News Roundup Archive

Thursday, April 26, 2012

USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, April 19 - 25, 2012

Table of Contents

**Click here to subscribe to USIP's Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding News Roundup,
which includes a special section on Internet and social media.**

Russia Says Many States Arming for Cyber Warfare
Russia has stepped up its campaign for a globally binding treaty on cyber security, warning that many states are acquiring cyber warfare capabilities that, if unleashed, could subvert economies and bring down critical infrastructure. Russia has been hosting meetings in Germany - which it likes to call the cyber equivalent of Davos - for the past six years. This year it is trying to drum up support for a treaty that would classify "information warfare" as a crime against international peace and security.
See the full article (Reuters, Adrian Croft, 4/25/12)
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Containing Weapons of Mass Surveillance
President Obama is on the right track with Monday's executive order, but the United States needs to get tougher on the global digital arms race. As the bodies continue to pile up in Syria, the Assad government's war against its own people extends beyond physical space to cyberspace. Not satisfied with pervasive surveillance through Internet and mobile networks -- conducted with the help of Western companies -- the Syrian government also conducts outright cyber-warfare against its own people.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Rebecca MacKinnon, 4/24/12)
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Connected Conflict
Local youths [in Libya] set up Internet-­connected media centers in almost every town to document and catalogue photographs and videos and track events in their region. The media centers had basic equipment: simple PCs and digital cameras. But Libyan youths were creative, editing footage of the conflict into montages uploaded to popular YouTube and Facebook channels. Satellite equipment was used to upload footage and keep us and journalists abreast of the situation in other areas of the country.
See the full article (Technology Review, Moez Zeiton, 4/24/12)
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Are Chinese Bloggers America's Accidental Spies?
On Dec. 22, 2010, someone apparently pointed a cellphone out of the window of a car driving along a public road outside the perimeter of a military airfield in Chengdu. The person holding the phone, whose name has never been revealed, snapped a photo of a black-painted jet fighter taxiing through fog blanketing the airfield. With that simple act, the photographer appeared to outperform the $80-billion-a-year U.S. spy community, which has the advantage of a plethora of drones, satellites, hackers and old-fashioned human spies.
See the full article (Wired, David Axe, 4/24/12)
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Iran Cracks US Stealth Spy Drone's Secrets, Shows Proof
Iran claims that their engineers have reverse engineered the secrets of the American stealth spy drone RQ-170 Sentinel that went down in their territory last December. To prove it, they have made public some of the encrypted information stored in the plane. If confirmed, it's very bad news for the United States. Not only they would be able to use this information to their own advantage in the future, but you can bet that these secrets are going to end up in the hands of Russians and Chinese military.
See the full article (Gizmodo, Jesus Diaz, 4/23/12)
Click to read "Despite Big Unresolved Issues, Progress in Iran Nuclear Negotiations," a USIP On the Issues by Daniel Brumberg.
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Obama Administration Looking to Award Prize Money for Ideas on Preventing Mass Atrocities
The Obama administration on Monday issued a call to the public to come up with creative ideas for tracking and preventing mass genocide and other atrocities in countries across the globe. "We want to invite students, individuals, and folks who are savvy about tech, to help us think about new applications of science and technology for a range of atrocity prevention challenges." The call involves $600,000 in prize money that will come from USAID and The Omidyar Group's Humanity United foundation.
See the full article (techPresident, Sarah Lai Stirland, 4/23/12)
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Obama Announces Sanctions for Tech Used in Human Rights Abuses in Iran and Syria
President Obama issued an executive order Monday that allows U.S. officials for the first time to impose sanctions against foreign nationals found to have used new technologies, including cellphone tracking and Internet monitoring, to help carry out grave human rights abuses. Authoritarian governments, particularly in Syria and Iran, have shown that their security services can also harness technology to help crack down on dissent.
See the full article (Washington Post, Scott Wilson, 4/23/12)
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The Science of Civil War: What Makes Heroic Strife
For the past decade or so, generals commanding the world's most advanced armies have been able to rely on accurate forecasts of the outcomes of conventional battles. Guerrilla warfare, however, is harder to model than open battle of this sort. [But] in the war-games rooms and think-tanks of the rich world's military powers, bright minds are working on the problem of how to model insurrection and irregular warfare. Slowly but surely they are succeeding, and in the process they are helping politicians and armies to a better understanding of the nature of rebellion.
See the full article (Economist, 4/21/12)
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Click here to subscribe to USIP's Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding News Roundup,
which includes a special section on Internet and social media.

