Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Democrats Push for Additional Food Aid

Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Robert Casey (D-PA) held a news conference Monday afternoon to call for an additional $200 million in emergency food aid on top of the $350 million in aid that Bush is requesting for the Iraq supplemental spending bill. However, Bush has threatened to veto the bill if it exceeds the $108 billion Iraq package he proposed. Durbin is hoping that Secretary of State Condolleeza Rice will be able to generate support for additional aid in the White House and among congressional Republicans. Although Rice has expressed support for the increased funding of food programs, she has stopped short of saying she would support an increase of $200 million.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Genetic Nondiscrimination Bill

A genetic nondiscrimination bill that has been in Congress for over a decade is likely to find its way to the White House this week. The bill, originally stalled in the Senate by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), was passed by the Senate today after Coburn lifted his objections to the bill following negotiations. The bill makes it illegal to deny insurance or employment to people based on their genetic information. The bill is expected to pass both the House and the White House with little resistance.

Congress Daily Article

NY Times Article

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

UN Forum on Indigenous Issues

The Seventh Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is being held in New York from April 21 – May 2, 2008 with a special focus on “Climate change, bio-cultural diversity and livelihoods: the stewardship role of indigenous peoples and new challenges.” The forum will address human rights violations, environmental abuses, discrimination, and the negative political and economic impact that indigenous peoples have experienced over the years, and how these issues have been exacerbated by climate change.

7th Session

UN Press Release on Forum

Monday, April 21, 2008

Funding from the Pentagon?

As many of our members are aware, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recently announced a plan to increase Pentagon support for research in the social sciences and humanities. Given the debate surrounding the HTS program, this new program--the Minerva Consortium--has many academics on edge. We expect to hear more on this issue when the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee meets with the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education later this week for a hearing on the role of the social and behavioral sciences in national security.

For those interested in attending, the joint hearing will be held on April 24, 2008 at 9:00am in the 2118 Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC.

AAA Press Release

Inside Higher Ed Article on Minerva Consortium

Friday, April 18, 2008

Human Terrain Teams in the Media

The human terrain system made an appearance in the mainstream media this past week. Newsweek published an article entitled, “A Gun in One Hand, A Pen in the Other” that details the military’s efforts to recruit experts for HTS. The story is largely critical of the program, and is reinforced by comments from past HTT members. A major criticism of HTS is the recruitment of candidates who lack any regional or linguistic expertise in the Middle East.

One of the main architects of HTS, Montgomery McFate, has already written a response to Newsweek that has been included, in full, on Wired magazine’s Danger Room blog.

The AAA has also written a letter to Newsweek expressing two concerns it has with the article. First, the AAA is continuing to take a proactive approach in examining the full spectrum of issues associated with HTS and other related security and intelligence programs. The Ad Hoc Commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with the US Security and Intelligence Communities was formed to address the potential ethical implications of the military application of anthropology. Second, the association highlights the fact that anthropologists only represent a small percentage of HTS members, and that ethical considerations associated with the program bear relevance to the entire social science community.

As always, readers are encouraged to express their thoughts on the intersection of ethics, anthropology, and the military in the comments section below.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

House Passes Student Loan Bill

"The Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008" (H.R. 5715) easily passed through the House after receiving approval from both the House Education and Labor Committee and the House Rules Committee. However, the bill is expected to face some roadblocks in the Senate, and negotiations are likely to occur before it is finally passed. This legislation will increase limits on federally backed student loans by $2,000 per student, and will increase the total amount of federal loans students can borrow.

Additional information can be found below:

Copy of the bill [pdf]

Committee press release

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Connecting Through Film

Documentary filmmaker Jehane Noujaim, whose prior work includes “Control Room,” is hoping that her new project, “Pangea Day,” will give people across the globe the opportunity to film life from their particular sociocultural perspectives. Amateur filmmakers made short videos highlighting their unique viewpoints, and underprivileged filmmakers did the same using donated cell phones equipped with video cameras. The videos were uploaded to YouTube, and have been compiled into a four-hour video that will be broadcast live on May 10, 2008 for free. Please inform your colleagues and students.

Pangea Day Website

AFP: Film event uses digital-age technology to unite cultures