News Roundup Archive

Thursday, May 17, 2012

USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, May 10 - 16, 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.**

Why the World Isn't Freaking Out About Iran's Plasma-Powered Spy Sat
Next Wednesday, Iran will try to launch an experimental reconnaissance satellite into orbit - just as international negotiators gather in Baghdad for talks about Tehran's nuclear program. The timing couldn't be more inflammatory, and rogue state satellite launches are usually considered to be missile tests in drag. So why isn't the world throwing itself into a tizzy about the mission?
See the full article (Wired, Noah Shachtman, 5/16/12)
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Robot Soldiers Will Be a Reality -- And a Threat
Using brain-machine interface technologies [can] give the remote pilot instantaneous control of the drone through his or her thoughts alone. The technology is not science fiction: Brain-machine interface systems are already being used to help patients with paralytic conditions interact with their environments, like controlling a cursor on a computer screen. Some security analysts already worry that remote control unacceptably lowers the bar for a technologically superior force to engage in conflict.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Jonathan D. Moreno, 5/14/12)
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Cash, and Time, Runs Out for Afghanistan's Wi-Fi City
[The "JLink" DIY Wi-Fi network] came to Afghanistan in the hope of helping, nonviolently, to rehabilitate a country fractured by decades of war. [But] JLink is not something the Taliban destroyed. Its impending collapse illustrates what happens when grand ambitions lead to grand achievements that ultimately prove unsustainable - perhaps because they proceeded from unstable, utopian premises. And like the war itself, the group that created JLink is out of time to salvage its project.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 5/14/12)
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Pentagon to Expand Cybersecurity Program for Defense Contractors
The Pentagon is expanding and making permanent a trial program that teams the government with Internet service providers to protect defense firms' computer networks against data theft by foreign adversaries. It is part of a larger effort to broaden the sharing of classified and unclassified cyberthreat data between the government and industry in what Defense Department officials say is a promising collaboration between the public and private sectors.
See the full article (Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, 5/11/12)
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Guest Post: ICT, Africa, and the 90/10 Rule
Participants [at a SAIS conference] explored the potential of ICT to improve governance in Africa by promoting dissent, organizing opposition, enabling large groups to express shared concerns, and reducing communication transaction costs; as well as improving government effectiveness by streamlining administrative functions (bureaucratic listservs or mobile courts for example), opening channels of communication with constituents, and improving service delivery. [But] it is easy to get caught up in the ICT component of a project and allow it to overshadow the desired outcomes.
See the full article (Council on Foreign Relations, Asch Harwood, 5/10/12)
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How FrontlineSMS Users Could Monitor Kenya's 2013 Elections
The FrontlineSMS meet-up held in Nairobi at the beginning of April brought together a number of organizations, individuals and experts who focus their work on elections and conflict resolution-related issues -- and who all have an interest in the potential use of FrontlineSMS for monitoring Kenya's upcoming 2013 elections. It's true that the most exciting breakthroughs in our time will not occur because of technology as such, but because of our expanding ability to support each other.
See the full article (PBS, Florence Scialom, 5/10/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "The End of Civil Wars: How to Make Peace Stick" on May 22 at 2:00pm.
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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, May 10 - 16, 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

