USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, November 7 - 13, 2013

Table of Contents

**Click here to subscribe to USIP's Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding News Roundup,
which includes a special section on Internet and social media.**

Do You Trust Your Computer?
Twenty years ago, electronic communications were mostly done by institutions and a few computer aficionados. Today, hundreds of millions use mobile telephony, computer apps and social media every day, whether for banking or for sharing intimate details of one's life. The vast majority of users never stop to think about who owns those networks. In every country, the data is processed by a large corporate entity with direct ties to the government. Just as computers have become ever more powerful in sensing and processing, people have signed up in droves to provide an avalanche of personal data through networks they scarcely understand.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, Eric Garland, 11/13/13)
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Drone Combat Missions May be Scaled Back Eventually, Air Force Chief Says
The Air Force is grappling with how to manage a potential glut of drones and may eventually scale back the number of combat missions flown with unmanned aircraft by more than 25 percent, the service’s top commander said Wednesday. Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, the Air Force chief of staff, said the Predator and Reaper drones that have been a mainstay of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not well suited to many other regions where the U.S. military is looking to bolster its presence, such as the Pacific.
See the full article (Washington Post, Craig Whitlock, 11/13/13)
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Russian Nuclear Power Plant Infected by Stuxnet Malware Says Cyber-Security Expert
Stuxnet, a malware program widely believed to have been created by the US and Israel, has infected a Russian nuclear power plant, according to cybersecurity expert Eugene Kaspersky. Speaking at the Canberra Press Club 2013 in Australia, Kasperksy recounted a story from “the Stuxnet time” when a friend of his working in an unnamed nuclear power plant reported that the plant’s computers were “badly infected by Stuxnet”.
See the full article (Independent, James vincent, 11/12/13)
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Report on Climate Change Depicts a Planet in Peril
Climate change will disrupt not only the natural world but also society, posing risks to the world's economy and the food and water supply and contributing to violent conflict, an international panel of scientists says. The warnings came in a report drafted by the United Nations-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The 29-page summary, leaked and posted on a blog critical of the panel, has been distributed to governments around the world for review.
See the full article (Los Angeles Times, Tony Barboza, 11/11/13)
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East Africa: Conflict Minerals - Companies May Stop Buying Unless Certification Is Sped Up
Critical gaps in the minerals certification process in eastern Congo, Rwanda, and the surrounding region threaten to undo the development of a clean minerals trade in Central Africa, argues a new Enough Project report released today. Minerals certification, a key component in building a transparent regional minerals trade, faces setbacks that could hinder global market access for minerals extractors, traders, and exporters in the Great Lakes region, unless regional governments implement the process.
See the full article (AllAfrica, 11/11/13)
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Should You Be Allowed to Use Chemical Weapons in a Video Game?
Your next Call of Duty game might be a bit less colorful -- or less ethically challenged -- if the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has its way. The ICRC is now asking video game publishers to incorporate the laws of war into their games. The organization makes clear that it is not calling for a ban on violence in video games, nor does it consider -- contrary to earlier reports in 2011 -- that war crimes in video games equate to real crimes.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Michael Peck, 11/11/13)
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Latin Americans Combat Crime with Smartphones and Social Media
In Latin America, where violent crime rates are six times higher than in any other region, and where most residents have reported distrust in the state's ability to fight crime, several communities have taken to social media to boost security, say analysts. In parallel, internet access in Latin America has multiplied thirteenfold in the past decade, providing communities with an alternative way to report crimes in near anonymity, share information on violent hotspots, mobilise community policing and organise protests calling for greater security.
See the full article (Guardian, Dana MacLean, 11/10/13)
Click to read "Colombia Peace Talks Produce 'Historic' Step Toward Final Accord" an Olive Branch Post by Virginia M. Bouvier.
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Central African Republic: Aftermath Images 'Shocking'
New satellite images from the Central African Republic show the "shocking" aftermath of recent violence, according to Amnesty International. The country has been in crisis since a rebel takeover in March. The human rights group says the images show significant fire damage to 485 homes in the northern town of Bouca.
See the full article (BBC, 11/8/13)
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Three Ways Modern Technology Increases the Likelihood of PTSD Among Veterans
Thankfulness hasn't always been the experience of returning American soldiers. Things were very different for the guys who came home from Vietnam to find protesters waiting for them. Many things have changed since then. One change is our understanding of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Thirty years ago, PTSD wasn't well known outside of mental health circles. Today, most people understand that not all wounds are physical and that "triggers" can be anywhere. In short, we've learned that "what happens at war doesn't always stay at war."Here are three ways technology has helped increase the number of folks who experience PTSD.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Andrew Smiler, 11/8/13)
Click to read "Honoring Veterans by Working to Stop Conflicts" an Olive Branch Post by Jim Marshall.
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Rising Tech Startup Star: The Middle East
Beneath the turmoil and unrest that has seized much of the Middle East, there is a burgeoning tech scene offering a nugget of hope in a place where creativity can be a luxury and basic survival is often a challenge. That’s the thesis writer and Internet entrepreneur Christopher Schroeder lays out in his new book “Startup Rising.”
See the full article (Silicon Beat, Heather Somerville, 11/8/13)
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