News Roundup Archive

Thursday, March 14, 2013

USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, March 7 - 13, 2013

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.**

Researchers Find 25 Countries Using Surveillance Software
Last May, two security researchers volunteered to look at a few suspicious e-mails sent to some Bahraini activists. Almost one year later, the two have uncovered evidence that some 25 governments, many with questionable records on human rights, may be using off-the-shelf surveillance software to spy on their own citizens.
See the full article (New York Times, Nicole Perlroth, 3/13/13) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Preventing an Arctic Cold War
Today, as the effects of global warming are amplified in the high north, most of the ocean is open water during the summer and covered by ice only in the winter. This unexpected transformation has radically altered the stakes for the Arctic, especially for the eight nations and indigenous peoples that surround it. The potential for such conflict is high, even though tensions are now low.
See the full article (New York Times, Paul Arthur Berkman, 3/12/13) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
Click to read "Natural Disasters as Threats to Peace," a USIP Special Report by Frederick S. Tipson.
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In Manifesto, Mexican Eco-Terrorists Declare War on Nanotechnology
Over the past two years, Mexican scientists involved in bio- and nanotechnology have become targets. They're not threatened by the nation's drug cartels. They're marked for death by a group of bomb-building eco-terrorists with the professed goal of destroying human civilization.
See the full article (Wired, Robert Beckhusen, 3/12/13)
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Cyber-attacks a Bigger Threat than Al Qaeda, Officials Say
Cyber-attacks and cyber-espionage pose a greater potential danger to U.S. national security than Al Qaeda and other militants that have dominated America's global focus since Sept. 11, 2001, the nation's top intelligence officials said Tuesday. For the first time, the growing risk of computer-launched foreign assaults on U.S. infrastructure was ranked higherthan worries about terrorism, transnational organized crime and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
See the full article (Los Angeles Times, Ken Dilanian, 3/12/13)
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My Search for a Smartphone That is Not Soaked in Blood
For 17 years, rival armies and militias [in the Democratic Republic of Congo] have been fighting over the region's minerals. Among them are metals critical to the manufacture of electronic gadgets, without which no smartphone would exist: tantalum, tungsten, tin and gold. While these elements are by no means the only reason for conflict there, they help to fund it, supporting a fragmented war that - through direct killings, displacement, disease and malnutrition - has now killed several million people.
See the full article (Guardian, George Monbiot, 3/11/13)
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Iran Is Blocking Tools Used to Evade Internet Filters
Iran has blocked many of the Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) that some citizens use to dodge the government's Internet filters, Iranian media reported Sunday. The Iranian government is still allowing citizens to use a short list of approved VPNs which could potentially be more easily monitored for unwanted behavior. Whether Iranians will actually use the government-approved VPNs remains an open question.
See the full article (Mashable, Alex Fitzpatrick, 3/11/13)
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Climate Change Is the Biggest Threat in the Pacific, Says Top U.S. Admiral
North Korea just annulled the 1953 armistice ending its war with South Korea. China and Japan are locked in a dispute over an island chain. But the greatest long-term threat to the peace of East Asia and Pacific Ocean - the part of the world at the heart of the Obama administration's aspirational defense strategy - is climate change, according to the admiral in charge of U.S. military operations there.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 3/11/13)
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The Global Swarm
Depending on which source you want to cite, there are currently between 75 and 87 countries that have used unmanned aircraft in their militaries. Only the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel are known to have used armed drones operationally, but the limit on why others have not is frequently political, not technological. However, these political limits are changing.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, P.W. Singer, 3/11/13) *Foreign Policy sign-up may be required to view the full article
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How Kenya's High-Tech Voting Nearly Lost the Election
It was supposed to be the most modern election in African history. Biometric identification kits with electronic thumb pads, registration rolls on laptops at every polling station, and an SMS-relayed, real-time transmission of the results to the National Tallying Center in Nairobi. Ambitious? Of course. Only 23 percent of the country has access to electricity.
See the full article (NPR, Gregory Warner, 3/9/13)
Click to read "Largely Peaceful Kenyan Vote Bolstered by Youth, Technology," a USIP News Feature by Viola Gienger.
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Peace Brings New Pressures on Water in Northern Sri Lanka
When she came back to her house almost two-and-a-half years after fleeing it amid intense fighting, Rajina Mary looked desperately for one thing - the well in her garden. As people return to the war-ravaged region, experts are warning that pressures on its water supply are growing and that using water sparingly will be crucial, particularly as climate change brings more weather extremes.
See the full article (AlertNet, Amantha Perera, 3/8/13)
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Gray Matter
The Chinese People's Liberation Army has been systematically stealing technology worth billions of dollars from countless American companies in many industries. Is this news? Not to American intelligence agencies. The hidden story here is that the private sector can perform first-class intelligence collection and analysis that a few years ago could have been done only by a nation-state.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Joel Brenner, 3/8/13) *Foreign Policy sign-up may be required to view the full article
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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, March 7 - 13, 2013

