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The Overnight News Digest welcomes you
Welcome to the Overnight News Digest with a crew consisting of founder Magnifico, current leader Neon Vincent, regular editors jlms qkw, maggiejean, wader, Oke, rfall, and JML9999. Alumni editors are palantir, ScottyUrb, Interceptor7 and BentLiberal. The guest editor is annetteboardman.
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In honor of Veteran's Day

Veterans Face Uphill Battle for Benefits When Field Records Are Lost, Destroyed

ProPublica journalist Peter Sleeth is interviewed on the PBS Newshour

JEFFREY BROWN: And to our three Veterans Day stories.

The first involves soldiers returning from the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan, and facing an unexpected uphill battle as they fight for benefits.

According to a new report by the nonprofit online news organization ProPublica and The Seattle times, the U.S. government sometimes has no official record that men and women actually served overseas.

It sounds unlikely, but an investigation by the two news organizations revealed that millions of U.S. military field records have been lost or destroyed.

For more on the report and what it means for veterans, I'm joined by ProPublica journalist Peter Sleeth.

First of, Peter, explain what kinds of records we're talking about here and who is affected.

PETER SLEETH, ProPublica: Field records are a distinct category from medical or personnel records.

Field records are things like after-action reports that explain what happened in combat, patrol reports, intelligence reports, prisoner of war status, anything you would create in the field to document what the army is doing in the field other than medical and personnel records.


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New Yorkers' easier commute is welcome post-storm progress


The dreaded Monday morning commute into New York City two weeks after Superstorm Sandy was eased slightly by lighter holiday traffic, restoration of some train lines and a long-awaited opening of the final tunnel shut by historic flooding.

Tens of thousands of homes and businesses in the hardest hit sections of New York and New Jersey remained without electricity, but most residents affected elsewhere were powered up by Monday morning. Even with the lights on, some homes remained without phone, Internet and TV service due to damaged equipment and wires brought down by the deadly storm.

At least 121 people perished in the storm, which caused an estimated $50 billion in property damage and economic losses and ranks as one of the most destructive natural disasters to hit the U.S. Northeast.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to ask the federal government for $30 billion in disaster aid to help with the recovery in New York City, Long Island and other devastated parts of the state.

Armstrong steps down from Livestrong board


Lance Armstrong has stepped down as a board member of Livestrong, the cancer-support charity he founded in 1997, the organization said Monday.

"Lance Armstrong has chosen to voluntarily resign from the Board of Directors of the Livestrong Foundation to spare the organization any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding his cycling career," Livestrong chairman Jeff Garvey said in a statement.

"We are deeply grateful to Lance for creating a cause that has served millions of cancer survivors and their families."

Armstrong, a survivor of testicular cancer, had previously stepped down as Livestrong's chairman.

The 41-year-old had his seven Tour de France victories nullified and was banned from cycling for life last month after the International Cycling Union (UCI) ratified the United States Anti-Doping Agency's (USADA) sanctions against him.

Jesse Jackson Jr hires lawyer, possible plea deal, resignation: reports


Jesse Jackson, Jr.
Jesse Jackson, Jr. speaking at the Democratic National Convention, August 2008
Amid reports that he may have misused campaign funds, Illinois congressman Jesse Jackson Jr has hired a lawyer to handle negotiations with the federal government on possible plea deal in which he would resign from the House of Representatives and spend time in prison, media said.

CBS 2 television reported on Saturday and Fox News Chicago on Monday, citing an unnamed source, that Jackson hired Dan Webb, a former U.S. attorney in Chicago who represents defendants in high-profile corruption cases to represent the 47-year-old lawmaker.

Both reports said Jackson, who was easily re-elected to Congress on November 6, may have to resign his seat and serve time in prison under terms of the deal being negotiated.

Woman In Petraeus Affair Spoke About Having Access To Classified Information


Paula Broadwell
Paula Broadwell, the woman whose extramarital affair with retired Gen. David Petraeus led to his resignation Friday from the post of CIA director, is a major in the Army Reserve who specializes in counterterrorism issues. She's also the author of All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, a biography of the former top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

As more is learned about what FBI agents found when they began investigating another woman's report about harassing emails, there's word from The New York Times that on Broadwell's computer:

"Agents discovered several classified documents, which raised the additional question of whether Mr. Petraeus had given them to her. She said that he had not. Agents interviewed Mr. Petraeus the following week. He also admitted to the affair but said he had not given any classified documents to her."

So how might she have gotten such information?

By 2020, United States Will Become World's Leading Oil Producer, Says IEA


By 2020, the United States will overtake Saudi Arabia to become the world's leading oil producer, the International Energy Agency says in a new report.

