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Overnight News Digest, aka OND, is a community feature here at Daily Kos. Each editor selects news stories on a wide range of topics.

The OND community was founded by Magnifico.

Biden says Obama could use executive orders to restrict guns
By John Whitesides and Mark Felsenthal

Vice President Joe Biden said on Wednesday the White House is determined to act quickly to curb gun violence and will explore all avenues - including executive orders that would not require approval by Congress - to try to prevent incidents like last month's massacre at a Connecticut school.
Kicking off a series of meetings on gun violence, Biden said the administration would work with gun-control advocates and gun-rights supporters to build a consensus on restrictions. But he made clear that President Barack Obama is prepared to act on his own if necessary.
"We are not going to get caught up in the notion that unless we can do everything, we're going to do nothing. It's critically important that we act," said Biden, who will meet on Thursday with pro-gun groups including the National Rifle Association, which claims 4 million members and is the gun lobby's most powerful organization.

White House defends its record of women in leadership positions

By Ali Weinberg

A photo of President Barack Obama meeting with his nearly all-male staff – a barely visible Valerie Jarrett being the exception -- to discuss fiscal cliff negotiations prompted questions at Wednesday's White House briefing about the number of high-level women in his administration.
The issue has gained relevance recently as news unfolded that the president would appoint men to all of the highest-profile cabinet positions (State, Defense and Treasury), even as some women were in the running. The number of women senior staff shrank even further Wednesday with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announcing her resignation.
Responding to a question from NBC’s Chuck Todd about whether the picture “embarrassed” President Obama, press secretary Jay Carney immediately listed the names of women in the administration.

Rescued Boy Huddled With His Dogs For Warmth

Ryan Richardson

A frantic search for a missing six-year-old boy in Seneca, Mo. ended in relief when deputies discovered the boy huddled under a bush with his two dogs for warmth.
As temperatures plunged into the low 20s, Ryle Smith was discovered  about a mile from the family house with Baxter, a large Boxer, and Bella, a Labrador mix lying on top of the boy keeping him warm.
“He was wearing no socks or shoes,” Ryle’s mother Holly told ABC News. “His feet were so cold that it was the early stages of frostbite, he hadn’t eaten dinner, he was exhausted and hungry.”

Deadly flu prompts public health emergency in Boston
By Christine McConville

Mayor Thomas M. Menino has declared a public health emergency due to the deadly flu outbreak, which officials revealed today has killed 18 Bay Staters so far.
The edict comes after hours after the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported the death toll. At least four of the victims were from Boston, the Boston Public Health Commission’s Nick Martin told the Herald.
“We’re seeing a significant increase in sickness and severity,” Martin said.
In Boston, this year’s influenza death rate is already four times higher than last year’s toll.


Who gave you the flu? New app, docs help place the blame

By JoNel Aleccia, Staff Writer, NBC News

Was it your friend who borrowed your cell phone because the battery in hers was low? Or was it your son’s friend who always has a runny nose? How about your annoying colleague who you just KNOW doesn’t wash his hands after he blows his nose?
When it comes to getting the flu, few can keep from playing the blame game, especially during a nasty season like this, in which the influenza bug arrived early, spread widely and seems to be staying for a long, miserable visit.

Was it your friend who borrowed your cell phone because the battery in hers was low? Or was it your son’s friend who always has a runny nose? How about your annoying colleague who you just KNOW doesn’t wash his hands after he blows his nose?
When it comes to getting the flu, few can keep from playing the blame game, especially during a nasty season like this, in which the influenza bug arrived early, spread widely and seems to be staying for a long, miserable visit.


Judge Sentences Drunken Driver to View Bodies of Car Crash Victims

By KEVIN DOLAK

A northeast Ohio judge known for doling out unusual sentences has told a drunken driving offender that he could avoid jail by viewing the corpses of two car crash victims.
On Tuesday Jonathan Tarase, 27, entered a plea of no contest to the charge of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, stemming from an OVI arrest in Lake County, Ohio, last Oct. 14. In addition to paying a $600 fine and having his driver's license suspended, Tarase can avoid jail if he accepts the judge's sentence to view bodies.
Because Tarase was a first time offender, Judge Mike Cicconetti suspended 60 days of his 65-day sentence. In addition to allowing Tarase to spend three days at a driver intervention program rather than behind bars, Cicconetti ruled that the two remaining days could be spent "on call" to view driving fatalities.

White House Responds to Petition Demanding Deportation of Piers Morgan

By Daniel Politi

Just what Piers Morgan needed. More publicity. The CNN talk show host who has somehow managed to go from someone embroiled in London’s massive phone hacking and bribery scandal—he denies any involvement—to a top advocate for gun control and a central figure in the debate that sprang up after the Sandy Hook massacre, officially won’t have to worry that President Obama will kick him out of the country. The White House has released its official response to the petition to deport Morgan for “attacking the Second Amendment.”  The White House says it responds to all “We the People” petitions that get 25,000 signatures within 30 days. The petition to deport Morgan, created by talk radio host Alex Jones, received more than 100,000 signatures, notes Politico.
“Let’s not let arguments over the Constitution’s Second Amendment violate the spirit of its First,” is how White House spokesman Jay Carney begins the response. Although the Constitution guarantees an individual right to bear arms, it “also enshrines the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press—fundamental principles that are essential to our democracy.”

DNA pioneer James Watson takes aim at "cancer establishments"

By Sharon Begley

A day after an exhaustive national report on cancer found the United States is making only slow progress against the disease, one of the country's most iconic - and iconoclastic - scientists weighed in on "the war against cancer." And he does not like what he sees.
James Watson, co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA, lit into targets large and small. On government officials who oversee cancer research, he wrote in a paper published on Tuesday in the journal Open Biology, "We now have no general of influence, much less power ... leading our country's War on Cancer."
On the $100 million U.S. project to determine the DNA changes that drive nine forms of cancer: It is "not likely to produce the truly breakthrough drugs that we now so desperately need," Watson argued. On the idea that antioxidants such as those in colorful berries fight cancer: "The time has come to seriously ask whether antioxidant use much more likely causes than prevents cancer."

Giant squid filmed in ocean depths for 1st time

MALCOLM FOSTER

After a hundred dives deep into the Pacific, scientists and broadcasters say they have captured video images of a giant squid in its natural habitat deep in the ocean for the first time.
The three-meter (nine-foot) invertebrate was filmed from a manned submersible during one of 100 dives in the Pacific last summer in a joint expedition by Japanese public broadcaster NHK, Discovery Channel and Japan's National Museum of Nature and Science.
NHK released photographs of the giant squid this week ahead of Sunday's show about the encounter. The Discovery Channel will air its program on Jan. 27.

'Smart' potty or dumb idea? Wacky CES gadgets

BARBARA ORTUTAY, RYAN NAKASHIMA

From the iPotty for toddlers to the 1,600-pound mechanical spider and the host of glitch-ridden "smart" TVs, the International CES show is a forum for gadget makers to take big — and bizarre — chances.
Many of the prototypes introduced at the annual gadget show over the years have failed in the marketplace. But the innovators who shop their wares here are fearless when it comes to pitching new gizmos, many of which are designed to solve problems you didn't know you had.
A search for this year's strangest (and perhaps least useful) electronic devices yielded an extra-loud pair of headphones from a metal band, an eye-sensing TV that didn't work as intended and more.

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