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Wednesday, 17 December 2014 00:00

DARPA: A Glimpse Into the Future

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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has offered a glimpse into its Z-Man Program, which is currently testing a material that allows humans to scale walls with the aid of climbing paddles. The project was inspired by the biological properties of geckos, whose toes allow the animal to hang by a single toe from nearly any surface. In the future, U.S. warfighters will be able to scale any wall while carrying a full combat load.

As relations between the United States and the Russian Federation have grown confrontational over the prolonged crisis in Ukraine, pausing to refocus on diplomatic fundamentals is increasingly important for reconciliation. Effective diplomacy is greatly enhanced by mutual cultural understanding–an influential intangible that promotes trust and respect while facilitating cooperation and compromise. To develop cultural understanding between the U.S. and Russia, the American-Russian Cultural Cooperation Foundation (ARCCF) and American University’s Initiative for Russian Culture (IRC) seek to connect the next generation of American diplomats to the versatility and richness of Russian art, literature, film, language, and history. Such an appreciation for the perspective and life experiences of another group of people is critical to transcend inaccurate stereotypes and establish mutually beneficial relations.

India has successfully made it to the good books of the United States, still the most dominant world power, as a part of its dual containment strategy of both the rise of China and increasing terrorism. China’s rise has been in some cases an apple of discord to both India and the United States, but ironically both these nations must maintain steady economic and trade relations with China.

Belgium’s Ambassador Johan Verbeke is a distinguished diplomat with vast experience in different roles in some of the toughest places of duty. He has a pragmatic world view which seeks win-win situations in trade and diplomacy.

The Seventh Round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks took place in Washington, DC from September 29 to October 3, 2014. This landmark trade deal has huge impact on both sides of the Atlantic. In an exclusive interview with Diplomatic Courier, Ambassador João Vale de Almeida, the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United States, discussed a wide range of topics including EU-U.S. trade relations and the crisis in Ukraine.

Nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) failed to meet their self-imposed November 24th deadline to reach a final deal over Iran’s controversial nuclear program. Key contentious issues remain: the United States would only tolerate a much smaller Iranian nuclear program with far fewer centrifuges. Iran would like to see a much faster sanctions relief program for every concession it is going to make.

Has the growth of global civil society promoted popular self-government, and most particularly in developing countries? Many advocates of progressive social change have championed civil society—the “third sector”—as an arena of virtue, which has the capacity to overcome domination in government and exploitation in the free market economy.

With each advancing year, more novel information technology is brought online, simultaneously advancing societal capabilities and dependence on new and legacy systems in areas as diverse as healthcare, finance, entertainment, defense, and critical infrastructure. Despite unceasing news of cyber attacks and various exploits that appear to strike into the nervous system of modern society, many information technology companies continue their long pattern of outsourcing risk, since—it is thought—building technology with security first in mind may make it harder to bring to market or less profitable.

World Economic Forum’s 2014 Internet Governance Report

This August, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and in conjunction with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the leading organization responsible for maintaining the internet’s stability, hosted the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance, also known as the NETmundial Initiative. This conference brought together hundreds of government representatives, private sector members, civil society leaders, and academic and technology experts, as well as thousands of viewers via social media, to discuss the framework for carrying out global internet governance, in accordance with the NETmundial Principles established earlier this April.

The European-American Cultural Foundation launched with a spectacular evening at the Library of Congress on October 8th. The Foundation works to strengthen cultural bonds and collaboration between the European Union and EU Member states and the United States, reflective of their profound historical relationship and affinity. The October 8th evening was dedicated at taking the first step in fulfilling the mission. Among those in attendance were Kimberly Heatherington, Executive Director of E-ACF, and Susan C. Lehrman, Founding Board Member.

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