Wednesday, October 26, 2016
American Chemical Society (ACS): "The idea of eating bugs has created a buzz lately in both foodie and international development circles as a more sustainable alternative to consuming meat and fish. Now a report appearing in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry examines how the nutrients — particularly iron — provided by grasshoppers, crickets and other insects really measures up to beef. It finds that insects could indeed fill that dietary need."
Hitler's Monsters: A Supernatural History
of the Third Reich
Nonfiction book by Eric Kurlander
Publication Date: July 18, 2017
Yale University Press:
The Nazi fascination with the occult is legendary, yet today it is often dismissed as Himmler's personal obsession or wildly overstated for its novelty. Preposterous though it was, however, supernatural thinking was inextricable from the Nazi project. The regime enlisted astrology and the paranormal, paganism, Indo-Aryan mythology, witchcraft, miracle weapons, and the lost kingdom of Atlantis in reimagining German politics and society and recasting German science and religion. In this eye-opening history, Eric Kurlander reveals how the Third Reich's relationship to the supernatural was far from straightforward. Even as popular occultism and superstition were intermittently rooted out, suppressed, and outlawed, the Nazis drew upon a wide variety of occult practices and esoteric sciences to gain power, shape propaganda and policy, and pursue their dreams of racial utopia and empire.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Twenty-six mallards and 233 swans died at a lake in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, local authorities said today. Poachers probably poisoned the birds.
In the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, a tiger killed a sugarcane farmer on Sunday. After the attack, the cat ate the 35-year-old man's right leg. Forest officers recovered the rest of victim's body yesterday.
Stateless Commerce: The Diamond Network
and the Persistence of Relational Exchange
Nonfiction book by Barak D. Richman
Available: May 22, 2017
Harvard University Press:
In Stateless Commerce, Barak Richman uses the colorful case study of the diamond industry to explore how ethnic trading networks operate and why they persist in the twenty-first century. How, for example, does the 47th Street diamond district in midtown Manhattan ― surrounded by skyscrapers and sophisticated financial institutions ― continue to thrive as an ethnic marketplace that operates like a traditional bazaar? Conventional models of economic and technological progress suggest that such primitive commercial networks would be displaced by new trading paradigms, yet in the heart of New York City the old world persists. Richman's explanation is deceptively simple. Far from being an anachronism, 47th Street's ethnic enclave is an adaptive response to the unique pressures of the diamond industry.
Ethnic trading networks survive because they better fulfill many functions usually performed by state institutions. While the modern world rests heavily on lawyers, courts, and state coercion, ethnic merchants regularly sell goods and services by relying solely on familiarity, trust, and community enforcement ― what economists call "relational exchange." These commercial networks insulate themselves from the outside world because the outside world cannot provide those assurances.
Extending the framework of transactional cost and organizational economics, Stateless Commerce draws on rare insider interviews to explain why personal exchange succeeds, even as most global trade succumbs to the forces of modernization, and what it reveals about the limitations of the modern state in governing the economy.
Monday, October 24, 2016
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC): "The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced a global settlement along with the U.S. Department of Justice and Brazilian authorities that requires aircraft manufacturer Embraer S.A. to pay more than $205 million to resolve alleged violations of the [U.S.] Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)."
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL):
An Uzbek woman who was filmed waving the severed head of a young girl outside a Moscow metro station in February has pleaded guilty to murder.
The high-profile case has sent shock waves through Russia and led to increased calls by nationalists and others for greater controls on migrants from the ex-Soviet republics of Central Asia.
Gyulchekhra Bobokulova — an Uzbek citizen who had been hired to care for the four-year-old Russian girl — went on trial in Moscow on October 24.
Bobokulova, 38, was detained on February 29 in the Russian capital where videos showed her, dressed in black and a hijab, holding up the child's head and shouting "I am a terrorist."
Migrant, Refugee, Smuggler, Savior
Nonfiction book by PeterTinti
and Tuesday Reitano
Shipping Date: March 1, 2017
Oxford University Press:
Migrant, Refugee, Smuggler, Savior investigates one of the most under-examined aspects of the great migration crisis of our time. As millions seek passage to Europe in order to escape conflicts, repressive governments, and poverty, their movements are enabled and actively encouraged by professional criminal networks that earn billions of dollars.
