PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, January 30 - February 5, 2014


Peace Channel

Featured Story:
Mercury Rising
by Harriet Salem


Media and Social Media

Technology and Science

Media and Social Media

Women, Violence and Twitter in India
India has an estimated 25 million active Twitter users, three-fourths of them male. (That is against 82 million Facebook users and 198 million Internet users in the country.) While women are a vocal minority on Twitter in India, the abuse they face on it borders on the violent.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, Prasanto K Roy, 2/5/14)
Click to read "Afghan Women Can Wield Powerful Force at Ballot Box" an Olive Branch Post by Scott Smith Gienger.
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The Taliban's War on Journalists
For several years, Pakistan has been one of the deadliest countries in the world for the media, but targeted murders of journalists working in the country's northwestern province in the first few weeks of the year and a fatwa against them last October have prompted them to demand that the government respond.
See the full article (RFE/RL, 2/5/14)
Click to read "Pakistan's Tumultuous Media May Play Surprising Role" an Olive Branch Post by Viola Gienger.
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A Black Hole for Media in Balochistan
"The Balochistan story is one of the most difficult to cover in Pakistan," [an] Irish journalist told Al Jazeera from his temporary home in London. "The authorities don't like foreign journalists entering the province unaccompanied and rarely give permission. They say this is for security reasons. But they also don't want reporters snooping around in an area where so much militant activity is taking place - Taliban, sectarian and nationalist - and where the security agencies either lack control, or have historical ties with some of these groups."
See the full article (Al Jazeera, Karlos Zurutuza, 2/5/14)
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The Syrian Opposition Is Disappearing From Facebook
Like many towns in Syria, Kafranbel has a Local Coordination Committee (LCC) and media center page on Facebook, both of which are used to spread news of the revolution, document the dead, and distribute safety information to residents. In a country where foreign and independent Syrian journalists are barred, and the regime's expansive network of citizen-spies makes public discussion of the revolution dangerous to this day, Facebook was one of the first refuges for Syria's dissidents-and now it has become one of their last.
See the full article (Atlantic, Michael Pizzi, 2/4/14)
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Are Libyan Politicians Curtailing Freedom of the Press?
The General National Congress, [Libya's] interim legislature, has just passed a new decree that bans satellite television stations critical of the government and the 2011 uprising against Qaddafi. Human Rights Watch was quick to condemn the decree, which, it says, violates free speech and Libya's Provisional Constitutional Declaration. "The decree violates freedom of expression because it censors a wide range of speech, including peaceful political dissent, and its broad and vague wording is open to arbitrary implementation," the HRW statement warned.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Mohamed Eljarh, 2/4/14)
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Egypt's Attack on The Media Gives Little Cause for Hope
A major front in this war on terror has been opened against the media. On 29 January it became clear that 20 journalists, including four foreigners, were facing charges of joining or aiding a terrorist group and spreading false news. Two of these foreigners, Egyptian-Canadian producer Mohamed Fahmy and Australian journalist Peter Greste, were arrested at the end of December while working for al-Jazeera English.
See the full article (Guardian, Sarah Carr, 2/4/14)
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In the Scripted World of Diplomacy, a Burst of Tweets
On his first anniversary as secretary of state on Tuesday, John Kerry celebrated by reactivating his Twitter handle. "It only took a year but @StateDept finally let me have my own @Twitter account," Mr. Kerry tweeted with the hashtag #JKTweetsAgain, as if to suggest he had been held hostage for the last year without a BlackBerry.
See the full article (New York Times, Mark Landler, 2/4/14)*NYT subscription may be required to access full story.
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Getting Beyond 2014 in Afghanistan" on February, 28, 2014 at 12:00pm.
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The War Around Us Shows Human Side of Gaza Conflict
As the film's powerful trailer reveals, "The War Around Us" is the raw story of Gaza and how two journalists reached the rest of the world from inside one of the most deeply divided and silenced places on the globe. The documentary contains heart-wrenching scenes of human suffering in the war, images that were never allowed to be shown in the American media, but were broadcast to the rest of the world.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Kamran Pasha, 2/3/14)
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War Reporting and The 2003 Invasion of Iraq: Teaching resource from the GNM Archive February 2014
Reporting from the front line of war holds obvious dangers, and a number of journalists and photographers have lost their lives reporting from war zones. To prepare staff as much as possible in advance of the Iraq War, the Guardian provided training courses for all of its war correspondents run by former members of the armed forces.
See the full article (Guardian, Elisabeth Thurlow, 2/3/14)
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Preventing War by Promoting 'Peace Journalism' in Uganda
At the Uganda Media Development Foundation (UMDF), the local pioneers of the Project Consolidating Peace Journalism, a small team believes that reporters and editors constantly make decisions that help their societies evaluate and value peaceful alternatives to conflicts. With that, they are working to instill in journalists across the country the technical and editorial know-how for peace reporting, with an emphasis on areas near borders with war-torn nations.
See the full article (Colombia Journalism Review, Vivian Salama, 2/3/14)
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'Return To Homs,' New Syria Documentary, Gives Gut-Wrenching Glimpse Into Besieged City
After so many months with barely any news emerging from the town, a new, harrowing documentary by Syrian filmmaker Talal Derki once again gives the world a gut-wrenching glimpse into life in the isolated city. With footage shot by Derki and Syrian media activists, "Return to Homs" follows a group of young friends from August 2011 to August 2013 as they fight to stay alive amid the brutal crackdown by the army of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Eline Gordts, 2/3/14)
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Greater Media Freedom Brings Mixed Results
The lifting of media restrictions in Myanmar has produced mixed results, according to the United States Institute for Peace, which says increased access to information has led to a greater risk of conflict. The Washington-based institute outlines the positive and negative consequences of greater media freedom in a 40-page report, 'Media and conflict in Myanmar', released earlier this month.
See the full article (Mizzima, Geoffrey Goddard, 1/31/14)
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From Brooklyn to Kiev, How #DigitalMaidan Went Viral
From Kiev to Istanbul, Brasilia to Cairo, it's become a natural corollary of any modern protest movement: The battle isn't just won on the streets, but also in cyberspace. In the case of the anti-government protests that have roiled Ukraine, the Twitter hashtag "#EuroMaidan" -- a portmanteau of the protesters' object of affection, Europe, and the square in which they have set up camp, Maidan -- has become a ubiquitous feature of the online conversation about the movement.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Hanna Kozlowska, 1/31/14)
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Journalists Fear Violence in Election Run-Up
As Nigeria gets ready for national elections in 2015, the Nigerian Union of Journalists is warning that politicians may try to intimidate reporters. Nigerian journalists say they already face regular hostilities, including beatings by both officials and the public. The Nigerian Union of Journalists says the problem is particularly common in Nigeria around election time when politicians go out of their way to manipulate the news.
See the full article (VOA, Heather Murdock, 1/29/14)
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Featured Story from Foreign Policy's Peace Channel