Post Taliban, Saad Mohseni Builds Media Empire
It's hard to overstate the explosion of media that's overtaken Afghanistan since the repressive Taliban government was toppled. There are now scores of radio and television stations here. And TV has a 1950s feel with entire families gathering in the evenings to watch their favorite shows. By far the biggest player is Tolo TV, founded by Saad Mohseni and his siblings nearly a decade ago. Along the way, Mohseni has incurred the wrath of politicians over his network's news reporting, and the country's mullahs over its edgy programming.
See the full article (NPR, 5/16/12)
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Fighting for Freedom of Speech in Ethiopia
[Eskinder Nega] faces life in prison on charges of terrorism and incitement to violent revolt after writing an article discussing the implications of the Arab Spring uprising for democracy in Ethiopia. And Nega is not alone in being on the receiving end of an ongoing government crackdown on independent journalists in Ethiopia, many of whom are also being silenced by arrests and imprisonment. Many have fled the country to keep hope (and themselves) alive.
See the full article (The Root, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, 5/15/12)
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Razistan, Afghanistan War Photo Project, Showcases Impact of Conflict on the Country
The war in Afghanistan is far from over, though one might forget as much given the Western media's waning interest in the conflict. HuffPost World is proud to partner with Razistan, a new initiative working with both local Afghan photographers and foreign photojournalists, to share the underreported stories of Afghanistan and its people.
See the full article (Huffington Post, 5/14/12)
Click to read "Afghanistan's Civil Order Police," a USIP Special Report by Robert M. Perito.
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In BRICS Nations, Journalists at Risk
A meeting of emerging economic heavyweights in New Delhi earlier this year received generous press coverage. The so-called BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - pledged to expand mutual trade and discussed the possibility of a new development agency to balance the Western-dominated global financial system. But the group has found notoriety in another sphere - the impunity with which journalists are killed in member countries.
See the full article (New York Times, Sruthi Gottipati, 5/14/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Pakistani Journalist Killed by Kidnappers
The bullet-riddled body of Pakistani journalist Tariq Kamal, a Karachi-based reporter for a local Sindhi newspaper, was found last Wednesday (9 May). He had been kidnapped three days before along with his friend, Fawad Sheikh, who was also murdered. The family [was] informed by the kidnappers that the two men were being killed because they were police informants. Kamal was on a visit to a dangerous area of Balochistan to work on an exclusive report.
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 5/14/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "'Saving Face' - A Special Screening" on May 22 at 1:30pm.
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How Iraq Is Using Reality TV and Facebook to Inspire a Generation of Peacemakers
Educational reality TV and social media are the drivers inspiring a group of Iraqi youth demanding a different future - one with peaceful resolutions and equality. Nareen, an 18-year-old Iraqi whose last name has been withheld for safety reasons, starred in Iraq's first youth reality TV show called Salam Shabab. After the first season of the show aired, participants went home and turned to social media to continue conversations about peace. Nareen said she talks with her fellow Salam Shabab participants on social media to discuss news, peace and political issues.
See the full article (Mashable, Alissa Skelton, 5/13/12)
Click to watch the Season 2 promo of "Salam Shabab," an Iraqi youth reality TV series supported by USIP.
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Building Libya's New Media 'From a Void'
Going from being a country with a highly controlled press to one that has free, independent and functioning media in roughly a year is a tall order. Gaddafi's four-decade rule has left its scars everywhere, including the nation's newsrooms, which, for so long, acted as nothing more than the propaganda machine of the "Brother-Leader". Despite the initial revolutionary surge of entrepreneurial journalists, finally free to report on the horrors of the Gaddafi era, what remains is a struggle to understand the type of media a budding democracy needs - and what it takes to build it.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, D. Parvaz, 5/12/12)
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Arab Media Struggle to Adapt to New-found Freedom
Caught out by last year's Arab Spring uprisings, the region's media are still coming to terms with their new-found freedom from the strong-arm tactics of now toppled dictators, participants in a Dubai conference say. "The Arab media is trying to find its way after this 180-degree about turn," said Nabil al-Khatib, editor-in-chief at Al-Arabiya news channel. "Many journalists were used to receiving orders from information ministers in their countries on the coverage of events, and suddenly they found themselves free."
See the full article (AFP, Acil Tabbara, 5/11/12)
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Q & A: Eritrean Journalist-in-exile Reflects on Censored Country
Under President Isaias Afewerki, who has led Eritrea since it wrested its independence from Ethiopia nearly two decades ago, the heavily militarized East African nation has clamped down on dissent. Foreign reporters are shut out. All media are controlled by the government. It didn't used to be that way. Eritrean journalist-in-exile Aaron Berhane published an independent newspaper in Eritrea before the government shut down private media in 2001, angered by criticism of the regime.
See the full article (Los Angeles Times, Emily Alpert, 5/11/12)
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Turkey Turns to Iran to Help Secure Release of Two Journalists Detained in Syrian Capital
Adem Ozkose, 34, and Hamit Coskun, 21, are expected to be released after negotiations reflecting the opaque blend of regional rivalry and cooperation between Turkey, a foe of Syria's regime, and Iran, a staunch supporter of Damascus. Iran was acting as diplomatic go-between between Syria and Turkey, which has shut its embassy in Syria and wants President Bashar Assad to resign for attacking population centers. As in Syria, Turkey and Iran back opposing factions in Iraq in what some analysts call a proxy conflict tinged with sectarian tension.
See the full article (AP, 5/11/12)
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The AP (Temporarily) Holds a Big Story
Early this week, the Associated Press broke the story that the US government had stymied an attempt by a Yemini Al-Qaeda group to blow-up a US bound plane. It was a huge scoop, but at the government's request the AP sat on the story for several days. [On the Media] speaks with AP reporter Matt Apuzzo about the decision to hold the story, and the decision to publish it.
See the full article (NPR, 5/11/12)
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Vietnamese Reporters Beaten
Two Vietnamese radio reporters were kicked and beaten while covering the eviction of villagers from their farmland. The assault on Nguyen Ngoc Nam and Han Phi Long, who work for state-run Radio Voice of Vietnam, highlights the risks of reporting on increasingly sensitive land issues in the country. In what appears to have been state-sponsored violence against state-sponsored journalists, it signals an extension of the media crackdown that has previously targeted unsanctioned journalists and bloggers.
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 5/10/12)
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North Korea Access to Outside Media Up, Says US Study
North Koreans have more access than ever to outside media, including radio, TV and DVDs, a study has found. The government was unable to maintain a ''total monopoly'' over information and the people's "understanding of the world is changing," said the report. Viewing of foreign DVDs in North Korea, especially, had risen sharply. Most of these DVDs were South Korean dramas, and had been smuggled across the border with China, said the report, commissioned by the US government.
See the full article (BBC, 5/10/12)
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Internet and Social Media

