Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Books

Three Minutes to Doomsday: An FBI Agent, a Traitor,
and the Worst Espionage Breach in U.S. History
Nonfiction book by Joe Navarro
Publication Date: April 18, 2017

Simon & Schuster:
This edge-of-your-seat memoir from former FBI agent Joe Navarro reveals the shocking, inside details of how he spearheaded a 1980s investigation into a colossal espionage breach that would have left the U.S. defenseless in a Soviet attack. 
In 1988 FBI Agent Joe Navarro divides his time among SWAT assignments, flying air reconnaissance, and working counterintelligence. A body-language expert with an uncanny ability to "read" the suspects he interrogates, Joe dreams of snaring an assignment that will get him noticed by headquarters. Then he interviews Rod Ramsay. 
Ramsay is a former American soldier who is linked to a soldier-turned-traitor, Clyde Conrad. When Navarro notices Ramsay's hand twitch at the mention of Conrad's name, Joe thinks he smells a liar. He insists to his bosses that they launch an investigation. What follows is unique in the annals of espionage detection — a cat-and-mouse game played at the highest level. Navarro is the FBI agent who can't overtly tip to his target that he suspects him of wrongdoing lest he clam up, and Rod Ramsey is the suspected traitor — an evil genius with the second highest IQ ever recorded by the U.S. Army — who enjoys sparring with his inquisitor. Navarro must pre-choreograph every interview, becoming a chess master plotting twenty moves in advance. 
And the backdrop to this battle of wits is the crumbling of the Soviet Union and the very real possibility that Russian leaders may launch all-out war. If they do, they will have Ramsay to thank, because as Navarro learns over the course of nearly fifty mind-bending interviews, Ramsay has handed the Soviets the ability to utterly destroy the U.S. Three Minutes to Doomsday puts it all into exciting focus, from the shocking revelations of what Ramsay and other American soldiers leaked to the human factors that even today expose our most critical secrets to thievery.
*          *          *

Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government's
Secret Plan to Save Itself — While the Rest of Us Die
Nonfiction book by Garrett M. Graff
Publication Date: May 2, 2017

Simon & Schuster:
A fresh window on American history: The eye-opening truth about the government's secret plans to survive a catastrophic attack on U.S. soil — even if the rest of us die — a roadmap that spans from the dawn of the nuclear age to today. 
Every day in Washington, DC, the blue-and-gold 1st Helicopter Squadron, code-named "MUSSEL," flies over the Potomac River. As obvious as the Presidential motorcade, most people assume the squadron is a travel perk for VIPs. They're only half right: while the helicopters do provide transport, the unit exists to evacuate high-ranking officials in the event of a terrorist or nuclear attack on the capital. In the event of an attack, select officials would be whisked by helicopters to a ring of secret bunkers around Washington, even as ordinary citizens were left to fend for themselves. 
For sixty years, the U.S. government has been developing secret Doomsday plans to protect itself, and the multibillion-dollar Continuity of Government (COG) program takes numerous forms — from its plans to evacuate the Liberty Bell from Philadelphia to the plans to launch nuclear missiles from a Boeing 747 jet flying high over Nebraska. In Raven Rock, Garrett M. Graff sheds light on the inner workings of the 650-acre compound (called Raven Rock) just miles from Camp David, as well as dozens of other bunkers the government built its top leaders during the Cold War, from the White House lawn to Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado to Palm Beach, Florida, and the secret plans that would have kicked in after a Cold War nuclear attack to round up foreigners and dissidents and nationalize industries. Equal parts a presidential, military, and cultural history, Raven Rock tracks the evolution of the government plan and the threats of global war from the dawn of the nuclear era through the War on Terror.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Russia

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL): "With the sale of elephant tusks under close scrutiny, 'ethical ivory' from the extinct woolly mammoth is now feeding an insatiable market in China. This rush on mammoth ivory is luring 'tuskers' into the Russian wilderness and creating dollar millionaires in some of Siberia's poorest villages."

