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Welcome to the Overnight News Digest (OND) for Tuesday, July 30, 2013.

OND is a regular 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 near 12:00AM Eastern Time.

Creation and early water-bearing of the OND concept came from our very own Magnifico - proper respect is due.


This diary is named for its "Hump Point" video: It's My Life by Talk Talk

News below Aunt Flossie's hairdo . . .

Please feel free to browse and add your own links, content or thoughts in the Comments section.

Any timestamps shown are relative to each publication.


Top News
EPA chief: Stop saying environmental regs kill jobs

By Claire Thompson
Tuesday, in her first speech as EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy got real with a crowd at Harvard Law School, the AP reports:
“Can we stop talking about environmental regulations killing jobs? Please, at least for today,” said McCarthy, referring to one of the favorite talking points of Republicans and industry groups.

“Let’s talk about this as an opportunity of a lifetime, because there are too many lifetimes at stake,” she said of efforts to address global warming.

The GOP has resorted to calling pretty much every Obama plan, especially those related to the climate, “job-killing.” McCarthy hammered home the emptiness of that claim. . .

Right now, state and local communities — as well as industry, universities, and other non-profits — have been piloting projects, advancing policies, and developing best practices that follow the same basic blueprint: combining environmental and economic interests for combined maximum benefit. These on-the-ground efforts are the future. It’s a chance to harness the American entrepreneur spirit, developing new technologies and creating new jobs, while at the same time reducing carbon pollution to help our children and their children.

Commercial Drones Are Now Approved for Aerial Surveillance

By Adam Clark Estes
Creepy drone spying is no longer just the purview of the military in the United States. The Federal Aviation Administration recently cleared two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for commercial use surveilling the Alaskan coast, marking a sharp turn for the future of domestic drone use.

One of the drones, an Insitu Scan Eagle 200, will be used by a "major energy company" for monitoring migrating whales and icebergs off the Alaskan coast, while the other one, an AeroVironment PUMA, will monitor oil spills up in the Beaufort Sea. . .

The arrival of certified commercial surveillance drones comes as a first step to measures in the FAA Reauthorization Act that President Obama renewed last year calling for new regulations to govern the use of commercial drones by 2015. Until now, drones could only fly with an experimental airworthiness and not for commercial purposes. Although that didn't stop photographers or journalists from using the machines for specialized purposes. It did kickstart an entire industry of commercial drone manufacturing to make sure there are UAVs ready for purchase when the FAA gives the go ahead.

Manning: Not Guilty of Aiding The Enemy, Faces up to 136 Years in Prison

By Jason Mick
. . .

 Mr. Manning's path to becoming a leaker began with his fateful decision to enlist in the U.S. Army as a Private First Class (PFC) in September 2007.  He was enrolled in basic training Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  A little over 5 feet tall and openly gay in his private life, Mr. Manning was "bullied" according to fellow soldiers.  Despite seeming on the verge of a breakdown, they report he did maintain an air of defiance, shouting back at drill sergeants who would eventually nickname him "General Manning".

. . .

 The story could have ended there, but it didn't.  Facing a shortage of recruits, Mr. Manning was "recycled", with the discharge reversed in January 2008.  This time Mr. Manning survived the trials and tribulations of bootcamp.  Mr. Manning's father was an IT administrator and he himself had toyed with web development and programming.  Thus it seemed a natural fit when the Army slotted him as a high-tech intelligence analyst.  He quickly received TS/SCI (Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information) privileges, giving him access to a host of U.S. State Department and U.S. Military files and documents.

. . .

 In Nov. 2009 Manning was promoted from PFC to Specialist, but he was growing disillusioned with the armed forces.  He allegedly made contact with Wikileaks -- at the time a fledgling leaks site -- for the first time that month.  He was allegedly befriended by site founder Julian Assange, who encouraged him to leak any incriminating material he found.

. . .

Ultimately the military court found Mr. Manning guilty of all five counts of theft of documents, but not guilty of aiding the enemy.

. . .

 Thus served consecutively, Mr. Manning still faces up 90 years in prison, at least, when his prior guilty pleas are considered.  That's assuming a judge assigns the sentences consecutively.  Wikileaks claims on their Twitter that the maximum is 136 years, although it's unclear where that number comes from . . .

Nine-month goal for Middle East peace deal

By (Al Jazeera)
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have agreed to meet again within the next two weeks, aiming to seal a final deal in nine months, US Secretary of State John Kerry said.

