USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, April 5 - 11, 2012

Table of Contents

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which includes a special section on Internet and social media.**

Pictures at a Revolution
Of all the social phenomena that invite analysis, few are as complex, or as volatile, as revolutions. The petabytes of social media data generated by the upheavals of the Arab Spring are fertile ground for social scientists studying those events. For years we've been snapping photos of demonstrators and protests; now the new cosmos of data potentially enables us to map the ebb and flow of the ideas that drive them, something like a magnetic-resonance imagery technique for visualizing the mechanisms of dramatic change.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Luke Allnutt, 4/11/12)
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Will Water Pumps Bring Peace to Ivory Coast?
Part of a partnership with the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, special correspondent Jeff Sapienza reports from the West African nation of Ivory Coast and explains how committees set up to maintain access to water are helping bring together communities divided along ethnic lines and plagued by the unrest of a civil war.
See the full article (PBS, 4/11/12)
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From Short Waves to Flash Mobs
Since Mubarak's ouster, hand-held devices armed with Internet access, video cameras, and social media software have challenged the status quo from Beijing to Rangoon, from the pre-election streets of Moscow to the battered Syrian city of Homs. In instance after instance, technologies designed for daily communication or research have adapted to a new task -- exposing the malfeasance and incompetence of governments and the increasing irrelevance of traditional media to the average person.
See the full article (Slate, Michael Moran, 4/10/12)
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Nye: Cyber War and Peace
In my book The Future of Power, I argue that the diffusion of power away from governments is one of this century's great political shifts. Cyberspace is a perfect example. Large countries like the US, Russia, Britain, France, and China have greater capacity than other states and non-state actors to control the sea, air, or space, but it makes little sense to speak of dominance in cyberspace.
See the full article (CNN, Joseph S. Nye,4/10/12)
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Pentagon to Fast-track Cyberweapons Acquisition
The Pentagon is planning to dramatically speed up the development of new cyberweapons, giving it the ability in some cases to field weapons against specific targets in a matter of days. The rapid acquisition process is designed to respond to "urgent, mission-critical" needs when the risk to operations and personnel is unacceptable if threats are not addressed quickly. The result puts the Pentagon's two-year-old Cyber Command in charge of a new registry of weapons that would catalogue their capabilities and where they are stored.
See the full article (Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, 4/9/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "USIP Annual Conference on Security Sector Transformation in North Africa and the Middle East" on May 10 at 8:30am.
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Nuclear Weapons as Instruments of Peace?
It is unimaginable to reach any plateau of global justice without acting with resolve to rid the world of nuclear weaponry; the geopolitical ploy of shifting attention from disarmament to proliferation does not address the moral depravity of relying on genocidal capabilities and threats to uphold vital strategic interests of a West-centric world.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, Richard Falk, 4/9/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Mapping Energy Infrastructure Vulnerabilities in Conflict-Affected Regions" on April 19 at 10:00am.
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U.S. Launches New Spy Satellite for Secret National-Security Mission
In the wake of the Arab Spring, U.S. government may be making use of its many spy satellites to keep an eye on the Middle East. Two months ago, for instance, the State Department published satellite imagery of Syria showing what is said was evidence of escalating violence between government and rebel forces. Spy satellites are [also] particularly useful for monitoring the development of potential nuclear capabilities in countries such as North Korea and Iran, where the United States has a limited presence on the ground.
See the full article (Slate, Ryan Gallagher, 4/9/12)
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Siachen Glacier Tragedy: An Opportunity for Peace?
Technology now exists for monitoring any potential violations of treaties and accords signed to resolve this dispute through remote sensing, and so having troops physically on the ground is also utterly unnecessary. The idea of a 'science for peace' effort has also received wide ranging strategic study by eminent personalities in the military establishment in India.
See the full article (National Geographic, Saleem Ali, 4/7/12)
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U.S. Intelligence Gains in Iran Seen as Boost to Confidence
CIA stealth drones scoured dozens of sites throughout Iran, making hundreds of passes over suspicious facilities, before a version of the RQ-170 crashed inside Iran's borders in December. The surveillance has been part of what current and former U.S. officials describe as an intelligence surge that is aimed at Iran's nuclear program and that has been gaining momentum since the final years of George W. Bush's administration.
See the full article (Washington Post, Joby Warrick and Greg Miller, 4/7/12)
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Researchers Release New Exploits to Hijack Critical Infrastructure
Researchers have released two new exploits that attack common design vulnerabilities in a computer component used to control critical infrastructure, such as refineries and factories. The exploits would allow someone to hack the system in a manner similar to how the Stuxnet worm attacked nuclear centrifuges in Iran, a hack that stunned the security world with its sophistication and ability to use digital code to create damage in the physical world.
See the full article (Wired, Kim Zetter, 4/5/12)
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which includes a special section on Internet and social media.

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