Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Dinosaurs

North Carolina State University:

Book

Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway's
Secret Adventures, 1935-1961
Nonfiction book by Nicholas Reynolds
Publication Date: March 14, 2017

HarperCollins Publishers:
A former CIA officer and curator of the CIA Museum unveils the shocking, untold story of Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway's secret life as a spy for both the Americans and the Soviets before and during World War II. 
While he was the curator of the CIA Museum, Nicholas Reynolds, a longtime military intelligence expert, began to discover tantalizing clues that suggested Ernest Hemingway's involvement in the Second World War was much more complex and dangerous than has been previously understood. Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy brings to light for the first time this riveting secret side of Hemingway's life — when he worked closely with both the American OSS, a precursor to the CIA, and the Soviet NKVD, the USSR's forerunner to the KGB, to defeat Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. 
Reynolds digs deep into Hemingway's involvement in World War II, from his recruitment by both the Americans and the Soviets — who valued Hemingway for his journalistic skills and access to sources — through his key role in gaining tactical intelligence for the Allies during the liberation of Paris, to his later doubts about communist ideology and his undercover work in Cuba. As he examines the links between his work as a spy and as an author, Reynolds reveals how Hemingway's wartime experiences shook his faith in literature and contributed to the writer's block that plagued him for much of the final two decades of his life. Reynolds also illuminates how those same experiences also informed one of Hemingway's greatest works — The Old Man and the Sea — the final novel published during his lifetime.
A unique portrait as fast-paced and exciting as the best espionage thrillers, Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy illuminates a hidden side of a revered artist and is a thrilling addition to the annals of World War II.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Mali

BBC News:

Book

Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich
Nonfiction book by Norman Ohler
Translated by Shaun Whiteside
Publication Date: May 16, 2017

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:
A fast-paced narrative that discovers a surprising perspective on World War II: Nazi Germany's all-consuming reliance on drugs. 
The Nazi regime preached an ideology of physical, mental, and moral purity. But as Norman Ohler reveals in this gripping new history, the Third Reich was saturated with drugs. On the eve of World War II, Germany was a pharmaceutical powerhouse, and companies such as Merck and Bayer cooked up cocaine, opiates, and, most of all, methamphetamines, to be consumed by everyone from factory workers to housewives to millions of German soldiers. In fact, troops regularly took rations of a form of crystal meth — the elevated energy and feelings of invincibility associated with the high even help to explain certain German military victories. 
Drugs seeped all the way up to the Nazi high command and, especially, to Hitler himself. Over the course of the war, Hitler became increasingly dependent on injections of a cocktail of drugs — including a form of heroin — administered by his personal doctor. While drugs alone cannot explain the Nazis' toxic racial theories or the events of World War II, Ohler's investigation makes an overwhelming case that, if drugs are not taken into account, our understanding of the Third Reich is fundamentally incomplete. 
Carefully researched and rivetingly readable, Blitzed throws surprising light on a history that, until now, has remained in the shadows.

Neanderthals

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany:

Austria

Deutsche Welle (DW): "Customs officials at an Austrian airport have discovered a Moroccan woman carrying her deceased husband's intestines in luggage. The woman claimed she wanted to test the tissue to see if he was poisoned."

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Mexico

BBC News:
A Roman Catholic priest who was kidnapped in western Mexico a week ago has been found shot dead. 
The body of José Alfredo López Guillén was found late on Saturday near the town of Puruándiro in Michoacán state, prosecutors said. 
He is the third priest to be found murdered in Mexico in the past week.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Book

The Airbnb Story: How Three Ordinary Guys
Disrupted an Industry, Made Billions . . . and
Created Plenty of Controversy
Nonfiction book by Leigh Gallagher
Publication Date: February 28, 2017

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:
This is the remarkable behind-the-scenes story of the creation and growth of Airbnb, the online lodging platform that has become, in under a decade, the largest provider of accommodations in the world. At first just the wacky idea of cofounders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb has disrupted the $500 billion hotel industry, and its $30 billion valuation is now larger than Hilton's and Marriott's. Airbnb is beloved by the millions of members in its "host" community and the travelers they shelter every night. And yet, even as the company has blazed such an unexpected path, this is the first book solely dedicated to the phenomenon of Airbnb. 
Fortune editor Leigh Gallagher explores the success of Airbnb along with the more controversial side of its story. Regulators want to curb its rapid expansion; hotel industry leaders wrestle with the disruption it has caused them; and residents and customers alike struggle with the unintended consequences of opening up private homes for public consumption. This is also the first in‑depth study of Airbnb's leader, Brian Chesky, the quirky and curious young CEO, as he steers the company into new markets and increasingly uncharted waters.

