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Yemen 'set up a counselling centre' for children because of drone strikes

From REPRIEVE:
 
A Yemeni delegation to the UN yesterday admitted that it has had to establish a counselling centre for children because the level of traumatisation caused by US drone attacks in the country is so high. 
 
At a periodic review of Yemen by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child yesterday, the Yemeni delegation was asked by the Committee about the psychological impact of drone strikes on children. The Yemeni official said that following a drone attack on a residential area, they had found it necessary to set up a counselling centre.
 
The delegation also stressed that the country's Parliament has voted to stop US drone strikes, saying:
 
“The Yemeni Parliament one month ago adopted a prohibition of American drones carrying out attacks in Yemen and we will continue to review and discuss this issue.”
 
When asked by a member of the committee how Yemen is trying to prevent drone strikes, the delegation said:
 
“We have signed an agreement with the US and other countries to fight terrorism…We will fight terrorism wherever it occurs in conformity with our agreement with the US.” The delegation then went on to admit that, “Of course mistakes have been made.”
 
These statements follow on from a report from UN Secretary General, Ban-ki Moon to the Security Council last year by stating that drones were violating a range of children’s rights from their right to life to their right to education.
 
CIA drone strikes in Yemen have killed an estimated 42 children. In March last year Dr Peter Schaapveld, an expert in psychological trauma assessment and treatment told British MPs, following a trip assessing victims and communities in Yemen, that US drones in the country were “causing a psychological emergency.” 
 
Reprieve Legal Director Kat Craig said: “In places like Yemen, the US drone programme is terrorising entire civilian populations, nearly half of which are children. President Hadi's agreements with the US are trumping Yemen's responsibility to protect its children. Instead of allowing the US to bomb his country to pieces and then setting up a recovery centre, President Hadi should listen to his Parliament and stop the drone strikes.”

Seventeen People Tried for Protesting Drones in Upstate, NY

From UNAC
On January 25, 2012, 17 people were arrested for symbolically blocking the gates at Hancock National Air Guard Base which is a site where MQ 9 Reaper drones are piloted over Afghanistan, and the domestic center for training MQ9 Reaper pilots and technicians.   They stood in front of the gates with banners and and signs calling for an end to drone warfare, and read an Indictment for Crimes Against Peace and attacks on civilians that are illegal under international war. 
 
After more than two hours outside the gates, the protesters were arrested and arraigned on charges of Trespass and Disorderly Conduct, both violations.   The protesters were  also issued  Orders of Protection for Col Earl Evans which require them to stay away from the base.   Violating these OOPs, as they call them, carries potential misdemeanor or even felony charges. 

On January 2nd of this year (2014)  the Hancock 17 went to trial in DeWitt, NY.   Fifteen defendants are going before the court Pro Se, i.e. they are representing themselves before the court.   They have prepared a defense based on the fact that they were not at the base to break the law, but rather to uphold the law.   The way the drones are used in Afghanistan violates Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law.    There is little coverage of Afghan casualties in the mainstream news but according to a report by Press TV, there were 500 drone attacks in Afghanistan in the last year. 
 
After 12 hours in the courtroom on January 2nd and 6th, the prosecution case is nearly complete.   The defendants had an opportunity to cross examine Col Evans, a civil engineer responsible for material operations at the base, and the Security Chief at some length.  There were a number of questions about the handling of events occurring outside the Military Installation (denoted by the fence) of the Base and in the Easement which includes a public thoroughfare. 

It is expected that the defense case will begin on January 23 and continue on the 24th.     The defendants' case is supported by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Mary Ellen O'Connell of Notre Dame who is an expert on Drones and International Law, and by witness from an Afghan youth whose brother-in-law was killed in a drone strike in Maidan Shahr Wardak, Afghanistan. 

For more information, please go to http://upstatedroneaction.org/

Human rights activist in Yemen receives death threat for investigating drone attack

Baraa Shiban, an investigator in Yemen for human rights charity Reprieve, received an anonymous death threat yesterday (Thursday) relating to his investigation of a US drone strike which killed 12 wedding guests and injured 14 others in al-Baydah province, on December 12, 2013.
 
The anonymous caller demanded that Mr. Shiban abandon his investigation of the drone strike and then threatened his life.
 
The investigation to which the caller referred exposed that the drone strike had hit a wedding procession, rather than Al-Qaeda militants as the US and Yemeni governments had initially claimed. The findings of Reprieve’s investigation, which were broadcast on the US network NBC on Tuesday, have sparked the US administration to launch an internal investigation. 
 
Reprieve has written to governmental officials calling on them to investigate the threat and take any steps required by Yemeni law. Reprieve Legal Director Kat Craig said: “Our primary concern is, of course, for the safety of our colleague. We have asked President Hadi to take a stand to protect Baraa and other human rights advocates who are so vital to Yemen’s democratic transition. But the nature of the threat, and the proximity of it to the high profile coverage of this recent strike procured by Baraa, only makes us more determined to continue our work to expose the unlawfulness of drones in Yemen, how they are killing civilians and terrorising entire communities. We hope that the Yemeni and international community will continue to assist our colleague in his brave work.”

DRONES: Let's Give Obama a Political Choice He Can Understand in 2014

from Scarry Thoughts

Now's the time of year for New Year's resolutions.

Let no one doubt that Barack Obama has one resolution for 2014 and that is to win back control of the House of Representatives.

As the nationwide -- and, increasingly, global -- movement to ground the drones looks ahead to 2014, what will its New Year's resolution be?

I suggest that if we want to be heard on this issue, we need to be where Obama and his crew are paying daily attention: the highly-contested races in the 2014 midterms.

I worked on the US drone program. The public should know what really goes on

Few of the politicians who so brazenly proclaim the benefits of drones have a real clue how it actually works (and doesn't)
theguardian.com,
Hermes 450 drone
An Elbit Systems Hermes 450 drone. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Whenever I read comments by politicians defending the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Predator and Reaper program – aka drones – I wish I could ask them a few questions. I'd start with: "How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile?" And: "How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?" Or even more pointedly: "How many soldiers have you seen die on the side of a road in Afghanistan because our ever-so-accurate UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] were unable to detect an IED [improvised explosive device] that awaited their convoy?"

