Monday, February 27, 2017


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:
An iconic bird whose booming mating calls once reverberated across "the Prairie State" can survive in Illinois with the help of periodic human interventions, researchers report. 
The greater prairie chicken once dominated the American Midwest, but today the bird is in trouble in many parts of its historic range. It is no longer found in Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas or Wyoming, states where it once flourished. And in Illinois, an estimated 186 birds remain in two adjoining counties in the southern part of the state. 
"They used to be all over the state," said Illinois Natural History Survey conservation biologist Mark Davis, who participated in a genetic analysis of the Illinois birds. "This was the tallgrass prairie state. You couldn't throw a rock into a field without hitting a prairie chicken." 
The reason for the decline is simple, Davis said. 
"We changed our land-use practices from having a lot of prairie, then to wheat, hay and alfalfa, and now to vast expanses of corn and soybeans," he said. "Prairie chickens used to have 20 million acres of prairie in Illinois. Now, they have around 2,000. At the same time, population size went from 10 to 14 million in the 1860s to the 100 to 200 or so we have today. There just isn't enough habitat."
(Photo by Michael Jeffords)


United States

The Targeter: My Life in the CIA, on the Hunt for the Godfather of ISIS
Nonfiction book by Nada Bakos with Davin Coburn
Publication Date: June 20, 2017

Hachette Book Group:
The story of a young woman from Montana who joined the CIA and worked her way up through the ranks to the frontline of the fight against Islamic extremists. 
In 1999, 30-year-old Nada Bakos moved from her lifelong home in Montana to Washington, DC, to join the CIA. Quickly realizing her affinity for intelligence work, Nada was determined to rise through the ranks of the agency first as an analyst and then as a Targeting Officer, eventually finding herself on the frontline of America's War against Islamic extremists. In this role, Nada was charged with finding the godfather of ISIS and mastermind of al Qaida in Iraq: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. 
In a tight, tension-packed narrative that takes the reader from Langley deep into Iraq, Bakos reveals the inner workings of the Agency and the largely hidden world of intelligence gathering post 9/11. Entrenched in the predominantly male world of the CIA, Bakos belonged to a small yet dedicated sisterhood leading U.S. Special Operations Forces to the doorstep of one of the world's most wanted terrorists. 
Filled with on-the-ground insights and poignant personal anecdotes, The Targeter shows us the great personal sacrifice that comes with intelligence work. This is Nada's story, but it is also an intimate chronicle of how a group of determined, ambitious men and women worked tirelessly in the heart of the CIA to ensure our nation's safety at home and abroad.


Associated Press (AP):


Voice of America (VOA): "A German hostage has been executed in the Philippines by the notorious Islamic militant group Abu Sayyaf after a ransom deadline lapsed."

Sunday, February 26, 2017


Seasteading: How Floating Nations Will Restore the Environment, Enrich the Poor, Cure the Sick, and Liberate Humanity from Politicians
Nonfiction book by Joe Quirk with Patri Friedman
Publication Date: March 21, 2017

Simon & Schuster:
Two-thirds of our globe is Planet Ocean, not Planet Earth. 
Imagine a vast new source of sustainable and renewable energy that would also bring more equitable economies. A previously untapped source of farming that could produce significant new sources of nutrition. Future societies where people could choose the communities they want to live in, free from the restrictions of conventional citizenship. This bold vision of our near future as imagined in Seasteading attracted the powerful support of Silicon Valley's Peter Thiel — and it may be drawing close to reality. 
Our planet is suffering from serious environmental problems: coastal flooding due to severe storms caused in part by atmospheric pollution and diminishing natural resources among them. But the seas can be home to a new breed of pioneers, seasteaders, who are willing to homestead the Blue Frontier. Oil platforms and cruise ships already inhabit the waters; now it's time to take the next step to full-fledged ocean civilizations. 
Joe Quirk and Patri Friedman show us how cities built on floating platforms in the ocean will work, and they profile some of the visionaries who are implementing basic concepts of seasteading today. An entrepreneur's dream, these floating cities will become laboratories for innovation and creativity. Seasteading may be visionary, but it already has begun proving the adage that yesterday's science fiction is tomorrow's science fact. Welcome to seavilization.


The Indonesian island of Java has long been synonymous with coffee. But it's only in the past decade or so that Indonesians have begun to wake up and smell the coffee — their own, that is. 
Big changes are brewing in the country's coffee industry, as demand from a rising middle class fuels entrepreneurship and connoisseurship.


