PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, July 17 - 23, 2014


Peace Channel

Featured Story:
The Crowd Who Would Be King

by Sheldon Himelfarb

Media and Social Media

Technology and Science

Media and Social Media

Israelis Rush to Apps in Gaza Conflict
Here's a quick look at some of the civilian tech used in the current Gaza conflict. Launched in response to the kidnapping of the Israeli teenagers, the "SOS" app allows Israelis to dispatch an immediate distress alert to emergency services and family members with just a swipe on their smartphone.
See the full article (CNBC, Katy Barnato, 7/23/14)
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Journalists Covering the Ukraine Crisis Suffer Intimidation
Journalists working in Ukraine are being intimidated on a daily basis, and not only in the country's eastern region. Both pro-Russian separatists and anti-Russian Ukrainian groups are responsible. Life is also tough for Ukrainian journalists who try to work inside Russia.
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 7/23/14)
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Media Group Criticizes Deportation of Burmese Journalists
Press watchdogs have raised concerns over Thailand's deportation of Burmese media professionals to Burma, where they face prosecution after publishing an article that upset their government. The publisher of Rangoon-based Bi Mon Te Nay journal was detained in the Thai border town of Mae Sot last week along with his wife and an employee. They fled from Burma because they faced charges for publishing an article based on a statement by an activist group that mistakenly claimed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi had formed an interim government.
See the full article (Irrawaddy, Saw Yan Naing, 7/22/14)
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Israel Is Losing Control of the Gaza Media War
The Gaza offensive, now in its second and deadliest week, plays out in vivid detail on social media, with bombings and killings documented on the ground in near-real time. And for many, the decades-long conflict can now be seen through the eyes of those who live there. It is evidence of a massive change in the balance of power between social media and the old, hierarchical media channels we used to rely on to understand wars.
See the full article (Mashable, Colin Daileda, 7/22/14)
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The State Department's Twitter Jihad
On June 26, a Twitter user with the handle @AboudouAbdallah, who identifies himself as living in Morocco and supporting the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), tweeted the following remark: "I just want to remind you ... never forget what happens to your 'soldiers' in #Fallujah #Iraq #CalamityWillBefallUS." Someone from the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC), a division of the State Department, picked up on it.
See the full article (Politico, Jacob Silverman, 7/22/14)
Click to read "Mobilizing to Transform Conflicts Amid Tight Budgets, Shrinking Space" an Maria Stephan.
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Committee To Protect Journalists Calls For 'Immediate Reversal' Of Thai Junta's Media Crackdown
The committee called for an "immediate reversal" of the Thai junta's latest order for increased media control. The National Council for Peace and Order issued an edict on Friday that prohibits any form of media criticism of the junta, its policies or operations. Any news outlet that goes against these restrictions can reportedly be shut down by Thai military and police officials. A coup d'etat in May left the military in control of Thailand's government.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Catherine Taibi, 7/21/14)
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Why Iran Believes the Militant Group ISIS Is an American Plot
Iran's English-language daily newspaper, the Tehran Times, recently ran a front-page story describing the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria's (ISIS) June offensive in Iraq as part of a U.S.-backed plot to destabilize the region and protect Israel. The story was an English translation of a scoop by the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), which cited a purported interview with National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden.
See the full article (Time, Aryn Baker, 7/19/14)
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Media distortion of Gaza Conflict
"Hate for Hamas," "Israel's war on Hamas." These and similar headlines are how most of the media in Germany have described the latest military confrontation in the Middle East. But that point of view is problematic - for many reasons. For one thing, it suggests a balance that doesn't really exist, namely: two warring parties are shooting rockets at each other, and the fact that, in the process, innocent civilians are dying on both sides is regrettable, but unfortunately unavoidable. On top of that, the Israeli army's invasion of the Gaza Strip means the conflict has now escalated to a new level.
See the full article (Deutsche Welle, Loay Mudhoon, 7/19/14)
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Real Life-On Television
The makers of "Dragunov", named after a Soviet-made sniper rifle, believe that their 15-part drama could act as a balm for Libya's soul as it struggles with the dark legacies of Muammar Qaddafi's rule and the subsequent bitter divisions that still threaten to tear the country apart. The familiar plot of star-crossed lovers is given a Libyan setting. Their story arcs through dictatorship, revolution and the crazy aftermath, painting an unflinching portrait of post-Qaddafi Libya, warts and all.
See the full article (Economist, 7/19/14)
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Former Editor of 'Pro-FARC' Website 8-Year Sentence Overturned: Colombia Court
The former editor of an activist website linked to Colombia's largest guerrilla group, the FARC, had his eight-year sentence overturned and has been released from prison, local media reported on Thursday. Perez spent two years in prison for allegedly promoting and building international relationships with left-wing organizations and terrorists for the FARC through the use of his website, Anncol.
See the full article (Colombia Reports, Tim Hinchliffe, 7/18/14)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Colombia Peace Forum" on July, 29, 2014 at 10:00am.
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Egypt: After the Revolution Comes the Battle for Language
Was it a coup? Was it a revolution? The overthrow of Mohamed Morsi last July spawned unending debate in Egypt about how the president's removal should be defined. Fascinated by this lexical battleground, Amira Hanafi, is travelling across Egypt to create a dictionary of its ill-fated revolution. She is interviewing hundreds of ordinary people about what 160 buzzwords related to the revolution mean to them. The replies will be turned into a book.
See the full article (Guardian, Patrick Kingsley, 7/18/14)
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Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