Few of these politicians who so brazenly proclaim the benefits of drones have a real clue of what actually goes on. I, on the other hand, have seen these awful sights first hand.

I knew the names of some of the young soldiers I saw bleed to death on the side of a road. I watched dozens of military-aged males die in Afghanistan, in empty fields, along riversides, and some right outside the compound where their family was waiting for them to return home from the mosque.

The US and British militaries insist that this is an expert program, but it's curious that they feel the need to deliver faulty information, few or no statistics about civilian deaths and twisted technology reports on the capabilities of our UAVs. These specific incidents are not isolated, and the civilian casualty rate has not changed, despite what our defense representatives might like to tell us.

What the public needs to understand is that the video provided by a drone is not usually clear enough to detect someone carrying a weapon, even on a crystal-clear day with limited cloud and perfect light. This makes it incredibly difficult for the best analysts to identify if someone has weapons for sure. One example comes to mind: "The feed is so pixelated, what if it's a shovel, and not a weapon?" I felt this confusion constantly, as did my fellow UAV analysts. We always wonder if we killed the right people, if we endangered the wrong people, if we destroyed an innocent civilian's life all because of a bad image or angle.

It's also important for the public to grasp that there are human beings operating and analysing intelligence these UAVs. I know because I was one of them, and nothing can prepare you for an almost daily routine of flying combat aerial surveillance missions over a war zone. UAV proponents claim that troops who do this kind of work are not affected by observing this combat because they are never directly in danger physically.

But here's the thing: I may not have been on the ground in Afghanistan, but I watched parts of the conflict in great detail on a screen for days on end. I know the feeling you experience when you see someone die. Horrifying barely covers it. And when you are exposed to it over and over again it becomes like a small video, embedded in your head, forever on repeat, causing psychological pain and suffering that many people will hopefully never experience. UAV troops are victim to not only the haunting memories of this work that they carry with them, but also the guilt of always being a little unsure of how accurate their confirmations of weapons or identification of hostile individuals were.

Of course, we are trained to not experience these feelings, and we fight it, and become bitter. Some troops seek help in mental health clinics provided by the military, but we are limited on who we can talk to and where, because of the secrecy of our missions. I find it interesting that the suicide statistics in this career field aren't reported, nor are the data on how many troops working in UAV positions are heavily medicated for depression, sleep disorders and anxiety.

Recently, the Guardian ran a commentary by Britain's secretary of state for defence, Philip Hammond. I wish I could talk to him about the two friends and colleagues I lost, within a year of leaving the military, to suicide. I am sure he has not been notified of that little bit of the secret UAV program, or he would surely take a closer look at the full scope of the program before defending it again.

The UAVs in the Middle East are used as a weapon, not as protection, and as long as our public remains ignorant to this, this serious threat to the sanctity of human life – at home and abroad – will continue.

Remembering the Human Collateral Damage

By  Debra Sweet.   Last week 17 people died from a U.S. drone strike in a remote area of Yemen as they drove in a convoy returning from a wedding. People in the area had heard the drone overhead since the day before. As to what really happened, we are fed a lot of speculation by the US news media, because, of course, the U.S. military won't comment... “those killed were linked to al Qaeda, and therefore legitimate targets... the government of Yemen is running the war, and they choose the targets... the drone strike targeted that convoy by ‘mistake.’”

The War on Marriage on Christmas

Very rarely does our government ask us what to have a war on.  The proposal for missile strikes into Syria was a rare occasion when public pressure and other factors compelled Congress to demand a say. Public pressure then compelled Congress to say No.

But daily drone buzzings over various nations aren't occasions for public debate.  We aren't being asked about another decade in Afghanistan or cooking up a future war on Iran.  And our current president and his predecessor combined have wiped out eight wedding parties (six in Afghanistan, one in Iraq, and one in Yemen earlier this month) without our having ever been asked about any of them.

What if we were?

There are various ways a debate over whether to launch a war could go.  In a highly-informed debate, we might investigate whether a war would violate the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the U.N. Charter, and the U.S. Constitution.  We might ask how many adults, children, and infants would likely be killed, injured, and traumatized, how many refugees created, what sort of environmental damage, what economic cost, what erosion of our civil liberties, what heightened secrecy in government, what increase in violence throughout our culture and the country attacked, what likely blowback for decades to come, and what obvious alternatives are available to violence.  But, of course, if we asked all that, then we'd never have any wars.

In a more plausible scenario, we might expect a debate to squeeze its way onto our televisions that would ask questions like: How many U.S. troops will die?  How much will it cost?  Why are we on the same side as al Qaeda this time?  How will it end once begun?  How does bombing more people express our support for suffering people?  Or, depending on the circumstances, maybe even this: Haven't we been arming that dictator for decades -- why the urgency to overthrow him now? 

But how would a debate over whether to send hellfire missiles screaming into a wedding party look?  What if such a debate were to develop in our news media this Christmas season? 

In areas of frequent drone strikes, people are often afraid to get together in large numbers.  In Yemen, parents resort to home schooling for fear of letting their children out of the house.  Few and far between are the events deemed important enough to risk violating that rule.  One such event is a wedding. 

How much, we might hear our pundits ask, could be saved by killing 15 people at a wedding as opposed to killing them each separately?  (If the missiles alone cost $1 million each, the answer is well over $14 million.)  What element of surprise might be gained in obliterating people whose minds are distracted by love and friendship and an important right rite of passage?  What fear and respect might be placed into the minds of the survivors?  Let's say one of the wedding couple survives and the other doesn't; which one would it be most desirable to let live?  Does it matter what kind of dress the bride is wearing?  Should fashion consultants be brought in by the Pentagon, or should morning talk shows contribute that analysis as part of their patriotic duty?  Should the missiles hit just as little kids bearing flowers enter the scene?

The debate may sound absurd, but its creation would actually be a significant step toward sound government.  We ought to vote on or be represented by officials who vote on important decisions for us.  We ought to be informed, engaged, and consulted.  Therefore, a debate before the next wedding strike is a perfectly reasonable proposal -- unless of course we're going to unilaterally stop blowing up weddings.  Far be it from me to suggest anything that rash.

