Wednesday, February 10, 2016


University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada: "Beliefs about all-knowing, punishing gods — a defining feature of religions ranging from Christianity to Hinduism — may have played a key role in expanding co-operation among far-flung peoples and led to the development of modern-day states, according to a UBC-led study published in Nature."


BBC News: "A relatively unheard-of variety of pepper is growing in popularity among chefs."


University of Sussex, United Kingdom:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Lund University: "A recent study from Lund University in Sweden shows that barley can rapidly improve people’s health by reducing blood sugar levels and the risk for diabetes. The secret lies in the special mixture of dietary fibers found in barley, which can also help reduce people’s appetite and risk for cardiovascular disease."


Radio Free Asia (RFA):
Armed Chinese guards are forcing Lao workers in the country's northern Oudomxay province to labor in banana plantations contaminated with dangerous chemicals, local sources tell RFA’s Lao Service. 
A chief of the Nongbouadeang village in the province's Houn district told RFA that 50 Lao workers in a Chinese-owned banana plantation in the neighboring village of Nammieng were working under Chinese overseers armed with automatic rifles. 
"In  Laos, it is against the law to have a gun because only soldiers and police are allowed to have guns," said the chief, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The plantation owner uses the weapons because he is scared that Lao workers will resist his orders, but he does not have permission to have firearms."
Police Lt. Col. Nilavong Cheaungsavalath, chief of the Oudomxay province's police force, told RFA that authorities will investigate the report.


Voice of America: "A man who allegedly threw an alligator through a fast-food drive-through window as a 'prank' in southern Florida now faces criminal charges."

Monday, February 8, 2016

Shark Attacks

University of Florida (UF):


Zia-U-Rahman Hasrat, Voice of America: "Islamic State has started cutting down trees in some parts of eastern Afghanistan in a timber-smuggling operation to neighboring Pakistan, according to Afghan officials and tribal leaders."

Cretaceous Period

DePaul University: "An international team of scientists have discovered two new plankton-eating fossil fish species, of the genus called Rhinconichthys, which lived 92 million years ago in the oceans of the Cretaceous Period."

(Image credit:© Robert Nicholls)

Northern Hemisphere

Future Earth:


From Lund University, Sweden: "The discovery of the world’s oldest storage of fermented fish in southern Sweden could rewrite the Nordic prehistory with findings indicating a far more complex society than previously thought. The unique discovery by osteologist Adam Boethius from Lund University was made when excavating a 9,200-year-old settlement at what was once a lake in Blekinge, Sweden."

South Africa

University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa:

Refugee Smugglers

IRIN: "Turkish and German leaders may be ramping up the rhetoric and hardening their resolve to crack down on the people smugglers pushing a steady stream of Syrians and others out into the Aegean, but the illicit trade is still booming and the criminal networks are finding new ways to avoid detection."

Kuchi Nomads


Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL): "As the seasons change, hundreds of thousands of nomads move with their families and livestock back and forth across Afghanistan's border with Pakistan. In an area already ravaged by war and poverty, the people — known as Kuchis — are living the kind of hard life that much of the world has long forgotten."



Sunday, February 7, 2016


SoHo Sins
A novel by Richard Vine
Publication Date: July 19, 2016

Hard Case Crime:
They were the New York art scene's golden couple — until the day Amanda Oliver was found murdered in her SoHo loft, and her husband Philip confessed to shooting her. But was he a continent away when the trigger was pulled? Art dealer Jackson Wyeth sets out to learn the truth, and uncovers the dangerous secrets lurking beneath the surface of Manhattan's posh galleries and decadent parties, a world of adultery and madness, of beautiful girls growing up too fast and men making fortunes and losing their minds. But even the worst the art world can imagine will seem tame when the final shattering sin is revealed... 
This stunning debut novel from an editor of one of world's leading fine art publications offers an insider's tour of the New York and international art worlds, and a searing, unforgettable visit to the darkest chambers of the human heart.
 About the Author
Richard Vine is the managing editor of Art in America, one of the world's most influential art magazines. He holds a Ph.D. in literature from the University of Chicago and has written hundreds of critical essays and two nonfiction books on contemporary art. He recently curated museum exhibitions in India and China, and his travels as an art critic have taken him throughout Europe, Asia, South America, and the Middle East. In earlier days, he worked in steel mills and a locked psychiatric ward, was a beach bum in Hawaii and an ad executive in Chicago, studied in the south of France, and participated in the 1970 Kent State demonstrations that ended with four students killed and nine wounded. SoHo Sins is his first novel.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Friday, February 5, 2016