Travel Warning

U.S. State Department:

Book

United States

The Land of Enterprise: A Business History
of the United States
Nonfiction book by Benjamin C. Waterhouse
Publication Date: April 11, 2017

Simon & Schuster:
A new, gripping history of America — told through the executives, bankers, farmers, and politicians who paved the way from colonial times to the present — reveals that this country was founded as much on the search for wealth and prosperity as the desire for freedom. 
The Land of Enterprise charts the development of American business from the colonial period to the present. It explores the nation's evolving economic, social, and political landscape by examining how different types of enterprising activities rose and fell, how new labor and production technologies supplanted old ones — and at what costs — and how Americans of all stripes responded to the tumultuous world of business. In particular, historian Benjamin Waterhouse highlights the changes in business practices, the development of different industries and sectors, and the complex relationship between business and national politics. 
From executives and bankers to farmers and sailors, from union leaders to politicians to slaves, business history is American history, and Waterhouse pays tribute to the unnamed millions who traded their labor (sometimes by choice, often not) or decided what products to consume (sometimes informed, often not). Their story includes those who fought against what they saw as an oppressive system of exploitation as well as those who defended free markets from any outside intervention. The Land of Enterprise is not only a comprehensive look into our past achievements, but offers clues as to how to confront the challenges of today's world: globalization, income inequality, and technological change.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Travel Warning

U.S. State Department:

Sunday, August 21, 2016

American Indians

NPR: "Florida, with its lush grasslands, ranks tenth in the nation for its beef cattle herds — nearly 2 million head. And the Seminole Tribe of Florida is a major player in the cattle industry."

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Books

United States

Good Friday on the Rez: A Pine Ridge Odyssey
Nonfiction book by David Hugh Bunnell
Publication Date: April 25, 2017

Macmillan Publishers:
Good Friday on the Rez introduces readers to places and people that author, writer, and entrepreneur David Bunnell encounters during his one day, 280-mile road trip from his boyhood Nebraska hometown to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to visit his longtime friend, Vernell White Thunder, a full-blooded Oglala Lakota, descendant of a long line of prominent chiefs and medicine men. 
This captivating narrative is part memoir and part history. Bunnell shares treasured memories of his time living on and teaching at the reservation. Sometimes raw and sometimes uplifting, Bunnell looks back to expose the difficult life and experiences faced by the descendants of Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, and Sitting Bull while also illuminating their courageous resiliency. 
Substantive and at times disturbing, Bunnell reflects back to his time on the rez during the violent '70s when he smuggled food to radical Indians at Wounded Knee. Peppered with Vernell White Thunder's spellbinding stories of growing up in a one-room log house with his medicine man grandfather, Bunnell's begs the reader to join in on the poignant conversations about present-day Native Americans. 
Good Friday on the Rez is a dramatic page-turner, an incredible true story that tracks the torment and miraculous resurrection of Native American pride, spirituality, and culture — how things got to be the way they are, where they are going, and why we should care.
 *          *          *

The Thunder Before the Storm:
The Autobiography of Clyde Bellecourt
Nonfiction book by Clyde Bellecourt
as told to Jon Lurie
Available: November 15, 2016

Minnesota Historical Society Press:
Iconic activist and AIM cofounder Clyde Bellecourt tells "the damn truth" about the American Indian Movement as he lived it. 
The American Indian Movement [AIM] burst onto the scene in the late 1960s as indigenous people across the country began to demand what is rightfully theirs. Clyde Bellecourt, whose Ojibwe name translates as "The Thunder Before the Storm," is one of its cofounders and iconic leaders. This powerful autobiography provides an intimate narrative of his childhood on the White Earth Reservation, his long journey through the prison system, and his embodiment of "confrontation politics" in waging war against entrenched racism. 
Bellecourt is up-front and unapologetic when discussing his battles with drug addiction, his clashes with other AIM leaders, his experiences on the Trail of Broken Treaties and at Wounded Knee, and the cases of Leonard Peltier and murdered AIM activist Anna Mae Aquash. This gritty, as-told-to memoir also uncovers the humanity behind Bellecourt's militant image, revealing a sensitive spirit whose wounds motivated him to confront injustice and to help others gain a sense of pride by knowing their culture. 
The Thunder Before the Storm offers an invaluable inside look at the birth of a national movement — the big personalities, the creativity, and the perseverance that were necessary to alter the course of Native and American history.