. . .

Kerry, speaking with the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators at his side, said this week's round of talks between the two sides were positive and constructive and he was convinced that they could make peace.

After a morning of talks at the White House with President Barack Obama and at the State Department, the two sides had agreed that all the most contentious issues such as borders and refugees and the fate of Jerusalem would be on the table for discussion.

. . .

Israel and the Palestinians remain deeply divided over "final status issues", including the fate of Jerusalem, claimed by both as a capital, the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and the borders of a future Palestinian state complicated by dozens of illegal Jewish settlements scattered across the occupied West Bank.

Irish abortion bill becomes law

By (BBC)
Abortions under limited circumstances will be allowed in the Republic of Ireland under a new law.

The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act will allow terminations to be carried out where there is a threat to the life of the mother.

. . .

The Pro Life Campaign said on Tuesday that the passing of the bill into law was "a very sad day for our country".

The introduction of the legislation follows the case of an Indian woman who died in an Irish hospital after she was refused an abortion.

UN gives DR Congo rebels 48 hours to hand in weapons

By (BBC)
The UN has given rebels from the M23 group in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo 48 hours to disarm, warning force will be used if they fail to do so.

. . .

The UN accuses M23 rebels of causing civilian casualties with "indiscriminate and indirect fire" in fresh clashes with the army in Mutaho, about 7 km north of Goma on 14 July.

An escalation and deterioration in the security situation led to the ultimatum, which was aimed at blocking an apparent attempt by the rebels to advance on Goma, the BBC's Nick Bryant says.

USA Politics, Economy, Major Events
Pentagon, Lockheed Reach Agreement for 71 Additional F-35 Lightning II Fighters

By Shane McGlaun
A source that claims to have been briefed on discussions between Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon claims that the two have reached an agreement on two additional batches of F-35 Lightning II fighters. The deal is claimed to be worth over $7 billion and covers an additional 75 aircraft.

 The source claims that 36 F-35 fighters will be purchased in the sixth production lot and 35 aircraft will be purchased in the seventh production lot. Those totals reportedly break down with 60 of the aircraft going to the U.S. military, and the remaining 11 going to Australia, Italy, Turkey, and Britain.

 The F-35 program is finally picking up steam after a number of major delays and cost overruns. The program is reportedly costing $392 billion for procurement and development of the F-35. The agreement between the Pentagon and Lockheed was reportedly negotiated without factoring across-the-board budget cuts instituted by the Pentagon in March.

US man 'abandoned' in US jail gets $4m in compensation

By (BBC)
A university student in the US city of San Diego has received more than $4m (£2.6m) from the US government after he was abandoned for more than four days in a prison cell, his lawyer said.

Daniel Chong said he drank his urine to stay alive, tried to carve a message to his mother on his arm and hallucinated.

. . .

The jail cell had no windows and Mr Chong had no food or water while he was trapped inside.

His lawyer said that as a result of the incident the Drug Enforcement Administration had introduced new policies for detention, including checking cells daily and installing cameras inside them.

Welcome to the "Hump Point" of this OND.

News can be sobering and engrossing - at this point in the diary, an offering of brief escapism:

Random notes related to this video:
"It's My Life" is a song by the British synthpop band Talk Talk. Written by Mark Hollis and Tim Friese-Greene, it was the title track on the band's second album and released as its first single in January 1984. . .

. . .

There are two versions of the video for "It's My Life." The first, envisioned by director Tim Pope as a statement against the banality of lip-synching, consists almost entirely of footage from wildlife documentaries, interspersed with shots of Talk Talk lead singer Mark Hollis standing in the midst of London Zoo, with his mouth pointedly shut tight and often obscured by hand-drawn animated lines. The second version, recorded at the behest of EMI, consisted of the entirety of the original video projected on a green screen behind Hollis on guitar and vocals as well as his two bandmates as they lip-synched and mimed the song, deliberately poorly and with comic exaggerated gestures.

Back to what's happening:
Environment and Greening
Thai tourist paradise wrecked by oil spill

By John Upton
. . .

Thousands of gallons of crude gushed from a ruptured pipeline into the Gulf of Thailand over the weekend, blackening shorelines that had recently been bustling with tourists. Some beaches have been closed; others have simply been deserted.

