USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, August 30 - September 5, 2012

Table of Contents

Seeds of Peace
Army Colonel Brian Copes and the Indiana Army National Guard headed off to war with a pitchfork, not a rifle. As commander of the 1-19th Agribusiness Development Team in Afghanistan in 2009, Copes' team deployed to Khost province, abutting Pakistan in far eastern Afghanistan. Their mission: to work with local farmers, U.S. civilians and international groups. In this interview, Copes discusses the challenges associated with agriculture in a war zone.
See the full article (TIME, Mark Thompson, 9/5/12)
Click to read "Peace Talks - What Afghan Elders Told Jim Marshall," a USIP Olive Branch Post.
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29 Dead in 8 Days as U.S. Puts Yemen Drone War in Overdrive
29 dead in a little over a week. Nearly 200 gone this year. The White House is stepping up its campaign of drone attacks in Yemen, with four strikes in eight days. And not even the slaying of 10 civilians over the weekend seems to have slowed the pace in the United States' secretive, undeclared war. The U.S. has two separate drone campaigns underway in Yemen - one run by the CIA, the other by the military's Joint Special Operations Command.
See the full article (Wired, Noah Shachtman, 9/5/12)
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Chinese Telecoms Gear Maker Huawei Calls for Cybersecurity Cooperation, Promises No Spying
Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies Ltd. has issued a report on cybersecurity that includes a pledge never to cooperate with spying in a fresh effort to allay concerns in the United States and elsewhere that threaten to hamper its expansion. Suspicions that Huawei might be controlled by China's Communist Party or military have slowed its expansion in the United States. The company denies it is a security threat.
See the full article (AP, 9/5/12)
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Eastern Congo's Poor Left Counting the Cost of Conflict-free Gadgets
Our insatiable demand for electronic devices is keeping brutal militia groups in business, goes the now familiar story, and cleaning up the mineral trade is the key to peace. If the "conflict minerals" story has put eastern Congo on the international agenda, it has done so at a significant cost, argues Columbia University professor Séverine Autesserre. In exchange for attention, the issue has diverted attention from other key issues: poverty, corruption, land conflicts, the reform of local institutions.
See the full article (Guardian, Claire Provost, 9/3/12)
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Secrecy Surrounding 'Zero-day Exploits' Industry Spurs Calls for Government Oversight
The sophisticated [Stuxnet] tool relied on computer code to take advantage of then-undiscovered security flaws, open the way into the Iranians' software and deliver a payload. But the use of such tools, known as "zero-day exploits," is not reserved exclusively for the intelligence community. Instead, through a little-known and barely regulated trade, researchers around the world are increasingly selling the exploits, sometimes for hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece.
See the full article (Washington Post, James Ball, 9/1/12)
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Report on Iran Nuclear Work Puts Israel in a Box
For Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the International Atomic Energy Agency on Thursday offered findings validating his longstanding position that while harsh economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation may have hurt Iran, they have failed to slow Tehran's nuclear program. If anything, the program is speeding up. But the agency's report has also put Israel in a corner, documenting that Iran is close to crossing what Israel has long said is its red line.
See the full article (New York Times, Jodi Rudoren and David E. Sanger, 8/30/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Apple Rejects App That Tracks U.S. Drone Strikes
It seemed like a simple enough idea for an iPhone app: Send users a pop-up notice whenever a flying robots kills someone in one of America's many undeclared wars. But Apple keeps blocking the Drones+ program from its App Store - and therefore, from iPhones everywhere. Apple called the bare-bones application that aggregates news of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia "not useful."
See the full article (Wired, Christina Bonnington and Spencer Ackerman, 8/30/12)
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The Perfect Crime: Is Wiper Malware Connected to Stuxnet, Duqu?
Mysterious malware that reportedly attacked Iran's oil ministry in April shared a file-naming convention almost identical to those used by the state-sponsored Stuxnet and Duqu operations, an indication it may have been related. Researchers have spent months searching for evidence that links Wiper to the operation, which reportedly was sponsored by the US and Israeli militaries to disrupt Iran's nuclear program.
See the full article (Ars Technica, Dan Goodin, 8/29/12)
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