Monday, June 29, 2015

Book

Real Native Genius: How an Ex-Slave
and a White Mormon Became Famous Indians
Nonfiction book by Angela Pulley Hudson
Publication Date: September 8, 2015

University of North Carolina Press:
In the mid-1840s, Warner McCary, an ex-slave from Mississippi, claimed a new identity for himself, traveling around the nation as Choctaw performer "Okah Tubbee." He soon married Lucy Stanton, a divorced white Mormon woman from New York, who likewise claimed to be an Indian and used the name "Laah Ceil." Together, they embarked on an astounding, sometimes scandalous journey across the United States and Canada, performing as American Indians for sectarian worshippers, theater audiences, and patent medicine seekers. Along the way, they used widespread notions of "Indianness" to disguise their backgrounds, justify their marriage, and make a living. In doing so, they reflected and shaped popular ideas about what it meant to be an American Indian in the mid-nineteenth century. 
Weaving together histories of slavery, Mormonism, popular culture, and American medicine, Angela Pulley Hudson offers a fascinating tale of ingenuity, imposture, and identity. While illuminating the complex relationship between race, religion, and gender in nineteenth-century North America, Hudson reveals how the idea of the "Indian" influenced many of the era's social movements. Through the remarkable lives of Tubbee and Ceil, Hudson uncovers both the complex and fluid nature of antebellum identities and the place of "Indianness" at the very heart of American culture.

Laos

Radio Free Asia (RFA): "Luxury rosewood illegally logged throughout Laos is routinely smuggled north across the border to China by family members of the country's elite officials along a route paved with bribes to local authorities, according to sources with knowledge of the network."

Sleeping on the Job

University of Michigan: "Employees seeking to boost their productivity at work should take a nap — yes, sleeping on the job can be a good thing."

Indonesia

University of Adelaide, Australia:

Book

Voodoo and Power: The Politics of Religion
in New Orleans, 1881-1940
Nonfiction book by Kodi A. Roberts
Available: November 2015

Louisiana State University Press (LSU Press) :
The racialized and exoticized cult of Voodoo occupies a central place in the popular image of the Crescent City. But as Kodi A. Roberts argues in Voodoo and Power, the religion was not a monolithic tradition handed down from African ancestors to their American-born descendants. Instead, a much more complicated patchwork of influences created New Orleans Voodoo, allowing it to move across boundaries of race, class, and gender. By employing late nineteenth and early twentieth-century first-hand accounts of Voodoo practitioners and their rituals, Roberts provides a nuanced understanding of who practiced Voodoo and why. 
Voodoo in New Orleans, a mélange of religion, entrepreneurship, and business networks, stretched across the color line in intriguing ways. Roberts's analysis demonstrates that what united professional practitioners, or "workers," with those who sought their services was not a racially uniform folk culture, but rather the power and influence that Voodoo promised. Recognizing that social immobility proved a common barrier for their patrons, workers claimed that their rituals could overcome racial and gendered disadvantages and create new opportunities for their clients. 
Voodoo rituals and institutions also drew inspiration from the surrounding milieu, including the privations of the Great Depression, the city's complex racial history, and the free-market economy. Money, employment, and business became central concerns for the religion's practitioners: to validate their work, some began operating from recently organized "Spiritual Churches," entities that were tax exempt and thus legitimate in the eyes of the state of Louisiana. Practitioners even leveraged local figures like the mythohistoric Marie Laveau for spiritual purposes and entrepreneurial gain. All the while, they contributed to the cultural legacy that fueled New Orleans's tourist industry and drew visitors and their money to the Crescent City.

Puerto Rico

Voice of America:
A prominent U.S. newspaper reported Puerto Rico cannot pay "roughly $72 billion in debts." 
The New York Times reported Sunday that Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro García Padilla and senior members of his staff have said "they would seek significant concessions from as many as all of the island's creditors." The report said the concessions could include deferring some debt payments for five years or more.  
"The debt is not payable," Governor García Padilla told the Times. "This is not politics, this is math."