Friday, September 23, 2016

India

From Survival International: "Two people were killed and about 20 injured this week during a brutal eviction from India's notorious shoot-on-sight Kaziranga National Park. The eviction of three villages, carried out in the name of conservation, involved 1,000 security personnel, along with elephants and bulldozers to destroy hundreds of houses, a government-built school and a mosque."

Germany

Deutsche Welle (DW):

Book

Singapore: Unlikely Power
Nonfiction book by John Curtis Perry
Shipping Date: January 2, 2017

Oxford University Press:
Singapore has gained a reputation for being one of the wealthiest and best-educated countries in the world and one of the brightest success stories for a colony-turned-sovereign state, but the country's path to success was anything but assured. Its strategic location and natural resources both allowed Singapore to profit from global commerce and also made the island an attractive conquest for the world's naval powers, resulting in centuries of stunting colonialization. 
In Singapore: Unlikely Power, John Curtis Perry provides an evenhanded and authoritative history of the island nation that ranges from its Malay origins to the present day. Singapore development has been aided by its greatest natural blessing — a natural deepwater port, shielded by mountain ranges from oceanic storms and which sits along one of the most strategic straits in the world, cementing the island's place as a major shipping entrepôt throughout modern history. Perry traces the succession of colonizers, beginning with China in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and followed by the island's most famous colonizer, Britain, which ruled Singapore until the 1960s excluding the Japanese occupation of World War II. After setting a historical context, Perry turns to the era of independence beginning in the 1960s. Plagued with corruption, inequality, lack of an educated population, Singapore improbably vaulted from essentially third-world status into a first-world dynamo over the course of three decades — with much credit due longtime leader Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first prime minister who led the country for over three decades, who embraced the colonial past, established close ties with former foe Japan, and adopted a resolutely pragmatist approach to economic development. His efforts were successful, and Singapore today is a model regime for other developing states. 
Singapore's stunning transformation from a poor and corrupt colonial backwater into an economic powerhouse renowned for its wealth, order, and rectitude is one of the great — and most surprising — success stories of [the] modern era. Singapore is an accessible, comprehensive, and indeed colorful overview of one of the most influential political-economic models in the world and is an enlightening read for anyone interested in how Singapore achieved the unachievable.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Out of Africa

University of Cambridge, United Kingdom: "Several major studies, published today, concur that virtually all current global human populations stem from a single wave of expansion out of Africa. Yet one has found two percent of the genome in Papuan populations points to an earlier, separate dispersal event — and an extinct lineage that made it to the islands of Southeast Asia and Oceania."

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Mexico

Deutsche Welle (DW): "Two Mexican priests have been murdered after they were abducted from their church in the oil-rich state of Veracruz. The state has been the scene of bloody turf wars between drug gangs."

Philippines

BBC News:

Book

United States

Confessions of a Wall Street Insider:
A Cautionary Tale of Rats, Feds, and Banksters
Nonfiction book by Michael Kimelman
Publication Date: January 3, 2017

Perseus Books Group:
Although he was a suburban husband and father, living a far different life than the "Wolf of Wall Street," Michael Kimelman had a good run as the cofounder of a hedge fund. He had left a cushy yet suffocating job at a law firm to try his hand at the high-risk life of a proprietary trader — and he did pretty well for himself. But it all came crashing down in the wee hours of November 5, 2009, when the Feds came to his door — almost taking the door off its hinges. While his wife and children were sequestered to a bedroom, Kimelman was marched off in embarrassment in view of his neighbors and TV crews who had been alerted in advance. He was arrested as part of a huge insider trading case, and while he was offered a "sweetheart" no-jail probation plea, he refused, maintaining his innocence. 
The lion's share of Confessions of a Wall Street Insider was written while Kimelman was an inmate at Lewisburg Penitentiary. In nearly two years behind bars, he reflected on his experiences before incarceration — rubbing elbows and throwing back far too many cocktails with financial titans and major figures in sports and entertainment (including Leonardo DiCaprio, Alex Rodriguez, Ben Bernanke, and Alan Greenspan, to drop a few names); making and losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in daily gambles on the Street; getting involved with the wrong people, who eventually turned on him; realizing that none of that mattered in the end. As he writes: "Stripped of family, friends, time, and humanity, if there's ever a place to give one pause, it's prison . . . Tomorrow is promised to no one." In Confessions of a Wall Street Insider, he reveals the triumphs, pains, and struggles, and how, in the end, it just might have made him a better person.

Monday, September 19, 2016

North Carolina

U.S. Justice Department: "Vu Johnnie Nguyen of Virginia Beach, Virginia, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Asheville, North Carolina, to federal charges for unlawfully trafficking in American black bear gall bladders and other American black bear parts, the Justice Department announced."

