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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 editors are Doctor RJ and annetteboardman.

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On Monday, Russia's parliamentary speaker said Moscow had the "right" to launch military action in Ukraine. However, the crisis had not escalated to that point yet, said Sergei Naryshkin.

"The decision by the Federal Council (upper house) just gives the right and this right can be used in case it is necessary. But currently [it] is not necessary," Naryshkin on Russian state television.

Naryshkin's comment followed closely after Russian news agency Interfax said the country's Black Sea Fleet had issued an ultimatum to Ukrainian forces in the Crimean peninsula to surrender by 5 a.m. local time (0300 UTC) on Tuesday. The Black Sea Fleet has since it had issued a deadline with the threat of an assault, according to Interfax, who had originally been quoting an unnamed Ukrainian official.

Russia requests UN Security Council session

Meanwhile, Russia has requested an extraordinary UN Security Council session to deliberate on Ukraine. The meeting is to take place on Monday at 3:30 p.m. local New York time (2030 UTC).

According to US sources, #link:17468701:Russian troops are now in control of Crimea, with more than 6,000 troops stationed on the Black Sea peninsula.

Spiegel Online
 

In the days after Yanukovych's fall, the Ukrainian president's lavish lifestyle spurred outrage around the world. Now the provisional government is struggling to avoid the corruption and clientelism that plagued its predecessors.

It was 11:37 a.m. last Wednesday when Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine's wealthiest and most powerful oligarch, released a statement: "Like all Ukrainians, we want to create a new country in which democracy and the rule of law are supreme. We will participate in the blossoming of Ukraine."

Akhmetov, who controls more than 100 companies with 300,000 employees, was a close confidant of toppled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. In contrast to many others of his standing, he remained in the country and his statement was a clear indication that he had switched allegiances to the new government in Ukraine. It was received with a sigh of relief in Kiev.

Reuters Russia paid a heavy financial price on Monday for its military intervention in neighboring Ukraine, with stocks, bonds and the rouble plunging as President Vladimir Putin's forces tightened their grip on the Russian-speaking Crimea region.

The Moscow stock market fell by 11.3 percent, wiping nearly $60 billion off the value of Russian companies in a day, and the central bank spent $10 billion of its reserves to prop up the rouble as investors took fright at escalating tensions with the West over the former Soviet republic.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden warned Moscow of "increasing political and economic isolation" if it did not withdraw troops and the European Union threatened unspecified "targeted measures" unless Russia returns its forces to their bases and opens talks with Ukraine's new government.

In his first public appearance for nearly a week, Putin flew to watch military maneuvers in western Russia in what appeared designed as a show of strength.

NPR
 

Update at 12:45 p.m. ET: "Total Nonsense," Russian Official Reportedly Says:

Any claims that the Russian military has warned Ukraine to surrender in Crimea or face an assault on Tuesday are "total nonsense," a Russian Defense Ministry official says, according to The Voice of Russia.

The unidentified official turned the accusation back at Ukraine, saying that "we are used to daily accusations about using force against our Ukrainian colleagues. ... Efforts to make us clash won't work."

As we said earlier, accounts often vary in situations such as this when news is breaking. We'll keep an eye out for changes in the story.

Our original post — Reports: Russia Issues Ultimatum, Warns Ukraine Of 'Storm':

Russia has reportedly given Ukraine an ultimatum — surrender Crimea by early Tuesday morning or face a full-on military assault across the strategically important peninsula.

The exact wording of the warning varies by news outlet, most likely because of differences in translations:

— "Russia Delivers 'Assault Storm' Deadline." (Sky News)

— "Russia has issued an ultimatum to Ukrainian forces in the Crimea to clear out by 5 a.m. Tuesday or face a 'military storm.' " (CNN)

— "Surrender or Face 'Storm,' Russia Reportedly Tells Ukraine." (NBC News)

Source: Kyiv Post/Razumkov Center Survey
Bloomberg
 
The allure of the West has helped shape Russian history since Peter the Great three centuries ago. Now it’s testing even older bonds with its neighbor, Ukraine. President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in a violent rebellion as the country’s pro-European western provinces set their sights on a decisive break from the nation’s Soviet past. In response, Russia seized control of the country’s Black Sea region of Crimea, home to its largest overseas naval base, triggering the tensest standoff between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War.

Ukrainian lawmakers voted to hold elections May 25 when they removed Yanukovych, whose victory in a rigged election 10 years ago triggered the pro-democracy Orange Revolution. His snub of a free-trade pact with the European Union prompted protesters to pitch camp in central Kiev in November to demand a change of course. The conflict escalated into street battles in February, leaving at least 82 people dead.

