Friday, July 3, 2015


A Splendid Savage: The Restless Life
of Frederick Russell Burnham
Nonfiction book by Steve Kemper
Available: January 2016

W.W. Norton & Company:
A life of adventure and military daring on violent frontiers across the American West, Africa, Mexico, and the Klondike. 
Frederick Russell Burnham's (1861–1947) amazing story resembles a newsreel mashed up with a Saturday matinee thriller. One of the few people who could turn his garrulous friend Theodore Roosevelt into a listener, Burnham was once world famous as "the American scout." His expertise in woodcraft, learned from frontiersmen and Indians, helped inspire another friend, Robert Baden-Powell, to found the Boy Scouts. His adventures encompassed Apache wars and range feuds, booms and busts in mining camps around the globe, explorations in remote regions of Africa, and death-defying military feats that brought him renown and high honors. 
Failure and tragedy streaked his life as well, but he was endlessly willing to set off into the unknown and chase history's leading edge, where the future felt up for grabs and values worth dying for were at stake. Steve Kemper brings a quintessential American story to vivid life in this gripping biography.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP): "U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Mariposa Commercial Facility seized $3,237,000 in marijuana — nearly 6,500 pounds — from a Mexican national Wednesday when he attempted to enter the United States through the Port of Nogales."

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mediterranean Sea

The Guardia Civil and the Agencia Tributaria ADUANAS in Spain delivered a serious blow to transnational drug trafficking activities by intercepting and seizing a shipment of almost 16 tonnes of cannabis resin transported on the merchant vessel Just Reema sailing under the Congolese flag. 
The competent authorities have taken into custody all nine members of the crew consisting of six Syrian and three Indian nationals. The estimated value of the illegal commodity amounts to approximately 24 million euros on the Spanish market, and at least twice as much in more distant EU countries. 
The vessel was boarded on the evening of 28 June 2015, and immediately secured by the Specialized Intervention Teams (UEI) of the Guardia Civil, not long after the vessel crossed the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea. The boarding of the vessel took place in compliance with Article 17 of the 1988 UN Convention Against Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs.


Europol supported the Spanish Guardia Civil in investigating and arresting 17 alleged members of a Chinese criminal network. The network was involved in smuggling irregular migrants from China to Spain, and then from Spain to other countries such as the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Canada. Some of the victims were coerced into forced prostitution. 
The investigations, led by the Spanish Guardia Civil, revealed a network active in Spain since 2011. Victims were smuggled from China where they were provided with false documents prior to their arrival to Spain. Once on Spanish soil, victims were kept in apartments under the control of the criminal network and forced into prostitution, or smuggled onwards to other countries. The victims sexually exploited were also forced into consuming drugs and into selling them to their clients. Investigations revealed that each migrant was charged around EUR 30,000 for the travel costs and required documents. The criminal group could have made an estimated EUR 10.8 million in illegal profits each year.


University of Basel, Switzerland: "Failing to find a mating partner is a dent to the reproductive prospects of any animal, but in the flatworm species Macrostomum hystrix it might involve a real headache. Zoologists from the Universities of Basel and Bielefeld have discovered the extraordinary lengths to which this animal is willing to go in order to reproduce — including apparently injecting sperm directly into their own heads."

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Hawkins carries
a child aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship
USNS Mercy in the waters off Papua New Guinea (PNG) today.
At the request of the PNG government, the Mercy launched a
helicopter to transport six passengers, including the child, who
swam ashore after their ship sank.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sergeant Valerie Eppler)

Washington, DC

U.S. Justice Department: "A senior paramilitary leader and one of Colombia's most notorious drug traffickers was sentenced today to serve 190 months in prison for leading an international drug trafficking conspiracy that imported into the United States ton-quantities of cocaine."


U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Texas:



The King and Queen of Malibu: The True Story
of the Battle for Paradise
Nonfiction book by David K. Randall
Available: March 2016

W.W. Norton & Company:
A page-turning narrative history of how one family transformed Malibu into a global symbol of fame and fortune. 
Over a half-century, Malibu went from an untamed ranch in the middle of nowhere to a paradise seeded with movie stars. Behind its transformation is the love story of Frederick and May Rindge. He was a Harvard-trained confidant of presidents; she grew up on a hardscrabble Midwestern farm; and yet their unlikely bond would shape history. The Rindges settled in Los Angeles, quickly amassing a fortune and ushering the frontier city into its modern form. After Frederick's sudden death, May spent her life clashing with some of the most powerful men in the country to preserve Malibu as she saw fit. Her struggle culminated in a landmark Supreme Court decision that created the iconic Pacific Coast Highway. The story of Malibu spans from the embers of the Civil War to the glamour of early Hollywood, starring millionaires, movie stars, and rough-and-tumble settlers at a time when the frontier seemed truly limitless.

