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Welcome to the Overnight News Digest with a crew consisting of founder Magnifico, current leader Neon Vincent, regular editors maggiejean, wader, Man Oh Man, side pocket, rfall, and JML9999. Alumni editors include (but not limited to) palantir, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, ek hornbeck, ScottyUrb, Interceptor7, BentLiberal, Oke and jlms qkw. The guest editor is annetteboardman.

Please feel free to share your articles and stories in the comments.

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Al Jazeera
 

US President Barack Obama welcomed the imminent start of talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but urged both sides to approach them with honesty.

"The most difficult work of these negotiations is ahead, and I am hopeful that both the Israelis and Palestinians will approach these talks in good faith," he said on Monday.

Obama thanked his own top diplomat, Secretary of State John Kerry, for organising the talks, which were to begin later Monday in Washington with an initial exchange between top negotiators.

"I am pleased that Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas have accepted Secretary Kerry's invitation to formally resume direct final status negotiations and have sent senior negotiating teams to Washington for the first round of meetings," Obama said.

Reuters
 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry named former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk as his main envoy in Israeli-Palestinian talks starting in Washington later on Monday and said he was seeking "reasonable compromises" in the tough negotiations.

"Going forward it is no secret this is a difficult process. If it were easy, it would have happened a long time ago," Kerry told reporters.

The Guardian
 

The US secretary of state John Kerry said on Monday that "tough" peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine will be overseen by a former US ambassador to Israel.

Kerry said that Martin Indyk, president Bill Clinton's ambassador to Israel, had a deep appreciation of the Middle East conflict and the "art" of US diplomacy in the region.

"He knows what has worked, and he knows what hasn't worked," said Kerry, with Indyk stood by his side. "And he knows how important it is to get this right."

Kerry was speaking at the state department just hours before hosting an opening dinner between the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Washington, for the start of two days of talks.

"Going forward, it is no secret that this is a difficult process – if it was easy it would have happened a long time ago," he said. "It's no secret therefore that many difficult choices therefore lie ahead for the negotiators, and for the leaders, and as we seek reasonable compromises on tough, complicated, emotional and symbolic issues."

He added: "I think 'reasonable compromises' has to be a keystone for all of this effort."

US NEWS

NPR
 

The largest solar power plant of its kind is about to turn on in California's Mojave Desert.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System will power about 140,000 homes and will be a boon to the state's renewable energy goals, but it was no slam dunk. Now, California is trying to bring conservationists and energy companies together to create a smoother path for future projects.

To get the best view of the Ivanpah solar project, you have to go up to the top of a 400-foot concrete tower. Below, close to 200,000 mirrors shimmer across a dry, dusty valley.

"It's very exciting," says Dave Beaudoin, the construction manager for the $2 billion project located about an hour southwest of Las Vegas. Each mirror is about the size of a garage door, and it's mounted on a pole so it can be pointed at the tower.

"We can keep the sun's energy — the rays of the sun — targeted back to the solar tower," Beaudoin says.

All of those mirrors generate about a thousand degrees of heat. It isn't the solar technology most of us think of: dark panels on rooftops. These mirrors heat a giant boiler on top of the tower, where water turns into steam. Beaudoin says that steam powers a turbine that generates electricity.

Spiegel Online
 

In a SPIEGEL interview, Obama advisor John Podesta calls Europe's outrage over the NSA spying scandal hypocritical, but says America needs a national debate on surveillance laws too.

SPIEGEL: According to a recent survey, nearly three-quarters of Americans believe National Security Agency (NSA) spying is infringing on their privacy rights. A proposal to restrict such programs failed only by a narrow margin in Congress. Are Americans beginning to fear a surveillance state?

Podesta: We are in uncharted territory, facing rapid technological change that has simply swamped our existing legal regime. The media's focus in recent weeks has circled almost exclusively around Edward Snowden's attempt to earn the world record for longest airport layover. But the focus on Snowden distracts from what is most problematic about the information he provided to the media.

Al Jazeera
 

Raids in more than 70 cities across the United States have resulted in the arrest of 150 "pimps" and other individuals and the rescue of 105 sexually exploited children, the FBI said.

"It was the FBI’s largest action to date focusing on the recovery of sexually exploited children, and took law enforcement agencies to streets, motels, casinos and social media platforms", Ronald Hosko, assistant director of the FBI's criminal investigative division, said on Monday.

