USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup




United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, January 24 - 30, 2013

Table of Contents

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New Global Water Risk Maps Offer Free Knowledge and Data
A lack of water might mean you can't operate; become involved in conflict with local communities who feel you are compromising their water needs and new water regulations that may make it uneconomical to operate in specific locations. But even though water is critical to economies, business and public health, it has been historically difficult to work out where the high and low water risk areas are in the world. The World Resources Institute is hoping to change that with the launch of Aqueduct, a new version of global water-risk mapping tool.
See the full article (Guardian, Flemmich Webb, 1/30/13)
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Wristwatch to Combat Sexual Violence in India
In the wake of a brutal string of gang-rapes of female bus passengers - one in New Delhi and one in Gurdaspur - Indian officials have unveiled a new weapon they're hoping can help combat violence against women. The watch would be equipped with a button that sends a text message to the nearest police station and chosen relatives. A GPS system within the device will help pinpoint the wearer's location. The watch will also feature a built-in video camera that will be activated and record for 30 minutes once the button is pushed.
See the full article (Mashable, Nic Halverson, 1/30/13)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "The Missing Peace Symposium" on February 14, 2013 at 8:30am.
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Google Releases Detailed Map of North Korea, Gulags and All
Until Tuesday, North Korea appeared on Google Maps as a near-total white space - no roads, no train lines, no parks and no restaurants. The only thing labeled was the capital city, Pyongyang. This all changed when Google, on Tuesday, rolled out a detailed map of one of the world's most secretive states. The new map labels everything from Pyongyang's subway stops to the country's several city-sized gulags, as well as its monuments, hotels, hospitals and department stores.
See the full article (Washington Post, Chico Harlan, 1/28/13)
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U.S. Weighs Base for Spy Drones in North Africa
The United States military is preparing to establish a drone base in northwest Africa so that it can increase surveillance missions on the local affiliate of Al Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups that American and other Western officials say pose a growing menace to the region. For now, officials say they envision flying only unarmed surveillance drones from the base, though they have not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point if the threat worsens.
See the full article (Washington Post, Eric Schmitt, 1/28/13)
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Kenya's Geeks Click Away to Ensure Peaceful Polls
Five years ago, a handful of bloggers invented a way to track -- and hopefully prevent -- bloody post-election violence that hit Kenya and claimed more than 1,100 lives. The group of friends that set up Ushahidi -- which means "to witness" in Kenya's Swahili language -- have seen their concept become a worldwide success, used in conflict and disaster zones, and again in Kenya ahead of March 4 polls. Their non-profit software company now bears witness to a technology boom in what has traditionally been a rural East African country.
See the full article (AFP, Boris Bachorz, 1/27/13)
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FBI is Increasing Pressure on Suspects in Stuxnet Inquiry
Federal investigators looking into disclosures of classified information about a cyberoperation that targeted Iran's nuclear program have increased pressure on current and former senior government officials suspected of involvement, according to people familiar with the investigation. The inquiry, which was started by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. last June, is examining leaks about a computer virus developed jointly by the United States and Israel that damaged nuclear centrifuges at Iran's primary uranium enrichment plant.
See the full article (Washington Post, Peter Finn, 1/26/13)
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Let Freedom Ring: Gen. Cartwright Says 4G is America's Lasting Legacy in Afghanistan
What will the longest-lasting and perhaps most important legacy of the United States' 11-year war in Afghanistan be? A 4G cell phone network capable of supporting smartphones. That's right, according to retired Marine Corps Gen. James "Hoss" Cartwright, who stepped down as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in August 2011, smartphones are the most important thing the West has introduced to Afghanistan.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, John Reed, 1/24/13) *Foreign Policy sign-up may be required to view the full article
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U.N. Launches Drone Investigation
An independent U.N. human rights researcher this morning announced the opening of an investigation into the use of drone attacks and other targeted assassinations by the United States and other governments. Ben Emmerson, the U.N. special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights, told reporters in London this morning that the "exponential" rise in American drones strikes posed a "real challenge to the framework of international law," according to a statement issued by his office.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Colum Lynch, 1/24/13) *Foreign Policy sign-up may be required to view the full article
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John Kerry: Cyber Conflict One of World's Greatest Threats
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) mentioned the need for "cyber diplomacy" during his confirmation hearing to be the next secretary of state today. No, Kerry wasn't talking about diplomats sending Someecards to one another when he dropped the term on his fellow senators. He was discussing the need for the international community to develop a host of new standards, or norms of behavior in cyber space. Kerry was responding for questions from Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) who called for Kerry's thoughts on the secretary of state's role "in a world where cyber security is our greatest threat."
See the full article (Foreign Policy, John Reed, 1/24/13) *Foreign Policy sign-up may be required to view the full article
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