Sunday, March 26, 2017


Fishing: How the Sea Fed Civilization
Nonfiction book by Brian Fagan
Publication Date: September 26, 2017

Yale University Press:
In this history of fishing — not as sport but as sustenance — archaeologist and best-selling author Brian Fagan argues that fishing was an indispensable and often overlooked element in the growth of civilization. It sustainably provided enough food to allow cities, nations, and empires to grow, but it did so with a different emphasis. Where agriculture encouraged stability, fishing demanded movement. It frequently required a search for new and better fishing grounds; its technologies, centered on boats, facilitated movement and discovery; and fish themselves, when dried and salted, were the ideal food — lightweight, nutritious, and long-lasting — for traders, travelers, and conquering armies. This history of the long interaction of humans and seafood tours archaeological sites worldwide to show readers how fishing fed human settlement, rising social complexity, the development of cities, and ultimately the modern world.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Trinidad and Tobago

Deutsche Welle (DW): "The jihadist group 'Islamic State' is recruiting in the island state of Trinidad and Tobago, just a short flight from the United States."


Voice of America (VOA): "Pakistan says it has started fencing off its long border with Afghanistan and areas vulnerable to cross-border militant attacks are being given priority."


The Himalayan Codex
A novel by Bill Schutt and J.R. Finch
Publication Date: June 6, 2017

HarperCollins Publishers:
In the wake of World War II, zoologist and adventurer Captain R.J. MacCready is sent to the frozen mountain valleys of Tibet to find a creature of legend that may hold the secret to humankind's evolutionary future — or the key to its extinction — in this explosive follow-up to Hell's Gate. 
It is 1946, and the world is beginning to rebuild from the ashes of the devastating war. Marked by the perilous discoveries he encountered in the wilds of Brazil, Captain R.J. MacCready has a new assignment on the other side of the globe — a mission that may help him put the jungle's horrors behind him. He is headed for the Himalayas, to examine some recently discovered mammoth bones. 
Arriving in Asia, Mac learns the bones are only a cover story. He's really there to investigate an ancient codex allegedly written by Pliny the Elder, a fascinating text filled with explosive secrets. The Roman naturalist claimed to have discovered a new race of humans, a divergent species that inspired the myth of the Yeti and is rumored to have the ability to accelerate the process of evolution. If Pliny's assertions are true, this seemingly supernatural ability holds unlimited potential benefits — and unlimited potential for destruction. 
Charged with uncovering more about this miracle species, Mac sets off into the remote mountain valleys of Tibet, using the codex as his guide. But the freezing climate and treacherous terrain are only the beginning of the dangers facing him. He must also contend with the brutal Chinese army and a species of native creature even the Yeti seem to fear. The deeper he plunges into the unknown, the more certain it appears that Mac and the associates who join his odyssey may not make it out alive. 
Combining plausible science, history, and action-packed thrills, The Himalayan Codex is a page-turning adventure sure to enthrall fans of James Rollins, Michael Crichton, Dan Brown, and Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.


Voice of America (VOA):

Friday, March 24, 2017


In India's state of Maharashtra this morning, a 50-year-old woman went into a forest near her home to collect mahua flowers. A tiger killed her.


BBC News:


Los Zetas Inc.: Criminal Corporations, Energy,
and Civil War in Mexico
Nonfiction book by Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera
Publication Date: August 15, 2017

University of Texas Press:
The rapid growth of organized crime in Mexico and the government's response to it have driven an unprecedented rise in violence and impelled major structural economic changes, including the recent passage of energy reform. Los Zetas Inc. asserts that these phenomena are a direct and intended result of the emergence of the brutal Zetas criminal organization in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas. Going beyond previous studies of the group as a drug trafficking organization, Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera builds a convincing case that the Zetas and similar organizations effectively constitute transnational corporations with business practices that include the trafficking of crude oil, natural gas, and gasoline; migrant and weapons smuggling; kidnapping for ransom; and video and music piracy. 
Combining vivid interview commentary with in-depth analysis of organized crime as a transnational and corporate phenomenon, Los Zetas Inc. proposes a new theoretical framework for understanding the emerging face, new structure, and economic implications of organized crime in Mexico. Correa-Cabrera delineates the Zetas establishment, structure, and forms of operation, along with the reactions to this new model of criminality by the state and other lawbreaking, foreign, and corporate actors. Arguing that the elevated level of violence between the Zetas and the Mexican state resembles a civil war, Correa-Cabrera identifies the beneficiaries of this war, including arms-producing companies, the international banking system, the U.S. border economy, the U.S. border security/military-industrial complex, and corporate capital, especially international oil and gas companies.