At the moment, the United States imports 20 percent of its energy. So this prediction is bold and points to "a dramatic reversal" for the U.S.

"The result is a continued fall in U.S. oil imports, to the extent that North America becomes a net oil exporter around 2030," the report finds. "This accelerates the switch in direction of international oil trade towards Asia, putting a focus on the security of the strategic routes that bring Middle East oil to Asian markets."

But the IEA warms "no country is an energy island." So if you were thinking that energy independence in 2020 would mean long road trips because of cheap gas, think again.

As NPR's Planet Money team explained in October, Canada is already energy independent but they are still paying four bucks a gallon for gas.

U.S. Stocks Erase Gains Amid Meeting on Greece Aid


U.S. stocks erased gains, failing to rebound after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index’s biggest weekly retreat since June, as investors awaited budget talks in Washington and European finance chiefs met to discuss Greek aid.

Jefferies Group Inc. jumped 14 percent after Leucadia National Corp. (LUK) said it will buy the investment bank. Titanium Metals Corp. (TIE) surged 43 percent after Precision Castparts (PCP) Corp. agreed to buy the maker of titanium products. An S&P index of homebuilders slid 4.1 percent as D.R. Horton Inc.’s chief executive officer cautioned that weak employment growth could hurt sales of new homes. Apple Inc. (AAPL) slumped 0.8 percent after dropping for seven straight weeks.

U.S. to soon determine post-2014 troop presence in Afghanistan


ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT, Nov 12 - The United States will determine in the next several weeks how many troops it will keep in Afghanistan as part of a residual force following the drawdown of most combat forces at the end of 2014, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Monday.
Democrat gaining as Arizona Senate race vote count drags on


With several hundred thousand ballots still to be counted in the race for an Arizona Senate seat, a Democrat who earlier conceded the race to his Republican rival was gaining and appeared to have a distant shot at the seat after all.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona conceded on election night last Tuesday to six-term U.S. Congressman Jeff Flake after about three quarters of precincts had reported, showing Flake with a lead of about six percentage points.

But nearly a week later, with more than 340,000 ballots yet to be counted, the tally has tightened to about four points, leaving the Carmona campaign watching closely to ensure that each and every ballot is counted.

The most recent results show Flake in the lead by 79,547 votes in a race in which 2 million ballots were cast.


More Gaza rockets hit Israel despite truce efforts


Sporadic missile fire from the Gaza Strip hit southern Israel on Monday for a fourth straight day, with Egypt trying to secure a truce and Israel warning it was poised to toughen its response.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened foreign ambassadors in what appeared to be an attempt to pre-empt international censure should Israel, whose 2008-2009 Gaza offensive exacted a costly civilian toll, again go in hard.

Netanyahu briefed the envoys in Ashkelon, a port city within range of some Palestinian rockets. "None of their governments would accept a situation like this," he said.

Environment Minister Gilad Erdan, an influential member of Netanyahu's Likud party, said the briefing was meant to prepare world opinion for "what is about to happen", adding there might be a major Israeli escalation within a few hours.

Merkel, in anxious Lisbon, hails austerity drive


Police officers clash with protesters during a demonstration against German Chancellor Angela Merkel in central Lisbon November 12, 2012. Merkel faced scattered protests on Monday in Lisbon, where she delivered German endorsement of a government austerity drive designed to honour a bailout loan but which critics fear may only deepen the slump.
Credit: Reuters/Hugo Correia
Angela Merkel faced scattered protests on Monday in Lisbon, where she delivered German endorsement of a government austerity drive designed to honor a bailout loan but which critics fear may only deepen the slump.

"The situation is difficult but what Portugal is doing, it is for the future," the chancellor told a joint news conference with Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho, who has seen popular patience and political consensus begin to fray in recent weeks.

"This visit is an opportunity to know the country better and to bring hope."

Speaking for both himself and his fellow conservative Merkel, the Portuguese premier dismissed criticism such as that in a leading business newspaper which accused the chancellor of pursuing "Frankenstein experiments" with Portugal's economy; Passos Coelho insisted: "We think this is the only way forward."

Spain promises to spare needy from eviction after suicides


Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos promised on Monday that no needy family will go homeless over mortgage arrears, responding to public fury at a homeowner's suicide as she was being evicted.

Facing accusations that politicians and banks are complicit in de facto "murder", Spain's banking association said its members would suspend eviction orders for two years for those borrowers worst hit by economic crisis and record unemployment.

