Friday, November 24, 2017

Rhinos in Nepal

Nine people in the vicinity of Nepal's Chitwan National Park have died in rhino attacks during the past few years, the Nepali Times said today.

"The animal is not popular with farmers, whose crops are regularly raided," the newspaper added.


BBC News:


The Billionaire Raj: A Journey
Through India's New Gilded Age
Nonfiction book by James Crabtree
Publication Date: July 3, 2018

Penguin Random House:
A colorful and revealing portrait of India's new billionaire class, in a nation torn by radical inequality.
Since abandoning its insular socialist system in 1991, India has rivaled China as the world's fastest growing economy. But this prosperity is far from evenly shared: its top 1% now own nearly 60% of its wealth. In megacities like Mumbai, where half the population live in slums, the extraordinary riches of India's new dynasties echo the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers of yesterday, as they funnel profits from huge conglomerates into lifestyles of conspicuous consumption. 
As a foreign correspondent in India, James Crabtree takes readers on a personal journey to meet reclusive billionaires, fugitive tycoons, and shadowy political power brokers. His dramatic story reveals the truth behind India's many corruption scandals and chronicles the remarkable lives of the power elite and the resentment and admiration they draw. 
From the sky terrace of the world's most expensive home to teeming slums and mass political rallies, Crabtree dramatizes the battle between crony capitalists and reformers, a tense struggle between equality and privilege playing out against a combustible backdrop of aspiration, class, and caste. 
The Billionaire Raj is a vivid account of a divided society on the cusp of transformation — and a struggle that will shape not just India's future, but the world's.

Thursday, November 23, 2017


Late this afternoon a wild elephant killed a 40-year-old security guard on a highway in India's state of West Bengal.

"The man died after he had stepped out of his car to photograph the animal," a traveler reported.

In other wildlife news, government hunters shot and killed a leopard this evening in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The cat reportedly killed a 4-year-old girl two days ago.


Associated Press (AP):
Deutsche Welle (DW):


The Third Bank of the River: Power and Survival
in the Twenty-First-Century Amazon
Nonfiction book by Chris Feliciano Arnold
Publication Date: June 5, 2018

Macmillan Publishers:
During the 2014 World Cup, an isolated Amazonian tribe emerged from the jungle on the misty border of Peru and Brazil, escaping massacre at the hands of illegal loggers. A year later, in the jungle capital of Manaus, a bloody weekend of reprisal killings inflames a drug war that blurs the line between cops and kingpins. Both events reveal the dual struggles of those living in and around the vast, endangered Amazon jungle. As indigenous tribes lose their ancestral territory every day to loggers and drug runners, local communities in cities such as Manaus are plagued by intense violence due to the ongoing drug wars and entrenched corruption within the police and government. The chaos and violence echo the atrocities that have haunted the rain forest since Europeans first arrived in the New World. 
Following doctors and soldiers, environmental activists and indigenous Olympic archers, among others, The Third Bank of the River traces development in the Amazon from the arrival of the first Spanish flotilla. Veteran journalist Chris Arnold grounds his story in rigorous first-hand reporting and in-depth research, revealing a portrait of Brazil and the Amazon that is complex, bloody, and often tragic.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017




From BenarNews: "A Pakistani court's decision Wednesday to set free the alleged mastermind of the deadly 2008 Mumbai terror attack left people in India expressing shock and outrage."

Stone Age

Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Germany: "The plague-causing bacterium Yersinia pestis may have first come to Europe with the large-scale migration of steppe nomads in the Stone Age, millennia before the first known historical epidemics."

Joseph Conrad

Harvard University: "Maya Jasanoff has been to 70 countries, the 70th being the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which she visited last year to do research for her new book, The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World. Along with retracing Conrad's adventures along the Congo River, the Coolidge Professor of History spent four weeks aboard a French cargo ship, sailing between China and northern Europe in a time-travel-style effort to better appreciate the era in which her British-Polish subject lived and worked."