Chemical dispersants have been dumped from airplanes over the slick, which should be helping to break up the oil but also potentially sickening workers, visitors, fish, and other wildlife.

. . .

Pipeline owner PTT Global Chemical Pcl, which is part of state-controlled PTT Pcl, Thailand’s biggest energy firm, has apologized for the spill and says the cleanup could take several more days. That prediction seems as ludicrous as its claim that just 13,000 gallons of oil spilled from the pipe. If the cleanup is stopped after just several days, there will be a lot of oil left behind on sandy shorelines.

China issues heat alert as 'hottest July' hits Shanghai

By (BBC)
Temperatures in parts of China have hit record highs, prompting an emergency level-two nationwide heat alert for the first time.

In Shanghai, at least 10 people have died from heatstroke, as the city experiences its hottest July in 140 years, reports say.

Local journalists have demonstrated the heat by frying meat on the pavement.

. . .

It added that weather forecasts suggested that some areas south of the Yangtze river, including Chongqing, could experience temperatures of over 35C until 8 August.

Science and Health
How Did Earth's Primitive Chemistry Get Kick Started?

By (ScienceDaily)
. . . Three new papers co-authored by Mike Russell, a research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., strengthen the case that Earth's first life began at alkaline hydrothermal vents at the bottom of oceans. Scientists are interested in understanding early life on Earth because if we ever hope to find life on other worlds -- especially icy worlds with subsurface oceans such as Jupiter's moon Europa and Saturn's Enceladus -- we need to know what chemical signatures to look for.
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Two papers published recently in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B provide more detail on the chemical and precursor metabolic reactions that have to take place to pave the pathway for life. Russell and his co-authors describe how the interactions between the earliest oceans and alkaline hydrothermal fluids likely produced acetate (comparable to vinegar). The acetate is a product of methane and hydrogen from the alkaline hydrothermal vents and carbon dioxide dissolved in the surrounding ocean. Once this early chemical pathway was forged, acetate could become the basis of other biological molecules. They also describe how two kinds of "nano-engines" that create organic carbon and polymers -- energy currency of the first cells -- could have been assembled from inorganic minerals.

. . .

"Our work on alkaline hot springs on the ocean floor makes what we believe is the most plausible case for the origin of the life's building blocks and its energy supply," Russell said. "Our hypothesis is testable, has the right assortment of ingredients and obeys the laws of thermodynamics."

Sequestration and Fuel Reserves: Storing Carbon Dioxide to Release Liquid Fuels

By (ScienceDaily)
A technique for trapping the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide deep underground could at the same be used to release the last fraction of natural gas liquids from ailing reservoirs, thus offsetting some of the environmental impact of burning fossil fuels. So says a paper to be published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Oil, Gas and Coal Technology.

. . .

Earlier experiments suggests that using carbon dioxide instead of nitrogen or methane to blast out the hydrocarbon stock from depleted reservoirs might be highly effective and have the added benefit of trapping, or sequestering the carbon dioxide underground. Aminian and colleagues have calculated the economic benefits associated with the enhanced liquid recovery and demonstrated that the approach is technically and financially viable.

The team explains that the mixing of carbon dioxide with the condensate reservoir fluid results in a reduction of the saturation pressure, the liquid drop-out, and the compressibility factor, boosting recovery of useful hydrocarbon and allowing the carbon dioxide to be trapped within. The team found that the process works well regardless of the characteristics of the reservoir or even the rate at which the carbon dioxide is injected into the reservoir, the amount that is recovered remains just as high. Moreover, because of the compressibility of the carbon dioxide it is possible to squeeze out 1.5 to 2 times the volume of reservoir gas for the amount of carbon dioxide pumped in, there is also then the possibility of pumping in an additional 15% once as much reservoir liquid as can be retrieved has been extracted.

Future Windows Could Use a Biomimetic Vascular System to Save Energy

By Mario Aguilar
. . .

In research published in Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, researchers from Harvard describe an artificial vascular system, which could help make windows more energy-efficient by controlling their temperature with water.

The technology consists of a thin, clear sheet of silicone rubber which is stuck over the surface of a pane of glass, as in the image below. The silicone is molded with 1-2mm channels, which can be pumped with water when a pane gets too hot. The basic principle is illustrated in the thermal GIF above. Water comes in one end, and cools the glass down as it flows towards the other. And as you can see, the silicon webbing is essentially invisible when its laid over the glass. So you get the sunlight without the heat.

