News Roundup Archive

Thursday, November 20, 2014

PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, November 13-19, 2014


Technology and Science

Media and Social Media

Norwegian Filmmakers Apologize For Fake Syria Video
Norwegian filmmakers apologized on Tuesday for planting fake video of the war in Syria on YouTube last week, and removed the original footage following a torrent of criticism from journalists and rights advocates who said such deceptions undermine their efforts to document real abuses. Before the crew admitted to BBC News that it was fiction - shot in Malta in May - the footage had been viewed millions of times, featured in news reports and added to a vast archive of clips documenting the war that is maintained by Syrian activists.
See the full article (New York Times, 11/18/14, Robert Mackey) *New York Times subscription may be required to read the full article
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Hamas Affiliated Social Media Abuzz With Cartoons Glorifying Jerusalem Terror Attack
Hamas affiliated social media exploded Tuesday with violent and anti-Semitic cartoons praising the terrorist attack that killed four people Tuesday morning at a synagogue in Jerusalem. The cartoons claim that the bloody attack on Jewish worshipers in a synagogue was in defense of al-Aksa Mosque. Additionally, the Hamas affiliated Shehab News agency's Facebook posted letters of support "for the heroic Jerusalem operation."
See the full article (The Jerusalem Post, 11/18/14, Dov Lieber)
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Woman Charged With Promoting ISIS On Social Media
A woman faces a federal charge after being accused of promoting the ISIS in social media and offering to help an undercover agent get a friend into Syria to join the extremist group. Heather Elizabeth Coffman made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court on Monday. She is charged with making a materially false statement about an offense involving terrorism.
See the full article (CBS News, 11/17/14)
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The 'Truth' Behind The Female Soldier Fighting ISIS
Her smile launched thousands of retweets, and inspired many news articles. People say she's killed 100 Islamic State fighters. ISIS supporters have declared her dead on two separate occasions. They call her Rehana, but that's likely not her name. What is true is this young woman unwittingly became a key social media front in the battle for Kobane. This is the story of the creation of the online legend of Rehana - and why it can never be killed.
See the full article (Digg, 11/17/14, Craig Silverman)
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Ignorant Jihadis 'Have Bought Into Fantasy Fueled By Social Media'
Young Australians travelling overseas to take up arms with the militant group Islamic State have naively bought into a fictional fantasy fuelled by social media, a human rights activist says. Dr. Qanta Ahmed said social media probably had a large role to play in their recruitment, and that Isis had "captured the global imagination" through a strong and well-produced online campaign.
See the full article (The Guardian, 11/17/14, Melissa Davey)
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Reflections On The Arab Uprisings
The new Arab media and social media proved to be just as capable of transmitting negative and divisive ideas and images as they had been at spreading revolutionary ones. For a brief, tantalizing moment, independent television stations and newspapers seemed to constitute a genuine Egyptian public sphere. But that quickly collapsed. And while social media and new Web sites have certainly offered a plethora of opportunities for information to flow and opinions to be voiced, they have largely failed to supplant mainstream media as a source of news for mass publics.
See the full article (Washington Post, 11/17/14, Marc Lynch)
Click to read "Tunisia Votes: Observation from the field (Video)" an Olive Branch Post.
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Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

Getting Past The Way Of The Gun by Christopher Holshek
This past week, the U.S.-backed Iraqi Army retook the center of the northern industrial town of Beiji - a hard-fought, tactical victory in a long campaign against the Islamic State. Before that, President Barack Obama announced he is doubling the U.S. commitment of forces in Iraq. Certainly, the Islamic State poses an enormous threat to regional stability. But is the focus on military efforts the right one? The fact is that wielding the big stick rather than walking softly remains the default for American engagement abroad -- but it hasn't been working very well.
See the full article

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Technology and Science

Killer Robots Save Lives
One of the most significant developments in the twentieth century toward making warfare more humane and reducing civilian casualties came not in the form of a weapon that was banned, but a new weapon that was created: the precision-guided munition. Lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) stand in stark contrast to homing munitions and "smart" bombs. Instead, LAWS would choose their own targets. The scrutiny that activists bring to bear on new weapons is useful because it helps us think about the functions and consequences of new weapons.
See the full article (Politico, 11/19/14, Michael C. Horowitz and Paul Scharre)
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The Islamic State May Have Gotten Its Hands On An Iranian Drone
If their social media postings are to be believed, Islamic State fighters may have gotten their hands on an Iranian drone that made its way into Iraq. One user claimed the militants, who have held a tight grip on parts of Iraq and Syria since June, had "captured a coalition drone" - likely referring to the US-led coalition carrying out air strikes against the Islamic State in Syria.
See the full article (Vice News, 11/18/14, Kayla Ruble)
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The Geography Of Terrorism
Of the 17,958 people who died in terrorist attacks in 2013, 82 percent were in one of five countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Syria. That's one finding from this year's Global Terrorism Index report, published by the Institute for Economics and Peace. The report is based on data from the University of Maryland's Global Terrorism Database, which has information on more than 125,000 terrorist attacks between 1970 and 2013.
See the full article (The Atlantic, 11/18/14, Kathy Gilsinan)
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Off The Map
Rich countries are deluged with data; developing ones are suffering from drought. As rich countries collect and analyse data from as many objects and activities as possible-including thermostats, fitness trackers and location-based services such as Foursquare-a data divide has opened up. Poor data afflict even the highest-profile international development effort: the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). MDG data are patchiest in small countries and those mired in conflict.
See the full article (The Economist, 11/15/14)
Click to read "Google, Facebook, Microsoft Eye Syria Social Media Data for Trends" an Olive Branch Post by Viola Gienger.
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UN Sounds Alarm On Rise Of Autonomous 'Killer Robots'
With the proliferation of lethal weapons system, increasingly capable of carrying out faraway missions with minimal human oversight, the UN is demanding regulations on the killing machines. UN member states on Thursday warned, at the annual Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) in Geneva, that autonomous weapons systems featuring the deadly technology, will increase violations of international and humanitarian law.
See the full article (RT, 11/14/14)
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There will be no News Roundup distributed next week. Happy Thanksgiving from PeaceTech Lab!

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