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OND is a community feature  on Daily Kos, consisting of news stories from around the world, sometimes coupled with a daily theme, original research or commentary.  Editors of OND impart their own presentation styles and content choices, typically publishing each day near 12:00AM Eastern Time.

OND Editors consist of founder Magnifico, regular editors jlms qkw, maggiejean, wader, Oke, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir, BentLiberal and ScottyUrb, guest editor annetteboardman, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent.   We invited our readers to comment & share other news.

CONFLICT

Between Syria's Fronts: A Two-Year Travelogue from Hell

Night falls quickly in Syria, as the overloaded pickup trucks carrying stray refugee families emerge through the mist. The headlight beams from our car fall over destroyed houses on our drive through olive groves and abandoned towns. Campfires can occasionally be seen in the distance.

We've driven along this road once before, in April 2012, which these days seems like an eternity ago. At the time, there was still electricity here, and people still lived in Taftanas, Sarmin, Kurin and other villages in Idlib Province, in northern Syria. But now, in December 2012, entire villages are empty and pockmarked with bullet holes, their residents having fled from airstrikes, hunger and frigid temperatures.

After a while, we reach a village where residents did not openly demonstrate against Syrian dictator Bashar Assad in the past. As a result, they still have electricity today. A man opens a door, shivering as he looks out at the damp, cold landscape. "Thank God for this weather!" he says wryly. It's been raining for days, and everything seems immersed in fog and mud. But the fog is also a deterrent against aircraft and helicopters, sparing the area the usual bombardment for a few days and providing a moment of calm in the midst of the apocalypse.

Today, Syria is a devastated country. The cities have turned into battlefields, and in the places from which the Assad regime's troops and militias were forced to withdraw, its air force is now incinerating the infrastructure.

SA to send 400 troops to Central African Republic
On Sunday a statement was issued saying the soldiers would go to the country "to render support in fulfilment of an international obligation of the Republic of South Africa towards the [country]".

The statement said the SANDF troops' employment period would be between January 2 2013 and March 31 2018.

"The employed members of the SANDF will assist with capacity building of the [Central African Republic] Defence Force and will also assist CAR with the planning and implementation of the disarmament, demobilisation and re integration processes," the statement added.

"The employment of members of the SANDF to [country] is one of the efforts that South Africa is making to bring about peace and stability in the region."

The South African troops are arriving much more quickly than the UN troops will.  Which might be a good thing.

US strikes 'Taliban compound' in Pakistan

At least 16 people have been killed and several others wounded in a US drone strike against a suspected Taliban compound in Pakistan's South Waziristan region, according to Al Jazeera's Islamabad bureau.

About eight to 10 missiles were reportedly fired hitting three different targets including a compound in Babar Zariat, a border village between North and South Waziristan.

More fighters were believed to be in the locations when they were hit on Sunday, meaning the death toll may rise, according to the Reuters news agency.

The compounds were believed to house fighters belonging to the Punjabi Taliban, a group with close links to al-Qaeda,
intelligence officials said.

INTERNATIONAL

Rs 20 crore meant for night shelters in Delhi siphoned off

For over 20 years almost Rs 20 crore earmarked for building night shelters and to provide other welfare assistance to the national Capital's poor and homeless was siphoned off with impunity. And when the scam was busted, there seems to have been an organized bid to shelter the guilty.

In an order issued during one of the coldest days here in living memory, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has asked the CBI to begin an investigation into the racket that has deprived the city's poor of several night shelters. It has also recommended major penalty proceedings, including possible dismissal from service, against 28 Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) officials.

Delhi has only 150 shelters, providing respite to a paltry 7,500 homeless people. The city has more than three lakh homeless poor, and a heated shelter could well determine if they get to live for another day.

The appalling fraud has been in the works for almost 20 years. According to sources, between 1990 and 2010 Rs 19.44 crore earmarked for the DUSIB was siphoned off. Initially, it was blamed on Purushottam Kumar, who rose through the ranks to become an assistant director.

Fraud against homeless shelter funds.  Great.  /snark

Feydhoo's 15 year old mother charged with fornication in another case

An official of the Prosecutor General’s Office stated that the 15 year old claimed by the islanders to be sexually molested is being charged with fornication over another case. However the official did not give further details but added that the case has been forwarded to the Juvenile Court.

