PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, March 13 - 19, 2014


Technology and Science

Media and Social Media

In Myanmar, Press Freedom is a Double-Edged Sword
It's one step forward, two steps back for Myanmar's beleaguered journalists. President Thein Sein ostensibly closed the book on five decades of media repression this week by enacting two new measures designed to replace the country's longstanding and draconian media law. The problem? The news laws are awfully contradictory.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Catherine A. Traywick, 3/19/14)
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McCarthyism Comes to Turkey
For several months, Turkey has been in the throes of a political war. The latest controversy emerged after a series of wiretapped phone conversations between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and members of his inner circle were exposed systematically on the Internet. These audio files immediately went viral and confirmed to millions of Turks that many of the rumors they'd been hearing about government interference in the media and judiciary were quite real.
See the full article (New York Times, Mustafa Akyol, 3/19/14)*NYT subscription may be required to access full story
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Info Wars: Russia Ramps Up Pressure on Media Amid Crimea Crisis
While Russia and the United States are keeping tensions over Moscow's takeover of Crimea from becoming an all-out military confrontation, another front in the conflict has reached a boil: the Kremlin's media war. His words were accompanied by a graphic showing how Russian missiles could be launched in the direction of the U.S. Known for his anti-Western remarks, Kiselev [prominent Russian TV anchor] has recently been named the head of Russia Today state news agency, which is replacing the old RIA Novosti.
See the full article (NBC News, Albina Kovalyova, 3/18/14)
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A Language of Conflict, and Peace
As militants in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli Air Force traded a hail of rockets and bombs last week, a Twitter notification popped up on my screen: "We applaud @rudoren for not using the word 'respond' when describing Palestinian retaliation to Israeli violence." I welcome the rare applause on social media. But in this battle context, is there such a big difference between "respond" and "retaliate"?
See the full article (New York Times, Jodi Rudoren, 3/18/14)*NYT subscription may be required to access full story
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "General Election 2014 and the Protests in Bosnia: Is Change Possible?" on April, 2, 2014 at 10:00am.
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RT's YouTube Page Experiences Temporary Blackout
The primary YouTube channel for Russian English-language news channel RT experienced a temporary outage on Monday night into Tuesday morning. The channel reported that the outage caused all of its content to be unavailable. Users who visited the YouTube page were presented with a note that read: "This channel has been suspended due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube's policy against spam, scans, and commercially deceptive content."
See the full article (Mashable, Jason Abbruzzese, 3/17/14)
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Indian Media Launched Propaganda War Against Sri Lanka
The army has denied fresh claims that it used chemical weapons during the war against the LTTE as alleged in a video aired on Indian television, an online news website, the Colombo Gazette reported. Meanwhile, the many Indian medias have been taken formal action against the Sri Lankan Government on its "alleged" war crimes. "The video aired on News X shows a man clad in army uniform describing how chemical weapons were used against the LTTE during the final stages of the war.
See the full article (Sri Lanka Guardian, 3/16/14)
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Ukraine's Social Media Revolution Years in the Making
When a Ukrainian women's plea for freedom went viral in February and received nearly eight million views, it demonstrated the power of social media in spreading the message of Ukraine's political reform. Long before social media helped ignite the Arab Spring and other uprising in tense parts of the world, analysts say Ukraine's Orange Revolution in 2004 was the first revolt to organize and promote itself via the Internet.
See the full article (VOA, Cecily Hilleary, 3/14/14)
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How Africa Tweets: New Study Reveals Continent's Leading Tweeting Cities
Africa is experiencing an extraordinary transformation but few areas have seen such fundamental change as communications. Thanks largely to the incredible rate of adoption of mobile phones, the way people speak to each other, share opinions and access information and services has been revolutionized in a handful of years. Business consultancy McKinsey estimates that more than 720 million Africans out of a population of one billion now have mobile phones. The rise of smartphones means that 167 million already use the internet and 52 million are on Facebook. The figure is increasing fast by the day.
See the full article (CNN, Allan Kamau, 3/12/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "National Dialogue in Sudan: Options and Outcomes" on March, 24, 2014 at 12:30pm.
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In Iran, a Battle Over Control of Media and Culture is Heating Up
A long-smoldering battle over government control of media and culture in Iran is heating up, as opposing political forces fight over where the limits should be drawn on access to information. President Hassan Rouhani and his supporters say that press restrictions should be reduced and that the public should be trusted with greater access to the Internet and television. Hard-line conservatives, meanwhile, argue that such freedom would undermine Iran's Islamic rule.
See the full article (Washington Post, Jason Rezaian, 3/13/14)
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Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

Unarmed and Dangerous by Lauren Wolfe
Leonie Kyakimwa Wangivirwa is a petite, tired-looking woman whose life has been punctuated by violence. She bears a sizable keloid scar on her upper arm where her flesh was once badly torn during an arrest for her work educating women about their rights. She is one of thousands and thousands of women who have been targets of sexualized violence perpetrated by men over nearly two decades in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But unlike the majority of cases reported in Western media, Wangivirwa was violated not only by combatants, but also by so-called "ordinary civilians."
See the full article

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Technology and Science

Privacy in the War Without End
"In the legislative framework, are we still a nation at war? Is that conflict temporary or permanent?" said Philip J. Crowley, the former United States assistant secretary of state for public affairs. "If the Authorization to Use Military Force does still hold, you're in permanent conflict. If it doesn't, you go to an old or a new 'normal. Our army will not be at war, but our technology will be, in the form of drones and online security enforcement," he said.
See the full article (New York Times, Quentin Hardy, 3/17/14)*NYT subscription may be required to access full story
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Fighting a Cyber War from Deep Beneath London
Deep in a bunker beneath Westminster, in the Cabinet War Rooms that were the top-secret heart of government during the Second World War, dozens of people gather around a television. Although it is not the stuff of fiction - many governments now have cyber warfare divisions and traditional conflicts are often accompanied by online attacks.
See the full article (Telegraph, Matthew Sparkes, 3/17/14)
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Ukraine (Cyber) War in Full Swing
With cyber attacks already launched against Crimean separatists, the Kremlin and Nato, the ground war may not have started in Ukraine but computer warfare is already raging. In recent days - and with increasing intensity on Sunday - a virtual war has commenced in the countries at the centre of the worst East-West diplomatic crisis since the end of the Cold War.
See the full article (News24, 3/17/14)
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Fight to End Violence Against Women Goes High-Tech
In an ideal 21st century world, there would be no violence - against women or any other group. The naive assumption would be that social strides would match technological progress going into a more enlightened future. But in this imperfect world, where violence against women remains a real, global phenomenon, technology is coming to the aid of those seeking to end it.
See the full article (Voice of America, Aida Akl, 3/14/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "First Impressions of the Afghan Elections: Field Reports from Kabul, Analysis from Washington" on April, 9, 2014 at 10:00am.
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US Defends Mass Surveillance at UN
Representatives for the United States government defended the National Security Agency's controversial surveillance programs before a hearing of the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland last week. The US is one of 74 signatories that has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and as a result must be scrutinized every five years by an 18-person UN panel that focuses particularly on allegations of human rights abuses.
See the full article (Reuters, Jason Reed, 3/17/14)
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Russia's Youth Want Internet Freedom, Widening 'Censorship Gap'
The Russia of President Vladimir Putin has not cultivated a reputation as a bastion of freedom, but a Pew survey out Wednesday suggests younger Russians may be more liberty-loving than the stereotype suggests - at least when it comes to the Internet. Among Russians as a whole, just 63% say it is important that people have access to the Internet free from government censorship.
See the full article (Time, Denver Nicks, 3/19/14)
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