Bringing U.S. Crimes in Yemen to New York

By Nick Mottern
 
On Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 18, 2013,  about 20 people - from the Granny Peace Brigade (GPB), World Can't Wait, KnowDrones.org, Mary House (the Catholic Worker House in NYC) and Concerned Families of Westchester County - gathered in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City to witness on behalf of the 15 Yemeni wedding-goers who were killed by a US drone six days earlier.
 
  I brought a replica of the MQ-9 Reaper drone, one of the work horses of US drone killing, and as I carried the replica parts to be assembled in front of the cathedral, I was so heartened to see such a long line of witnesses.  Most were from the GPB, and the yellow smocks the Grannies wear at protests gave the line a heightened presence and assertion in the midst of a scene that was about anything but why we were there.  
 
  As the attached photos show, many, many people passed in front of us, with a fair number actively avoiding conversation and flyers, even when some of us approached them.   Although we were in front of one of the most renown houses of worship in the United States, and maybe the world, the atmosphere had no hint of spiritual intention.  St. Patrick's is in the heart of one of the most famous, some might say  infamous, shopping districts in America, and the prevailing energy had to do with commerce,  sight-seeing and rushing, constant rushing, rushing of souls flashing by pre-occupied with immediate demands.   Yemen, the drone dead and their families were galaxies away.
 
 
  The most pronounced, kindest evidence of a spiritual inspiration came from the NYC policeman who approached us when we gathered to begin the vigil.  He said he had been advised that we would be protesting, that we were free to stand on the broad sidewalk in front of the cathedral and that, if we wished, the police would, cordon off our spot, an offer we declined.  I have never experienced a policeman being welcoming in this way or to be so pleasant.   Conversely, when one of us went into the cathedral office to ask if someone might copy some additional flyers for us, he was told no and asked who gave us permission to be there anyway.  (Flyer attached)
 
  We arrived at 1:00 pm and left at 2:30, when we ran out of the 200 plus fliers.  The  end of the flyers was welcome in a way because the cold was beginning to establish a beachhead under our layers of clothing.    
 
  In terms of impact, I know that a man in his early 50's from Long Island, accompanied by his wife and children, was very interested in what we were doing, very sympathetic, and stood around for sometime.  I also found several passersby wanting to take a flyer, and two said they would definitely Facebook Pope Francis when I told them we were encouraging people to ask him to condemn drone warfare and drone surveillance.   I know others in our group had similar small signs of success, and I left feeling that at least for the time we were there we were honoring, and in some way praying for, those who had been killed in Yemen and for those who loved them.
 
  Pope Francis' Facebook address is:                     https://www.facebook.com/PopeFranciscus

Syracuse Is Fifth City to Pass Anti-Drone Resolution

Syracuse has passed this:

Ban Weaponized Drones! – Statement by the European Section Global Anti-Drone Network

[Editor's note: This is a terrific complement to a similar statement by another long list of organizations at BanWeaponizedDrones.org --DCNS]

Statement by the European Section
Global Anti-Drone Network

Ban Weaponized Drones!

We oppose the use of drone technology for killing, surveillance and repression.

We oppose weaponized and surveillance drones because their deployment lowers the threshold to armed aggression, is used for “targeted” killing of people within and outside warzones  – without indictment, trial and conviction, terrorizes the population of the targeted territories, fuels hatred, thereby increasing the cycle of violence, leads to the development of autonomous kille robots, thereby making even more horrifying wars likely, initiates a new round in the arms race.

We demand that all governments cease the production and acquisition of armed drones, as well as their research and development, and work towards a worldwide ban of these weapons.

Endorsed by:

Althaler, Birgit – Palestine Solidarity Basel, Switzerland
Aune, Björn – Boycott, Sanctions, Divestment (BDS) Campaign Berlin, Germany
Baloch, Farooq – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf  (PTI), Germany
Benjamin, Medea  - Code Pink (Co-­Founder), USA
Björkmann, Rosie – Women for Peace, Sweden
Bosma, Geert – Vredes Informatie Centrum (Staff) & War  Resisters Intl. (WRI), Netherlands
Braun, Reiner – Intl.  Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA – Executive Director),Germany
Cole, Chris – Drone Wars UK (Founder) & Drone Campaign Network (Convener), United Kingdom
Dubrow, Niels – Staff  Assistant to Dr. Ute Finckh-Krämer, Member of Bundestag (SPD), Germany
Finckh-Krämer, Ute – Member of Bundestag  (MdB), Social Democratic Party (SPD) & Stiftung Friedensbildung, Germany
Fredegård, Anita – Women for Peace, Sweden
Fuchs, Barbara – attac  &  Friedensratschlag,  Germany
Fuchs-Kittowski, Klaus – Forum of Computer Scientists for Peace and Social Responsibility (FIfF),  Germany
Ghannam, Doris – Boycott,  Sanctions, Divestment (BDS) Campaign Berlin, Germany
Hunko, Andrej – Member of Bundestag (MdB) & of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, DIE  LINKE  (the  Left)
Hugler, Helmut – Staff  Assistant  to  Dr.  Ute Finckh-Krämer, Member of Bundestag (SPD), Germany
Javaid, Tariq – Pakistan  Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Germany
Kachel, Thomas – Parliamentary Advisor  on  Peace and Security Issues, DIE  LINKE (the Left) in the Bundestag, Germany
Käss, Helmut – Intl.  Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), Germany
Krutsch, Elfriede – Intl. Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), Germany
Lammerent, Hans – Vredesactie Peace  Movement (former  Chair), Belgium
Lorentz, Charlotte – Staff Assistant to Angieszka Brugger, Member of the Bundestag, Green  parliamentary  group, Germany
Martensson, Ingela – Women for Peace & former Member of the parliament (Liberal  Party), Sweden
Mudassir, Ali – Pakistan Tehreek-­e-­Insaaf  (PTI), Germany
Müller-Reiss, Brunhild – Drone  Campaign & Peace Office Hannover & War Resisters Intl. (DFG-VK in WRI), Germany
Nineham, Chris – Stop the War Coalition (StWC -Vice Chair), United Kingdom
Norberg, Agneta – Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space & Women for Peace, Sweden
Paulini,  Peter – Stiftung Friedensbildung (Foundation for Peacemaking), Germany
Pflüger, Tobias – Drone Campaign & Info. Agency on Militarisation (IMI, Founder) & former MEP (DIE  LINKE), Germany
Rassbach, Elsa – Code Pink & Drone Campaign & War Resisters Intl. (DFG-VK in WRI, Board), USA/Germany
Schoeppe, Florian – Staff Assistant to Katja Keul, Membe  of the Bundestag, Green parliamentary group, Germany
Steffen, Jens-Peter – Intl.  Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW),  Staff Adviser on Peace Issues), Germany
Stryk, Lydia – Playwright,  USA/Germany
Wijnberg,  J.M.T.  (Miek) – Burgerrechtenvereniging  Vrijbit  (President),  Netherlands
Wimmersperg, Laura – Drone Campaign & Peace Coordination Berlin (Speaker), Germany
Wirl, Lucas – ICC No to NATO (Co-Chair) & Intl. Network Engineers & Scientists for Global Responsibility (INES), Germany

