PeaceTeach News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


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


Peace Channel

Featured Story:
How the Venezuelan Government Made the Media into Its Most Powerful Ally

by Katelyn Fossett

Media and Social Media

Technology and Science

Media and Social Media

Swedish Radio Reporter Killed by Two Gunmen on Kabul Street
Nils Horner, a journalist with Swedish and British dual citizenship, was gunned down on a central Kabul street early today, two days after arriving in Afghanistan to do several reports linked to next month's election for Sveriges Radio, the Swedish public radio station for which he worked as roving correspondent.
See the full article (Reuters, 3/11/14)
Click to read "Reintegrating Armed Groups in Afghanistan" a Peace Brief by Deedee Derksen.
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Uribe's New Platform
Sticking to 140 characters is hard for even the least communicative of politicians. But for someone like Alvaro Uribe, a former Colombian president who has a lot to say, and says it often, Twitter is especially limiting. The social-media platform has been his main vehicle for railing against the government over the past four years. After congressional elections on March 9th, Mr Uribe now has a new podium from which to assail government policies, and in particular peace talks with Colombia's leftist FARC guerrillas.
See the full article (Economist, 3/11/14)
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Foreign Press Visa Curbs Not Tied to Rohingya Reporting
Burma is retightening its stranglehold on journalists to rein in negative coverage, but new restrictions on foreign journalists traveling to the country for reporting have "nothing to do" with international news stories about violence against Muslims and stateless Rohingya Muslims in western Arakan State. However, more recently it has issued journalists visas allowing only a single entry and a one-month stay, while denying entry altogether to a Time magazine reporter who wrote a cover story about a radical Buddhist monk linked to violence against Muslims.
See the full article (Irrawaddy, Thin Lei Win, 3/11/14)
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The Kremlin's Social Media Takeover
Several weeks before pro-Russian forces intervened in Crimea, President Vladimir V. Putin won another important victory. On Jan. 24, the social network VKontakte, with its 60 million daily users, came under the control of businessmen allied with the Kremlin.
See the full article (New York Times, Nickolay Kononov, 3/10/14)*NYT subscription may be required to access full story
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Eleven Newspapers Seized in Less than a Week
Three employees of Express News TV in Karachi were killed in a shooting attack by a Taliban group, Tehreek-i-Taliban Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) has seized eleven issues of newspapers over the past week. An NISS source, interrogated by the Sudan Tribune declared that the suspensions and confiscations of newspapers would continue unless the journalists respect the NISS' instructions. It added that the newsrooms have been warned not to treat certain topics.
See the full article (Reuters, 3/10/14)
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Cold War Media Tactics Fuel Ukraine Crisis
The scale of Russia's propaganda effort in the current crisis has been breathtaking, even by Soviet standards. Facts have been twisted, images doctored (Ukrainians shown as fleeing to Russia were actually crossing the border to Poland), and harsh epithets (neo-Nazis) hurled at the demonstrators in Kiev - who President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia belatedly acknowledged had legitimate gripes against a corrupt and failed government.
See the full article (New York Times, Celestine Bohlen, 3/10/14)*NYT subscription may be required to access full story
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Does social Media Really Bring Us Closer to the Reality of Conflict?
The rise of social media in conflict situations - not just Twitter, but Buzzfeed, Instagram, YouTube and others - reflects wider trends in the Millennial generation. although new or social media has played an important part in bringing us closer to the "real" during conflict, it can also take us further away. Constantly viewing conflict on a Buzzfeed list or Instagram filter can also make it seem unreal, or what cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard might have called the "hyperreal", an exaggerated version of reality which ultimately blurs the boundaries between reality and simulation altogether.
See the full article (Guardian, Ellie Mae O'Hagan, 3/10/14)
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Instagramming North Korea
David Guttenfelder has visited North Korea more than any other western photographer, regularly visiting in the past decade. Instagram, he says, has become just as essential as his work for Associated Press. AP's chief Asia photographer, Guttenfelder says that using a phone camera allowed his to take less formal shots that felt less invasive, and more intimate, particularly since North Korea lifted its own smartphone ban in March 2013.
See the full article (Guardian, Jemima Kiss, 3/9/14)
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Social Media is New Weapon in War on British Jihadis
Diplomats have quietly opened a new front in efforts to stem the flow of Britons travelling to fight in Syria by spending nearly £200,000 on "social media activity" to deter would-be jihadis from leaving the UK. Fighters for al-Qa'ida-linked groups in Syria's civil war have proved adept at using social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to recruit foreign fighters, with messages and images exhorting young Muslims to join a holy war against Bashar al-Assad's brutal regime.
See the full article (Independent, Cahal Milmo, 3/9/14)
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Mercy and Social Media Slow the Noose in Iran
For most Iranian convicts - more than 600 were executed last year - that would have been the end of the story, but not for Mr. Anghouti, who became the beneficiary of two evolving trends in Iranian society, a growing distaste for capital punishment and the spread of social media. Under Iran's Islamic justice system, convicted criminals - even murderers - can buy their freedom from the victim's family. Thanks to an extraordinary social media campaign, Mr. Anghouti's impoverished family was able to take the next step and raise the $50,000 demanded by the relatives of the victim.
See the full article (New York Times, Thomas Erdbrink, 3/8/14)*NYT subscription may be required to access full story
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Pakistan's Women Journalists: 'We Want Our Voice Heard'
On this International Women's day, Google two words: "Pakistan" and "Women". The results will show pages and pages with headlines about girl-child marriages, honour killings, acid attacks, sexual harassment. On the surface, it looks like it is all bad news, especially for female journalists. Despite the harsh working conditions (low salaries, stress, violence), the fact remains that more and more women are joining media in Pakistan.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, Farahnaz Zahidi, 3/8/14)
Click to read "Women of Courage Awardees Challenge Social Norms Head On" an Olive Branch Post by Viola Gienger.
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Arab Media Re-Defines Itself Post-Arab Spring
Has the Arab media helped foster political pluralism or has it further divided societies along political and sectarian lines since the Arab Spring? Experts say while the Arab media played a key role in the ouster of several authoritarian governments, in countries since then, media outlets have taken political sides leading to political and sectarian polarization. Social media has transformed the Arab media world but whether it has hurt or helped Arab societies is an open question.
See the full article (VOA, Mohamed Elshinnawi, 3/8/14)
Click to read "Preventing Media Incitement to Violence in Iraq" a Peace Brief by Theo Dolan.
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In Defense of Instagramming Conflict in Crimea
"Shocking pictures show people in Crimea taking SELFIES with Russian masked gunmen as Ukraine teeters on the brink of war," the British tabloid yelped over the weekend. SELFIES! Putting aside one of the explanations for this stream of selfies, it's actually quite fitting that amateur and professional photographers are experimenting with new technology this week to document Russia's occupation of the Ukrainian peninsula. A century and a half ago, Crimea served as the breeding ground for modern war photography.
See the full article (The Atlantic, Uri Friedman, 3/7/14)
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Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