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Book

The Con Men: Hustling in New York City
Nonfiction book by Terry Williams
and Trevor B. Milton
Available: October 20, 2015

Columbia University Press:
Selling bootleg goods, playing the numbers, squatting rent-free, scamming tourists with bogus stories, selling knockoffs on Canal Street, and crafting Ponzi schemes — this vivid account of hustling in New York City explores the sociological reasons why con artists play the game, and the psychological dynamics they exploit to win it. Terry Williams and Trevor B. Milton, two prominent sociologists and ethnographers, spent years with New York con artists to uncover their secrets. The result is an unprecedented view into how con games operate, whether in back alleys and side streets or in police precincts and Wall Street boiler rooms. This book is not only an absorbing read but also a sophisticated study of how con artists use verbal persuasion, physical misdirection, and sheer charm to convince others to do what they want. Williams and Milton examine how street hustling is an act of performance art and find meaning in the methods con artists use to exact bounty from unsuspecting tourists and ordinary New Yorkers alike. They explore the personal experiences and influences that create a successful hustler, building a portrait of unusual emotional and psychological depth. Their work offers a new take on structure and opportunity, showing how the unique urban and social architecture of New York City lends itself to the perfect con.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Tunisia

Agence France-Presse (AFP):

Book

Massacre on the Merrimack: Hannah Duston's
Captivity and Revenge in Colonial America
Nonfiction book by Jay Atkinson
Publication Date: September 1, 2015

Rowman & Littlefield:
Early on March 15, 1697, a band of Abenaki warriors in service to the French raided the English frontier village of Haverhill, Massachusetts. Striking swiftly, the Abenaki killed twenty-seven men, women, and children, and took thirteen captives, including thirty-nine-year-old Hannah Duston and her week-old daughter, Martha. A short distance from the village, one of the warriors murdered the squalling infant by dashing her head against a tree. After a forced march of nearly one hundred miles, Duston and two companions were transferred to a smaller band of Abenaki, who camped on a tiny island located at the junction of the Merrimack and Contoocook Rivers, several miles north of present day Concord, New Hampshire. 
This was the height of King William's War, both a war of terror and a religious contest, with English Protestantism vying for control of the New World with French Catholicism. After witnessing her infant's murder, Duston resolved to get even. Two weeks into their captivity, Duston and her companions, a fifty-one-year-old woman and a twelve-year-old boy, moved among the sleeping Abenaki with tomahawks and knives, killing two men, two women, and six children. After returning to the bloody scene alone to scalp their victims, Duston and the others escaped down the Merrimack River in a stolen canoe. They braved treacherous waters and the constant threat of attack and recapture, returning to tell their story and collect a bounty for the scalps. 
Was Hannah Duston the prototypical feminist avenger, or the harbinger of the Native American genocide? In this meticulously researched and riveting narrative, bestselling author Jay Atkinson sheds new light on the early struggle for North America.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Virginia

U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia:
Samson Jolibois, 47, of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, was sentenced today to 192 months in prison, followed by three of supervised release for conspiring to commit hostage taking. Jolibois was also ordered to pay over $32,000 in restitution. 
Jolibois plead guilty on Feb. 27, 2015. According to court documents, Jolibois was part of a criminal group that kidnapped and held hostage two U.S. citizens in the area of Carrefour, Haiti. The group targeted U.S citizens of Haitian descent who had returned to visit Haiti, because they believed these individuals to be from wealthy families. During two separate events, members of the criminal group took victims at gunpoint from outside their residences and held the victims hostage for several days while seeking ransom money from their families in exchange for the victims' release. One victim was rescued by Haitian law enforcement, and the other victim escaped captivity.

Book

Walking With Abel: Journeys With the Nomads
of the African Savannah
Nonfiction book by Anna Badkhen
Publication Date: August 4, 2015

Penguin Random House:
An intrepid journalist joins the planet's largest group of nomads on an annual migration that, like them, has endured for centuries. 
Anna Badkhen has forged a career chronicling life in extremis around the world, from war-torn Afghanistan to the border regions of the American Southwest. In Walking with Abel, she embeds herself with a family of Fulani cowboys — nomadic herders in Mali's Sahel grasslands — as they embark on their annual migration across the savanna. It's a cycle that connects the Fulani to their past even as their present is increasingly under threat — from Islamic militants, climate change, and the ever-encroaching urbanization that lures away their young. The Fulani, though, are no strangers to uncertainty — brilliantly resourceful and resilient, they've contended with famines, droughts, and wars for centuries. 
Dubbed "Anna Ba" by the nomads, who embrace her as one of theirs, Badkhen narrates the Fulani's journeys and her own with compassion and keen observation, transporting us from the Neolithic Sahara crisscrossed by rivers and abundant with wildlife to obelisk forests where the Fulani's Stone Age ancestors painted tributes to cattle. As they cross the Sahel, the savanna belt that stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, they accompany themselves with Fulani music they download to their cell phones and tales of herders and hustlers, griots and holy men, infused with the myths the Fulani tell themselves to ground their past, make sense of their identity, and safeguard their — our — future.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Jazz

Agence France-Presse (AFP):

American West

NPR: "In 1922, seven states drew up a plan for dividing the waters of the Colorado River. But they overestimated how much water the river could provide — and now 40 million Americans face a water crisis."