www.drohnen-kampagne.de

Drone Warfare Protest at CIA Follows Strike on Civilians in Yemen

Barry_sign

Following a deadly U.S. drone strike on civilians in Yemen, members of a dozen peace groups wearing blue scarves gathered at the entrance of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. With guards and barricades on one side and cars whizzing by on Rt. 123 on the other, they held a vigil in memory of civilians, especially children, by U.S. drone bombings in Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“The CIA touts that drones are accurate,” said Jack McHale of Pax Christi USA to about 30 protestors from groups including CODE PINK and Veterans for Peace. But, he said, according to the Navy’s own analysis, they’re no more accurate than traditional air power. “I think we saw that this week when a wedding party was targeted and 17 people were killed as a result of an armed drone in Yemen.”

READ THE REST.

THREE ARRESTED DEC 9 TRYING TO DELIVER AN ORDER OF PROTECTION TO THE 174TH REAPER DRONE ATTACK WING AT HANCOCK AIR BASE

This afternoon, December 9, 2013, two Yale Divinity School students and a Catholic Worker were arrested as they attempted to deliver an Order of Protection on behalf of Afghan children and their families at the Hancock Air Base main entrance on East Molloy Rd. near Syracuse, NY.

Since October 25, 2012, over 50 citizens have been arrested – and issued Orders of Protection – for protesting the killing of children by Reaper drones piloted from Hancock Air Base.

The local DeWitt Town Court has issued these Orders at the request of the Hancock colonels. Such Orders suppress the First Amendment right of all those arrested to petition their government for redress of grievances at Hancock.                               

The grievance is that Hancock’s 174th Attack Wing technicians pilot weaponized Reaper drones over Afghanistan, engaged in the targeted killing of civilians.

The three declared, “This is the season for naming and wrestling with the reality of death in our life together. Advent’s austere themes of Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell challenge us to see, to mourn and to resist the forces of death that hold our age in their power, forces that murder children overseas (and on our own streets) for the sake of corporate profit and the military-industrial complex. We are engaged in this action because we believe we can only see Christian hope when we confront the reality of bombs being dropped on children by remote-controlled killing machines.”

The three are Mark Colville of the new Haven Catholic Worker, Greg Williams and Creighton Chandler both of Yale Divinity school. They were arrested and charged with obstruction of governmental administration, trespass, and disorderly conduct. Mark was given an additional charge of Criminal Contempt for violating his order of protection that was issued from a year ago for a Commander at the base.

They tried to deliver this:

THE PEOPLE’S ORDER OF PROTECTION FOR THE CHILDREN OF AFGHANISTAN AND THEIR FAMILIES:

TO: President Obama; The United States Military; Col. Greg Semmel; Col. Earl Evans; The 174th Attack Wing of the Air National Guard.

Whereas good cause has been shown for the issuance of this order of protection, the people of all nations committed to peace, having overwhelmingly made a determination in accordance with both the Spirit of and the Letter of the United Nations Charter do hereby order that the above named, and more specifically their Hell Fire missiles and 500 pound bombs fired from the MQ9 Reaper drones operated at Hancock Airfield, home of the 174th Attack wing of the New York State Air National Guard, are to stay away from the Children of Afghanistan and their families, and:

Their homes;
Their schools;
Their places of play; and
Their places of work (ie., the forests where they gather wood, the fields where they tend their vegetables and flocks)

And further the above named shall refrain from:

Assault, stalking, harassment, menacing, bombing, killing, maiming and terrorizing, criminal obstruction of breathing or circulation, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, forcible touching, intimidation, threats or any criminal offense or interference with the victims of the alleged offenses perpetrated by the offenders named in this order.

There shall be no more improper touching of the Children of Afghanistan or their families with your Hell Fire missiles and your 500 pound bombs.

There Shall be no more menacing and reckless endangerment of the children and their families.

It is further ordered that this order of protection shall remain in force forever. Failure to comply with this order will result in the people’s continued nonviolent resistance to this illegal and immoral behavior.

And further please see attached plea from the people of Afghanistan making this request.

ORDER personally served at the gates of Hancock Air Base, site of where war crimes are being committed.

How an Inventive, Imperialist (Evil) System Uses Drones

 Thanks to Medea Benjamin, Code Pink, Reprieve, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the attention and energy of 400 who gathered this past Saturday at Georgetown Law School, we were able to consider Drones Around the Globe: Proliferation & Resistance.  It was a very worthwhile weekend which will impact how people act on and respond to U.S. use of drones.

Grayson, Nader, Fein Ask Obama to Stop Drone Murders

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President:

We strongly urge you to compose a letter of remorse, including an offer of compensation, to 9-year-old Nibila ur Rehman. She is a surviving grandchild of the 68-year old Pakistani grandmother who was reduced to a grisly corpse by a drone strike you ordered last year. No claim or evidence has surfaced indicating the slain grandmother was mistaken for a jihadist or circulating among them.

