Friday, September 22, 2017

Book

The Tentmakers of Cairo: Egypt's Medieval
and Modern Appliqué Craft
Nonfiction book by Seif El Rashidi
and Sam Bowker
Shipping Date: June 17, 2018

Oxford University Press:
In the crowded center of Historic Cairo lies a covered market lined with wonderful textiles sewn by hand in brilliant colors and intricate patterns. This is the Street of the Tentmakers, the home of the Egyptian appliqué art known as khayamiya. The Tentmakers of Cairo brings together the stories of the tentmakers and their extraordinary tents — from the huge tent pavilions, or suradeq, of the streets of Egypt, to the souvenirs of the First World War and textile artworks celebrated by quilters around the world. It traces the origins and aesthetics of the khayamiya textiles that enlivened the ceremonial tents of the Fatimid, Mamluk, and Ottoman dynasties, exploring the ways in which they challenged conventions under new patrons and technologies, inspired the paper cut-outs of Henri Matisse, and continue to preserve a legacy of skilled handcraft in an age of relentless mass production. Drawing on historical literature, interviews with tentmakers, and analysis of khayamiya from around the world, the authors reveal the stories of this unique and spectacular Egyptian textile art.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Kidney Disease

Washington University in St. Louis: "Outdoor air pollution has long been linked to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A new study now adds kidney disease to the list, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Veterans Affairs (VA) St. Louis Health Care System."

France

NPR:
Liliane Bettencourt, heiress to the L'Oréal cosmetics dynasty, has died at the age of 94. 
In March, Forbes ranked Bettencourt the world's richest woman, putting her net worth at $39.5 billion.

Jellyfish

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI): "Jellyfish snooze just like the rest of us."

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sixth Mass Extinction

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): "By 2100, oceans may hold enough carbon to launch a mass extinction of species in future millennia."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Belgium

Deutsche Welle (DW): "Belgian authorities announced on Tuesday that they had discovered the remarkably well-preserved wreck of a World War I German submarine, commonly called a U-boat, off the coast of West Flanders."

Book

Through the Eyes of Picasso: Face to Face
With African and Oceanic Art
Nonfiction book by Yves Le Fur
Foreword by Stephane Martin and Nathalie Bondil
Publication Date: October 3, 2017

Rizzoli:
Through works of art, photographs, and writings, this volume explores Picasso's fascination with tribal art and the influences he repeatedly drew upon for his own oeuvre. 
"African art? I don't know it." With this provocative tone, Picasso tried to deny his relationship with art from outside of Europe. However, through hundreds of archival documents and photographs, this volume illustrates how tribal art from Africa, Oceania, the Americas, and Asia was a recurring source of inspiration for the artist. 
Side-by-side comparisons illustrate the links between Picasso's oeuvre and diverse tribal arts. In both, we find the same themes — nudity, sexuality, impulses, death, and more — along with parallel artistic expressions of those themes — such as disfiguration or destruction of the body. The volume is completed with a chronology of the relevant works and photographs of the artist in his studio.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Diamonds

Deutsche Welle (DW): "For months now, Africa's rough diamonds have been increasing in value but the sale proceeds do not reach the people. Instead, they benefit metropolitan elites and the mine companies, which are usually foreign-owned."

Book

The Skull of Alum Bheg: The Life and Death
of a Rebel of 1857
Nonfiction book by Kim A. Wagner
Shipping Date: February 1, 2017

Oxford University Press:
In 1963, a human skull was discovered in a pub in Kent in southeast England. A brief handwritten note stuck inside the cavity revealed it to be that of Alum Bheg, an Indian soldier in British service who was executed during the aftermath of the 1857 Uprising, or the Indian Mutiny as historians of an earlier era described it. Alum Bheg was blown from a cannon for having allegedly murdered British civilians, and his head was brought back as a grisly war trophy by an Irish officer present at his execution. The skull is a troublesome relic of both anti-colonial violence and the brutality and spectacle of British retribution. Kim Wagner presents an intimate and vivid account of life and death in British India in the throes of the largest rebellion of the 19th century. Fugitive rebels spent months, even years, hiding in the vastness of the Himalayas before they were eventually hunted down and punished by a vengeful colonial state. Examining the colonial practice of collecting and exhibiting human remains, this book offers a critical assessment of British imperialism that speaks to contemporary debates about the legacies of Empire and the myth of the "Mutiny."

South Africa

From TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network: "A TRAFFIC report released today reveals disturbing new evidence that some criminal networks of Chinese origin operating in South Africa are now processing rhino horn locally into beads, bracelets, bangles and powder to evade detection and provide ready-made products to consumers in Asia, mainly in Vietnam and China."

