masthead

Featured Acquisitions - January & February 2016

 

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How the Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and the Threat to Democracy by Mehrsa Baradaran
Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2015
Reserve HG2491 .B269 2015

The United States has two separate banking systems today -- one serving the well-to-do and another exploiting everyone else. How the Other Half Banks contributes to the growing conversation on American inequality by highlighting one of its prime causes: unequal credit. Mehrsa Baradaran examines how a significant portion of the population, deserted by banks, is forced to wander through a Wild West of payday lenders and check-cashing services to cover emergency expenses and pay for necessities -- all thanks to deregulation that began in the 1970s and continues decades later.

In an age of corporate megabanks with trillions of dollars in assets, it is easy to forget that America's banking system was originally created as a public service. Banks have always relied on credit from the federal government, provided on favorable terms so that they could issue low-interest loans. But as banks grew in size and political influence, they shed their social contract with the American people, demanding to be treated as a private industry free from any public-serving responsibility. They abandoned less profitable, low-income customers in favor of wealthier clients and high-yield investments. Fringe lenders stepped in to fill the void. This two-tier banking system has become even more unequal since the 2008 financial crisis.

Baradaran proposes a solution: reenlisting the U.S. Post Office in its historic function of providing bank services. The post office played an important but largely forgotten role in the creation of American democracy, and it could be deployed again to level the field of financial opportunity.


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From Nuremberg to Hollywood: The Holocaust and the Courtroom in American Fictive Film by James Jordan
London; Portland, OR: Vallentine Mitchell, 2016
Online and Basement PN1995.9.T75 J67 2016

From Nuremberg to Hollywood is a transformative book that explores the evolving relationship between the act of bearing witness to the Holocaust in the courtroom, and how this is perceived and imagined by American film. The book transforms the discipline by providing a cultural history of the intersection of the courtroom and the Holocaust in American film from 1944-2008, using case studies to question the ever-changing relationship between testimony, history, memory, truth, and film. It deconstructs the accepted notion of the Holocaust as being an event at the limits of the imagination. The book is divided into two sections that are delimited by the two real-life courtroom proceedings which have had the greatest influence on American film's representation of the Holocaust: the Nuremberg trials of 1945-46 and the Eichmann trial in 1961. The methodology is to evaluate the filmic trials by comparison with the real-life trials on which they are based, and then to place these films and trials within their broader social context. From Nuremberg to Hollywood asks questions of the spectator, both on and off screen: How does one witness such events, and then how does one bear witness in the form of a credible narrative? How is this presented on screen? In doing so, the book seeks to understand how one of the most horrific and chaotic of events of the 20th century is contained and controlled by the strict demands of the courtroom and the courtroom film genre.


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Managing Cyber Attacks in International Law, Business, and Relations: In Search of Cyber Peace by Scott J. Shackelford
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2014
Online KZ6718 .S53 2014

This book presents a novel framework to reconceptualize Internet governance and better manage cyber-attacks. Specifically, it makes an original contribution by examining the potential of polycentric regulation to increase accountability through bottom-up action. It also provides a synthesis of the current state of cybersecurity research, bringing features of the cloak and dagger world of cyber-attacks to light and comparing and contrasting the cyber threat to all relevant stakeholders. Throughout the book, cybersecurity is treated holistically, covering outstanding issues in law, science, economics, and politics. This interdisciplinary approach is an exemplar of how strategies from different disciplines as well as the private and public sectors may cross-pollinate to enhance cybersecurity. Case studies and examples illustrate what is at stake and identify best practices. The book discusses technical issues of Internet governance and cybersecurity while presenting the material in an informal, straightforward manner. The book is designed to inform readers about the interplay of Internet governance and cybersecurity and the potential of polycentric regulation to help foster cyber peace.


