USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, June 30 - July 6, 2011

Table of Contents

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Physicist: I Can Predict Insurgent Attacks, Thanks to the 'Red Queen'
Modern warfare is a messy, erratic, complicated business, defined by the unpredictability of the next insurgent or terrorist attack. But apparently, all that chaotic violence is nothing a physicist can't figure out. In a paper published last week in Science, researchers present an equation to describe how fatal attacks escalate - whether it's a suicide bombing in Lebanon or an insurgent attack in Kabul.
See the full article (Wired, Lena Groeger, 7/5/11)
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Cisco Said to Aid China in Installing Massive 'Peaceful Chongqing' Surveillance System
A network of over 500,000 cameras designed for massive video surveillance across the Chinese city of Chongqing is in the works, according to the Wall Street Journal. Several companies, including American-based Cisco Systems, will help the country build the system, which is called "Peaceful Chongqing" and is nominally meant to help prevent crime. However, the Journal reports that human rights activists are worried that the system, which will cover 400 square miles, could be capable of suppressing political dissident within the Chongqing municipality.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Amy Lee, 7/5/11)
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Global Race on to Match US Drone Capabilities
At the most recent Zhuhai air show, the premier event for China's aviation industry, crowds swarmed around a model of an armed, jet-propelled drone and marveled at the accompanying display of its purported martial prowess. Little is known about the actual abilities of the WJ-600 drone or the more than two dozen other Chinese models that were on display at Zhuhai in November. But the speed at which they have been developed highlights how US military successes with drones have changed strategic thinking worldwide and spurred a global rush for unmanned aircraft.
See the full article (Washington Post, William Wan and Peter Finn, 7/4/11)
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Iran Showcases Homegrown Arms in War Games
Iran's latest war games have featured the predictable blaze of missile tests and an unexpected peek at underground launch silos. There's one bit of military showmanship, though, that ties it all together: Promoting the Made in Iran label. Boasting about homegrown defense technology is growing louder as Iran claims U.N. sanctions cannot blunt efforts to keep pace with America's Gulf allies - led by Saudi Arabia - that are awash in Pentagon weaponry and taking an increasingly tough line against Tehran.
See the full article (AP, Ali Akbar Dareini, 7/4/11)
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Drought in East Africa the Result of Climate Change and Conflict
Prolonged drought in the Horn of Africa is the immediate cause of the severe food crisis already affecting around 10 million people in parts of Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. Rains have failed over two seasons, with a strong La Niña event having a dramatic impact across the east coast of Africa. How far the current conditions, classified by the UN as "pre-famine" - one step down from "catastrophe" - can be attributed to climate change is not clear.
See the full article (Guardian, Felicity Lawrence, 7/4/11)
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Foreign Policy: Google Searches for Peace
Google Ideas, the Silicon Valley giant's self-proclaimed "think/do tank," just wrapped up its Summit Against Violent Extremism in Dublin. The conference, as the identity of its host would seem to imply, was heavily focused on the power of technology to combat radicalism. Former militants and aggrieved mothers can dissuade youth from joining violent groups; competing networks can distract them; and outlets for positive activism can channel their energy toward more productive ends.
See the full article (NPR, William McCants, 7/1/11)
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China Repeals Controversial Technology Trade Rule that Prompted US, European Complaints
China has repealed a policy favoring Chinese producers in government purchases of computers and other technology that triggered complaints by foreign companies and governments that it violated free trade. The Finance Ministry announcement was the second time in a month that Beijing repealed a technology policy after complaints by its trading partners.
See the full article (AP, 6/30/11)
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