Madagascar

BBC News: "The famous lemurs of Madagascar face such severe threats to their survival that none of them may be left in the wild within 25 years."

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Food

Drexel University: "A good or mediocre appetizer has the potential to significantly change how the main course is enjoyed, according to one Drexel food science professor."

Parrots

Duke University:

Otherworldly Creature

"Newly Discovered 'Ring of Teeth' Helps Determine
What Common Ancestor of  Molting Animals Looked Like"

(Image credit: Danielle Dufault)

Germany

Reuters:

Book

A Sense of Power: The Roots
of America's Global Role
Nonfiction book by John A. Thompson
Publication Date: November 17, 2015

Cornell University Press:
Why has the United States assumed so extensive and costly a role in world affairs over the last hundred years? The two most common answers to this question are "because it could" and "because it had to." Neither answer will do, according to this challenging reassessment of the way that America came to assume its global role. The country's vast economic resources gave it the capacity to exercise great influence abroad, but Americans were long reluctant to meet the costs of wielding that power. Neither the country's safety from foreign attack nor its economic well-being required the achievement of ambitious foreign policy objectives. 
In A Sense of Power, John A. Thompson takes a long view of America's dramatic rise as a world power, from the late nineteenth century into the post–World War II era. How, and more importantly why, has America come to play such a dominant role in world affairs? There is, he argues, no simple answer. Thompson challenges conventional explanations of America's involvement in World War I and World War II, seeing neither the requirements of national security nor economic interests as determining. He shows how American leaders from Wilson to Truman developed an ever more capacious understanding of the national interest, and why by the 1940s most Americans came to support the price tag, in blood and treasure, attached to strenuous efforts to shape the world. The beliefs and emotions that led them to do so reflected distinctive aspects of U.S. culture, not least the strength of ties to Europe. Consciousness of the nation's unique power fostered feelings of responsibility, entitlement, and aspiration among the people and leaders of the United States. 
This original analysis challenges some widely held beliefs about the determinants of United States foreign policy and will bring new insight to contemporary debates about whether the nation should — or must — play so active a part in world politics.

New Mexico

U.S. Justice Department: "Today the U.S. Department of Justice and the [U.S.] Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a federal Clean Air Act settlement with several Arizona and New Mexico-based utility companies to install pollution control technology to reduce harmful air pollution from the Four Corners Power Plant located on the Navajo Nation near Shiprock, New Mexico."

New York City

New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA): "Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin today announced an ongoing investigation into Whole Foods after finding that the company’s New York City stores routinely overstated the weights of its pre-packaged products – including meats, dairy and baked goods – resulting in customers being overcharged."

Website: Whole Foods Market

Book

Hear My Sad Story: The True Tales That Inspired
"Stagolee," "John Henry," and Other
Traditional American Folk Songs
Nonfiction book by Richard Polenberg
Publication Date: November 17, 2015

Cornell University Press:
In 2015, Bob Dylan said, "I learned lyrics and how to write them from listening to folk songs. And I played them, and I met other people that played them, back when nobody was doing it. Sang nothing but these folk songs, and they gave me the code for everything that's fair game, that everything belongs to everyone." In Hear My Sad Story, Richard Polenberg describes the historical events that led to the writing of many famous American folk songs that served as touchstones for generations of American musicians, lyricists, and folklorists. 
Those events, which took place from the early nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries, often involved tragic occurrences: murders, sometimes resulting from love affairs gone wrong; desperate acts borne out of poverty and unbearable working conditions; and calamities such as railroad crashes, shipwrecks, and natural disasters. All of Polenberg's accounts of the songs in the book are grounded in historical fact and illuminate the social history of the times. Reading these tales of sorrow, misfortune, and regret puts us in touch with the dark but terribly familiar side of American history. 
On Christmas 1895 in St. Louis, an African American man named Lee Shelton, whose nickname was "Stack Lee," shot and killed William Lyons in a dispute over seventy-five cents and a hat. Shelton was sent to prison until 1911, committed another murder upon his release, and died in a prison hospital in 1912. Even during his lifetime, songs were being written about Shelton, and eventually 450 versions of his story would be recorded. As the song — you may know Shelton as Stagolee or Stagger Lee — was shared and adapted, the emotions of the time were preserved, but the fact that the songs described real people, real lives, often fell by the wayside. Polenberg returns us to the men and women who, in song, became legends. The lyrics serve as valuable historical sources, providing important information about what had happened, why, and what it all meant. More important, they reflect the character of American life and the pathos elicited by the musical memory of these common and troubled lives.