King Con: The Bizarre Adventures
of the Jazz Age's Greatest Impostor
Nonfiction book by Paul Willetts
Publication Date: August 7, 2018

Penguin Random House:
The spellbinding tale of virtuosic hustler Edgar Laplante — a Tom Ripley-meets-Jay Gatsby king of Jazz Age con artists, whose spectacular downfall came because he began to be seduced by his own lies. 
For the devilishly handsome erstwhile vaudeville singer Edgar Laplante, the summer of 1923 was a prelude to one of the twentieth-century's most extraordinary adventures — an adventure that would require all his theatrical flair to deliver what would become the most demanding performance of his life. Aided by buckskins and a feathered headdress, Laplante reinvented himself as Chief White Elk: war hero, sports star, civil rights campaigner, Cherokee nation leader — and total fraud. 
Under the pretense of recruiting for the military and selling government bonds, Laplante embarks upon a lucrative tour of the United States that attracts enormous crowds, picking up a naïve Native American wife along the way to lend a further air of authenticity. Soon Laplante decamps to London to appeal to King George V on behalf of the Cherokee. By 1923 he's absconded to Paris, frequenting its decadent cabarets and rubbing elbows with the likes of James Joyce and Pablo Picasso. 
As he moves down to the Riviera, he begins to set his sights on an even bigger mark: a prodigiously rich and glamorous Austrian countess. Laplante takes her as his lover and main benefactor. He cons her out of the equivalent of $42 million in today's currency. The countess bankrolls a lavish tour of Italy, where Benito Mussolini's fascist regime treats him like a visiting monarch. In every city, he tosses crisp banknotes from the window of their limousine to the fans who lay siege to his hotel. He’s now a worldwide celebrity, and all that adulation (plus a spiraling drug problem) has deluded him into believing that he really is a Cherokee chief. The noose begins to tighten, as the countess's family intercedes… 
King Con is a sumptuous recreation of this incomparably bizarre story. Never previously told in its entirety, Laplante's tale proves that truth really is stranger than fiction.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Cold War

Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine:



City of Devils: The Two Men Who Ruled
the Underworld of Old Shanghai
Nonfiction book by Paul French
Available: July 3, 2018

Macmillan Publishers:
By the New York Times bestselling author of Midnight in Peking — winner of both the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime and the CWA Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction — comes rags-to-riches tale of two self-made men set against a backdrop of crime and vice in the sprawling badlands of Shanghai. 
Shanghai, 1930s; it was a haven for outlaws from all over the world: a place where pasts could be forgotten, fascism and communism outrun, names invented, and fortunes made — and lost. 
"Lucky" Jack Riley was the most notorious of those outlaws. An ex–U.S. Navy boxing champion, he escaped from prison and rose to become the Slots King of Shanghai. "Dapper" Joe Farren — a Jewish boy who fled Vienna's ghetto — ruled the nightclubs. His chorus lines rivaled Ziegfeld's. 
In 1940, Lucky Jack and Dapper Joe bestrode the Shanghai Badlands like kings, while all around the Solitary Island was poverty, starvation, and war. They thought they ruled Shanghai, but the city had  other ideas. This is the story of their rise to power, their downfall, and the trail of destruction left in their wake. Shanghai was their playground for a flickering few years, a city where for a fleeting moment even the wildest dreams could come true.

Monday, November 20, 2017


From the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom: "Latest findings support the theory that teeth in the animal kingdom evolved from the jagged scales of ancient fish, the remnants of which can be seen today embedded in the skin of sharks and skate."


Duke University:
New moms need social support, and mother chimpanzees are no exception. So much so that female chimps that lack supportive friends and family wait longer to start having babies, according to researchers who have combed through the records of Jane Goodall's famous Gombe chimpanzees. 
Wild chimpanzee females in western Tanzania who leave home or are orphaned take roughly three years longer to start a family. 
The researchers analyzed more than 50 years' worth of daily records for 36 female chimps born in Gombe National Park. Stored in the Jane Goodall Institute Research Center at Duke University, the records are part of a larger database containing close observations of hundreds of wild chimpanzees, going all the way back to Goodall's first field notes from the early 1960s. 
Some female chimpanzees stay with the group they were born into their entire lives. Others pull up their roots and move to a new group when they reach adolescence, presumably to avoid inbreeding. 
The average age of first-time moms varies a lot, the researchers found. Females that stay home deliver their first infant around age 13. For migrants, it's 16. 
Several factors may contribute to the delay, the researchers said. Like all newcomers, they get pushed around, mostly by resident females. Having left their family and friends behind, they must jostle for position in the pecking order of a new and unfamiliar group. 
"It's a tough integration period," said Kara Walker, postdoctoral associate in the department of evolutionary anthropology at Duke. 
In contrast, stay-at-home females benefit from better support. Females also started reproducing earlier if their own mothers were around while they were growing up, particularly if their moms were high-ranking ― in part because females with high-ranking moms get better access to food. 
Their head start on motherhood means these early bloomers have the potential to produce more offspring over their lifetimes, said Anne Pusey, James B. Duke professor of evolutionary anthropology and director of the Jane Goodall Research Institute Center at Duke. 
"This really raises the question of why some females stay and others go," Pusey said. 
The results also suggest that a lengthy journey from childhood to adulthood ― long thought to be unique to the human branch of the primate family tree ― may have deeper roots than previously thought. 
"This suggests that chimpanzees are, developmentally, much more similar to humans than was previously believed," says Christopher Walker, assistant professor of anatomy at North Carolina State University.
(Photo Credit: Ian Gilby, Arizona State University)


Nobody's Girl Friday: The Women
Who Ran Hollywood
Nonfiction book by J.E. Smyth
Shipping Date: March 2, 2018

Oxford University Press:
Looking back on her career in 1977, Bette Davis remembered with pride, "Women owned Hollywood for twenty years." She had a point. Between 1930 and 1950, over 40% of film industry employees were women, 25% of all screenwriters were female, one woman ran MGM behind the scenes, over a dozen women worked as producers, a woman headed the Screen Writers Guild three times, and press claimed Hollywood was a generation or two ahead of the rest of the country in terms of gender equality and employment. 
The first comprehensive history of Hollywood's high-flying career women during the studio era, Nobody's Girl Friday covers the impact of the executives, producers, editors, writers, agents, designers, directors, and actresses who shaped Hollywood film production and style, led their unions, climbed to the top during the war, and fought the blacklist. 
Based on a decade of archival research, author J.E. Smyth uncovers a formidable generation working within the American film industry and brings their voices back into the history of Hollywood. Their achievements, struggles, and perspectives fundamentally challenge popular ideas about director-based auteurism, male dominance, and female disempowerment in the years between First and Second Wave Feminism. 
Nobody's Girl Friday is a revisionist history, but it's also a deeply personal, collective account of hundreds of working women, the studios they worked for, and the films they helped to make. For many years, historians and critics have insisted that both American feminism and the power of women in Hollywood declined and virtually disappeared from the 1920s through the 1960s. But Smyth vindicates Bette Davis's claim. The story of the women who called the shots in studio-era Hollywood has never fully been told — until now.

Hydrogen Cars

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) :
UCLA researchers have designed a device that can use solar energy to inexpensively and efficiently create and store energy, which could be used to power electronic devices, and to create hydrogen fuel for eco-friendly cars. 
The device could make hydrogen cars affordable for many more consumers because it produces hydrogen using nickel, iron and cobalt — elements that are much more abundant and less expensive than the platinum and other precious metals that are currently used to produce hydrogen fuel. 
"Hydrogen is a great fuel for vehicles: It is the cleanest fuel known, it's cheap and it puts no pollutants into the air — just water," said Richard Kaner, the study's senior author and a UCLA distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and of materials science and engineering. "And this could dramatically lower the cost of hydrogen cars." 
The technology, described in a paper in the journal Energy Storage Materials, could be especially useful in rural areas, or to military units serving in remote locations. 
"People need fuel to run their vehicles and electricity to run their devices," Kaner said. "Now you can make both electricity and fuel with a single device." 
It could also be part of a solution for large cities that need ways to store surplus electricity from their electrical grids. 
"If you could convert electricity to hydrogen, you could store it indefinitely," said Kaner, who also is a member of UCLA's California NanoSystems Institute.


From Ohio State University: "A study of a Lake Erie wetland suggests that scientists have vastly underestimated the number of places methane-producing microbes can survive — and, as a result, today's global climate models may be misjudging the amount of methane being released into the atmosphere."

Sunday, November 19, 2017


Far From Land: The Mysterious Lives of Seabirds
Nonfiction book by Michael Brooke
With illustrations by Bruce Pearson
Publication Date: March 6, 2018

Princeton University Press:
The lives and activities of seabirds as you've never seen them before. 
Seabirds evoke the spirit of the earth's wildest places. They spend large portions of their lives at sea, often far from land, and nest on beautiful and remote islands that humans rarely visit. Thanks to the development of increasingly sophisticated and miniaturized devices that can track their every movement and behavior, it is now possible to observe the mysterious lives of these remarkable creatures as never before. This beautifully illustrated book takes you on a breathtaking journey around the globe to reveal where these birds actually go when they roam the sea, the tactics they employ to traverse vast tracts of ocean, the strategies they use to evade threats, and more. 
Michael Brooke has visited every corner of the world in his lifelong pursuit of seabirds. Here, he draws on his own experiences and insights as well as the latest cutting-edge science to shed light on the elusive seafaring lives of albatrosses, frigatebirds, cormorants, and other ocean wanderers. Where do puffins go in the winter? How deep do penguins dive? From how far away can an albatross spot a fishing vessel worth following for its next meal? Brooke addresses these and other questions in this delightful book. Along the way, he reveals that seabirds are not the aimless wind-tossed creatures they may appear to be and explains the observational innovations that are driving this exciting area of research. 
Featuring illustrations by renowned artist Bruce Pearson and packed with intriguing facts, Far from Land provides an extraordinary up-close look at the activities of seabirds.


Before dawn today, a passenger train plowed into two wild elephants in India's state of Assam, killing the pachyderms. Around the same time, a leopard injured five people at a village in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Villagers captured the cat.


Manipur Mischief: Rebellion, Scandal,
and the Dark Side of the Raj, 1891
Nonfiction book by William Wright
Available: April 15, 2018

Amberley Publishing, United Kingdom:
In 1891 the hill state and principality of Manipur erupted in violence, the worst bloodshed in India since the Great Mutiny, 34 years earlier. The Manipuris even chopped off the head of the Chief Commissioner of Assam and those of his entourage including the British Resident, handsome Frank Grimwood, leaving his beautiful young wife Ethel alone and the only woman in a world gone mad. The rising resulted in the largest colonial expedition ever mounted on the North-East Frontier of India and the worst fighting there until the Second World War. 
William Wright unlocks the secret government files, long buried and hushed up, to reveal a story out of the pages of Somerset Maugham or [Joseph] Conrad, one of colossal military ineptitude alongside Victoria Cross-winning heroism, involving pornography and pedophilia. You will never think of the Empire builders in quite the same way again! 
There were no Maxim guns, so no mowing down of helpless natives, just hard slog, with Ethel playing a brave part in the retreat from Manipur, not knowing her husband had already been beheaded, his feet also lopped off and thrown to the pariah dogs. Behind the bravery, the scandal was complex: two officers leading the escape from Manipur were court-martialed, their trial records made top secret. The following trial of the Manipuri princes was not legal and even Queen Victoria asked for them to be found not guilty but the Viceroy was determined to aid a cover-up. Ethel preferred the company of her handsome stepbrother to that of Frank, her husband. And then we have Frank ― whose hobby was photographing nude young girls … which led directly to his gruesome death.


Police plan to deploy 16 patrol boats and 6,000 armed men to hunt sea and river pirates in Nigeria's state of Bayelsa.