US NEWS

DW
 

The award-winning film "12 Years a Slave" tells the story of Solomon Northup, born a free man in New York state in 1808. On the promise of getting work in a travelling circus, he was tricked, drugged and sold into slavery. Transported south to New Orleans, he lived as a slave for 12 years before he was finally able to secure his release. On returning to his family, Solomon not only tried unsuccessfully to prosecute his kidnappers and slavers, he also wrote a book about his experience. The book was the basis for the movie currently being screened in cinemas around the world.

DW: When did you first find out that you were Solomon Northup's great-great-granddaughter?

Irene Northup-Zahos: I knew he was my great-great-grandfather when my mother sat down one time talking to us about my grandfather, who was Solomon's grandson. He had passed away, and she pulled me aside one day - I was the eldest - and started a little dialogue about his life, and we also spoke of my great-great grandfather then. My mom had a book, an original copy that was my grandfather's book and which was given to me as the first-born.

Al Jazeera America
 

An estimated 2.8 million young people in the United States find themselves on the streets, and the streets of Little Rock are no exception.

The state has 14,000 homeless children, according to the Campaign to End Child Homelessness, and the state ranks third worst in the nation for homeless children.

While there are homeless shelters, very few places offer a space for youth who are gay. That didn’t sit well with Penelope Poppers.

"I saw the need directly, and I decided that nobody was doing things for LGBT folks locally," Poppers said. "I realized that a large number of the facilities in the area are run by conservative groups and churches who are just not supportive of and are opposed to gay people."

So she decided to do something about it.

Next year, she plans to open a small homeless shelter for the city’s hidden and underserved lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth population called Lucie’s Place, named after a friend of hers who died a few years ago.

The Guardian
 

The US supreme court is hearing an appeal from a Florida death row inmate who claims he is protected from execution because he is mentally disabled.

The case being argued Monday at the court centers on how authorities determine who is eligible to be put to death, 12 years after the justices prohibited the execution of the mentally disabled.

The court has until now left it to the states to set rules for judging who is mentally disabled. In Florida and certain other states, an intelligence test score higher than 70 means an inmate is not mentally disabled, even if other evidence indicates he is.

Inmate Freddie Lee Hall has scored above 70 on most of the IQ tests he has taken since 1968 but says ample evidence shows he is mentally disabled.

Reuters
 

U.S. factory activity rebounded from an eight-month low last month and consumer spending increased more than expected in January, suggesting the economy was regaining some strength after abruptly slowing in recent months.

The signs of a comeback, also evident in a brisk rise in automobile sales and a surprise gain in construction spending, should bolster the Federal Reserve's resolve to keep scaling back its massive monetary stimulus.

"The economy is beginning the slow process of digging its way out of the weather-induced slowdown of recent months," said Millan Mulraine, deputy chief economist at TD Securities in New York. "This upward momentum should be sustained in the coming months."

The Institute for Supply Management said its index of national factory activity rose to 53.2 last month after slumping in January to 51.3, which was the weakest reading since May. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Reuters
 

A federal grand jury is probing Citigroup Inc, including its Banamex USA affiliate, over compliance with the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering requirements, the company said.

In an annual filing on Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said the probe includes subpoenas from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts.

The company also said Banamex USA had received a subpoena from the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. While the U.S. attorney may bring criminal charges, the FDIC is a civil agency.

The criminal probe follows other problems that have surfaced with Banamex, which operates Citigroup's largest single consumer bank outside of the United States and has been portrayed by the company as a model of its global strategy.

Separately, Citigroup disclosed it had received a grand jury subpoena seeking information about two mortgage securities that were issued in the middle of 2007.

NY Times
 

Like the weather, the need to repair America’s troubled bridges is something that everyone talks about, without doing a thing about it. Or at least they do not do nearly enough.

President Obama is trying to change that equation. He has said so repeatedly in his State of the Union speeches and other messages, and he returned to that theme a few days ago. This time, Mr. Obama called for closing loopholes in corporate and business tax codes to free up $302 billion that would be spent over four years to fix or replace aging bridges, roads, tunnels and rails — an infrastructure that he has described quite reasonably, if inelegantly, as “raggedy.”

What becomes of this latest presidential appeal is swathed in doubt. Anything that smacks of a tax increase is bound to face resistance in Congress, especially in this election year. Even catastrophe has failed to create a sense of urgency sufficient to spur officialdom to do much more to keep the ground, literally, from falling out from underneath us.

Reuters
 

President Barack Obama will strike a firmly populist tone in his 2015 budget plan on Tuesday, proposing to pay for an expansion of a popular tax credit for the working poor by eliminating tax breaks claimed by wealthy Americans.

The proposal to expand one of the most popular U.S. government poverty reduction programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit, would cost $60 billion, a modest amount in a budget in which the president has $1.014 trillion in spending to parcel out, the White House said.

Obama would pay for the tax credit expansion by closing tax loopholes exploited typically by wealthy fund managers or employees of professional service companies such as law, consulting or lobbying firms.

