USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, October 4 - 10, 2012

Table of Contents

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Iran's Spy Agency Finds Voice in Cyberspace
A glimpse into the shadow world of Iran's main spy agency is now a click away. The new website fits into Iran's narrative of fighting a "soft war" in cyberspace against Western cultural and political influences. What the new Farsi-language site,, lacks in innovation, it makes up for in pure anti-American bluntness.
See the full article (AP, Ali Akbar Dareini, 10/10/12)
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Pentagon Scientists: We Can't Predict Violent Outbursts. Yet.
In the years to come, a top group of military scientists believe, the Pentagon may be able to use genomics and bio-markers to spot when a soldier is about to snap. But that moment is not in the immediate future. So, for now, the only option is to try to prevent these troops from reaching the breaking point, rather than predicting when that point will come.
See the full article (Wired, Benjamin Plackett, 10/10/12)
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Iran Aids Syria in Tracking Opposition Via Electronic Surveillance, U.S. Officials Say
Iran is providing crucial equipment and technical help to Syria in its effort to track opposition forces through the Internet and other forms of electronic surveillance, according to U.S. officials. The aid is the latest example of how Iran is helping Syria in its battle against rebel forces threatening the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The technical assistance is coming mainly through Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security, the officials said.
See the full article (Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, 10/9/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Applying Peace Economics in Dangerous Places" on October 23 at 10:00am.
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Apps That Protect You From Police Brutality
Hundreds of non-profit organisations have created mobile applications in the US meant to keep citizens safe from their local and federal governments. One group, Make the Road New York, has helped to develop a mobile app aimed at allowing users to record video and audio of instances of police brutality. Across the city, the Sikh Coalition has created a mobile app meant to document cases of racial profiling carried out by employees of the Transportation Security Administration.
See the full article (BBC, Matt Danzico, Taylor Kate Brown and Matt Wells, 10/9/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Exchange 2.0: The Science of Impact, the Imperative of Implementation" on October 15 at 2:00pm.
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Muslim Rappers, 'Google Ideas': Inside the Flawed U.S. Campaign to Fight Militant Memes
The government version of CVE seeks merely to provide cash and other resources for anti-radical "education." Or, as a White House strategy document put it, "Foster community-led partnerships and preventative programming to build resilience against violent extremist radicalization by expanding community-based solutions." If that sounds vague to you, you've got plenty of company in Washington.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman and Noah Shachtman, 10/9/12)
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Japan, ASEAN, Team Up for Cyberdefense
In the wake of a series of cyber attacks from Chinese I.P. addresses at the height of the Senkaku/Diaoyu island dispute, Yomiuri Shimbun reports that Japan is pushing a plan to create a "cyber defense network" consisting of Japan and 10 ASEAN countries. More details will be discussed during meetings on information security in Tokyo this week, but the countries reportedly interested in participating include Thailand and Indonesia.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Alicia P.Q. Wittmeyer, 10/8/12)
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U.S. Panel Cites Risks in Chinese Equipment
The House Intelligence Committee said it had come to the conclusion that [two] Chinese businesses were a national security threat because of their attempts to extract sensitive information from American companies and their loyalties to the Chinese government. Allowing the Chinese companies to do business in the United States, the report said, would give the Chinese government the ability to easily intercept communications and could allow it to start online attacks on critical infrastructure.
See the full article (New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Keith Bradsher and Christine Hauser, 10/8/12)
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Imran Khan's Pakistan Drone March Stops at Tribal Belt
A thousands-strong motorcade rally against US drone strikes in Pakistan led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan has been stopped from entering restive tribal regions. Mr Khan wants to visit the area where drone attacks have long targeted militants, but the militants dismiss the former cricket star as a tool of the West. Like many Pakistanis, he argues that attacks from unmanned aircraft kill large numbers of civilians and foster support for militants.
See the full article (BBC, 10/7/12)
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