Book

United States — New York City Police Department (NYPD)

Blue on Blue: An Insider's Story of Good Cops
Catching Bad Cops
Nonfiction book by Charles Campisi
with Gordon Dillow
Publication Date: February 7, 2017

Simon & Schuster:
This eye-opening, richly authentic memoir by the longest serving chief of NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau [IAB] reveals what it's like to expose and put away the bad cops — so that they won't tarnish the majority who wear the uniform. 
Charles Campisi headed the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau from 1996 through 2014, gaining a reputation as hard-nosed and incorruptible. During Campisi's years at IAB, the number of New Yorkers shot by cops every year and the number of cops failing integrity tests plummeted. But to achieve those exemplary results, Campisi had to triple IAB's staff, hire the very best detectives, and put the word out that corrupt cops wouldn't be tolerated. 
In Blue on Blue, Campisi brings us into the real world of cops: We listen in on wiretaps. We experience the rush of exposing those who've betrayed their oath. We learn of new threats to the force. We also see the investigations that stretched IAB's capacities in the 1990s: from the choking death of Anthony Baez to the killing of Amadou Diallo, who was shot nineteen times by police. Along the way, we obtain fascinating glimpses of the mayors and police officials Campisi served under, from Rudy Guliani, Mike Bloomberg, and Bill de Blasio to Howard Safir, Bernard Kerik, Ray Kelly, and Bill Bratton. 
The most authentic, deep-textured portrait of life inside the NYPD since Ed Conlon's Blue Blood, Campisi's story describes what it's like to fulfill a childhood dream of joining the world's largest police force, only to spend almost half of his career putting bad cops behind bars. "A compelling, fascinating, and often harrowing read…A riveting history, wonderful for general readers and essential for all modern police forces to study and absorb" (Caleb Carr, author of The Alienist).

Ancient Shipwreck

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI):

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Philippines

Deutsche Welle (DW): "Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Sunday that his government may need to extend its bloody anti-drug campaign for six more months."

Book

United States

Filthy Rich
A Powerful Billionaire, the Sex Scandal
That Undid Him, and All the Justice
That Money Can Buy: The Shocking
True Story of Jeffrey Epstein
Nonfiction book by James Patterson
and John Connolly with Jim Malloy
Publication Date: October 10, 2016

Hachette Book Group:
A shocking true crime tale of money, power, and sex from the world's most popular thriller writer
Jeffrey Epstein rose from humble origins to the rarefied heights of New York City's financial elite. A college dropout with an instinct for numbers — and for people — Epstein amassed his wealth through a combination of access and skill. But even after he had it all, Epstein wanted more. And that unceasing desire — especially a taste for young girls — resulted in his stunning fall from grace. From Epstein himself, to the girls he employed as masseuses at his home, to the cops investigating the appalling charges against him, Filthy Rich examines all sides of a case that scandalized one of America's richest communities. An explosive true story, Filthy Rich is a riveting account of wealth, power and the influence they bring to bear on the American justice system.

Turkmenistan

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL): "Turkmenistan has opened a new $2.3 billion air terminal at Ashgabat International Airport as the former Soviet republic's tries to become an international transport hub in Central Asia and reduce its dependence on revenues from natural gas exports."

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Philippines

Deutsche Welle (DW): "Filipino officials have said a Norwegian man held for almost a year by Abu Sayyaf militants has been set free. He was kidnapped with two Canadians, who were beheaded after the terror group's ransom demands weren't met."

Friday, September 16, 2016

Short Stories

I'd Die For You
And Other Lost Stories
By F. Scott Fitzgerald
Edited by Anne Margaret Daniel
Publication Date: April 11, 2017

Simon & Schuster:
A collection including the last complete unpublished short stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the iconic American writer of The Great Gatsby who is more widely read today than ever.
I'd Die For You is a collection of the last remaining unpublished and uncollected short stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald, edited by Anne Margaret Daniel. Fitzgerald did not design the stories in I'd Die For You as a collection. Most were submitted individually to major magazines during the 1930s and accepted for publication during Fitzgerald's lifetime, but were never printed. Some were written as movie scenarios and sent to studios or producers, but not filmed. Others are stories that could not be sold because their subject matter or style departed from what editors expected of Fitzgerald. They date from the earliest days of Fitzgerald's career to the last. They come from various sources, from libraries to private collections, including those of Fitzgerald's family. 
Readers will experience Fitzgerald writing about controversial topics, depicting young men and women who actually spoke and thought more as young men and women did, without censorship. Rather than permit changes and sanitizing by his contemporary editors, Fitzgerald preferred to let his work remain unpublished, even at a time when he was in great need of money and review attention. 
"I'd Die For You," the collection's title story, is drawn from Fitzgerald's stays in the mountains of North Carolina when his health, and that of his wife Zelda, was falling apart. With the addition of a Hollywood star and film crew to the Smoky Mountain lakes and pines, Fitzgerald brings in the cinematic world in which he would soon be living. Most of the stories printed here come from this time period, during the middle and late 1930s, though the collection spans Fitzgerald's career from 1920 to the end of his life. 
The book is subtitled And Other Lost Stories in recognition of an absence until now. Some of the eighteen stories were physically lost, coming to light only in the past few years. All were lost, in one sense or another: lost in the painful shuffle of the difficulties of Fitzgerald's life in the middle 1930s; lost to readers because contemporary editors did not understand or accept what he was trying to write; lost because archives are like that, and good things can wait patiently in libraries for many centuries sometimes. I'd Die For You And Other Lost Stories echoes as well the nostalgia and elegy in Gertrude Stein's famous phrase "a lost generation," that generation for whom Fitzgerald was a leading figure. 
Written in his characteristically beautiful, sharp, and surprising language, exploring themes both familiar and fresh, these stories provide new insight into the bold and uncompromising arc of Fitzgerald's career. I'd Die For You is a revealing, intimate look at Fitzgerald's creative process that shows him to be a writer working at the fore of modern literature — in all its developing complexities.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