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USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, April 19 - 25, 2012

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

**Click here to subscribe to USIP's Science, Technology and Peacebuilding News Roundup.**

Media and Journalism

US Military Criticised for Secrecy over Death of Afghan BBC Correspondent
Ahmed Omed Khpulwak, 25, an Afghan national who worked as a BBC stringer in southern Uruzgan province, was shot dead by US soldiers who mistook him for an insurgent. Both the Afghan government and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force initially said Khpulwak had been killed by the Taliban.
See the full article (Guardian, Emma Graham-Harrison, 4/25/12)
Click to read "Paying for Afghanistan's Security Forces During Transition: Issues for Chicago and Beyond," a USIP Peace Brief by William Byrd.
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Gunman Kills Brazilian Political Reporter, 4th Journalist Killed in Country This Year
A crusading reporter who "breathed, dreamed and lived journalism 24 hours a day" was gunned down as he ate dinner, and colleagues said Tuesday they are certain he was killed because of his work. Decio Sa, a political reporter for the newspaper O Estado do Maranhao in northeastern Brazil, was at least the fourth journalist slain this year in the South American nation, one of the deadliest for reporters to work in.
See the full article (AP, 4/24/12)
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Is Tunisia's Post-Revolution Media Freedom Slipping?
Over a year ago activist/blogger Slim Amamou created a lot of buzz as the youngest cabinet minister in the post-revolution transitional Tunisian government that promised to reform the country after decades of corrupt dictatorial rule. Today, he's worried the regime that replaced that cabinet, after the ouster of president Zine El Abdine Ben Ali, is heading down a dangerous path of stricter controls on the media, and score settling with rivals to maintain control.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Magda Abu-Fadil, 4/21/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Trauma Resilience as a Keystone to Building the Rule of Law in Conflict-Affected Societies" on May 18 at 9:00am.
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Kazakh Journalist Shot, Stabbed, Colleagues Cry Foul
Unknown assailants shot and stabbed a newspaper journalist in Kazakhstan late on Thursday in an attack his employers and international rights groups said could have been linked to his reports critical of the Central Asian nation's government. Authorities in Kazakhstan show little tolerance for critical media.
See the full article (Reuters, Robin Paxton and Maria Gordeyeva, 4/20/12)
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Sudan Clashes Ignite Media Campaigns
With clashes between South Sudan and Sudan threatening to spiral into all-out conflict, state TV networks in both countries are pulling out the stops to rally support for their respective causes. Martial music accompanies footage of soldiers, and statements by military commanders reinforce the military mobilization under way on both sides of the border. Meanwhile, online activists within Sudan are using social media to question the official line.
See the full article (BBC, 4/20/12)
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Kony 2012: What Happens Next?
The Kony 2012 campaign film devised by the American charity Invisible Children has left communication experts and other NGOs awe-struck. But the film has also been the target of a furious backlash with claims that they misrepresented the war and it is becoming increasingly clear that that backlash has put a dampener on the campaign's reputation and the turnout for tonight's Cover the Night protest, the charities first big offline event since the video came out.
See the full article (Guardian, Polly Curtis and Tom McCarthy, 4/20/12)
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Senior Pakistani Journalist Found Dead In Karachi
The Pakistani newspaper "Dawn" says one of its editors has been murdered in the southern city of Karachi. The paper said on April 19 that the body of Murtaza Rizvi had been found earlier that day in an apartment in an upscale area of the city. Rizvi was the editor of magazines at the Dawn newspaper group. It was not clear if the killing was related to his work. Pakistan has one of the world's most dangerous media environments, with a number of journalists being killed every year.
See the full article (RFE/RL, 4/19/12)
Click to read "New Media and Old: Using Social Media and Radio to Build Peace in Pakistan and Afghanistan," a USIP On the Issues by Theo Dolan and Michael Dwyer.
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Tuning in to Afghan National Unity
Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS) has reportedly identified at least half a dozen small newspapers and TV stations that are funded by either Pakistan or Iran. This hardly came as a revelation to most urbane Afghans whose diet of news and information during the past ten years has often been peppered with what has been described as foreign political and cultural propaganda.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, Helena Malikyar and Tanya Goudsouzian, 4/20/12)
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Journalists Under Fire: First Aid at the Front Line
Tim Hetherington, a British documentary film-maker [was] killed by a mortar fire in the Libyan city of Misrata. So to coincide with the first anniversary of Hetherington's death, [American journalist Sebastian] Junger has been delivering a course called "Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues." The three-day course sees instructors from Wilderness Medical Associates teach participants standard medical procedures for trauma, penetration wounds and respiratory issues.
See the full article (Economist, 4/19/12)
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Internet and Social Media

