PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, April 10 - 16, 2014


Peace Channel

Featured Story:
How to Beat A Russian Occupation with Flash Mobs

by Maria Stephan and Maciej Bartkowski

Media and Social Media

Technology and Science

Media and Social Media

The Dangers of Being a Journalist in Pakistan
For years, Pakistan has been considered one of the most dangerous countries for the press - But according to the report there has been modest improvement, with the recent convictions of six people for the killing of a television journalist. For many journalists, the risks still remain as Pakistan ranks tenth on the Impunity Index.
See the full article (BBC, 4/16/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Pakistan and the South Asia Region" on April, 23, 2014 at 10:00am.
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Syria is the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. More than 60 have been killed there since the war began, and many others have been kidnapped, becoming pawns in the conflict. The author picks up the trail of two colleagues, Austin Tice and Jim Foley, who vanished in 2012.
See the full article (Vanity Fair, May, 2014)
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Turkey Wants to Tax Facebook and Twitter
In a new stage in Turkey's strife against U.S. social media companies, the Turkish government now wants Twitter and Facebook to pay taxes to its treasury - despite the fact that neither have an office in Turkey. All social media companies that do business in Turkey should pay taxes to the Turkish Government and have an office in the country, said Turkey's Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek in a press conference on Tuesday, according to news reports.
See the full article (Mashable, Lorenzo Francheschi-Bicchierai, 4/15/14)
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How Researchers Use Social Media To Map The Conflict In Syria
The Syria Conflict Mapping Project is an initiative launched by the Center to examine the massive amounts of citizen-generated information related to the Syrian conflict that is available online. Posts on social media help to detail the growth of opposition armed groups in each governorate within Syria; show the current geographic delineation of pro and anti-government forces and provides up-to-date analysis on the current state of the conflict.
See the full article (Forbes, Federico Guerrini, 4/15/14)
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Afghan Voters Turn to Social Media to Fight Fraud
Fed-up with the massive rigging that took place in previous elections, Afghan voters have been using social media to highlight alleged fraud, and officials are starting to take notice. Smartphone videos of ballots being stuffed at breakneck speed, voter harassment outside polling booths, and papers scattered in the street would raise serious questions about a vote's viability in the West.
See the full article (AFP, 4/14/15)
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Leftist Presidential Candidate in Egypt Sees Media Bias for Sisi
Leftist presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabahi on Sunday bemoaned what he called Egyptian media's "blatant" backing for his prime opponent, former army chief Abdel Fattah Sisi. "The media are promoting an image that all Egyptians will undoubtedly vote for Sisi, and this is against the reality of Egyptians who have deposed two [ruling] regimes," Sabahi said.
See the full article (Los Angeles Times, Amro Hassan, 4/13/14)
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Myanmar Newspapers Go Black to Protest Over Jailed Journalist
Several newspapers in Myanmnar have printed black front pages to protest against recent arrests and jail terms handed out to journalists. The protest comes after a court on Monday jailed a journalist for a year over charges that included "disturbing a public servant" and trespass.
See the full article (BBC, 4/11/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "China's Roles in the World" on April, 25, 2014 at 8:30am.
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The Decline of Iran's Blogestan
Iran became a "nation of bloggers" between early 2000 and 2009, as a vibrant, diverse set of online blogs became the platform for expression for thousands of Iranians, ranging from political activists, poets and sports fans to the often-overlooked class of hardline religious conservatives. This Persian blogosphere, or "Blogestan," however, is not what it used to be.
See the full article (Washington Post, Fred Petrossian, Arash Abadpour and Mahsa Alimardani, 4/11/14)
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For Afghan Journalists, Election Brings a Sense of National Duty
As the raucous news outlets of Afghanistan have come into their own in recent years, they have taken to criticizing government officials and institutions with an enthusiasm that borders on glee. So it is a measure of the urgency that Afghans are feeling about their presidential election that even the country's gadfly class has eased up on the criticism and taken on more of a cheerleader role for the political process.
See the full article (New York Times, Azam Ahmed and Habib Zahori, 4/11/14)*NYT subscription may be required to access full story
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Triumph of the Will: Putin's War Against Russia's Last Independent TV Channel
Vladimir Putin won the war in Crimea without a bullet being fired. But to triumph in a very different war - that against independent Russian media - he didn't even have to bring in the army. In today's Russia, there are very different instruments for this kind of thing.
See the full article (Guardian, Tikhon Dzyadko, 4/10/14)
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Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

How to Beat A Russian Occupation with Flash Mobs by Maria Stephan and Maciej Bartkowski
The prospect of Russian incursion raises the question of how Ukrainians -- outnumbered, outgunned, and more than likely unsupported by Western militaries -- might be able to resist. Though there have been murmurs of Moscow's troops being met with a guerilla campaign, Ukrainians best hope for challenging Russian aggression might be to follow the same method used to oust Kiev's venally corrupt regime: civil resistance.
See the full article

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Technology and Science

Darpa Turns Aging Surveillance Drones Into Wi-Fi Hotspots
A fleet of surveillance drones once deployed in the skies over Iraq is being repurposed to provide aerial Wi-Fi in far-flung corners of the world, according to Darpa. RQ-7 Shadow drones that the Army flew in Iraq for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions are now becoming wireless hubs for connectivity in remote conflict zones where challenging communication environments can mean the difference between being ambushed and getting reinforcements.
See the full article (Wired, Allen McDuffee, 4/15/14)
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Drone Wars Are Heating up Between Google and Facebook
Drone wars are heating up between Google and Facebook, as the two internet giants vie with each other to take the high ground - literally - in the battle for the eyeballs of the planet. In the battle that has been shaping up for several years now, the number one and number two websites on the planet are each seeking to gain the upper hand over the other. That battle now has moved from ground zero to the skies overhead, as Google and Facebook vie for control over what might be called aerial resources as the rivals go head to head in the war for market share in the air.
See the full article (Guardian, Alan Milner, 4/15/14)
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Eight Hopeful Legacies of the Arab Spring
Many of the demographic and technological forces that underpinned the Arab Spring are still in place. The Arab population is young and increasingly well educated, Momani reminded the audience. And, thanks to the Internet and other new technologies, young people have access to a lot more news and information than their parents did, which makes it more difficult for the élites to manipulate, or to ignore, them.
See the full article (New Yorker, John Cassidy, 4/14/14)
Click to read "Bosnia's Protests: What Will it Take to Spur Change?" an Olive Branch Post by Viola Gienger.
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Warp Speed Ahead
Pakistan's information communications and technology sector is resilient. Despite the country's widely-reported economic challenges, this sector has been one of the largest contributors to the economy over the last decade. Islamabad is committed not simply to preserving these gains but building on them, sustainably and cleanly.
See the full article (Newsweek, Anusha Rahman Khan, 4/12/14)
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Internet Freedom in Myanmar: A Curse or An Opportunity?
Nearly three years ago, after decades of military rule, the country began a transition toward civilian rule. A year later, prior restraint of the media was abolished and the Internet - once among the most restricted in the world - opened up. Today, the Burmese can access whatever they want online. But such freedom has come with a price.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, Jillian C. York, 4/11/14)
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Somalia in High Speed Internet 'Culture Shock'
Some residents of Somalia's capital have been experiencing a form of "culture shock" since fibre optic services launched over the last week, an Internet provider has told the BBC. The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group issued a directive in January ordering all Internet services to be stopped, saying those who did not comply would be seen as "working with the enemy" and dealt with according to Islamic law.
See the full article (BBC, 4/10/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Progress or Peril in Somalia?" on April, 22, 2014 at 10:00am.
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