PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, June 26 - July 9, 2014


Peace Channel

Featured Story:
Are the Oceans Failed States

by Richard Schiffman

Media and Social Media

Technology and Science

Media and Social Media

'Big Media Can't Cover These Things in Detail, So We Cover Them'
Brang Mai is the man behind Burma's first and only newspaper serving the ethnic Kachin population. In January, Brang Mai and two fellow Kachins-both of whom have experience working as journalists-launched the Myikyina News Journal, which publishes news for people in Kachin State in the Burmese language.
See the full article (Irrawaddy, Yen Snaing, 7/9/14)
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Al-Maliki's Media War
The new guidelines, issued on June 18 by the state media commission to remain in effect "during the war on terror," in effect require local and international media to cheer on the government. For example, the rules forbid media from reporting information from insurgent forces and compel coverage of government forces in only glowing terms. As one Iraqi journalist put it, the guidelines "basically ban journalists from covering war activities, because whatever you report about terrorists could be considered support for them."
See the full article (CNN, Fred Abrahams, 7/9/14)
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How to Open Up Citizen Journalism in Africa Beyond the Smartphone Minority
Open journalism has turned all of us into experts, each with our own unique experience, skills and perspective that contribute to the global story. For news to even reach citizens we have to get creative. Smartphone penetration is just 12% in Africa. So what are we doing to ensure the content that matters to people is actually reaching them?
See the full article (Guardian, Loren Treisman, 7/9/14)
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@ISIS Is #Winning
Why is a barbaric medieval caliphate so much better at social media than Washington? The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham is running a brilliantly effective social media campaign. With the group rebranded as the Islamic State (IS), its grisly messaging gets attention and discourages resistance to its military operations, both where it is fighting and among countries that might be inclined to intervene against it.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Kori Schake, 7/9/14)
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Catholic Church Urges Media to Re-Introduce Peace Messages
The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops through the General Secretariat has urged media houses in Kenya to promote peaceful co-existence among Kenyans irrespective of political and ethnic affiliation. The statement signed by Very Rev Fr Vincent Wambugu, the Church urged the media to ensure unbiased content and to moderate live coverage especially of political rallies as well as the guest speakers on Television and radio shows.
See the full article (All Africa, 7/8/14)
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On Journalistic Responsibility: Media and Palestine
Judging from Palestinian reactions in recent days, it's clear they never met a media channel they liked. Their criticism of CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera America is a testimony of their paranoia. It's not like all their homeland is occupied! Oops. Okay, actually, it is. But so what? Should being victims of five decades of military occupation and seven decades of dispossession put them above questioning or criticism? It's not like Western media is out to get them. Or is it? At least those Palestinians in the West seem to think so.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, Marwan Bishara, 7/8/14)
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The Struggle for a Free Press in Africa
In Africa, the past few months have offered troubling optics of journalists on trial for the practice of independent journalism: Peter Greste in a cage in a prisoner's white jumpsuit in Egypt, Bheki Makhubu in leg irons in Swaziland and Tesfalem Waldyes in handcuffs in Ethiopia. The arrests and prosecutions of journalists not only chill others from digging deeper into stories, but there are also other, more indirect and insidious forms of censorship that obfuscate inconvenient truths that we should know.
See the full article (Al Jazeera America, Mohamed Keita,7/2/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "U.S. Policy Today for Africa Tomorrow" on July, 22, 2014 at 2:00pm.
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Influence of Social Media on Thai Crisis 'Tremendous'
Some one and a half months after the country's military seized power, Thailand presents a roadmap for democratic reforms. Journalist Thepchai Yong tells DW about the current developments and the media's role in the country: "With the political conflict the influence of the social media has increased because the young people who ignore the mainstream media go to social media to share their views and to talk among themselves on topics they are familiar with."
See the full article (Deutsche Welle, Rodion Ebbighausen, 7/2/14)
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How Facebook is Seen as a Threat to Afghan Unity
When Facebook arrived here, it quickly became an emblem for progress and freedom in post-Taliban Afghanistan. But as a bitter electoral dispute takes hold of Kabul, both Afghan and foreign officials worry that social media is now worsening Afghanistan's ethnic and political fault lines. What once appeared to be a long-awaited outlet for expression - promoted heavily by Western officials - is now something the Afghan government is trying desperately to censor.
See the full article (Washington Post, Kevin Sieff, 6/30/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "The Legacy of President Hamid Karzai" on July, 18, 2014 at 10:00am.
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Sri Lanka Must End Media Restrictions to Facilitate Reconciliation
This month, in the wake of anti-Muslim sectarian riots in the southwest, the Sri Lankan government pressured local journalists to hide the truth by not covering the violence. Those brave enough to report it had their equipment destroyed and were threatened or physically attacked, according to media reports. The atmosphere of intimidation in Sri Lanka continues to have a chilling effect on reporting across ethnic lines.
See the full article (Committee to Protect Journalists, Anjali Manivannan, 6/30/14)
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India: Communal Violence in Times of Social Media
Earlier this month, the city of Pune and adjoining areas in the western Indian state of Maharashtra were caught up in a wave of communal violence, which led to a large-scale vandalism and a spate of hate crimes, which included a Muslim gentleman being clobbered to death by an irate mob. It all started with a malicious Facebook post.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, Saurav Datta, 6/26/14)
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Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

