PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, March 27 - April 2, 2014


Technology and Science

Media and Social Media

Turkey's Constitutional Court: Twitter Ban Violates Free Speech
The Twitter ban imposed by Turkey's government violates freedom of expression and individual rights, said the country's Constitutional Court after a unanimous vote on Wednesday. The ban caused mass protests and public uproar. The Court unanimously ruled the embargo is a violation of free speech guaranteed by Article 26 of the Constitution. According to the Hurriyet Daily, an order to lift the ban has been issued.
See the full article (RT, 4/2/14)
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Pavel Durov Resigns As Head Of Russian Social Network, Ukraine Conflict Was The Tipping Point
Pavel Durov, the founder of, has announced on his page that he has stepped down as the head of the social network - Russia's largest, with over 100 million users - after he said that it became "increasingly difficult" to run the social network after ownership changes put pressure on the company preserving its freedom of speech ethic.
See the full article (TechCrunch, Ingrid Lunden, 4/1/14)
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From Civil War to the Refugee Camp to the Newsroom
Born in a remote village in eastern Burma's Karen State, where civil war raged for decades and education opportunities are very limited, I could have never imagined I would one day have the opportunity to become a professional journalist writing for a Burmese and international audience. Despite many challenges on the way, I became one of the first ethnic Karen to join a journalism training course at The Irrawaddy.
See the full article (Irrawaddy, Saw Yan Naing, 4/1/14)
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A Reporter Clutches Life After a Loss That Hits Home
For journalists here, reporting at the site of a NATO airstrike or a Taliban suicide attack is part of the job. It's hard, but now routine. So for many of us, the report of gunfire at the Serena Hotel on March 21, the eve of the Persian New Year, began as just another story. We were wrong, though. It quickly became personal. Among those killed was a great Afghan journalist, our friend - my friend -- Sardar Ahmed.
See the full article (New York Times, Habib Zahori, 4/1/14)*NYT subscription may be required to access full story
Click to read "Don't Underestimate Afghanistan's Young Voters" an Olive Branch Post by Spogmay Waziri Kakar.
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Egyptian Journalist Shot Dead
An Egypt journalist, Mayada Ashraf, was shot dead on Friday (28 March) while covering clashes in Cairo. It is unknown who was responsible for her death. Ashraf was a reporter for the daily newspaper Al-Dustour, which is known for its criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood. Her most recent report included a description of the Brotherhood as a terrorist group.
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 3/31/14)
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Why Pakistan is So Dangerous for Journalists
Journalism in Pakistan has always been marked with bloodshed and fraught with risks, but the recent round of violence against journalists appears to be part of a systematic campaign to stem dissent to militant groups. Few know why they are being targeted, but the future looks bleak for the viability of an independent Pakistani press and the safety of journalists in the country.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Saba Imtiaz, 3/31/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Pakistan: Economic and Stabilization Prospects" on April, 8, 2014 at 3:00pm.
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'The Voice Of Baghdad'
On Saturday night Baghdad came to a standstill. At 8:15pm local time people began to go home. Shops were shuttered and cafés closed. The reason? Well, it wasn't for security reasons and the violence that plagues this city. The hugely popular talent show "The Voice" was broadcasting its final show at 9pm.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, Imran Khan, 3/30/14)
Click to read "PeaceTech Camps Bolster Iraqi Civil Society with New Skills" an Olive Branch Post by Tim Receveur.
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Turkey's War On Social Media Could Scare Off Foreign Investment
When Turkey's embattled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan blocked Twitter last week, Deniz Oktar, a 29-year-old CEO and co-founder of two tech startups, was more than a little worried. And after the government moved to block YouTube on Thursday, citing national security concerns, Oktar says he began to fear the worst.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Sophia Jones, 3/27/14)
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Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

Leave None to Tell the Other Story by Michela Wrong
20 years after the Rwandan genocide, is Paul Kagame's government assassinating its critics? Examples of Rwandans who have been shot, stabbed, tortured, disappeared, abducted, and threatened while Kagame has won these international friends and admirers fills eight pages in the Human Rights Watch report "Repression Across Borders," published in January.
See the full article

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Technology and Science

Why Google Maps gets Africa Wrong
Maps of Africa, drawn up by a small group of western cartographers, symbolically reinforced Europeans' sense of control over their mapped territories and subjects, but they didn't betray much in the way of real information. Fast-forwarding to today it may seem like the situation is completely different. Access to maps is no longer confined to a small western elite. And mapmaking no longer seems so ideologically charged, but far more scientific and technical. In today's maps, Africa arguably gets as rough a deal as it always has.
See the full article (Guardian, James Wan, 4/2/14)
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NASA Orders Its Staff to Stop Talking to Russia, Because Crimea
America's space agency has always been a key player in diplomacy. NASA led the way in the space race of the 1960s, and later served as the basis for peaceful cooperation between Russia and the United States in the 1990s and 2000s. Now NASA has become the flashpoint again for tensions between the two countries - this time over the conflict in Crimea, according to an internal agency memo. The memo directs NASA officials to stop talking to their Russian counterparts. That means no e-mail, teleconferences, or bilateral meetings of any kind.
See the full article (Washington Post, Brian Fung, 4/2/14)
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'Nigeria's Mark Zuckerberg' Puts Tech into Higher Learning
At 23, many people around the world are still at university -- at that age, Gossy Ukanwoke had already started one. The young entrepreneur is the founder of Beni American University (BAU), Nigeria's first private online university. Launched in late 2012, the school allows students to access their classes at any time of the day with any internet-enabled device.
See the full article (CNN, Teo Kermeliotis and Jessica Ellis, 4/2/14)
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Let's Build A Tech Startup In ... Rwanda?
Top tech entrepreneurs and financiers are not necessarily queuing up to kick off an enterprise in Rwanda. That said, sub-Saharan Africa is on the radar of private equity firms and the country is one of five taking the bulk of that foreign capital influx. Plus, Africa in general has the tech world's attention as an emerging market. Rwanda's recent past may evoke images of machetes and strife but it would be foolish not to recognize that emerging markets are nothing if not rich in potential.
See the full article (Forbes, Karsten Strauss, 4/1/14)
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Anonymous Unmasked
Since its inception in 2003 as an online anarchist collective, Anonymous has been grabbing headlines with their cyber attacks on government, corporate and various other targets. But who are they? High Times speaks to the greatest hacktivists of our generation.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Chris Parker, 4/1/14)
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Academics Launch Bid to Lift The Digital Fog Of War
British researchers have launched a five year project which will help equip soldiers with the technology to tackle the battlefield of the future. Engineers at the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University in Scotland have begun a $6.7million (£4million) research scheme aimed at allowing troops to interpret signals from a variety of sources, including mobile phones as well as high end radar systems.
See the full article (Forbes, Jasper Hamill, 3/31/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming "First Impressions of the Afghan Elections: Field Reports from Kabul, Analysis from Washington" on April, 9, 2014 at 12:00pm.
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Google Exec: Technology Is Not Silver Bullet to Solve World's Problems
We all love technology & we all believe in its power. But we are reminded by Putin's domestic crackdown, the annexation of Crimea and the perpetual horrors in Syria, that technology is not a silver bullet answer to the world's problems.
See the full article (NBC News, Petra Cahill, 3/29/14)
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