USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, January 12 - 18, 2012

Table of Contents

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Army's Virtual Reality Plan: A Digital Doppelganger for Every Soldier
As the military's enthusiasm for virtual reality training continues to grow, the Army's got a new plan to make the programs freakily immersive: National Defense magazine is reporting that the Army wants to give every soldier a digital doppelganger - a custom avatar they can use throughout their stints in the military, and in myriad virtual training environs, from urban combat practice to cultural prep.
See the full article (Wired, Katie Drummond, 1/18/12)
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State Radio Says Tehran Will Give US a Toy Model of Downed American Drone
The report Tuesday said the toy model of the RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drone will be sent to the White House in response to a formal request from Washington last month asking Iran to return the aircraft that went down over Iran in December. State radio said the model will be one eightieth the size of the original aircraft. The report says the models also will be sold on the Iranian marked for about 70,000 rials, or around $4.
See the full article (Chicago Tribune, 1/17/12)
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For Intrigue, Malaria Drug Gets the Prize
The Chinese drug artemisinin has been hailed as one of the greatest advances in fighting malaria, the scourge of the tropics, since the discovery of quinine centuries ago. But few people realize that in one of the paradoxes of history, the drug was discovered thanks to Mao Zedong, who was acting to help the North Vietnamese in their jungle war against the Americans.
See the full article (New York Times, Donald G. McNeil, Jr., 1/16/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Cyber Attacks Take Down Two Israeli Websites - Is Cyber Warfare The Next Front in the Middle East Conflict?
Websites for the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and El Al, Israel's national airline, were hit by anonymous hackers in what is being described as an escalating cyberwar Monday. A hacker who identified himself as oxOmar contacted Ynet overnight warning that a group called Nightmare planned to bring down the sites. oxOmar was responsible for posting the details of over 20,000 Israeli credit cards earlier.
See the full article (Forbes, E.D. Kain, 1/16/12)
Click to read "Arab Society - Police Initiative in Israel," a USIP Grant Highlight.
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The Crash and Burn Future of Robot Warfare
An account of the spectacular end of [a] nearly $4 million drone in November 2007 is contained in a collection of Air Force accident investigation documents. They catalog more than 70 catastrophic Air Force drone mishaps since 2000, each resulting in the loss of an aircraft or property damage of $2 million or more. These official reports offer new insights into a largely covert, yet highly touted war-fighting, assassination, and spy program involving armed robots that are significantly less reliable than previously acknowledged.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Nick Turse, 1/16/12)
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Drones: Coming Soon to a Sky Near You?
The Federal Aviation Administration is preparing to announce new regulations for small camera-equipped drones, versions of which you can already buy at your local mall. Lots of people are eager to hear the FAA's decision, from energy execs and environmentalists to police and protesters. Brooke talks to Matt Waite, founder of U. Nebraska's Drone Journalism Lab, about some of the "cool" and "creepy" ramifications of drone technology.
See the full article (NPR, 1/13/12)
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Israeli Hacker Retaliates to Credit Card Hacking
An Israeli hacker has published details of hundreds of Saudi credit cards online and is threatening to post more in revenge for acts by Arab hackers. Last week a hacker, claiming to be from Saudi Arabia, published information about tens of thousands of Israeli credit cards online. Experts say the attacks draw attention to the potential for virtual or cyber wars in the Middle East.
See the full article (BBC, Yolande Knell, 1/12/12)
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