Banks have repossessed close to 400,000 homes in Spain since a property bubble burst in 2008 and the nation subsequently sank into recession, throwing millions out of work and unable to keep up mortgage payments to the banks.

Last Friday's suicide of 53-year-old Amaia Egana has inflamed a public already angered by what they see as a lack of compassion among Spanish banks, many of which have benefited from taxpayer-funded bailouts organized by the political elite.

Wukan Woes Show Land-Reform Delay Risks as Hu Leaves Task to Xi


Lin Zuluan, head of the council in the village of Wukan, has the same dinner interruption almost every evening. Unhappy residents come with complaints, almost always bringing up one topic: getting back their land.
A year ago, the villagers of Wukan, in southern China, were hopeful after they grabbed world attention when they took to the streets accusing local leaders of selling their land to developers. They forced the politicians out of office and won the right to elect their own representatives. Democracy hasn’t helped them retrieve their land, said Lin, who was chosen for the council after the protests.

“I thought as long as we followed the law and legal procedures, we could solve it,” said Lin, 68, speaking from his office, which has a tea set for visitors, in the three-story beige council headquarters in the fishing village. “It turned out to be more difficult than I imagined.”


Presence of Hog Farms in Neighborhoods Raises Blood Pressure of People

SciTech Daily

Image: Lynn Betts/USDA NRSC
Hog farms might be nauseating, but a new study indicates that a hog farm emissions, which include dust, irritants, allergens, hydrogen sulfides, ammonia, and other volatile compounds, could have an impact on the health of the people living nearby. Neighbors of such farms experience a rise in blood pressure when the odor of the farm is strong.

The scientists published their findings in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) have a number of measurable impacts on the environment, mostly from the massive quantities of manure that they produce. That waste contains microbes that can make humans sick, and it’s usually collected in open pits or sprayed on fields as fertilizer, risking the contamination of air, water and soil.

The smell is the also problematic, as the staggering stench has shown negative effects on stress and moods. Steve Wing, epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, sought to figure out if there was a link between the odors from CAFOs and some of these symptoms.

Hubble Spots Lenticular Galaxy NGC 5010

SciTech Daily

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured a beautiful galaxy that, with its reddish and yellow central area, looks rather like an explosion from a Hollywood movie. The galaxy, called NGC 5010, is in a period of transition. The aging galaxy is movin
View from Hubble Space Telescope
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured a beautiful galaxy that, with its reddish and yellow central area, looks rather like an explosion from a Hollywood movie. The galaxy, called NGC 5010, is in a period of transition. The aging galaxy is moving on from life as a spiral galaxy, like our Milky Way, to an older, less defined type called an elliptical galaxy. In this in-between phase, astronomers refer to NGC 5010 as a lenticular galaxy, which has features of both spirals and ellipticals.
US Ignition Facility Will Spend Less Time on Energy Research

SciTech Daily

The world’s most powerful laser ignition facility is set to emphasize its nuclear weapons research after unsuccessfully campaigning to demonstrate the principles of a fusion power plant.

At the US National Ignition Facility (NIF), scientists and engineers have been working on how to focus the 192 laser beams on a gold lined “hohlraum” capsule, just a few millimeters long, containing a pellet of hydrogen isotopes. As 500 terawatts of laser power hits the capsule, it generates X-rays that blast into the pellet, causing the atoms of deuterium and tritium inside to fuse. This process converts a tiny amount of their mass into a burst of energy.

The goal was to develop a power plant that would implode nearly 1,000 pellets a minute, but unexpected technical problems left the NIF short of this campaign.

To Fight Bacteria, Coat Everything In Mucus


Bodily fluids are not the first thing that come to mind when you’re looking for a disinfectant. But mucus is surprisingly good at preventing bacterial growth--never mind that it’s a nasty side effect of infection on its own. A type of polymer found in mucus--known as mucin--can trap bacteria and prevent them from clumping together into a hard-to-remove biofilm, MIT scientists say.
US Titan supercomputer clocked as world's fastest


The fastest supercomputer, Titan, was sixth on the list when it was was compiled in June
The top two spots on the list of the world's most powerful supercomputers have both been captured by the US.

The last time the country was in a similar position was three years ago.

The fastest machine - Titan, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee - is an upgrade of Jaguar, the system which held the top spot in 2009.

The supercomputer will be used to help develop more energy-efficient engines for vehicles, model climate change and research biofuels.

It can also be rented to third-parties, and is operated as part of the US Department of Energy's network of research labs.

The Top 500 list of supercomputers was published by Hans Muer, professor of computer science at Mannheim, who has been keeping track of developments since 1986. It was released at the SC12 supercomputing conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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