Many of these smugglers carry out their activities with little regard for human rights, which has led to a manifold increase in human suffering, not only on the Mediterranean Sea, but also along the overland smuggling routes that cross the Sahara and penetrate deep into the Balkans and the hidden corners of Europe's capitals. Yet some smugglers are revered as saviors by those they move, for it is they who deliver men, women, and children to a safer place and a better life. Disconcertingly, it is often criminals who help the most desperate among us when the international system turns them away.
This book is a measured attempt, born of years of research and reporting in the field, to better understand how people-smuggling networks function, the ways in which they have evolved, and what they mean for peace and security in the future.
A British banker accused of murdering two Indonesian women in Hong Kong has pleaded not guilty on grounds of diminished responsibility.
As his trial opened, Rurik Jutting pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter but this was rejected.
Police found the bodies of Sumarti Ningsih and Seneng Mujiasih in Mr Jutting's apartment in November 2014.
Mr Jutting, 31, faces a possible life sentence if convicted in what is Hong Kong's biggest murder trial in years.
Sunday, October 23, 2016
Last night a leopard snatched a 7-month-old boy from a hut at a farm in the Indian state of Gujarat. Searchers found the baby's remains near a temple this morning.
Brazil: A Biography
Nonfiction book by Lilia M. Schwarcz
and Heloisa M. Starling
Publication Date: June 20, 2017
A sweeping and absorbing biography of Brazil, from the sixteenth century to the present.
For many Americans, Brazil is a land of contradictions: vast natural resources and entrenched corruption; extraordinary wealth and grinding poverty; beautiful beaches and violence-torn favelas. Brazil occupies a vivid place in the American imagination, and yet it remains largely unknown.
In an extraordinary journey that spans five hundred years, from European colonization to the 2016 Summer Olympics, Lilia M. Schwarcz and Heloisa M. Starling's Brazil offers a rich, dramatic history of this complex country. The authors not only reconstruct the epic story of the nation but follow the shifting byways of food, art, and popular culture; the plights of minorities; and the ups and downs of economic cycles. Drawing on a range of original scholarship in history, anthropology, political science, and economics, Schwarcz and Starling reveal a long process of unfinished social, political, and economic progress and struggle, a story in which the troubled legacy of the mixing of races and postcolonial political dysfunction persist to this day.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Voice of America:
Somali pirates Saturday released 26 sailors who were captured during a ship hijacking nearly five years ago, bringing to an end one of the longest-running hostage-taking cases in the country, officials said.
Sources close to the pirates told a VOA reporter in the region that hostages were released after their captors were paid a $2 million ransom, a claim repeated by one pirate in an interview with a local media outlet.
Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary
Nonfiction book by Joe Jackson
Publication Date: October 25, 2016
The epic life story of the Native American holy man who has inspired millions around the world.
Black Elk, the Native American holy man, is known to millions of readers around the world from his 1932 testimonial, Black Elk Speaks. Adapted by the poet John Neihardt from a series of interviews, it is one of the most widely read and admired works of American Indian literature. Cryptic and deeply personal, it has been read as a spiritual guide, a philosophical manifesto, and a text to be deconstructed — while the historical Black Elk has faded from view.
In this sweeping book, Joe Jackson provides the definitive biographical account of a figure whose dramatic life converged with some of the most momentous events in the history of the American West. Born in an era of rising violence, Black Elk killed his first man at Little Big Horn, witnessed the death of his second cousin Crazy Horse, and traveled to Europe with Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. Upon his return, he was swept up in the traditionalist Ghost Dance movement and shaken by the massacre at Wounded Knee. But Black Elk was not a warrior and instead choose the path of a healer and holy man, motivated by a powerful prophetic vision that haunted and inspired him, even after he converted to Catholicism in his later years.
In Black Elk, Jackson has crafted a true American epic, restoring to Black Elk the richness of his times and gorgeously portraying a life of heroism and tragedy, adaptation and endurance, in an era of permanent crisis on the Great Plains.
