USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, March 1 - 7, 2012

Table of Contents

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How the Syrian Government Hunts Journalists Covering its Atrocities
High-tech gear can be indispensable [in] getting pictures and stories of the horrors happening in Syria out of the locked-down country, but it's a double-edged sword: The powerful Syrian militia also knows how to use tech to hunt the journalists down, and silence them. Journalists traditionally use satellite phones to report from war zones and to escape surveillance. [But] satellite phones can be monitored and locations can be triangulated from their signals.
See the full article (Fast Company, 3/6/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Who Owns the Syrian Revolution?" on March 9 at 9:30am.
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Surveillance Inc: How Western Tech Firms are Helping Arab Dictators
Reliance means vulnerability, and the activists and citizen journalists of the Arab uprisings rely heavily on the Internet and mobile technology. For all of the good this technology has done, activists are also beginning to understand the harm it can do. The communications devices activists use are not as safe as they might believe, and dozens of companies are selling technology to authoritarian governments that can be used against democratic movements.
See the full article (Atlantic, Trevor Timm & Jillian C. York, 3/6/12)
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Russia: 11 Areas of Election-Related ICT Innovation
Crisis can be a fruitful time for innovation. In Kenya for example, the 2007-08 post-election crisis led to the creation of the Ushahidi mapping platform. In Russia, the accelerated innovation process has been going on for the past three months, following the initial post-election protests in December 2011. [These] protests have given birth to dozens of new web platforms and mobile applications. Innovation can be seen not only in the new tools, but also in the new forms of protest enabled by the technology.
See the full article (Global Voices, 3/6/12)
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The Most 'Insanely Great' -- But Missing -- IPad Feature Ever
Many of the minerals that make up essential components in electronics products like the iPad 3 are found in abundance in the Democratic Republic of Congo, also home to the deadliest conflict since World War II. Since 1996, nearly six million Congolese have lost their lives and hundreds of thousands of women have been raped. Apple can seize the opportunity to help change the minerals trade so that it benefits communities and promotes development instead of funding warlords.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Emmanuelle Chriqui and JD Stier, 3/6/12)
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Tech Boost Arms Citizens to Monitor Russian, Other Votes
The Russian case, analysts say, is a prime example illustrating that technologically-advanced, citizen-driven election monitoring has potential for impact beyond that of more traditional electoral observation by the government and international bodies. Researchers like Lisa Kammerud of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems also maintain that the pairing of citizens and new technology for election monitoring is probably here to stay, both in Russia and elsewhere. "The advent of the use of these new digital and personal technologies to monitor elections is definitely on the rise because the technology that's available now simply wasn't available before," she says.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Richard Solash, 3/5/12)
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Syria: Satellite Images Appear to Show Shelling of Homs
New satellite images released by Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international human rights group, appear to show the damage sustained in Homs after government forces shelled the central Syrian city. The many red circles indicate damaged or destroyed buildings, while the yellow circles indicate impact craters in fields or roads. The group estimates that 950 craters are visible in the images, and 640 buildings show damage. The Local Coordination Committees, an opposition group, estimates that 26 people died in Homs on Thursday.
See the full article (Washington Post, Elizabeth Flock, 3/2/12)
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Fmr. CIA Head Calls Stuxnet Virus "Good Idea"
Could the Stuxnet virus that sabotaged the Iranian nuclear program be used against the U.S. infrastructure or other high profile targets? A retired American general who was the head of the [CIA] when Stuxnet would have been created calls the cyber weapon a "good idea," but warns it is out there now for others to exploit. The weapon, unlike a conventional bomb that is obliterated on contact, remains intact. "So there are those out there who can take a look at this...and maybe even attempt to turn it to their own purposes."
See the full article (CBS, 3/1/12)
Click to read "Assessing the Impact of Israeli-Iranian Tensions," a USIP On the Issues by Daniel Brumberg.
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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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