Tag Archives | Drones

US Authorizes Sale of Armed Drones

Image Credit: U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson

Image Credit: U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson

Franz-Stefan Gady via The Diplomat:

The United States will authorize for the first time the export of armed drones to allied nations, according to media reports. The new policy has been announced this Tuesday. The exact rules will remain classified but, according to Reuters, requests by foreign governments will be examined on a case by case basis and allied states must agree to certain “end use assurances.”

States interesting in purchasing U.S. armed drones have to agree to a set of “proper use” principles and,according to an unclassified summary of the policy, not use UAVs “to conduct unlawful surveillance or [for] unlawful force against their domestic populations.” So far, the United States has only exported lethal drones to the United Kingdom. Other allies, such as France and Italy, have purchased unarmed U.S. drones in the last few years, but have not been provided with weapons.

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Unauthorized Government Attacks Are Murder

Unmanned

Via Ivan Eland at Antiwar.com:

Although U.S. drones firing missiles at suspected bad guys in faraway places – such as Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia – have gotten much publicity in recent years, it was recently revealed that the CIA assassinated top Hezbollah terrorist Imad Mugniyah with a good old fashioned car bomb in Damascus, Syria with President George W. Bush’s strident approval in 2008. Because of an executive order, signed in 1975 by President Gerald Ford, prohibiting assassinations by the CIA, presidents usually get around that order by using the military to kill an enemy bigwig and then make the disingenuous claim that it was merely taking out a “command and control” target rather than an assassination. In this case, Bush, never one to observe constitutional or legal niceties, became incensed that the CIA director was being too timid in carrying out the hit using the exploding car. The real issue in such cases is not whether it is more dangerous to liberty to kill the enemy using a high tech drone or a more traditional car bomb, but whether it constitutional to do either.

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The Drone Film Festival

Drones continue to be a thing in 2015, as evidenced by the launch of the Drone Film Festival in New York next month. Omnicom’s Media Pulse picks up on it:

It’s official: the next frontier in art is… drones. Between recently relaxed regulations and the proliferation of sub-$150 camera drones, the Next Big Thing in consumer electronics, post CES, is set to become the Next Big Thing among art’s elite, too. So much so, in fact, the first ever Drone Film Festival is set to debut in (where else?) New York City in March of this year.

Founded by director Randy Scott Slavin, the festival came about mid-2014 when one of Slavin’s own drone films went viral. Says Slavin, “I looked around and realized that there were not only no drone categories in bigger festivals, but there were no exclusive drone festivals.” One of Slavin’s inspirations, in fact, was a drone film called Pritty Sweet, directed by the legendary Spike Jonze.

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Drones On Afghan Rugs

WarRug.com

WarRug.com

Nice find by Colors, which highlights the emerging trend among Afghan rug makers of depicting drones (notice the Predator drone in the middle of the rug at right):

When it comes to what to depict on rugs, Afghan weavers traditionally turn to what’s most familiar. So in the 1980s, when the Mujahedeen were fighting back the Soviet occupation, some local weavers abandoned flowers and water jugs to illustrate what their days consisted of back then: war.

Tanks, helicopters, Kalashnikovs, hand grenades and bazookas started creeping into the centuries-old tradition, either as elements of a landscape or as icons in a pattern. “My favorite one is an old Beluch style one,” says 49-year-old US entrepreneur Kevin Sudeith, “The design dates back to the 19th century but it has two helicopters and two tanks at each end of the rug.”

In 1996, Sudeith discovered one of the war rugs in the house of an Italian architect and decided to start collecting them.

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drone strikes, drones,

Drone Strikes Under Obama

Since Obama has taken office, the use of drones in warfare has continued to increase. With that, we have also seen a tremendous rise in innocent civilians killed and some extremely disturbing tactics utilized during drone strikes.

In Afghanistan and Pakistan, one reason civilian deaths have been on the rise is because often times, residential buildings have been targeted.

As reported in the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, another tactic has involved following up one drone strike with a second, in an effort to target rescuers of the injured. Drones have also been deployed to target the funerals of those killed in previous drone strikes.

The use of drones to fight our wars will continue to be a controversial topic for sure. But targeting funerals and family members as well? For that, there should be no debate.

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GoPro Drones

GoPro already owns the wearable video camera market which powered a very successful initial public offering of its shares this year. But how does the newly public company grow? By making the consumer drone market its own, reports the Wall Street Journal:

GoPro Inc. is developing its own line of consumer drones to expand from its core business of making wearable video cameras popular with surfers and other sports enthusiasts, according to people familiar with its plans.

The company plans to start selling multirotor helicopters equipped with high-definition cameras late next year, aiming for a price tag between $500 and $1,000, according to these people.

The entry of a big consumer-electronics brand to the drone market signals how mainstream—and lucrative—the industry has become in just a few years. Consumers have flocked to unmanned aircraft in recent years as technology advances have made them smaller, cheaper and easier to fly, leaving regulators scrambling to keep up.

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Board says FAA has power over drones, can impose $10K fine

FAA-Logovia Gigaom:

In a setback for consumer drone advocates, the National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday supported the FAA’s authority to impose a $10,000 fine on Raphael Pirker, a photographer who had taken pictures from the air over the University of Virginia.

In its ruling, which reverses an administrative judge’s decision in March to throw out the fine, the Board said the FAA has authority over any “aircraft,” even model aircraft or unmanned devices, and can impose fines accordingly.

The board’s decision comes at a time of ongoing controversy over what many perceive as a heavy-handed approach to drones on the part of the FAA, which has declared no one may use the devices for business purposes — including for activities like news photography and search-and-rescue — without a special waiver. But the agency has been slow to grant such waivers, even as drone-based businesses are taking off in Canada and elsewhere.

Several media outlets, including the New York Times, had filed friend-of-the-court briefs supporting Pirker and challenging the FAA’s blanket ban as a violation of their First Amendment rights.

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Bionic Bird Drones Latest Surveillance Tool

Drones that look like birds apparently are sufficiently bird-like to fool not only grounded humans but actual airborne birds, thanks to what the inventor, Edwin Van Ruymbeke, describes as biomimicry. His crowdfunding appeal has already met its goal and the Bionic Bird is about to be a reality according to his page at indiegogo:

If you act now you can have your own avian drone in time for Christmas, enabling you to spy on the neighbors and see what Santa brings them this year…

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What Nobel Prize Winner Barack Obama Doesn’t Want You to Know about Nobel Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai

Russell Watkins/Department for International Development (CC BY 2.0)

Russell Watkins/Department for International Development (CC BY 2.0)

Zack Beauchamp writes at Vox:

On Friday morning [Oct. 10], 17 year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize. Yousafzai’s prize is well-deserved: she’s been a prominent campaigner for girls’ education for years, and survived a Taliban assassination attempt for her efforts.

But women’s education isn’t Malala’s only cause. She’s also waged a prominent campaign on a topic Americans aren’t talking much about nowadays: the drone war in Pakistan.

In characteristically bold fashion, Yousafzai brought these concerns up in a meeting with President Obama back in October 2013 — one that had originally been held to celebrate her commitment to education.

“I thanked President Obama for the United States’ work in supporting education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and for Syrian refugees,” Yousafzai said in a statement after the meeting — before turning to drones. “I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism.

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