PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, May 8 - 14, 2014


Technology and Science

Media and Social Media

Colombia Rebel Group Releases Rap Video To Rally Support For Peace Talks
Colombia's largest rebel group is trying to rally support for peace talks with a new rap video. The fast-paced video that began circulating on social media Tuesday is called "Colombians, everybody to the peace talks." It was produced by negotiators in Havana for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia along with Cuban rappers Cuentas Claras.
See the full article (AP, 5/14/14)
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Nigeria Abductions: Will Publicity Hinder Negotiations?
While the Nigerian government says it is ready to hold talks with the Islamist group Boko Haram, the chances are that intermediaries are already involved in behind-the-scenes efforts to secure the release of the more than 200 school girls being held captive by the militants. However, their task is probably far more difficult because of the media glare on Nigeria - a point ex-US Navy Seal Dan O'Shea makes: "This case has brought such worldwide attention that it takes that option off the table for the Nigerian government."
See the full article (BBC, Farouk Chothia, 5/13/14)
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#BBCtrending: The Women in Iran Taking Off the Hijab
Women across Iran are posting photos of themselves without the hijab to a dedicated Facebook page called "My Stealthy Freedom". The Facebook page was set up just over a week ago, and already has 130,000 "likes". Almost all are from people in Iran, both men and women.
See the full article (BBC, 5/12/14)
Click to read "Countdown to the Final Iran Nuclear Deal" an Olive Branch Post by Robin Wright.
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'Palestine' Newspaper Sold In West Bank For First Time In Seven Years
A pro-Islamist newspaper was sold in the West Bank on Saturday for the first time in seven years, another sign of a Palestinian unity pact that prompted Israel to suspend peace talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. His Palestinian Authority (PA) permitted printers to roll out the tabloid, "Falasteen", Arabic for Palestine, three days after Hamas Islamists in control of Gaza allowed a leading West Bank daily to be sold in their midst.
See the full article (Reuters, 5/11/14)
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The Twitter War: Social Media's Role in Ukraine Unrest
As is the rule today, social media played a part in bringing the events in Odessa to light. At least two web videos live streamed the initial clashes between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian activists and then showed fighting at the trade union building. Twitter provided photos, updates, and commentary. Facebook was inundated with postings.
See the full article (National Geographic, David Stern, 5/10/14)
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World's Media Under Growing Pressure
At first glance, the rapidly changing ways information is produced, distributed and consumed should be signs of a golden age for the world's press. A broader range of professionals as well as citizen journalists and bloggers are writing, broadcasting and posting information in a larger variety of ways. Their news is traveling faster and reaching larger audiences. But the world's media is facing significant new pressures and growing dangers in almost every region of the world.
See the full article (CNN, Karin Deutsch Karlekar, 5/10/15)
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Egypt's El-Sissi Tells Media Not to Push Freedoms
Egypt's top presidential candidate, the former military chief, warned newspaper editors not to press issues of freedoms of speech and other rights or campaign for democratic reforms, saying demands and protests jeopardize national security and that full democracy is an "idealistic" goal that could take 25 years to reach.
See the full article (AP, Maggie Michael, 5/8/14)
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North Korea Media Calls Obama A 'Wicked Black Monkey'
North Korea's state news agency KCNA resorted to sickening racist language to lash out at Barack Obama this week, calling the U.S. president "reminiscent of a wicked black monkey." The editorial, which also called South Korea's President Park Geun-hye an "old prostitute," was published in English on Friday during Obama's tour of Asian nations.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Charlotte Alfred, 5/8/14)
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Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

How an Oral History Project Got the Head of Sinn Fein Arrested by Thomas Stackpole
The Justice Department subpoena arrived in May of 2011. Ten years had passed since the Boston College Belfast Project began collecting interviews from members of loyalist and republican militias during the dark period of Northern Ireland's Troubles, and the move caught the leaders of the investigative program completely off guard. The target of the Northern Ireland police's investigation, the Belfast Project researchers surmised, was the leader of Ireland's Sinn Fein party, Gerry Adams.
See the full article

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Technology and Science

Tracking the Nigerian Kidnappers
Thanks to some new tools, and the spread of some older technologies, crucial data can be gleaned to show where the kidnappers, Boko Haram, may be holed up. Everything from cell phone usage to weapons acoustics to satellite imagery can help build a more complete picture of the group and its activities.
See the full article (Reuters, Abubakar Shekau, 5/14/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict" on May, 23, 2014 at 9:30am.
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It was Simply 'Code Innovation' at Google's Code for India Contest
Mobile applications for women's safety, software to detect electoral fraud and solutions that help farmers improve crop productivity were some of the technologies developed by coders this weekend. The contest, Code for India, ran simultaneously for 24 hours on Google campuses in India and the United States.
See the full article (Economic Times, 5/13/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Exploring New Frontiers in Peacebuilding" on May, 21, 2014 at 8:30am.
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Technology Trumps Tradition in Bid to End S.Africa Mine Strike
When the world's top three platinum firms opted to tackle South Africa's worst mining strike by sidestepping the militant AMCU union, they faced a huge logistical challenge: how to contact 70,000 men spread across the country and cowed by violence. The answer was a two-pronged approach combining ancient and modern. Besides SMS and email bursts and local language radio slots, the companies called on tribal elders to help sell their pay offers to strikers.
See the full article (Reuters, Ed Stoddard, 5/13/14)
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Killer Robots Could Start New Arms Race, Human Rights Groups Say
The use of fully autonomous weapons, or killer robots, by militaries or law enforcement would be an affront to basic human rights and should be pre-emptively banned by international convention, a new report released by leading human rights groups said on Monday. It argues that killer robots contravene standards of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, the bodies of international law that cover peace and warfare.
See the full article (Al Jazeera America, Tom Katsch, 5/12/14)
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From Martin Luther King to Anonymous, the State Targets Dissenters Not Just "Bad Guys"
A prime justification for surveillance relies on projecting a view of the world that divides citizens into categories of good people and bad people. In that view, the authorities use their surveillance powers only against bad people, those who are "doing something wrong", and only they have anything to fear from the invasion of their privacy. "Doing something wrong" in the eyes of such institutions encompasses far more than illegal acts, violent behaviour and terrorist plots. It typically extends to meaningful dissent and any genuine challenge.
See the full article (Guardian, Glenn Greenwald, 5/12/14)
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Afghanistan Signs First Satellite Deal
Afghanistan on May 10 started using its first ever satellite, AFGHANSAT 1, which will support a wide range of services, including broadcasting, telecommunications, and international connectivity. The telecommunication sector and a growing digital media industry are among Afghanistan's biggest achievements since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.
See the full article (RFE/RL, 5/10/14)
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Keepod: Can a $7 Stick Provide Billions Computer Access?
The USB flash drive is one of the most simple, everyday pieces of technology that many people take for granted. Now it's being eyed as a possible solution to bridging the digital divide, by two colourful entrepreneurs behind the start-up Keepod. The test bed for the project is the slums of Nairobi in Kenya.
See the full article (BBC, Dan Simmons, 5/9/14)
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#BBCtrending: The 'Electronic Fix' for India's Filth and Corruption
Can the Internet solve India's worst problems? In Bangalore though, India's "Silicon Valley", there are people who think that tech can be the solution to India's problems. But in a country where just over 11% of the population are connected to the Internet, is this really possible?
See the full article (BBC, Mukul Devichand, 5/8/14)
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