United States

U.S. Justice Department: "Two former executives of a foreign defense contractor have been charged in an indictment unsealed today with participating in a conspiracy to submit fraudulent information, price quotes, claims and invoices to the U.S. Navy in an effort to steal millions of dollars as part of a years-long corruption and fraud scheme."

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Afghanistan

Report from the U.S. Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR):
Related: Prepared remarks of Special Inspector General John F. Sopko

Book

Gaining Currency: The Rise of the Renminbi
Nonfiction book by Eswar S. Prasad
Publication Date: October 11, 2016

Oxford University Press:
In Gaining Currency, leading China scholar Eswar S. Prasad describes how the renminbi (RMB) is taking the world by storm and explains its role in reshaping global finance. 
This book sets the recent rise of the RMB, China's currency since 1949, against a sweeping historical backdrop. China issued the world's first paper currency in the 7th century. In the 13th century, Kublai Khan issued the first-ever currency to circulate widely despite not being backed by commodities or precious metals. China also experienced some of the earliest episodes of hyperinflation currency wars. 
Gaining Currency reveals the interconnections linking China's growing economic might, its expanding international influence, and the rise of its currency. If China plays its cards right by adopting reforms that put its economy and financial markets on the right track, the RMB could rival even the euro and the Japanese yen. 
Prasad shows, however, that while China has successfully adopted a unique playbook for promoting the RMB, many pitfalls lie ahead for its economy and currency that could limit the RMB's ascendance. The Chinese leadership is pursuing financial liberalization and limited market-oriented reforms, but it has unequivocally repudiated political, legal, and institutional reforms. Therefore, Prasad argues, while the RMB is likely to become a significant reserve currency, it will not attain "safe haven" status as a currency to which investors turn during crises. In short, the hype predicting the RMB's inevitable rise to global dominance is overblown. 
Gaining Currency makes a compelling case that, for all its promise, the RMB does not pose a serious challenge to the U.S. dollar's dominance in international finance.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Peru

Vampire bat

U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF):
Rabies will likely reach the Pacific Coast of Peru — where the virus currently does not occur — within four years, according to a paper published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Researchers reported that the vector-borne virus, which is moving at a rate of 10 miles per year, is likely being carried by infected male vampire bats, and could arrive at the Peruvian coast by June 2020. Additional analyses showed that male bats, which leave their colonies upon reaching maturity, are using Andes Mountain corridors to carry the virus westward. 
"Understanding what controls the spread of disease is more important than ever," said Sam Scheiner, director of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases Program, which funded the research. "This study demonstrates that modern genetic tools can measure that spread. In the future, such tools will be important in controlling known diseases, such as bat rabies, and new diseases as they emerge." 
The findings could help public health officials in Peru and neighboring countries prepare for and mitigate future rabies outbreaks, said ecologist Sonia Altizer of the University of Georgia, a co-author of the paper. 
Rabies is a serious threat to public health and agriculture in Latin America, causing human fatalities and more than $30 million in livestock losses every year. 
Vampire bats are responsible for the majority of rabies cases in humans and in livestock, largely because of their blood-feeding behavior.
 (Photo credit: D. Streicker)

Book

United States

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story
of the Last True Hermit
Nonfiction book by Michael Finkel
Publication Date: March 7, 2017

Penguin Random House:
For readers of Jon Krakauer and The Lost City of Z, a remarkable tale of survival and solitude — the true story of a man who lived alone in a tent in the Maine woods, never talking to another person and surviving by stealing supplies from nearby cabins for twenty-seven years. 
In 1986, twenty-year-old Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the woods. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even in winter, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store food and water, to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothes, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed, but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries. Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of the why and how of his secluded life — as well as the challenges he has faced returning to the world. A riveting story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded.