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Welcome to the Overnight News Digest with a crew consisting of founder Magnifico, current leader Neon Vincent, regular editors side pocket, maggiejean, wader, Man Oh Man, 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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Spiegel Online
 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's delay in signing a US-backed resolution against the use of chemical weapons in Syria is being portrayed as a major misstep. Now, as Washington continues its diplomatic offensive, Merkel faces a political backlash at home.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel always seems to enjoy the return journey after a political summit. Exhausted but finally able to unwind, she is full of anecdotes and happy to be on her way home.

Reuters
 

As President Barack Obama struggled to rally Congress and the American people behind military action in Syria, Russia seized on a remark by his secretary of state on Monday to say Damascus should save itself by handing over its chemical weapons.

John Kerry was quick to dismiss as hypothetical his own comment that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could avert U.S. strikes by surrendering his chemical arsenal to international control. But Assad's ally Russia quickly turned it into a firm proposal that was "welcomed" by Damascus and echoed by U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon.

Al Jazeera America
 

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned the United States against striking his country and denied using chemical weapons against his own people, as President Barack Obama embarked on a media campaign Monday to push for air strikes on Syria and Congress reconvened from its summer recess.

In a CBS interview, his first with an American television network in two years, Assad said an attack by international forces may prompt retaliation from Syria's allies. He also denied using chemical weapons attack on Syrians, adding that evidence was not conclusive that there had been such an attack last month.

"There has been no evidence that I used chemical weapons against my own people," CBS on Sunday quoted Assad as saying in an interview conducted by Charlie Rose in Damascus.

Involvement in the Syrian war runs against the interests of the United States, Assad added during the CBS News interview. He also warned about "repurcussions" if the U.S. strkes Syria: "Expect every action," he said.

New York Times
 

MOSCOW — Seizing on a remark by Secretary of State John Kerry, Russia called on Syria on Monday to put its stockpiles of chemical weapons under international supervision and eventually to destroy them, offering a compromise that could avert an American-led strike in response to a poison-gas attack near Damascus last month.

As President Obama struggled to secure support at home and abroad for a military response, Russia’s surprise proposal quickly gained widespread and perhaps unexpected backing from the United Nations, Britain, France and even some Republican lawmakers in Washington.

US NEWS

NPR
 

Monday Night Football kicks off this evening with the Washington Redskins facing off against the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field. As the Redskins start a new season, they are once again in the center of a national debate about their name.

On Thursday, the Oneida Indian Nation in upstate New York announced the launch of a radio ad campaign urging the team to change its moniker. The ad begins with an Oneida leader commending NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for condemning the behavior of the Eagles player Riley Cooper, after Cooper was recorded using the N-word at a concert this summer. While the narrator applauds the NFL for taking swift action in the Cooper case, he then draws a parallel between that slur and the word "redskin." "We do not deserve to be called redskins," he says in the ad. "We deserve to be treated as what we are — Americans." The spots began airing in the D.C. market on Sunday. (You can listen to it in full here.)

The Oneida campaign is just the latest protest this year against the Redskins' name. The online magazine Slate made headlines last month when it declared the site will no longer use "Redskins" to refer to the franchise, choosing instead to refer to "the Washington NFL team" from now on. Slate isn't alone: The New Republic and Mother Jones quickly followed suit. Major news sources like The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Associated Press, however, will continue to refer to the team as the Redskins this season.

The Guardian

A wildfire burning in a San Francisco Bay area wilderness park grew and forced out more residents overnight, bringing the number of evacuated homes to about 100.

The blaze in Mt Diablo State Park in Contra Costa County had burned 1,500 acres as of Monday morning, up from about 800 acres the previous day, according to the California department of forestry and fire protection. It was 10% contained.

Roughly 25 homes were evacuated overnight, officials said.

The blaze broke out Sunday amid temperatures near triple digits in the early afternoon.

By nightfall, it had surged to 800 acres, state fire officials said. The fire spewed a plume of smoke visible for miles and led to the evacuation of 50 to 75 homes in Clayton, a town of about 11,000 people north-east of San Francisco, alongside the park.

Firefighters are facing erratic winds, high temperatures and steep, rugged terrain. But they're confident they will get the blaze under control, Calfire spokesman David Shew said.

"We'll get it, but it will probably be a few days," Shew said. Hundreds of additional firefighters were expected to join the fight Monday.

NPR
 

A few years ago, over dinner, a friend and fellow academic "came out" to me as a theist.

