Welcome to the Overnight News Digest

     (graphic by palantir)

The OND is published each night around midnight, Eastern Time.

The originator of OND was Magnifico.

Current Contributors are ScottyUrb, Bentliberal, wader, Oke, rfall, JML9999 and NeonVincent who also serves as chief cat herder.

News and Headlines

Medicare back on the brink over cuts to doctors

(11-28) 08:59 PST WASHINGTON, (AP) --

Politicians of both parties outdo each other vying for the approval of seniors, but their inability to compromise on the federal budget has put Medicare in the crosshairs again.

Unless Congress acts before Jan. 1, doctors face a 27 percent cut in their fees for treating Medicare patients. That could undermine health care for millions of elderly and disabled beneficiaries.

Last year around the holidays doctors were looking at a cut of about 20 percent. It's become a recurring symbol of the government's budget dysfunction.

The cuts are the consequence of a 1990s budget law that failed to control spending but never got repealed

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/...

California '3 strikes': Proposed law tries to restore intent

Marisa Lagos, Chronicle Staff Writer

As California braces for more budget cuts and moves forward with a plan to reduce its prison population by 33,000 inmates, opponents of the state's "three strikes and you're out" law are preparing to ask voters to make major changes to the harsh sentencing mandate.

Supporters of a proposed ballot measure say it would narrow the three-strikes mandate to what voters wanted all along: a law that keeps murderers, rapists and child molesters in prison for life and doesn't leave low-level, nonviolent offenders languishing behind bars for decades.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/...

NYT: "Barney Frank, a Top Liberal, Won’t Seek Re-election"

Speaking from his district office here on Monday after announcing his plan to retire from the House of Representatives, Mr. Frank said he was tired of the scorching partisan battles that did not exist when he first won office three decades ago, tired of campaigning, which he detests, and, at 71, just plain tired.

“By the end of next year, I will have been doing this for 45 years with one six-month sabbatical,” Mr. Frank said in an interview, referring to his career in politics, which started as an aide to former Mayor Kevin White of Boston. “It’s been a privilege to fight for the quality of people’s lives, but I’m ready to put a little more quality into my own life.”

Earlier in the day, Mr. Frank announced at a news conference that he had decided to retire at the end of next year after his Massachusetts district was recently redrawn and it became clear that he would have to fight harder than he wanted for re-election.

BBC: Egypt post-Mubarak election continues with big turnout

The first elections in Egypt since former President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown are going into a second day with indications of a high turnout in Cairo and other big cities.

The first day of polling for a new parliament was mainly peaceful.

Voting was extended to cope with long queues and few security problems were reported.

Many protesters occupying Cairo's Tahrir Square have boycotted the vote.

There had been fears the vote might be delayed after deadly protests against the interim military rulers who replaced Mr Mubarak.

BBC: Schools and apprentices share in extra £39m stimulus

Funding to improve school buildings and create apprenticeships has been announced to help revive the economy.

The destination of a stimulus package worth nearly £39m was agreed as part of the Welsh government's budget deal with the Liberal Democrats.

Finance Minister Jane Hutt said it would help "generate immediate benefits" for the economy.


Labour and the Lib Dems announced a budget deal on Friday night, ending weeks of negotiations between ministers and opposition parties.

With 30 of the assembly's 60 seats, Labour needs the help of at least one other party to approve its spending plans.

Global Fund for Education Gathers Momentum
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 28, 2011 (IPS) - If the international community can successfully raise billions of dollars to fight deadly diseases, why not a similar fund to promote education, asks Gordon Brown, former British prime minister.

Speaking at the three-day World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) in Qatar early November, Brown made a strong case for the creation of a Global Fund for Education "in the same way that we have a global fund for health, that has made enormous advances in TB, HIV Aids, vaccinations, and, of course, in polio and malaria".

The proposal by Brown, a former British chancellor of the exchequer, has been gathering momentum at a time when the United Nations complains of a growing crisis in the educational sector - a shortage of over 6.1 million teachers in a world inhabited by nearly 800 million illiterate people, nearly two-thirds of them women.

Reuters via Arab News: New NASA rover to scout for life’s habitats on Mars

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida: A nuclear-powered rover as big as a compact car is set to begin a nine-month journey to Mars this weekend to learn if the planet is or ever was suitable for life.

The launch of NASA’s $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory aboard an unmanned United Space Alliance Atlas 5 rocket is set for 10:02 a.m. EST (1502 GMT) on Saturday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, located just south of the Kennedy Space Center.

The mission is the first since NASA’s 1970s-era Viking program to directly tackle the age-old question of whether there is life in the universe beyond Earth.

“This is the most complicated mission we have attempted on the surface of Mars,” Peter Theisinger, Mars Science Lab project manager with NASA prime contractor Lockheed Martin

NYT:Crisis in Europe Tightens Credit Across the Globe

Europe’s worsening sovereign debt crisis has spread beyond its banks and the spillover now threatens businesses on the Continent and around the world.