South Africa

SANParks: "Following an extended three-week operation in mountainous terrain and through a number of river valleys, a three-year-old male lion that escaped from the Karoo National Park outside Beaufort West has been successfully recaptured."

Middle East

Voice of America: "Islamic extremists in Syria have executed more than 3,000 people in the past year, and this week they added to the death toll by beheading two women after accusing them of witchcraft and sorcery, a rights watch group says."

Monday, June 29, 2015


Real Native Genius: How an Ex-Slave
and a White Mormon Became Famous Indians
Nonfiction book by Angela Pulley Hudson
Publication Date: September 8, 2015

University of North Carolina Press:
In the mid-1840s, Warner McCary, an ex-slave from Mississippi, claimed a new identity for himself, traveling around the nation as Choctaw performer "Okah Tubbee." He soon married Lucy Stanton, a divorced white Mormon woman from New York, who likewise claimed to be an Indian and used the name "Laah Ceil." Together, they embarked on an astounding, sometimes scandalous journey across the United States and Canada, performing as American Indians for sectarian worshippers, theater audiences, and patent medicine seekers. Along the way, they used widespread notions of "Indianness" to disguise their backgrounds, justify their marriage, and make a living. In doing so, they reflected and shaped popular ideas about what it meant to be an American Indian in the mid-nineteenth century. 
Weaving together histories of slavery, Mormonism, popular culture, and American medicine, Angela Pulley Hudson offers a fascinating tale of ingenuity, imposture, and identity. While illuminating the complex relationship between race, religion, and gender in nineteenth-century North America, Hudson reveals how the idea of the "Indian" influenced many of the era's social movements. Through the remarkable lives of Tubbee and Ceil, Hudson uncovers both the complex and fluid nature of antebellum identities and the place of "Indianness" at the very heart of American culture.


Radio Free Asia (RFA): "Luxury rosewood illegally logged throughout Laos is routinely smuggled north across the border to China by family members of the country's elite officials along a route paved with bribes to local authorities, according to sources with knowledge of the network."

Sleeping on the Job

University of Michigan: "Employees seeking to boost their productivity at work should take a nap — yes, sleeping on the job can be a good thing."


University of Adelaide, Australia:


Voodoo and Power: The Politics of Religion
in New Orleans, 1881-1940
Nonfiction book by Kodi A. Roberts
Available: November 2015

Louisiana State University Press (LSU Press) :
The racialized and exoticized cult of Voodoo occupies a central place in the popular image of the Crescent City. But as Kodi A. Roberts argues in Voodoo and Power, the religion was not a monolithic tradition handed down from African ancestors to their American-born descendants. Instead, a much more complicated patchwork of influences created New Orleans Voodoo, allowing it to move across boundaries of race, class, and gender. By employing late nineteenth and early twentieth-century first-hand accounts of Voodoo practitioners and their rituals, Roberts provides a nuanced understanding of who practiced Voodoo and why. 
Voodoo in New Orleans, a mélange of religion, entrepreneurship, and business networks, stretched across the color line in intriguing ways. Roberts's analysis demonstrates that what united professional practitioners, or "workers," with those who sought their services was not a racially uniform folk culture, but rather the power and influence that Voodoo promised. Recognizing that social immobility proved a common barrier for their patrons, workers claimed that their rituals could overcome racial and gendered disadvantages and create new opportunities for their clients. 
Voodoo rituals and institutions also drew inspiration from the surrounding milieu, including the privations of the Great Depression, the city's complex racial history, and the free-market economy. Money, employment, and business became central concerns for the religion's practitioners: to validate their work, some began operating from recently organized "Spiritual Churches," entities that were tax exempt and thus legitimate in the eyes of the state of Louisiana. Practitioners even leveraged local figures like the mythohistoric Marie Laveau for spiritual purposes and entrepreneurial gain. All the while, they contributed to the cultural legacy that fueled New Orleans's tourist industry and drew visitors and their money to the Crescent City.

Puerto Rico

Voice of America:
A prominent U.S. newspaper reported Puerto Rico cannot pay "roughly $72 billion in debts." 
The New York Times reported Sunday that Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro García Padilla and senior members of his staff have said "they would seek significant concessions from as many as all of the island's creditors." The report said the concessions could include deferring some debt payments for five years or more.  
"The debt is not payable," Governor García Padilla told the Times. "This is not politics, this is math."