The conversation later struck me as quite funny. Only in my exotic academic enclave, I thought to myself, would two Americans have a conversation in which the Christian theist "came out" to the atheist Jew. In most American communities, my beliefs would be the anomalies, to be revealed selectively and with caution.

A few weeks ago, writer Virginia Heffernan made a similar confession in a post at Yahoo! News:

"At heart, I am a creationist. There, I said it. At least you, dear readers, won't now storm out of a restaurant like the last person I admitted that to. In New York City saying you're a creationist is like confessing you think Ahmadinejad has a couple of good points. Maybe I'm the only creationist I know."
The response was characterized in The New York Times as "swift and harsh." One blogger described Heffernan's post as a "spectacularly bad piece." Among the 600-plus comments on Yahoo! News were charges of being "intellectually vapid" and offering "the intellectual equivalent of a ditry [sic] bomb."

Spiegel Online
 

The US intelligence agency NSA has been taking advantage of the smartphone boom. It has developed the ability to hack into iPhones, android devices and even the BlackBerry, previously believed to be particularly secure.

Michael Hayden has an interesting story to tell about the iPhone. He and his wife were in an Apple store in Virginia, Hayden, the former head of the United States National Security Agency (NSA), said at a conference in Washington recently. A salesman approached and raved about the iPhone, saying that there were already "400,000 apps" for the device. Hayden, amused, turned to his wife and quietly asked: "This kid doesn't know who I am, does he? Four-hundred-thousand apps means 400,000 possibilities for attacks."

Al Jazeera America
 

The architects of welfare reform want millions of poor Americans to work for food -- or else.

Bianca Rodriguez, a Philadelphia school reading specialist, was 22 years old when the seizures started. A year later, after she developed more mysterious symptoms, including swollen joints and an outbreak of hives, Rodriguez finally received a diagnosis: adult-onset Still's disease, an autoimmune disorder that can cause high fevers, joint pain and severe fatigue.

Beset by unpredictable flare-ups, Rodriguez was forced to stop working. "Some days I might be able to carry 50 pounds, but the next day if I have an onset, I won't be able to pick up anything or even move at all," she says; at one point, she was paralyzed from the waist down for two months. To make ends meet, she spent down her savings, and applied for food stamps and other public aid programs. For two years, she was able to get $200 a month in General Assistance — Pennsylvania's state welfare program for childless adults — but lost that in 2011 when the state announced that it would soon eliminate the program entirely.

Bloomberg
 

New York mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio has support from 39 percent of likely Democratic voters, just shy of the 40 percent he needs in tomorrow’s election to avoid a runoff with his closest competitor, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.

De Blasio, 52, elected four years ago to the citywide watchdog office of public advocate, retains the lead among seven candidates. Former city Comptroller William Thompson has 25 percent and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has 18 percent. About 8 percent were undecided, and 18 percent said they may change their minds, according to the poll released today, which has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

WORLD NEWS

Reuters

India's political parties blamed each other for religious riots that killed at least 31 people and forced hundreds to flee their homes this weekend, in a sign of rising tension between Hindus and Muslims ahead of a general election due by May.

Police evacuated Hindu and Muslim villagers on Monday in the district of Muzaffarnagar, 130 km (80 miles) northeast of New Delhi in the state of Uttar Pradesh, at the center of some of the worst communal violence in years.

Some locals, fearful after attackers beat children and burned property, hid in fields and police stations, or fled in ox carts and tractors on Sunday. State security official Kamal Saxena said 31 people were killed, with some fighting also breaking out in a neighboring district.

"We are on a high alert and curfew will remain in parts of Muzaffarnagar city, while security forces are doing regular rounds in the affected villages," said deputy police chief Arun Kumar.

Violence between Muslims and Hindus has been a defining feature of Indian politics since the separation of Pakistan in 1947, when hundreds of thousands of people were killed and millions displaced.

NPR

A fire aboard a cargo ship in the Mediterranean Sea was set in order to get rid of 30 tons of hashish, according to officials in Italy and Malta. Authorities had approached the Gold Star, a Tanzania-registered ship, for an inspection Friday afternoon. But members of the crew reportedly set fire to their cargo, which Italian authorities identified as hashish resin.

The incident began in waters about 30 nautical miles north of Malta, where police and firefighting ships converged on the Gold Star as it burned Friday night. They succeeded in quenching the flames around noon Saturday.

"The cargo vessel was officially handed over to Italian authorities at 1:42 p.m." on Saturday, reports the Armed Forces of Malta, "where it was towed by tug boat, 'Nos Taurus' to Sicily for further investigation."

