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Beyond the Big Ditch

Politics, Ecology, and Infrastructure at the Panama Canal

Ashley Carse

In this innovative book, Ashley Carse traces the water that flows into and out from the Panama Canal to explain how global shipping is entangled with Panama's cultural and physical landscapes. By following container ships as they travel downstream along maritime routes and tracing rivers upstream across the populated watershed that feeds the canal, he explores the politics of environmental management around a waterway that links faraway ports and markets to nearby farms, forests, cities, and rural communities. Carse draws on a wide range of ethnographic and archival material to show the social and ecological implications of transportation across Panama. The Canal moves ships over an aquatic staircase of locks that demand an enormous amount of fresh water from the surrounding region. Each passing ship drains 52 million gallons out to sea -- a volume comparable to the daily water use of half a million Panamanians. Infrastructures like the Panama Canal, Carse argues, do not simply conquer nature; they rework ecologies in ways that serve specific political and economic priorities. Interweaving histories that range from the depopulation of the U.S. Canal Zone a century ago to road construction conflicts and water hyacinth invasions in canal waters, the book illuminates the human and nonhuman actors that have come together at the margins of the famous trade route. 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal. Beyond the Big Ditch calls us to consider how infrastructures are materially embedded in place, producing environments with winners and losers.

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Beyond the Boycott

Labor Rights, Human Rights, and Transnational Activism

As the world economy becomes increasingly integrated, companies can shift production to wherever wages are lowest and unions weakest. How can workers defend their rights in an era of mobile capital? With national governments forced to compete for foreign investment by rolling back legal protections for workers, fair trade advocates are enlisting consumers to put market pressure on companies to treat their workers fairly. In Beyond the Boycott, sociologist Gay Seidman asks whether this non-governmental approach can reverse the “race to the bottom” in global labor standards. Beyond the Boycott examines three campaigns in which activists successfully used the threat of a consumer boycott to pressure companies to accept voluntary codes of conduct and independent monitoring of  work sites. The voluntary Sullivan Code required American corporations operating in apartheid-era South Africa to improve treatment of their workers;  in India, the Rugmark inspection team provides ‘social labels’ for  handknotted carpets made without child labor; and in Guatemala,  COVERCO monitors conditions in factories producing clothing under contract for major American brands. Seidman compares these cases to explore the ingredients of successful campaigns, as well as the inherent limitations facing voluntary monitoring schemes. Despite activists’ emphasis on educating individual consumers to support ethical companies, Seidman finds that, in practice, they have been most successful when they mobilized institutions—such as universities, churches, and shareholder organizations. Moreover, although activists tend to dismiss states’ capabilities, all three cases involved governmental threats of trade sanctions against companies and countries with poor labor records. Finally, Seidman  points to an intractable difficulty of independent workplace monitoring: since consumers rarely distinguish between monitoring schemes and labels, companies can hand pick monitoring organizations, selecting those with the lowest standards for working conditions and the least aggressive inspections. Transnational consumer movements can increase the bargaining power of the global workforce, Seidman argues, but they cannot replace national governments or local campaigns to expand the meaning of citizenship. As trade and capital move across borders in growing volume and with greater speed, civil society and human rights movements are also becoming more global. Highly original and thought-provoking, Beyond the Boycott vividly depicts the contemporary movement to humanize globalization—its present and its possible future.

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Beyond the Resource Curse

Edited by Brenda Shaffer and Taleh Ziyadov

When countries discover that they possess large deposits of oil and natural gas, the news is usually welcome. Yet, paradoxically, if they rely on their wealth of natural resources, they often set down a path of poor economic performance and governance challenges. Only a few resource-rich countries have managed to develop their economies fully and provide a better and sustainable standard of living for large segments of their populations. This phenomenon, known as the resource curse, is a core challenge for energy-exporting states. Beyond the Resource Curse focuses on this relationship between natural wealth and economic security, discussing the particular pitfalls and consistent perils facing oil- and gas-exporting states.

The contributors to this volume look beyond the standard fields of research related to the resource curse. They also shed new light on the specific developmental problems of resource-rich exporting states around the globe, including Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cambodia, East Timor, Iran, Norway, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

Policy makers and academics think of energy security solely in terms of the interests of energy importers. Beyond the Resource Curse shows that the constant volatility in energy markets creates energy security challenges for exporters as well.

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Beyond the Tragedy in Global Fisheries

D. G. Webster

An analysis of how responsive governance has shaped the evolution of global fisheries in cyclical patterns of depletion and rebuilding dubbed the “management treadmill.”

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Beyond Wolves

The Politics Of Wolf Recovery And Management

Martin A. Nie

Since 1995, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released Canadian gray wolves into Yellowstone National Park as part of its wolf recovery program, reintroduction has been widely challenged in public forums and sensationalized in the media. This conflict has pitted western ranchers and property rights activists against environmental groups, highlighting starkly contrasting political perspectives. In this informed account, Martin A. Nie examines not only the future of wolf recovery but also the issues that will define debates around the politics of wildlife management, animal rights issues, and other flash points. The result is a revelatory look at the way the democratic process works when the subject is an environmental hot-button issue.