United States

American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life
in a Vanishing Land
Nonfiction book by Monica Hesse
Publication Date: July 11, 2017

W.W. Norton & Company:
Combining the reportage of In Cold Blood with the eye-opening insights of Dreamland, American Fire becomes a new American tragedy of our time. 
Shocked by a five-month arson spree that left a rural Virginia county reeling, Washington Post reporter Monica Hesse drove down to the desolate county of Accomack to cover the trial of Charlie Smith, who pled guilty to 67 counts of arson. But Charlie wasn't lighting fires alone: his crimes were galvanized by a twisted love story. Over two years of reporting, Hesse uncovered the motives of this troubled recovering addict and his struggling accomplice, girlfriend Tonya Bundick. In depicting the dangerous shift in their passionate relationship, Hesse brilliantly brings to life the once-thriving coastal community and its distressed inhabitants, decimated by a punishing economy and increasingly terrified by a string of fires they could not explain. Incorporating this drama into the long-overlooked history of arson in the United States, American Fire re-creates the anguished nights this quiet county lit up in flames, mesmerizingly evoking a microcosm of rural America — a land half gutted before the fires even began.

Saturday, February 25, 2017




Deutsche Welle (DW): "Unknown kidnappers who abducted two German archaeologists working in northern Nigeria this week have now demanded $200,000 for their release. Two villagers were shot and killed during the kidnapping."

Update (26Feb17): "Two German Archaeologists Kidnapped in Nigeria Have Been Freed"


Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL):
A brawling businessman who assaulted an attendant and forced his way into the cockpit mid-flight. An intoxicated man from Nizhny Novgorod who terrified passengers by yelling about a bomb on board. A plane delayed 90 minutes because of a drunk lawmaker who refused to get off. 
These are just a few in a steady stream of stories of alcohol-fueled shenanigans and mayhem involving airline passengers that have emerged in the Russian media, often accompanied by YouTube videos taken by witnesses. 
Statistics from the International Air Transport Association show that incidents of airborne unruliness are on the rise across the world, but in Russia people's patience has neared the breaking point.


NPR: "People were dropping dead in Malaysia, and no one could figure out why their brains were swelling. A young scientist solved the mystery."

Friday, February 24, 2017


New York University (NYU):
A newly discovered trove of 16 engraved and otherwise modified limestone blocks, created 38,000 years ago, confirms the ancient origins of the pointillist techniques later adopted by 19th and 20th century artists such as Georges Seurat, Vincent Van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, and Roy Lichtenstein. 
"We're quite familiar with the techniques of these modern artists," observes New York University anthropologist Randall White, who led the excavation in France's Vézère Valley. "But now we can confirm this form of image-making was already being practiced by Europe's earliest human culture, the Aurignacian."

Goat Cheese

Kansas State University:

Thursday, February 23, 2017


United States

The Long Haul: A Trucker's Tales of Life on the Road
Nonfiction book by Finn Murphy
Publication Date: June 6, 2017

W.W. Norton & Company:
A long-haul mover's rollicking account of life out on the Big Slab. 
More than thirty years ago, Finn Murphy dropped out of college to become a long-haul trucker. Since then he's covered more than a million miles packing, loading, and hauling people's belongings all over America. Known by his trucker handle as U-Turn, he spends his days (and many of his nights) in a 53-foot eighteen-wheeler he calls Cassidy. 
In The Long Haul, Murphy offers a trucker's-eye view of America on the move. Going far beyond the myth of the American road trip, he whisks readers down the I-95 Powerlane, across the Florida Everglades, in and out of the truck stops of the Midwest, and through the steep grades of the Rocky Mountains. As he crisscrosses the country, Murphy recounts with wit, candor, and charm the America he has seen change over the decades, from the hollowing-out of small towns to changing tastes in culture and home furnishings. 
Some 40 million Americans move each year, and very few have any idea what they're getting into or the kind of person to whom they are relinquishing their worldly goods. The Long Haul is also a behind-the-scenes look at the moving industry, revealing what really happens when we call in "the movers." 
Through it all, Murphy tells poignant, funny, and often haunting stories of the people he encounters on the job: a feisty hoarder in New Hampshire; a Virginia homeowner raging when Murphy's truck accidentally runs down a stand of trees; an ex-banker in Colorado who treats Finn and his crew with undisguised contempt; a widow who needs Murphy to bring her archeologist husband's remains and relics to a Navajo burial ceremony in New Mexico. These experiences inspire Finn's memorable reflections on work, class, and the bonds we form with the things we own and the places we live. 
Brimming with personality and filled with great characters, The Long Haul is a resonant portrait of the enduring appeal of manual labor in the dark underbelly of the American Dream.