The details of the apparent murder were related by the 9-year-old child recently in a congressional hearing hosted by Representative Alan Grayson (D. Fl.): “It was the day before Eid. My grandmother asked me to come help her outside. We were collecting okra, the vegetables. Then I saw in the sky the drone and I heard a ‘dum dum’ noise. Everything was dark and I couldn’t see anything, but I heard a scream. I don’t know if it was my grandmother, but I couldn’t see her. I was very scared and all I could think of doing was just run. I kept running but I felt something in my hand. And I looked at my hand. There was blood. I tried to bandage my hand, but the blood kept coming.”

Speaking as American citizens, we are ashamed of what was done to that grandmother and granddaughter and what continues to be done to innocents. Silence would make us morally complicit in the cruelty that found expression in the grandmother’s killing. It would be no defense to echo the inelegant remark of a former Secretary of Defense: “[S]tuff happens.”

Playing prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner in secret to destroy individuals abroad on your say-so alone is fueling enmity against the United States that endangers us all—another example of blowback reminiscent of the birth of Al Qaeda from our participation in the disintegration of Afghanistan. Malala Yousafzei, a 16-year-old Pakistani heroine and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, recently informed you at the White House that “drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people.”

Your chief of staff in 2011, William M. Daley, has related his internal doubts about the effectiveness of drone killings in defeating international terrorism:

“One guy gets knocked off, and the guy’s driver, who’s No. 21, becomes 20? At what point are you just filling the bucket with numbers?”

We also urge you to cease all use of predator drones except during times of legal wars in areas of actual hostilities against the United States. International law, justice, and the safety of American citizens all militate in favor of such an enlightened policy.

Coupled with a contrite letter and commensurate compensation from the United States to 9-year-old Nibila and her family, these measures would be a commendable mark of simple moral decency in the presidency.

Sincerely,

Ralph Nader

Bruce Fein

Alan Grayson
Member of Congress

4 Arrested at Beale Air Force Base while resisting drone warfare

Report Back: Occupy Beale AFB and Resisting Drones, November 2013



On November 25-26, we held our monthly vigil that included a surprise “pre-emptive peace response”

direct action on Tuesday morning against drone warfare at Beale Air Force Base. We were wearing

white clothes with blue scarves in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan who want peace.



 www.TheBlueScarf.org “The Blue Scarf represents the expansive blue sky we all share and has

become a global symbol for togetherness. It was set in motion by a brave group of women in

Afghanistan ready to be heard and is now being worn around the world as a way for people to

express their solidity as global citizens for a better world.”



On Monday afternoon, four of us from the Bay area went to the Doolittle Gate. There were another 6

at the Wheatland gate. Meeting at the main gate at 5:30pm, in the dark and cold, we were visited by a

security detail from the base during our potluck. They advised us of the nighttime cold. When Flora,

a local activist, arrived with MacGregor, we gladly accepted an offer of her warm house for the night.

After our potluck, we shared two birthday cakes to celebrate the completion of our 3rd year at Beale.

Three years ago this month, Toby, Martha, Lisa and Eleanor dared to come to Beale AFB in the dark of

the early November morning for the first drone warfare vigil. We have since had nearly 100 different

people join the vigil, 4 road blockades and numerous arrests. These past 3 years, many more people in

our country have become aware of the immoral use of drones against civilians, women and children in

other lands. As more and more innocents are being slaughtered by drones the outrage is intensifying.



On Tuesday morning, shortly after 5am we headed out to the Wheatland gate on S. Beale Rd., a heavily

used artery into the base. 12 of us were able to again block traffic into the base at the Wheatland

gate for over 30 minutes. Traffic had backed up for nearly a mile. We held out large banners with

messages of peace, including the beautiful drone victim quilt, with panels of paintings showing some

of the many children who have been murdered by drone warfare. The large NO DRONES light brigade

signs glowed brightly in the night. The vast majority of vehicles respected our blockade without physical

confrontation, but several irate motorists forced their way through the vigil. One dragged our drone

quilt and other visuals several hundred feet, and put one Veteran For Peace activist, John Reiger, at risk,

though luckily he was unharmed. (This led to a length discussion and learning experience for how to

deal with confrontational motorists: peacefully let them through). Not all of us were able to risk arrest,

thus we moved aside after Highway patrolman, Dan Yeager, arrived and gave several warnings. It is our

deepest hope that in that brief period of the morning, as the war machine was momentarily halted, that

maybe a human life in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia or elsewhere was saved.



Four of us, Shirley, Flora, Michael and MacGregor then walked about ½ mile down the road to the

waiting military police at the base boundary, McGregor handed over the vigil’s signed letter she

had prepared to the base commander demanding a halt in the base participation in the drone wars.

Michael, as a military veteran, told the soldiers he was there to speak on their behalf to condemn

the U.S. government for forcing our military personnel to be involved in war crimes against innocent

civilians. After waiting over 15 minutes for a representative of the commander, who never came, the

four of us walked onto the base and were immediately arrested. We were treated well and were

processed out just after 9am to the greetings of many of our fellow vigilers who had braved the cold

morning air another 2 hours to support us. We then closed our usual vigil with breakfast, debriefing

and planning for future drone resistance at the Brick Coffeehouse in Marysville. We will be back and we

hope you will join us the next time.



Written by Michael Kerr, Martha Hubert and Toby Blome

Drone Art, War Art, Blood Art

In this video, Noor Mir describes Pakistani truck art now including images of drones, and a poem in Pashto with the line: "You follow me, my love, like a drone."

Al Jazeera has published a collection of war art here.  It includes this:

More Afghan war art can be found here, and here, and here.

Pakistan Uses Drones to Target Protesters of U.S. Drones

And people wonder what drones in U.S. skies will be used for!

Pakistan Deploys First Domestic Drones

 

 

The Pakistani military deployed its first fleet of domestically developed drones Monday, as police cracked down on a protest by demonstrators angry at the U.S. for using similar aircraft to attack Islamic militants in the country.

The new Burraq and Shahpar drones will be used by the Pakistani army and air force, the military said in a statement. It was unclear whether the aircraft are armed or unarmed, and military officials did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The announcement coincided with a move by Pakistani police to prevent activists protesting U.S. drone strikes from blocking trucks carrying NATO troop supplies to and from neighboring Afghanistan.