The youngest child was 13 years old, the agency said.

Criminal charges against the 150 will include human trafficking, authorities said.

'Co-ordinated offensive'

Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, reporting from Washington, said the operation was one of the biggest of its kind.

"This is being described as a co-ordinated offensive across the US,” our correspondent said.

“They have arrested more than 150 people for the exploitation of children and adults. Of the children rescued, they are now in the hands of child protective services across US."

An estimated 240,000 children in the US are considered at risk of sexual exploited.

 

Al Jazeera
 

The verdict in the court-martial of Army Private First Class Bradley Manning, accused of the biggest leak
of classified information in US history, will be read on Tuesday, the presiding judge has said.

Manning, who is accused of spilling secrets to the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy website, is charged with 21 criminal counts, the most serious of which, "aiding the enemy", carries a life sentence.

Judge Colonel Denise Lind, who presided over Manning's court-martial in Fort Meade, Maryland and began deliberations on Friday, said she plans to read the verdict at 1pm local time on Tuesday.

The sentencing phase is slated to begin on Wednesday.

Manning's lawyers have maintained that he is a whistleblower, and not a traitor as the government claims. He wanted to provoke a broader debate on US military and diplomatic policy out of concern for fellow Americans, the defence asserted.

The Guardian
 

Thousands of fast food workers were due to go on strike in cities across the US on Monday as part of a campaign for better wages.

Employees of selected branches of McDonald's, Burger King, KFC and Wendy's will walk out at various points throughout the day. The Fast Food Forward campaign is calling for workers to receive a minimum of $15 per hour, more than double the federal minimum wage.

"A lot of the workers are living in poverty, you know, not being able to afford to put food on the table or take the train to work," Jonathan Westin, director of Fast Food Forward, told New York's 1010 WINS radio station.

"The workers are striking over the fact that they can't continue to maintain their families on the wages they're being paid in the fast food industry."

Fast Food Forward began as a New York-specific campaign, but has spread across the country as workers campaign for better pay. Walkouts will be held in Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, St Louis, Kansas City, and Flint, Michigan, as well as New York City. Earlier this month, New York City workers walked out of a McDonald's after they were forced to work in record-high temperatures without air conditioning.

Bloomberg News
 

William M. Daley’s blue-chip resume includes stints as a lawyer, banker, political fixer, U.S. commerce secretary, presidential campaign chairman, company president, and White House chief of staff. One job he’s never had until now: candidate.

His robust Rolodex is translating to a star-studded list of early donors to his challenge of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn in the March Democratic primary. Among his top contributors are Lou Susman, a former Chicago investment banker and U.S. ambassador to the U.K. who with his wife donated $10,600, and family members of current Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, who gave more than $38,000 through June.

It’s also opening him up to attacks on a career that leveraged family and political connections from Chicago to Washington and earned him millions of dollars.

BBC
 

Costumes from classic film, The Sound of Music, have sold for $1.3m (£845,000) at a Hollywood memorabilia auction in California.

The outfits included the main costume worn by lead character Maria, played by Dame Julie Andrews.

It was described by auction house Profiles in History as "a heavy brown homespun Austrian-style dress with a wheat-coloured homespun blouse."

Floral lederhosen worn by the Von Trapp children also went under the hammer.

The story of a singing Austrian family trying to escape the Nazis prior to World War II won five Oscars in 1966.

Dame Julie told Oprah Winfrey in a 2010 interview that the cast had no idea the film would be so successful when it was first released.

"It made my career. It was that big of a movie," she said.

WORLD NEWS

Reuters
 

Europe's top diplomat pressed Egypt's rulers on Monday to step back from a growing confrontation with the Muslim Brotherhood of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Mursi, two days after 80 of his supporters were gunned down in Cairo.

Raising the prospect of more bloodshed, the Muslim Brotherhood said it would march again on Monday evening on Interior Ministry offices across the country.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, became the first overseas envoy to visit Egypt since Saturday's carnage, the second mass killing of Mursi supporters by security forces since the army ousted him on July 3.

Reuters
 

A secular party in Tunisia's ruling Islamist-led coalition demanded a unity government on Monday to defuse a deepening political crisis, hours after the army sealed a square in the capital where protesters had clashed.