The president's budget request is a scant two-tenths of a percent higher than his 2014 budget of $1.012 trillion because both amounts were set in a congressional budget deal in January.

Reuters
 

A woman buried alive with her husband by an avalanche that roared down a mountainside and swallowed their house in Missoula, Montana, late last week has died of her injuries, police said on Monday.

Michel Colville, 68, a textile artist, and her husband, Fred Allendorf, 66, a professor emeritus at the nearby University of Montana campus, were trapped and missing in the snow for hours before they were rescued on Friday evening.

An 8-year-old boy buried in the snow also was pulled to safety from a nearby yard about 90 minutes after the avalanche struck.

Colville died on Sunday night, Missoula police Sergeant Travis Welsh said, but there was no information available about the nature or extent of her injuries.

Allendorf, initially listed in critical condition, has since been upgraded to serious condition at St. Patrick Hospital, while the boy, who was not publicly identified, was listed in fair condition.

WORLD NEWS

DW
 

South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that the missiles, fired into the Sea of Japan, were thought to be Scud-C models, capable of flying roughly 500 km (300 miles).

According to South Korea's defense ministry, the missiles are usually fired from launch pads and can be activated with minimal preparation. The distance they can travel would enable them to reach targets in South Korea and Japan.

Monday's report follows claims that Pyongyang carried out a similar test last week, firing four short-range Scud missiles off the east coast.
That test came just days after South Korea and the United States carried out their annual joint military exercises.

Washington accused North Korea of violating UN resolutions, which forbid Pyongyang from "launching any ballistic missile," including Scud missiles.

DW
 

US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are not what you'd call a dream team. Their personal relationship is difficult, as are the issues they're confronting. In particular, nuclear negotiations with Iran have led to increased tensions in recent months between the US and Israel.

"Obama and Netanyahu are divided not only on policy but in terms of world outlooks, and even their personalities," said Jim Phillips, an expert on the Middle East at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington. For Netanyahu, Israel's security has absolute priority. But Obama has in the past expressed an understanding for the country's opponents, which has not only irritated Israel but also countries such as Saudi Arabia. "But in the long run, the US-Israeli relations are on a solid basis," said Phillips.

Political observers expect two main topics to be up for discussion at Monday's talks in Washington. The controversial negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program will certainly remain high on the agenda, but the leaders will also address the stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Al Jazeera America
 

Visiting Abkhazia includes some quirks. As a largely unrecognized country, Abkhazia has consulates only in Russia and Venezuela, so for visitors from any other country, it issues visas by email. To enter Abkhazia, you first check in at a Georgian police post. This is not an official border post, because to Georgians, you are not crossing an international border but are entering a part of their country over which they have temporarily lost control. You then trundle the half-mile across the narrow Inguri River, either walking over the heavily potholed bridge or — for a little over 50 cents — climbing in the back of a horse-drawn cart and riding across.

Spiegel Online
 

Amid tensions over Japan's historical war crimes, Chinese President Xi Jinping had wanted Chancellor Angela Merkel to show him World War II memorials during his upcoming visit to Berlin. Germany, however, wants no part of Beijing's propaganda offensive.

China, Reuters reported in February, wants Japan to be more like Germany -- specifically, it wants Tokyo to do more to acknowledge the suffering Japan inflicted on China during World War II. Chinese President Xi Jinping wanted to underline that desire during his upcoming March visit to Berlin by taking in some of the myriad war memorials which dot the German capital.

The Guardian
 

"What do you want? I'm ready to listen!" presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah roared to the crowd through speakers reverberating with feedback, on a platform surrounded by palm trees and set against the snowy caps of the Hindu Kush mountains.

From the crowd came cries for a road, a canal, flood defences. Old men pushed forward with handwritten demands on scraps of paper, while a sick young boy tried to squirm through the ropes holding back the crowd to give the politicians on stage a dossier about his illness.

The rally was the first campaign foray by a would-be president outside Kabul, where the bureaucratic and political preparations for the historic 5 April vote have all been centred. The capital exerts a huge cultural and political tug on Afghanistan. It is home to more than one in 10 of its people, a magnet for economic migrants and those fleeing violence, and a bubble of relative safety for the elite and foreigners. But it is not where the election will be won.

The Guardian
 

Rebekah Brooks knew that News International's position in 2009 that phone hacking at the News of World was down to a "rogue reporter" was "shaky" after she was shown documents that eavesdropping on voicemails went beyond the royal household, the Old Bailey has heard.

She told the phone-hacking trial that the corporate position that the unlawful interception was down to a "rogue" reporter on the paper had "come from the News of the World editor Colin Myler".

The court heard that the Guardian article in July 2009 claimed News International had agreed a £1m out-of-court settlement with Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, whose phone had been hacked.

