PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, May 1 - 7, 2014


Peace Channel

Featured Story:
America's Peace Crisis

by Christopher Holshek

Media and Social Media

Technology and Science

Media and Social Media

Afghan Media Group Looks Beyond 2014 -- With Expansion In Mind
Its entertainment shows have been condemned as "un-Islamic" by conservatives and its journalists have received death threats for critical reporting about sensitive issues. But the Afghan-Australian family behind the Moby Group, which produces some of Afghanistan's most popular television shows, says it's eyeing the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country not with trepidation but with plans to expand.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Frud Bezhan, 5/7/14)
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Is #BringBackOurGirls Helping?
For weeks after the disturbing news broke that Islamist extremists had kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria, people wondered why the story wasn't the center of global attention. Although there are no doubt many other factors in the visibility of the Nigerian girls story, one factor does stand out: the remarkable rise of #BringBackOurGirls. It seems clear that the hashtag is making some kind of impact. But will that impact actually be positive for Nigeria? Or are Western tweeters falling into a trap of ineffectual, or even counter-productive, slacktivism. The answer to that is not clear.
See the full article (Washington Post, Adam Taylor, 5/6/14)
Click to read "Countering Hate Speech in South Sudan through Peace Radio" an USIP Publication by Theo Dolan.
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Iranian News Agency Removes IRGC Commander's Comments On Iranian Forces In Syria
Iran's hard-line Fars news agency has removed comments by a commander of the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), who was quoted as saying that the Islamic republic is militarily involved in Syria. Tehran has repeatedly denied that Iranian combat forces are fighting alongside the troops of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, where the conflict has left tens of thousands of dead.
See the full article (RFE/RL, 5/6/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "The Rubik's Cube (tm) of a Final Agreement" on May, 13, 2014 at 9:30am.
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Sisi Interview Fails to Win Over Egypt's Social Media Liberals
Former Egypt army chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi's first major TV interview of his presidential campaign was well-received by his numerous supporters, but it is a different story among the country's top liberal social media figures. Usually praised - even lionised - in the mainstream media, Mr Sisi faces a far tougher audience in social media, where pro-democracy campaigners, human rights activists and liberal commentators dominate the tone of discussion.
See the full article (BBC, 5/6/14)
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Pakistan Parliament Votes To Lift YouTube Ban
Pakistan's parliament has voted unanimously to lift a ban on YouTube, which has been blocked in the country since September 2012. The resolution approved on May 6 is not legally binding but nonetheless it was welcomed by free speech campaigners as a positive step.
See the full article (RFE/RL, 5/6/14)
Click to read "Pakistan's Lack of Consensus, Capacity Undercut Efforts against Militants" an Olive Branch Post by Amy Calfas.
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Meet the Censors, Propagandists and Outright Liars Who Won Putin's Pulitzers
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin formally honored over 300 Russian journalists for their "high-level professionalism" and "objectivity" in their coverage of events in Crimea. Among the awardees on Monday was Margarita Simonyan, the acid-tongued, 34-year-old editor-in-chief of the Kremlin-funded RT broadcast network. Last month, she gave full expression to Putin's territorial appetite when, at a peak of pro-Russian separatist violence in Ukraine's east, she ominously tweeted, "Ukraine, RIP."
See the full article (Daily Beast, James Kirchick, 5/5/14)
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10 Countries With the Most Journalist Deaths Since 2004
Hundreds of journalists are killed, injured or imprisoned in the line of duty each year. Reporting on issues and events in war-torn countries affected by conflict is increasingly dangerous, and the principles of press freedom are often undermined around the world. The data shows that Iraq has been the most dangerous country for journalists, with 174 total deaths since 2004.
See the full article (Mashable, Matt Petronzio, 5/5/14)
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Govt Arrests Journalists for Inciting Public to Violence Via Social Media
Six bloggers from the Zone 9 collective and three freelance journalists were rounded up from various parts of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in a coordinated, 2-day Federal Police raid last weekend. The authorities have charged all of them with "working with a foreign organization to incite public violence" via social media.
See the full article (AllAfrica, Lilian Mutegi, 5/5/14)
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Muzzling Pakistan's Media
Pakistan's media is in upheaval these days. But it's not because of the stuttering "talks" between the government and militant groups, who have publicly vowed to target journalists. The current upheaval began with the attempted assassination in Karachi on April 19 of Hamid Mir, arguably Pakistan's most recognizable talk show host and journalist.
See the full article (New York Times, Hasan Zaidi, 5/4/14)*NYT subscription may be required to access full story
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Halftime for the Brazilian Press
Since June 2013, Brazil has been the scene of sporadic but huge anti-government demonstrations that have brought millions to the streets to protest an array of grievances, from fare increases for public transport to corruption and the use of public funds to host the coming soccer World Cup. The protests sometimes turned violent; a cameraman was killed in February 2014. Throughout the demonstrations, dozens of journalists have been detained, harassed, and attacked by law enforcement and by protesters irked by some media treatment of the demonstrations.
See the full article (Committee to Protect Journalists, Carlos Lauria, 5/14)
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Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

