USIP's PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, February 6 - 12, 2014


Peace Channel

Featured Story:
Streetfighting Men
by Harriet Salem and Graham Stack


Media and Social Media


Technology and Science

Media and Social Media

Iraq Media Watchdog Condemns Attacks Against Newspaper
Iraqi media freedom watchdog has raised concerns over an attack against a Baghdad-based newspaper. In a statement issued on February 10, the Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq said that three bombs had exploded near the entrance to the headquarters of the "al-Sabah-al-Jadeed" (New Morning) newspaper the previous day, severely damaging the newspaper's offices.
See the full article (RFE/RL, 2/12/14)
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Journalist Kidnapped in Libyan Capital
Six journalists have been kidnapped in recent days in the Libyan capital, and while one has been released the whereabouts of the other five are still unknown, media representatives and one of the victims said on Tuesday.
See the full article (New York Times, 2/11/14)*NYT subscription may be required to access full story
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Social Media Dispatches: Death and Destruction in Central African Republic
Witnesses have been documenting the violence in the Central African Republic over the past few days, with relentless slaughter and traces of entire communities wiped out as thousands of Muslims fled their homes to escape retaliatory attacks. The emergency director of Human Rights Watch, Peter Bouckaert, has been tracking the violence on the ground, sending out a constant stream of updates on his Twitter account, @bouckap, which reads like a narrative of a dying nation.
See the full article (New York Times, Christine Hauser, 2/11/14)*NYT subscription may be required to access full story
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Twitter Evolutions: The Changing Role of Social Media in War and Protest" on February 24, 2014 at 9:00am.
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Thai Princess Uses Social Media To 'Declare War'
It was a bolt from the red, white and blue. A few weeks ago the youngest daughter of Thailand's ageing king posted several photographs of herself on social media. Whether or not it was her intention to do so, the posting of the images by Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol was widely interpreted as a sign of her support for the anti-government forces.
See the full article (Independent, Brian Rex, 2/11/14)
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Pirate Radio Gives Voice to Syrian Opposition
The broadcast was the premiere of a music show on Radio Watan, one of more than a dozen opposition radio stations that have sprung up since the start of the revolt against the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. The stations are run by young civilian activists who played an important role early in the uprising but have since been targeted by government forces, sidelined by Islamist rebels and attacked by extremist groups who consider them infidels for airing music and women's voices.
See the full article (New York Times, Ben Hubbard, 2/10/14)*NYT subscription may be required to access full story
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John Pilger on British Media and The Iraq War
Well-known journalist John Pilger writes of how the BBC worried about a program featuring guests who reveal UK actions involving kidnap and torture and participation in the Iraq war.
See the full article (Digital Journal, Ken Hanly, 2/10/14)
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When Social Media is Your Only Hope
With a reach of 3.6 million people and counting, DigitalMaidan will continue to raise awareness of the human rights crisis in Ukraine until democracy is restored. To quote one of the thousands of Tweets posted by Ukrainians: What would you do if this were happening in your country?
See the full article (The Daily Beast, Andrea Chalupa, 2/10/14)
Click to read "Pakistani USIP Grantee Launches Internet Crowdfunding Campaign" an Olive Branch Post by Viola Gienger.
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Photoshopped Thein Sein Prompts Media Ethics Discussion
A front-page mash-up of
Burma President Thein Sein portrayed in traditional Burmese dancing garb and published in a local newspaper has drawn the ire of officials and some local media, who feel the image oversteps ethical boundaries.
See the full article (Irrawaddy, Simon Roughneen, 2/10/14)
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Egypt's Media War
Egyptians - and their media - are either with the military or they are considered to be with the 'terrorists'. As a consequence, news organisations have come under huge pressure and the jailing of Al Jazeera journalists has sent a chill through the foreign media contingent in Cairo. On the domestic side, Egyptian journalists who have not aligned themselves with the Sisi government have had to be very careful about what they report.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, 2/8/14)
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Ukrainian Protesters Must Make A Decisive Break With The Far Right
A number of academics have expressed their concern about the international media's misrepresentation of the protests in Ukraine. They say that the media have over-emphasised the significance of the far right in what is a broad and diverse protest movement; and such exaggerations may serve Russia's imperialist interests in Ukraine.
See the full article (Guardian, Volodymyr Ishchenko, 2/7/14)
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Al-Jazeera Reporter - Journalism Is Not Terrorism and I'm Not A Terrorist
Sue Turton, is a presenter and senior correspondent with Al-Jazeera English. She has been indicted in her absence by the Egyptian authorities on a charge of aiding terrorists. She and a colleague, Dominic Kane, were among 20 people accused of spreading false news, bringing Egypt into disrepute, and conspiring with terrorists.
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 2/7/14)
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Social Media Analysis Reveals The Complexities Of Syrian Conflict
An interesting question is to what extent does social media activity reflect the situation on the ground [in Syria]. That's exactly the problem addressed today by Derek O'Callaghan at University College Dublin and a few pals. Their conclusion is that "social media activity in Syria is considerably more convoluted than reported in many other studies of online political activism that find a straightforward polarization effect."
See the full article (MIT Technology Review, 2/6/14)
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Featured Story from Foreign Policy's Peace Channel

