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Overnight News Digest
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.
Rupert Murdoch and the Jews
His Twitter slip about the 'Jewish-owned press' was revealing – of prejudice, paranoia and neoconism – and none of it is pretty

Michael Wolff
The Guardian

Rupert Murdoch

@rupertmurdoch
Why Is Jewish owned press so consistently anti- Israel in every crisis?
17 Nov 12 ReplyRetweetFavorite

Whoops.

Rupert Murdoch's unchaperoned tweeting was bound to get him into trouble. On Saturday, he slipped into an antisemitic usage: "Why is Jewish-owned press so consistently anti-Israel in every crisis?"

What Murdoch was doing was trying to channel the right wing's ardent support of Israel by challenging the left wing's more critical view of Israeli brinksmanship – particularly as Israel appears on the verge of another invasion of Gaza. In other words, or so Murdoch seemed to be close to saying, Jews are liberals, and so untrustworthy that they would even betray Israel.

From the biographer's point of view, this continues to be a curious and open-ended question: what does Murdoch really think about the Jews?

Intro

You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

World News

Thousands line streets of Rangoon to hail Barack Obama

The Guardian

President Obama and Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Outside, the streets were blocked and hard-faced policemen kept order with the brisk and bored efficiency that comes from long practice. Inside, grey-haired opposition politicians joked, students photographed one another and representatives of Burma's scores of ethnic minorities in traditional woven caps waved excitedly.

Then the wait was over and the president of the United States of America stepped out on to the stage of the recently refurbished Convocation Hall of the University of Rangoon, closed to undergraduates for decades by authorities who feared unrest.

"When I took office as president, I sent a message to those governments who ruled by fear: we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your first," Barack Obama declared. "So today, I have come to keep my promise, and extend the hand of friendship."

Six hours earlier Obama had become the first US president to visit Burma when he flew in from Thailand on the second leg of his first overseas trip since re-election. He was met by tens of thousands of flag-waving well-wishers who lined his route from the airport.

London-based expert to lead Irish abortion inquiry
A London-based expert on obstetrics and gynaecology is to head the Irish health service inquiry into the death of a woman refused an abortion in a Galway hospital.

Prof Sabarantnam Arulkumaran from St George's, University of London, will chair the investigation into how Savita Halappanavar died at University Hospital Galway.

Her husband's legal team has also been in contact with the Health Service Executive (HSE) inquiry team, it was confirmed on Monday. Praveen Halappanavar alleges that his wife, who was gravely ill, asked repeatedly for her 17-week pregnancy to be terminated. She was refused the termination and told: "This is a Catholic country," according to her husband.

Arulkumaran said that over the next three days his team would review the case notes, look at guidelines and interview people. The HSE said the investigation would be completed within an "expeditious timeframe".

The draft terms of reference will be published after being shared with the Halappanavar family.

Honest broker: Egypt's role on path to peace in Gaza

The Guardian

Egypt is the indispensable player in any attempt to mediate a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinans in the Gaza Strip. But it has good reasons of its own for wanting to help defuse an already bloody crisis which risks escalating into a wider and even more dangerous conflict.

In that respect Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood president, is following a similar path to his overthrown predecessor Hosni Mubarak, though Morsi is far more sympathetic to Hamas, the Islamist movement which controls the Palestinian border enclave. Morsi's solidarity is not in question. But he has to consider Egypt's overall strategic and economic interests and is unlikely to want to jeopardise his country's 32-year-old peace treaty with Israel — and the US aid that goes with it.

Talks in Cairo between Egyptian General Intelligence and Israeli security officials are focusing on finding a mechanism to end the current fighting, while the Egyptians meet separately with Hamas. The trick, as with any negotiation, will be reaching an agreement that allows both parties to claim to their respective publics that they have achieved something tangible from the blood-letting.

Chinese poet Li Bifeng jailed for 12 years

The Guardian

Chinese poet Li Bifeng was formerly jailed for five years for involvement in the Tiananmen Square democracy movement. Photograph: Peter Turnley/Corbis
A dissident Chinese poet whose detention has sparked an international appeal for his release has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for contract fraud, his lawyer said.