America's Peace Crisis by Christopher Holshek
America has had a problem with peace. Even as its military power remains unmatched, the United States has seen its foreign-policy influence fall into steady decline. The string of crises where the United States has looked to soft power over hard, from Syria to Ukraine, to say nothing of Iraq and Afghanistan, has increasingly exposed the long decay of America's ability to manage peace rather than conflict.
See the full article

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Technology and Science

Breaking the Cycle of Internet Repression
"If you want to liberate a society," said Egyptian Arab Spring activist Wael Ghonim, "just give them the Internet." In retrospect, Ghonim should have qualified his statement to include the kind of Internet free societies need. Today, the optimism about free speech and the Internet that emerged during Egypt's 2011 uprising has been dashed by the Morsi and Sisi regimes, which have silenced online and traditional media and imprisoned dozens of journalists.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Timothy Karr, 5/7/14)
Click here to read about USIP's new Challenge Cup PeaceTech Prize, awarded at the "1776 Challenge Cup Finals" on May, 17, 2014 at 5:00pm to one of the 64 startups whose tools have the greatest peace-building potential.
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U.S. and U.K. Should Provide Satellite and Surveillance Technology to Free Boko Haram's Kidnapped Girls
Surveillance and other equipment has to be made available to the Nigerian authorities to root the terrorists out -- but we must also make sure that schools are safe for children to attend. Our call for satellite and air surveillance support by America and Britain is based on the urgency of the situation -- these girls may be dispersed soon. There is an obvious need to back up the Nigerian effort with high technology support.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Gordon Brown, 5/6/14)
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New Movement Aims to 'Reset the Net' Against Mass Surveillance
A coalition of nearly two-dozen tech companies and civil liberties groups is launching a new fight against mass Internet surveillance, hoping to battle the NSA in much the same way online campaigners pushed back on bad piracy legislation in 2012. The new coalition, organized by Fight for the Future, is planning a Reset the Net day of action on June 5, the anniversary of the date the first Edward Snowden story broke detailing the government's PRISM program, based on documents leaked by the former NSA contractor.
See the full article (Wired, Kim Zetter, 5/6/14)
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Out in the Open: An Open Source Website That Gives Voters a Platform to Influence Politicians
Pia Mancini, Argentine political scientist, started the Net Democracy foundation, a not-for-profit that explores ways of improving civic engagement through technology. The foundation's first project is something called Democracy OS, an online platform for debating and voting on political issues, and it's already finding a place in the world. The federal government in Mexico is using this open-source tool to gather feedback on a proposed public data policy.
See the full article (Wired, Klint Finley, 5/5/14)
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Internet Hate Speech Can Lead to Acts of Violence
Anti-Muslim hate speech on the Internet is commonplace and can motivate some people to commit acts of violence against Muslims, according to a report released Tuesday (May 6) by Muslim Advocates, a legal and advocacy group in San Francisco. "When you have threatening comments online and they go unchecked, people start thinking it's acceptable," said Madihha Ahussain, an attorney and the report's lead author. "And it doesn't take long to figure out that what becomes acceptable online becomes acceptable in the real world."
See the full article (Washington Post, Omar Sacirbey, 5/2/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "A World of Instability: Drivers of Conflict, Levers of Peace" on May, 14, 2014 at 5:00pm.
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Using New Technology to Give Voice to the Voiceless
Simply by virtue of where they live, roughly 1.5 billion people are dangerously at risk of becoming a victim of violence this year. Fortunately, new technologies -- including those being developed by the Igarapé Institute and others like Promundo, Shine-a-Light, NECA and UNICEF can help. Owing to the rapid increase in digital connectivity and access to information communication technologies, governments and non-governmental organizations are beginning to identify new ways of generating data that were previously thought impossible. As a result, young people who were previously invisible are now empowered with a louder voice to shape their own safety and security.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Robert Muggah, 5/1/14)
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