New Jersey

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE):
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Newark Fugitive Operations Officers and the U.S. Marshals (USMS) NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force (RFTF) arrested a Dominican fugitive wanted for murder Tuesday. 
Kelbin Perez De Los Santos, 35, wanted by the Dominican authorities for homicide, was taken into ICE custody on Tuesday. Perez De Los Santos allegedly shot and killed a victim during a dispute in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and fled to New Jersey in 2016.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

South Africa

Voice of America (VOA): "Traditional South African beer, brewed for centuries by peoples such as the Xhosa, is in danger of disappearing, according to Slow Food International, an organization trying to revive local food cultures."


Imperial College London, United Kingdom:



Vij: A Chef's One-Way Ticket to Canada
With Indian Spices in His Suitcase
Nonfiction book by Vikram Vij
Publication Date: March 21, 2017

Penguin Random House:
Vikram Vij, one of Canada's great chefs, shares his story of the trials and triumphs in building a world-renowned food empire. 
Fragrant with the smells of cumin, turmeric, fennel, and cloves, Vij reveals the story of Vikram Vij, one of Canada's most celebrated chefs and entrepreneurs. Co-owner of the world-famous Vij's Restaurant in Vancouver, his story is a true rags-to-riches tale of a college dropout from northern India who made it to Europe's temples of high cuisine, then with a one-way ticket bound for Canada, found fame serving some of the world's most transcendent Indian cuisine. Vij's Restaurant, originally a fourteen-seat establishment known for its extraordinary flavors and spice blends, along with a firm no-reservation policy, received accolades from restaurant critics and patrons alike. 
A culinary journey that began in India as a boy enjoying the praise of visitors for his chai and biscuits, Vikram's passion for Indian cooking and his lifelong mission to bring awareness to the culture he left behind have fueled his tireless drive in building a world-renowned food empire. Driven to succeed, Vikram realized his dream to launch five major initiatives under the Vij's brand by age fifty, but with challenges and sacrifices along the way. 
For the first time, Vikram opens up about his struggles with prejudice, his mentors' lasting lessons, and the painful demise of his marriage — both the successes and the failures that have shaped and sharpened one of Canada's most unique and revered culinary talents.

North Carolina

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE):
A Fugitive Operations Team assigned to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Atlanta field office arrested an at-large fugitive alien Tuesday who is presently wanted for the murder of two men in Honduras. 
Francisco Escobar-Orellana, an unlawfully present Honduran national, was arrested by ICE deportation officers Tuesday morning near his Hope Mills residence during a targeted enforcement operation in concert with ICE Homeland Security Investigations special agents. 
Mr. Escobar is wanted in Honduras pursuant to a May 2005 arrest warrant for allegedly hacking two men to death with a machete at a liquor store in 1993. Mr. Escobar subsequently unlawfully entered the United States at an unknown time/place.

U.S. Existing-Home Sales

National Association of Realtors, United States: "Existing-home sales stepped out to a fast start in 2017, surpassing a recent cyclical high and increasing in January to the fastest pace in almost a decade, according to the National Association of Realtors. All major regions except for the Midwest saw sales gains last month."

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Wild Ride: Inside Uber's Quest for World Domination
Nonfiction book by Adam Lashinsky
Publication Date: May 23, 2017