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Book

United States

Kissinger the Negotiator: Lessons
From Dealmaking at the Highest Level
Nonfiction book by James K. Sebenius,
R. Nicholas Burns, and Robert H. Mnookin
Foreword by Henry Kissinger
Publication Date: March 27, 2018

HarperCollins Publishers:
In this groundbreaking, definitive guide to the art of negotiation, three Harvard professors offer a comprehensive examination of one of the most successful dealmakers of all time, Henry Kissinger, and some of his most impressive achievements, including the Paris Peace Accords for which he won the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize. 
Political leaders, diplomats, and business executives around the world — including every [U.S.] President from John F. Kennedy to Donald J. Trump — have sought the counsel of Henry Kissinger, a brilliant diplomat and political scientist whose unprecedented achievements as a negotiator have been universally acknowledged. Now, Kissinger the Negotiator provides a groundbreaking analysis of Kissinger's overall approach to making deals and his skill in resolving conflicts — expertise that holds powerful and enduring lessons. 
Based on in-depth interviews with Kissinger himself about some of his most difficult negotiations and an extensive study of his writings, James K. Sebenius of Harvard Business School, R. Nicholas Burns of the Kennedy School of Government, and Robert H. Mnookin of Harvard Law School crystallize the key elements of the former [U.S.] Secretary of State's approach. Taut and instructive, Kissinger the Negotiator mines the long and fruitful career of this elder statesman and shows how his strategies not only apply to contemporary diplomatic challenges but also to other realms of negotiation, including business, public policy, and law. 
Essential reading for current and future leaders, Kissinger the Negotiator is an invaluable guide to reaching agreements.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Leprosy

NPR: "In 2006 the World Health Organization issued a report on the 'elimination of leprosy as a public health problem.' A new report estimates there are still 200,000 new cases a year."

Book

Picasso and the Painting That Shocked the World
Nonfiction book by Miles J. Unger
Publication Date: February 13, 2018

Simon & Schuster:
When Picasso became Picasso: the story of how an obscure young painter from Barcelona came to Paris and made himself into the most influential artist of the 20th century. 
In 1900, an eighteen-year-old Spaniard named Pablo Picasso made his first trip to Paris. It was in this glittering capital of the international art world that, after suffering years of poverty and neglect, he emerged as the leader of a bohemian band of painters, sculptors, and poets. Fueled by opium and alcohol, inspired by raucous late-night conversations at the Lapin Agile cabaret, Picasso and his friends resolved to shake up the world. 
For most of these years Picasso lived and worked in a squalid tenement known as the Bateau Lavoir, in the heart of picturesque Montmartre. Here he met his first true love, Fernande Olivier, a muse whom he would transform in his art from Symbolist goddess to Cubist monster. These were years of struggle, often of desperation, but Picasso later looked back on them as the happiest of his long life. 
Recognition came slowly: first in the avant-garde circles in which he traveled, and later among a small group of daring collectors, including the Americans Leo and Gertrude Stein. In 1906, Picasso began the vast, disturbing masterpiece known as Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Inspired by the groundbreaking painting of Paul Cézanne and the startling inventiveness of African and tribal sculpture, Picasso created a work that captured and defined the disorienting experience of modernity itself. The painting proved so shocking that even his friends assumed he'd gone mad. Only his colleague George Braque understood what Picasso was trying to do. Over the next few years they teamed up to create Cubism, the most revolutionary and influential movement in 20th-century art. 
This is the story of an artistic genius with a singular creative gift. It is filled with heartbreak and triumph, despair and delirium, all of it played out against the backdrop of the world's most captivating city.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Cambodia

Radio Free Asia (RFA): "Relations between the U.S. and Cambodia are at a new low."

Papua New Guinea

Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, United Kingdom:
The first large-scale genetic study of people in Papua New Guinea has shown that different groups within the country are genetically highly different from each other. Scientists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and their colleagues at the University of Oxford and the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research reveal that the people there have remained genetically independent from Europe and Asia for most of the last 50,000 years, and that people from the country's isolated highlands region have been completely independent even until the present day. 
Reported today (15 September) in Science, the study also gives insights into how the development of agriculture and cultural events such as the Bronze or Iron Age could affect the genetic structure of human societies. 
Papua New Guinea is a country in the southwestern Pacific with some of the earliest archaeological evidence of human existence outside Africa. Largely free from Western influence and with fascinating cultural diversity, it has been of enormous interest to anthropologists and other scientists seeking to understand human cultures and evolution. 
With approximately 850 domestic languages, which account for over 10 per cent of the world's total, Papua New Guinea is the most linguistically diverse country in the world. To discover if the linguistic and cultural diversity was echoed in the genetic structure of the population, researchers studied the genomes of 381 Papuan New Guinean people from 85 different language groups within the country. 
The researchers looked at more than a million genetic positions in the genome of each individual, and compared them to investigate genetic similarities and differences. They found that groups of people speaking different languages were surprisingly genetically distinct from each other.