Tensions have been mounting over opposition efforts to oust the government following last week's assassination of a leftist politician, the second such killing in six months.

Soldiers blocked off the central Bardo square in Tunis, declaring it a "closed military zone" after pro- and anti-government protesters threw rocks at each other.

The secular Ettakatol party called for the coalition led by the Islamist Ennahda party to step down.

NPR
 

Gay people should be integrated into society instead of ostracized, Pope Francis told journalists after his weeklong trip to Brazil. Answering a question about reports of homosexuals in the clergy, the pope answered, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

In what's being called an unusually broad and candid news conference, Francis took questions from reporters for more than an hour as he flew from Brazil to the Vatican; his plane landed Monday.

One question centered on recent reports in Italian media that accused the Vatican Bank's Monsignor Battista Ricca of having an affair with a Swiss Army captain. In response, Francis said he looked into the reports but found nothing to support the allegations.

The pope also used the occasion to expand on his June remarks about a "gay lobby" in the Vatican, clarifying that "he was against all lobbies, not just gay ones," the Italian news agency ANSA reports.

"Being gay is a tendency. The problem is the lobby," ANSA quotes the pontiff saying. "The lobby is unacceptable, the gay one, the political one, the Masonic one."

Spiegel Online
 

Amid renewed turbulence, Egyptian politics are at a critical turning point. With opposing movements at loggerheads over the country's next government, much is at stake for future generations, the Middle East and even the rest of the world.

Last Friday saw nationalist fervor and Islamist frenzy sweep through Cairo on a wave of whispered intrigue and paranoia. In a dramatic showdown combining elements of William Shakespeare and Dan Brown, tens of thousands of people gathered in Cairo's Nasr City district, a poor neighborhood with a large concentration of Muslim Brotherhood supporters. They carried signs criticizing "the betrayal" of former President Mohammed Morsi, their hero, who they claim was "wrongfully removed from office" and is now a "martyr" languishing in custody. For them, there is still only one solution to all of Egypt's problems: religion. "Islam will show us the way!" and "Down with the traitors from the military!" they chant.

Reuters

The Guardian
 

The driver of the train involved in Spain's worst rail disaster in almost 70 years was freed on bail on Sunday night after reportedly admitting to a judge that he had behaved recklessly.

Police on Friday formally accused 52-year-old Francisco Garzón of manslaughter caused by recklessness.

During the closed-door hearing, Judge Luis Aláez took away Garzón's passport and ordered him to report weekly to the court, according to local media. The driver, accompanied by his lawyer, was questioned for around two hours.

The reports, citing police and judicial sources, said Garzón had admitted reckless behaviour. But it was not clear whether the judge had laid charges against the driver or, if so, whether they were the same as those levelled by police.

Garzón arrived at the court handcuffed and wearing dark glasses. He had a visible bruise on his forehead – the result of a gash that he sustained in the crash and which required nine stitches.

Video evidence and passenger accounts indicate the high-speed Alvia train derailed as it hurtled into a sharp bend outside Santiago de Compostela last week. The death toll from the crash rose to 79 on Sunday after another victim died in hospital.

Reuters
 

Two trains collided head-on in Switzerland on Monday evening, injuring about 35 people, five seriously, police said.

The driver of one of the trains was still unaccounted for and thought to be inside the wreckage, at Granges-près-Marnand in the canton of Vaud, police spokesman Jean-Christophe Sauterel said.

"These are regional trains. The speeds are a little lower and even if one deeply regrets the likely loss of life of one person as well as five serious injuries, the situation could have been much more catastrophic," Sauterel said.

He said it was too early to try to ascertain the cause of the crash.

One of the injured was taken by helicopter to Lausanne. Others were treated on the spot by paramedics or taken to hospital by ambulance.

About 40 people were on the two trains, one of which was heading to Lausanne, the other was going to Payerne.

Seventy-nine people were killed in a train crash in Spain last week, one of the worst in decades.

HEALTH, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

ScienceBlog
 

Nearly doubling the efficiency of a breakthrough photovoltaic cell they created last year, UCLA researchers have developed a two-layer, see-through solar film that could be placed on windows, sunroofs, smartphone displays and other surfaces to harvest energy from the sun.

