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Two Great American Forces

Good old American know-how at its best!

Yesterday the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and Quicken Loans announced a 5-year, $453 million dollar agreement wherein JSOC will use Predator drones to track down rogue vehicles whose owners are behind on their car payments.

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It’s a marriage made in heaven. For the last decade, JSOC’s track record of global drone assassinations has been the envy of terrorists everywhere. Their deadly strikes avoid the messy need of declaring war in the affected areas, or burdening Americans with any information at all. As we say in the U.S., leave your killing to JSOC and rest easy!

And now JSOC is teaming up with Quicken Loans to take out criminals in the homeland!

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Quicken Loans, America’s most trusted provider of affordable home loans, recently added car loans to its product line. Committed to providing real options for Americans facing financial difficulties, Quicken offers car loans to those with good credit, bad credit, or even no credit. That’s a reflection of Quicken’s powerful dedication to cash-strapped Americans.

Until that is, a customer is late on his payments. Then — with its new partnership with JSOC — there will be hell to pay.

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Quicken’s partnership with JSOC immediately enhances its asset recovery operations, with JSOC Predator drones able to loiter over poor urban areas for up to 20 hours to find and surveil targeted automobiles. But more impressive, its drones are equipped with the much-touted Hellfire-Mini, a more compact variant of the Hellfire missile, that brings a laser-guided, pinpoint accuracy to the problem, eliminating the driver completely (and his poor financial decisions) while leaving the vehicle absolutely unscathed.

News of this innovative improvement boosted Quicken Loan’s share price by 23% at close on Wednesday.

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The Problem of Human Weakness

In the war against terrorism, drone operators have one common weakness — they’re human. They’ve been trained to respond mechanically during global excursions, obey all forms of impersonal military protocol, and even adopt an alienated parlance that refers to annihilated people as “bug splats.” But despite our best efforts, they still occasionally feel the miasma of doubt, stress, and inner confusion.

A group of artists has seized upon this weakness, and have created a visual reminder of the innocent civilians at risk from the drone campaign. They’ve set up a huge portrait of a Pakistani boy in the middle of a remote and heavily bombed Pakistani region.

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What will be the response of the drone operator when seeing this child through his grainy monitors?

Will the image remind him of all the innocent dead killed in past drone runs?

Or will perhaps a hazy vision of his own child emerge from the uncertain terrain?

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Yes, it’s a subject of grave concern. How can we overcome our human frailty to ensure our absolute safety?

The answer is robots. Killer robots.

As you read this, our nation’s top scientists, engineers, and designers are busy fabricating a new generation of exquisite killing machines. While some misguided groups opposed this new frontier, make no mistake about it — these flawless robots will protect us forever and ever.

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With any luck, the problem of human conscience will soon become a distant memory.

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NSA taps your phone, CIA sends the drone

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There’s been new revelations detailing exactly what the NSA does with the massive amount of data it collects every second of every day. For more on how your phones SIM card helps direct drone-launched Hellfire missiles, see this investigative article by The Intercept.

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Good Tidings!

The amazing art duo Anthony Freda and Thomas Kinkade have come together once again to paint another tender portrait of America.

You’ve certainly heard of Amazon’s plans for a fleet of drones to carry its precious commodities directly to your home. There has been much less notice, however, of Amazon’s patriotic offer to loyally assist in extra-judicial, assassination programs.

That’s American business know-how! And just in time for Christmas!

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Drones & Humans — A Brief Visit

American administrations prefer their invisible wars to be…you know, invisible.

After all, they’re out there battling for our peace, freedom, and global dominance. If we would just shut up and stay the hell out of their business, they could accomplish their valiant goals. In recent years, the government has grown particularly vexed by the work of journalists, whistle-blowers, and human rights activists, who have the gall to expose secret U.S. activities, including torture and the murder of innocents.

So when a decent family from a small village in Pakistan makes a visit to our nation’s capital to politely ask for justice, well, it’s a little awkward.

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Because this is not the face of terrorism.

67-year-old Momina Bibi, the family matriarch, isn’t in this picture. Last year she was picking okra in her garden with her grandchildren when she was suddenly killed by a drone strike. The kids were sprayed by shrapnel and hospitalized. The father, a local teacher, was devastated and left with the question: Why?