Holy See

Voice of America (VOA):

Book

The Girl From Kathmandu: Twelve Dead Men
and a Woman's Quest for Justice
Nonfiction book by Cam Simpson
Publication Date: March 13, 2018

HarperCollins Publishers:
The shocking story of the massacre of a group of Nepalese men working as Defense contractors for the United States Government during the Iraq War, and the widow who dedicated her life to finding justice for her husband and the other victims — a riveting tale of courageous heroes, corporate war profiteers, international business, exploitation, trafficking, and human rights in the age of global capitalism that reveals how modern power truly works. 
In August of 2004, twelve men left their village in Nepal for jobs at a five-star luxury hotel in Amman, Jordan. They had no idea that they had actually been hired for subcontract work on an American military base in Iraq. But fate took an even darker turn when the dozen men were kidnapped and murdered by Islamic extremists. Their gruesome deaths were captured in one of the first graphic execution videos disseminated on the Web — the largest massacre of contractors during the war. Compounding the tragedy, their deaths received little notice. 
Why were these men, from a remote country far removed from the war, in Iraq? How had they gotten there? Who were they working for? Consumed by these questions, award-winning investigative journalist Cam Simpson embarked on a journey to find answers, a decade-long odyssey that would uncover a web of evil spanning the globe — and trigger a chain of events involving one brave young widow, three indefatigable human rights lawyers, and a formidable multinational corporation with deep governmental ties. 
A heart-rending, page-turning narrative that moves from the Himalayas to the Middle East to Houston and culminates in an epic court battle, The Girl from Kathmandu is a story of death and life — of the war in Iraq, the killings of the twelve Nepalese, a journalist determined to uncover the truth, and a trio of human rights lawyers dedicated to finding justice. At its heart is one unforgettable young woman, Kamala Magar, who found the courage to face the influential men who sent her husband to his death — a model of strength hope, bravery, and an unbreakable spirit who reminds us of the power we all have to make a difference.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Venezuela

Reuters:

IUCN

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN): "North America's most widespread and valuable ash tree species are on the brink of extinction due to an invasive beetle decimating their populations, while the loss of wilderness areas and poaching are contributing to the declining numbers of five African antelope species, according to the latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™."

American Politics

Harvard University:

Greece

University of Cambridge, United Kingdom: "The discovery this summer of an impressive rock-cut tomb on a mountainside in Prosilio, near ancient Orchomenos in central Greece, will shed new light on Mycenaean funerary practices."

Book

Survive Like a Spy: Real CIA Operatives Reveal
How They Stay Safe in a Dangerous World
and How You Can Too
Nonfiction book by Jason Hanson
Publication Date: March 6, 2018

Penguin Random House:
Follow-up to the New York Times bestseller Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life — revealing high-stakes techniques and survival secrets from real intelligence officers in life-or-death situations around the world 
Everyone loves a good spy story, but most of the ones we hear are fictional. That's because the most dangerous and important spycraft is done in secret, often hidden in plain sight. 
In this powerful new book, bestselling author and former CIA officer Jason Hanson takes the reader deep inside the world of espionage, revealing true stories and expert tactics from real agents engaged in life-threatening missions around the world. 
With breathtaking accounts of spy missions in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and elsewhere, the book reveals how to: 
* Achieve mental sharpness to be ready for anything
* Escape if taken hostage
* Set up a perfect safe site
* Assume a fake identity
* Master the "Weapons of Mass Influence" to recruit others, build rapport, and make allies when you need them most 
With real-life spy drama that reads like a novel paired with expert practical techniques, Survive Like a Spy will keep you on the edge of your seat — and help you stay safe when you need it most.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Brazil

Reuters:

Cameroon

Reuters:

Mickey Spillane

American Fiction

The Last Stand
The Final Completed Novel by Mickey Spillane
With an Introduction by Max Allan Collins
Available: March 2018

