USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, October 20 - 26, 2011

Table of Contents

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UN Says Dodd-Frank Congo Conflict Minerals Bill is Working
The United Nations Group of Experts on Congo wrote to the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday to say, in sum, "Since the signing into law of the Dodd Frank act, a higher proportion then before of tin, tungsten and tantalum mined in the DRC is not funding conflict." This is a significant statement, coming from an internationally mandated group that has done in-depth research at hundreds of mines across eastern Congo over the past year.
See the full article (Christian Science Monitor, Sasha Lezhnev, 10/26/11)
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Cracking Intractable Conflicts
In July, the U.S. almost defaulted on its debt because of partisan gridlock. In the Middle East, Israelis and Palestinians continue to fight a seemingly intractable battle. And in our own backyard, gang violence continues in a self-perpetuating cycle. Research shows that one in every 20 conflicts ends not in reconciliation, but in a long-term impasse. But researchers are finding that science -- and even math -- can create ways through these impasses. [The Kojo Nnamdi Show] looks at the science behind conflict, and how it can be applied to modern-day problems.
See the full article (NPR, 10/24/11)
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World Becoming Less Violent: Despite Global Conflict, Statistics Show Violence in Steady Decline
That's the thesis of three new books, including one by prominent Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker. Pinker and other experts say the reality is not painted in bloody anecdotes, but demonstrated in the black and white of spreadsheets and historical documents. Even the academics who disagree with Pinker, say the declining violence numbers are real.
See the full article (AP, Seth Borenstein, 10/22/11)
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A Picture of Democracy
Will digital photo monitoring fix electoral corruption in developing countries? A study just released by Michael Callen and James Long, a pair of ambitious doctoral students at the University of California-San Diego, exemplifies these efforts. The two researchers evaluated whether low-end digital cameras could be a cheap and easy technological fix for election fraud in Afghanistan's 2010 parliamentary elections. Their results are promising.
See the full article (Slate, Ray Fisman, 10/21/11)
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Stuxnet-like Virus Points to New Round of Cyber War
Internet security specialists have warned of a new round of cyber warfare in the form of a computer virus similar to the malicious Stuxnet worm believed to have targeted Iran's nuclear program. Analysts at US firms McAfee and Symantec agreed that a sophisticated virus dubbed "Duqu" has been unleashed on an apparent mission to gather intelligence for future attacks on industrial control systems.
See the full article (AFP, Glenn Chapman, 10/20/11)
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Pentagon Weighing How to Respond to Cyberattacks
The Defense Department is finalizing policies that will determine what the military can do in the event of a cyberattack as the government figures out who should have the power to shut down computer networks seized by an enemy nation, terrorist group or criminal hacker. Gen. Keith Alexander, who heads U.S. Cyber Command, said Thursday that attacks against critical systems are increasingly carrying destructive viruses or malware that can hinder or destroy routers or networks.
See the full article (AP, Lolita C. Baldor, 10/20/11)
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