Li Bifeng – formerly imprisoned for five years for involvement in the Tiananmen Square democracy movement – was sentenced at Shehong county court in Sichuan province, south-west China, Zhao Jianwei said.

He said the defence would appeal, adding: "We believe the verdict was not based on the facts and the prosecutors and the court violated procedural laws and regulations."

A court official who declined to give his name confirmed Li's hearing had taken place, but said he did not have details.

Israel says prefers diplomacy but ready to invade Gaza

Reuters

Israel bombed dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip on Monday and said that while it was prepared to step up its offensive by sending in troops, it preferred a diplomatic solution that would end Palestinian rocket fire.

Mediator Egypt said a deal for a truce to end the fighting could be close. The leader of Hamas said it was up to Israel to end the new conflict it had started. Israel says its strikes are to halt Palestinian rocket attacks.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, touring the region in hopes of helping broker a peace arrived in Cairo, where he met Egypt's foreign minister in preparation for talks with the new, Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi, on Tuesday. He also plans to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Israeli attacks on the sixth day of fighting raised the number of Palestinian dead to 101, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said, listing 24 children among them. Hospital officials in Gaza said more than half of those killed were non-combatants. Three Israeli civilians died on Thursday in a rocket strike.

Moody's strips France of AAA-rating with one-notch cut

Reuters

Moody's stripped France of its prized triple-A badge on Monday, cutting the sovereign credit rating on Europe's No. 2 economy by one notch to Aa1 from Aaa, citing an uncertain fiscal outlook and deteriorating economy.

The downgrade, which follows a cut by Standard & Poor's in January, was widely expected but is still a blow to Socialist President Francois Hollande as he strives to convince the world he can fix France's public finances and stalled economy.

Moody's said it was keeping a negative outlook on France due to structural challenges and a "sustained loss of competitiveness" in the country, where business leaders blame high labor charges for flagging exports.

"The first driver underlying Moody's one-notch downgrade of France's sovereign rating is the risk to economic growth, and therefore to the government's finances, posed by the country's persistent structural economic challenges," Moody's said.

"These include the rigidities in labor and services markets, and low levels of innovation, which continue to drive France's gradual but sustained loss of competitiveness and the gradual erosion of its export-oriented industrial base."

US News

Petraeus retains Robert Barnett, lawyer to political elite

Reuters

Former CIA Director General David Petraeus has hired a top Washington lawyer to help him navigate the fallout from a career-ending affair, Reuters has confirmed.

The lawyer, Robert Barnett of Williams & Connolly, is known for negotiating book deals for the political elite, from President Barack Obama to one-time vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Barnett will help Petraeus as he exits government, Reuters confirmed. The news was first reported by Politico, which said that no book is planned.

The Central Intelligence Agency, the Justice Department and Congress are investigating Petraeus' conduct over the extra-marital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.

The former four-star general has said his resignation was solely because of the affair and that he did not give classified information to Broadwell.

Barnett has been a partner at Williams & Connolly in Washington for 34 years, according to a biography of him posted on the firm's website. In that time, he has built an unconventional practice representing best-selling authors, political leaders, television news correspondents and other high-profile clients.

Power company restarts a quarter of NJ plants hit by Sandy

Reuters

New Jersey power company Public Service Enterprise Group Inc (PSEG) said Monday it has restarted about of a quarter of its power plants in New Jersey that were knocked offline by Hurricane Sandy, which hit the U.S. East Coast three weeks ago.

"Hurricane Sandy caused damage to some of our generation sites in northern N.J. Since the storm hit, we have made great progress around restoration," PSEG spokeswoman Nancy Tucker told Reuters in an e-mail.

U.S. soldier enters no plea in 2009 Iraq shootings

Reuters

A U.S. soldier accused of killing five fellow servicemen at a military combat stress center in Baghdad in 2009 entered no plea at an arraignment on Monday at a military base in Washington state.

Sergeant John Russell is accused of going on a shooting spree at Camp Liberty, near the Baghdad airport, in an assault the military said at the time could have been triggered by combat stress.