How the Venezuelan Government Made the Media into Its Most Powerful Ally by Katelyn Fossett
While the recent protests have exposed the vulnerable state of Venezuela's supposedly independent media, the government has spent the past decade expanding its control over the country's newspapers, websites, radio outlets and TV stations. With the 2004 passage of the Law on Social Responsibility in Radio and Television, the government won wide latitude to censor media in order to "promote social justice and further the development of the citizenry, democracy, peace, human rights, education, culture, public health, and the nation's social and economic development."
See the full article

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Technology and Science

Google is Encrypting Search Globally. That's Bad for the NSA and China's Censors
Google has begun routinely encrypting Web searches conducted in China, posing a bold new challenge to that nation's powerful system for censoring the Internet and tracking what individual users are viewing online. The company says the move is part of a global expansion of privacy technology designed to thwart surveillance by government intelligence agencies, police and hackers who, with widely available tools, can view e-mails, search queries and video chats when that content is unprotected.
See the full article (Washington Post, Craig Timberg and Jia Lynn Yang, 3/12/14)
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War Will Become Less Likely, but Those That Happen Will be Total
Limited wars will rarely be pursued because they will not present a casus belli which justifies superseding the binding effects of globalization and information technology. Nor will a limited war present a viable purchase from the standpoint of financial and population involvement. The supervising eyes of the global community, facilitated by information technology, will require that even though the wars will be total in nature, they will also need to be moral in execution.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Tom Ricks, 3/12/14)
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Nearly 4,000 First World War Diaries Made Available Online
The diaries, digitised by the National Archives in a joint project with the Imperial War Museum, reveal the sheer stoicism and black humour that helped troops - on both sides - survive the slaughter in Belgium and northern France. First-hand accounts of trench warfare, gas attacks and battles involving horses and machine guns, are contained in nearly 4,000 diaries released online on Thursday to mark the centenary of the 1914-18 world war. The diaries are available online via the National Archives' first world war 100 portal.
See the full article (Guardian, Richard Norton-Taylor, 3/12/14)
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Enemies of the Internet 2014: Entities at the Heart of Censorship and Surveillance
This year's "Enemies of the Internet" report, which Reporters Without Borders publishes every year on World Day Against Cyber-Censorship (12 March), spotlights the government units and agencies that implement online censorship and surveillance. These entities, which include Pakistan's Telecommunication Authority, have used defence of national security as grounds for going far beyond their original mission in order to spy on and censor journalists, bloggers and other information providers.
See the full article (Reuters, 3/11/14)
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A World Awash In A Nuclear Explosive?
A generation after Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, the world is rediscovering the attractions of nuclear power to curb the warming pollution of carbon fuels. And so a new industry focused on plutonium-based nuclear fuel has begun to take shape in the far reaches of Asia, with ambitions to spread elsewhere - and some frightening implications. If the Japanese plan goes forward, the island nation in theory would in a year have plutonium sufficient to build around 2,600 bombs, or enough to compose the world's third-largest nuclear arsenal.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Douglas Birch and R. Jeffrey Smith, 3/10/14)
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How Do You Say 'MOOC' in Arabic
"Massive Online Open Courses," abbreviated "MOOCs," are being hailed as a potentially revolutionary development in education. Is the Arab World about to miss out? So far, there's only one such course offered in Arabic -- and it's taught by Israel's Technion. "Nanotechnology and Nanosensors" is taught by Professor Hossam Haick, who's had to deal with far more than he originally bargained for when he talked the head of his department into letting him develop the material for a very technical course in English and in Arabic.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Mohamed Dahshan, 3/11/14)
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Grave Science
America's effort to bring home its war dead is slow, inefficient and stymied by outdated methods. More than 83,000 people are classified as missing in action or prisoners of war from World War II and the Vietnam and Korean conflicts. The Pentagon deems 45,000 of those "recoverable." Still, a joint investigation by NPR and ProPublica found JPAC's process of identifying remains is hindered by several layers of bureaucracy, an aversion to risk and a reluctance to lead with DNA testing.
See the full article (NPR, 3/6/14)
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