USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


To the Subscribers of the Science, Technology and Peacebuilding News Roundup,

As you may have read, the House of Representatives voted last week to de-fund the United States Institute of Peace as part of an overall major budget cutting bill. We were very disappointed but also very determined to move ahead with building support in the U.S. Senate where the action next moves.

For 27 years, USIP has occupied a unique space as the only Congressionally funded national organization dedicated to international conflict prevention, management and resolution. We are the pioneers of the field of interfaith dialogue, religion and peacebuilding, rule of law, and many other critical sectors of building peace.

As a federal institution, we cannot lobby and engage in advocacy-- even for ourselves. Others, outside of USIP, are writing their own letters of support and we are grateful for all the positive reaction this story has elicited from all corners of our nation: the military, the religious community, diplomats, academics, non-governmental organizations and ordinary citizens who know the value of what we do.

For more information about developments, please check our website at or read "No Compromises on National Security," by USIP's President, Richard Solomon (Politico, 2/17/11).

Center of Innovation for Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, February 17 - 23, 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.**

Mobile Tech Activists Wary of State Department Cash
If technology advisers to online activists have their way, the mobile phones in the pockets of the democracy protesters reshaping the Middle East will have circumvention and anonymity tools built in to them. These are the kinds of ideas that the State Department says it wants to fund. But it's just not clear how nimble the department can really be in dishing out money responsibly - a good-government encumbrance, remember - or even what it really means by a "venture capital approach," says Sheldon Himelfarb, a technology expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 2/23/11)
Click to read "On the Issues: Internet Freedom and Social Media," by USIP's Sheldon Himelfarb.
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Iranian Cyber Army Takes Credit for VOA Hack
Hackers calling themselves the Iranian Cyber Army cracked into the website of the federally-funded news service Voice of America today, temporarily bringing the site to a screeching halt. As of this afternoon, the English language VOA homepage seemed to be partially back online, although many photos still failed to load, and the speed of the site was greatly diminished.
See the full article (Christian Science Monitor, Matthew Shaer, 2/22/11)
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Violent Juarez Video Game Upsets Critics
Against a very real backdrop of murder, kidnapping and torture, an upcoming video game is inviting players to "embark on a bloody road trip" to the Mexican border city of Juarez. "Call of Juarez: The Cartel" is an update to an Old West series from Ubisoft. But this time, players are inserted into the city in a game set in the present. As some of the most brutal fighting yet between drug cartels in the region rages on, the game has officials and others upset.
See the full article (CNN, Doug Gross, 2/22/11)
Click here to find a US-Mexico border video game where power of the pen prevails on
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El Salvador's Environmental Crisis
Communities and officials demand that government protect the people from poisonous industries. Rigoberto Herrera Cruz, the Deputy Mayor of Jiquilisco, along with the Mangrove Association, is working to pressure El Salvador's Ministry of Environment to declare a State of Environmental Emergency for the Jiquilisco Bay area due to its ecological importance which is being assaulted by toxic agro-chemicals from the sugar cane industry, sediment run off from up-river deforestation, and major releases of water from the 15th of September Dam."
See the full article (Al Jazeera, Dahr Jamail, 2/21/11)
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We Take Risks, Others Pay the Price
Again and again, policymakers ignore mountains of evidence warning of catastrophe, opting instead to roll the dice and hope for the best. With climate change, the gap between those who created the crisis and those who pay the price is widest of all. It is the historical emissions from the industrialized world that are responsible for the dangerous accumulation of carbon in the atmosphere.
See the full article (CNN, Naomi Klein, 2/20/11)
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Can Science Be Used As A Diplomatic Tool?
How valuable is science in the diplomatic sphere? Aside from space, how big a role does science play in international cooperation and diplomacy? Can it help build more and better relationships among nations and address some of our common problems? Biologist Nina Fedoroff, former science adviser to both Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton, talks about her time in Washington.
See the full article (NPR, Ira Flatow and Nina Fedoroff, 2/18/11)
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What Would You Do If Nothing Works?
Americans have become a society dependent on our computers and connectivity. Whether it is productivity in the workplace, efficiency in travel, staying in touch or enjoyment in our leisure time, computers, smart phones and networked systems make it possible. But what if, suddenly, none of those things worked for a while? Chaos? The possibility of someone, some entity, some group of hackers or some nation state waging "cyber-war" or "cyber-terrorism" grows with each passing day.
See the full article (Forbes, John Mariotti, 2/18/11)
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"Virtual Iraq" Helps Soldiers Overcome PTSD
Previously shown to be effective for Vietnam vets, virtual reality exposure therapy, according to new research, also benefits active-duty soldiers who've returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. After just seven sessions, soldiers reported reductions in their post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, and almost two thirds of the soldiers found the change to be reliable and meaningful.
See the full article (Fast Company, David Zax, 2/17/11)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Securing Transition: Assessing the Future of the Afghan National Security Forces," on February 25 at 12:00pm. You can also watch the live webcast!
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Click here to subscribe to USIP's Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding News Roundup,
which includes a special section on Internet and social media.

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