New York

Voice of America: "Taxi drivers in New York City, a largely immigrant community, are no longer required to know English."

Friday, August 19, 2016

Russia

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL):
Forget duty-free vodka and "matryoshka" dolls: Travelers looking for a last-minute souvenir of Russia can now pick up an assault rifle — well, a plastic replica — before heading for flights out of Moscow's main airport. 
Arms manufacturer Kalashnikov has opened a shop at the terminal of a train that carries passengers from central Moscow to Sheremetyevo International Airport. 
Along with less striking souvenirs such as pens, backpacks, and caps, the boutique sells replicas of assault rifles and pistols.

Europe

From Stockholm University, Sweden: "A Bosnian pine (Pinus heldreichii) growing in the highlands of northern Greece has been dendrocronologically dated to be more than 1075 years old. This makes it currently the oldest known living tree in Europe."

Travel

U.S. State Department:

Book

Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History
Nonfiction book by Bill Schutt
Publication Date: February 14, 2017

Algonquin Books:
Eating one's own kind is completely natural behavior in thousands of species, including humans. Throughout history we have engaged in cannibalism for reasons related to famine, burial rites, and medicine. Cannibalism has also been used as a form of terrorism and as the ultimate expression of filial piety. 
With unexpected wit and a wealth of knowledge, Bill Schutt, a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History, takes us on a tour of the field, exploring exciting new avenues of research and investigating questions like why so many fish eat their offspring and some amphibians consume their mother's skin; why sexual cannibalism is an evolutionary advantage for certain spiders; why, until the end of the eighteenth century, British royalty regularly ate human body parts; and how cannibalism might be linked to the extinction of Neanderthals. 
Today, the subject of humans consuming one another has been relegated to the realm of horror movies, fiction, and the occasional psychopath. But as climate change progresses and humans see more famine, disease, and overcrowding, biological and cultural constraints may well disappear. These are the very factors that lead to outbreaks of cannibalism — in other species and our own.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Middle East

United Nations: "A new United Nations report lays bare the widespread and systematic manner in which the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, Da'esh) has committed 'terrible atrocities' against the Yezidi and other ethnic and religious communities, the UN envoy for Iraq said today, calling for the perpetrators to be fully and properly held to account."

Montana

University of Washington (UW):
Paleontologists with the University of Washington’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture have discovered a Tyrannosaurus rex, including a very complete skull. The find, which paleontologists estimate to be about 20 percent of the animal, includes vertebrae, ribs, hips and lower jaw bones. 
The team, led by UW biology professor and Burke Museum Adjunct Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology Greg Wilson, discovered the T. rex during an expedition to the Hell Creek Formation in northern Montana — an area that is world-famous for its fossil dinosaur sites.

Book

The Ambulance Drivers: Hemingway, Dos Passos,
and  a Friendship Made and Lost in War
Nonfiction book by James McGrath Morris
Publication Date: March 28, 2017

Hachette Book Group:
From World War I, when they both served as ambulance drivers, to the battlefields of the Spanish Civil War, writers Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos maintained a close, complex, and tumultuous friendship while at the apex of their creative powers. 
Eager to find his way in life and words, Dos Passos first witnessed the horror of trench warfare in France, as he retrieved the dead and seriously wounded from the front line. Later in the war, he briefly met another young writer, Hemingway, who was just arriving for service in the ambulance corps. Two months later, Hemingway was seriously wounded, and his story was splashed across newspapers in America. When the war was over, they both knew they had to write about it; they had to give voice to what they felt about war and life. 
Their friendship and collaboration developed through the peace of the 1920s and 1930s, a time in which no American author became more associated with the literature of war than Hemingway, while Dos Passos penned the greatest antiwar novel of his generation, Three Soldiers. As they each achieved literary recognition for works that saw war differently, their friendship slowly unraveled. By the time they came back from another war — in Spain — their lives, loves, and ideologies had irretrievably torn them apart. Making war on each other through books, they both wrote novels with unflattering characters barely disguised as each other. When eulogists heaped praise on Hemingway at his funeral, his old friend, Dos Passos, walked out. 
Set in the caf├ęs of Paris and on the streets of Pamplona, on the ski slopes of Austria and in the waters off Key West, The Ambulance Drivers is an evocative rendering of two of the century's greatest writers at work and at play, in companionship and rivalry, giving voice to the Lost Generation.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