Examining the wolf recovery program from a policy-making perspective, Nie looks at programs in Alaska, the Lake Superior region, the Northern Rockies, the Southwest, and New England and upstate New York. He analyzes the social, political, and cultural backdrop in the areas in which wolves have been reintroduced and explores such contentious issues as the role of science in public policy; the struggle between wilderness protection, resource management, and private property; and the use of stakeholders in environmental conflicts.

For Nie, the debate over wolf recovery is above all a value-based political conflict that should take place in a more inclusive, participatory, and representative democratic arena. Wolves, Nie writes, are an important indicator species both biologically and politically, and in Beyond Wolves, he tells an important story of wolves and people, place and politics, that resonates far beyond the fate of America’s most misunderstood inhabitants.


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Big Bets and Black Swans 2014

A Presidential Briefing Book

edited by Ted Piccone, Steven Pifer, and Thomas Wright

President Obama has just three years left in office to define his legacy in world affairs. He's facing a number of critical challenges—the ongoing war in Syria, the Iran nuclear negotiations, an enigmatic North Korea and other significant crises in world affairs. The president's advisors are busy devising policy recommendations aimed at grappling with these thorny issues. From these, the president must decide which priorities to pursue and how to best exercise U.S. power and influence to manage and shape the global order.

This book presents a set of policy analysis and recommendations from The Foreign Policy scholars at the Brookings Institution. Designed to provide the White House with innovative and actionable policy initiatives, the book is constructed as a series of memos to President Obama. This year, the memos are divided into five categories:

• Big Bets are issues where the president should consider investing his power, time and prestige in major efforts that can have a transformational impact on America and the world. • Double Downs are derived from the Big Bets from last year's recommendations that the president should redouble his efforts on.

• Black Swans are those low-probability but high-impact events that can divert the president and his administration's higher purposes, such as dramatic negative events that he will want to take steps in advance to avoid or to mitigate their consequences.

• Nightmares are events that look more likely than a Black Swan and could prove particularly troublesome for U.S. interests and the global order, and for which the administration should prepare.

• Holds are updated policy recommendations to stay the course on approaches suggested last year.

Contents: Big Bets

• Reassert U.S. Leadership of a Liberal Global Order by Robert Kagan and Ted Piccone

• Secure the Future of the Internet by Peter W. Singer and Ian Wallace

• Solidify the U.S.-Afghanistan Alliance by Michael E. O'Hanlon and Gen. John Allen (USMC, Ret.)

• Lift the Ban on U.S. Oil Exports by Tim Boersma and Charles K. Ebinger

• Strengthen Stability in Africa by Michael E. O'Hanlon

Double Downs

• Broaden the Approach to Iran by Suzanne Maloney

• Pursue Regime Change in Syria by Michael Doran

• Return to the Asia Rebalance by Jonathan D. Pollack and Jeffrey A. Bader

• Reach Out to Cuba by Ted Piccone

• Avert Conflict in the South and East China Seas by Richard C. Bush III, Bruce Jones and Jonathan D. Pollack

Black Swans

• Israeli-Palestinian Violence Erupts by Natan B. Sachs

• Putin's Russia Goes rogue by Fiona Hill and Steven Pifer

• Venezuela Breaks Down in Violence by Harold Trinkunas

Nightmares

• Korean Crisis Prompts Confrontation with China by Jonathan D. Pollack and Richard C. Bush III

• Iran Nuclear Talks Fail by Robert Einhorn and Kenneth Pollack

• Afghanistan's Presidential Election Goes Awry by Vanda Felbab-Brown

• Muslim Brotherhood Radicalizes by Daniel L. Byman and Tamara Cofman Wittes

Holds

• Avoid a U.S.-Saudi Divorce by Bruce Riedel

• Close the Deal on Free Trade by Mireya Solis

• Manage the Impact of Climate Change by Elizabeth Ferris

• Deepen Economic Ties to Turkey by Kemal Kirisci

• Beyond New START by Steven Pifer

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Big Government and Affirmative Action

The Scandalous History of the Small Business Administration

Jonathan Bean

David Stockman, Ronald Reagan's budget director, proclaimed the Small Business Administration a "billion-dollar waste -- a rathole," and set out to abolish the agency. His scathing critique was but the latest attack on an agency better known as the "Small Scandal Administration." Loans to criminals, government contracts for minority "fronts," the classification of American Motors as a small business, Whitewater, and other scandals -- the Small Business Administration has lurched from one embarrassment to another.

Despite the scandals and the policy failures, the SBA thrives and small business remains a sacred cow in American politics. Part of this sacredness comes from the agency's longstanding record of pioneering affirmative action. Jonathan Bean reveals that even before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the SBA promoted African American businesses, encouraged the hiring of minorities, and monitored the employment practices of loan recipients. Under Nixon, the agency expanded racial preferences. During the Reagan administration, politicians wrapped themselves in the mantle of minority enterprise even as they denounced quotas elsewhere.