The AFM also reports that in addition to the official boats that responded, a number of civilian craft also arrived at the scene.

Spiegel Online
 

The European Commission has criticized Cyprus for announcing policies that will boost public spending. The country needs to consult its creditors in the future to minimize the impact of its measures on reform progress, the Commission said in a draft report.

The European Commission has criticized the government of Cyprus for increasing public spending without consulting its international creditors first.

In a draft report seen by SPIEGEL, the Commission said Cyprus had announced a number of steps that will boost outlays, such as a plan to grant tax advantages to customers of Cypriot banks to encourage them to shift their capital back to the island.

Al Jazeera America
 

Suspected Muslim rebels have attacked several villages on the outskirts of the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga and taken hundreds of people hostage, according to the city's mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco.

"HOSTAGES: 200 at Sta. Catalina Mosque, 20 at Talon-Talon Mosque, 10 at CAMACOP. undetermined no. in SDK bldg, Fernandez Store, and Lustre," a Tweet on the city's official account reads. The city also tweeted that at least 2,500 people are fleeing the area.

The hostages include women and children.

Claire Jose, a regional health officer and resident of Zamboanga, told Al Jazeera that the city looked like a "ghost town" because of a widespread shutdown.
Officials say they’re worried that the attackers might use the captives as “human shields.”

The military received information about an "armed aggression" last night, Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, a military spokesman, said.
At least six people, including a navy soldier, a police officer, and four civilians, have been killed, military officials said after the pre-dawn attack on Monday.

Reuters
 

Egypt has tightened control of crossings from the Sinai after an Islamist militant group based in the peninsula said it tried to kill the interior minister in Cairo last week, the state news agency reported on Monday.

The group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis claimed responsibility on Sunday for last Thursday's suicide bombing aimed at Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim. It promised more attacks in revenge for a crackdown on Egypt's Islamists, raising fears that militant violence in the Sinai could spread across the country.

The Egyptian military on Saturday launched a major assault on militants in North Sinai, killing or wounding at least 30 people in clashes close to the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

State news agency MENA said that Ibrahim decided to boost security surveillance and tighten control of crossings from the Sinai to other Egyptian regions in conjunction with a broad security campaign in the peninsula.

SCIENCE, HEALTH AND TECHNOLOGY

Reuters
 

Investors are hoping that Apple Inc will unleash some of its old magic when it takes the wraps off its latest iPhone on Tuesday, with many building bullish share and options positions.

In the past two weeks, Apple investors have bought almost twice the number of call options than puts on three major U.S. option exchanges.

Apple on Tuesday is holding a media event at its headquarters in Cupertino, California, where it is expected to launch an updated iPhone model - widely referred to as the iPhone 5S - as well as a cheaper version of the device dubbed the iPhone 5C.

Investors are hoping that in addition to the phone unveiling, the company will also announce it has finally penetrated the world's largest wireless carrier China Mobile Ltd, which has over 740 million users.

Reuters
 

Activist investor Carl Icahn said on Monday he was bowing out of an effort to block founder Michael Dell's proposed buyout of Dell Inc, determining "it would be almost impossible to win."

The move will likely put an end to a battle that has raged since March between Michael Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, who want to overhaul the company Dell created away from the investor spotlight, and stockholders like Icahn and money manager Southeastern Asset Management who want a higher price for their stock.

In a letter to shareholders, Icahn cited a change in the record date for stockholders allowed to vote on the proposed takeover by Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake, as well as a ruling that the gap period between the September 12 meeting and the annual meeting was legal.

Icahn had sued Dell and its board in an attempt to stop Dell from changing the record date by which shareholders must have purchased their shares in order to vote for the deal.

 

Al Jazeera America
 

A potential landmark case for U.S. regulation of Internet traffic goes before a panel of federal judges on Monday, testing whether the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has authority to enforce so-called net neutrality rules.

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet users should be able to access any Web content and use any applications they choose, without restrictions or varying charges imposed by Internet service providers or the government.

Oral arguments in the case pit Verizon Communications against the FCC, with the biggest U.S. wireless provider challenging the commission's order that guides how Internet service providers manage their networks.

The FCC's 2011 open Internet rules require Internet providers to treat all Web traffic equally and give consumers equal access to all lawful content.

Verizon has argued the rules are an excessive, "arbitrary and capricious" intrusion which violates the company's right to free speech, stripping it of control over what its networks transmit and how.

C/NET
 

For Apple, Tuesday's looking a bit like a time warp.
Rewind back to October 2011, and the company invited media to its headquarters to introduce an enhanced version of the hit smartphone it launched the year before. The same is expected at Tuesday's event, where all eyes are Apple to announce the iPhone 5S -- a souped up version of 2012's iPhone 5.

