USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation for Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, February 3 - 9, 2011

Table of Contents

**Click here to subscribe to USIP's Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding News Roundup,
which includes a special section on Internet and social media.**

Rediscovering WWII's Female 'Computers'
It was 2003 and [LeAnn] Erickson was interviewing sisters Shirley Blumberg Melvin and Doris Blumberg Polsky for her documentary, "Neighbor Ladies," about a woman-owned real estate agency. The twins, long-retired by then, reluctantly mentioned a different sort of job they'd held during World War II: Female "computers." Computer, at that point, was a job title, not a machine. Long before the sisters were mothers or grandmothers, they were recruited by the U.S. military to do ballistics research.
See the full article (CNN, Jamie Gumbrecht, 2/8/11)
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Climate Change to Force Mass Migration, Study Warns
That weather-related catastrophes cause a lot of destruction is well known. But the prospect that increasing floods, droughts and storms will prompt many millions of people to migrate to safer areas is still poorly understood and anticipated, according to a forthcoming report from the Asian Development Bank. No international cooperation mechanism has been set up to manage these migration flows, the bank warned, and protection and assistance plans remain "inadequate, poorly coordinated and scattered."
See the full article (New York Times, Bettina Wassener, 2/7/11) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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U.S. Has Secret Tools to Force Internet on Dictators
When Hosni Mubarak shut down Egypt's internet and cellphone communications, it seemed that all U.S. officials could do was ask him politely to change his mind. But the American military does have a second set of options. There's just one wrinkle. "It could be considered an act of war," says John Arquilla, a leading military futurist. The U.S. military has no shortage of devices - many of them classified - that could restore connectivity to a restive populace cut off from the outside world by its rulers.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 2/7/11)
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The Danger of Cutting Federal Science Funding
With all the discussion of "Sputnik moments" and the challenge of investment in science research and education in the United States, our federal government continues to reduce its support for science funding. Declining funding in the U.S. must be examined in the context of global competition.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Steve Cohen, 2/7/11)
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Cyberwar or Cybermirage?
The threat of war in cyberspace grows by the day. We have already seen attacks launched on Estonia and Georgia, and the Stuxnet incident, which saw Iran's nuclear programme come under threat from a piece of malware this shows us how vigilant we need to be. But hold on a minute - are we now in danger of overhyping all of this?
See the full article (BBC, Rory Cellan-Jones, 2/4/11)
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Egypt's Protesters Rediscover The Fax Machine
Amid the new-order demands of recent protest in Egypt, one old-order piece of technology has regained prominence: the fax machine. When Internet service and social media were disrupted in late January - allegedly blocked by the regime of President Hosni Mubarak - faxes were sent "by online activists and others who wanted to contact people inside Egypt and pass on information about how to restore net access."
See the full article (NPR, Linton Weeks, 2/4/11)
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Iran Says Stuxnet Claims Need Investigating
The acting head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said reports of major damage to the Bushehr plant were a malicious campaign by countries hostile to Tehran's nuclear program, but that they should be looked into in any case. "Many of these discussions raised in the media and world public opinion about the Stuxnet virus are an effort to create concern among the Iranian people," Mohammad Ahmadian told the ISNA news agency.
See the full article (Reuters, Ramin Mostafavi and Robin Pomeroy, 2/4/11)
Click here to play a game where the object is to contain nuclear proliferation with Peace Doves on
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Proposal for Cyber War Rules of Engagement
The world needs cyber war "Rules of Engagement" to cope with potentially devastating cyber weapons, Russian and US experts will tell world leaders at a security conference on Friday. The cyber proposal, seen exclusively by Newsnight, comes from the influential EastWest Institute in Washington DC.
See the full article (BBC, Susan Watts, 2/3/11)
Click to read "Bleak Outlook for 2011 Conference on Disarmament," a USIP Special Report by Brian Rose.
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which includes a special section on Internet and social media.

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