USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, January 17 - 23, 2013

Table of Contents

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Google's Eric Schmidt Sees Nairobi as Africa's Technology Leader
After a week of traveling around sub-Saharan Africa, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt saw what he thinks could be the continent's technology leader: Nairobi, Kenya's capital. Africa's youth can avoid being taken advantage of through corruption or militarism by spreading information and connecting with it, Schmidt said. One test of his thesis will be Kenya's March elections, which citizens fear will erupt into violence.
See the full article (Bloomberg, Sarah Frier, 1/23/13)
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A Reunification Rx for Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in a New Year's Day speech, called for reductions in international tension and an end to confrontation with South Korea, while raising the prospect of reunification between the North and South. Ultimately, science diplomacy could play an essential role in helping catalyze improved North-South relations in 2013, with joint programs for elimination of neglected diseases as a cornerstone.
See the full article (Los Angeles Times, Peter Hotez, 1/23/13)
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Syrian Farm Sector in Tatters Due to Ongoing Conflict - UN
Ongoing conflict in Syria has left its agricultural sector in tatters, causing wheat and barley output to slump by half and wreaking massive destruction on farm infrastructure, the United Nations' food agency said on Wednesday. The mission, coordinated with both the Syrian government and the opposition, also found the conflict was causing major destruction of infrastructure and irrigation systems and farmers were struggling to fully harvest crops due to insecurity and lack of fuel.
See the full article (AP, 1/23/13)
Click to read "A New Opportunity: Agricultural Extension as a Peacebuilding Tool" a USIP On the Issues by Andrew Robertson.
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You Say Pakistanis All Hate the Drone War? Prove It
Observers of Pakistani politics say Pakistanis universally loathe the American drone strikes against Islamist militants in Pakistan's tribal belt. The view is based on anecdotal accounts of Pakistanis, but not the ones most affected by the strikes who live in the tribal areas where the drones fly. Most of these informants have no personal knowledge of the tribal areas and the political situation that prevails there.
See the full article (Atlantic, C. Christine Fair, Karl C. Kaltenthaler and William J. Miller, 1/23/13)
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North Korea to Boost Nuclear Deterrent after U.N. Rebuke
The U.N. Security Council unanimously condemned North Korea's December rocket launch and expanded existing U.N. sanctions, and Pyongyang reacted with a vow to boost the North's military and nuclear capabilities. While the resolution approved by the 15-nation council on Tuesday does not impose new sanctions on Pyongyang, diplomats said Beijing's support for it was a significant diplomatic blow to Pyongyang.
See the full article (Reuters, Louis Charbonneau, 1/23/13)
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Water-stressed Kenyans Learn to Share to Keep the Peace
Water is in short supply in this arid part of Kenya. The country's Water Resources Management Authority categorises Kenya as a water stressed nation, and the World Bank put its annual renewable fresh water supply in 2011 at 497 cubic meters per capita - less than Somali and about the same as Oman, on the Arabian Peninsula. But innovative water sharing efforts could help ease tensions between Kenya's ethnic groups, laying the groundwater for cooperation rather than competition, their backers say.
See the full article (AlertNet, Kagondu Njagi, 1/23/13)
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Google Earth is Key to Revealing North Korea's Prison Camp System, Activists Say
Earlier this month Google executive Eric Schmidt embarked on a journey to North Korea, one of the world's most secretive and Internet-restrictive countries. While the U.S. State Department publicly criticized Schmidt's timing and intentions, human rights activists have seen the visit as a reminder of something significant. As Irish outlet RTE News reports, many believe that Google Earth is invaluable in revealing evidence of North Korea's system of prison and labor camps, which are said to number in the dozens.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Drew Guarini, 1/22/13)
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Iran Beefed Up Cyber Capabilities after Stuxnet: US General
Western analysts say Iran has launched increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks in a growing confrontation with its adversaries, including the United States, Israel and Gulf Arabs, at a time of rising pressure on Tehran to curb its nuclear program. While no government has taken responsibility for the Stuxnet computer virus that destroyed centrifuges at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment facility, it was widely reported to have been a U.S.-Israeli project.
See the full article (NBC News, Andrea Shalal-Esa, 1/18/13)
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which includes a special section on Internet and social media.

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