Sunday, June 28, 2015


The Con Men: Hustling in New York City
Nonfiction book by Terry Williams
and Trevor B. Milton
Available: October 20, 2015

Columbia University Press:
Selling bootleg goods, playing the numbers, squatting rent-free, scamming tourists with bogus stories, selling knockoffs on Canal Street, and crafting Ponzi schemes — this vivid account of hustling in New York City explores the sociological reasons why con artists play the game, and the psychological dynamics they exploit to win it. Terry Williams and Trevor B. Milton, two prominent sociologists and ethnographers, spent years with New York con artists to uncover their secrets. The result is an unprecedented view into how con games operate, whether in back alleys and side streets or in police precincts and Wall Street boiler rooms. This book is not only an absorbing read but also a sophisticated study of how con artists use verbal persuasion, physical misdirection, and sheer charm to convince others to do what they want. Williams and Milton examine how street hustling is an act of performance art and find meaning in the methods con artists use to exact bounty from unsuspecting tourists and ordinary New Yorkers alike. They explore the personal experiences and influences that create a successful hustler, building a portrait of unusual emotional and psychological depth. Their work offers a new take on structure and opportunity, showing how the unique urban and social architecture of New York City lends itself to the perfect con.

Saturday, June 27, 2015


Agence France-Presse (AFP):


Massacre on the Merrimack: Hannah Duston's
Captivity and Revenge in Colonial America
Nonfiction book by Jay Atkinson
Publication Date: September 1, 2015

Rowman & Littlefield:
Early on March 15, 1697, a band of Abenaki warriors in service to the French raided the English frontier village of Haverhill, Massachusetts. Striking swiftly, the Abenaki killed twenty-seven men, women, and children, and took thirteen captives, including thirty-nine-year-old Hannah Duston and her week-old daughter, Martha. A short distance from the village, one of the warriors murdered the squalling infant by dashing her head against a tree. After a forced march of nearly one hundred miles, Duston and two companions were transferred to a smaller band of Abenaki, who camped on a tiny island located at the junction of the Merrimack and Contoocook Rivers, several miles north of present day Concord, New Hampshire. 
This was the height of King William's War, both a war of terror and a religious contest, with English Protestantism vying for control of the New World with French Catholicism. After witnessing her infant's murder, Duston resolved to get even. Two weeks into their captivity, Duston and her companions, a fifty-one-year-old woman and a twelve-year-old boy, moved among the sleeping Abenaki with tomahawks and knives, killing two men, two women, and six children. After returning to the bloody scene alone to scalp their victims, Duston and the others escaped down the Merrimack River in a stolen canoe. They braved treacherous waters and the constant threat of attack and recapture, returning to tell their story and collect a bounty for the scalps. 
Was Hannah Duston the prototypical feminist avenger, or the harbinger of the Native American genocide? In this meticulously researched and riveting narrative, bestselling author Jay Atkinson sheds new light on the early struggle for North America.

Friday, June 26, 2015


U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia:
Samson Jolibois, 47, of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, was sentenced today to 192 months in prison, followed by three of supervised release for conspiring to commit hostage taking. Jolibois was also ordered to pay over $32,000 in restitution. 
Jolibois plead guilty on Feb. 27, 2015. According to court documents, Jolibois was part of a criminal group that kidnapped and held hostage two U.S. citizens in the area of Carrefour, Haiti. The group targeted U.S citizens of Haitian descent who had returned to visit Haiti, because they believed these individuals to be from wealthy families. During two separate events, members of the criminal group took victims at gunpoint from outside their residences and held the victims hostage for several days while seeking ransom money from their families in exchange for the victims' release. One victim was rescued by Haitian law enforcement, and the other victim escaped captivity.


Walking With Abel: Journeys With the Nomads
of the African Savannah
Nonfiction book by Anna Badkhen
Publication Date: August 4, 2015

Penguin Random House:
An intrepid journalist joins the planet's largest group of nomads on an annual migration that, like them, has endured for centuries. 
Anna Badkhen has forged a career chronicling life in extremis around the world, from war-torn Afghanistan to the border regions of the American Southwest. In Walking with Abel, she embeds herself with a family of Fulani cowboys — nomadic herders in Mali's Sahel grasslands — as they embark on their annual migration across the savanna. It's a cycle that connects the Fulani to their past even as their present is increasingly under threat — from Islamic militants, climate change, and the ever-encroaching urbanization that lures away their young. The Fulani, though, are no strangers to uncertainty — brilliantly resourceful and resilient, they've contended with famines, droughts, and wars for centuries. 
Dubbed "Anna Ba" by the nomads, who embrace her as one of theirs, Badkhen narrates the Fulani's journeys and her own with compassion and keen observation, transporting us from the Neolithic Sahara crisscrossed by rivers and abundant with wildlife to obelisk forests where the Fulani's Stone Age ancestors painted tributes to cattle. As they cross the Sahel, the savanna belt that stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, they accompany themselves with Fulani music they download to their cell phones and tales of herders and hustlers, griots and holy men, infused with the myths the Fulani tell themselves to ground their past, make sense of their identity, and safeguard their — our — future.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


Agence France-Presse (AFP):

American West

NPR: "In 1922, seven states drew up a plan for dividing the waters of the Colorado River. But they overestimated how much water the river could provide — and now 40 million Americans face a water crisis."


BBC News: "The famous lemurs of Madagascar face such severe threats to their survival that none of them may be left in the wild within 25 years."