Operation Lionfish III

The seizure of more than 55 tonnes of drugs in an international operation across Latin America and West Africa between 6 to 15 March underlines the 'massive scale' of activities of transnational organized crime groups, Interpol Secretary General J├╝rgen Stock said. 
Operation Lionfish III involved 5,000 law enforcement officials in 13 countries, with 357 arrests and the bulk of seizures resulting from intelligence-led operations by police in participating countries. 
"This operation highlights the massive scale of activities of organized crime groups in Latin America and West Africa channeling drugs into Europe," said Secretary General Stock. 
"As law enforcement faces increasing demands on its resources, it is a significant reminder of the wide range of threats facing communities worldwide, not only from terrorism, but also by transnational organized crime networks."
"The commitment of participating countries to working in a coordinated fashion via Interpol's global network to disrupt drug trafficking routes and crime groups underpinned the success of this operation," added Mr Stock. 
Seizures in the operation included 52 tonnes of cocaine, cannabis and heroin, with the cocaine haul of 25 tonnes alone estimated to be worth approximately USD 950 million. 
The operation further highlighted how precursor chemicals are being diverted from legitimate to illicit purposes, with 20 clandestine laboratories dismantled and three tonnes of precursor chemicals seized.


Cuba's Revolutionary World
Nonfiction book by Jonathan C. Brown
Available: March 27, 2017

Harvard University Press:
On January 2, 1959, Fidel Castro, the rebel comandante who had just overthrown Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, addressed a crowd of jubilant supporters. Recalling the failed popular uprisings of past decades, Castro assured them that this time "the real Revolution" had arrived. As Jonathan Brown shows in this capacious history of the Cuban Revolution, Castro's words proved prophetic not only for his countrymen but for Latin America and the wider world. 
Cuba's Revolutionary World examines in forensic detail how the turmoil that rocked a small Caribbean nation in the 1950s became one of the twentieth century's most transformative events. Initially, Castro's revolution augured well for democratic reform movements gaining traction in Latin America. But what had begun promisingly veered off course as Castro took a heavy hand in efforts to centralize Cuba's economy and stamp out private enterprise. Embracing the Soviet Union as an ally, Castro and his lieutenant Che Guevara sought to export the socialist revolution abroad through armed insurrection. 
Castro's provocations inspired intense opposition. Cuban anticommunists who had fled to Miami found a patron in the CIA, which actively supported their efforts to topple Castro's regime. The unrest fomented by Cuban-trained leftist guerrillas lent support to Latin America's military castes, who promised to restore stability. Brazil was the first to succumb to a coup in 1964; a decade later, military juntas governed most Latin American states. Thus did a revolution that had seemed to signal the death knell of dictatorship in Latin America bring about its tragic opposite.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Puerto Rico

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP): "U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seized, during a period of five days, more than 40,000 counterfeit condoms imported into Puerto Rico from China."


WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society):

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


University of Cambridge:
Marauding hordes of barbarian Huns, under their ferocious leader Attila, are often credited with triggering the fall of one of history's greatest empires: Rome. 
Historians believe Hunnic incursions into Roman provinces bordering the Danube during the 5th century AD opened the floodgates for nomadic tribes to encroach on the empire. This caused a destabilization that contributed to collapse of Roman power in the West. 
According to Roman accounts, the Huns brought only terror and destruction. However, research from the University of Cambridge on gravesite remains in the Roman frontier region of Pannonia (now Hungary) has revealed for the first time how ordinary people may have dealt with the arrival of the Huns. 
Biochemical analyses of teeth and bone to test for diet and mobility suggest that, over the course of a lifetime, some farmers on the edge of empire left their homesteads to become Hun-like roaming herdsmen, and consequently, perhaps, took up arms with the tribes. 
Other remains from the same gravesites show a dietary shift indicating some Hun discovered a settled way of life and the joys of agriculture — leaving their wanderlust, and possibly their bloodlust, behind.


University of Cambridge: "More than a century of theory about the evolutionary history of dinosaurs has been turned on its head following the publication of new research from scientists at the University of Cambridge and Natural History Museum in London."

Sea Otters

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI):
Tool use by sea otters to break open well-armored food is not necessarily a family matter, according to a new study published this week by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and partners. Unlike previous research that has found that a group of tool-using Indio-Pacific bottlenose dolphins share a common genetic lineage, this study found that tool use in sea otters is ubiquitous and actually has little to do with genetic ties.
"Sea otters and bottleneck dolphins both use tools and they are ecologically similar, so we thought they might have a similar genetic pattern," said Katherine Ralls, scientist emeritus at SCBI's Center for Conservation Genomics and lead author of the paper, published March 22 in Biology Letters. "Surprisingly, what we discovered is that sea otters that most frequently use tools are no more related to each other than to the population as a whole."
Although not all individuals in a population use tools, sea otters commonly use rocks or other hard objects to break open their meals — marine snails, crabs and abalones, for example.


University of  Bonn, Germany: "Egyptologists at the University of Bonn discovered rock art from the 4th millennium BC during an excavation at a necropolis near Aswan in Egypt."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


University of Wisconsin–Madison:
In a vulnerable forest in southeastern Brazil, where the air was once thick with the guttural chatter of brown howler monkeys, there now exists silence. 
Yellow fever, a virus carried by mosquitoes and endemic to Africa and South America, has robbed the private, federally protected reserve of its brown howlers in an unprecedented wave of death that has swept through the region since late 2016, killing thousands of monkeys.



Monday, March 20, 2017


Rich People Problems
A novel by Kevin Kwan
Publication Date: May 23, 2017

Penguin Random House:
Kevin Kwan, bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend, is back with an uproarious new novel of a family riven by fortune, an ex-wife driven psychotic with jealousy, a battle royal fought through couture gown sabotage, and the heir to one of Asia's greatest fortunes locked out of his inheritance. 
When Nicholas Young hears that his grandmother, Su Yi, is on her deathbed, he rushes to be by her bedside — but he's not alone. The entire Shang-Young clan has convened from all corners of the globe to stake claim on their matriarch's massive fortune. With each family member vying to inherit Tyersall Park — a trophy estate on 64 prime acres in the heart of Singapore — Nicholas's childhood home turns into a hotbed of speculation and sabotage. As her relatives fight over heirlooms, Astrid Leong is at the center of her own storm, desperately in love with her old sweetheart Charlie Wu, but tormented by her ex-husband — a man hell bent on destroying Astrid's reputation and relationship. Meanwhile Kitty Pong, married to China's second richest man, billionaire Jack Bing, still feels second best next to her new stepdaughter, famous fashionista Colette Bing. A sweeping novel that takes us from the elegantly appointed mansions of Manila to the secluded private islands in the Sulu Sea, from a kidnapping at Hong Kong's most elite private school to a surprise marriage proposal at an Indian palace, caught on camera by the telephoto lenses of paparazzi, Kevin Kwan's hilarious, gloriously wicked new novel reveals the long-buried secrets of Asia's most privileged families and their rich people problems.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Australian Broadcasting Corporation: "A teenager attacked by a crocodile after jumping into a north Queensland river on a dare from friends is lucky to still have his arm, paramedics say."

Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Two men seriously injured when their helicopter crashed in waters off the central Queensland coast have been saved after their luggage began washing up on a nearby beach, sparking a search and rescue operation."