Mercury Rising by Harriet Salem
Can opposition leaders contain protest violence in Ukraine-or is the country headed for "prolonged guerrilla warfare"?
See the full article

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Technology and Science

The Future of War Essays: It's Back to The Beginning, or, 'The Nearness of You'
Technology is quickly reversing a psychological trend that has existed since cavemen first threw rocks at each other many tens of thousands of years ago. Today, while many of America's drone operators sit physically safe in trailers in Nevada, their human targets on the other side of the planet appear no further away than if these operators were watching them through the sights of an M16 rifle. Although the physical distance between warrior and target has reached its physical limit (on this planet anyway), the subjective distance between the two is rapidly closing.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Thomas E. Ricks, 2/5/14)
Click to read "Compounding Uncertainty in Afghanistan" a Peace Brief by William A. Byrd, Casey Garret Johnson, Sanaullah Tasal.
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U.S. Said to Curtail Drone Strikes in Pakistan as Officials There Seek Peace Talks With Taliban
The Obama administration has sharply curtailed drone strikes in Pakistan after a request from the government there for restraint as it pursues peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, according to U.S. officials. "That's what they asked for, and we didn't tell them no," one U.S. official said. The administration indicated that it will still carry out strikes against senior al-Qaeda targets, if they become available, and move to thwart any direct, imminent threat to U.S. persons.
See the full article (Washington Post, Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller, 2/4/14)
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With Ushahidi's Global Innovation Engine, Africa has Joined the Tech Revolution
It started in Kenya. Kobia and a few of his blogger and techie friends built a website to map violence and peace reports after a fallout following the 2008 Kenyan elections. People could submit the information through mobile devices or the web and use it to find violent areas of the country to avoid, places of refuge, and locations of resources such as medical equipment and water. They created it over a weekend, assuming it would be useful but that they would return to their day jobs.
See the full article (Tech Republic, Lyndsey Gilpin, 2/3/14)
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5th BarCamp Attracts Thousands of Technology Lovers
The fifth BarCamp Yangon, a forum about technology and the Internet that encourages participant involvement, was held this weekend at Myanmar ICT Park on the campus of Hlaing University and attracted about 5,000 participants, the event's organizer said.
See the full article (Irrawaddy, San Yamin Aung, 2/3/14)
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Time To Write the Rules for Cyber and Drone Challenges
The magnitude of the threat posed by the weapons of choice from the 20th century and 21st century are striking. Whether it is an armed, unmanned drone that could even carry tactical nuclear arms or be turned into a dirty bomb, or offensive cyber capabilities, consider how increasingly easy these potential weapons are to utilize, how a growing number of countries want their own capabilities in these fields, and how difficult they can be to monitor and regulate.
See the full article (Time, Des Browne and Michael Shank, 2/3/14)
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Iran and North Korea: The Nuclear 'Axis of Resistance'
Iran has halted its enrichment of uranium to the 20 percent level as part of the interim agreement it signed with the world's major powers last November. That temporary deal doesn't address Iran's illicit trade with countries like North Korea, which has been building a massive complex of uranium-enriching centrifuges. Given North Korea's penchant for selling Iran illicit technology, the risk of Pyongyang exporting nuclear technology is real, according to the U.S. intelligence community.
See the full article (Daily Beast, Josh Rogin and Eli Lake, 1/31/14)
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Drone Strikes and the Lessons of Nonlinear Science
" we think that targeting what we consider key terrorists with drone strikes will bring down their network as a whole?" I address this question in my recently published book, Nonlinear Science and Warfare: Chaos, Complexity, and the U.S. Military in the Information Age. In it, I demonstrate that notions of collapsing networks by targeting key nodes is one of a number of lessons that the United States defense community has learned from its enlistment of language and concepts borrowed from nonlinear sciences such as chaos theory and complexity theory.
See the full article (Forbes, Sean Lawson, 1/30/14)
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