Created by Congress in 1953, the SBA does not conform to traditional interpretations of interest-group democracy. Even though the public -- and Congress -- favors small enterprise, there has never been a unified group of small business owners requesting the government's help. Indeed, the SBA often has failed to address the real problems of "Mom and Pop" shop owners, fueling the ongoing debate about the agency's viability.

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Biology at Work

Rethinking Sexual Equality

Kingsley R. Browne

Does biology help explain why women, on average, earn less money than men? Is there any evolutionary basis for the scarcity of female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies? According to Kingsley Browne, the answer may be yes.

Biology at Work brings an evolutionary perspective to bear on issues of women in the workplace: the "glass ceiling," the "gender gap" in pay, sexual harassment, and occupational segregation. While acknowledging the role of discrimination and sexist socialization, Browne suggests that until we factor real biological differences between men and women into the equation, the explanation remains incomplete.

Browne looks at behavioral differences between men and women as products of different evolutionary pressures facing them throughout human history. Womens biological investment in their offspring has led them to be on average more nurturing and risk averse, and to value relationships over competition. Men have been biologically rewarded, over human history, for displays of strength and skill, risk taking, and status acquisition. These behavioral differences have numerous workplace consequences. Not surprisingly, sex differences in the drive for status lead to sex differences in the achievement of status.

Browne argues that decision makers should recognize that policies based on the assumption of a single androgynous human nature are unlikely to be successful. Simply removing barriers to inequality will not achieve equality, as women and men typically value different things in the workplace and will make different workplace choices based on their different preferences.

Rather than simply putting forward the "nature" side of the debate, Browne suggests that dichotomies such as nature/nurture have impeded our understanding of the origins of human behavior. Through evolutionary biology we can understand not only how natural selection has created predispositions toward certain types of behavior but also how the social environment interacts with these predispositions to produce observed behavioral patterns.

 

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Bitter Legacy

Polish-American Relations in the Wake of World War II

Richard C. Lukas

In this most timely book, Richard C. Lukas offers the historical perspective that any reader, scholar, or layman needs to grasp the political turmoil in Poland in the decades after World War II. Bitter Legacy is the first major analysis of Polish-American relations from the Potsdam Conference through the Polish elections of 1947, the critical period during which Poland became a satellite in the Russian sphere. Drawing on an impressive array of primary and secondary sources, a number of which have never been used by scholars before, Lukas shows in detail why and how American policy was never able to reverse the process, begun at the Yalta Conference, that transformed Poland into a communist state. In a clear and unambiguous style, he deftly combines two traditions in the writing of diplomatic history -- one that stresses intergovernmental relations and one that emphasizes domestic concerns and pressures.

The result is a revealing book that adds significantly to our understanding of Polish-American relations and of domestic history in Poland and the United States during this important Cold War phase. It will appeal not only to scholars but also to all those with an interest in Poland's history.

Bitter Legacy is a sequel to Lukas's earlier volume, The Strange Allies, which has been acclaimed as the best treatment in English of United States-Polish relations during World War II. If offers the same impeccable scholarship and balanced interpretation that characterized Lukas's earlier study.

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Black Fathers in Contemporary American Society

Strengths, Weaknesses, and Strategies for Change

The majority of African American children live in homes without their fathers, but the proportion of African American children living in intact, two-parent families has risen significantly since 1995. Black Fathers in Contemporary American Society looks at father absence from two sides, offering an in-depth analysis of how the absence of African American fathers affects their children, their relationships, and society as a whole, while countering the notion that father absence and family fragmentation within the African American community is inevitable. Editors Obie Clayton, Ronald B. Mincy, and David Blankenhorn lead a diverse group of contributors encompassing a range of disciplines and ideological perspectives who all agree that father absence among black families is one of the most pressing social problems today. In part I, the contributors offer possible explanations for the decline in marriage among African American families. William Julius Wilson believes that many men who live in the inner city no longer consider marriage an option because their limited economic prospects do not enable them to provide for a family. Part II considers marriage from an economic perspective, emphasizing that it is in part a wealth-producing institution. Maggie Gallagher points out that married people earn, invest, and save more than single people, and that when marriage rates are low in a community, it is the children who suffer most. In part III, the contributors discuss policies to reduce absentee fatherhood. Wornie Reed demonstrates how public health interventions, such as personal development workshops and work-related skill-building services, can be used to address the causes of fatherlessness. Wade Horn illustrates the positive results achieved by fatherhood programs, especially when held early in a man's life. In the last chapter, Enola Aird notes that from 1995 to 2000, the proportion of African American children living in two-parent, married couple homes rose from 34.8 to 38.9 percent; a significant increase indicating the possible reversal of the long-term shift toward black family fragmentation. Black Fathers in Contemporary American Society provides an in-depth look at a problem affecting millions of children while offering proof that the trend of father absence is not irrevocable.

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