The big difference this time around is that Apple is expected to roam into new territory, adding on top of that with an entirely new model to the iPhone family: one designed not necessarily to wow with specs, but instead with a price tag that could be Apple's lowest yet for a new mobile device.

That device, expected to be called the iPhone 5C, has appeared in myriad leaks over the past few months and marks the beginning of a new chapter for the iPhone. Apple has managed great success with only one new model a year, a strategy the company finally appears to be abandoning.

C/NET
 

It's perhaps one of the most famous -- or infamous -- personnel moves in Silicon Valley history: then Apple CEO John Sculley's 1985 firing of Steve Jobs. But until now, we've never known much about how it happened.

At a Forbes conference in Bali last week, however, Sculley opened up about the firing, telling some of the richest and most powerful people on Earth just how he came to deliver Jobs' pink slip.

At the conference, Sculley spent eight minutes rehashing the infamous history after an audience member asked about it. "The ballroom then sat in rapt silence as Sculley delved into details," Forbes reported today, "cast blame, and reflected on lessons learned."

Essentially, Sculley told the crowd, it was the Apple board's fault for creating an environment in which Sculley, the former Pepsi wunderkind, and Jobs, who lured him away with the famous challenge to make a difference instead of spending his career with sugar water, clashed.

Science Blog
 

Research from the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio suggests the exciting possibility of using cell transplants to treat schizophrenia.

Cells called “interneurons” inhibit activity within brain regions, but this braking or governing function is impaired in schizophrenia. Consequently, a group of nerve cells called the dopamine system go into overdrive. Different branches of the dopamine system are involved in cognition, movement and emotions.

“Since these cells are not functioning properly, our idea is to replace them,” said study senior author Daniel Lodge, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacology in the School of Medicine.

THE ENVIRONMENT

 

Environmental News Service
 

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, September 6, 2013 (ENS) – Transcending their disagreements over Syrian chemical weapons, the G-20 leaders managed to reach agreement on confronting climate change in two ways. They will phase down refrigerant greenhouse gases and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.

In the St. Petersburg Declaration released today at the close of the summit, the G-20 leaders state, “Climate change will continue to have a significant impact on the world economy, and cost will be higher to the extent we delay additional actions.”

The G-20 leaders committed themselves to using the expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons, HFCs, potent greenhouse gases that are rapidly increasing in use for refrigeration and air conditioning.

BBC

 

UK scientists are about to set out for Antarctica to investigate the mighty Pine Island Glacier.

The PIG drains about 10% of all the ice sliding off the west of the continent, and has seen a marked thinning and a surge in velocity in recent decades.

Its contribution to sea level rise is now greater than any other glacier on the planet.

The British Antarctic Survey-led team hopes its iStar project will provide new insights into the PIG's behaviour.

The researchers will gather their measurements using a diverse set of techniques and technologies, including robotic subs and satellites, and even instrument-carrying elephant seals.

BBC

The Obama administration said on Monday it would destroy all 6m tons of its stocks of seized ivory – potentially millions in contraband – stepping up efforts to crush an illegal trade that has brought wild elephants to the brink of extinction.

The ivory destruction, announced at a White House event addressed by Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, was part of a broader effort by the administration on Monday to elevate wildlife trafficking from narrow conservation interest to urgent national security concern.

Destroying the ivory would signal that Obama was committed to stopping illegal trafficking in wildlife that has devastated species such as elephants and rhinos, and is a growing security threat, officials told the audience.

"Rising demand for ivory is fuelling a renewed and horrific slaughter of elephants in Africa, threatening remaining populations across the continent," the interior secretary, Sally Jewell, said. "We will continue to work aggressively … to disrupt and prosecute criminals who traffic in ivory, and we encourage other nations to join us in that effort."
 

BBC
 

Prince William has spoken of his desire that his baby son, George, will one day share his family's passion for wildlife conservation and Africa – and, in the meantime, to get a bit more sleep.

"I'll have toy elephants and rhinos around the room," he said. "We'll cover it in sort of, you know, lots of bushes and things like that. Make him grow up as if he's in the bush."

Speaking of the legacy he wishes to pass on to his son, the Duke of Cambridge said it would be "terrifying and very sad" if elephants and rhinos became extinct, not just for George, but "for all the little Georges out there, all the children and grandchildren", adding that "as my father has said in the past before, it's true, it's that family connection that you want to pass on, what you love and you enjoy, to your children."

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