Twinkies not dead yet, judge tries to save Hostess jobs

Reuters

Hostess Twinkies

Hostess Brands Inc agreed in court on Monday to enter private mediation with its lenders and leaders of a striking union to try to avert the liquidation of the maker of Twinkies snack cakes and Wonder Bread.

Hostess, its lenders and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) agreed to mediation at the urging of Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain of the Southern District of New York, who advised against a more expensive, public hearing regarding the company's liquidation.

"My desire to do this is prompted primarily by the potential loss of over 18,000 jobs as well as my belief that there is a possibility to resolve this matter," Drain said.

The 82-year-old Hostess was seeking permission to liquidate its business, claiming that its operations have been crippled by a bakers strike and that winding down is the best way to preserve its dwindling cash. Hostess suspended operations at all of its 33 plants across the United States last week as it moved to start selling assets.

Super-rich flight from California? Not so fast

Reuters

Warnings that a new millionaires' tax would send California's wealthy stampeding for the state line began before the results were final. But the super-rich may well stand their ground.

"Anyone know a good realtor in Incline Village?" Aaron McLear, the spokesman for California's anti-tax campaign, tweeted early the morning of November 7 as the votes against his cause streamed in. Nevada's Incline Village shares mountain Lake Tahoe with California, and has no income tax.

California's vote raised its top rate by 3 percentage points to 13.3 percent, easily the highest in the nation, drawing howls of protests from critics who doubt the taxes will be well spent and who fear a Democratic supermajority will wreak further havoc. "At least Californians can still escape to Nevada or Idaho," a Wall Street Journal editorial concluded.

It's too early to look for signs of an exodus. But if history in California and New Jersey, another state with high taxes and its share of multi-millionaires, is any guide there won't be a run for the exits.

At high-end Incline Village real estate broker Chase International, a short hop from San Francisco into Nevada, the phones have not been ringing off the hooks, said realtor Shari Chase.

US home sales continue to rise

BBC

Sales of previously-owned homes in the US rose by more than expected in October, a report suggests, a sign that confidence is returning to the economy.

Sales rose by 2.1% on the previous month to an annual rate of 4.79 million, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said.

Compared with a year earlier, sales rose by 11%.

A separate report suggested confidence among US house builders hit a six-year high in the month.

An improving jobs market and low interest rates are helping to support the housing market.

"Home sales continue to trend up and most October transactions were completed by the time [superstorm Sandy] hit, but the growing demand with limited inventory is pressuring home prices in much of the country," said NAR economist Lawrence Yun.

The average price of a home rose to $178,600 (£112,240) in October.

The Triumph (and Challenge) of Climate Math

Bloomberg

A nerd hasn't been this popular since, well, ever. Nate Silver, the creator of the election poll statistical hub FiveThirtyEight was declared the clear winner in the presidential election. And on Fox News, election math was at the center of one of the most bizarre on-air moments in memory.

The numbers discussion then seeped over from polls to other politically charged topics such as climate change. David Frum, President George W. Bush's speechwriter, tweeted this gem: "Horrible possibility: if the geeks are right about Ohio, might they also be right about climate?"

This awakening about the math (and physics) of climate change has coincided with climate activist Bill McKibben's "Do the Math" tour, an awareness-raising series of events criss-crossing the country this month. The tour was inspired by McKibben's incredible essay in Rolling Stone magazine, "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math."

Science and Technology News

What's The Big Idea? Pentagon Agency Backs Student Tinkerers To Find Out

All Tech Considered
NPR

Students Blake Jamar (from left), Ryan Clifton and Gregory Gonzales take apart a bicycle that generates electricity at Analy High School in Sebastopol, Calif.
Analy High School students, Sebastopol, CA
At Analy High School in Sebastopol, Calif., three students are taking apart a bicycle that generates electricity. Another student is calibrating a laser cutter. They're all working in a cavernous building that once held the school's metal and electronics shop. Let's just say it has been updated.

"I'm thinking that I might make a quadrocopter and a tremolo. It's a type of guitar thing that uses light to change the volume. And a few other things; we'll see," says Gabe Cook-Spillane, a senior at Analy High.

