USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, November 17 - 30, 2011

Please note: This Roundup contains two weeks' worth of highlights due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

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Media and Journalism

Air Force Tells Reporters: You're Not Welcome at Our Drone Base Anymore
Drones are the signature weapon in America's wars, from Afghanistan to Yemen to Pakistan. Their employment has become one of the world's most sensitive political issues. But, thanks to the near-blackout of the media, the public knows less and less about the drones - and the people who operate them.
See the full article (Wired, Dawn Lim and Noah Shachtman, 11/29/11)
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Pakistan Blocks BBC World News TV Channel
Pakistani cable television operators have begun blocking the BBC's international news TV channel, BBC World News. The operators say that the move is in response to a documentary broadcast by the channel, entitled Secret Pakistan. The two-part BBC documentary questioned the country's commitment to tackling Taliban militancy.
See the full article (BBC, 11/29/11)
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Determined to Bring Out the Truth in Kosovo
She cut her journalistic teeth with the BBC as a 22-year-old fixer, helping television crews film in and around Kosovo during the 1999 NATO bombing war against Serbia. Now 33, Jeta Xharra finds there is scant protection for her kind of journalism, as she rakes over the mix of corruption, organized crime and weak governance that is her nascent country today.
See the full article (New York Times, Matthew Brunwasser, 11/29/11) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Ethiopian Journalists Worry After Editor Flees
The managing editor of one of Ethiopia's few remaining independent Amharic-language newspapers publishing critical analysis of local politics said he left the country last week for fear of arrest. More than 10 journalists have been charged under [a 2009 anti-terrorism] law in the past few months.
See the full article (Reuters, 11/28/11)
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Egypt Orders 3 American Students Released, and Journalist Is Assaulted in Detention
Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy, who was detained on Wednesday [in Cairo's Tahrir Square], was freed on Thursday. She said that during her 12 hours of detention, she was sexually assaulted and beaten so badly that her left arm and right hand were broken.
See the full article (New York Times, Anthony Shadid, 11/24/11) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
Click to read about USIP' upcoming event "Getting Rights... Right..." on December 8 at 9:00am.
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Richard Mosse's Majestic, Disturbing Infrared War Photography
For centuries, the Congo has compelled and defied the Western imagination. Richard Mosse brings to this subject the use of a discontinued military surveillance technology, a type of color infrared film called Kodak Aerochrome. On his journeys in eastern Congo, Mosse photographed rebel groups of constantly switching allegiances, fighting nomadically in a jungle war zone plagued by frequent ambushes, massacres, and systematic sexual violence.
See the full article (Huffington Post, 11/24/11)
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South Africa Secrecy Law Worries Media
The governing African National Congress pushed a bill through South Africa's parliament Tuesday to protect state secrets. Opponents, who include church and business leaders and Nobel laureates, say the measure will keep government corruption under wraps, stifle whistle-blowing and undermine the hard-won democracy created with apartheid's end 17 years ago.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Donna Bryson, 11/22/11)
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Iran Daily Closed over Ahmadinejad Aide Interview
Iranian authorities shut down a reformist newspaper on Sunday after it published a scathing attack by an aide to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the president's rival conservatives, the latest sign of a split in the highest echelons of the Islamic Republic. The aide, media adviser Ali Akbar Javanfekr, was also sentenced to a year in jail and banned from journalism over a separate publication which was deemed to have offended public decency.
See the full article (Reuters, Robin Romeroy, 11/20/11)
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South Sudan Frees Journalists Held for Criticising President
South Sudan has released two journalists without charge who were detained for weeks for criticising President Salva Kiir's family. Ngor Garang, editor-in-chief of Destiny newspaper, and reporter Dengdit Ayok were arrested in Juba at the beginning of November after Ayok wrote an opinion article accusing the president of "staining his patriotism" by allowing his daughter to marry an Ethiopian man.
See the full article (AFP, 11/19/11)
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Don't Allow Journalists' Killers to Get Away with Murder
Next Wednesday has been declared as the "international day to end impunity" - an initiative designed to highlight the way in which authorities across the world fail to investigate the murders of journalists and others who advocate freedom of expression. It is also something of a call to action to demand justice for victims - including reporters, artists, musicians and politicians - whose killings have been ignored by the authorities.
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 11/18/11)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Book Launch: Customary Justice and Rule of Law in War-Torn Societies" on December 2 at 10:00am.
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Internet and Social Media

The Tweets of War: What's Past is Postable
The twitter feed RealTimeWWII, a real-time project to tweet the second World War, has met a suprising popularity. The feed has over 140,000 followers, and volunteers have started translating the RealTimeWWII feed into Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Chinese and Turkish.
See the full article (New York Times, Jennifer Schuessler, 11/27/11) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Over the past three years, a subdivision of Virginia-based General Dynamics has set up and run a network of eight "influence websites" funded by the Defense Department. Sometimes the website downplays abuses even contrary to concerns expressed by the U.S. government. All this raises the question: Is U.S. taxpayer money being given to a for-profit military contractor to shill for a Central Asian dictator, just because he's a useful ally in the war on terror?
See the full article (Foreign Policy, David Trilling, 11/22/11)
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Pakistan Telecoms Body Delays Ban on 'Obscene' Texts
The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has delayed the implementation of a ban on text messages containing "obscene" words. A PTA spokesman told the AFP news agency that it would carry out more consultations before producing a much shorter list of banned words. The spokesman gave no time frame for when any ban may be enforced.
See the full article (BBC, 11/22/11)
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Cyberwar Explodes in Syria
Since media are strictly controlled by the Syrian government, and foreign journalists are by and large prohibited from entering the country, the Internet has played a vital role for Syrian opposition activists smuggling out images of atrocities carried out by security forces. Some observers argue the Internet has become a battleground in an all-out Syrian cyberwar.
See the full article (CNN, Ivan Watson, 11/22/11)
Click to read "Syrian Uprising: Looking In, Looking Out," a USIP Peace Brief by Amr al-Azm.
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Critics Take Aim at Turkey's Growing Social Curbs
A series of moves by the Turkish government has sparked concern that the state is exerting ever greater sway over other parts of society, from academia to business [and] on Tuesday, Ankara introduced new filters on the Internet. Soli Ozel, a professor at Bilgi University in Istanbul, accused the government of "thoroughly monopolizing power in all aspects of life."
See the full article (Washington Post, Daniel Dombey, 11/22/11)
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Egyptian Blogger Held in Crackdown
Alaa Abdel-Fattah, a blogger turned political activist, has been detained because he has refused to cooperate with military prosecutors. He and his wife once blogged on social and cultural matters, but turned to political criticism in 2005, after Mubarak police and plainclothes henchmen beat women pro-democracy demonstrators.
See the full article (Salon, Daniel Williams, 11/17/11)
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U.S. Military Goes Online to Rebut Extremists' Messages
For the State Department's Digital Outreach Team, Arabic- and Urdu-speaking analysts engage extremists in online conversations, identifying themselves as representing the United States government. [The team was] established in 2008 by the military's Central Command to "counter extremist ideology, promote cultural awareness and explain U.S. interests."
See the full article (New York Times, Thom Shanker and Eric schmitt, 11/17/11) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Islamist Terrorism and Democracy in the Middle East" on December 7 at 3:00pm.
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What's New from PeaceMedia

Peace Must Be Waged - George Clooney
George Clooney tells us why UN peacekeeping is essential to global peace and stability around the world, in places like Sudan, Bosnia, Haiti, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Clooney believes in a strong UN peacekeeping force.
See the full video
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