News Roundup Archive

Thursday, January 8, 2015

PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, December 18, 2014 - January 8, 2015


Technology and Science

Media and Social Media

Twitter Helped Russia Censor Information About an Anti-Putin Protest
On January 15th, thousands of Russians plan to protest in Moscow against the government's treatment of Russia's staunchest anti-Vladimir Putin activist. But you might not find out about it on Twitter. Earlier today, several activists in Russia tweeted that they'd gotten emails from Twitter asking them to voluntarily remove tweets about the protest because they "violate Russian Federation laws."
See the full article (Vice, 12/22/14, Jason Koebler)
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Conflict Coverage Proves Deadly Job for Journalists
Journalists who were killed in 2014 because of their work included an unusually high proportion of foreign correspondents who had been covering conflicts in the Middle East, Ukraine and Afghanistan, a leading news media advocacy group said in an annual report. The group, the Committee to Protect Journalists, also said in the report that Syria, increasingly consumed by civil war since 2011, remained the world's deadliest country for journalists for the third consecutive year.
See the full article (New York Times, 12/23/14, Rick Gladstone) *New York Times subscription may be required to read full article
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Arab Media Crisis
The democratic uprisings in 2011, which further divided the Arab world, also increased polarisation in the media. From civil wars in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen to transitions in the rest of the Arab countries it has been an extraordinary four years in the Arab media. Across the Arab world journalists are now paying the price for the political and social turmoil. The number of journalists who have lost their jobs or been intimidated or imprisoned has been staggering.
See the full article (Al-Ahram, 1/1/15, Salah Nasrawi)
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India 'Jihadi' Web Blocking Causes Anger
A government block on more than 30 high-profile websites has caused anger across India. India's Department of Telecoms ordered the blocking of the sites in order to prevent the publicising of "jihadi activities". After considerable pressure, four of the sites - Weebly, Vimeo, Daily Motion and Github - were unblocked.
See the full article (BBC, 1/2/15)
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Lebanon's Syria Refugee Move Prompts Media Concern
The introduction of a new visa regime for Syrians in Lebanon has caused alarm among some commentators, especially social media users. In remarks carried by Lebanon's centrist Al-Anwar daily, Maj Gen Abbas Ibrahim, appears to play down the new rules, saying that "Syrians do not require visas for Lebanon" but "paperwork" that applies to "all other foreigners". But the pro-Syrian paper Al-Safir voices concern that the new regulations will "increase the suffering of not only Syrian refugees, but also for Syrian families residing in Lebanon".
See the full article (BBC, 1/5/15
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'Jihad And Journalism': Profile Of 'Senior Taliban Man In Pakistan' Likely A Fake, Claims LinkedIn
A senior commander of the Taliban, who is wanted in connection with the shooting of campaigner Malala Yousafzai, has allegedly touted his skills on LinkedIn but the company has claimed that it is likely to be a hoax. A profile believed to have belonged to Ehsanullah Ehsan shows the skills of "jihad and journalism" with 69 connections on the contacts list. The career-based social media network took down the account after The Telegraph approached them on Friday before they wrote a story claiming "Taliban commander caught networking on LinkedIn".
See the full article (The Independent, 1/5/15, Lamiat Sabin)
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Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

What The Pentagon Can Learn From Carpenters by Christopher Holshek
Ending a war is difficult, but harder still is the work of building peace. And soldiers shouldn't be doing it. As I have argued before, the United States must plan, organize, and most of all resource for peace as seriously as it does for war. Security is now as much a matter of people as it is of states.
See the full article

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Technology and Science

Ukraine Conflict: Hackers Take Sides In Virtual War
Throughout the bitter violence of the Ukrainian conflict, another hidden war has been waged, involving several groups of computer hackers. Little is beyond their reach. Official documents and private communications are made public, and websites blocked. They hijack CCTV cameras, electronic billboards and network printers. The best known of the virtual warriors are the Ukrainian Cyber Troops, the Cyber Berkut and Anonymous International.
See the full article (BBC, 12/19/14, Vitaly Shevchenko)
Click to read "Ukraine-Russia Conflict Colors View of Civic Roles in Central Asia" an Olive Branch Post by Hanne Bursch.
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What About Peace Technology?
Serious as it is, the cyber ping-ponging between America and North Korea seems futile. As with most technological wars, nobody really wins. Technologies tend to get more sophisticated over time, and as with the history of most weapons - from spears to munitions, from bullets to nuclear missiles - much depends on the aims of the user. A key stroke is not inherently dangerous, unless a dangerous human being presses it. So what if we envision a world of 2015 in which information technologies become agents of peace instead of sources of conflict?
See the full article (The Hill, 12/24/14, Tara Sonenshine)
Click to read "USIP: In Review and Looking Forward (Video)" an Olive Branch post.
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In The World's Rape Capital, Doctors Fight Violence With Science
Each year, Panzi Hospital treats more than 2,000 rape survivors - not just with medical care. The hospital also hosts Western organizations that teach these women job skills, such as basket weaving, to give them some means of self-support when they've been shunned by their communities. But do these types of individualistic, Western solutions work for a country that has a more communal culture? Amissi isn't sure. Now a new research center at Panzi Hospital is giving Amissi and other Congolese doctors the tools to fight sexual violence with science.
See the full article (NPR, 1/5/15, Gregory Warner)
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How To Make Surveys In War Zones Better, And Why This Is Important
Surveys are now a common, though largely unacknowledged, counterinsurgency tool of the contemporary battlefield. Afghanistan Nationwide Quarterly Assessment Research (ANQAR), Foghorn and BINNA Household surveys have played an important role in the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan, where coalition forces have used survey responses to gauge civilian attitudes on a variety of topics, often as a means of assessing the effectiveness of strategies carried out by coalition forces.
See the full article (The Washington Post, 1/7/15, Andrew Shaver and Yang-Yang Zhou)
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