USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, December 15 - 21, 2011

Table of Contents

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Federal Panel Asks Journals to Censor Reports of Lab-created 'Bird Flu'
Scientists seeking to fight future pandemics have created a variety of "bird flu" potentially so dangerous that a federal advisory panel has for the first time asked two science journals to hold back on publishing details of research. Members of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity worried that such a hazardous strain might be intentionally or accidentally released into the world if directions for making it were generally known.
See the full article (Washington Post, 12/21/11)
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U.S. Holds On to Biometrics Database of 3 Million Iraqis
The troops have come home, the flag has been been lowered, and the Iraq War is officially in the past for the U.S. military. But the military is holding on to a major souvenir of the war: a massive database packed with retinal scans, thumb prints and other biometric data identifying millions of Iraqis. It will be a tool for counterterrorism long after the Iraq War becomes a fading memory.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 12/21/11)
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Iran Moves Websites to Guard against Cyber Attacks
"The location of the hosts of more than 90 percent of Iran's governmental internet sites has been transferred inside the country," Ali Hakim Javadi, Iran's deputy minister for communications and information technology, told the official IRNA news agency. Javadi said more than 30,000 Iranian websites belonging to ministries and other government bodies had until recently been hosted by companies in North America and other countries.
See the full article (Reuters, 12/20/11)
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Secrecy Defines Obama's Drone War
Since September, at least 60 people have died in 14 reported CIA drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal regions. The Obama administration has named only one of the dead, hailing the elimination of Janbaz Zadran, a top official in the Haqqani insurgent network, as a counterterrorism victory. The identities of the rest remain classified, as does the existence of the drone program itself.
See the full article (Washington Post, Karen DeYoung, 12/19/11)
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U.S. Bans UAE Company for Supplying Internet Filter to Syria
The devices, made by Blue Coat Systems Inc. of Sunnyvale, California, can be used to block pro-democracy websites and identify activists as part of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown against dissidents, the [U.S. Commerce] department said today in a statement. "It is vital that we keep technology that can be used to further the repression of the Syrian people out of the hands of the Syrian government," Eric Hirschhorn, the undersecretary for industry and security, said in the statement.
See the full article (Bloomberg, William McQuillen, 12/16/11)
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Iran Warns It Will Down Other US Drones if American Spy Planes Continue to Fly Over Its Skies
"If U.S. spy planes continue their aggression, we won't be idle," [Rear Adm. Ali] Shamkhani, Iran's former defense minister, was quoted as saying. "We will continue to hunt down their spy planes." The comments were in response to U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta who said Wednesday during a visit to Afghanistan - from where the drone flew out - that the United States will continue to conduct intelligence operations such as the one that led to the loss of its RQ-170 Sentinel over Iran.
See the full article (Associated Press, 12/16/11)
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US-funded Internet Liberation Project Finds Perfect Test Site: Occupy DC
[Sascha] Meinrath runs a State Department-funded initiative to create an Internet in a Suitcase - the Voice of America of the digital age. If he has his way, Meinrath's project will lead to low-cost, easy-to-use wireless connections around the globe, all lashed together in mesh that can withstand the whims of dictators willing to pull the plug on the internet to quash dissent. With the emergence of an Occupy encampment in the nation's capital, Meinrath found a nearly perfect testbed for the pre-alpha software.
See the full article (Wired, Ryan Singel, 12/15/11)
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