India

BBC News: "Three people, including two children, have died after their throats were slit by glass-coated strings used for flying kites on India's Independence Day."

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Aging

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA):

East Africa

Voice of America: "The militant group al-Shabab, once a threat primarily in Somalia, has grown and expanded its aspirations, operations and aims, and is preparing to wage a long war in East Africa, according to analysts and experts on the region."

Book

An Extraordinary Time: The End of the Postwar Boom
and the Return of the Ordinary Economy
Nonfiction book by Marc Levinson
Publication Date: November 8, 2016

Perseus Books Group:
The decades after World War II were a golden age across much of the world. It was a time of economic miracles, an era when steady jobs were easy to find and families could see their living standards improving year after year. And then, around 1973, the good times vanished. The world economy slumped badly, then settled into the slow, erratic growth that had been the norm before the war. The result was an era of anxiety, uncertainty, and political extremism that we are still grappling with today. 
In An Extraordinary Time, acclaimed economic historian Marc Levinson describes how the end of the postwar boom reverberated throughout the global economy, bringing energy shortages, financial crises, soaring unemployment, and a gnawing sense of insecurity. Politicians, suddenly unable to deliver the prosperity of years past, railed haplessly against currency speculators, oil sheikhs, and other forces they could not control. From Sweden to Southern California, citizens grew suspicious of their newly ineffective governments and rebelled against the high taxes needed to support social welfare programs enacted when coffers were flush. 
Almost everywhere, the pendulum swung to the right, bringing politicians like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan to power. But their promise that deregulation, privatization, lower tax rates, and smaller government would restore economic security and robust growth proved unfounded. Although the guiding hand of the state could no longer deliver the steady economic performance the public had come to expect, free-market policies were equally unable to do so. The golden age would not come back again. 
A sweeping reappraisal of the last sixty years of world history, An Extraordinary Time offers forces us to come to terms with how little control we actually have over the economy.

Sinaloa Cartel

U.S. Treasury Department:
Today the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated two Mexican nationals and two Mexican companies pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). Juan Manuel Alvarez Inzunza, a money launderer, and Jose Olivas Chaidez, a key narcotics trafficker, have been designated as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers (SDNTs) for materially assisting, supporting, or providing services to the Sinaloa Cartel and/or high-ranking Sinaloa Cartel members, including Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera and Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada Garcia and his top lieutenants. OFAC has also designated two Culiacan, Sinaloa-based companies, Nueva Atunera Triton, S.A. de C.V. and Operadora Eficaz Pegaso, which are owned, controlled, or directed by, or acting for or on behalf of, Juan Manuel Alvarez Inzunza. As a result of today's action, all assets of those designated that are within U.S. jurisdiction or are in the control of U.S. persons are frozen, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
Related: Mexico

Monday, August 15, 2016

Nautilus

Nautilus pompilius in the Philippines

University of Washington (UW):
Biologists at the University of Washington hope September will bring welcome news for a dazzling array of sea creatures that have long been victims of human aesthetic fascination. 
At a meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, an international assembly of scientists and policymakers will decide then if the chambered nautilus and its kin — all quizzically shaped relatives of squid — should be subject to global restrictions on trade and collection. With nautilus numbers plummeting in the Philippines and other regions due to their prized shells, many researchers say it is long past time to protect these mysterious marine creatures. 
"Unregulated fishing is a huge issue for these animals," said Frederick Dooley, a researcher and instructor in the UW Department of Biology. "We’re at risk of losing whole populations just as we’re learning about their genetic diversity."
 (Photo credit: Peter Ward)