Former Terrorists and Neo-Nazis Get Their Own Social Network
Against Violent Extremism is an online platform (sure to be dubbed a "Facebook for terrorists") where former extremists and survivors of attacks can share their experiences, with the view to help other individuals leave or avoid falling into violent extremist groups. It will include profiles of former violent extremists from a variety of backgrounds. The network will also include other people with an interest in countering violent extremism, including activists, policy-makers, and entrepreneurs.
See the full article(Wired, Olivia Solon, 4/25/12)
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U.S. Diplomat Peter Van Buren Speaks About American Public Diplomacy
Actions really do speak louder than words. So as long as deaths in wedding parties from misplaced drone attacks, atrocities by soldiers and videos of Abu Ghraib exist, you are not going to fool anyone regardless of how many tweets you send out. Look at the outcome of the Haditha massacre in Iraq: 24 unarmed Iraqis were slaughtered by an out-of-control group of Marines in 2005. You can Tweet and Facebook until the end of time, but that story will resonate for even longer within the Arab world.
See the full article (Huffington Post, John Brown, 4/24/12)
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Report: Iran Unplugs Oil Facilities from Internet
The Iranian oil ministry's computer network came under attack from hackers and a computer virus, prompting the Islamic Republic to disconnect the country's main oil export terminal from the Internet as a preventative measure, a semiofficial news agency reported on Monday. The Islamic Republic says that it is involved in a long-running technological war with the United States and Israel.
See the full article (AP, Nasser Karimi, 4/23/12)
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People Power 2.0
After weeks of skirmishes in the Nafusa Mountains southwest of Tripoli, Sifaw Twawa and his brigade of freedom fighters are at a standstill. Lightly armed and hidden only by trees, they are a stone's throw from one of four Grad 122-millimeter multiple-rocket launchers laying down a barrage on Yefren, their besieged hometown. Twawa's men successfully attack because two civilians briefed their leader, over Skype, in a battlefield a continent away.
See the full article (Technology Review, John Pollock, 4/21/12)
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Middle East Memes: A Guide
The rapid changes sweeping the Arab world have all too often been attributed to the internet, with pundits crediting the uprisings to various social networks. With an ever-growing critical mass of social media users across the region, such tools present a unique opportunity for fomenting social and political change. Internet memes - concepts that spread rapidly from person to person online - have become de rigueur in the region, whether intended to inspire, provoke, or simply get a few laughs.
See the full article (Guardian, Jillian C. York, 4/20/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "USIP Annual Conference on Security Sector Transformation in North Africa and the Middle East" on May 10 at 8:30am.
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Iran Asks for Help to 'Purify' Internet
Iran's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology is apparently seeking domestic partners to help with its Internet-filtering efforts. According to a Request For Information (RFI), the ministry-affiliated Research Institute for Information and Communication Technology has called on Iranian companies to offer ideas and pilot projects for "purifying" the Internet. The document says the Internet has been polluted with "immoral sites" that can lead to "major cultural and societal problems."
See the full article (RFE/RL, Golnaz Esfandiari, 4/19/12)
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NATO and Facebook Join Forces in the Global Digital Age
NATO's mission is peace and security. Facebook's mission is to make the world more open and connected. But we both strongly believe that today's policy issues are increasingly global. In pursuing our efforts to contribute to this global conservation, we -- two individuals at Facebook and NATO -- have started to collaborate. Because we believe that instruments of diplomacy, no matter how hard or how soft -- or how smart, for that matter -- bring people together.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Stefanie Babst and Elizabeth Linder, 4/19/12)
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The Social Media Peace Corps
After a 16 year hiatus, the US Peace Corps is reopening operations in Tunisia. During the recent Social Media Week in DC, State Department officials shared their updated tactics. The tone was not that different from six years ago. For example, several explained how tweeting from embassy missions aided Foreign Services Officers in sharing the message of the US when they were limited in face to face interactions with foreign publics, due to restricted physical security measures.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, Mehrunnisa Qayyum and Ramah Kudaimi, 4/19/12)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"Parole Camp" - Al Jazeera
Each year in South Africa's Cape Flats region, more than 1,000 youths are released from prison on parole. Many of these parolees will return to jail within a few weeks - unable to re-integrate into their communities or to avoid being caught up in the vicious circle of gangs, drugs and crime that is life for many in the townships. Solomon Madikane is a former prison warden who was so frustrated by the endless cycle of law-breaking and incarceration that he left his job and set up the reintegration programme in 2004.
See the full video
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