PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, August 14 - 20, 2014


Technology and Science

Media and Social Media

Video Shows ISIS Beheading U.S. Journalist James Foley
A video released by ISIS shows the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley and threatens the life of another American if President Barack Obama doesn't end military operations in Iraq. In the video posted Tuesday on YouTube, Foley is seen kneeling next to a man dressed in black. Foley reads a message, presumably scripted by his captors, that his "real killer'' is America.
See the full article (CNN, Chelsea J. Carter, 8/20/14)
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At Least 39 Journalists Are Still Missing Worldwide, 20 Missing in Syria
News of Foley's alleged death was sudden and tragic, especially because his family and supporters launched a campaign to find him after he was kidnapped in Syria in November 2012. Foley is one of at least 20 journalists who have gone missing in the country since its civil war began in 2011, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
See the full article (Mashable, Colin Daileda, 8/19/14)
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Social Media Companies Scramble to Block Terrorist Video of Journalist's Murder
Twitter and YouTube moved quickly on Tuesday -- but with decidedly mixed results -- to suspend accounts that linked to a jihadi propaganda video purporting to show the murder of American journalist James Foley at the hands of Islamist terrorists. The crackdown provided a vivid example of the pressure on social media companies to police violent terrorist propaganda, but at the same time it showed the difficulty they have in stopping individuals intent on spreading violent images and rhetoric.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Shane Harris, 8/19/14)
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'Afromaidan': Foreign Media Cite Ferguson as Evidence of US 'Failed State'
It should come as no surprise that the wall-to-wall U.S. coverage of the turmoil provoked by the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, was echoed in the global media. And a quick survey of international coverage of the ongoing protests suggests that it often reflects pre-existing views of the United States. Russian and Iranian media have, perhaps unsurprisingly, printed scathing judgments about the police response to protests in Missouri. One Russian site, Svobodnaya Pressa, coined the term "Afromaidan," implying that the U.S. is getting a dose of its own medicine for backing anti-Russian Euromaidan rallies in Kiev, Ukraine.
See the full article (Al Jazeera America, Ben Piven, 8/19/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Ensuring a Strong U.S. Defense for the Future" on September, 4, 2014 at 2:00pm.
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From The Fringes Toward Mainstream: Russian Nationalist Broadsheet Basks In Ukraine Conflict
Not so long ago, the ultranationalist broadsheet "Zavtra" would occasionally pillory Russian President Vladimir Putin for various sins. But that all changed with Russia's annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine. Likewise, over the past several months, "Zavtra," once on the fringes of Russian political discourse, has found itself firmly in the mainstream. The newspaper, which claims a circulation of between 70,000 and 100,000, is still pushing the same visceral anti-Western views and neo-Stalinist views it always has.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Tom Balmforth, 8/19/14)
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Islamic State Shifts to New Platform After Twitter Block
A sustained clampdown on the Twitter presence of Islamic State (IS) has forced the hardline jihadist group to explore less well-known social media platforms, setting up a string of accounts on the privacy-focused Diaspora. The Twitter squeeze reached its peak last week - coinciding with mounting international pressure on the group - when back-up IS accounts were being taken down almost as soon as they were being launched.
See the full article (BBC, 8/19/14)
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Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

South Sudan's Coming Famine by Ty McCormick
The origins of the food-security crisis are layered [in South Sudan ]. War disrupted the planting season, not just where there was active fighting, but across the northern half of the country as farmers fled their fields in anticipation of violence. But systematic underinvestment by the South Sudanese government, which has battled numerous corruption scandals since it became independent in 2011, is also part of the equation: Roughly 90 percent of South Sudanese territory is suitable for agriculture, but only about four percent of it was being cultivated, even before the current crisis. This combination of greed, violence, and lack of capacity has proven deadly.
See the full article

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Technology and Science

Voice Recognition Technology Will Attempt to ID 'Barbaric' British Jihadist
British intelligence agencies are likely to use voice recognition software to try to identify the British jihadist who beheaded the American journalist James Foley. Philip Hammond confirmed this morning that British intelligence agencies are analysing the video to try to establish the man's identity. Counter terrorist officers are expected to run the broadcast through voice-recognition software to see if he is somebody already known to intelligence services.
See the full article (Telegraph, Georgia Graham, 8/20/14)
Click to read "How Technology Can Help Activists Navigate Under Pressure" an Olive Branch Post by Noel Dickover.
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Myanmar Will Be the First Smartphone Only Country
Today, Myamnar has the same mobile phone usage as North Korea, Eritrea, and Cuba - less than 10% - with only the urban elite owning smartphones, and mobile networks limited in scope and functionality. Yet technology restrictions are ending, and three mobile operators are racing to roll out services to 60 million across the country.
See the full article (ICT Works, Wayan Vota, 8/20/14)
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China Said to Deploy Drones After Unrest in Xinjiang
Three days after an eruption of violence in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang this summer left nearly 100 people dead, the region's "antiterrorist command" asked the country's biggest space and defense contractor for help. It wanted technical experts to operate drones that the authorities in Xinjiang had ordered last year in anticipation of growing unrest. The target was "terrorists," according to the online edition of People's Daily, a Communist Party media outlet.
See the full article (New York Times, Didi Kirsten Tatlow, 8/19/14)*NYT subscription may be required to access full story
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Apple Becomes Voice Of Reason In Cyber War Of Words
Apple has emerged as a rare voice of reason in the war of words between China and the west over cyber security, with word that the global tech giant has decided to host some of its users' personal data on Chinese-based computers. Apple's move was almost surely a business decision first and foremost, providing its Chinese users with speedier services. But the move also sends a signal that other western companies should consider following, reflecting Apple's belief that using Chinese infrastructure doesn't pose a risk to compromising a company's private data.
See the full article (Forbes, Doug Young, 8/19/14)
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Technology Can Make Lawful Surveillance Both Open and Effective
Democracy rests on the principle that legal processes must be open and public. Laws are created through open deliberation by elected bodies; they are open for anyone to read or challenge; and in enforcing them the government must get a warrant before searching a person's private property. For our increasingly electronic society to remain democratic, this principle of open process must follow us into cyberspace. Unfortunately it appears to have been lost in translation.
See the full article (MIT Tech Review, Bryan Ford and Joan Feigenbaum, 8/18/14)
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When You Google Gaza: Techies' Ambitions on the Embattled Strip
Nearly four weeks into Operation Protective Edge, Ahmed Borai is explaining how to separate hydrogen from seawater. Gaza's sole power plant was bombed out of commission four days earlier, leaving Gaza City blacked out and reducing the rest of the strip to two hours of electricity a day. "We're bombed at any time here," he declares over Facebook chat, "so not a big deal." But while he concedes his workaround is "scary", Ahmed has bigger worries. "If I lose the internet, I lose my company." Fabraca, a 3D printing and product design company that he founded in early 2013, now includes four other employees from India, Serbia and Armenia, and the income it generates supports his entire family.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Jennifer MacKenzie, 8/15/14)
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