Penguin Random House:
Fortune writer and bestselling author of Inside Apple's exposé of Uber, the multi-billion dollar Silicon Valley upstart that has disrupted the transportation industry around the world. 
Uber is one of the most fascinating and controversial businesses in the world, both beloved for its elegant ride-hailing concept and heady growth and condemned for CEO Travis Kalanick's ruthless pursuit of success at all cost. Despite the company's significance to the on-demand economy and the mobile revolution, and the battle for global dominance that Kalanick is waging against politicians and taxi companies all over the world, the full story behind Uber has never been told. It's a story that start-up founders, executives of traditional businesses, tech-savvy readers, and drivers and riders alike will find riveting. 
Adam Lashinsky, veteran Fortune writer and author of Inside Apple, traces the story of Uber's rapid growth from its murky origins to its plans for expansion into radically different industries. The company is fighting local competitors and lawmakers for markets around the world; it has already faced riots and protests in cities like Paris, Rio de Janeiro, and Mumbai. It fought, and lost, an expensive and grueling battle against rival Didi in China. Uber has also poached entire departments from top research universities in a push to build the first self-driving car and possibly replace the very drivers it's worked so hard to recruit. 
Uber is in the headlines every day, but so much about its past and its future plans are still unknown to the public. Lashinsky will offer a look inside Uber's vault in this informative, deeply researched book about the ur-disruptor and its visionary and fierce CEO.

Life Expectancy

From Imperial College London, United Kingdom: "Average life expectancy is set to increase in many countries by 2030 — and will exceed 90 years in South Korea, according to new research."


Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL):
Once the butt of jokes about its atrocious safety record and awful service, Russian state-owned airline Aeroflot is now widely regarded as a leading global carrier. 
But Aeroflot's latest attempt to burnish its image is being opposed by veteran flight attendants who say they are being sidelined in the company over their age and appearance. 
The attendants — who mockingly dub themselves the STS in abbreviated Russian for "old, fat, ugly" — claim they are being barred from international flights, which in turn denies them higher wages.

African Lions

Africa's protected parks and reserves are capable of supporting three to four times as many wild lions if well funded and managed, according to a new report led by Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization. 
Published in Biological Conservation, the study shows that populations of the African lion and its prey species are drastically below their natural potential inside most of Africa's protected areas (PA). 
In recent years, lion numbers have declined steeply. Some estimates suggest as few as 20,000 wild lions remain in all of Africa, compared to 30,000 that existed just two decades ago. Yet, the study indicates that with sufficient global support for African conservation efforts, the continent's protected areas could support as many as 83,000 free-ranging lions.


Lancaster University, United Kingdom:
Marijuana sales have created an economic boom in U.S. states that have fully or partially relaxed their cannabis laws, but is the increased cultivation and sale of this crop also creating escalating environmental damage and a threat to public health? 
In an opinion piece published by the journal Environmental Science and Technology, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Lancaster University in the U.K. have called on U.S. federal agencies to fund studies that will gather essential environmental data from the legal cultivation farms and facilities. 
This information could then be used to help U.S. states minimize any environmental and public health damage caused by this burgeoning industry and aid legal marijuana growers in making their business environmentally sustainable. 
State-by-state legalization is effectively creating a new industry in U.S., one that looks set to rival all but the largest of current businesses. In Colorado alone, sales revenues have reached $1 billion, roughly equal to that from grain farming in the state. By 2020 it is estimated that country-wide legal marijuana sales will generate more annual revenue than the National Football League. 
But the article, titled "High Time to Assess the Environmental Impacts of Cannabis Cultivation" co-authored by William Vizuete, associate professor of environment sciences and engineering at UNC's Gillings School of Global Public health and Kirsti Ashworth, research fellow at Lancaster University's Lancaster Environment Centre say that this expanded cultivation carries with it serious environmental effects. 
Their article points out that cannabis is an especially needy crop requiring high temperatures (25-30 °C for indoor operations), strong light, highly fertile soil and large volumes of water — around twice that of wine grapes. In addition, the authors state that the few available studies of marijuana cultivation have uncovered potentially significant environmental impacts due to excessive water and energy demands and local contamination of water, air, and soil. 
For example, a study of illegal outdoor grow operations in northern California found that rates of water extraction from streams threatened aquatic ecosystems. High levels of growth nutrients, as well as pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, also found their way back into the local environment, further damaging aquatic wildlife. 
Controlling the indoor growing environment requires considerable energy with power requirements estimated to be similar to that of Google's massive data centers. No significant data has been collected on the air pollution impacts on worker's public health inside these growing facilities or the degradation of outdoor air quality due to emissions produced by the industrial scale production of marijuana. 
The authors emphasize, however, much of the data on marijuana cultivation to date has come from monitoring illegal cannabis growing operations. 
Dr. Ashworth of Lancaster Environment Centre said: "The illegal status of marijuana has prevented us from understanding the detrimental impacts that this industrial scale operation has on the environment and public health. 
"This is an industry undergoing a historic transition, presenting an historic opportunity to be identified as a progressive, world-leading example of good practice and environmental stewardship." 
The continued expansion of legalization by the states does offer significant opportunities for the US Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Institutes of Health (NIH, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to fund research into legal cannabis cultivation to protect the environment. 
"Generating accurate data in all the areas we discussed offers significant potential to reduce energy consumption and environmental harm, protect public health and ultimately, improve cultivation methods," said Dr. Vizuete . "There are also significant potential public health issues caused by emissions from the plants themselves rather than smoking it. These emissions cause both indoor and outdoor air pollution."
Related: "U.S. Marijuana Industry Anxiously Awaits New AG's Cannabis Position"