Hard Case Crime:
On Mickey Spillane's 100th Birthday — A Brand-New Novel From the Master
When legendary mystery writer Mickey Spillane died in 2006, he left behind the manuscript of one last novel he'd just completed: The Last Stand. He asked his friend and colleague (and fellow Mystery Writers of America Grand Master) Max Allan Collins to take responsibility for finding the right time and place to publish this final book. Now, on the hundredth anniversary of Spillane's birth, his millions of fans will at last get to read The Last Stand, together with a second never-before-published work, this one from early in Spillane's career: the feverish crime novella "A Bullet for Satisfaction."
A tarnished former cop goes on a crusade to find a politician's killer and avoid the .45-caliber slug with his name on it. A pilot forced to make an emergency landing in the desert finds himself at the center of a struggle between FBI agents, unsavory fortune hunters, and members of the local [American] Indian tribe to control a mysterious find that could mean wealth and power — or death. Two substantial new works filled with Spillane's muscular prose and the gorgeous women and two-fisted action the author was famous for, topped off by an introduction from Max Allan Collins describing the history of these lost manuscripts and his long relationship with the writer who was his mentor, his hero, and for much of the last century the bestselling author in the world.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

India

Voice of America (VOA):
On a gray monsoon morning, Darshana Kapoor picks her way gingerly through the slush on the riverbank after taking a dip in the Ganges River in Haridwar town, one of the most revered spots for Hindus. 
But the ritual bath that Hindus believe absolves a lifetime of sins was not an uplifting experience for her. "My faith brought me here, but when I see the garbage floating in the river, I felt so bad. I had to scrub myself," she said. 
She was not exaggerating. The Central Pollution Control Board has said that the water of the Ganges at Haridwar is not fit for bathing.

Ancient Greece

Plymouth University, United Kingdom: "The Ancient Greeks may have built sacred or treasured sites deliberately on land previously affected by earthquake activity, according to a new study by the University of Plymouth."

Peruvian Amazon

University of Cambridge, United Kingdom: "Conservation initiatives led by local and indigenous groups can be just as effective as schemes led by government, according to new research. In some cases in the Amazon rainforest, grassroots initiatives can be even more effective at protecting this vital ecosystem. This is particularly important due to widespread political resistance to hand over control over forests and other natural resources to local communities."

Monday, September 11, 2017

Long Ago

Duke University:
A 52-million-year-old ankle fossil suggests our prehuman ancestors were high-flying acrobats. 
These first primates spent most of their time in the trees rather than on the ground, but just how nimble they were as they moved around in the treetops has been a topic of dispute. 
For years, scientists thought the ancestors of today's humans, monkeys, lemurs and apes were relatively slow and deliberate animals, using their grasping hands and feet to creep along small twigs and branches to stalk insects or find flowers and fruits. 
But a fossil study published in the October 2017 issue of the Journal of Human Evolution suggests the first primates were masters at leaping through the trees.

Book

The Vory: Russia's Super Mafia
Nonfiction book by Mark Galeotti
Publication Date: May 22, 2018

Yale University Press:
Mark Galeotti is the go-to expert on organized crime in Russia, consulted by governments and police around the world. Now, American readers can explore the fascinating history of the vory v zakone, a group that has survived and thrived amid the changes brought on by Stalinism, the Cold War, the Afghan War, and the end of the Soviet experiment. 
The Vory — as the Russian mafia is also known — was born early in the 20th century, largely in the gulags and criminal camps, where they developed their unique culture. Identified by their signature tattoos, members abided by the Thieves' Code, a strict system that forbade all paid employment and cooperation with law enforcement and the state. Based on two decades of on-the-ground research, Galeotti's captivating study details the Vory's journey to power, from their early days to their adaptation to modern-day Russia's free-wheeling oligarchy and global opportunities beyond.

Myanmar (Burma)

BBC News: "A Burmese fortune teller who advised some of Southeast Asia's most rich and powerful figures has died aged 58."

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Book

Living Without the Dead: Loss and Redemption
in a Jungle Cosmos
Nonfiction book by Piers Vitebsky
Available: October 2017

