Weekly Roundup 6/10

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Three suspected al-Qaeda militants were reportedly killed in a drone strike in Yemen. According to tribal elders who spoke to Reuters, the militants were traveling in a vehicle in the central Maarib province, east of the capital Sanaa. The strike is the first in Yemen in nearly a month.

Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Pakistan-based Taliban militants, claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on the Karachi Airport that left at least 28 people–including the 10 attackers–dead. In a statement, TTP spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid said that the attack was in response to the killing of TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud in a 2013 drone strike. “[I]t is a message to the Pakistani government that we are still alive to react over the killings of innocent people in bomb attacks on their villages,” said Shahid. (Dawn)

The parents of an Australian man killed in a drone strike in Yemen are demanding answers from the Australian government on the circumstances of their son’s death. Neill and Bronwyn Dowrick, the parents of Christopher Harvard, say that the Australian government regularly changes the story on why Harvard died. Documents obtained by the Australian Broadcasting Company show that Harvard, 27, was being investigated for links to al-Qaeda. (ABC)

The White House is seeking to redact parts of the memos that lay out the legal justification for the killing Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen. In papers submitted to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, the Justice Department, Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency cited potentially “grave harm to national security” if redactions were not made before the memos became public. (AP)

The relatives of Anwar al-Awlaki have decided not to appeal the dismissal of their lawsuit against Obama administration officials. The lawsuit sought damages from government officials for the deaths of al-Awlaki and of two other Americans, Samir Khan and Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. “Although the court failed to fulfill its role in this case, my family and I continue to hope that answers to our questions about why our son and grandson were killed will someday see the light of day,” said Nasser al-Awlaki, the father of Anwar al-Awlaki, in a statement. (New York Times)

The Federal Aviation Administration opened a drone test site at Desert Rock Airport in Mercury, Nevada. The site is the third nationwide to become operational this year, after sites in Alaska and North Dakota. At Desert Rock, researchers will begin developing standards for the integration of unmanned aircraft into commercial airspace. The FAA granted the Nevadan team a 2-year permit to use the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle in tests. (The Hill)

In an annual report to Congress, the Department of Defense wrote that China’s military spending exceeded $145 billion last year and included funding for several drone programs. The report cited China’s “probable” use of drones to conduct reconnaissance over the East China Sea in September 2013 as an example of the modernizing efforts. In a statement on its website, China’s Defense Ministry said that the report was “totally wrong.” (Reuters)

Abu Dhabi will begin using drones to patrol port facilities. In a statement, the Abu Dhabi Ports Company said that two drones will patrol parts of the Khalifa Port, Zayed Port, Free Port, and the New Free Port in order to improve security procedures. “The new drone cameras will be excellent security tools for monitoring, viewing and managing incidents,” said Sultan Al Jaberi. (Arabian Business)

Four private contractors hired by the Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources were seized by communist guerrillas for allegedly using drones. The abduction took place in the Compostela Valley where the contractors were using drones to create aerial maps of forestation in an effort to combat illegal logging. Daniel Ibarra, a spokesperson for the New People’s Army claimed that the government was conducting illegal surveillance in support of “the big mining operations” in the region. (Rappler)

A woman who allegedly hit the operator of a quadcopter drone will face charges of third-degree assault and disturbance of the peace. In a video of the incident, Andrea Mears, 23, appears to attack the operator, claiming that he was invading her privacy by flying the drone over a public beach in Connecticut. (New Haven Register)

Commentary, Analysis and Art

At AccuWeather, Katy Galimberti explores the possibilities that drones offer for weather modification.

At Gigaom, Jeff John Roberts argues that the FAA should divide the airspace into separate spaces for manned and unmanned aircraft.

In a podcast at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Hassan Abbas speaks on the repeated Taliban attacks that have taken place in Pakistan in spite of the pause in American drone strikes.

At NPR’s Planet Money, Steve Henn uses a drone to visualize how much space he owns above his house and what he can see from that perspective.

At the Atlantic, Corey Mead takes a rare look inside the military’s training program for drone pilots.

At Motherboard, Jason Koebler examines how drone-inspired anti-poaching efforts in several African nations are being shut down by government bans.

A Canadian hobbyist flew a drone though an iceberg arch off the coast of Cape Spear and St. John’s harbour in Newfoundland. (Canadian Broadcasting Company)

At the Washington Post, Sarah Kreps looks at the polling data among Americans and confirms that there are high levels of support for drones–so long as the civilian casualties of strikes are not included in the polling questions.

Know Your Drone

In southern Israel, the Israeli Defense Force will equip each of its border units with unmanned ground vehicles. (UPI)

The Ukrainian Air Force is aiming to rebuild a few of its Soviet-era Tu-141 drones. The Tu-141 is a reconnaissance drone that began regular production in 1979. (War is Boring)

At Motherboard, Amy Shira Teitel describes NASA’s desire to arm a mission to Saturn with unmanned submarines and drones.

PowerUp 3.0, a startup tech company, turns paper airplanes into drones with a battery-powered plastic propeller and rudder and an iPhone app. (Wall Street Journal)

3DRobotics rolled out a beta version of Droneshare, an online open source program that allows hobbyists to share their unmanned flights. (DIY Drones)

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