A quadrocopter is a small, battery-powered drone that is hugely popular at hackerspaces. These are democratically run work spaces, usually supported by dues, where crafters, builders and computer geeks share tools. They can make robots, modify bicycles, or even knit.

The Universe is Almost Done Making Stars

Popular Science

Globular cluster
Globular Cluster
In its youth, the universe was a roiling soup of star ingredients, with new stars forming rapidly. But now it’s much quieter, and things are not expected to get more exciting anytime soon, astronomers say. For the first time, astronomers have figured out the universe's star-birth rate, and found that today, it's 30 times lower than its likely peak some 11 billion years ago. As a result, all of the future stars may be no more than a 5 percent increase above what we’ve got now.

Astronomers figured this out by taking snapshots of the universe at 2, 4, 6 and 9 billion years of age. (It’s 13.7 billion years old now.) The results show a clear decline in star-forming activity. A team led by David Sobral at Leiden Observatory studied the universe’s hydrogen-alpha emission line, which is a reliable indicator of star formation. They used Japan's Subaru Telescope and the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, and the Very Large Telescope in Chile, covering a huge portion of the sky.

Communities in California Are Plagued by Contaminated Drinking Water

Sci Tech Daily

Impoverished agricultural communities in Central Valley, California have been plagued for decades by contaminated drinking water.

This is the result of more than five decades in which chemical fertilizers, animal wastes, pesticides and other substances have infiltrated aquifers, seeping into the groundwater and eventually into the tap. 20% of public water systems in Tulare County are unable to meet safe nitrate levels, according to a United Nations representative.

Farmworker communities like Seville, population 300, are places with rusty rural mailboxes, backyard roosters and an average yearly income is $14,000. Residents here pay double for water. For the tap water they use to shower and wash clothes and for the five-gallon bottles they must buy to drink, cook, and brush their teeth. Schools budget $100 to $500 a month for bottled water.

In Tulare County, one of the US leading dairy producers, animal waste lagoons penetrate the air and soil. A UC Davis study estimated that 254,000 people a year in the Tulare Basin and Salinas Valley, prime agricultural regions with about 2.6 million inhabitants, are at risk for nitrate contamination of their drinking water. These nitrates are linked to thyroid disease and make infants susceptible to fatal conditions that interfere with the blood’s capacity to carry oxygen.

Ranchers in the USA Are Struggling to Adapt to Climate Change

Sci Tech Daily

In Boulder, Colorado, local cattle have developed immunity against the poisonous larkspur flowers that grow amongst the more edible grasses, making decisions to sell cattle a tough one. A rancher culling a herd he can’t afford to feed faces a problem restocking once economics improve, the replacements may die if they binge on the larkspur.

Replacement cattle will cost ranchers more per head as the price rises from the rock-bottom lows. The drought has made many cattle operations untenable since it has pressured ranchers to sell breeding cattle, take on more debt, or seek supplemental work off the farm. In Texas, many ranchers liquidated whole ranches.

The drought has killed off much of the natural forage on grazing pastures, forcing ranchers to buy hay, straw, and soybean supplements. Many ranchers are struggling to adapt to the new reality of climate change, or make themselves more resilient to the upcoming vicissitudes.

In a survey conducted last year in Colorado, one-quarter of respondents said they would likely leave the industry if the drought persisted into this year. The number was higher, 36%, among ranching operations that included livestock and irrigated farming. Some ranchers are retiring early, selling off their ranches, or leasing them, though not in noticeably large numbers.

Australian scientists find excess greenhouse gas near fracking

Phys.Org

Environmental researchers have detected excess greenhouse gas levels near the site of Australia's biggest coal seam gas field, prompting calls for halting expansion of hydraulic fracturing until scientists can determine whether it might be contributing to climate change.

The reported findings of methane, carbon dioxide and other compounds at more than three times normal background levels have stirred new controversy in eastern Australia over the pros and cons of boosting natural gas output by "fracking," a process that blasts sand, water and chemicals into deep underground wells. Researchers from Southern Cross University took mobile air testing equipment to the Tara gas field near Condamine in Queensland to measure the ambient gas content. They found more than three times the level of toxic gases than expected, based on the industry's claim that leakage from the wellheads is "negligible."

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