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

UN Rights Monitor Alarmed by Iran Media Crackdown
The United Nations' monitor for human rights in Iran sounded the alarm Tuesday over a rise in arrests of journalists, saying this was part of a pattern of increasing violations as presidential elections loom. Seventeen journalists were arrested in the space of one week in January, Ahmed Shaheed told reporters.
See the full article (AFP, 3/13/13)
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Mali Media Strike Over Editor Boukary Daou's Arrest
Mali's private media have launched a news blackout after an editor was arrested for publishing a letter about poor conditions from soldiers fighting Islamist militants in the north. The BBC's Alex Duval Smith in the capital, Bamako, says about 40 newspaper titles are published each week - and none have appeared on news stands in the city on Tuesday morning.
See the full article (BBC, 3/12/13)
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14 Dark Days: Reporting Some of the Worst Days of the Troubles
In March 1988, a traumatic 14 day cycle of violence marked one of the lowest points of Northern Ireland's Troubles and made the journalists who reported it part of the story. Bill Neely is a Belfast native and cut his teeth reporting the Troubles for the BBC. Now international editor for ITV News, he vividly recalls the 14 days when the violence seemed to spiral completely out of control.
See the full article (BBC, Peter Crutchley, 3/11/13)
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Newspaper Adds New Obstacle to Tribunal Investigating Lebanese Official's Death
The first shock came when a leading Lebanese newspaper published a confidential list of 17 witnesses who may testify in the murder trial of a former prime minister - showing their names, passport pictures, dates of birth and where they work. The newspaper's actions seemed to underscore the lengths to which opponents of the tribunal will go to undermine its mandate.
See the full article (New York Times, Marlise Simons, 3/9/13) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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The Unequal Time Rule
On Sunday a bombing in Abbas Town, a predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Karachi, killed 48 people and injured almost 200. Although it was just the latest incident in a sinister trend of sectarian violence in Pakistan, the attack prompted a swifter political response. The main reason? It received more media coverage.
See the full article (New York Times, Huma Yusuf, 3/8/13) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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It's Tough to Start a Newspaper After 50 Years of State Censorship
Six days a week, one of the world's most exclusive newspapers goes to print at 3 p.m. Two hours later, it's in the hands of just 50 white-collar Burmese: the same journalists who wrote it. For now, only the staff of The Rangoon Times can see their creation, as daily private newspapers remain illegal across Burma.
See the full article (Atlantic, Jake Spring, 3/7/13)
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Tanzanian Journalists Under Attack
Journalists in Tanzania are being intimidated by beatings, harassment and death threats. In the latest example, Absalom Kibanda, editor of the newspaper Mtanzania was attacked outside his home and suffered serious head injuries. The attack is thought to be related to his journalistic work.
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 3/7/13)
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Kenya Media Outlets Practice Self-censorship to Keep Election Tensions Down
It's the biggest news of the year in Kenya: A presidential election with huge potential for violence. Kenya's Media Owners Association told The Associated Press that media leaders made a "gentleman's agreement" to balance the national interest and the public's right to know, including not reporting anything that could incite ethnic tensions and not airing political statements live.
See the full article (AP, Rodney Muhumuza, 3/7/13)
Click to read "Kenya's Elections: What's Next?" a USIP Special Report by Jacqueline Wilson.
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Internet and Social Media

