USIP's PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, February 20 - 26, 2014


Peace Channel

Featured Story:
Cut Short
by Michel Gabaudan, Don Kraus, Peter Yeo


Media and Social Media

Technology and Science

Media and Social Media

Politics, and Media, Go Local in Pakistan
The unprecedented appetite for local governance is reflected in -- or perhaps sparked by -- new regional-language media outlets accessible throughout the country. Media liberalization in 2002 led to the rapid growth of Pakistan's broadcast media sector, and the country currently boasts 90 privately-owned television channels and up to 200 FM radio stations. Many of these outlets broadcast in regional languages such as Sindhi, Punjabi, Saraiki, and Balochi rather than in Urdu, the national language, and aim to appeal to the ethno-linguistic communities that reside within Pakistan's different provinces.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Huma Yusuf, 2/26/14)
Click to read "Youth Radicalization in Pakistan" an Olive Branch Post by Raheem ul Haque.
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A Letter To My American Sisters
When the first female television announcer appeared on Afghanistan's national network shortly after the Taliban regime fell in 2001, it created a sensation. But today, all you need to do is take a look at the Afghan media to understand the powerful presence of Afghan women, from female news anchors to hosts for a popular entertainment show. It's no longer taboo for a woman to read the news, talk about women's rights on a national program, or highlight the many issues facing them.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Fawzia Koofi, 2/26/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Resilience on the Front Line: Remarks from the 2014 International Women of Courage Awardees" on March, 5, 2014 at 11:00am.
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HK Editor at Center of Protests Stabbed
A former newspaper editor whose abrupt dismissal in January sparked protests over press freedom in Hong Kong was stabbed near his office Wednesday morning, according to police. Kevin Lau, former editor of the Ming Pao newspaper, is in critical condition, according to a government spokesman. The attack came days after a Sunday rally drew thousands who demanded that Hong Kong's leaders uphold media freedoms.
See the full article (Al Jazeera America, 2/26/14)
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Al Shabaab's Governor- One Man and His iPad
On a hot dry Saturday afternoon, as I waited for clearance to visit an al-Shabab area in Bulo Mareer in Somalia, my phone rang. It was a contact saying there was a gathering I would want to attend. And so I did. Sitting under the shade of mango trees were clan elders and the who's who of al-Shabab, the hardline rebel group fighting Somalia's UN-backed government. As soon as I walked into the gathering I spotted something unexpected - a gleaming new iPad.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, Hamza Mohamed, 2/26/14)
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Afghan Notebook: Gold Chairs and Vodka
Social media is becoming a battleground in the presidential election campaign, with popular sites not just discussing the candidates but also poking fun at them. Many of the front runners have found themselves the butt of online jokes, and some have suggested that campaign teams specifically target rivals to undermine their reputation.
See the full article (BBC, 2/25/14)
Click to read "Compounding Uncertainty in Afghanistan" an Peace Brief by William A. Byrd, Casey Garret Johnson, Sanaullah Tasal.
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Sri Lanka Denounces Push to Open War Inquiry
Sri Lanka's government on Tuesday forcefully rejected a call for an international war crimes investigation into the country's bloody civil war, adding to tensions with the United Nations' human rights body. Officials also rejected claims that the government had curtailed press freedoms, pointing to the "spread of social media networks and online news outlets." Sri Lanka has hired a Chinese company to block access to many online news outlets.
See the full article (New York Times, Gardiner Harris and Dharisha Bastians, 2/25/14)*NYT subscription may be required to access full story
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Russia Evokes World War Two in Media Blitz on Ukraine
"Which side were you on in World War Two?" is not a question that often arises on radio talk shows but a Russian caller named Alexander was asked precisely that at least three times on Tuesday when he expressed support for Ukraine's new rulers. In a sign the Kremlin is shaken by losing a struggle for influence with the West in its neighbour, the language has been set against the us-or-them background of the Soviet victory against Adolf Hitler - a source of national pride.
See the full article (Reuters, Elizabeth Piper, 2/25/14)
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American Fits Over Putin
It is plainly obvious that the Western and especially the American mass media never aspired to give objective coverage to events unfolding in Russia after the fall of the USSR, and what's more, never aspired to give an unbiased account of the motives of Russia's domestic and foreign policy. It is no coincidence that both before and after the openings of the games, the main themes one could read in the US media were not sports events or athletes, but rather the impending horror of potential terrorist attacks on both Sochi and all of Russia.