Saturday, November 18, 2017


Japan Times:


Doris Miller, Pearl Harbor, and the Birth
of the Civil Rights Movement
Nonfiction book by Thomas W. Cutrer
and T. Michael Parrish
Publication Date: December 7, 2017

Texas A&M University Press:
On the morning of December 7, 1941, after serving breakfast and turning his attention to laundry services aboard the USS West Virginia, Ship's Cook Third Class Doris "Dorie" Miller heard the alarm calling sailors to battle stations. The first of several torpedoes dropped from Japanese aircraft had struck the American battleship. Miller hastily made his way to a central point and was soon called to the bridge by Lt. Com. Doir C. Johnson to assist the mortally wounded ship's captain, Mervyn Bennion. Miller then joined two others in loading and firing an unmanned antiaircraft machine gun — a weapon that, as an African American in a segregated military, Miller had not been trained to operate. But he did, firing the weapon on attacking Japanese aircraft until the .50-caliber [machine] gun ran out of ammunition. For these actions, Miller was later awarded the Navy Cross, the third-highest naval award for combat gallantry. 
Historians Thomas W. Cutrer and T. Michael Parrish have not only painstakingly reconstructed Miller's inspiring actions on December 7. They also offer for the first time a full biography of Miller placed in the larger context of African American service in the United States military and the beginnings of the civil rights movement. 
Like so many sailors and soldiers in World War II, Doris Miller's life was cut short. Just two years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Miller was aboard the USS Liscome Bay when it was sunk by a Japanese submarine. But the name — and symbolic image — of Dorie Miller lived on. As Cutrer and Parrish conclude, "Dorie Miller's actions at Pearl Harbor, and the legend that they engendered, were directly responsible for helping to roll back the Navy's then-to-fore unrelenting policy of racial segregation and prejudice, and, in the chain of events, helped to launch the civil rights movement of the 1960s that brought an end to the worst of America's racial intolerance."
Personal Comment

On December 7, 1941, my father was sailor on the USS West Virginia at Pearl Harbor.


World War II at Sea: A Global History
Nonfiction book by Craig L. Symonds
Shipping Date: April 2, 2018

Oxford University Press:
Author of Lincoln and His Admirals (winner of the Lincoln Prize), The Battle of Midway (Best Book of the Year, Military History Quarterly), and Operation Neptune (winner of the Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature), Craig L. Symonds ranks among [America's] finest naval historians. World War II at Sea is his crowning achievement, a narrative of the entire war and all of its belligerents, on all of the world's oceans and seas between 1939 and 1945. 
Here are the major engagements and their interconnections: the U-boat attack on Scapa Flow and the Battle of the Atlantic; the "miracle" evacuation from Dunkirk and the scuttling of the French Navy; the pitched battles for control of Norway fjords and Mussolini's Regia Marina; the rise of the Kidö Butai and Pearl Harbor; the landings in North Africa and New Guinea, then on Normandy and Iwo Jima. Symonds offers indelible portraits of the great naval leaders ― FDR and Churchill (self-proclaimed "Navy men"), Karl Dönitz, François Darlan, Ernest King, Isoroku Yamamoto, Louis Mountbatten, and William Halsey ― while acknowledging the countless seamen and officers of all nationalities whose lives were lost during the greatest naval conflicts ever fought. World War II at Sea is history on a truly epic scale.

U.S. Navy

U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs:


Where Corals Lie: A Natural and Cultural History
Nonfiction book by J. Malcolm Shick
Estimated Shipping Date: May 21, 2018

University of Chicago Press:
For millennia, corals were a marine enigma, organisms that confounded scientific classification and occupied a space between the animal and plant kingdoms. Our cultural relationships with coral have been similarly ambiguous. The danger posed by unseen underwater reefs led to an association of coral with death and interment that has figured in literature, poetry, music, and film, while the bright redness of precious Mediterranean coral was associated in European and Indian mythology with its origins in blood and gore. And yet, coral skeletons have long been prized as jewelry and ornament, featuring prominently in Renaissance cabinets of curiosities. Opening the door onto these most peculiar of animals, this unique book treats the many manifestations of coral across biology, geology, and culture. 
Today, the tide of danger flows in reverse. Seen as rainforests of the sea, coral reefs have become emblematic of the fragility of marine biodiversity, their declining health a warning sign of the human-driven climate change that has produced warming seas, ocean acidification, and rising sea levels. Looking at corals as builders of islands and protectors of coastlines, as building materials themselves, as well as at the myriad ways in which diverse corals have come to figure in art, medicine, folklore, geopolitics, and international trade, Where Corals Lie reveals how the threatening has become threatened — and of the danger this poses to humans. Exceptionally embellished with a wide range of biological illustrations, underwater photography, and fine art, Where Corals Lie is a beautiful and informative resource for anyone interested in ocean environments and the cultures that flourish or fail there.