From global airlines and shipping giants to small manufacturers, all kinds of companies are feeling the strain as European banks pull back on lending in an effort to hoard capital and shore up their balance sheets.

The result is a credit squeeze for companies from Berlin to Beijing, edging the world economy toward another slump.

The deteriorating situation in the euro zone prompted the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Monday to project that the United States economy would grow at a 2 percent rate next year, down from a forecast of 3.1 percent growth in May. It also lowered its economic outlook for Europe and the rest of the world, and a credit contraction could exacerbate the slowdown.

BBC: OECD warns of European recession

The OECD has warned that the eurozone and UK could be entering a recession, and has cut its global growth forecast.

The OECD said the eurozone would shrink in the fourth quarter by 1%, and by 0.4% in the first quarter of 2012.

For the UK, the OECD's predictions are a 0.03% contraction this quarter, and a further 0.15% next.

Separately, Bank of England governor Mervyn King told a committee of MPs that growth would be "flat or close to zero" over the next six months.

He told the Treasury Select Committee that he had no yet read the OECD report, but warned: "The outlook for output growth in the near term is considerably weaker than even three months ago."

NYT: Software to Rate How Drastically Photos are Retouched

[F]eminist legislators in France, Britain and Norway ... want digitally altered photos to be labeled. In June, the American Medical Association adopted a policy on body image and advertising that urged advertisers and others to “discourage the altering of photographs in a manner that could promote unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image.”

Dr. (Hany) Farid (a professor of computer science and a digital forensics expert at Dartmouth)) said he became intrigued by the problem after reading about the photo-labeling proposals in Europe. Categorizing photos as either altered or not altered seemed too blunt an approach, he said.

Dr. Farid and Eric Kee, a Ph.D. student in computer science at Dartmouth, are proposing a software tool for measuring how much fashion and beauty photos have been altered, a 1-to-5 scale that distinguishes the infinitesimal from the fantastic. Their research is being published this week in a scholarly journal, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Their work is intended as a technological step to address concerns about the prevalence of highly idealized and digitally edited images in advertising and fashion magazines. Such images, research suggests, contribute to eating disorders and anxiety about body types, especially among young women.

BBC: Stalin's daughter Lana Peters dies in US of cancer

The only daughter of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin has died of colon cancer in a US care home, aged 85.

Svetlana Alliluyeva, also known as Lana Peters, passed away in the state of Wisconsin on 22 November, US officials have confirmed to BBC Russian.

Her defection from the Soviet Union in 1967 was a propaganda coup for the US. She wrote four books, including two best-selling memoirs.

Syria security forces 'commit crimes against humanity'

Syria's security forces have committed systematic "crimes against humanity" in their crackdown on anti-government protesters, a UN report says.

The study by an independent panel says civilians - including children - have been murdered, tortured and sexually assaulted.

Syria says it is fighting armed gangs. More than 3,500 people have reportedly died in the violence since March.

Meanwhile, Syria condemned the Arab League's imposition of sanctions.

The Hill: Senate approves adding National Guard chief to Joint Chiefs

An amendment that would add the National Guard chief to the Joint Chiefs of Staff was tacked onto the Defense authorization bill Monday evening.

The amendment, which was sponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), passed in the Senate on a voice vote.


Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey is opposed to adding the Guard chief. Dempsey, the vice chairman and the service chiefs testified at the Senate Armed Services committee earlier this month urging senators to vote against the plan.

Native American News

High Schooler First Not Allowed, Then Allowed, to Wear Eagle Feather in Graduation Cap

By Tanya Lee, indiancountrytoday
Graduation for Mykilee Driver   
The ACLU says wearing the feather is a First Amendment issue.
Photo Credit: Steve Lents/LentsPhotography.com.

The American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) states, “It shall be the policy of the United States to protect and preserve for American Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise…traditional religions…including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites.”

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees all citizens the free exercise of religion and freedom of speech.

Given all that, the answer to the question of whether a student may wear a sacred eagle feather in her cap at graduation seems obvious. But it’s not.

The school year was barely under way in Oregon’s Reynolds School District and Mykillie Driver, Assiniboine/Lakota Sioux, had already begun thinking ahead nine months to June 11, 2012, when she would become the first in her family to graduate from high school. Mykillie wanted to mark the culmination of so many years of hard work by wearing an eagle feather in her cap for the graduation ceremony.


Over the weekend at the intersection of Melrose and Fairfax in West Los Angeles, Harper's Magazine Contributing Editor and National Geographic photographer, Aaron Huey and prolific street artist of the Obama HOPE campaign image Shepard Fairey produced a 20x80-foot mural THE BLACK HILLS ARE NOT FOR SALE installation live before eager supporters.  


There was a Daryl Hannah sighting at the installation:

Facing Camera: Aaron Huey with Daryl Hannah at the installation.
Right: Kossack Navajo

For more information, see kossack navajo's pre-installation diary see here. For her post-installation diary, watch this space. - likely to be this Sunday afternoon.

Originally posted to Liberal Bent on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 09:30 PM PST.

Also republished by Overnight News Digest.

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