PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, April 24-30, 2014


Technology and Science

Media and Social Media

In Syria, Reporters Are Targets for Kidnapping
Being captured by ISIS is the nightmare of all journalists reporting on the Syrian civil war. On March 31, ISIS released Javier Espinosa, a reporter for the Spanish paper El Mundo, and a photographer, Ricardo GarcĂ­a Vilanova. There are believed to be 30 more journalists still in captivity in Syria. While there is news from some, others appear to have disappeared from the face of the Earth.
See the full article (Newsweek, Janine di Giovanni, 4/29/14)
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South Sudan Journalists Say Media Rights Eroding
Fifteen months after South Sudan became a pilot country for a United Nations initiative aimed at creating a free and safe environment for journalists, some of the country's leading media voices say they are being muzzled by government censorship and interference. "There is a lot of government interference. There is a lot of harassment. There is a lot of intimidation by government officials." [veteran journalist Alfred Taban said.]
See the full article (VOA, 4/29/14)
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Social Media in Afghanistan Takes On Life of Its Own
Afghans have long been resistant to central authority - as the United States has found to its frustration - with Afghanistan divided along tribal, cultural, religious and linguistic lines. Its mountains and valleys have stood in the way of communications breakthroughs that have unified other societies. But a social media network initially financed by the United States is finding a way around those barriers.
See the full article (New York Times, Ron Nixon, 4/29/14)
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The Rise and Fall of Pakistan's Independent News Media
A week after the shocking assassination attempt on Pakistan's prominent television talk-show host, Hamid Mir, Islamabad has failed to locate and arrest the perpetrators. The Pakistani government has deflected attention from the whole issue of the attack on the senior journalist by instead recommending punitive action against Mr. Mir's Geo Television, Pakistan's biggest private news channel, for suspecting the involvement of the Inter-Services Intelligence, the country's top intelligence agency, in an attack that has tremendously scared and outraged the journalist community in Pakistan.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Malik Siraj Akbar, 4/28/14)
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Ethiopia Charges Nine Bloggers, Journalists with Inciting Violence
Ethiopia has charged six bloggers and three journalists with attempting to incite violence, their supporters said on Monday, prompting accusations from rights groups that the government is cracking down on its critics. All nine defendants, including freelance journalists Tesfalem Waldyes and Edom Kassaye, appeared in court on Sunday after they were rounded up by police on April 25 and April 26.
See the full article (Reuters, Aaron Maasho, 4/28/14)
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Journalism in Pakistan: The Silencing of the Liberals
There was a time when Hamid Mir, Pakistan's most famous journalist, had little reason to fear his work might put his life in danger. In a country where his trade has long been a dangerous game, he kept on the right side of the media's two deadliest foes: Pakistan's militants and its security establishment.
See the full article (Economist, 4/26/14)
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Terrorism in the UK: Social Media is Now the Biggest Jihadi Training Camp of Them All
There is no training camp in Syria to attract willing jihadis. There has only been the emergence of the biggest training camp of all: social media, a force which has come into its own in the conflict. The official jihadi groups tend to have their accounts closed down, but others spread the word.
See the full article (Telegraph, Fraser Nelson, 4/25/14)
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#ThatsCold! Russians, US in Hashtag Battle
A tweet by State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki Thursday night sparked snarky Twitter responses about the diplomacy of a hashtag - but the tweet really is more evidence of a brewing social media Cold War between the U.S. and Russia. State has admitted it is playing catch-up to Russia on social media propaganda, with the undersecretary for public diplomacy, Rick Stengel, a former journalist, telling CNN that Russia's been building up its social media presence for the last 10 years.
See the full article (ABC, Dana Hughes, 4/25/14)
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Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

Can Big Data Stop Wars Before They Happen?
Number crunching and pattern recognition may hold the key to predicting and preventing conflicts. But first, peace-builders need to change the way they do business.
See the full article
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Technology and Science

Google Warning on Russia Prescient as Putin Squeezes Web
Google Inc. Chairman Eric Schmidt warned last year that Russia was "on the path" toward China's model of Internet censorship. Vladimir Putin is proving him right. With Russia locked in the worst standoff with the U.S. since the Cold War, the Russian president last week said his government needs to impose greater control over information flows through the World Wide Web.
See the full article (Business Week, Ilya Khrennikov and Anastasia Ustinova, 4/30/14)
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Drone War Doesn't Stop Al-Qaeda's 'Obsession' With Striking U.S.
Experts say Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula remains focused on striking the United States, and targeted attacks by American drones and Yemeni commandos have so far failed to weaken the dangerous group. Yemenis harbor the same concerns about their sovereignty and civilian casualties that plagued the American drone campaign in Pakistan. And in Yemen, al-Qaeda has consistently bounced back, in recent months overrunning military installations, attacking the Ministry of Defense, and breaking 19 militants out of the capital's central prison.
See the full article (Time, Karl Vick, 4/25/14)
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Can Military's Satellite Links be Hacked? Cyber-security Firm Cites Concerns
Satellite communication terminals, relied upon by US military aircraft, ships, and land vehicles to move in harmony with one another, are susceptible to cyber-attack through digital backdoors and other vulnerabilities, according to a new report that has sent a tremor through the global satellite telecommunications industry.
See the full article (Christian Science Monitor, Mark Clayton, 4/25/14)
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FBI Informant Linked to Hacking of Foreign websites: Report
A hacker who became an informant for the FBI directed hundreds of cyber attacks against the websites of foreign governments, including Brazil, Iran, Pakistan, Syria and Turkey. It was unclear whether the FBI explicitly ordered the digital attacks, but court documents and interviews suggest "that the government may have used hackers to gather intelligence overseas," the New York Times wrote.
See the full article (AFP, 4/24/14)
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