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Ordinary Meaning: A Theory of the Most Fundamental Principle of Legal Interpretation by Brian G. Slocum
Chicago : The University of Chicago Press, 2015
Balcony K487.L36 S58 2015

Consider this court case: a defendant has traded a gun for drugs, and there is a criminal sentencing provision that stipulates an enhanced punishment if the defendant "uses" a firearm "during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime." Buying the drugs was obviously a crime--but can it be said that the defendant actually "used" the gun during the crime? This sort of question is at the heart of legal interpretation. Legal interpretation is built around one key question: by what standard should legal texts be interpreted? The traditional doctrine is that words should be given their "ordinary meaning": words in legal texts should be interpreted in light of accepted standards of communication. Yet often, courts fail to properly consider context, refer to unsuitable dictionary definitions, or otherwise misconceive how the ordinary meaning of words should be determined. In this book, Brian Slocum builds his argument for a new method of interpretation by asking glaring, yet largely ignored, questions. What makes one particular meaning the "ordinary" one, and how exactly do courts conceptualize the elements of ordinary meaning? Ordinary Meaning provides a much-needed, revised framework, boldly instructing those involved with the law in how the components of ordinary meaning should properly be identified and developed in our modern legal system.


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Charleston in Black and White: Race and Power in the South after the Civil Rights Movement by Steve Estes
Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2015
Basement F279.C49 E87 2015

Once one of the wealthiest cities in America, Charleston, South Carolina, established a society built on the racial hierarchies of slavery and segregation. By the 1970s, the legal structures behind these racial divisions had broken down and the wealth built upon them faded. Like many southern cities, Charleston had to construct a new public image. In this important book, Steve Estes chronicles the rise and fall of black political empowerment and examines the ways Charleston responded to the civil rights movement, embracing some changes and resisting others. Based on detailed archival research and more than fifty oral history interviews, Charleston in Black and White addresses the complex roles played not only by race but also by politics, labor relations, criminal justice, education, religion, tourism, economics, and the military in shaping a modern southern city. Despite the advances and opportunities that have come to the city since the 1960s, Charleston (like much of the South) has not fully reckoned with its troubled racial past, which still influences the present and will continue to shape the future.


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Social Media in the Courtroom: A New Era for Criminal Justice? by Thaddeus A. Hoffmeister
Santa Barbara, California : Praeger, 2014
Balcony and Online KF390.5.C6 H64 2014

While social media has become embedded in our society as a way to stay connected with friends, it serves another important purpose: to support the prosecution and defense of criminal cases. Social media is now used as proof of a crime; further, social media has become a vehicle for criminal activity. How should the law respond to the issue of online predators, stalkers, and identity thieves? This book comprehensively examines the complex impacts of social media on the major players in the criminal justice system: private citizens, attorneys, law enforcement officials, and judges. It outlines the many ways social media affects the judicial process, citing numerous example cases that demonstrate the legal challenges; and examines the issue from all sides, including law enforcement's role, citizens' privacy issues, and the principles of the Fourth Amendment. The author also shines a critical spotlight on how social media has enabled new types of investigations previously unimagined some of which present ethical problems.


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The Making of Tocqueville’s America: Law and Association in the Early United States by Kevin Butterfield
Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2015
Basement HS61 .A18 2015

Alexis de Tocqueville was among the first to draw attention to Americans' propensity to form voluntary associations--and to join them with a fervor and frequency unmatched anywhere in the world. For nearly two centuries, we have sought to understand how and why early nineteenth-century Americans were, in Tocqueville's words, "forever forming associations." In The Making of Tocqueville's America, Kevin Butterfield argues that to understand this, we need to first ask: what did membership really mean to the growing number of affiliated Americans? Butterfield explains that the first generations of American citizens found in the concept of membership--in churches, fraternities, reform societies, labor unions, and private business corporations--a mechanism to balance the tension between collective action and personal autonomy, something they accomplished by emphasizing law and procedural fairness. As this post-Revolutionary procedural culture developed, so too did the legal substructure of American civil society. Tocqueville, then, was wrong to see associations as the training ground for democracy, where people learned to honor one another's voices and perspectives. Rather, they were the training ground for something no less valuable to the success of the American democratic experiment: increasingly formal and legalistic relations among people.