While the mother and step-father of the 15 year old are being charged with the deliberate murder of the baby, they are also facing other charges. In this regard, the man is facing charges of possession of pornography and sexually abusing a minor. The mother faces charges of concealing a crime.

Steubenville, India, Maldives - violence against women and girls.  All cultures, all times.

Committee to Protect Journalists
Indian police to charge broadcaster for rape interview

In an interview with Zee News broadcast today, the man, using an alias, spoke of the brutality of the crime as well as the ineptitude of the police response to the victims, who were dumped by a roadside. Zee's interviewer referred to the man as Abhimanyu, comparing him to the hero from the Hindu epic Mahabharata.  Police said Zee would still be charged under laws pertaining to disclosure of identity in a rape case, local media reported.

New Delhi police said they would charge the broadcaster under section 228(A) of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with the disclosure of identity of victims of certain crimes, including rape, according to The New York Times. A conviction could carry a penalty of up to two years in jail, local media reported.

Many still unaccounted for in Australia fires: police

Australian police said many people remained unaccounted for by Monday but no deaths had yet been recorded in fire-ravaged Tasmania state, as the rest of the nation braced for a dangerous heatwave.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard toured the shaken southern island, where more than 100 homes were razed in catastrophic heat and wind conditions by fast-moving blazes that continued to burn across the state.

Tasmanian police said they had searched 245 properties in the worst-hit areas by Monday morning including 90 badly damaged or destroyed buildings.  "The preliminary screening search has discovered no deceased people at this stage," police said.

About 100 people were reported missing following the fires and police said many people remain unaccounted for, although they cautioned that cross-referencing of almost 2,000 evacuees was continuing.

Four years ago, Victoria burned, especially in Marysville.  

Turkey, Sweden, & Brazil

urkey, Sweden and Brazil have established the Trilateral Solidarity for Building Peace, a new consultation mechanism to seek solutions to international challenges.

Following their first meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2012, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota met in İzmir on Jan. 5 at the Fifth Annual Ambassadors’ Conference.

Speaking at a joint press conference, Davutoğlu said although Turkey, Sweden and Brazil were not geographically close, the three countries shared similar perspectives on international policy.

DOMESTIC

 Split opinion on SF parklet made of van

San Francisco's fast-growing parklet program is unusual not simply for its popularity - 38 snug public spaces and counting - but the ease with which it has expanded across the city.

Until now.

The rough patch in question is at the corner of Filbert and Fillmore streets in the Marina district. Where two metered parking spaces existed until November, a 21-foot-long platform with seating now straddles the severed front and rear of a small gray Citroen van.

Passers-by enjoy the nook, which includes a raised carriage-like seating area. But the neighborhood supervisor doesn't like the design, and the fact that the parklet was installed without a permit puts its future in doubt.

Maybe NYC needs some parklets.  Maybe Des Moines, too.  Heck, I want one.  ;-)

Guns, medical marijuana drop off as pension fix search continues

With time running short in the lame-duck session, state lawmakers on Sunday dropped hot-button issues dealing with guns and marijuana but kept alive hopes of reforming pensions and giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

The slimmed-down agenda unfolded rapidly as the House, returning to the Capitol for the first time in a month, pulled an assault weapons ban from consideration and the sponsor of legislation to allow Illinoisans to use marijuana for medical purposes said the chances of quick passage is unlikely.

The spotlight on whether Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and legislators can come together on financial changes to the state's $96.8 billion government worker pension debt intensified Sunday. House Republican leader Tom Cross of Oswego signed onto a plan offered by two House Democrats and urged GOP members to support it.

Illinois legislature is in a lame-duck session.  Isn't there something for Equal Marriage going on too?

Columbia Journalism Review, David H. Freedman
‘Survival of the wrongest’

What’s going on? The problem is not, as many would reflexively assume, the sloppiness of poorly trained science writers looking for sensational headlines, and ignoring scientific evidence in the process. Many of these articles were written by celebrated health-science journalists and published in respected magazines and newspapers; their arguments were backed up with what appears to be solid, balanced reporting and the careful citing of published scientific findings.

But personal-health journalists have fallen into a trap. Even while following what are considered the guidelines of good science reporting, they still manage to write articles that grossly mislead the public, often in ways that can lead to poor health decisions with catastrophic consequences. Blame a combination of the special nature of health advice, serious challenges in medical research, and the failure of science journalism to scrutinize the research it covers.

