Weekend Roundup 7/8

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit digital rights group, released documents showing an eight-fold increase in the use of drones leased out by the United States Customs and Border Protection Agency to other US agencies. “According to the documents,” the report explains, “CBP already appears to be flying drones well within the Southern and Northern US borders, and for a wide variety of non-border patrol reasons.”

In response to one 2010 document released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the US Customs and Border Protection Agency said on Wednesday that their drones will not be armed with non-lethal (or lethal) weapons. (Arizona Daily Star)

A U.S drone strike in the Waziristan region of north western Pakistan killed 17 people earlier this week. (Reuters) Despite the deadly strike, a report by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism asserts that the number of drone strikes worldwide are at the lowest level since 2008.

Six anti-drone protesters in Great Britain are to be tried for damaging the fence of the Royal Air Force Waddington base, which is used for drone operations. (BBC)

Senator Jerry Moran, a Republican of Kansas, announced his support for using drones for agricultural purposes at a tech demonstration of unmanned aerial systems at the University of Kansas. “Our state is significantly impacted by agricultural production,” he said. “The agriculture application of UAS is the great combining of the great applications of the technology.” (The Daily Beast)

The Israeli Air Force is now flying more unmanned aerial sorties than manned aerial operations. (World Tribune)

Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, wrote a letter to the FBI demanding that they release more information about their domestic drone use. “Is there ever a scenario you can envision,” he asks, among many other questions, “where the F.B.I would seek to arm its drones?”

Georgia’s President, Mikheil Saakashvili, claimed that the drones he bought from Israel during Georgia’s 2006 war against Russia were compromised. He explained that there is evidence that Russia acquired the data-link codes for Georgia’s drones. (Civil.Ge)

Commentary, Analysis and Art

A study by Lawrence Lewis, a researcher at the Center for Naval Analyses, contradicts the the Obama administration’s assertion that drone strikes kill fewer civilians than attacks from manned aircraft. (MSNBC)

The Economist takes a brief look at a new collective bargaining unit called the Association of Unmanned Operation (AUO), an organization that represents drone pilots.

In a paper for the European Council on Foreign Relations, Anthony Dworkin argues that the western European states need to a more clearly defined position on drone strikes and associative rules for their use. “The EU,” he writes, “is committed to put human rights and the rule of law at the centre of its foreign policy, and many Europeans are likely to consider the widespread use of drones outside battlefield conditions incompatible with these principles.”

Mumuration, the month-long online festival of drone art, concluded on the last day of June. All the art is still available to see online. “Drones are not infallible agents of divine justice, waging war on evil pixels,” write Olivia Rosane and Adam Rothstein in their Concluding Thoughts. “Drones are built and used by humans, and in using them, we do not cease to be ourselves, which means that the shiny drones are mired in our messy humanity.”

Know Your Drone

A new 3D-printable, do-it-yourself kit from the designer Jasper van Loenen can turn any object into a drone. (Engadget)

Researchers at Stanford University are capturing high frame-per-second footage of birds in flight to aid in the design of the “ideal” drone. (Mobile Magazine)

The ASETA project at the Aalborg University in Denmark employs a drone that, by spotting color variations in fields of crops, can target specific areas for deploying weed killer instead of spraying entire fields. (New Scientist)

New details have been leaked about the US Navy’s UCLASS (Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike) drone. (Medium.com)

The 2SEAS, a drone made mostly of 3D-printed parts, could help fight drug trafficking at sea. (PopSci)

Center for the Study of the Drone Roundup

Steven Tran-Creque writes about the transcendent quality of violence, the history of sovereignty, and the forever war. “The choice presented is always between assassination and invasion, between Hellfire missiles and imprecise bombs—between fewer dead and more dead. It is not a choice between war and peace. Well-trained commentators cannot even imagine a world in which such things simply do not happen. And one never questions the legitimacy of the system in which, as Hannah Arendt emphasized, one must choose evil.”

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(Photo Credit: Jasper van Loenen)