PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, January 22 - 28, 2014


Technology and Science

Media and Social Media

Iran Steps Up War on Social Media
Another battle is being waged in Iran's internal cyber war. Iranian leadership has banned Instagram, the picture sharing website. Now Instagram has the distinction of joining the plethora of social media that the Islamic Republic has banned. The illustrious group includes Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Micah D. Halpern, 5/28/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Nuclear Flashpoints: U.S.-Iran Tensions Over Terms and Timetables" on June, 10, 2014 at 9:30am.
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Thailand's Cybercoup
It was the most social-media savvy coup in Thailand. And for a country with one of the largest number of coup attempts in the world, 19 in total, since 1932, it was quite a feat. The men in uniform are trying to get with the times. Perhaps they learned from Turkey's Erdogan that they could block social media sites like Twitter and YouTube and still win an election. Either way, the Thai military thought the coup had to be carried out properly: on the ground and in cyberspace.
See the full article (Washington Post, Aim Singpeng, 5/27/14)
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Reporting from Sudan's Hidden Frontline
There is a war being fought in Sudan, and it's happening almost out of sight. American Ryan Boyette had travelled to Nuba with an aid agency in 2003 and settled there. When the war broke out and agencies pulled out their staff, Boyette decided to stay. Foreign journalists were finding it increasingly difficult to get to Nuba, so Boyette founded Nuba Reports, a not-for-profit news outlet manned by Sudanese reporters, that covers the worsening humanitarian crisis.
See the full article (Columbia Journalism Review, Edirin Oputu, 5/27/14)
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War Correspondents Review - Tuneful Tribute to Frontline Journalists
"Sometimes to keep silent is to lie," says one of the journalists interviewed for this 70-minute staged song cycle, based on testimony from war correspondents covering conflicts from Bosnia and Iraq to Chechnya and Liberia. The urge to tell the truth and keep the world informed during wars falls to a group of people who, unlike the rest of us, know they are likely to be shot at when they go to work.
See the full article (Guardian, Lyn Gardner, 5/27/14)
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Kenya's Media Landscape
On the face of it, Kenyan journalists have a positive press environment. The 2010 constitution guarantees press freedom and access to information, and Kenya's media enjoy greater freedoms than in many of its neighboring countries. Kenya is also seen as one of the trailblazers when it comes to digital innovations. But appearances can be misleading.
See the full article (Deutsche Welle, Charlotte Hauswedell, 5/27/14)
Click to read "Boko Haram Kidnappings Prompt Northern Nigerian Women's March" an Olive Branch Post by Georgia Holmer.
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Tajik Mullah's Remarks On Jihad Spark War of Words
A video has appeared on the Internet that purports to show a Tajik militant in Syria condemning a pro-government mullah's stance on the issue of jihad. The four-minute clip features a self-described militant angrily denouncing remarks made by prominent Tajik mullah Hoji Mirzo Ibronov, who recently expressed concern that young Tajiks were being brainwashed and recruited to fight alongside Islamist rebels in Syria.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Farangis Najibullah, 5/27/14)
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Covering Only a Part of War
Most of what we know about today's wars we learn from the media. Conflict and violence are a firm part of the daily stream of information we consume. No incident, wherever it occurs, is too small to be reported straight to our screens at home. For conflict researchers, the advent of the information age should be good news: It has now become possible to produce detailed data collection on violence at unprecedented levels of detail and speed. So, is this really the data source we as researchers should be relying on?
See the full article (Washington Post, Nils B. Weidmann, 5/27/14)
Click to read "Northern Ireland: When Peace is Imperfect" an Olive Branch Post by Ann-Louise Colgan.
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Journalistic Ethics at Internet Speed
All of this had me wondering about the danger presented by the modern world of online opinion journalism: namely the consequences of the pressure to produce reactions and opinions at greater and greater speed. Being first is rewarded by increased web traffic, which tends to encourage snap (shallow?) judgement and a failure to adequate check the veracity of sources. I asked journalist and Harvard University lecturer Jeffrey Seglin for his thoughts on the topic.
See the full article (BBC, Anthony Zurcher, 5/26/14)
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Women On the Frontline: Female Photojournalists' Vision of Conflict
For female photojournalists the past six weeks have been a particularly brutal reminder of the dangers they face. Two photographers have recently been killed while making a record of the suffering on humanity's most extreme edges, documenting the otherwise hidden effects of war on people left to endure tremendous hardship and pain.
See the full article (Guardian, Tracy McVeigh, 5/24/15)
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Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

As If Catostrophic Flooding Wasn't Bad Enough by Valerie Hopkins
The flooding [in Bosnia], wrought by three months' worth of rain falling in only three days, covers a territory larger than the U.S. state of Massachusetts in Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia. Almost 1 million Bosnians have either been evacuated or have left their homes because of flooding or landslides. The rains have unearthed and moved many of these relics of past conflict, threatening to raise the death toll of the floods even after the waters have receded.
See the full article

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Technology and Science

The Internet As a Human Right
Kosta Grammatis likes to think big. In 2011, around the time of the Arab Spring, Grammatis grew frustrated at the ways governments can pull the plug on people's Internet access as a form of social and political control. He wanted to figure out how to circumvent political and physical obstacles and bring digital media to anywhere it was otherwise unavailable. He and some colleagues set out to buy a satellite from a bankrupt company and use it to beam connectivity to places like Tunisia.
See the full article (Time, 5/28/14)
Click to read "Powering Up for Peace: Technology Startup Wins USIP Award" an Olive Branch Post by Anand Varghese.
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Understanding Evidence: How Tech Is Complicating Law for the Better
The use of satellite imagery for evidence is by no means a new technology: remote sensing is one of the main reasons satellites are being deployed in the first place. However, in the last decade, the access to up-to-date satellite imagery has become orders of magnitude cheaper and easier. This article explores some of the new technologies available to human rights advocates who want to further their cause through participation in legal processes.
See the full article (Tech President, Tin Geber, 5/28/14)
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Ukraine Cyber War Escalates Alongside Violence
Hostilities in Ukraine have been mirrored by a shadow cyber war where both sides have opened up an online front, a new analysis of Internet traffic suggests. The online struggle is being waged by a mixture of state forces, but also criminal gangs, and a ragtag army of 'patriotic hackers' and activists, experts suggest, and sets a pattern likely to be repeated in future conflicts.
See the full article (Telegraph, Ben Farmer, 5/28/14)
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China Accuses US of Internet Surveillance on Its Leaders
China has accused the US of using Internet surveillance to spy on its leaders and key institutions. A report released by a government agency said that China had been a main target for US spies, who had focused on government officials, businesses and mobile phone users. It called the behaviour "brazen" and a "gross violation of human rights".
See the full article (BBC, 5/27/14)
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1,000 Days of Syria - Turning War Journalism Into a Game
How to interest an uninterested populace in this seemingly remote nation? Journalist Mitch Swenson settled upon the idea of an online game. Swenson describes 1,000 Days of Syria, which is freely available to play on the Internet, as "part electric literature; part newscast; and part choose-your-own-adventure." You follow one of three narratives, that of a foreign photojournalist, a mother of two living in Daraa or a rebel youth living in Aleppo.
See the full article (Guardian, Simon Parkin, 5/22/14)
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Did we miss anything?



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