The intervention was the latest chapter in a saga that began Saturday, when thousands of protesters led by Pakistani politician and cricket star Imran Khan blocked a road in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which is used to ship goods to and from Afghanistan.

Khan's party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, said it would block NATO shipments until the U.S. ended drone attacks.

Walking the Walk: A March Against Drone Warfare

Walking the Walk: A March Against Drone Warfare from Caneyhead Pictures on Vimeo.

from

In June of 2013 a group of peace activists set out for a walk across Iowa to protest the Predator drone control center planned for the Iowa National Guard Air Base in Des Moines. Beginning at the arms depot at Rock Island Illinois and ending at the National Guard Air Base in Des Moines, the intimate journey of 25 peace pilgrims is documented in the film Walking the Walk: a March Against Drone Warfare. For two weeks and one hundred ninety-five miles, the walkers discuss their mission, their hopes, fears and outrage. Among the walkers are a man just released from prison for attempting to deliver a letter to the commander of a drone base, a businessman who has left a lucrative career to walk and witness for peace, veterans who have witnessed war first hand and a lawyer and former government official deeply concerned with the legality of the United States' drone strike program. In discussions with locals they meet and public presentations in libraries, parks and colleges we hear the issue of armed drone strikes and assassinations discussed in all their ethical complexity. Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the world-wide peace action organization Code Pink called the film "Wonderful... Fantastic... Brilliant, it gets out so much info in such a humanizing way. And so beautifully filmed."

Debating a Drone


Daddy Warbucks: May I have the first word?

Brother Pax: If I may have the last one.

DW: I'm sure you will, and you had the first one too. Before the drones came on the scene, you called them forth. You said "War costs too much money." You said "War kills too many soldiers." Well, here you go. War costs less money. And war kills nobody. And yet you aren't satisfied.

BP: Now, this will be a very short debate if my position is to protest the murdering of people with drones, and your position is that drones kill nobody.  There must be more overlap in our worldviews than that if we are even to talk.

DW: You know perfectly well what I meant.

BP: It might be clearer if you tell me.

DW: Drones don't kill pilots or soldiers. They only kill the people who need to be killed.

BP: Let me grant you part of that. We've had pilots and soldiers killed by suicide, by accident, by friendly fire, and by suicide bombings at drone bases. But let's suppose they've been fewer than they might have been in some other form of war.

DW: There's no question.

BP: There is always a question. Sometimes it's a different question than the one being so insistently answered.

DW: Meaning?

BP: If the question is whether to have this kind of war or that kind of war, then we must choose the better kind of war (if we can make out what it is). But if the question is whether to have peace or to have war, then a different answer is available.

DW: Well, of course. We all want peace. But that comes after.

BP: Does it? Let's go back to the "people who need to be killed."

DW: Exactly.

BP: Who are they?

DW: Criminals, terrorists, threats to -- in fact -- kill a lot more people. Stopping them is the whole point.

BP: May I ask you a few questions that might seem unrelated?

DW: Go ahead.

BP: If the government doubled your taxes, would you trust it to do the right things with that money?

DW: No.

BP: Do you trust government officials' campaign promises?

DW: No.

BP: Are you confident that the inspectors who allowed the flooding of the Gulf of Mexico with oil are doing a good job now?

DW: No.

BP: Do you believe politicians tell you a straight story about their new healthcare reforms?

DW: Not exactly.

BP: When people in various cultures established public procedures, such as courts of law, to try to arrive at the truth in criminal cases, rather than just allowing a king or a magician to declare guilt or innocence, why do you think they did that?

DW: To be sure of being right.

BP: Now, why is it that you trust the government to kill thousands of people with missiles from drones, even though the government won't tell you who they are or why they are killed, nobody is indicted, nobody is prosecuted, nobody's extradition is sought, many cases have been established in which the person could quite easily have been arrested, the government's memos redefine "imminent threat" to mean nothing of the sort, the government's memos redefine "combatant" to mean dead male human being between 16 and 65, people are targeted without knowing their name, many of the victims are known to have been innocent, many have been children, many women, many elderly, many those attempting to rescue survivors of a previous strike, and the people in the places where the missiles land say peace negotiations are ruined, criminals are turned into heroes, hatred is created for the United States, and terrorist organizations are strengthened dramatically, in fact the counterproductive nature of these operations on their own terms is so stark that many speculate that creating enemies is the secret purpose or at least that Washington doesn't mind if new enemies are created considering how profitable war is for certain people, and . . .

DW: Now just a minute . . .

BP: Why? Why do you trust that this secretive government is only killing "people who need to be killed"?

DW: Because there are evil people in the world.

BP: Of course there are, but how can you be sure the government has found them? Has it looked everywhere well and hard? Has it created public procedures of verification? Has it looked into any mirrors?

DW: You can't publicly announce who you're going to kill and still be able to kill him.

BP: Have you heard the name Osama Bin Laden?

DW: Yes.

BP: Didn't they publicly announce they were going to kill him?

DW: Yes, but you can't always.

BP: Can you publicly announce that you're going to try someone in a court of law?

DW: Sure, but not during a war.

BP: Can I ask you another odd question?

DW: Certainly.

BP: Thus far about 80 nations have weaponized drones. Which of those nations are justified in flying them over the United States and murdering people?

DW: No one's doing that.

BP: Let's just think this through, for the sake of argument.  Not so many years back, nobody was using these weapons at all.  If, next year, a nation flies a drone over the United States and murders someone, will that be justified?  And will people in that other country be right to trust that their government did the right thing?

DW: Of course not.

BP: Why not?

DW: It just isn't the same.

BP: I agree.

DW: You do?

BP: Nothing is ever the same. But what are the differences? It's not terribly hard to imagine someone attacking the United States, while an attack on Canada sounds rather comical. But, then, Canada doesn't have troops in 177 other countries and weapons in outerspace and every ocean, doesn't spend as much on its military as every other country combined, doesn't account for 80% of foreign weapons sales to dictatorships and democracies alike, doesn't prop up vicious monarchies to exploit their resources, doesn't view its manhood as entirely dependent on its readiness to bomb anybody who looks at it funny.