Friday, October 21, 2016
Penguin Random House:
Fed Up: An Insider's Take on Why the Federal Reserve
is Bad for America
Nonfiction book by Danielle DiMartino Booth
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
Penguin Random House:
An insider's unflinching expose of the toxic culture within the Federal Reserve.
In the early 2000s, as a Wall Street escapee writing a financial column for the Dallas Morning News, Booth attracted attention for her bold criticism of the Fed's low interest rate policies and her cautionary warnings about the bubbly housing market. Nobody was more surprised than she when the folks at the Dallas Federal Reserve invited her aboard. Figuring she could have more of an impact on Fed policies from the inside, she accepted the call to duty and rose to be one of Dallas Fed president Richard Fisher's closest advisors.
To her dismay, the culture at the Fed — and its leadership — were not just ignorant of the brewing financial crisis, but indifferent to its very possibility. They interpreted their job of keeping the economy going to mean keeping Wall Street afloat at the expense of the American taxpayer. But bad Fed policy created unaffordable housing, skewed incentives, rampant corporate financial engineering, stagnant wages, an exodus from the labor force, and skyrocketing student debt. Booth observed firsthand how the Fed abdicated its responsibility to the American people both before and after the financial crisis — and how nobody within the Fed seems to have learned or changed from the experience.
Today, the Federal Reserve is still controlled by 1,000 PhD economists and run by an unelected West Coast radical with no direct business experience. The Fed continues to enable Congress to grow our nation's ballooning debt and avoid making hard choices, despite the high psychological and monetary costs. And our addiction to the "heroin" of low interest rates is pushing our economy towards yet another collapse.
This book is Booth's clarion call for a change in the way America's most powerful financial institution is run — before it's too late.
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Associated Press (AP):
Voice of America:
Penguin Random House:
The Road to Ruin: The Global Elites' Secret Plan
for the Next Financial Crisis
Nonfiction book by James Rickards
Publication Date: November 15, 2016
Penguin Random House:
A drumbeat is sounding among the global elites. The signs of a coming financial crisis, one exponentially bigger than the last, are unmistakable. This time, the elites have an audacious plan to protect themselves from the fallout: hoarding cash now and locking down the global financial system when a crisis hits.
Deep in the U.S. legal code, our government is granted emergency economic powers. Stock exchanges can be closed, ATMs shut down, money market funds frozen, asset managers instructed not to sell securities, negative interest rates imposed, and cash denied. In fact, FDR [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] took equally drastic action in 1933 by closing banks and confiscating gold.
The global elites know that a crisis of even greater proportions is coming and that collaboration is the only way to survive. Since 2014, international monetary agencies have been issuing warnings to a small group of finance ministers, sovereign wealth funds, banks, and private equity funds in technical jargon that the average investor can't understand. But the message is simple: the supposed incredible comeback of the last eight years is artificial. Our government's cowardly choices not to prosecute J.P. Morgan and its ilk, and to bloat the economy with a $4 trillion injection of easy credit, are driving us headlong toward a cliff.
In preparation, the global elites have been noiselessly hoarding cash and hard assets over the past two years. Even now, legally unorthodox regulations are sliding quietly into place that allow regulatory agencies to freeze all assets with a few keystrokes in a self-proclaimed emergency.
New York Times bestselling author James Rickards sounded the alarm on currency manipulation in Currency Wars and correctly predicted that the [U.S.] Federal Reserve would not raise interest rates for years in The Death of Money. In The New Case for Gold he predicted the rise of negative interest rates. Now, as he shows in this frightening, meticulously researched book, governments around the world have no compunction about conspiring against their citizens. As he writes, "Your money may be like a jewel in a glass case at Cartier; you can see it but not touch it."
The most potent form of protection is to arm yourself with knowledge. If you want to understand the risks ahead and to know how to plan for them, you'll need Rickards's cutting-edge synthesis of behavioral economics, history, and complexity theory. It's a guidebook to thinking smarter, acting faster, and living with the comforting knowledge that your wealth is secure.