Could Facebook, Twitter be Charged Under Thailand's Computer Crime Act?
According to the lese-majesté law, [web comments] could be considered a threat to Thailand's national security. The issue could get even muddier this month as the Thai courts rule on the case of Chiranuch Premchaiporn who has been charged under Section 15 of the Computer Crime Act for allowing anti-government comments on the site The case could set a precedent, not only for Thai citizens, but for anyone allowing Thai citizens to comment online.
See the full article (PBS, Clothilde Le Coz, 5/16/12)
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Arab Spring Govt Stance 'Unleashed Twitter, Facebook Wars'
Banning mainstream media from reporting on the Arab Spring threw the governments of affected states into a battle with social media hijacked by an uncontrollable opposition propaganda genie, media monitor Sharif Nashashibi told RT. Sharif Hikmat Nashashibi is the chairman and co-founder of Arab Media Watch, an independent, non-profit watchdog set up in 2000 to strive for objective coverage of Arab issues in the British media.
See the full article (RT, 5/14/12)
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Iran Curbs Foreign-sourced Email Providers
Iran's telecommunications ministry has barred local banks, insurance firms and telephone operators from using foreign-sourced emails to communicate with clients. The order prohibits banks, insurance firms and telephone firms using foreign hosts for their sites or to inform their clients using foreign providers such as Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail or MSN. individuals seeking to communicate with such firms must now use email addresses ending with, or
See the full article (AFP, 5/12/12)
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How Azerbaijan Demonizes the Internet to Keep Citizens Offline
As the world discovers Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani government is doing its best to keep its citizens from connecting with the world. Over the past few years, the Azerbaijani government has waged an aggressive media campaign against the Internet. Social media has become synonymous with deviance, criminality, and treason. Social media has become a vital political issue despite the fact that 78 percent of Azerbaijanis have never used the Internet.
See the full article (Slate, Sarah Kendzior and Katy Pearce, 5/11/12)
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In Indonesia, Social Media Checks the Military
Last week a young man was attacked by an army captain on a busy Jakarta road. The whole thing was recorded in a two-minute video that went viral on YouTube. The spontaneous public outcry indicated that this was not an isolated incident of abuse of power by the nation's security apparatus. Commentators on Facebook and Twitter recalled that it wasn't so long ago that such actions by members of the military went unpunished. Not this time. YouTube provided the video, and Facebook and Twitter gave people the platform to vent their anger.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Endy Bayuni, 5/11/12)
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The Kony 2012 Controversy: A Look at Its Coverage in American Media vs. Ugandan Media
The sudden phenomenon drew wide attention in the mainstream American media where the focus was on the rising power of new media versus traditional media. In Uganda, however, the focus was altogether different. There, accusations were raised against the accuracy of the video itself. Prominent Ugandan journalists and activists were vehemently critical of the video's factual flaws and oversimplification.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Fatima Muneer, 5/10/12)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"Robert Kirkpatrick: How the United Nations is Using Social Data to Spot Disasters" - PSFK
Robert Kirkpatrick talks about how the social media revolution has opened up a significant amount of data that can be analyzed (anonymously) to see signs of change. Kirkpatrick, together with his Global Pulse team at the United Nations, studies sentiment in Twitter feeds, fluctuations in price data and changes in other available information to look for trouble. By using data for good, the United Nations can respond to disaster rapidly - rather than well after the fact.
See the full video
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Click here to subscribe to USIP's Science, Technology and Peacebuilding News Roundup.

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