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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.

5 Things We Should Be Talking About Instead Of Pseudo-Scandals

by Joe Miller

So, apparently the IRS has illegally investigated the tax-exempt status of AP reporters who were calling Tea Party groups in Benghazi. Or something like that. It’s been a little hard to decipher my Twitter stream of late.
What’s much clearer is that Washington’s latest round of Much Ado About Nothing scandal-mongering has come at the perfect time to distract us from several important issues that were starting to gain some traction.
Here are five things we should be talking about right now, but aren’t.


Only abortion clinic in North Dakota seeks to combat law to close it down

By Paul Harris

Lawyers for the only abortion clinic in North Dakota launched a legal bid on Wednesday to try and combat a new law that critics say is aimed at closing it down and leaving the state without any abortion providers.
The law is one of a raft of anti-abortion measures due to take effect in North Dakota that have already made it one of the most hostile states in the US for abortion. The rule mandates that all doctors performing abortions must have admitting privileges in a local hospital – something difficult to do as generally they come from out of state.
The only abortion centre in North Dakota is the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo and the court bid is being brought on its behalf by the Center for Reproductive Rights. “We are going to ensure that women’s rights are protected with the full force of the law. And we are going to keep the full range of reproductive


5 Ways Data Will Transform Global Agriculture

By Jesse Hirsch

The G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture finished up yesterday, a two-day celebration of data transparency. High-profile speakers like Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Bill Gates (virtually present) were on-hand to usher in a “new, open era” in ag data.
But the event was more than empty platitudes and promise of a golden age. Conceptually, the conference was seen as a powerful response to the secrecy shrouding agriculture in China and some large agriculture companies (Cargill, ADM). And practically, attendees witnessed myriad ways that open data is reshaping global farming and food security.
Here are five great examples:


Mysterious Poop Foam Causes Explosions on Hog Farms

By Tom Philpott

When you hear about foam in the context of food, you might think of molecular gastronomy, the culinary innovations of the Spanish chef Ferran Adrià, who's famous for dishes like apple caviar with banana foam.
But this post is about a much less appetizing kind of foam. You see, starting in about 2009, in the pits that capture manure under factory-scale hog farms, a gray, bubbly substance began appearing at the surface of the fecal soup. The problem is menacing: As manure breaks down, it emits toxic gases like hydrogen sulfide and flammable ones like methane, and trapping these noxious fumes under a layer of foam can lead to sudden, disastrous releases and even explosions. According to a 2012 report from the University of Minnesota, by September 2011, the foam had "caused about a half-dozen explosions in the upper Midwest…one explosion destroyed a barn on a farm in northern Iowa, killing 1,500 pigs and severely burning the worker involved."
And the foam grows to a thickness of up to four feet—check out these images, from a University of Minnesota document published by the Iowa Pork Producers, showing a vile-looking substance seeping up from between the slats that form the floor of a hog barn. Those slats are designed to allow hog waste to drop down into the below-ground pits; it is alarming to see it bubbling back up in the form of a substance the consistency of beaten egg whites.


Immigrant Activists Deliver Pink Slips To Heritage’s Jim DeMint

By Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

On Wednesday, a group of immigrant activists jointly organized by the Center for Community Change and Fair Immigration Reform Movement demanded former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) to resign as president of the Heritage Foundation. DeMint was an enthusiastic leader at the forefront of a flawed immigration study co-authored by Jason Richwine who argued that Hispanics have lower genetic IQ in his doctoral thesis.
While conservatives leaders and organizations have roundly criticized the Heritage study, Jim DeMint has not said anything about the controversial former employee. The activists take DeMint’s silence as a sign of his solidarity with Richwine’s racially tinged history. Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change stated in an interview with Chris Hayes, “the issue is that [Richwine] was hired knowingly by Heritage with these views way out of the mainstream by the pillar institution of modern Conservatism in America.”
Carrying pink slips and a banner, the activists approached DeMint as he exited the Heritage Foundation, but he quickly slipped back in through another door. As they stacked pink slips in front of the doors of the Heritage Foundation, they shouted “Jim DeMint Has Got to Go!”


