty percent (50%) of Americans think interest rates will be higher in a year.
But 45% are at least somewhat confident that the Federal Reserve can keep inflation and interest rates down, although that includes just 10% who are Very Confident.

Consumer and investor confidence both remained high at week’s end.

The week began with the national holiday that celebrates the birth of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
An overwhelming majority of Americans continue to hold a favorable opinion of King, but just 35% think we have reached the day of equal opportunity for all races that he envisioned.

Only 31% believe race relations in this country are getting better, and just as many (30%) say they are getting worse.

Here’s a closer look at what America thinks about race relations.

Most voters have opposed the new national health care law’s individual mandate in past surveys, but voters are now evenly divided when asked whether the federal government should force every American to have health insurance.

In other surveys last week:

— Fifty-eight percent (58%) of voters oppose a House Republican plan that would allow food industry companies to bring 500,000 guest workers from foreign countries into the United States every year

— The price of a first-class postage stamp will rise from 46 cents to 49 cents tomorrow, and 30% of Americans say the stamp price hike is likely to reduce their use of the post office.

— Only 37% of voters think student performance would improve if more money is spent on funding for schools and education programs.

— New Jersey legalized online gambling late last year, and eight other states have pending legislation to do the same. Thirty-four percent (34%) of Americans favor legalized online gambling in their state. 

— Fifty-four percent (54%) of Michigan voters think bad government is primarily to blame for Detroit’s bankruptcy.

— Fifty-one percent (51%) of Virginia voters approve of the job new Governor Terry McAuliffe is doing.


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