News Roundup Archive

Thursday, February 19, 2015

PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, February 13-19, 2015


Technology, Science and Data

Media and Social Media

'Free Austin': Campaign Targets Missing U.S. Reporter
A freelance journalist covering Syria, Austin Tice was last heard from on Aug. 13, 2012. This month, the Tice family is expanding its efforts to bring him home through an extensive awareness campaign run through the Paris-based advocacy organization Reporters Without Borders. With the tagline, "When journalists are targeted, we are all blindfolded," the ad campaign will put the hashtag #FreeAustinTice on the home pages of The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA TODAY and numerous other news websites, as well as on full pages in print newspapers.
See the full article (USA Today, 2/17/15, Emma S. Hinchliffe)
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South Sudan Warns Media Not to Publish Rebel Interviews
South Sudan Information Minister Michael Makuei on Monday warned media groups and journalists that they will face harsh punishment if they publish or broadcast interviews with rebels inside South Sudan. Makuei issued the warning after United Nations-run Miraya FM aired a pre-recorded interview with an official who defected from President Salva Kiir's administration when South Sudan plunged into crisis in December 2013. He has made similar warnings at least twice in the past, and said the government will punish anyone who ignores the repeated cautions.
See the full article (Sierra Leone Times, 2/17/15)
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Media-Military Relations In The Age Of Twitter And Facebook
The age-old template of military-media interaction has undergone a drastic change in this past decade. The advent of the internet has brought a powerful medium into the information domain. Of all the media vectors, this is probably the most nebulous, seamless, largest, quickest and hence the most dangerous. The ability to anonymously transmit and receive information without owning any infrastructure or even hardware has made it an effective tool for the insurgents. The medium also does not lend to government control.
See the full article (DNA India, 2/14/15, Nitin Gokhale)
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2015 Report: Media Freedom Suffered A 'Drastic Decline' Worldwide
Media freedom suffered a "drastic decline" worldwide last year in part because of extremist groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and Boko Haram, the watchdog group Reporters Without Borders said in its annual evaluation released on Thursday. All parties in conflicts raging in the Middle East and Ukraine were waging "a fearsome information war" where media personnel were directly targeted to be killed, captured or pressured to relay propaganda, it said.
See the full article (i24 News, 2/13/15)
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Ukrainian Journalists Fall Prey To Hyper-patriotism
Ukraine's authorities arrested a second Ukrainian journalist on charges of treason today, according to the reporter's employer in St. Petersburg-based news agency Nevskie Novosti. The agency said that Andrey Zakharchuk had been accused of "inaccurately reporting events in Ukraine."
See the full article (Kyiv Post, 2/13/15, Maxim Tucker)
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A Radio Journalist Who Put His Life On The Line
Here's a sobering number: Thirty-seven radio journalists have been killed worldwide in the past two years, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries for reporters. Last year, three radio reporters were killed there. Somali journalist Muhyadin Ahmed Roble remembers one of them: his friend and colleague Yusuf Ahmed Abukar, who was 27 years old when he was killed in Mogadishu last June.
See the full article (NPR, 2/13/15, Laura Starecheski)
Click to read U.N. Envoy Warns Somalia Progress Is In Peril without Stalwart Support" an Olive Branch post by Emily Fornof.
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How Bob Simon, Brian Williams Present A Parable Of The Digital Age
It's not about you; it's about the story. That's what we tell TV journalism students. The tragic death of "60 Minutes" correspondent Bob Simon reminds us that even in the video selfie culture of TV news, accurate reporting matters. Bob's death after a lifetime of covering conflict comes against the backdrop of the embarrassing spectacle of a major network television anchor caught making up war stories.
See the full article (PBS, 2/13/15, Lawrence Pintak)
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Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

Women Are The Best Weapon In The War Against Terrorism by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Radhika Coomaraswamy
If there has been one common thread shared by the extremist movements that have captured the world's attention in the last year, from northern Nigeria to northern Iraq, Syria to Somalia, and Myanmar to Pakistan, it is this: In each and every instance, the advance of extremist groups has been coupled with vicious attacks on women and girls' rights. Fifteen years ago, the U.N. enshrined the idea that equality between men and women is inextricably linked with peace. It's time to act on that.
See the full article

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Technology, Science and Data

Open Data In Afghanistan: The Key Challenges For Journalists
"A lone man data journalist is not very tenable anywhere, let alone in some developing countries and conflict environments." So says data journalism adviser Eva Constantaras, who has been running data journalism workshops for local media in countries such as Afghanistan, as part of her work with the NGO Internews. She said the combination of low data literacy and an independent media landscape that's not fully established yet means citizens in countries like Afghanistan are not demanding data driven stories from news outlets.
See the full article (, 2/18/15, Catalina Albeanu)
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How Tech Can Fight Extremism
Obama administration will this week hold a Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, where it will underscore the importance of technology companies in the fight against terrorist recruitment. As Robert Hannigan, director of Britain's Government Communications Headquarters, emphasized, technology companies' services "have become the command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists." ISIS, in particular, has proven virulent in using technology to radicalize.
See the full article (CNN, 2/17/15, Quintan Wiktorowicz and Shahed Amanullah)
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Google Earth Data Suggests Russia Shelled Ukraine, Say Researchers
A report from a Britain-based investigative reporting group used satellite imagery to determine if artillery strikes in Ukraine came from launch sites inside Russian territory. Bellingcat used publicly available satellite imagery from Google Earth to look at reported artillery strikes from between July 9 and September 5 of last year. During this period, the Ukrainian military lost control of swaths of its border territory.
See the full article (Christian Science Monitor, 2/17/15, Alexander LaCasse)
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Volunteers Are Making 3D-Printed Aerial Drones For The Ukrainian Army
Troops fighting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine are being equipped with 3D-printed aerial drones. The AEVs, which are being paid for by volunteers, are currently being used at the front. To support its troops, a robotics lab at the Step IT Academy in Kyiv has been producing plastic drones using 3D printers. To date, the lab has produced and deployed 30 drones to the front.
See the full article (io9, 2/13/15, George Dvorsky)
Click to read "Ukraine: USIP's Bill Taylor on the Prospects for the New Government (video)" an Olive Branch post.
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