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America’s Secret Jihad: The Hidden History of Religious Terrorism in the United States by Stuart Wexler
Berkeley, California: Counterpoint, 2015
Basement BL65.T47 W49 2015

The conventional narrative concerning religious terrorism inside the United States says that the first salvo occurred in 1993, with the first attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. This narrative has motivated more than a decade of wars, and re-prioritized America's domestic security and law enforcement agenda. But the conventional narrative is wrong. A different group of jihadists exists within U.S. borders. This group has a long but hidden history, is outside the purview of public officials and has an agenda as apocalyptic as anything Al Qaeda has to offer. Radical sects of Christianity have inspired some of the most grotesque acts of violence in American history: the 1963 Birmingham Church bombing that killed four young girls; the "Mississippi Burning" murders of three civil rights workers in 1964; the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, the Atlanta Child Murders in the late 1970s; and the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995. America's Secret Jihad uses these crimes to tell a story that has not been told before. Expanding upon the author's groundbreaking work on the Martin Luther King, Jr. murder, and through the use of extensive documentation, never-before-released interviews, and a re-interpretation of major events, America's Secret Jihad paints a picture of Christian extremism and domestic terrorism as it has never before been portrayed.


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Ballots, Bullets and Bargains: American Foreign Policy and Presidential Elections by Michael H. Armacost
New York: Columbia University Press, 2015
Basement E183 .A68 2015

Drawing on twenty-four years of experience in government, Michael H. Armacost explores how the contours of the U.S. presidential election system influence the content and conduct of American foreign policy. He examines how the nomination battle impels candidates to express deference to the foreign policy DNA of their party and may force an incumbent to make wholesale policy adjustments to fend off an intra-party challenge for the nomination. He describes the way reelection campaigns can prod a chief executive to fix long-neglected problems, kick intractable policy dilemmas down the road, settle for modest course corrections, or scapegoat others for policies gone awry. Armacost begins his book with the quest for the presidential nomination and then moves through the general election campaign, the ten-week transition period between Election Day and Inauguration Day, and the early months of a new administration. He notes that campaigns rarely illuminate the tough foreign policy choices that the leader of the nation must make, and he offers rare insight into the challenge of aligning the roles of an outgoing incumbent (who performs official duties despite ebbing power) and the incoming successor (who has no official role but possesses a fresh political mandate). He pays particular attention to the pressure for new presidents to act boldly abroad in the early months of his tenure, even before a national security team is in place, decision-making procedures are set, or policy priorities are firmly established. He concludes with an appraisal of the virtues and liabilities of the system, including suggestions for modestly adjusting some of its features while preserving its distinct character.


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The Ecology of Law: Toward a Legal System in Tune with Nature and Community by Fritjof Capra and Ugo Mattei
Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2015
Online and Balcony K487.S3 C37 2015

Bestselling author Fritjof Capra partners with distinguished legal scholar Ugo Mattei to reveal that our legal system must catch up with the current scientific under-standing of the world if it is to contribute to solving the great crises of our times. At the root of many of the environmental, economic, and social crises we face today is a legal system based on an outdated and ultimately destructive worldview. In this groundbreaking book, bestselling author, physicist, and systems theorist Fritjof Capra and distinguished legal scholar Ugo Mattei show how, by incorporating concepts from modern science, the law can be updated to reflect a more accurate view of how the world works and become a progressive force. Capra and Mattei trace the fascinating parallel history of law and science to show how the two disciplines have always influenced each other-until recently. Science now sees the world as being made up of interconnected networks. But law is stuck in a mechanistic, 17th century paradigm that views the world as discrete individual parts. This has led to a disregard for the health of the whole-for example, elevating the rights of individual property owners over the good of the community. But Capra and Mattei outline the basic concepts and structures of a legal order consistent with the ecological principles that sustain life on this planet.