DW: And your point?

BP: What if peace doesn't come after war? Is Afghanistan more peaceful now, or before the current war, or before the drawing in of the Soviet Union and the initiation of all of these recent wars?  Is Iraq more peaceful now, or before the last war, or before the pair of wars and the sanctions?  Is Libya more peaceful now, or before the war?  Isn't peace a very hard thing to find during or after a war?

DW: Maybe, sometimes.

BP: But isn't peace right there, right within reach, before you start a war?

DW: We don't start wars.

BP: Is Yemen more peaceful? Is Pakistan more peaceful? Did we replace a ground war with a drone war? Or did we replace peace with a drone war?

DW: It's still a better option!

BP: Better than peace?

DW: No, not better than peace.

BP: Let me ask you one more odd-sounding question.  Would you rather have cancer or the flu?

DW: Is this a joke?

BP: Just pick, in all seriousness, and I'll explain.

DW: The flu.

BP: Now, if there were only a few cases of cancer, and doctors were getting close to curing it, but the flu was extremely contagious, it spread rapidly around the globe, it could spring up anywhere with no known cure, and -- strange to say -- sometimes the flu began turning into a new kind of cancer -- Now, in this situation, which is worse, the few cases of cancer or the epidemic of flu?

DW: The epidemic, of course.

BP: You can have the last word.

DW: Let me think about it.

Anti-drone Summit Seeks “Drone Strike Transparency Bill”

Originally posted at AcronymTV

Representatives from some of the parts of the world where US drones kill descended on Washington DC for the largest ever anti-drone summit. Code Pink, The Nation Magazine and the Georgetown chapter of the National Lawyers Guild served as host for the two-day summit.

As Majore Cohn, professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, writes:

CITIZEN ACTIVISTS DESCEND ON SEN. SCHUMER’S OFFICE TO DEMAND AN END TO THE KILLER DRONE PROGRAM

WHO: Members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR] have been active in challenging U.S. invasions and attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries.  Most recently, NCNR has been expressing a grave concern against the use of drone strikes to assassinate people in various countries.  On October 22, five members of NCNR were convicted of trespass at the Central Intelligence Agency on June 29 while seeking a meeting to discuss drone strikes.

WHAT: As part of the CodePink Global Summit on Drones, citizen activists have come to Washington to raise the issue of killer drone strikes. NCNR organized a planning session, and it was decided to write to Senator Chuck Schumer, a noted proponent of the unconstitutional drone strikes, to demand that he speak out against this assassination program. Now NCNR representatives intend to visit his office to seek a meeting.
 
WHEN: Monday, November 18, 2013 at 1:30 PM
 
WHERE: 322 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington D.C. 20510
 
WHY: On August 7, 2013 HADAS GOLD reported that Sen. Chuck Schumer promoted the drone war:  “’On terrorism, the president has been tougher than anybody else,’” ‘the New York Democrat said on CNN’s “New Day.’” “’Remember, George Bush wouldn’t let the drones go into Pakistan, and Al Qaeda flourished. The president did, and terrorism is way down. He’s pursuing the tactic in Yemen, and I think it’s working.’”

The NCNR citizen activists disagree.  No declaration of war has been declared against Yemen, and civilian casualties are rampant.  And it can be argued that drone strikes are just breeding more terrorists.  In fact,  Malala Yousafzai, when meeting with the Obama family, raised concerns about the administration’s use of drones, saying they are “fueling terrorism.” Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issued a recent report speculating that U.S. drone strikes may be war crimes.

The activists will try to convince Se. Schumer to support the termination of the assassination program. This would be an opportunity to instead use f reconciliation and diplomacy rather than pernicious killer drone strikes.  A U.S. policy of endless wars must be placed in the dustbin of history.
 

DRONES: The movie that became reality is now a movie, and you should see it

Saw this movie last night and highly recommend it. You'll learn more about U.S. foreign policy than you could gather from a mile-high stack of the New York Times, and you'll imagine you're just being entertained.  Pick up some popcorn and pull up a chair:

WATCH PREVIEW.

Germany Says No to Weaponized Drones

Germany had planned to buy a fleet of "Euro Hawk" killer drones -- perhaps in an effort to bring the European Union up to speed with certain other Nobel Peace laureates.

But something happened on the way to the celestial colosseum.

Of course, Captain Drone Man himself undoubtedly learned the news first, unless the NSA misplaced some of Frau Merkel's emails under a pile of exchanges among nonviolent activists planning the upcoming drone summit in DC.

What happened was public pressure within a nation dedicated to peace and -- at the moment -- more resistant than Japan to being turned back toward war.  Germany has now said nein, nein, and hell nein to killer flying robots.  And not just to the use of weaponized drones within what Americans might call Der Homeland, but to Germany's use of remote control murder planes against human beings anywhere on earth.

Earlier this month at the United Nations, several nations, including most prominently Brazil, denounced the criminality of murdering people around the globe with drones. Now Germany has taken a serious step in the direction of condemning armed drones to the status of land mines, poison gas, and nuclear weapons. If Germany can do it, we can all do it. And the scene in this video can go global:

http://youtu.be/kbJcQYVtZMo

All Drone Politics Is Local

What Localities and States Can Do About Drones

Use your own online petition to build your local campaign here.

Note: Actions taken by cities apart from resolutions, as in Lincoln, NE, and Seattle, WA, are not listed here. While Iowa City, Iowa, is listed in various places as having passed a resolution, we have not seen confirmation of final passage.

UPDATE: Burlington, Iowa, belatedly discovered as number 9.

UPDATE: Woodstock, NY, is number 8.

UPDATE: Amherst, MA, is number 7, and they passed two!

UPDATE: Leverett, MA, is number 6.

UPDATE: Syracuse, NY, is number 5.

Charlottesville, Va., passed a resolution that urged the state of Virginia to adopt a two-year moratorium on drones (which it did), urged both Virginia and the U.S. Congress to prohibit information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into court, and to preclude the domestic use of drones equipped with "anti-personnel devices, meaning any projectile, chemical, electrical, directed-energy (visible or invisible), or other device designed to harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact a human being," and pledged that Charlottesville would "abstain from similar uses with city-owned, leased, or borrowed drones."