Spain

NPR:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Colombia

Associated Press (AP):

China

Radio Free Asia (RFA): "Authorities in the Chinese capital have detained hundreds of former People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers after thousands of them staged a sit-in outside China's central military command on Tuesday in protest over a lack of pension and other benefits, protesters said."

Afghanistan

Frud Bezhan, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL): "Atta Mohammad Noor, the powerful governor of Afghanistan's Balkh Province, says he has forged an alliance with the unlikeliest of candidates — former rival warlord and First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum — in order to combat the Taliban in the country's restive north."

Book

Tarahumara Medicine: Ethnobotany and Healing
Among the Rarámuri of Mexico
Nonfiction book by Fructuoso Irigoyen-Rascón
With Alfonso Paredes
Publication Date: October 13, 2015 (New Edition)

University of Oklahoma Press:
The Tarahumara, one of North America's oldest surviving aboriginal groups, call themselves Rarámuri, meaning "nimble feet" — and though they live in relative isolation in Chihuahua, Mexico, their agility in long-distance running is famous worldwide. Tarahumara Medicine is the first in-depth look into the culture that sustains the "great runners." Having spent a decade in Tarahumara communities, initially as a medical student and eventually as a physician and cultural observer, author Fructuoso Irigoyen-Rascón is uniquely qualified as a guide to the Rarámuri's approach to medicine and healing. 
In developing their healing practices, the Tarahumaras interlaced religious lore, magic, and careful observations of nature. Irigoyen-Rascón thoroughly situates readers in the Rarámuri's environment, describing not only their health and nutrition but also the mountains and rivers surrounding them and key aspects of their culture, from long-distance kick-ball races to corn beer celebrations and religious dances. He describes the Tarahumaras' curing ceremonies, including their ritual use of peyote, and provides a comprehensive description of Tarahumara traditional herbal remedies, including their botanical characteristics, attributed effects, and uses. 
To show what these practices — and the underlying concepts of health and disease — might mean to the Rarámuri and to the observer, Irigoyen-Rascón explores his subject from both an outsider and an insider (indigenous) perspective. Through his balanced approach, Irigoyen-Rascón brings to light relationships between the Rarámuri healing system and conventional medicine, and adds significantly to our knowledge of indigenous American therapeutic practices. 
As the most complete account of Tarahumara culture ever written, Tarahumara Medicine grants readers access to a world rarely seen — at once richly different from and inextricably connected with the ideas and practices of Western medicine.

California

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB):

Book

Hubbell Trading Post: Trade, Tourism,
and the Navajo Southwest
Nonfiction book by Erica Cottam
Publication Date: October 6, 2015

University of Oklahoma Press:
For more than a century, trading posts in the American Southwest tied the U.S. economy and culture to those of American Indian peoples — and in this capacity, Hubbell Trading Post, founded in 1878 in Ganado, Arizona, had no parallel. This book tells the story of the Hubbell family, its Navajo neighbors and clients, and what the changing relationship between them reveals about the history of Navajo trading. 
Drawing on extensive archival material and secondary literature, historian Erica Cottam begins with an account of John Lorenzo Hubbell, who was part Hispanic, part Anglo, and wholly brilliant and charismatic. She examines his trading practices and the strategies he used to meet the challenges of Navajo exchange customs and a seasonal trading cycle. Tracing the trading post's affairs through the upheavals of the twentieth century, Cottam explores the growth of tourism, the development of Navajo weaving, the automobile's advent, and the Hubbells' relationship with the Fred Harvey Company. She also describes the Hubbell family's role in providing Navajo and Hopi demonstrators for world's fairs and other events and in supplying museums with Native artifacts. 
Acknowledging the criticism aimed at the Hubbell family for taking advantage of Navajo clients, Cottam shows the family's strengths: their integrity as business operators and the warm friendships they developed with customers and with the artists, writers, archaeologists, politicians, and tourists attracted to Navajo country by its unparalleled landscapes and fascinating peoples. Cottam traces the preservation efforts of Hubbell's daughter-in-law after the Great Depression and World War II fundamentally altered the trading post business, and concludes with the post's transition to its present status as a National Park Service historic site.