Saturday, March 18, 2017


Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL):


How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog):
Visionary Scientists and a Siberian Tale
of Jump-Started Evolution
Nonfiction book by Lee Alan Dugatkin
and Lyudmila Trut
Available Now

University of Chicago Press:
Tucked away in Siberia, there are furry, four-legged creatures with wagging tails and floppy ears that are as docile and friendly as any lapdog. But, despite appearances, these are not dogs — they are foxes. They are the result of the most astonishing experiment in breeding ever undertaken — imagine speeding up thousands of years of evolution into a few decades. In 1959, biologists Dmitri Belyaev and Lyudmila Trut set out to do just that, by starting with a few dozen silver foxes from fox farms in the USSR and attempting to recreate the evolution of wolves into dogs in real time in order to witness the process of domestication. This is the extraordinary, untold story of this remarkable undertaking. 
Most accounts of the natural evolution of wolves place it over a span of about 15,000 years, but within a decade, Belyaev and Trut's fox breeding experiments had resulted in puppy-like foxes with floppy ears, piebald spots, and curly tails. Along with these physical changes came genetic and behavioral changes, as well. The foxes were bred using selection criteria for tameness, and with each generation, they became increasingly interested in human companionship. Trut has been there the whole time, and has been the lead scientist on this work since Belyaev's death in 1985, and with Lee Dugatkin, biologist and science writer, she tells the story of the adventure, science, politics, and love behind it all.  In How to Tame a Fox, Dugatkin and Trut take us inside this path-breaking experiment in the midst of the brutal winters of Siberia to reveal how scientific history is made and continues to be made today. 
To date, fifty-six generations of foxes have been domesticated, and we continue to learn significant lessons from them about the genetic and behavioral evolution of domesticated animals. How to Tame a Fox offers an incredible tale of scientists at work, while also celebrating the deep attachments that have brought humans and animals together throughout time.


Hindustan Times:

Google Glass

NPR: "When it was introduced a few years ago, Google Glass was labeled as the next big thing. But it flopped. Now, it's finding new uses with workers in manufacturing and other industries."

Friday, March 17, 2017




A tiger killed a woman and her father-in-law near India's Jim Corbett National Park on Thursday.

"The woman died when she went into a forest to collect firewood," a traveler reported. "The man, who lived at the edge of the forest, died when he heard his daughter-in-law's screams and rushed to save her."

Forest rangers recovered both bodies and captured the big cat.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

South America

Survival International: "A Canadian oil company has told Survival International it will withdraw from the territory of several uncontacted tribes in the Amazon where it had been intending to explore for oil."

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

U.S. Navy

U.S. Justice Department: "Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless and eight other high-ranking Navy officers are charged in a federal indictment with accepting luxury travel, elaborate dinners and services of prostitutes from foreign defense contractor Leonard Francis, the former chief executive officer (CEO) of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), in exchange for classified and internal U.S. Navy information."


(Photo Credit: David E. Hill, Peckham Society, Simpsonville, South Carolina)


Deutsche Welle (DW): "Thai authorities have discovered nearly 50 kilos (110 pounds) of smuggled rhino horn while searching luggage from Ethiopia at Bangkok's main airport."

Sunday, March 12, 2017


By Tim Flach
Text by Jonathan Baillie
Publication Date: October 24, 2017

In Endangered, the result of an extraordinary multiyear project to document the lives of threatened species, acclaimed photographer Tim Flach explores one of the most pressing issues of our time. Traveling around the world — to settings ranging from forest to savannah to the polar seas to the great coral reefs — Flach has constructed a powerful visual record of remarkable animals and ecosystems facing harsh challenges. Among them are primates coping with habitat loss, big cats in a losing battle with human settlements, elephants hunted for their ivory, and numer­ous bird species taken as pets. With eminent zoologist Jonathan Baillie providing insightful commentary on this ambitious project, Endangered unfolds as a series of vivid, interconnected stories that pose gripping moral dilemmas, unforgettably expressed by more than 180 of Flach's incred­ible images.