PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, June 5 - 11, 2014


Peace Channel

Featured Story:
To Save Lives, or Not to Save Lives

by Rachel Brandenburg

Media and Social Media

Technology and Science

Media and Social Media

Egypt Wants Greater Monitoring of Bloggers, Social Media
For years it's been known that the Egyptian government has been monitoring the private electronic communications of certain citizens, notably activists like Salem. Newly leaked documents show the Egyptian government now wants to greatly expand its monitoring of Egyptians' use of social media, hauling in massive amounts of data on just about everyone online in Egypt.
See the full article (VOA, Doug Bernard, Mohamed Elshinnawi, 6/11/14)
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Why The Terrorists Are Winning in Iraq-And How That Could Cost Them Everything
Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, was seized Tuesday by members of a militant Islamist group that was disowned by al Qaeda for being too extreme and uncompromising. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS) now controls a transnational and still-growing kingdom that stretches across northern Syria and into western and northern Iraq. And they're spreading fear even further, with a brutally effective and disconcertingly accurate social media campaign.
See the full article (Daily Beast, Jacob Siegel, 6/10/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Militant Sweep in Iraq: A Twitter Chat on the Latest Developments" on June, 13, 2014 at 10:00am.
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Murder of Two More Radio Journalists Shows Need for Greater Protection
The murder of two journalists within four days in Honduras highlights the urgent need for more effective protection to be provided to media workers, says PEN International. Community radio journalist Hernán Cruz Barnica was killed in the department of Copán on 28 May and disc jockey Óscar Anthony Torres Martínez was murdered in Olancho department on 1 June 2014. These are the first journalists to be killed in the country since the inauguration of President Juan Orlando Hernández in January 2014.
See the full article (Ifex, 6/10/14)
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Intimidated Journalists in Pakistan Cannot Exercise Press Freedom
Press freedom no longer exists in Pakistan. Journalism is under constant threat with both broadcast and newspaper journalists being intimidated into silence. The treatment of the popular Urdu-language channel, Geo News, is but the latest example of the way in which the authorities are seeking to close off any hint of criticism.
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 6/9/14)
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Thailand Social Network: The Junta's Answer to Pesky Freedom of Speech
What would Facebook look like if it was censored and run by a military junta? We're guessing, not amazing. But we may have to speculate no longer, if the Thai military has its independent thought-crushing way. The Global Post has reported the emergence of a Thailand Social Network, an easy-to-censor platform created by the junta, for the oppressed.
See the full article (Wired, Liat Clark, 6/9/14)
Click to read "U.S.-China Cooperation on North Korea: What are the Options?" an Olive Branch Post by Stephanie T. Kleine-Ahlbrandt.
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Facebook Pressed to Return Money from Ads Promoting Syrian President
Facebook is facing pressure to return money it accepted to run ads promoting its page for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's presidential campaign. The social media network has pulled the ads, which directed users to the campaign page, but it has refused to say whether it will return the money it took in exchange for them.
See the full article (CNN, Samuel Burke, 6/9/14)
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Journalists: The Unwitting Pawns of Government Cyber Warfare
To win at the government's cyber game and to avoid inadvertently becoming a mouthpiece for propaganda, a journalist's best bet is to go gonzo, says innovator and information activist Smári McCarthy in his talk "Lies, propaganda and CyberCyberCyberCyberLOL" at Mezhyhirya Festival in Ukraine. McCarthy was brought in by the Ministry of Defence last year to help the Defence Academy figure out what its policy should be in terms of cyberwar.
See the full article (Wired, Katie Collins, 6/9/14)
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Social Media Played Big Role in India's Election
The sweeping victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the recent Indian elections has been attributed to factors ranging from slowing economic growth to high levels of corruption. But for the first time in the country's history, social media played an important role, according to analysts who are calling the vote India's first "social media elections."
See the full article (VOA, Idrees Ali, 6/6/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Global Innovators: Women Leading Change Around the World" on June, 19, 2014 at 9:00am.
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Leading Pakistani Geo TV Channel is Ordered Off Air
Pakistan's Electronic Media Regularity Authority has suspended the licence of the country's largest and most influential TV station for 15 days. Since April, the Geo TV channel has been embroiled in a defamation row with the powerful ISI intelligence agency. The ISI says the channel has unfairly linked the agency to an attack on a Geo talk show host in Karachi. But officials from Geo, Pakistan's most watched news channel, have described the licence suspension as unfair.
See the full article (BBC, 6/6/14)
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Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

To Save Lives, or Not to Save Lives by Rachel Brandenburg
The humanitarian crisis in Syria is incomprehensible -- and getting worse. The international community is acutely aware of the need for humanitarian assistance to reach all parts of Syria, yet there are at least three obstacles standing in the way: first, a lack of funding; second, the Syrian government limiting access to humanitarian aid providers; and third, indecision at the U.N. over whether or not to defy the Assad regime's restrictions on getting into and working in the country. If these challenges are not overcome, another generation of Syrians will be lost to violent conflict.
See the full article

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Technology and Science

Can Ukraine Win Its Information War With Russia?
Vladimir Putin may be playing cat and mouse with Ukraine on the military front, but Russia has long mobilized the big battalions in its international information war: the Kremlin spends hundreds of millions of dollars on English-language broadcasting, intellectual influencers, PR firms, and cultural-diplomacy campaigns. Ukraine, meanwhile, has no international voice or image. How do you win a modern information war against a far more powerful enemy?
See the full article (Atlantic, Peter Pomerantsev, 6/11/14)
Click to read "Blue-and-Yellow Shoe Laces: Ukrainian Unity in an Unlikely Spot" an Olive Branch Post by William B. Taylor.
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CrisisNET Speedily Aggregates Social Data in Disaster Situations
Not-for-profit software company Ushahidi has launched CrisisNET, an open-source platform that it claims will dramatically reduce the amount of time that it takes journalists, analysts and humanitarian organisations to get their hands on well-structured, crowdsourced data in the midst of conflict and disaster. The organisation has a track record of helping to gather data from social media during natural disasters and political revolutions -- it was formed in the aftermath of the disputed 2007 Kenyan presidential election -- but the sheer quantity that it now pulls in is expensive to clean and format at speed.
See the full article (Wired, Katie Collins, 6/10/14)
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DR Congo Minerals: Most Mines 'Conflict Free' Since US Law
More than two-thirds of mines in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo which produced "conflict minerals" four years ago are no longer run by warlords, a report by US-based Enough Project says. It follows a US law implemented in 2010 which required firms to determine the origin of minerals used in products. Tin, tantalum and tungsten, used to make computers and mobile phones, used to generate $185m (£110m) a year for armed groups, the report said.
See the full article (BBC, 6/10/14)
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Can We Cure Violence?
Violence is contagious, this we know. Time and again, researchers have found that exposure to aggression links directly to increases in violent behavior. This is why, for example, 30% of abused children grow up to be abusers themselves. It's also why, as Gary Slutkin, a professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Illinois, Chicago and the executive director of CURE Violence, recently told New Scientist: "[P]eople who have observed violence are 30 times more likely to commit it. Under certain conditions it can be up to 100 to 1,000 times more likely."
See the full article (Forbes, Steven Kotler, 6/9/14)
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Human Rights Investigators Using Technology to Gather War Crime Evidence, as E-Team Documentary Shows
War crime investigators say new technology is being used to bring those responsible for atrocities to justice. E-Team, a new documentary screening at the Sydney Film Festival, shows human rights workers in Syria and Lybia collecting information about mass shootings, gas attacks, and missile strikes on civilian homes.
See the full article (ABC News, John Stewart, 6/7/14)
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