Within two weeks documents had emerged publicly that showed the News of the World had transcripts of 35 of Taylor's messages attached to an internal email from a reporter Ross Hindley marked "For Neville".

Brooks said she was shown this email before it emerged in public sometime in July 2009.

Reuters
 

Islamist insurgents have killed at least 31 people in a village in northeast Nigeria, a lawmaker said on Monday, taking the death toll from three days of attacks to 116 as soldiers struggle to contain raging violence.

Insurgents have killed more than 400 people in just over a month, security sources say, making it one of the deadliest periods in the Islamist sect Boko Haram's insurgency, which began with an uprising in Borno state in 2009.

Gunmen stormed Mafa village in Borno, around 50 km (30 miles) east of the state capital Maiduguri, at around 8 p.m. on Sunday, shooting fleeing civilians and throwing explosives at occupied houses, witness Auwalu Gunda said.

State senator Ahmed Zannah said 29 civilians died in the raid and two policemen were killed in a bomb blast on Monday while they were trying to remove bodies and question survivors about the initial attack.

THE ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE, HEALTH AND TECHNOLOGY

Al Jazeera America
 

NEW YORK — At least 53 people in 10 states have been infected with measles in the last two months, alarming officials who say the highly contagious disease was all but eradicated in the United States a decade ago.

Unvaccinated children and adults have been diagnosed with the sometimes fatal disease in unrelated outbreaks in states including California, New York, Oregon, Hawaii and Texas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC.

The development of these clusters of people vulnerable to the disease has many experts worried. “We don’t have good national data, or even any data, that shows how large a threat these (unvaccinated) clusters are,” said Gregory Wallace, the CDC’s point man for measles and other infectious diseases.

Experts say the return of measles and, to a lesser degree, mumps is due to a decade-long backlash against common vaccines. Pockets of underimmunized children have left an unknown number of communities vulnerable to the virus.

The resistance to getting inoculations comes from an unlikely variety of views:  Deeply conservative parents reject the government’s interfering with their child rearing; orthodox religious groups dislike vaccines for being man-made, not God-given; and well-educated, health-conscious, affluent and Internet-literate parents don’t see vaccines as organic or natural.

Spiegel Online
 

After years of delays, Siemens' next-generation high-speed ICE trains have finally been approved by German regulators. But another hurdle still lies ahead: getting permission to run them to London.

December 20, 2013, at 1:02 p.m. That's the exact moment the operating license for German national railroad operator Deutsche Bahn's newest ICE high-speed train came through from the Federal Railway Authority (EBA). Martin Steuger remembers this not because he was surprised, he says, but because he was pleased.

Steuger -- who works for Siemens, the German train manufacturer -- currently has the most thankless job in the German railway industry. A heavyset man with unshakeable good humor, he is responsible for the development of the 407-series ICE, also known as "Velaro D," which has become a massive disgrace for Siemens.

NPR
 

About a year ago, pediatric otolaryngologist Blake Papsin went into a patient's room at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. He was surprised by the roar of a sleep machine the parents had brought to help their child conk out amid the beeps and buzzes of the hospital.

"I can't even talk to you. It's too loud,' Papsin remembers telling the parents. That chance encounter sparked his interest in measuring exactly how loud the infant sleep machines, designed to mask environmental sounds, can get.

The answer: pretty loud. In research published online Monday in Pediatrics, Papsin and his colleagues report that at maximum volume, all 14 machines tested exceeded 50 A-weighted decibels, or dBA, measured at a distance of about a yard or closer. (A dBA is a unit of sound pressure adjusted to account for how the human ear actually perceives the sound.) All but one machine were capable of exceeding 50 dBA even from a distance of about 2.2 yards.

NPR
 

Drivers will soon be able to control their iPhones by hitting dashboard knobs, tapping a touchscreen or via voice control as part of a system Apple is unveiling to bridge the gap between smartphones and cars.

Called CarPlay, it aims to keep drivers from fumbling with their phones while they're behind the wheel, even as it brings them more options (and potential distractions) in a wider range of apps that drivers can access on the go.

Apple says CarPlay will be available later this year in vehicles made by Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Jaguar, Volvo and Ferrari. The system will be featured in models unveiled later this week at the Geneva International Motor Show by Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and Ferrari.

The company also cites commitments for future collaborations with a dozen other carmakers such as Ford, Toyota, BMW and Nissan.

CNET
 

Good news for the Verizon faithful.
Verizon Wireless has simplified its prepaid pricing options and made the offer more flexible.
Instead of offering different tiers of service, Verizon now offers prepaid smartphone customers a single $45 a month plan that comes with unlimited voice minutes and text messaging plus 500MB of data. Customers who want more than 500MB of data can add it a la carte.

And customers who add 1GB or more of data per month get to use their unused data until it's gone or up to three months, whichever comes first.

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