PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, August 7 - 13, 2014


Peace Channel

Featured Story:
On Israel's Defeat in Gaza

by David Kothkopf

Media and Social Media

Technology and Science

Media and Social Media

Italian Journalist Among Five Dead in Gaza Bomb-Disposal Accident
The bombs had stopped falling on the Gaza Strip, so a crew from The Associated Press set out Wednesday morning to do a story on the people who pick them up. Two of the journalists, an Italian videographer and a local Palestine helping him with arrangements and translation, were killed along with three members of Gaza's unexploded-ordnance squad as they were attempting to defuse what officials described as an Israeli bomb that detonated.
See the full article (New York Times, Jodi Rudoren and Fares Akram, 8/13/14)*NYT subscription may be required to access full story
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Social Media and Modern Warfare
The advent of social media has however really changed the way wars are represented and news consumed - and by extension peoples' attitudes towards specific wars. No longer are citizens reliant on official transcripts or field reports of battles, rather information can be gleaned almost instantaneously. We have been inundated with blogs, tweets, status updates, comments on status updates and comments on news reports.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Adam Fisch, 8/11/14)
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How Twitter Has Changed Warfare Forever
If we saw Iraq through our TV screens, then we're seeing Gaza through our newsfeeds. Just as the Gulf War was known by media commentators as the "CNN war", due to the power of their live updates on Desert Storm, the ongoing conflict in Gaza looks set to be remembered as the first ever social media war. How has this come about and what will be the impact for governments, soldiers and civilians? Instant Twitter reporting circumvents any potential filters or editors, whether through government censorship or the policies of media outlets.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Danny coleman-Cooke, 8/11/14)
Click to read "Iraq: Islamic Militants, Breakup and Other Tough Questions on Twitter" an Olive Branch Post by Steven Ruder.
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Ukraine conflict: Turning Up the TV Heat
Television channels in Russia and Ukraine are using emotive language in their coverage of the conflict in the east of Ukraine, with Moscow-based channels employing particularly strong terms to compare Ukrainian authorities with Nazism. Russian state TV's coverage of the crisis has been consistently sensationalist, using a wide repertoire of propaganda techniques to incite revulsion and hostility towards the authorities in Kiev.
See the full article (BBC, 8/10/14)
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Truth and Propaganda: The Other Two Foes in Gaza's War
My social networks followed me into the war and collided with others - a reminder that warfare has become newly alive with information. The basic suite of tools journalists use has only been around six or seven years - so Gaza is one of the earliest glimpses into how propaganda and truth might intersect in 21st-century warfare.
See the full article (Guardian, Paul Mason, 8/10/14)
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Tweet Offensive: U.S. Announces Iraq Airstrikes on Twitter
Rear Adm. John Kirby kept his major announcement about Iraq on Friday morning short - as in less than 140 characters. Instead of a news conference or TV announcement, the Pentagon's press secretary took to Twitter to break the news that U.S. forces would drop bombs on ISIS artillery in Iraq.
See the full article (NBC, 8/8/14)
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The War Photo No One Would Publish
On February 28, 1991, Kenneth Jarecke stood in front of the charred man, parked amid the carbonized bodies of his fellow soldiers, and photographed him. The image and its anonymous subject might have come to symbolize the Gulf War. Instead, it went unpublished in the United States, not because of military obstruction but because of editorial choices. It's hard to calculate the consequences of a photograph's absence.
See the full article (The Atlantic, Torie Rose DeGhett, 8/8/14)
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Hashtag Diplomacy Won't Save Lives
Do you remember #BringBackOurGirls, the social media campaign launched to help rescue 276 girls abducted from a secondary school in northeast Nigeria? Well it turns out that the online campaign has been no match for Boko Haram, a group of men willing to prey on the weak and defenseless and die for the cause of establishing an Islamic state.
See the full article (USA Today, Gary Bauer, 8/7/14)
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Azerbaijan's President Threatens War with Armenia via Twitter
The self-proclaimed Islamic State, formerly known by the acronym ISIS, is actively recruiting Western women and girls. And in the process this "caliphate" that now occupies large swathes of Syria and Iraq is showing, once again, that it's almost as shrewd with social media as it is ruthless on the battlefield.
See the full article (Daily Beast, Jamie Dettmer, 8/7/14)
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Israel, Gaza, War & Data: Social Networks and the Art of Personalizing Propaganda
While war rages on the ground in Gaza and across Israeli skies, there's an all-out information war unraveling in social networked spaces. As we construct our online profiles based on what we already know, what we're interested in, and what we're recommended, social networks are perfectly designed to reinforce our existing beliefs. Personalized spaces, optimized for engagement, prioritize content that is likely to generate more traffic; the more we click, share, like, the higher engagement tracked on the service. Content that makes us uncomfortable, is filtered out.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Gilad Lotan, 8/7/14)
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The ISIS Online Campaign Luring Western Girls to Jihad
The self-proclaimed Islamic State, formerly known by the acronym ISIS, is actively recruiting Western women and girls. And in the process this "caliphate" that now occupies large swathes of Syria and Iraq is showing, once again, that it's almost as shrewd with social media as it is ruthless on the battlefield.
See the full article (Daily Beast, Jamie Dettmer, 8/7/14)
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Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