Pumping just half a soda can's worth of water through the window's circulatory system would cool a full-size window pane by a full 8 C (14 F), [the researchers] calculated. The energy needed to pump water would be far less than the heat energy the water absorbed. This suggested that installing the cooled windows throughout a building would generate a big net win.
Big Telco uses shills to smear book about Net Neutrality and telcoms corruption

By Cory Doctorow
Susan Crawford is an eminent telcoms scholar, former government official (who resigned because of corruption in telcoms policy) and the author, recently, of an important book on telcoms corruption and net neutrality called Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age. This book has scared the pants off of big telcos.

 Their anti-Net-Neutrality front groups like NetCompetition, Broadband For America, and Media Freedom have been smearing Crawford and her book since it was published, and now, at least 31 people have posted highly similar one-star reviews of her book to Amazon, quoting talking points from these organizations. Most of these reviewers are not in Amazon's "real name" program, and the ones that are work for big telcos and the think-tanks they fund. Mike Masnick investigated the reviews in detail and it's pretty clear that nearly all the five-star reviews are from legit, named, disinterested parties (albeit with a few people who have a dog in the fight, like activists and scholars, and a couple more who say they are trying to balance out the one-star smears); meanwhile, nearly all the one-star reviews are from shills or telco people.

Cyber-crooks mail heroin to Brian Krebs

By Cory Doctorow
Brian Krebs is a security expert and investigative journalist who has published numerous ground-breaking stories about the online criminal underground, much to the consternation of the criminal underground. Krebs has been the victim of much harassment, including a dangerous SWATting (where someone called a SWAT team to Krebs's door, having told them that an armed gunman was inside).

 Most recently, a Russian crook called Flycracker crowdfunded the purchase of a gram of heroin on the Silk Road, which he mailed to Krebs, having first called the cops to alert them that Krebs was a narcotics trafficker. Luckily for Krebs, he lurks in the same forums in which this was planned, and knew of it in advance and tipped off the local cops and the FBI.

What new Telangana state means for India

By (BBC)
India's ruling Congress party-led government has announced the formation of a new state of Telangana to be carved out of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Analyst Louise Tillin explains what this means for India.

The creation of Telangana reflects the end of a long journey for those who have campaigned for statehood - and the beginning of a fresh set of wrangles over the shaping of the new state.

. . .

Rather than promoting the break-up of India, the ability of the central government to create new states has in many - though not all - cases helped to accommodate regional aspirations.

. . .

In 2000, the states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand were created in regions with sizeable tribal populations, and following a decades-long movement for a tribal state in Jharkhand. The hill state of Uttarakhand was also created in the Himalayan districts of Uttar Pradesh.

. . .

Telangana - and the remainder of Andhra Pradesh - may also face the further challenge of sharing Hyderabad as a state capital. Hyderabad, which will remain a centre of economic activity, is physically located within the Telangana state but may itself be separately administered as a Union Territory.

Catholic attitudes to gay sex fail to account for human beings

By Andrew Brown
The root of the Catholic church's difficulties with gay people is that it misunderstands sex in exactly the same way that women's magazines do. Both the pope and Cosmopolitan think that there is a right way and a wrong way to have sex, and that the difference can be shown with diagrams. Of course, they disagree completely about what the right way is. The Catholic church teaches that it is perfectly straight intercourse without anything to block conception. Cosmo believes it's everything but that. But for both parties there is a particular meaning attached to particular acts.

. . .

Of course, people who actually have sex with other people realise soon enough that both attitudes are nonsense. What matters is not anatomy, but meaning and communication. Love can be expressed in the oddest of ways, and so can dutiful resentment or narcissistic isolation. What makes sex worthwhile is that it's a communicative act between people (in my experience, two people. Others report research involving more).

. . .

The answer is again that the current tradition in Roman Catholic moral thinking is fixated on acts. Gay sex is wrong, by this reasoning, because it involves acts that can't make babies. This is solely determined by asking which bits go where and do what. The people behind and inside the bits are quite irrelevant.

. . .

Yet for the Catholic church to change its teaching to fit the facts of homosexuality would also involve admitting publicly that its teaching on contraception is wrong and inhuman as well. No wonder the pope feels it safer to agree with Cosmo girls than real women, or his real priests.

Meteor Blades is known to offer an enlightening Evening Open Diary - you might consider checking that out tonight if you haven't already.
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