Weekend Roundup 7/15

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News Trending Now

The U.N peacekeeping chief Hervé Ladsous announced that peacekeeping troops in the Congo will deploy unarmed drones, a first for the international organization. “This is a major innovation,” Ladsous said. “For the first time the U.N. is going into state-of-the-art, 21st-century technology.” (Reuters)

According to the New York Times, months after the United States deployed two Reaper drones to Niger in support of the French mission in Mali, the Pentagon is reflecting on the utility of using drones to combat the rising security threats on the continent.

In a Senate confirmation hearing, James Comey, President Obama’s chosen candidate to lead the FBI, said that drones should not be used against American citizens unless the threat is “imminent. (The Verge)

Senator Rand Paul threatened that he would place a hold on James Comey’s candidacy to lead the FBI until he receives answers to a list of questions he submitted to the FBI after the current Director Robert Mueller’s admission that the Bureau had used drones in domestic operations. (Huffington Post)

President Obama has nominated Tom Malinowski, the director of Human Rights Watch, to be the next Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy Human Rights and Labor. (Lawfare Blog) Last year, Malinowski wrote “A Dangerous Future for Killer Robots,” in which he raised concerns about the prospect of autonomous warfare: “Now science is catching up to fiction. And one doesn’t have to believe the movie version of autonomous robots becoming sentient to be troubled by the prospect of their deployment on the battlefield.” (Washington Post)

The city council of Northampton, Massachusetts, has passed a resolution challenging proposed federal legislation that would hand the FAA responsibility for airspace just a couple of inches above the ground (previously, the FAA only controlled airspace higher than 500 feet). The drafters of the resolution claim that the proposed legislation would violate property rights. (Gazzette Net)

The owners of Rancho Guejito, a 23,000 acre ranch in Southern California, have decided to use drones to patrol the property, monitoring for everything from poachers to bushfires. (U-T San Diego)


Commentary, Analysis and Art

In the London Review of Books, Stephen Holmes reviews Mark Mazzetti’s The Way of the Knife, which explores shadow wars and the expanding purview of the CIA. “Contrary to Mazzetti’s report that strikes resulting in collateral damage are ‘cheered in private,’” writes Holmes, “the administration’s official line is that there is no joy in ‘the Predator joystick’. A cheerless conscience is the high personal price US officials have to pay to keep America safe.”

Cambridge University’s journal International Review of the Red Cross has dedicated its most recent issues to “New Technologies and Warfare.” Articles cover a range of issues including drone use, cyber-warfare, autonomous weapons systems and nanotechnology.

Arianna Huffington criticizes the signature strikes carried out by U.S drones in the northern areas of Pakistan. (Huffington Post)

Todd Miller argues that new investment in drones by the US border protection agencies are “fueling immigration reform’s military industrial complex.” (Mother Jones)

Al Jazeera’s Sam Bollier surveys the different ways that people around the world are resisting drones, from art activism to Al-Queda’s practical advice for outsmarting military UAVs.

Adam Piore, writing for Popular Science, describes his attempt to weaponize an off-the-shelf AR Parrot drone. “When the craft lifted off,” he writes, “I checked twice to make sure no one was around, then pressed the detonator.”

Cracked.com details the “4 Ways that Drones Will Soon Make the Future Miserable”: “#4. The Pervert Brigade Now Has a Brand New Weapon in Its Creepy Arsenal.”


Know Your Drone

An X-47B drone landed on an American aircraft carrier for the first time. Landing on a ship is considered the most difficult task for a pilot. “our grandchildren and great grandchildren and mine will be reading about this historic event in their history books,”  said Rear Admiral Mat Winter, the Navy’s program executive officer for unmanned aviation and strike weapons. “This is not trivial, nor is it something that came lightly.” (The Guardian)

The tech consulting company GCN reported on the systems that are currently being developed to allow unmanned aircraft to operate in airspace without colliding into one another or into manned aircraft.

A U.S. defense official announced that a U.S. Predator drone crashed in Mali in April. This is the first time the incident has been officially acknowledged by the government. (AFP)

On June 14 drone enthusiasts congregated in Ottawa for the “Summer of Drones” competition. Participants program drones to carry out tasks; the winners will be those deemed to have come up with the most useful and innovative uses for their drones. (Ottawa Business Journal)

The Airburr drone looks like it has a malfunction—it constantly bumps into walls and other and other obstacles—but that’s actually its way of mapping its environment. (Popular Science)

A dry-cleaning business in Pennsylvania plans to use drones to deliver clothes to its customers. (Business Standard)


At the Center for the Study of the Drone

Arthur Holland Michel interviews Heather Layton and Brian Bailey, the artist/activist duo who created the exhibition Home Drone, a protest against the U.S targeted killing program. “Perhaps one artist cannot reach a million people,” explained Layton, “but one artist and a journalist can.”

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(Photo: the flight path of an Airburr drone. Credit: Adrien Briod)

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