Momina was the village midwife, not a terrorist. There were no indications of any terrorists in the vicinity. The event had the mark of a tragic mistake, especially since mistaken drone attacks are not uncommon in rural Pakistan. But there is never an apology, never support for medical treatment, never an acknowledgement that the killing of good and innocent people requires a response.

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The powerful do not make such responses. Discussion of drones in Washington are typically limited to policy, tactics, statistics and other abstractions. So the Rehman family’s visit to Congress offered a vivid insistence that human devastation runs deep through many of these drone attacks.

The family loved Momina. She was the center of their life. 14-year-old Zubair Rehman talked about the lovely blue sky above their heads that day. They all had seen the drone hovering, but that was normal. They were used to it. It would not attack them. But that day, it did.

Now the blue sky means death. Zubair says, “I prefer cloudy days when the drones don’t fly.” Like many children in communities targeted by drones areas, he and his sister prefer to simply stay inside. And if the American government won’t listen to them, perhaps they’ll at least look. So 9-year-old Nabila Rehman came prepared.

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Most members of Congress, however, couldn’t be bothered to attend such an unimportant event. A mere five U.S. representatives welcomed the family and listened to their story. But reporters were there [1, 2, 3]. And so we know about it. And we can see the picture she has drawn.

And anyway, the father, Rafiq Rehman, was speaking to Americans, not just their leaders:

“We’re all human beings. I knew that Americans would have a heart, that they would be sympathetic to me. That’s why I came here — I thought if they heard my story, they would want to listen to me and influence their politicians.”

Will we?


[Reports of civilians killed by drones remain a matter of great dispute. The American and Pakistan governments says the number is small, with Pakistan claiming there have only been 67 drone-related civilian fatalities in its nation since 2008. A more reliable estimate comes from London’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism which estimates that between 407 and 926 civilians have been killed by drones in Pakistan since 2008, or between 16% and 25% of all deaths. But since the drones are deadly, the locations remote, and some attacks go unreported, the numbers could be higher still.]

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The Child is the Future Drone Pilot

Hey, wouldn’t it be great to train kids to be military drone pilots?

Sure it would! So Cherry Lake publishing has put out a school book for students in grades 4-8 all about drones. It’s part of their “cool military careers” series and, boy is it ever fun!

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The book tells kids all about drones and how they work. It’s awesome! One special passage reveals, in an easy-to-remember way, the five skills any successful drone pilot needs:

Dedicated
Responsible
Organized
Never out of control
Eager to get the job done right

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Sounds great! Wish I were a kid again, dreaming and hoping about one day leading my own secret drone mission to waste some terrorist scum. And because it’s never too early to plan that military career, the book has a helpful link to the Air Force!

What’s that? You’re not sure a child should be learning about piloting military drones? Doesn’t seem quite right for a kid? No problem! She might be better suited for….

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Special Ops is super cool! Action, adventure, and risking your life everyday to “help protect the United States and preserve peace throughout the world.” Sure we’ve already killed a few of the big “targets,” but thanks to the drone program, we’ll have plenty of enemies for a long, long time!

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The Art of Exposure

You begin with an image. It comes through Twitter or Tumblr or Instagram. The view is unfamiliar, a strange indistinct area from an alien land.

The only thing you know is that this place is a crime scene.

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People have been murdered there. By a drone.

There are a few spare facts. Four missiles, more than 16 dead. Little else. Details will remain elusive for some time, because the event took place in a distant area.

And the dead are not people we know.

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Who are those caught in the eye of the drone? A terrorist, a man selling tea, a child? We are left to wonder.

It’s this act of wondering which is the real product of Dronestagram, a social media project that disperses these “drones-eye” views across various platforms. James Bridal is the inventive artist who realized he could tap into the drone data compiled by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, match it with Google satellite images, and bring it into the everyday lives of safe, comfortable people.

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Some argue that such drone strikes engender fear and resentment among the innocent civilians of these areas, and it will be that which will prove the enduring damage of these attacks. But if we don’t know about the bombs, if we don’t read about the victims, if we’re left in the dark, we surrender any role in preventing war or shaping peace.

Which is exactly what powerful authorities prefer. We’ll handle things, they assure us.

Just trust us.

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In the ongoing struggle between the forces of concealment and revelation, Dronestagram features the art of quiet exposure, reminding us, oh so politely, to consider the consequences of our secret wars and state assassinations.

Do we step deeper into the image? Or do we look away?

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Winning the Hearts and Minds…..

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In Times of Universal Deceit…

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