News Roundup Archive

Thursday, February 12, 2015

PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, February 6-12, 2015


Technology, Science and Data

Media and Social Media

Reporters Without Borders: New Threats Against Freedom Of The Press
Reporters Without Borders has published its 2015 press freedom index. Conditions for journalists and independent media have got worse in the majority of the 180 countries assessed. The targeted suppression or manipulation of the media in conflict regions such as Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, and the Palestinian territories is one of the most significant reasons for the general worsening of worldwide press freedom.
See the full article (Deutsche Welle, 2/12/15, Kay-Alexander Scholz)
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Egypt Court Releases Al Jazeera Journalists On Bail
An Egyptian court has ordered the release of detained Al Jazeera journalists Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy on bail. The retrial was ordered by the country's Court of Cassation last month, overturning a lower court's verdict that had found them guilty of helping the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, 2/12/15)
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Syria Conflict: Mixed Reaction To President Assad's BBC Interview
The BBC's interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has resulted in a mix of reactions across the Arab world. Facebook and Twitter users objected to President Assad's denial that his government was using so-called barrel bombs against civilians. But the interview drew little comment from Middle Eastern news outlets.
See the full article (BBC, 2/10/15)
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How The Colombian Government Is (Not Really) Buying The Media
Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on Monday showed that the government had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to media corporations to promote ongoing peace talks with the FARC. Turns out that that's peanuts compared to the total spending on publicity. According to the documents released by Uribe, Semana - a weekly publication run by Santos' nephew - received $462 thousand last year alone to provide "services for the realization of pedagogical activities that allow the generation of spaces of reflection and regional discussion about building peace in Colombia."
See the full article (Colombia Reports, 2/10/15, Adriaan Alsema)
Click to read "Peace Is More Than Silencing Guns: Human Rights And Colombia's Peace Process" an Olive Branch Post by Virginia M. Bouvier, Lisa Haugaard and Moira Birss.
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Hackers Anonymous Disable Extremist Social Media Accounts
Hacking group Anonymous has issued another warning against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) terror group. It came during a video posted on YouTube where the hackers claimed to have shut down Twitter and Facebook accounts used by the terrorists. "ISIS, we will hunt you, take down your sites, accounts, emails and expose you," warns the video.
See the full article (BBC, 2/9/15)
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The International Media Is Failing To Report The Syrian War Properly
February 2015 has already seen some major developments in Syria's four-year conflict. At the start of February, rebels launched more than 100 rockets into Damascus and the Assad regime fired mortars on areas of its own capital, hoping to discredit the insurgents. Take a look at the world's media coverage, though, and you might be forgiven for thinking things were rather more quiet.
See the full article (The Conversation, 2/9/15, Scott Lucas)
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Social Media Pages Give Vivid Glimpses Into Ukraine Conflict
People in eastern Ukraine have begun to use social media platforms to tell loved ones, I'm alive or ask others, have you seen this person? Or tell each other, here's where they're shelling now, stay away. Group pages that were once used to tell jokes and post gossip have been transformed into a running log of destruction and loss.
See the full article (NPR, 2/7/15, Scott Simon and Paul Sonne)
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Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

The Amnesty Tightrope by Lauren Carasik
If Colombia doesn't cut a deal with rebel fighters, talks to end its 50-year-old war will almost surely fall apart. But if the deal is too sweet, it might derail the peace process. The challenge for states like Colombia is developing a domestic process that is driven by its own people - particularly its victims - that fits the unfolding international law on victims' rights.
See the full article

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Technology, Science and Data

'CyberCaliphate' Hacks Newsweek Twitter Account, Threatens Obama
Newsweek magazine's Twitter account was the victim of hackers on Tuesday who posted a threat to U.S. President Barack Obama and his family and the words "CyberCaliphate" and "Je suis IS," a reference to Islamic State and the French magazine Charlie Hebdo. The group, which also took responsibility for hacking Pentagon social media accounts last month, tweeted "#CyberCaliphate Bloody Valentine's Day #MichelleObama! We're watching you, you girls and your husband!"
See the full article (Reuters, 2/10/15)
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FG Trains 200 Youths On Use Of Technology For Credible Elections
In Nigeria, the Minister of Science and Technology, Mr. Abdu Bulama, on Monday said government was embarking on the training of 200 youths of voting age drawn from the six geopolitical zones on the use of appropriate technology to monitor the forthcoming elections, adding that the action is aimed at ensuring a credible 2015 polls. According to him, the essence of the training is to produce a new crop of youths that will serve as agents of change through the utilisation of innovative and technological tools in promotion of non-violence and spreading of messages of peace during election.
See the full article (Codewit World News, 2/10/15)
Click to read "Nigeria Attacks Flare, Highlighting Fragility Before Elections" an Olive Branch Post by Viola Gienger.
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How US Technology Could Help Ukraine Without 'Arming' It
The question of whether or not to arm the Ukrainian military against Russian-backed separatists is quickly becoming contentious, both inside of Washington and also between the United States and its allies. Some experts have suggested that any U.S. decision to give (very limited) weapons to Ukraine would have either no effect or a highly negative one by escalating the conflict. But non-lethal aid, others argue, could help reduce civilian casualties in the region by allowing the Ukrainian military to operate more safely.
See the full article (Defense One, 2/9/15, Patrick Tucker)
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50,000 Casualties In Ukraine? German Intel Calls Kiev's 6k Toll 'Not Credible'
The German intelligence service estimates the real losses in the Ukrainian civil war at 50,000 dead (civilians and servicemen), which is nearly 10 times higher than reported by the Kiev authorities, German media report. Just one day before the report was published, the Ukrainian president gave completely different numbers to the international community.
See the full article (RT, 2/8/15)
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In Ukraine, Continued Conflict, Collapsing Currency And A Money Crunch
As this Reuters graphic shows, in just over nine months since the conflict started, in April of 2014, more than 5000 have died, with the number of wounded approaching 12,000. A Reuters map shows the ebb and flow of territory under the separatists' control, as well as the locations of dozens of recent flash points of violence. Those curious about the situation on the ground can dive into the data Big Brother-style at
See the full article (Reuters, 2/6/15, Mike Corones)
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