The global elites don’t want this book to exist. Their plan to herd us like sheep to the slaughter when a global crisis erupts — and, of course, to maintain their wealth — works only if we remain complacent and unaware. Thanks to The Road to Ruin, we don't need to be.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
University of Oxford, United Kingdom:
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF): "Paleontologists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the National Park Service found the first dinosaur bones in Denali National Park during an expedition in July. They also discovered several new dinosaur trackways, which are fossilized impressions left by ancient animals walking through mud that eventually became rock."
Monday, October 17, 2016
The Aisles Have Eyes: How Retailers Track
Your Shopping, Strip Your Privacy,
and Define Your Power
Nonfiction book by Joseph Turow
Publication Date: January 17, 2017
Yale University Press:
A revealing and surprising look at the ways that aggressive consumer advertising and tracking, already pervasive online, are coming to a retail store near you.
By one expert's prediction, within twenty years half of Americans will have body implants that tell retailers how they feel about specific products as they browse their local stores. The notion may be outlandish, but it reflects executives' drive to understand shoppers in the aisles with the same obsessive detail that they track us online. In fact, a hidden surveillance revolution is already taking place inside brick-and-mortar stores, where Americans still do most of their buying. Drawing on his interviews with retail executives, analysis of trade publications, and experiences at insider industry meetings, advertising and digital studies expert Joseph Turow pulls back the curtain on these trends, showing how a new hyper-competitive generation of merchants — including Macy's, Target, and Walmart — is already using data mining, in-store tracking, and predictive analytics to change the way we buy, undermine our privacy, and define our reputations. Eye-opening and timely, Turow's book is essential reading to understand the future of shopping.
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Claretta: Mussolini's Last Lover
Nonfiction book by R.J.B. Bosworth
Publication Date: February 21, 2017
Yale University Press:
Few deaths are as gruesome and infamous as those of Benito Mussolini, Italy's fascist dictator, and Claretta (or Clara) Petacci, his much-younger lover. Shot dead by Italian partisans after attempting to flee the country in 1945, the couple's bodies were then hanged upside down in Milan's main square in ignominious public display. This provocative book is the first to mine Clara's extensive diaries, family correspondence, and other sources to discover how the last in Mussolini's long line of lovers became his intimate and how she came to her violent fate at his side.
R.J.B. Bosworth explores the social climbing of Claretta's family, her naïve and self-interested commitment to fascism, her diary's graphically detailed accounts of sexual life with Mussolini, and much more. Brimful of new and arresting information, the book sheds intimate light not only on an ordinary-extraordinary woman living at the heart of Italy's totalitarian fascist state but also on Mussolini himself.
Friday, October 14, 2016
For wild chimpanzees, social status is more than just a matter of pride. High-ranking chimpanzees of both sexes usually have better access to food and mates, boosting chances of survival for themselves and their offspring.
(Photo credit: Ian C. Gilby)But male and female chimpanzees achieve social status in dramatically different ways, says a new study by primatologists at Duke University. While males actively challenge their superiors to win higher rank, females accept their position in the social pecking order, waiting until more senior group members die before moving up the ladder.
Njinga of Angola: Africa's Warrior Queen
Nonfiction book by Linda M. Heywood
Available: January 30, 2017
Harvard University Press:
Though largely unknown in the Western world, the seventeenth-century African queen Njinga was one of the most multifaceted rulers in history, a woman who rivaled Elizabeth I and Catherine the Great in political cunning and military prowess. Linda Heywood offers the first full-length study in English of Queen Njinga's long life and political influence, revealing how this Cleopatra of central Africa skillfully navigated — and ultimately transcended — the ruthless, male-dominated power struggles of her time.
In 1626 after being deposed by the Portuguese, she transformed herself into a prolific slave trader and ferocious military leader, waging wars against the Portuguese colonizers and their African allies. Surviving multiple attempts to kill her, Njinga conquered the neighboring state of Matamba and ruled as queen of Ndongo/Matamba. At the height of her reign in the 1640s Njinga ruled almost one-quarter of modern-day Angola. Toward the end of her life, weary of war, she made peace with Portugal and converted to Christianity, though her devotion to the new faith was questioned.