Are the Oceans Failed States by Richard Schiffman
Only about 5 percent of the ocean floor has been mapped in detail. We know more about the contours of the moon and nearby planets than we do about the basins of the high seas. But however remote these depths might seem, no corner of the ocean is untouched by human activities. As a result of these impacts, much of it is now in peril.
See the full article

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Technology and Science

Video Technology Exposing Israeli Violations in the West Bank
Closed-circuit cameras have always been part of Israel's high-tech approach to security, but in recent months, the presence of cameras and Palestinians' use of cell phones have come back to haunt the Israeli security establishment.
See the full article (Al-Monitor, Daoud Kuttab, 7/8/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Ending Wars to Build Peace" on July, 14, 2014 at 12:45pm.
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Amnesty Platform Validates Civilian Conflict Footage
Amnesty International has launched a website that is designed to help human rights researchers and journalists verify civilian video footage. The Citizen Evidence Lab has been developed to help handle new digital data streams coming from conflict zones and other human rights hotspots. It provides verification tools, techniques and best practice case studies for assessing user-generated content.
See the full article (Wired, Olivia Solon, 7/8/14)
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A Tablet A Day
There are millions of children out of school in the conflict-ridden northeast of Nigeria, but in one classroom the future is looking brighter. In a co-educational private secondary school in Yola, the capital of Adamawa state, teenagers each sit in front of a computer. At the front of the class, their teacher-an engaging doctor from the university-uses a $40 credit card-sized computer known as a 'Raspberry Pi' to project mathematical charts on a whiteboard.
See the full article (Economist, E.W. Yola, 8/7/14)
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Blood Money and Conflict Minerals
The world's insatiable demand for everything from smartphones to jewelry to cars is feeding the bloody war in eastern Congo, where tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold are mined for use in manufacturing. Last year, exports of these minerals from central Africa generated at least $2.1 billion -- much of which went to rebels and government soldiers.
See the full article (Bloomberg, 7/2/14)
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New Technology to Tame Cattle Rustling
Pastoralists are set to benefit from a noble mode of taming cattle rustling in Kenya, with the introduction of an innovative electronic tracking chip to keep tabs on cattle. Cattle rustling is reported to claim over 600 lives and displace thousands annually. With such advances in the number of mobile phone and Internet penetration, it is believed that the improvement of ICT infrastructure has contributed hugely and these are the same infrastructure that the initiative is leveraging on for its success.
See the full article (AllAfrica, Lilian Mutegi, 7/2/14)
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Unarmed Drones Aid U.N. Peacekeeping Missions in Africa
In an age of ubiquitous surveillance, even rebels in the bush can expect to be tracked, as United Nations troops cautiously deploy a tool familiar to most modern militaries around the world: the drone. The United Nations insists on calling the aircraft unarmed, unmanned aerial vehicles, the term drone having acquired a bad reputation because of the armed versions that American forces use against targets in Pakistan and elsewhere.
See the full article (New York Times, Somini Sengupta, 7/2/14)*NYT subscription may be required to access full story
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Nigeria's Bride Price App May Be a Joke, But It's Not Funny
The Nigerian bride price app, which has gone viral since it launched in May, calculates the marital value of a woman by pricing attributes such as her height, weight, beauty, cooking skills, education and dialect. It's depressing that Nigerians find ourselves at a time where we are simultaneously protesting hundreds of girls being possibly sold as brides by Boko Haram as we are calculating bride prices with an app. In this light, the bride price app is not only unfunny but also in utterly bad taste.
See the full article (Guardian, Minna Salami, 7/2/14)
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Fixing Myanmar With a Social Network
Before 2011, Myanmar was a technology desert. A basic SIM card was a black market item that could cost between US$50 to $300. Now as the country opens politically and as telecommunication companies and private businesses begin to invest in connectivity and infrastructure, Christoph Amthor hopes to leverage the country's technological progress to connect the country's civil society through a mobile and online platform.
See the full article (Tech President, Rebecca Chao, 7/1/14)
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