University of Chicago Press:
Just one generation ago, the Sora tribe in India lived in a world populated by the spirits of their dead, who spoke to them through shamans in trance. Every day, they negotiated their well-being in heated arguments or in quiet reflections on their feelings of love, anger, and guilt. 
Today, young Sora are rejecting the worldview of their ancestors and switching their allegiance to warring sects of fundamentalist Christianity or Hinduism. Communion with ancestors is banned as sacred sites are demolished, female shamans are replaced by male priests, and debate with the dead gives way to prayer to gods. For some, this shift means liberation from jungle spirits through literacy, employment, and democratic politics; others despair for fear of being forgotten after death. 
How can a society abandon one understanding of reality so suddenly and see the world in a totally different way? Over forty years, anthropologist Piers Vitebsky has shared the lives of shamans, pastors, ancestors, gods, policemen, missionaries, and alphabet worshippers, seeking explanations from social theory, psychoanalysis, and theology. Living Without the Dead lays bare today's crisis of indigenous religions and shows how historical reform can bring new fulfillments — but also new torments and uncertainties. 
Vitebsky explores the loss of the Sora tradition as one for greater humanity: just as we have been losing our wildernesses, so we have been losing a diverse range of cultural and spiritual possibilities, tribe by tribe. From the award-winning author of The Reindeer People, this is a heartbreaking story of cultural change and the extinction of an irreplaceable world, even while new religious forms come into being to take its place.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Sweden

Stockholm University, Sweden: "War was not an activity exclusive to males in the Viking world. A new study conducted by researchers at Stockholm and Uppsala Universities shows that women could be found in the higher ranks at the battlefield."

Asia

Voice of America (VOA):

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Antarctica

Australian National University (ANU), Australia: "A new study led by ANU has found that animals and plants may live in warm caves under Antarctica's glaciers."

Thunderstorms

American Geophysical Union (AGU):
Thunderstorms directly above two of the world's busiest shipping lanes are significantly more powerful than storms in areas of the ocean where ships don't travel, according to new research. 
A new study mapping lightning around the globe finds lightning strokes occur nearly twice as often directly above heavily trafficked shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea than they do in areas of the ocean adjacent to shipping lanes that have similar climates. 
The difference in lightning activity can't be explained by changes in the weather, according to the study's authors, who conclude that aerosol particles emitted in ship exhaust are changing how storm clouds form over the ocean.

Ivory

TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network: "Weak governance, corruption and shifting trade dynamics are significant factors seriously undermining the control of ivory trafficking throughout five countries in Central Africa, according to a new TRAFFIC study launched today."

Tails

University of California, Riverside: "A wagging tail is often associated with dogs' emotions, but the side-to-side motion may also help them take longer strides and move faster, according to a study by researchers at the University of California, Riverside."

South America

Wake Forest University: "Hidden in plain sight — that’s how researchers describe their discovery of a new genus of large forest tree commonly found, yet previously scientifically unknown, in the tropical Andes."

Syria's Civil War

University of Sussex, United Kingdom:
A new study, published today in the journal Political Geography, shows that there is no sound evidence that global climate change was a factor in causing the Syrian civil war. 
Claims that a major drought caused by anthropogenic climate change was a key factor in starting the Syrian civil war have gained considerable traction since 2015 and have become an accepted narrative in the press, most recently repeated by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore in relation to Brexit. This study, led by Professor Jan Selby at the University of Sussex, takes a fresh look at the existing evidence for these claims as well as conducting new research into Syrian rainfall data and the experiences of Syrian refugees. 
Professor Jan Selby, director of the Sussex Center for Conflict and Security Research at the University of Sussex, says: "Our paper finds that there is no sound evidence that global climate change was a factor in sparking the Syrian civil war. Indeed, it is extraordinary that this claim has become so widely accepted when the scientific evidence for it is so thin. 
"Global climate change is a very real challenge, and will undoubtedly have significant conflict and security consequences, but there is no good evidence that this is what was going on in this case. It is vital that experts, commentators and policymakers resist the temptation to make exaggerated claims about the conflict implications of climate change. Overblown claims not based on rigorous science only risk fueling climate skepticism."

Book

American Politics

Billionaire at the Barricades:
The Populist Revolution From Reagan to Trump
Nonfiction book by Laura Ingraham
Publication Date: October 10, 2017

Macmillan Publishers:
In Billionaire at the Barricades, Laura Ingraham details how [Donald J.] Trump remade the Reagan Revolution in his own image, attracting a new coalition of voters who were angry and disgusted with the corporatist agenda of GOP elites. With an insider's access and knowledge, Ingraham reveals previously unreported details behind Trump's victory and the possible pitfalls that lay ahead for his ambitious populist agenda. 
"Unlike so many of my colleagues in the media," said Ingraham, "I instantly understood Trump's appeal and ignored those who repeatedly wrote his political obituary. Most of his critics and naysayers still don't understand the bipartisan appeal of the populist, pro-life, pro-growth, America First agenda on which he ran. In Billionaire at the Barricades, I take readers behind the scenes at the defining moments of a populist movement that began decades ago and map out where I think it should (and will) take us, whether fully realized by this Administration ― or not."