Who was Queen Njinga? There is no simple answer. In a world where women were subjugated by men, she repeatedly outmaneuvered her male competitors and flouted gender norms, taking both male and female lovers. Today, Njinga is revered in Angola as a national heroine and honored in folk religions, and her complex legacy continues to resonate, forming a crucial part of the collective memory of the Afro-Atlantic world.
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Associated Press (AP):
Megafire: The Race to Extinguish
a Deadly Epidemic of Flame
Nonfiction book by Michael Kodas
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:
A brilliant exploration of the rising phenomenon of megafires — forest fires of alarming scale, intensity, and devastation — that captures the danger and heroism of those who fight them.
In Megafire, a world-renowned journalist and forest fire expert travels to the most dangerous and remote wildernesses, as well as to the backyards of people faced with these environmental disasters, to look at the heart of this phenomenon and witness firsthand the heroic efforts of the firefighters and scientists racing against time to stop it — or at least to tame these deadly flames.
From Colorado to California, China to Canada, the narrative hopscotches the globe and takes readers to the frontlines of the battle both on the ground and in the air, and in the laboratories, universities, and federal agencies where this issue rages on. Through this prism of perspectives, Kodas zeroes in on a handful of the most terrifying and tumultuous of these environmental disasters in recent years — the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona that took the lives of nineteen elite "hotshot" firefighters, the Waldo Canyon Fire that overwhelmed the city of Colorado Springs, the Black Saturday Fires that killed 173 Australians — and more in a page-turning narrative that puts a face on the brave people at the heart of this issue. Megafire will change the way we think about our environment and the essential precariousness of our world.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Efforts by the Brazilian government over the past 15 years to curb deforestation have been a widely celebrated success, but a new study finds that there's more deforestation happening in Brazil than official accounts suggest.
The study, led by researchers from Brown University, compared data from Brazil's official Monitoring Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon by Satellite Project (PRODES) with two independent satellite measures of forest cover. The study found that about 9,000 square kilometers of forestland not included in PRODES monitoring were cleared from 2008 to 2012. That's an area roughly the size of Puerto Rico.
"PRODES has been an incredible monitoring tool and has facilitated the successful enforcement of policies," said Leah VanWey, co-author of the research and senior deputy director at the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society. "But we show evidence that landowners are working around it in ways that are destroying important forests."
Penguin Random House:
American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt
for the Criminal Mastermind
Behind the Silk Road
Nonfiction book by Nick Bilton
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Penguin Random House:
From New York Times-bestselling author Nick Bilton comes a true-life thriller about the rise and fall of Ross Ulbricht, aka the Dread Pirate Roberts, the founder of the online black market Silk Road.
In Hatching Twitter, Nick Bilton gave readers an astonishingly reported, riveting, and impeccably crafted story of the politics and power struggles behind the founding of Twitter. Now Bilton turns his investigative journalism to the story of Ross Ulbricht, the notorious and enigmatic founder of a drug empire called Silk Road.
In 2011, Ulbricht, a 26-year-old libertarian idealist and former Boy Scout, launched "a website where people could buy anything anonymously, with no trail whatsoever that could lead back to them." He called it Silk Road, opened for business on the Dark Web, and christened himself the Dread Pirate Roberts (after the Princess Bride character). The site grew at a tremendous pace, quickly becoming a $1.2 billion enterprise where you could buy or sell drugs, hacking software, forged passports, counterfeit cash, guns, grenades, and poisons.
The Silk Road soon caught the attention of the Feds, who embarked on an epic two-year manhunt for the site's proprietor. Ulbricht, in the meantime, struggled to maintain control of his double life and his marketplace, which he originally started to prove that legalizing drugs could make society safer. He gradually abandoned his libertarian ideals to rule Silk Road with increasingly authoritarian force. At one point, he engaged the services of hired hit men to take out employees he felt had wronged him. Soon, some of the Federal agents who were supposed to be hunting for Ulbricht were lured into the dark world and switched sides to join him.
This is a true-life thriller about ambition gone awry, spurred on by the defining clash of our time: the new world of libertarian-leaning, anonymous, decentralized web advocates and the old world of government control, order, and the rule of law. Bilton's dazzling rendering and gift for narrative make for an endlessly fascinating drama.