News Roundup Archive

Thursday, January 29, 2015

PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, January 23-29, 2015


Technology, Science and Data

Media and Social Media

The News Website That's Keeping Press Freedom Alive In Egypt
Mada Masr was formed just before military coup of 2013. Amid growing censorship, its staff have risked their lives to continue reporting. Can they stay true to their mission? The unspoken question hanging over Mada is whether it will run into trouble with the authorities. The website runs pieces critical of the government and the military, and it receives funding from foreign organisations such as Denmark's International Media Support and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, based in Germany.
See the full article (The Guardian, 1/27/15, Leslie T Chang)
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Feds Release New Guidelines To Bolster Social Media Security After CENTCOM Twitter Hack
New government social media security guidelines call for federal agencies to develop "social media stakeholder teams" that can quickly identify and respond to a cyberattack and to strengthen social media passwords. The new guidelines, released Tuesday on the General Service Administration's DigitalGov portal were created in the wake of the embarrassing hack in early January of the U.S. Central Command's Twitter feed by ISIS sympathizers, which exposed basic security holes in the thousands of social media accounts run by the government.
See the full article (Buzzfeed, 1/27/15, Evan McMorris-Santoro)
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Hopes Raised For Release Of Japanese Journalist Held By Isis
Jordan may be willing to free a convicted suicide bomber in return for the release of a Japanese journalist and a Jordanian pilot being held by Islamic State (Isis), a Japanese news agency has reported. The claim, made in a Kyodo News interview with two members of the Jordanian parliament, raises hopes that Kenji Goto, a freelance journalist who has been under threat of execution by the Islamist terrorist group for almost a week, will be the beneficiary of a prisoner swap, despite opposition from the US.
See the full article (The Guardian, 1/27/15, Justin McCurry)
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Violence Against Media In Hong Kong Is Seen As Tied To China
The recent spate of violence against media companies in Hong Kong is being understood as a new round of raw intimidation by the Chinese regime, trying to suppress freedom of speech in the region. Most recently it was the firebombing of the offices of Next Media, which runs the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, and the home of its former proprietor, the outspoken Jimmy Lai, on Jan. 11, that triggered the wave of concern.
See the full article (Epoch Times, 1/25/15, Lum Yee-heung)
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Hundreds Join Peaceful 'Je Suis Muslim' Rally In Sydney
Hundreds of Muslims rallied in Sydney on Friday night to protest negative media coverage of Islam and the French magazine Charlie Hebdo's depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. Some of the 800-strong demonstrators in the Muslim enclave of Lakemba held placards with the slogan "Je suis Muslim," French for "I am Muslim." The slogan was a response to Charlie Hebdo's latest front cover that depicts a tearful Prophet Muhammad holding a sign saying "Je suis Charlie."
See the full article (The New Zealand Herald, 1/24/15)
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Social Media Must Curb Hate Speech, Says France
France is calling for the international regulation of social networks in order to crack down on "racist and anti-Semitic propaganda," a senior minister said on Thursday at the UN's first-ever summit on tackling anti-Semitism. "There are hate videos [online], calls for death, propaganda that have not been responded to, and we need to respond," Harlem Désir, France's State Secretary for European Affairs, told reporters. Désir lambasted social networks for what he described as a failure to take responsibility for "racist or anti-Semitic" content published on their platforms, citing Facebook and Twitter as examples.
See the full article (France 24, 1/23/15, Sophie Pilgrim)
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Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

Peace, Inc. by Sheldon Himbelfarb and Anand Varghese
Peacetech projects consistently struggle to achieve the scale and impact that could sustain them beyond the first good idea. To make their mark, the architects of peacebuilding's bleeding edge need to leave the government payroll and start their own industry. The message here isn't that government has no role to play in funding peacetech; it's that government can't be the only one funding peacetech. The products peaceteach generates don't just save lives; they also have commercial potential. In some cases, a lot of it.
See the full article

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Technology, Science and Data

Map: How The Flow Of Foreign Fighters To Iraq And Syria Has Surged Since October
The number of foreign fighters traveling to Iraq and Syria, mostly to fight alongside the Islamic State, has grown to 20,000 - up more than 5,000 from previous estimates made in October, according to the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence (ICSR). These new figures are alarming, inasmuch as they indicate that the conflict has attracted more foreign militants than the conflict in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
See the full article (The Washington Post, 1/27/15, Swati Sharma)
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Virtual Games Try To Generate Real Empathy For Faraway Conflict
Video games are great for passing time or battling monsters with friends online. But the medium is also being used to explore complex stories and themes. It's even being used as form of journalistic storytelling, immersing people in places and events that can be hard to imagine. In a moment, University of Southern California student Allison Begalman is transported to a sunny street corner in Aleppo, Syria.
See the full article (WKAR Public Media, 1/26/15)
Click to read "Meet Syria's Rescue Workers: When War Becomes 'Daily Life'" an Olive Branch post by Aparna Ramanan.
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Tracking 125,000 Incidents Of Global Terrorism
Soon after the terrorist attacks in Paris earlier this month, when three assailants massacred people in the office of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, a researcher at the University of Maryland at College Park carefully logged the details of the violence. The attacks became new entries in the Global Terrorism Database, a comprehensive clearinghouse of terrorist acts around the world.
See the full article (FiveThirtyEight, 1/23/15, Amelia Thomson-Devaux)
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Nigeria Suffers Highest Number Of Civilian Deaths In African War Zones
The campaign of terror by Nigeria's Islamist insurgency Boko Haram was responsible for nearly half of all civilian deaths in African war zones last year, according to research that highlights the group's tactic of targeting non-combatants. Fighting associated with Boko Haram killed 6,347 civilians in 2014, said the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (Acled), an academic group that uses media reports to monitor violence in conflicts.
See the full article (The Guardian, 1/23/15, Mark Anderson)
Click to read, "Nigeria Attacks Flare, Highlighting Fragility Before Elections" an Olive Branch post by Viola Gienger.
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Revealed: How Ukraine Conflict Has Claimed 5,000 Lives
Since the pro-Russian separatist rebellion broke out in eastern Ukraine around March last year, 5,000 people have died in the region. The UN had not yet begun collecting fatality data for the first few months of the conflict, but by mid-July, the death toll for the conflict had passed 1,000. What difference, if any, have the various ceasefires and truces had on those living in the region?
See the full article (The Telegraph, 1/23/15, Andrew Marszal)
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