(Photo credit: © Ellen Martinsen)

Travel Warning

U.S. State Department:


Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
By Phil Knight
Publication Date: April 26, 2016

Simon & Schuster:
In this candid and riveting memoir, for the first time ever, Nike founder and CEO Phil Knight shares the inside story of the company's early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world's most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands. 
In 1962, fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed $50 from his father and created a company with a simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost athletic shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the trunk of his lime green Plymouth Valiant, Knight grossed $8,000 his first year. Today, Nike's annual sales top $30 billion. In an age of start-ups, Nike is the ne plus ultra of all start-ups, and the swoosh has become a revolutionary, globe-spanning icon, one of the most ubiquitous and recognizable symbols in the world today. 
But Knight, the man behind the swoosh, has always remained a mystery. Now, for the first time, in a memoir that is candid, humble, gutsy, and wry, he tells his story, beginning with his crossroads moment. At 24, after backpacking around the world, he decided to take the unconventional path, to start his own business — a business that would be dynamic, different
Knight details the many risks and daunting setbacks that stood between him and his dream — along with his early triumphs. Above all, he recalls the formative relationships with his first partners and employees, a ragtag group of misfits and seekers who became a tight-knit band of brothers. Together, harnessing the transcendent power of a shared mission, and a deep belief in the spirit of sport, they built a brand that changed everything.

Thursday, February 4, 2016


University of Exeter, United Kingdom: "The spread of a disease that is decimating global bee populations is man-made, and driven by European honeybee populations, new research has concluded."

New York

U.S. Justice Department:

Travel Warning

U.S. State Department:


Cell Press:


(Photo credit: © Martin Frouz)


Brian Whitmore, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL):
He's like a cartoon villain, except that he's real. 
He can be pretty amusing, except when he's terrifying. 
He's a bit of a clown and more than a bit childish, but he's also one of the most powerful men in Russia. 
It's pretty much impossible to ignore Ramzan Kadyrov — and he knows it. 
And the rambunctious Chechen strongman seems to be getting more brazen by the day.

Czech Republic

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL): "A Czech court has set free a suspected Lebanese arms trader wanted by Washington in an exchange to free five Czech citizens held in Lebanon."


World War II

Indestructible: One Man's Rescue Mission
That Changed the Course of WWII
Nonfiction book by John R. Bruning
Publication Date: May 3, 2016

Hachette Book Group:
This little-known WWII story introduces a renegade pilot whose personal mission to rescue his family from a POW camp changed modern air warfare forever. 
December, 1941: Manila is invaded, and U.S. citizen and Philippines Airlines manager, Pappy Gunn, is ordered to fly key military command out of the country, leaving his family at home. So Gunn was miles away when the Japanese captured his wife and children, placing them in an internment camp where they faced disease, abuse, and starvation. 
Gunn spent three years trying to rescue them. His exploits became legend as he revolutionized the art of air warfare, devising his own weaponry, missions, and combat strategies. By the end of the war, Pappy's ingenuity and flair for innovation helped transform MacArthur's air force into the scourge of the Pacific.



Wednesday, February 3, 2016


Springer: "Researchers have for the first time witnessed the death of a female orangutan at the hands of another female. Even more extraordinary is that the perpetrator recruited a male orangutan as a hired gun to help her corner and attack the victim."


Indiana University (IU): IU paleobotanist David Dilcher is a co-author on a study out today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B that identifies a Jurassic-age insect whose behavior and appearance closely mimic a butterfly — but whose emergence on Earth predates the butterfly by about 40 million years."

(Image credit: Vichai Malikul)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Maritime Piracy

International Maritime Bureau (IMB):


Deutsche Welle (DW): "Conservationists are rejoicing at the discovery of a previously unknown lion population along the Ethiopia-Sudan border."