Monday, February 20, 2017


King of Spies: The Dark Reign and Bizarre Ruin
of America's Spymaster in Korea
Nonfiction book by Blaine Harden
Publication Date: October 3, 2017

Penguin Random House:
The New York Times bestselling author of Escape from Camp 14 returns with the untold story of one of the most powerful spies in American history, shedding new light on the U.S. role in the Korean War, and its legacy. 
In 1946, master sergeant Donald Nichols was repairing jeeps on the sleepy island of Guam when he caught the eye of recruiters from the army's Counter Intelligence Corps. After just three months' training, he was sent to Korea, then a backwater beneath the radar of MacArthur's Pacific Command. Though he lacked the pedigree of most U.S. spies — Nichols was a 7th grade dropout — he quickly metamorphosed from army mechanic to black ops phenomenon. He insinuated himself into the affections of America's chosen puppet in South Korea, President Syngman Rhee, and became a pivotal player in the Korean War, warning months in advance about the North Korean invasion, breaking enemy codes, and identifying most of the targets destroyed by  American bombs in North Korea. 
But Nichols's triumphs had a dark side. Immersed in a world of torture and beheadings, he became a spymaster with his own secret base, his own covert army, and his own rules. He recruited agents from refugee camps and prisons, sending many to their deaths on reckless missions. His closeness to Rhee meant that he witnessed — and did nothing to stop or even report — the slaughter of tens of thousands of South Korean civilians in anticommunist purges. Nichols's clandestine reign lasted for an astounding eleven years. 
In this riveting book, Blaine Harden traces Nichols's unlikely rise and tragic ruin, from his birth in an operatically dysfunctional family in New Jersey to his sordid postwar decline, which began when the U.S. military sacked him in Korea, sent him to an air force psych ward in Florida, and subjected him — against his will — to months of electroshock therapy. But King of Spies is not just the story of one American spy: with napalmed villages and severed heads, high-level lies and long-running cover-ups, it reminds us that the darkest sins of the Vietnam War — and many other conflicts that followed — were first committed in Korea.


Associated Press (AP):


Deutsche Welle (DW): "President Duterte authorized and paid for extrajudicial killings while he was a city mayor, retired policeman Arthur Lascanas has alleged. Lascanas also claims that a critical radio commentator was among those targeted."

International Arms Transfers

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI):
The volume of international transfers of major weapons has grown continuously since 2004 and increased by 8.4 per cent between 2007-11 and 2012-16, according to new data on arms transfers published today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Notably, transfers of major weapons in 2012-16 reached their highest volume for any five-year period since the end of the cold war. 
The flow of arms increased to Asia and Oceania and the Middle East between 2007-11 and 2012-16, while there was a decrease in the flow to Europe, the Americas and Africa. The five biggest exporters — the United States, Russia, China, France and Germany — together accounted for 74 per cent of the total volume of arms exports.

Sunday, February 19, 2017


United States

Janesville: An American Story
Nonfiction book by Amy Goldstein
Publication Date: April 18, 2017

Simon & Schuster:
A Washington Post reporter's intimate account of the fallout from the closing of a General Motors' assembly plant in Janesville, Wisconsin — Paul Ryan's hometown — and a larger story of the hollowing of the American middle class. 
This is the story of what happens to an industrial town in the American heartland when its factory stills — but it's not the familiar tale. Most observers record the immediate shock of vanished jobs, but few stay around long enough to notice what happens next, when a community with a can-do spirit tries to pick itself up. 
Pulitzer Prize winner Amy Goldstein has spent years immersed in Janesville, Wisconsin, where the nation's oldest operating General Motors plant shut down in the midst of the Great Recession, two days before Christmas of 2008. Now, with intelligence, sympathy, and insight into what connects and divides people in an era of economic upheaval, she makes one of America's biggest political issues human. Her reporting takes the reader deep into the lives of autoworkers, educators, bankers, politicians, and job re-trainers to show why it's so hard in the twenty-first century to recreate a healthy, prosperous working class. 
For this is not just a Janesville story or a Midwestern story. It's an American story.


