Zap! The Other Side of Video Game Violence

As legislators around the world try to rein in video game violence, a new spate of research is finding a flip side to all the virtual carnage. In the United States, warlike videogames are being used, with initially positive results, to treat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Advocates say that video games help veterans, many of whom are already experienced gamers, overcome their doubts about psychotherapy and confront shocking events, reports American Medical News. One such game, “Virtual Iraq,” which takes its lead from the consumer video game “Full Spectrum Warrior,” can be tailored to meet a particular patient’s experience, by recreating the specifics of a traumatic event — even down to sounds and smell. But don’t violent video games spur violence?

When High-Speed Internet Isn't, Try a Carrier Pigeon

South Africa’s largest Internet service provider has been one-upped by a carrier pigeon with a four gigabyte memory stick strapped to its leg. Winston, the bird in question, took off for a 60-mile trip at the same time that four gigabytes of data were transmitted to a computer at the destination. The plucky pigeon got there first, beating out Telkom’s ADSL service by more than an hour, according to BBC and other sources. Wealthy nations, as well as the developing world, are often plagued by poor Internet connectivity — and the slow speeds come at a cost. The U.S. Department of Agriculture noted in an August study that rural economic growth and broadband go hand in hand.

Tracking: Iran Election Blogs & Realtime Web Feeds

Updated: 6/22 is collecting links to realtime citizen and mainstream news feeds and blogs following the turmoil in Iran. Post updated information sources in the comments section below. Not all citizen-media postings are clearly sourced, and include propaganda as well as first-person witnessing. Use your judgment when interpreting the text, video and images. Twitter hashtag: #IranElection
140-character bulletins and links sent by members of the public.

Guerrilla Girls Go Mainstream — Again

Famous for wearing gorilla masks in fine-art settings, the arts-activism group Guerrilla Girls has decided to archive its work at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, reports The Independent. Forty boxes containing photos, fan (and hate) mail, sketches and other memorabilia will be kept at the decidedly mainstream Getty facility. The Guerrilla Girls got started in 1985, putting up vivid posters around New York City and elsewhere that charged mainstream art figures and institutions of racism and sexism. A decade later they began targeting politicians, sexual harassment and the religious right. Although their underground status has been parlayed into exhibitions in major art institutions, one anonymous Geurrilla Girl told the newspaper that “none of the organization’s members will directly profit from the sale of the archives.”

Tech-Savvy Targets for British Army Ads

A new British Army ad campaign seeks to recruit tech savvy youth, reports The Independent. The Internet-based ads create an interactive environment in which participants can test their mettle in simulated online missions. Their hope is to reel in teenage boys who have grown up playing video games, and have valuable high-tech skills. The British Army is already stretched thin, and needs 16,000 new recruits per year. Yet their target audience is a hard sell.

Access Denied to Cable Viewers?

Catching school board meetings or locally produced talk shows on cable access systems will be more difficult for channel surfers due to changes in laws in several states. Public, educational and government stations, also know as PEGs, are fixtures on basic cable packages, made available as a public service requirement of the Communications Act of 1934. PEG stations televise town hall meetings, school plays and run quirky, locally produced talk shows with “Wayne’s World”-style theatrics. Yet California and Illinois are among 20 states that enacted laws allowing cable companies to end their support for PEG studio facilities, equipment and staff, and giving control of programming to state agencies rather than local communities. When California’s Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act took effect Jan.

Thailand: No Free Speech for Critics of Royals

Thai officials said recently that the government has identified more than 10,000 websites that supposedly insult the country’s monarchy. Insulting Thailand’s king or any members of the royal family is a criminal offense and punishable by time in prison, according to the Southeast Asian Press Alliance. Reports indicate the number of Web sites allegedly insulting the monarchy is increasing, even though the government already blocked 2,300 and has plans to block 400 more. One former Thai minister told The Straits Times that Thailand’s “lese majeste” law — which protects King Bhumibol and his family from criticism — have created the problem, usually spurring court cases that “take up a lot of people’s time.” Media and rights activists are opposed to such protections, and Dr. Tej Bunnag, a former royal advisor, said efforts have been made to amend the law, but did not provide details.

In Azerbaijan, Radio Silence

At the start of 2009, Azerbaijan enacted a ban blocking international radio stations from using local frequencies, raising fears of censorship and shifting international alliances. The ban targets broadcasts by the British Broadcasting Corporation, as well as the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America, according to the Moscow Times. As of January 1, all Azerbaijan radio frequencies became government property and no foreign broadcasting licenses will be renewed. Although foreign broadcasters will still be able to find an audience using satellite, Internet and cable technologies in Azerbaijan, the ban will eliminate the majority of the stations’ regular audience. Kenan Aliyev, director of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Azerbaijan, told the Christian Science Monitor, “If we lose FM, we lose 95 percent of our audience.”

Kenya: Protesting Reporters Arrested

Seven journalists were arrested in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi last week, where they had joined activists gathered to protest against a controversial new media bill. The Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation said the Kenya Communications Bill, which recently passed in parliament, gives the government the power to raid media centers, confiscate broadcast equipment and shut down all media during national emergencies. Police broke up the peaceful protest outside the Nyayo Stadium, where President Mwai Kibaki was scheduled to lead celebrations marking Kenya’s 45th year of independence. The media bill, described by Reporters Without Borders as “draconian,” also allows Kenya’s information minister to control what, when and how media broadcasts can occur. Nairobi’s police say the protesters had gathered without giving them adequate warning, and were arrested for wearing T-shirts with slogans critical of the government, according to Agence France-Presse.

Newspapers Sell the Farm, Give up the Goat

Across the country, falling newspaper circulation and the flight of ad dollars to the Web have caused publishers to fire employees, sell their buildings and outsource their ad and subscription departments to India. The San Jose Mercury News is the latest to do so; it follows other newspapers across the country, including the Columbus Dispatch and the Los Angeles Times. Ad production isn’t the only job papers are outsourcing. Columnists and reporters across the country were shocked when a news site in Pasadena hired two reporters to cover the news from their computers in India. But the editor says it’s the start of a new trend and a way to save money.