Friday, November 17, 2017


Argentina's Navy has lost contact with one of its submarines in the South Atlantic.


Uppsala University, Sweden: "A team of Swedish scientists used national registries of more than 3.4 million Swedes aged 40 to 80 to study the association between dog ownership and cardiovascular health. Their study shows that dog owners had a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease or to other causes during the 12-year follow-up."


Notorious Sicilian Mafia boss Salvatore "Totò" Riina died in the prison wing of a hospital in northern Italy this morning.



Fairies: A Dangerous History
Nonfiction book by Richard Sugg
Estimated Shipping Date: May 21, 2018

University of Chicago Press:
Don’t be fooled by Tinkerbell and her pixie dust — the real fairies were dangerous. In the late seventeenth century, they could still scare people to death. Little wonder, as they were thought to be descended from the Fallen Angels, and to have the power to destroy the world itself. Despite their modern image as gauzy playmates, the fairies feared by ordinary people caused them to flee their homes, to revere fairy trees and paths, and to abuse or even kill infants or adults held to be fairy changelings. Such beliefs, along with some remarkably detailed sightings, lingered on in places well into the twentieth century. Often associated with witchcraft and black magic, fairies were also closely involved with reports of ghosts and poltergeists. 
In literature and art, the fairies still retained this edge of danger. From the wild magic of A Midsummer Night's Dream, through the dark glamour of Keats, the improbably erotic poem "Goblin Market," or the paintings inspired by opium dreams, the amoral otherness of the fairies ran side-by-side with the newly delicate or feminized creations of the Victorian world. In the past thirty years, the enduring link between fairies and nature has been robustly exploited by eco-warriors and conservationists, from Ireland to Iceland. As changeable as changelings themselves, fairies have transformed over time like no other supernatural beings. And in this book, Richard Sugg tells the story of how the fairies went from terror to Tink.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

North Korea

Radio Free Asia (RFA): "Despite international trade sanctions imposed by the United Nations, North Korea continues to pull in badly needed foreign cash through the sale of tobacco products, much of it produced in joint ventures with China and sold as counterfeit cigarettes across Asia, sources say."

Climate Change

University of Exeter, United Kingdom: "Some impacts of global warming ― such as sea level rise and coastal flooding ― are already locked in and unavoidable, according to a major research project."

La Niña

University of Texas at Austin: "Two new studies from The University of Texas at Austin have significantly improved scientists' ability to predict the strength and duration of droughts caused by La Niña — a recurrent cooling pattern in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Their findings, which predict that the current La Niña is likely to stretch into a second year, could help scientists know years in advance how a particular La Niña event is expected to evolve."


Laughing Shall I Die: Lives and Deaths of the Great Vikings
Nonfiction book by Tom Shippey
Estimated Shipping Date: February 21, 2017

University of Chicago Press:
Laughing Shall I Die explores the Viking fascination with scenes of heroic death. The literature of the Vikings is dominated by famous last stands, famous last words, death songs, and defiant gestures, all presented with grim humor. Much of this mindset is markedly alien to modern sentiment, and academics have accordingly shunned it. And yet, it is this same worldview that has always powered the popular public image of the Vikings — with their berserkers, Valkyries, and cults of Valhalla and Ragnarok — and has also been surprisingly corroborated by archaeological discoveries such as the Ridgeway massacre site in Dorset. 
Was it this mindset that powered the sudden eruption of the Vikings onto the European scene? Was it a belief in heroic death that made them so lastingly successful against so many bellicose opponents? Weighing the evidence of sagas and poems against the accounts of the Vikings' victims, Tom Shippey considers these questions as he plumbs the complexities of Viking psychology. Along the way, he recounts many of the great bravura scenes of Old Norse literature, including the Fall of the House of the Skjoldungs, the clash between the two great longships Ironbeard and Long Serpent, and the death of Thormod the skald. One of the most exciting books on Vikings for a generation, Laughing Shall I Die presents Vikings for what they were: not peaceful explorers and traders, but warriors, marauders, and storytellers.