Book

The Undoing Project: A Friendship
That Changed Our Minds
Nonfiction book by Michael Lewis
Publication Date: December 6, 2016

W.W. Norton & Company:
Best-selling author Michael Lewis examines how a Nobel Prize-winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality. 
Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original studies undoing our assumptions about the decision-making process. Their papers showed the ways in which the human mind erred, systematically, when forced to make judgments about uncertain situations. Their work created the field of behavioral economics, revolutionized Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis's own work possible. Kahneman and Tversky are more responsible than anybody for the powerful trend to mistrust human intuition and defer to algorithms. 
The Undoing Project is about the fascinating collaboration between two men who have the dimensions of great literary figures. They became heroes in the university and on the battlefield — both had important careers in the Israeli military — and their research was deeply linked to their extraordinary life experiences. In the process they may well have changed, for good, mankind's view of its own mind.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

World War II

Deutsche Welle (DW): "Seventy-five years ago, the Franciscan priest and future saint Maximilian Kolbe volunteered to take the place of a fellow Auschwitz prisoner sentenced to death. His actions continue to influence humanitarian deeds."

Book

Off the Grid: My Ride From Louisiana
to the Panama Canal in an Electric Car
Nonfiction book by Randy Denmon
Publication Date: April 4, 2017

Perseus Books Group:
Only a week after the nation’s newspapers were filled with headlines of the first cross-country trip in an electric car, two Louisianans slip quietly across the Rio Grande in south Texas in an attempt to do the unthinkable — drive a factory electric car across seven Third World countries to the "end of the road," Panama City, Panama. 
Without support and armed only with a toolbox, a bag of electrical adapters, and their wits, author Randy Denmon and his friend Dean trudge on through jungles, deserts, volcanoes, rivers, and crater-sized potholes, all the while trying to avoid the drug cartels and corrupt border guards that could mean a quick end to their adventure . . . and their lives. Through it all, the same enormous problem loomed daily: how to charge the car in such a primitive and desolate setting? 
Despite the numerous setbacks, Randy never lost his sense of humor. Off the Grid is as much a spiritual journey as a physical one about two guys who dropped everything for one grand twenty-first-century adventure — traveling back in time in a car that seemed to come from the future.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Sunken Freighter

From Voice of America: "U.S. accident investigators are set to begin probing the 'black box' from the doomed freighter El Faro, hoping data will show what happened aboard the ship in the hours before it sank last year in the Atlantic with 33 people on board. There were no survivors."

Book

Truffle Boy: My Unexpected Journey
Through the Exotic Food Underground
Nonfiction book by Ian Purkayastha
with  Kevin West
Forward by David Chang
Publication Date: February 7, 2017

Hachette Book Group:
Ian Purkayastha is New York City's leading truffle importer and boasts a devoted clientele of top chefs nationwide, including Jean-Georges Vongerichten, David Chang, Sean Brock, and David Bouley. But before he was purveying the world's most expensive fungus to the country's most esteemed chefs, Ian was just a food-obsessed teenager in rural Arkansas — a misfit with a peculiar fascination for rare and exotic ingredients. 
The son of an Indian immigrant father and a Texan mother, Ian learned to forage for wild mushrooms from an uncle in the Ozark hills. Thus began a single-track fixation that led him to learn about the prized but elusive truffle, the king of all fungi. His first taste of truffle at age 15 sparked his improbable yet remarkable adventure through the strange — and often corrupt — business of the exotic food trade. 
Rife with tales from the hidden underbelly of the elite restaurant scene, Truffle Boy chronicles Ian's high-stakes dealings with a truffle kingpin in Serbia, meth-head foragers in Oregon, crooked businessmen and maniacal chefs in Manhattan, gypsy truffle hunters in the forests of Hungary, and a supreme adventure to find "Gucci mushrooms" in the Himalayan foothills — the land of the gods. He endures harsh failures along the way but rebuilds with tremendous success by selling not just truffles but also caviar, wild mushrooms, rare foraged edibles, Wagyu beef, and other nearly unobtainable ingredients demanded by his Michelin-starred clients. 
Truffle Boy is a thrilling coming-of-age story and the incredible but true tale of a country kid who grows up to become a force in the world of fine dining.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Pakistan