See the full article (RT, Andranik Migranyan, 2/24/14)
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Hong Kong Protesters March to Demand Media Freedom
Protesters have rallied in Hong Kong to demand that the city government halt a perceived erosion of media freedom. Journalists claim mainland China is increasingly seeking to influence editorial decisions. "A journalist's duty is to report, not to protest but our consciences compel us to raise the alarm," said Hong Kong Journalists Association Chairperson Sham Yee-lan. "Those in power are attacking the media and their ultimate aim is to create a population kept in ignorance and blind loyalty."
See the full article (Deutsche Welle, 2/23/14)
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Venezuela Battles Media, Social and Otherwise, to Restrict Protest Coverage
Tensions escalated further in Venezuela on Friday as street protests that began nine days ago continued and the government persisted in clamping down on coverage of the unrest in the broadcast media and online. The move came after President Nicolás Maduro slammed CNN on Thursday for broadcasting what he called "war propaganda," and said that if the network didn't change its reporting he would shut down the channels.
See the full article (New York Times, Natalie Kitroeff, 2/21/14)*NYT subscription may be required to access full story
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Tweeting the Revolution: Social Media Use and the #Euromaidan Protests
At the Social Media and Political Participation lab at NYU we have been closely following social media activity related to the protests since they began in November, collecting Twitter and Facebook data related to key protest hashtags. Our findings suggest that social media, as it has throughout these protests, continues to be a pivotal organization tool for those in Kiev and also the most relevant mechanism for disseminating and exchanging information both within Ukraine and abroad.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Pablo Barbera and Megan Metzger, 2/21/14)
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A Leap forward for Iranian Journalism Nipped in The Bud
In the inaugural issue of Aseman, a centrist daily newspaper launched one week ago, the editors wondered at the political change that allowed such a newspaper to operate in Iran's thorny media landscape. "A year ago, no one would have thought it possible for us to become newspaper journalists, and behold," they wrote. Now, as Aseman's publisher Abbas Bozorgmehr spends the 20-21 February Iranian weekend in Evin prison following a revocation of the newspaper's license, that transformation seems more toothless than its readers had imagined.
See the full article (Guardian, 2/21/14)
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Video and Social Media Updates From Kiev
Live video posted on YouTube by a local Internet channel,, and the American-financed Radio Svoboda, continue to stream the violence in Kiev's Independence Square as it unfolds in real time. Meanwhile, images and video clips posted on social networks by reporters, activists and even Ukraine's Interior Ministry relay the ground-level views of the deadly clashes.
See the full article (New York Times, Robert Mackey, 2/20/14)*NYT subscription may be required to access full story
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Venezuela Threatens to Expel CNN Over Protest Coverage
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has threatened to expel the US news network CNN from the country over its reporting of recent protests there. Mr Maduro said he would take action if CNN did not "rectify its coverage". On national television, President Maduro accused his opponents of promoting violence.
See the full article (BBC, 2/20/14)
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New Facebook Project Imitates Virtual Iranian Prison
A new Facebook project and art installation aim to bring attention to Iran's jailed dissidents by letting users experience life behind bars through social media. Unlock Iran. The project hopes to bring attention to the more than 800 "prisoners of rights" in Iran's jails, and put Iran's dismal human-rights record front and center during Tehran's nuclear negotiations and ahead of next month's UN Human Rights Council.
See the full article (Daily Beast, Nina Strochlic, 2/20/14)
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The Day We Pretended to Care About Ukraine
The Kyiv protests were also starting to look like clickbait. By the end of the day on Wednesday, Business Insider, Talking Points Memo, Buzzfeed and Mashable had all published their own listicle versions of what Huffington Post called "Ukraine Crisis: 12 Apocalyptic Pictures After Nation's Deadliest Day." High in resolution, low on explanation, the articles painted Ukraine's carnage by numbers.
See the full article (Politico, Sarah Kendzior, 2/20/14)
Click to read "Ukraine's Opposition Strength May Reinforce Agreement, USIP's Taylor Says" an Olive Branch Post by Viola Gienger.
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Featured Story from Foreign Policy's Peace Channel