Burial at Sea

For U.S. military veterans:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC): "Opium production in Afghanistan increased by 87 percent to a record level 9,000 metric tons in 2017 compared with 2016 levels, according to the latest Afghanistan Opium Survey figures released today by the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)."


Harvard Business Review Entrepreneur's Handbook:
Everything You Need to Launch and Grow
Your Business
Nonfiction book by Harvard Business Review
Publication Date: February 13, 2018

Harvard Business Publishing: "Starting an independent new business is rife with both opportunity and risk. From the basics of writing a business plan to the challenges of financing your new venture, the Harvard Business Review Entrepreneur's Handbook is your essential resource for getting your start-up off the ground."

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


The president of the American Heart Association had a heart attack.


BBC News: "A 17-year-old girl in Nigeria has been murdered for body parts to be used in suspected rituals believed to bring wealth, police have told the BBC."


NPR: "As Mexican authorities continue to crack down on drug smugglers, criminals continue to aim high in a bid to evade them. Last week, Mexican authorities seized a jury-rigged bazooka and nearly one ton of marijuana in the border town of Agua Prieta in Sonora state, the Mexican Attorney General said in a statement."


Behind the Lawrence Legend: The Forgotten Few
Who Shaped the Arab Revolt
Nonfiction book by Philip Walker
Shipping Date: March 8, 2018

Oxford University Press:
T.E. Lawrence became world-famous as "Lawrence of Arabia," after helping Sherif Hussein of Mecca gain independence from Turkey during the Arab Revolt of 1916-18. His achievements, however, would have been impossible without the unsung efforts of a forgotten band of fellow officers and spies. This groundbreaking account by Philip Walker interweaves the compelling stories of Colonel Cyril Wilson and a colorful supporting cast with the narrative of Lawrence and the desert campaign. These men's lost tales provide a remarkable and fresh perspective on Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. 
While Lawrence and others blew up trains in the desert, Wilson and his men carried out their shadowy intelligence and diplomatic work. His deputies rooted out anti-British soldiers who were trying to sabotage the revolt. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Lionel Gray, a cipher officer, provided a gateway into unknown aspects of the revolt through his previously unpublished photographs and eyewitness writings. Wilson's crucial influence underpinned all these missions and steadied the revolt on a number of occasions when it could have collapsed. Without Wilson and his circle there would have been no "Lawrence of Arabia." 
Wilson's band mostly fell through the cracks of history into obscurity. Behind the Lawrence Legend reveals their vital impact and puts Lawrence's efforts into context, helping to set the record straight for one of the most beguiling and iconic characters of the twentieth century.

Monday, November 13, 2017


BBC: "The BBC has uncovered details of a secret deal that let hundreds of IS fighters and their families escape from Raqqa, under the gaze of the U.S. and British-led coalition and Kurdish-led
forces who control the city."


From the University of Tasmania, Australia: "A team of Tasmanian researchers has uncovered rare, living stromatolites deep within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area."

Georgia (Country)

University of Toronto, Canada: "Excavations in the Republic of Georgia by the Gadachrili Gora Regional Archaeological Project Expedition (GRAPE), a joint undertaking between the University of Toronto and the Georgian National Museum, have uncovered evidence of the earliest winemaking anywhere in the world. The discovery dates the origin of the practice to the Neolithic period around 6000 BC, pushing it back 600-1,000 years from the previously accepted date."


