USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, October 31 - November 6, 2013

Table of Contents

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Mobile Survey Platform GeoPoll Raises $6.6M Series A To Reach People In Developing Countries
Smartphones have become so commonplace in developed countries that it can be hard to imagine life without them. But the worldwide Internet penetration rate is just 39%, according to the International Telecommunication Union, and in Africa, only 16% of people are online. Mobile-cellular penetration rates are 89% in developing countries, however, with many people relying on their phones for online access. As more organizations use Internet surveys to conduct research into subjects ranging from product preferences to human rights, GeoPoll‘s platform seeks to help them to reach people on feature phones or even more basic devices.
See the full article (TechCrunch, Catherine Shu 11/6/13)
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Peaceful Protest is Much More Effective than Violence for Toppling Dictators
Political scientist Erica Chenoweth used to believe, as many do, that violence is the most reliable way to get rid of a dictator. History is filled, after all, with coups, rebellions and civil wars. "I collected data on all major nonviolent and violent campaigns for the overthrow of a government or a territorial liberation since 1900," she says -- hundreds of cases. "The data blew me away." "Nonviolent campaigns are becoming increasingly successful."
See the full article (Washington Post, Max Fisher, 11/5/13)
Click to read about USIP’s upcoming event “Comparative National Dialogue Approaches” on November 6, 2013 at 9:30.
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Drone Strike Aftermath: Militant 'Kennedys' Pose Bigger Threat than Pakistani Taliban
Hours after the death of Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, the militant group's counterparts across the border condemned the "cowardly U.S. drone attack." "If America believes that by martyring mujahedeen they will somehow create a void and reach their selfish aims then they are greatly mistaken," the Afghan Taliban said in a statement.
See the full article (NBC News, Wajahat S. Khan, 11/5/13)
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The Dark Side of Psychology in Abuse and Interrogation
This week the Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) and the Open Society Foundations (OSF) have published the most comprehensive study on the role of psychologists in the War on Terror. At 269 pages, the full report is as detailed as it is grim, concluding that American psychologists collaborated extensively with the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, and the CIA to develop a range of interrogation methods used in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantánamo Bay.
See the full article (Guardian, Chris Chambers, 11/5/13)
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Nigeria: Insecurity - Modern Technology to the Rescue
Every day in Nigeria, the news seems to get from bad to worse, as the security situation deteriorates further and further. It is ridiculous to know that our government negotiates with terrorists using mobile phones, but up till today, our security agencies have not used simple tracking devices to locate them. The world of technology has developed over time, but we have refused to move along with technology. Multiple technologies exit that can be used to improve security, but our security agencies may not even be aware of them. How can they tackle terror in this age?
See the full article (AllAfrica, Sani Nadabo, 11/3/13)
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Pakistani Taliban Chief Killed in Drone Strike
The head of the Pakistani Taliban was killed by a U.S. drone strike on Friday, security and Taliban sources said, in a blow to the fragmented movement fighting against the nuclear-armed South Asian nation. Hakimullah Mehsud was one of the most wanted and feared men in Pakistan with a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head, leading an insurgency from a mountain hideout in North Waziristan, the Taliban's stronghold on the Afghan frontier.
See the full article (Reuters, Mehreen Zahra-Malik and Jibran Ahmed, 11/1/13)
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DARPA Plans to Arm Drones With Missile-Blasting Lasers
The Pentagon this week edged closer to mounting missile-destroying lasers on unmanned and manned aircraft, awarding $26 million to defense contractors to develop the technology. Under the name Project Endurance, DARPA, the Department of Defense’s research agency, awarded Northrop Grumman $14.6 million and Lockheed Martin $11.4 million in contracts for the effort, according to Military & Aerospace Electronics. Called “Project Endurance,” the research will “develop technology for pod-mounted lasers to protect a variety of airborne platforms from emerging and legacy electro-optical IR guided surface-to-air missiles,” according to DARPA’s 2014 budget request.
See the full article (Wired, Allen McDuffee, 11/1/13)
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