St. Bonifacius, Minn., passed a resolution with the same language as Charlottesville plus a ban on anyone operating a drone "within the airspace of the city," making a first offense a misdemeanor and a repeat offense a felony.

Evanston, Ill., passed a resolution establishing a two-year moratorium on the use of drones in the city with exceptions for hobby and model aircraft and for non-military research, and making the same recommendations to the state and Congress as Charlottesville and St. Bonifacius.

Northampton, Mass., passed a resolution urging the U.S. government to end its practice of extrajudicial killing with drones, affirming that within the city limits "the navigable airspace for drone aircraft shall not be expanded below the long-established airspace for manned aircraft" and that "landowners subject to state laws and local ordinances have exclusive control of the immediate reaches of the airspace and that no drone aircraft shall have the 'public right of transit' through this private  property," and urging the state and Congress and the FAA "to  respect legal precedent and constitutional guarantees of privacy, property rights, and local sovereignty in all matters pertaining to drone aircraft and navigable airspace."

See full text of all resolutions at warisacrime.org/resolutions

Other cities, towns, and counties should be able to pass similar resolutions. Of course, stronger and more comprehensive resolutions are best. But most people who learned about the four resolutions above just leaned that these four cities had "banned drones" or "passed an anti-drone resolution." The details are less important in terms of building national momentum against objectionable uses of drones.  By including both surveillance and weaponized drones, as all four cities have done, a resolution campaign can find broader support.  By including just one issue, a resolution might meet fewer objections.  Asking a city just to make recommendations to a state and the nation might also meet less resistance than asking the city to take actions itself.  Less can be more.

Localities have a role in national policy. City councilors and members of boards of supervisors take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States. Cities and towns routinely send petitions to Congress for all kinds of requests. This is allowed under Clause 3, Rule XII, Section 819, of the Rules of the House of Representatives. This clause is routinely used to accept petitions from cities, and memorials from states. The same is established in the Jefferson Manual, the rulebook for the House originally written by Thomas Jefferson for the Senate. In 1967, a court in California ruled (Farley v. Healey, 67 Cal.2d 325) that "one of the purposes of local government is to represent its citizens before the Congress, the Legislature, and administrative agencies in matters over which the local government has no power. Even in matters of foreign policy it is not uncommon for local legislative bodies to make their positions known." Abolitionists passed local resolutions against U.S. policies on slavery. The anti-apartheid movement did the same, as did the nuclear freeze movement, the movement against the PATRIOT Act, the movement in favor of the Kyoto Protocol, etc. No locality is an island. If we become environmentally sustainable, others will ruin our climate. If we ban assault weapons, they'll arrive at our borders. And if the skies of the United States are filled with drones, it will become ever more difficult for any city or state to keep them out.

How to pass a local resolution: Every city or county is different, but some rules of thumb are applicable. To the extent possible, build understanding of the issues.  Invite speakers, screen films, hold conferences.  To the extent possible, educate and win over elected officials.  Make the case that localities have a responsibility to speak on national issues to represent the interests of local people.  Make the case that the time to act is before the problem expands out of control. Most states are considering drone legislation, so refer to that activity in your state. Make clear that you are aware of countless benevolent and harmless uses of drones but that you are prioritizing Constitutional rights and want exceptions made for uses that do not endanger self-governance rather than drones being made the norm and restrictions the exception. The Congressional Research Service says drones are incompatible with the Fourth Amendment. The U.N. Special Rapporteur says drones are making war the norm.  If possible, propose the weakest resolution you can, and ask the local government to put it on the agenda for consideration; then propose the strongest possible resolution you dare.  You may end up with a compromise, as happened in Charlottesville. Work the local media and public. Pack the meeting(s). Take advantage of every opportunity for the public to speak. Unlike at the state or national levels, you are unlikely to face any organized opposition. Make your most persuasive case, and make a great show of public support. Equate a "No" vote with support for cameras in everyone's windows and armed drones over picnics. Equate a "Yes" vote with prevention of racial profiling, activist profiling, and the targeting of all sorts of groups that can be recruited into your campaign.

STATES: See full text of all resolutions at warisacrime.org/resolutions

Oregon has passed a law banning weaponized drones in all cases and banning drone use by law enforcement unless they have a warrant, they have probable cause without a warrant, or for search and rescue, or for an emergency, or for studying a crime scene, or for training (and the Fourth Amendment be damned).

Virginia has passed a law banning local and state (but not federal or National Guard) government drone use for two years unless various color-coded alerts are activated or there is a search or rescue operation or for training exercises or for drone-training schools, and strictly banning (for two years) any state or local weaponized drones.

Florida has passed a law banning law enforcement agencies from using drones to gather information unless they think they have some sort of reason to do so (and the Fourth Amendment be damned).

Idaho has passed a law banning drone surveillance "absent reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal conduct" except in pursuit of marijuana in which case no such suspicion is needed (and the Fourth Amendment be damned).

Illinois has passed a law banning drones except for law enforcement agencies that have a warrant or when the Secretary of Homeland Security shouts "terrorism!" or they are reasonably suspicious it's needed or are searching for a missing person or are photographing a crime scene or traffic crash scene (and the Fourth Amendment be damned).

Tennessee has passed a law banning law enforcement drones unless the Sec. of Homeland Security shouts "terrorism!" or there's a warrant or there's suspicion without a warrant (and the Fourth Amendment be damned).

Texas has passed a law banning the capturing of images with drones except for ... too many exceptions to list.

Congressman Grayson passed an amendment to a DHS funding bill banning DHS from using weaponized drones, a step that must be repeated each year for this and other agencies unless a full national or international ban is put in place.

This article as a double-sided, single-page handout: PDF.

Local and State Resolutions

Charlottesville, Va.

WHEREAS, the rapid implementation of drone technology throughout the United States poses a serious threat to the privacy and constitutional rights of the American people, including the residents of Charlottesville; and

WHEREAS, the federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia have thus far failed to provide reasonable legal restrictions on the use of drones within the United States; and

WHEREAS, police departments throughout the country have begun implementing drone technology absent any guidance or guidelines from law makers;

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