Voice of America (VOA): "Somali officials say at least 30 people were killed and dozens others wounded when a massive car bomb exploded in a busy market in the capital Mogadishu on Sunday."


BBC News: "Dozens of people have been injured in an explosion in the Colombian capital Bogotá, the mayor's office has said."


United States

The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss,
and American Royalty in the Nation's  Largest Home
Nonfiction book by Denise Kiernan
Publication Date: September 26, 2017

Simon & Schuster:
From the author of the New York Times bestseller The Girls of Atomic City comes the fascinating true story behind the magnificent Gilded Age mansion Biltmore — the largest, grandest residence ever built in the United States. 
Orphaned at a young age, Edith Stuyvesant Dresser claimed lineage from one of New York's best known families. She grew up in Newport and Paris, and her engagement and marriage to George Vanderbilt was one of the most watched events of Gilded Age society. But none of this prepared her to be mistress of Biltmore House. 
Before their marriage, the wealthy and bookish Vanderbilt had dedicated his life to creating a spectacular European-style estate on 125,000 acres of North Carolina wilderness. He summoned the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to tame the grounds, collaborated with celebrated architect Richard Morris Hunt to build a 175,000-square-foot chateau, filled it with priceless art and antiques, and erected a charming village beyond the gates. Newlywed Edith was now mistress of an estate nearly three times the size of Washington, DC and benefactress of the village and surrounding rural area. When fortunes shifted and changing times threatened her family, her home, and her community, it was up to Edith to save Biltmore — and secure the future of the region and her husband's legacy. 
The story of Biltmore spans World Wars, the Jazz Age, the Depression, and generations of the famous Vanderbilt family, and features a captivating cast of real-life characters including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, Teddy Roosevelt, John Singer Sargent, James Whistler, Henry James, and Edith Wharton. The Last Castle is the unique American story of how the largest house in America flourished, faltered, and ultimately endured to this day.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

South China Sea

Voice of America (VOA): "A U.S. Navy aircraft carrier strike group has begun patrols in the South China Sea, despite a warning from China on Wednesday not to interfere with Chinese sovereignty in the area."

Related: U.S. Navy


United States

Jamestown, the Truth Revealed
Nonfiction book by William M. Kelso
Publication Date: May 12, 2017

University of Virginia Press:
What was life really like for the band of adventurers who first set foot on the banks of the James River in 1607? Important as the accomplishments of these men and women were, the written records pertaining to them are scarce, ambiguous, and often conflicting, and those curious about the birthplace of the United States have had little to turn to except dramatic and often highly fictionalized reports. In Jamestown, the Truth Revealed, William Kelso takes us literally to the soil where the Jamestown colony began, unearthing footprints of a series of structures, beginning with the James Fort, to reveal fascinating evidence of the lives and deaths of the first settlers, of their endeavors and struggles, and new insight into their relationships with the Virginia Indians. He offers up a lively but fact-based account, framed around a narrative of the archaeological team's exciting discoveries. 
Unpersuaded by the common assumption that James Fort had long ago been washed away by the James River, William Kelso and his collaborators estimated the likely site for the fort and began to discover its extensive remains, including palisade walls, bulwarks, interior buildings, a well, a warehouse, and several pits. More than 2,000,000 objects were cataloged, more than half dating to the time of Queen Elizabeth and King James. In the time since that major find, roughly coinciding with Jamestown's quadricentennial, Kelso and his team have made several critical discoveries. 
He describes the recent excavations of numerous additional buildings, including the settlement's first church, which served as the burial place of four Jamestown leaders, the governor's row house during the term of Samuel Argall, and substantial dump sites, which are troves for archaeologists. He also recounts how researchers confirmed the practice of survival cannibalism in the colony following the recovery from an abandoned cellar bakery of the cleaver-scarred remains of a young English girl. CT scanning and computer graphics have even allowed researchers to put a face on this victim of the brutal winter of 1609-10, a period that has come to be known as the "starving time." 
Refuting the now decades-old stereotype that attributed the high mortality rate of the Jamestown settlers to their laziness and ineptitude, Jamestown, the Truth Revealed produces a vivid picture of the settlement that is far more complex, incorporating the most recent archaeology and using twenty-first-century technology to give Jamestown its rightful place in history and thus contributing to a broader understanding of the transatlantic world.