On Israel's Defeat in Gaza by David Kothkopf
Whenever this most recent conflict is seen to be over, it will not be remembered for the security logic behind it or the speeches justifying it. Nor will it be remembered for the tactical gains that Israel may have achieved. No, the lasting image this war will leave the world is of four boys on a beach, playing soccer and then running for their lives, hurtled from a carefree moment of childhood to oblivion in the blink of an eye. There is no Iron Dome that can protect Israel from images like that.
See the full article

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Technology and Science

Five Police Investigated After Delhi Launches WhatsApp Anti-Bribery Campaign
Five policemen in India are being investigated for alleged corruption after officials received complaints on a newly-launched helpline number. Since its launch on 6 August, the helpline has received more than 3,700 WhatsApp messages and 622 calls. Officials said they had received two video and three audio messages and were investigating the reported incidents.
See the full article (BBC, 8/13/14)
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How Data Scientists Are Uncovering War Crimes in Syria
For more than three years, Syria has been crippled by a bloody civil war that has laid waste to cities and exacted a heavy civilian toll. One group of researchers, though, is determined to document every single killing. Through painstaking data-gathering and assiduous verification, the group Syrian Tracker has tallied 111,915 deaths in the course of the conflict so far. Syria Tracker gets reports from eyewitnesses and volunteers on the ground. Researchers also cull data from news reports.
See the full article (Mashable, Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, 8/12/14)
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Meet the American Who Wants to Save Egypt's Bread
The rising price of bread was one reason Hosni Mubarak lost power in Egypt. Food inflation is one reason his replacement, Mohammed Morsi, also lost the job. The emerging world is a market that frightens off a lot of-maybe the vast majority of-American investors. But Blumberg believes in his technology. His company designed a series of modular storage bins that deflect the sun's heat, keep grain dry and provide security measures against theft.
See the full article (NBC News, Jane Wells, 8/12/14)
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Middle East Tech News: All You Need to Know From the Last Three Months
The past few months have seen a raft of rich new research reports published about media and technology in the Middle East. From a study into media use by Northwestern University in Qatar, through to the Dubai School of Government's 6th Arab Social Media Report and ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller's annual Arab Youth Survey; these detailed studies provide a number of fresh insights into evolving attitudes and technology based behaviours in this fast changing region.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Damian Radcliffe, 8/12/14)
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Against All Odds: From Iraq to Silicon Valley
Martin Hermez, the 21 year-old founder and CEO of Tivvi; a soon to be launched social network mobile application company based in Silicon Valley and his team are among those few. Martin was born in Baghdadand spent more than half his life under the iron-fist rule of Sadaam Hussein. Martin and his immediate family escaped Baghdad via a perilous 12-hour road trip to Jordan, leaving the rest of their family behind. Months later, on July 4 2003, they arrived in Detroit with one month's rent at their disposal and unable to speak English.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Kirk-Anthony Hamilton, 8/12/14)
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Diaspora Nigerians Return to Empower Youngsters in Technology
Recently, a one-week computer programming and robotics mentorship programme took place at the Digital Bridge Institute, Abuja. Adebisi Oje is the convener and CEO of Africode, an initiative developed to help youngsters in Nigeria to learn the basics of coding. Young, energetic and passionate, she said Nigerian youth deserve better knowledge in information technology.
See the full article (AllAfrica, Yunus Abdulhamid and Mulikatu Malika, 8/11/14)
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Should We Make Games about Israel/Palestine?
Are some topics just too taboo to be tackled by gaming? This week, a controversial game called "Bomb Gaza" was pulled from the Google Play store after a public backlash. Designed for Androids and tablets, the game's stated aim was to "drop bombs and avoid killing civilans". Inevitably, the game drew a slew of negative reviews and negative commentary before it was eventually taken down by Google, who said it violated their policies.
See the full article (Guardian, Elena Cresci, 8/8/14)
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Did we miss anything?



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