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) :
Pakistani authorities say they have arrested several hospital workers over a scheme that abducted and sold newborn babies. 
Police said on August 12 that the hospital workers stole newborn babies and replaced them with the bodies of dead infants in hospitals and maternity homes in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

Poland

Deutsche Welle (DW):

Book

No Friends but the Mountains: Dispatches
From the World's Violent Highlands
Nonfiction book by Judith Matloff
Publication Date: March 7, 2017

Perseus Books Group:
A veteran war correspondent journeys to remote mountain communities across the globe — from Albania and Chechnya to Nepal and Colombia — to investigate why so many conflicts occur at great heights. 
Mountainous regions are home to only ten percent of the world's population yet host a strikingly disproportionate share of the world's conflicts. Mountains provide a natural refuge for those who want to elude authority, and their remoteness has allowed archaic practices to persist well into our globalized era. 
As Judith Matloff shows, the result is a combustible mix we in the lowlands cannot afford to ignore. Traveling to conflict zones across the world, she introduces us to Albanian teenagers involved in ancient blood feuds; Mexican peasants hunting down violent poppy growers; and Jihadists who have resisted the Russian military for decades. At every stop, Matloff reminds us that the drugs, terrorism, and instability cascading down the mountainside affect us all. 
A work of political travel writing in the vein of Ryszard Kapuscinski and Robert Kaplan, No Friends but the Mountains is an indelible portrait of the conflicts that have unexpectedly shaped our world.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Indonesia

Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network:
A thriving trade in Indonesia’s native birds exists, well beyond the notorious bird markets of Jakarta, reports a new Traffic study which turns the lens on eastern and central Java. 
Nearly 23,000 birds were recorded in five markets in Surabaya, Yogyakarta and Malang during a three-day survey, with clear indication that the vast majority were illegally taken from the wild.

Greenland Sharks

University of Copenhagen, Denmark:

Cannibal Sharks

Trinity College Dublin, Ireland: "Scientists have discovered macabre fossil evidence suggesting that 300-million-year-old sharks ate their own young, as fossil poop of adult Orthacanthus sharks contained the tiny teeth of juveniles. These fearsome marine predators used protected coastal lagoons to rear their babies, but it seems they also resorted to cannibalizing them when other food sources became scarce."

Book

Dark Heavens: Shamans & Hunters of Mongolia
Nonfiction book by Hamid Sardar
Publication Date: October 15, 2016
Text in English and German

teNeues Publishing Group:
Across the vast, wind-swept plains of Mongolia, nomadic tribes freely roam — only guided by the rhythmic changes of the seasons. Beginning in 2000, Hamid Sardar immersed himself in this fascinating people's way of life, following them throughout their daily rituals, hunting expeditions, and spiritual practices to capture their centuries-old practices. With a breathtaking mix of color and black-and-white images, Sardar's debut book is a poignant visual journey showcasing Mongolia's last traveling shamans and hunters. Especially fascinated by their spiritual relationship with land and animals, Sardar beautifully documents the wisdom, customs, and manners of an array of individuals, from horse breeders and eagle masters to traditional healers. Accompanied by an informative text, this title is a must-have for anyone interested in anthropology, photography, and adventure.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Stone Age Hunters

Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom: "Stone objects collected by prehistoric hunters were effective as throwing weapons to hunt animals."

North America

University of Copenhagen, Denmark: "The established theory about the route by which Ice Age peoples first reached the present-day United States has been challenged by an unprecedented study which concludes that their supposed entry route was 'biologically unviable.'"