Personal-health coverage began to move to the fore in the late 1980s, in line with the media’s growing emphasis on “news you can use.” That increased attention to personal health ate into coverage of not only other science, but also of broader healthcare issues. A 2009 survey of members of the Association of Health Care Journalists found that more than half say “there is too much coverage of consumer or lifestyle health,” and more than two-thirds say there isn’t enough coverage of health policy, healthcare quality, and health disparities. The author of a report based on that survey, Gary Schwitzer, a former University of Minnesota journalism researcher and now publisher of healthcare-journalism watchdog HealthNewsReview.org, also conducted a study in 2008 of 500 health-related stories published over a 22-month period in large newspapers. The results suggested that not only has personal-health coverage become invasively and inappropriately ubiquitous, it is of generally questionable quality, with about two-thirds of the articles found to have major flaws. The errors included exaggerating the prevalence and ravages of a disorder, ignoring potential side effects and other downsides to treatments, and failing to discuss alternative treatment options. In the survey, 44 percent of the 256 staff journalists who responded said that their organizations at times base stories almost entirely on press releases. Studies by other researchers have come to similar conclusions.

Thoughtful consumers with even a modest knowledge of health and medicine can discern at a glance that they are bombarded by superficial and sometimes misleading “news” of fad diets, miracle supplements, vaccine scares, and other exotic claims that are short on science, as well as endlessly recycled everyday advice, such as being sure to slather on sun protection. But often, even articles written by very good journalists, based on thorough reporting and highly credible sources, take stances that directly contradict those of other credible-seeming articles.

Anchorage Daily News:  Shannyn Moore
Shell's Money Play
Royal Dutch Shell's Alaska operations could have used a dose of "local knowledge" to prevent their latest debacle: the grounding of the oil rig Kulluk. That phrase, "local knowledge," should ring a bell for Shell. The company was the one of the largest contributors to a group opposing the restoration of Alaska's Coastal Zone Management program.

Why did Shell spend so much money to keep coastal Alaskans away from the table? Don't they value the experience of local people along the Beaufort and Chukchi coasts? Oh, that's right. When you're drilling in their back yards, you only want silent partners.

Here's the scoop, geniuses. Local knowledge might have helped you figure out that shipping out of Dutch Harbor with only one, largely untested tug, IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER, wasn't a good idea. When the Deadliest Catch boats are still tied to the dock, maybe you should ask why.

There are additional tidbits later in the column

UTAH

Rolly: Here are the Utah-friendly changes to ‘All Shook Up’

Well, when all is said and done, no Elvis Presley song will be axed from the Herriman High School play to satisfy the self-appointed censors in our pretty, great state.

I have learned the offensive song among the 23 Elvis Presley tunes that will be performed in "All Shook Up" is "A Little Less Conversation."

And to make everyone happy, one line of the song is being changed, with permission from the copyright holders.

Instead of the lyrics: "Baby, satisfy me, baby, satisfy me," the student actor will sing: "Baby, hold me, baby hold me."

Utah Air Quality: Current Conditions

OTHER

Blog Entry, Amanda Palmer
on internet hatred: please inquire within

i typed “hate a…” into google. i was going to type “hate amanda palmer” into the rest of the field to see what came up, but google auto-filled for me. it auto-filled “amanda todd”.

“who is amanda todd?” i thought.
probably an actress. or a teen celebrity girlfriend of justin bieber.
these are the types people who people typically like hating.

i googled her name to find out what kind of celebrity she was.

she’s not a celebrity. well. she is now.
this is she.
. . . . .
i know…you can choose not to look, but i keep learning: the hate lives where the love lives.

oldest story in the book: same coin.

how do we run around on the vast field of the internet without being crippled and disfigured by the landmines of hatred that are waiting under every shrub, while still managing to sow the seeds of love, art and awesomeness that blossom ever-greenly?

please inquire within.

then hit me in the comments.

love in the new year,

Guantánamo by the Numbers [Infographic]

More Proof That History Isn’t Made Up Solely Of Old, Straight, White Men (more infographicness)

China, Comparatively (even MOAR infographicness)

Any news out there?  I'm out of time.  

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