Streetfighting Men by Harriet Salem and Graham Stack
In a snowy, half-filled car park in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine's fourth-largest city, a group of masked men armed with clubs surge toward a crowd of anti-government protesters, weapons raised. The scene, captured in a video available on YouTube, isn't an isolated incident. In Ukraine's ongoing and increasingly bloody political standoff, a group of predominantly young men known as "titushki" are roaming the streets.
See the full article
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Technology and Science

Modern Fears for Modern Times
What should we be worried about? Real Scenarios that keep scientists up at night. Martin Rees, astronomer royal of Great Britain agrees, painting a cataclysmic scenario based on the social and economic chaos that global warming will unleash, as millions migrate from coastal zones and the financial system collapses. For good measure, Rees adds bioterrorism, cyberterrorism and nanoterrorism as other threats for the future.
See the full article (NPR, Marcelo Gleiser, 2/12/14)
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UK Pioneers New Technology to Combat GPS Jamming
GPS is the most widely-used positioning technology in the world today, with a vast array of military, civil and commercial applications, but for some time the industry has been forced to admit that the technology is vulnerable to attack. However, GPS signals are extremely faint, and it does not take much to dazzle a GPS receiver with a more powerful radio signal. This makes it relatively easy for anyone with a 'GPS jammer' to swamp the circuitry in the receiver so that it cannot detect the GPS signal.
See the full article (Telegraph, Sophie Curtis, 2/12/14)
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Western Militaries Risk Losing Access to Key Materials
Western militaries may lose access to critical materials needed for weapons and other systems, because of the growing demand for new technologies, questionable supply lines and production in unfriendly or dangerous countries, NATO documents show. Most troubling, the NATO report says, is that "many of these materials and products are not produced within NATO countries." Instead, they come from rival nations, such as China and Russia, or those mired in internal conflicts and civil war, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
See the full article (USA Today, Ray Locker, 2/12/14)
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A New iPhone App Catalogues and Maps U.S. Drone Killings
On Monday, the new publication First Look reported that electronically obtained metadata controls who, how, and when U.S. drones kill abroad. Journalists Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill write that that kind of information doesn't only determine who is killed: Metadata on phone SIM cards determines how victims of the strikes are found.
See the full article (Atlantic, Robinson Meyer, 2/11/14)
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The Age of Dissent
Why are people going out on the street to address their woes? It's an act of courage and determination that can land you in jail, one far more difficult than simply casting a vote in the ballot box. What has changed? The Internet is certainly everyone's favourite cause. We are better informed, more aware of inequalities due to globalisation, as well as the shady complicity of our leaders. Smart phones and computers have also accelerated and improved organisational capacity, and middle classes have risen in many countries, along with their related demands.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, John Bell, 2/11/14)
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NSA 'Drone Strikes Based on Mobile Phone Data'
The US National Security Agency (NSA) uses electronic surveillance rather than human intelligence in lethal drone strikes, it has been reported. The new publication headed by Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the news of US government surveillance in The Guardian, claims the revelations were made by a former US drone operator.
See the full article (Independent, Kashmira Gander, 2/10/14)
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Internet Protest to 'Fight Back' Against Surveillance
Activist groups, companies, and websites will encourage internet users to take a stand against government surveillance on Tuesday in a protest called "The Day We Fight Back." On Feb. 11, 5,700-plus websites plan to post a banner on their pages encouraging users to use their social media accounts to protest surveillance by the National Security Administration and to phone or email their representatives in Congress about reforming internet surveillance.
See the full article (PBS, Bridget Bowman, 2/10/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Symposium on Language, Peace, and Security" on February, 21, 2014 at 1:00pm.
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US Military Funds Mission Impossible 'Vanishing' Tech
The US military is funding a project to develop electronics that can self-destruct like the secret messages in the Mission Impossible TV show. DARPA, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has awarded computing giant IBM a $3.5m (£2.1m) contract to work on its Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) project.
See the full article (BBC, 2/7/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Peace Prospects in the Great Lakes" on February, 20, 2014 at 1:00pm.
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