Friday, February 17, 2017


The first sign of trouble was the monkeys dropping dead in the forest. Then people started getting sick and dying, too. 
Brazil is in the midst of its worst yellow fever outbreak since the 1940s, when the country started mass vaccination and mosquito eradication campaigns to thwart the virus.


NPR: "Because of unstable milk prices, small-dairy owners are also selling artisanal cheeses to help them stay afloat."


From Voice of America (VOA): "The mystery surrounding a politically connected Chinese billionaire's sudden removal from a hotel in Hong Kong — and China's silence about the case — is perpetuating a state of fear among investors and businesses, analysts say."


Voice of America (VOA): "U.S. defense company Lockheed Martin says talks are being held between the American and Indian governments on its proposal to manufacture F-16 fighter jets in India."


The Barefoot Navigator: Wayfinding With the Skills
of the Ancients
Nonfiction book by Jack Lagan
Publication Date (Hardback): November 14, 2017

Bloomsbury Publishing:
The Barefoot Navigator introduces the navigation skills of the ancients — methods using the sun, sea, wind, and stars, and even the flight patterns of ocean birds. The Barefoot Navigator also shows today's sailors how to apply these methods to augment — and in the case of emergency, replace-their modern navigation systems. And it's not just for emergencies — sometimes it is just plain fun to create a simple astrolabe or polar stick and confirm what your GPS tells you. 
Polynesians managed to populate an area of ocean larger than North America simply by analyzing clouds, currents, and wind direction — how did they do it? In the first portion of The Barefoot Navigator Lagan introduces these ancient seafarers and their powerful, accurate — and seemingly simple — navigation techniques. We also learn that the Vikings routinely traveled on the notorious stretches of water between Iceland, Greenland, and Scandinavia — no charts, no GPS; it seems mind-boggling but Lagan shows us how. The second section of The Barefoot Navigator teaches how to combine these ancient techniques — and even construct the simple devices if we desire — with today's modern navigational devices, especially in emergency situations (loss of power, loss of signal), to ensure a constant grasp on your vessel's location — no matter what. 
Interlacing fascinating history with useful advice and enjoyable writing, The Barefoot Navigator is unlike every other navigation reference out there.

Thursday, February 16, 2017


Rice University: "There's at least one person in the world for whom smoking has a beneficial effect, and it took an international collaboration of scientists led by a Rice University professor to figure out why."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tattoo Artists

Ohio State University: "Getting a tattoo may hurt, but giving one is no picnic, either."


University of Wyoming: "University of Wyoming researchers took a big step toward solving the mystery of the decline of hirola, a rare African antelope, conducting wildlife research in one of the most formidable environments — the border region of eastern Kenya and southern Somalia."

Travel Warning

U.S. State Department:


Deutsche Welle (DW): "What do houses, streets, telephones and microchips have in common? They all contain processed sand. Now African countries are raising the alarm because of their disappearing beaches."


ETH Zurich, Switzerland: "If degraded and logged areas of tropical forests are left to nature, the populations of certain endangered tree species are not able to recover. This applies in particular to trees with large fruit where the seeds are distributed by birds, as ETH scientists have shown in a rain forest in India."


Grave New World: The End of Globalization,
the Return of History
Nonfiction book by Stephen D. King
Publication Date: May 23, 2017

Yale University Press:
A controversial look at the end of globalization and what it means for prosperity, peace, and the global economic order.
Globalization, long considered the best route to economic prosperity, is not inevitable. An approach built on the principles of free trade and, since the 1980s, open capital markets, is beginning to fracture. With disappointing growth rates across the Western world, nations are no longer willing to sacrifice national interests for global growth; nor are their leaders able — or willing — to sell the idea of pursuing a global agenda of prosperity to their citizens. 
Combining historical analysis with current affairs, economist Stephen D. King provides a provocative and engaging account of why globalization is being rejected, what a world ruled by rival states with conflicting aims might look like, and how the pursuit of nationalist agendas could result in a race to the bottom. King argues that a rejection of globalization and a return to "autarky" will risk economic and political conflict, and he uses lessons from history to gauge how best to avoid the worst possible outcomes.