National Weather Service gets big computing boost

By Tom Brown



The U.S. National Weather Service is getting a quantum jump in computing power that will significantly improve its forecasting and storm tracking abilities to better protect the country from severe weather.
"This is a game changer," Louis Uccellini, who took over as director of the National Weather Service in February, told Reuters in an interview, calling it "the biggest increase in operational capacity that we've ever had."
The Weather Services' global and national weather prediction efforts have long been hampered by aging technology and a lack of computer power to support day-to-day operations. But Uccellini said that was all due to change through upgrades of its IBM system that will give it more than 25 times the computer power it has today.


LA Schools Throw Out Suspensions For 'Willful Defiance'

by Nathan Rott


School suspensions are a big issue in California. Last year, schools handed out 700,000 of them. But the Los Angeles Unified School District took a step to change that this week when it voted to ban suspension of students deemed "willfully defiant."
Before the vote, the district maintained a zero tolerance policy for students who failed to comply, in any way, with any policy or direction given by teachers or school administrators — covering everything from mouthing off to wearing baggy pants. These suspensions accounted for almost half of those handed down in the state last year.
High school senior Joshua Ham has experienced one of those suspensions firsthand. Checking his grades with less than a month to go until graduation, he sees mostly B's and A's. But he also confesses to being "very active as far as talking in the classroom — you know, the class clown."


Two Saudi nurses infected with deadly coronavirus: WHO

By Agence France-Presse

Two Saudi health workers have contracted the deadly coronavirus from patients, marking the first evidence of transmission in a hospital setting, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.
“This is the first time health care workers have been diagnosed with nCoV (novel coronavirus) infection after exposure to patients,” the WHO said in a statement.
The two health care workers were among six new cases announced by the Saudi health ministry on Tuesday.


U.N. condemns Assad forces, but unease grows about rebels

By Michelle Nichols and Louis Charbonneau

The U.N. General Assembly condemned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces and praised the opposition on Wednesday, but a decline in support for the resolution suggested growing unease about extremism among Syria's fractious rebels.
While the non-binding text has no legal force, resolutions of the 193-nation assembly can carry significant moral and political weight. There were 107 votes in favor, 12 against and 59 abstentions - a drop in support compared with a resolution condemning the Syrian government that passed in August with 133 votes in favor, 12 against and 31 abstentions.
U.N. diplomats cited concerns that Syria could be headed for "regime change" engineered by foreign governments and fears about a strengthening Islamist extremist element among the rebels as reasons for the decline in support for the resolution.


The Three Heroines of Guatemala: The Judge, the Attorney General and the Nobel Peace Laureate

By Amy Goodman

Former Guatemalan President Efrain Rios Montt was hauled off to prison last Friday. It was a historic moment, the first time in history that a former leader of a country was tried for genocide in a national court. More than three decades after he seized power in a coup in Guatemala, unleashing a U.S.-backed campaign of slaughter against his own people, the 86-year-old stood trial, charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. He was given an 80-year prison sentence. The case was inspired and pursued by three brave Guatemalan women: the judge, the attorney general and the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
“My brother Patrocinio was burnt to death in the Ixil region. We never found his remains,” Rigoberta Menchu told me after Rios Montt’s verdict was announced. She detailed the systematic slaughter of her family: “As for my mother, we never found her remains, either. ... If her remains weren’t eaten by wild animals after having been tortured brutally and humiliated, then her remains are probably in a mass grave close to the Ixil region. ... My father was also burned alive in the embassy of Spain [in Guatemala City] on January 30th, 1980.”
Rigoberta Menchu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, “in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples.” She continued telling me about her family’s destruction: “In 1983, my brother Victor Menchu was also shot dead. His wife had her throat slit, and he was fleeing with his three children. Victor was jailed in the little town, but his three children were kept in a military bunker. My two nieces died of hunger in this military base, and my brother Victor was shot. We still have not found his remains.”


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