A Rare Glimpse of North Korea's Version of Facebook
Most North Koreans can't access the Internet, and only foreigners can use the country's brand-new 3G cellular network. But the country has still developed its own rudimentary social network - which you can now see for yourself, thanks to a SXSW panel the Associated Press's Jean Lee gave this weekend. Lee, the AP's Korea bureau chief and the only American journalist allowed regular access to North Korea, made headlines earlier this year when she sent some of the first tweets and Instagrams on North Korea's Koryolink network.
See the full article (Washington Post, Caitlin Dewey, 3/13/13)
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Iran Targets Means of Bypassing Online Censorship
Iran has stepped up its already tough Internet censorship policy by blocking the most popular antifiltering tool used by Iranians to access blocked websites. Beginning last week, Iranian authorities began blocking virtual private networks (VPNs), which an estimated 30 percent of the country's Internet users employ to get around state censorship.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Golnaz Esfandiari, 3/12/13)
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The Future of Digital Diplomacy: An Interview With Alec Ross
Alec Ross, the State Department's first senior advisor for innovation, is leaving after nearly four years of spearheading the department's lunge into the twenty-first century. In a conversation with Mashable, Ross reflected upon helping to build what he and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton call "twenty-first century statecraft" and shared some advice for his successors. See the full article (Mashable, Alex Fitzpatrick, 3/12/13)
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4 Signs the Vietnamese Government Is Crushing the Country's 'Social Media Revolution'
After more than a year in pre-trial detention, five independent bloggers amid other activists stood in a Vietnamese court for two days in January to hear they would live behind bars for up to 13 more years. They join a growing cohort of bloggers imprisoned for "activities aimed at overthrowing the people's administration," "undermining of national unity" and committing "propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam."
See the full article (Atlantic, Dana Wagner, 3/11/13)
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What Happens to Social Media After a Twitter Revolution?
Two years after the Arab Spring, questions still remain as to how much social media actually helped fuel and drive the uprisings that arose in Tunisia and swept across the region. But regardless of what happened during those Twitter-fueled revolutions, what's happened afterward?
See the full article (Mashable, Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, 3/10/13)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "The Struggle for Democracy in Tunisia" on March 20 at 2:30pm.
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US Takes its Diplomacy Digital
When John Kerry took to Twitter on his first day as US secretary of state, he joined an army of diplomats using social media to reach out and connect directly with people around the world. In less than 140 characters, the new US top diplomat instantly signaled he intended to carry on and deepen a commitment to using social media begun under his predecessor Hillary Clinton.
See the full article (AP, Jo Biddle, 6/7/13)
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#RainbowNation: The Rise of South Africa's 'Black Twitter'
Twitter use is booming in South Africa and a loose, outspoken community of black tweeters are using the short-form platform to bypass traditional media and add their own voices to social debates. "Black people still carry emotional, and physical, scars of apartheid. The nation has not healed, instead anger and pain are suppressed," tweeted a user named Mfuneko Solomzi.
See the full article (Christian Science Monitor, Kenichi Serino, 3/7/13)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"From Afghanistan, We Need You to Know" - Our Journey to Smile
Our Journey to Smile, a group of Afghan college students and young adults, seeks to bring youth from all over Afghanistan and volunteers from around the world to participate in International Peace Day. In this video, Our Journey to Smile affirms their solidarity with the tens of thousands of victims of Mexcio's drug war, showing that it is possible for people separated by oceans, history, and identity to be united in support of peace.
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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