The Crowd Who Would Be King by Sheldon Himelfarb
Technology is connecting people all over the world, giving them new power and a stronger voice. But is it making government any better? It is true, of course, that technology alone can't fix a broken political system -- but that doesn't mean it isn't doing significant good. The last decade has seen a vigorous conversation on the relationship between online discourse and what is often called "the public sphere."
See the full article

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Technology and Science

Can Tech Help Prevent Violence Against Women? These Tools Say 'Yes'
It's very difficult to measure how women are in constant fear -- or at least, that we always have some looming thought in the back of our minds -- when we walk alone or with a group of other women, no matter how close to home or to people we may be. Technology can't solve this problem, but it can change the course of how we think about it, and ultimately, how we address it as a society. Technology can make it impossible to ignore these issues.
See the full article (TechRepublic, Lyndsey Gilpin, 7/23/14)
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Iraq Conflict Breeds Cyber-War Among Rival Factions
A cyber-civil war is being waged alongside the armed conflict in Iraq, research by security firms suggests. Well-known attack programs have been re-purposed in a bid to to subvert routers and other systems inside Iraq. "The key parties are local groups within Iraq using malware for targeted intelligence on each other," said Andrew Komarov, chief executive of security firm Intel Crawler.
See the full article (BBC, Mark Ward, 7/22/14)
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Israeli Tech Talent Tapped to Fight in Gaza
When Israeli soldiers wrap up their three years of mandatory service, many go on to launch tech startups. Lior Vaknin, 27, is no exception. He served as a special forces paratrooper in the Israeli army from 2006 to 2009, and then ran a startup in Israel. But seven months ago, he moved to New York and launched Israeli Startups NYC, a Meetup initiative designed to unite the Israeli and New York startup communities. But Israeli techies who've launched businesses in the U.S. don't feel lucky they aren't in Israel -- they feel a sense of remorse.
See the full article (CNN, Sarah Ashley O'Brien, 7/22/14)
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Breaking the Cycle of Violence: Technology Can Bring Hope for Peace
Technology use is on the rise in local peacebuilding. We are beginning to see alternative infrastructures for peace emerging that are the product of tech-enabled initiatives. First, digital media tools provide new, creative ways for local peacebuilders to foster alternative discourses and challenge prevailing conflict narratives. Second, networking platforms provide new opportunities for local peacebuilders to foster positive contact between conflict groups, building digital trust networks.
See the full article (Guardian, Helena Puig Larrauri, 7/21/14)
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Smartphone App Helps Target Syria Strikes, Militant Group Says
A militant faction in Syria said it has come up with a smartphone application that improves the accuracy of strikes and helps fighters calculate which weapon best suits the battle objective. The Islamic Front, one of the largest militant umbrella groups operating in Syria, said it devised an app dubbed The Power of the Strike, to help fighters calculate artillery attacks.
See the full article (Los Angelos Times, Nabih Bulos, 7/17/14)
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European Parliament Calls for Ban On Spy Technology Export to Egypt
The European parliament yesterday called for a ban of surveillance and military technology to Egypt. MEPs stated that they were "deeply concerned" about recent events that, they said, impacted democracy and free expression in the country. In the ruling MEPs expressed what they called "their deepest concern and alarm" over the Egyptian government's treatment of opposition forces, protesters and journalists.
See the full article (AllAfrica, Ruth Michaelson, 7/18/14)
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