Cut Short by Michel Gabaudan, Don Kraus, Peter Yeo
Changes in peacekeeping strategy -- along with a ramped up diplomatic effort -- offer the best chance for stability in DRC in a generation. And they represent U.N. reform in the truest sense: a completely new way of operating. Yet at the very moment when reforms like these are giving hope to vulnerable people, a different kind of threat to peace in places like the DRC has emerged: Washington's ongoing funding battles.
See the full article

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Technology and Science

Egyptian 'Miracle Cure for HIV' Met With Scepticism
The Egyptian military has developed a device capable of both detecting and curing HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C, according to the country's government. The device, which apparently detects the viruses through analysing electromagnetic waves, resembles a handheld box with a large antenna protruding from it and is said to be adapted from bomb detection technology also developed by the Egyptian military.
See the full article (France24, 2/26/14)
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Israel's Big Gusher
In 2009, Tadmor and Noble hit upon their first "gusher," the Tamar reservoir (9 tcf), 56 miles off Israeli's coast. Tadmor and his partners control almost all the gas, but there is no doubt that the new energy industry will revolutionize Israel's economy, as well as provide the country with greater strategic and political clout. But the new discoveries have also opened up a Pandora's box of thorny social, financial, security, and foreign policy concerns.
See the full article (Slate, Martin Fletcher, 2/26/14)
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Google Ordered to Remove Anti-Islamic Film from YouTube
A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday ordered Google Inc to remove from its YouTube video-sharing website an anti-Islamic film that had sparked protests across the Muslim world. By a 2-1 vote, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Google's assertion that the removal of the film "Innocence of Muslims" amounted to a prior restraint of speech that violated the U.S. Constitution.
See the full article (Reuters, Jonathan Stempel and Dan Levine, 2/26/14)
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While Turkey's Government Cries Coup, Tech Startups Keep Coding
Entrepreneurs from some of the world's most crisis-stricken countries convened in Turkey last week. They were there to put Middle Eastern politics aside to connect with like-minded technology enthusiasts and hopefully raise some cash to get their passion projects off the ground.Attendees hailed from more than 30 countries including Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Ukraine.
See the full article (Bloomberg, Benjamin Harvey, 2/26/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Getting Beyond 2014 in Afghanistan" on February, 28, 2014 at 9:00am.
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Pakistan Draws Up Tough Anti-Taliban Strategy
Pakistan has moved closer to agreeing its first "counter-terrorism" policy, which the government says bolsters its plans to keep pounding the headquarters of Taliban fighters. "We are establishing a rapid response force, which will be fully equipped with helicopters and latest technology to carry out counter terrorism operations," Khan added.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, 2/26/14)
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Nigeria to Host Policy Dialogue on Science, Technology and Innovation
Nigeria's capital city of Abuja will next month host a high level policy dialogue on the theme "Science, Technology, and Innovation and the African Transformation Agenda", organised by the United Nations' Economic Commission for Africa in collaboration with the Nigerian government. Jonathan said the meeting will be attended by policymakers and experts from across Africa in the areas of science, technology and innovation, who will discuss and deepen understanding on how technology and innovations can be applied to accelerate the African transformation agenda, improve the lives of Africans and enhance the competitiveness of Africa's economies.
See the full article (Humanipo, Paul Adepoju, 2/26/14)
Click to read "What's Behind Latest Nigeria Attacks by Boko Haram?" an Olive Branch Post by Liz Harper.
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How Technology Will Topple the World's Biggest Drug Cartel
An upgrade of the information technology systems running the nation's financial intelligence wing -- set to finish this year -- should bolster efforts to dismantle the Sinaloa cartel, now that authorities have captured the enterprise's leader, former top U.S. officials say.
See the full article (NextGov, Aliya Sternstein, 2/25/14)
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Syrian Web Censorship Techniques Revealed
Back in October 2011, a group of hackers and net activists called Telecomix leaked the logs showing exactly how Syrian authorities were monitoring and filtering internet traffic within the country. The logs comprised of 600 GB of data representing 750 million requests on the web and showing exactly which requests were allowed and which were denied. Today, Abdelberi Chaabane at Inria in France and a few pals, publish the first detailed analysis of this data, revealing exactly how the traffic was filtered, which IP addresses and websites were blocked and which keywords were targeted for filtering.
See the full article (MIT Technology Review, 2/25/14)
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US May Consider Future Arms Sales to Burma
The United States plans to expand its defense ties with Burma and would consider resuming arms sales if the country's human rights record greatly improves, a senior US State Department official has told IHS Jane's, a UK publication that specializes in military and defense industry issues.
See the full article (Irrawaddy, Lin Thant and Paul Vrieze, 2/24/14)
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Amidst Unrest And Violence, Ukraine's Social Entrepreneurs Chart A Better World
Created by indie developers Mikhail Stepanskiy and Ruslan Kosarevych, Son of the Sun and Wizard Lizard is an interactive story that teaches children that people can change, and that compassion and forgiveness can help make the world a better place.
See the full article (Forbes, Tom Watson, 2/21/14)
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South Korea to Develop Stuxnet-Like Cyberweapons
South Korea is to develop cyber-attack tools in an attempt to damage North Korean nuclear facilities. The country's defence ministry wants to develop weapons similar to Stuxnet, the software designed to attack Iranian nuclear enrichment plants. The first part of South Korea's plan, which is continuing, is to conduct online propaganda operations by posting to North Korean social networking and social media services.
See the full article (BBC, 2/21/14)
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