The Tectonic Plates Are Moving!
Nonfiction book by Roy Livermore
Shipping Date: May 5, 2018

Oxford University Press:
Plate tectonics is a revolutionary theory on a par with modern genetics. Yet, apart from the frequent use of clichés such as "tectonic shift" by economists, journalists, and politicians, the science itself is rarely mentioned and poorly understood. This book explains modern plate tectonics in a non-technical manner, showing not only how it accounts for phenomena such as great earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions, but also how it controls conditions at the Earth's surface, including global geography and climate. The book presents the advances that have been made since the establishment of plate tectonics in the 1960s, highlighting, on the 50th anniversary of the theory, the contributions of a small number of scientists who have never been widely recognized for their discoveries. 
Beginning with the publication of a short article in Nature by Vine and Matthews, the book traces the development of plate tectonics through two generations of the theory. First generation plate tectonics covers the exciting scientific revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, its heroes and its villains. The second generation includes the rapid expansions in sonar, satellite, and seismic technologies during the 1980s and 1990s that provided a truly global view of the plates and their motions, and an appreciation of the role of the plates within the Earth "system." The final chapter bring us to the cutting edge of the science, and the latest results from studies using technologies such as seismic tomography and high-pressure mineral physics to probe the deep interior. Ultimately, the book leads to the startling conclusion that, without plate tectonics, the Earth would be as lifeless as Venus.


From the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign: "Researchers report the first sighting in 30 years of a wild alligator snapping turtle in Illinois. The discovery may be a sign of hope for this state-endangered species, or the animal could be the last of its kind to have survived in Illinois without human intervention, the researchers say."

Sunday, November 12, 2017


United Kingdom

Disrupt and Deny: Spies, Special Forces, and the Secret Pursuit of British Foreign Policy
Nonfiction book by Rory Cormac
Shipping Date: June 10, 2018

Oxford University Press:
British leaders use spies and Special Forces to interfere in the affairs of others discreetly and deniably. Since 1945, MI6 has spread misinformation designed to divide and discredit targets from the Middle East to Eastern Europe and Northern Ireland. It has instigated whispering campaigns and planted false evidence on officials working behind the Iron Curtain, tried to ferment revolution in Albania, blown up ships to prevent the passage of refugees to Israel, and secretly funneled aid to insurgents in Afghanistan and dissidents in Poland. MI6 has launched cultural and economic warfare against Iceland and Czechoslovakia. It has tried to instigate coups in Congo, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and elsewhere. Through bribery and blackmail, Britain has rigged elections as colonies moved to independence. Britain has fought secret wars in Yemen, Indonesia, and Oman ― and discreetly used Special Forces to eliminate enemies from colonial Malaya to Libya during the Arab Spring. 
This is covert action: a vital, though controversial, tool of statecraft and perhaps the most sensitive of all government activity. If used wisely, it can play an important role in pursuing national interests in a dangerous world. If used poorly, it can cause political scandal ― or worse. 
In Disrupt and Deny, Rory Cormac tells the remarkable true story of Britain's secret scheming against its enemies, as well as its friends; of intrigue and maneuvering within the darkest corridors of Whitehall, where officials fought to maintain control of this most sensitive and seductive work; and, above all, of Britain's attempt to use smoke and mirrors to mask decline. He reveals hitherto secret operations, the slush funds that paid for them, and the battles in Whitehall that shaped them.



Saturday, November 11, 2017

Sierra Leone

Deutsche Welle (DW): "Sierra Leone's National Minerals Agency announced on Saturday that miners had found a huge 476-carat diamond."


Trading in War: London's Maritime World
in the Age of Cook and Nelson
Nonfiction book by Margarette Lincoln
Publication Date: May 29, 2018

Yale University Press:
A vivid account of the forgotten citizens of maritime London who sustained Britain during the Revolutionary Wars. 
In the half-century before the Battle of Trafalgar the port of London became the commercial nexus of a global empire and launch pad of Britain's military campaigns in North America and Napoleonic Europe. The unruly riverside parishes east of the Tower seethed with life, a crowded, cosmopolitan, and incendiary mix of sailors, soldiers, traders, and the network of ordinary citizens that served them. Harnessing little-known archival and archaeological sources, Lincoln recovers a forgotten maritime world. Her gripping narrative highlights the pervasive impact of war, which brought violence, smuggling, pilfering from ships on the river, and a susceptibility to subversive political ideas. It also commemorates the working maritime community: shipwrights and those who built London's first docks, wives who coped while husbands were at sea, and early trade unions. This meticulously researched work reveals the lives of ordinary Londoners behind the unstoppable rise of Britain's sea power and its eventual defeat of Napoleon.