The new device is composed of two thin polymer solar cells that collect sunlight and convert it to power. It’s more efficient than previous devices, the researchers say, because its two cells absorb more light than single-layer solar devices, because it uses light from a wider portion of the solar spectrum, and because it incorporates a layer of novel materials between the two cells to reduce energy loss.

ScienceBlog
 

A compound found in soybeans may become an effective HIV treatment without the drug resistance issues faced by current therapies, according to new research by George Mason University researchers.

It’s in the early stages, but genistein, derived from soybeans and other plants, shows promise in inhibiting the HIV infection, says Yuntao Wu, a professor with the George Mason-based National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases and the Department of Molecular and Microbiology.

CNET
 

Netflix has big aspirations for its original television series, but a study Monday said that so far, the company's new content isn't making a big difference in how much television people watch on the 28 most-watched networks.

Looking at traditional TV tuning behaviors of self-identified Netflix subscribers, TiVo Research and Analytics found that the amount of viewing was basically the same as non-Netflix households. The survey took place in May, after Netflix's first major original series -- "House of Cards -- had been out for months. Its gothic horror followup "Hemlock Grove" had debuted the month before, but the survey took place largely before "Arrested Development" aired. The revival of the Fox comedy debuted May 26.

CNET
 

Proof of Apple's much-rumored, low-cost iPhone might have been revealed inadvertently in a new report.

Released today by watchdog group China Labor Watch, the report accuses Apple supplier Pegatron of several worker abuses, including safety violations, poor living conditions, and excessive overtime.

Page 11 of the 62-page report describes Pegatron as assembling cell phones and tablets for Apple. "Its assembled products include iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, and low-priced plastic iPhones," the report said.

The long, difficult day in the life of one factory worker is detailed further in the report. Page 28 describes that worker's task with the plastic iPhone:

CNET
 

For the amount of fanfare and effort BMW gave to its i3 electric car, I would have expected something at least nearly competitive with the Tesla Model S. But BMW's vision for a clean, futuristic urban vehicle doesn't reach far beyond what has already been put on the market by Nissan, Mitsubishi, Ford, and Honda, at least when it comes to raw performance numbers.

With an electric vehicle, performance primarily means range. BMW estimates the i3 will go 80 to 100 miles between charges, putting it in the same class as the majority of electric cars launched in the last few years. From BMW's perspective, that range fits perfectly within the parameters it set out. As an urban vehicle, the i3 is meant to handle daily driving around a city. Especially in Europe, for the majority of people that range is more than adequate to make a daily commute and run errands.

That sort of range is a tougher sell in the U.S., even if most people don't actually drive farther on a daily basis.

NPR
 

This is not a detox diet. Nor is it an extreme version of calorie restriction.

Nope, the strategy of so-called 5-2 diets is to endure two days a week of mini-fasting.

This doesn't mean starving yourself. Rather, it entails reducing your calorie intake during two days of the week down to somewhere in the range of 500 to 1,000 calories.

The idea of intermittent mini-fasting seems to be gaining traction. One version of the diet is being popularized by Michael Mosley, a British physician and journalist who's written a best-selling book called The Fast Diet and produced a documentary.

And there are other popular tomes on the topic. Take for instance, The 5:2 Diet Book, which claims you can boost your brain power and transform your health by feasting for five days and fasting for two.

With so much hype, I was skeptical so I dug a little deeper into the science behind these diets.

My first stop was Baltimore, where I visiting the National Institute on Aging. It's here that researcher Mark Mattson has conducted a lot of pioneering animal studies. He's interested in how limiting calories may fend off aging-related diseases.

New York Times
 

A group of experts advising the nation’s premier cancer research institution has recommended sweeping changes in the approach to cancer detection and treatment, including changes in the very definition of cancer and eliminating the word entirely from some common diagnoses.

The recommendations, from a working group of the National Cancer Institute, were published on Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. They say, for instance, that some premalignant conditions, like one that affects the breast called ductal carcinoma in situ, which many doctors agree is not cancer, should be renamed to exclude the word carcinoma so that patients are less frightened and less likely to seek what may be unneeded and potentially harmful treatments that can include the surgical removal of the breast.

The group, which includes some of the top scientists in cancer research, also suggested that many lesions detected during breast, prostate, thyroid, lung and other cancer screenings should not be called cancer at all but should instead be reclassified as IDLE conditions, which stands for “indolent lesions of epithelial origin.”

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