Welcome to the Overnight News Digest (OND) for Monday, August 30, 2010.
OND is a 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 each day near 12:00AM Eastern Time.
The OND concept was borne under the keen keyboard of Magnifico and continues under the leadership of Neon Vincent.
Reader participation is invited and encouraged, so feel free to post your own stories, photos, etc.
Sit back and enjoy the conversation and if you haven't already done so, please check out this important diary.
The photograph featured in tonight's OND is one I took of side pocket's auto.
|Federal inspections of the two Iowa egg farms at the heart of a nationwide recall and salmonella outbreak found widespread safety problems, including barns infested with flies, maggot and rodents, the Food and Drug Administration said Monday.
Additional problems included overflowing manure pits, improper worker sanitation and wild birds roosting around feed bins.
“Clearly the observations here reflect significant deviations from what’s expected,” said Mike Taylor, deputy commissioner for food of the F.D.A., said of reports released on Monday.
About half a billion eggs were recalled this month from the Iowa operations of two companies, Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms. About 1,500 reported cases of Salmonella Enteritidis have been linked to tainted eggs — the largest known outbreak associated with that strain of salmonella
|SANTA ANA, Calif. — Orange County has been a national symbol of conservatism for more than 50 years: birthplace of President Richard M. Nixon and home to John Wayne, a bastion for the John Birch Society, a land of orange groves and affluence, the region of California where Republican presidential candidates could always count on a friendly audience.
But this iconic county of 3.1 million people passed something of a milestone in June. The percentage of registered Republican voters dropped to 43 percent, the lowest level in 70 years.
Hurricane Earl path may cross Long Island, Cape Cod before Labor Day
|The latest National Weather Service projection has moved the track of the storm, now a Category 4 hurricane, farther west. If Earl stays on that path, it could threaten the eastern US, especially Long Island and parts of New England, as early as Thursday night or Friday.
Weather service officials, however, say, “Nothing is etched in stone.”
“The margin of error is still 200 to 300 miles,” says Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the National Hurricane Center in Miami. “But everyone needs to be paying attention to this.”
Even if the storm does not hit the coast, forecasters are certain it will cause rough surf that could prevent thousands of residents and vacationers in the Northeast from enjoying a dip in the ocean this Labor Day weekend.
Obama rips GOP for blocking business aid bill
|Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama blasted Senate Republicans on Monday for blocking a small business assistance bill, calling their opposition "pure partisan politics."
The country needs a "full scale attack" on economic sluggishness, he told reporters at the White House.
"While we have taken a series of measures and come a long way ... too many Americans are still looking for work and too many communities are far from being whole again," he said.
The president also said his economic team is "hard at work" on a series of new measure designed both to spark short-term hiring and lay the foundation for long-term economic growth.
The World Watches America’s Heated Mosque Debates
|Last August, there was anecdotal evidence that people in many parts of the global village were watching, if not always quite understanding, the furious debate in the United States over health insurance, as it devolved into televised shouting matches about “death panels.” This year, it seems that the same sort of attention is being paid to the similarly intense fury around proposals to construct a handful of mosques in American cities as far apart as New York and Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Last week, two terrorism experts who monitor jihadist Web sites warned that, with outraged protests against mosque-building and provocative events like a scheduled Sept. 11 Koran-burning in Florida and a “9/11 Christian Center at Ground Zero,” Americans “are handing Al Qaeda a propaganda coup, an absolute propaganda coup.”
|The 31-ton drill bored 50 feet into the rock, the first step in the weeklong digging of a "pilot hole" to guide the way for the rescue. Later the drill will be outfitted with larger bits to expand the hole and pull the men through — a process that could take four months.
Amid reports that the miners had moved their camp to a drier area nearly 1,000 feet deeper into the mine, a new video showed them to be generally upbeat but emotional about their separation from families.
The miners have been trapped more than 2,300 feet down inside the San Jose gold and copper mine under Chile’s Atacama Desert since a cave-in on August 5. The ordeal now equals the longest known survival in an underground disaster - only three miners who survived 25 days trapped in a looded mine in southern China last year are known to have survived underground as long.
LDS bishop shot and killed; suspect identified
|VISALIA, California (ABC 4 News) – A Mormon bishop was gunned down while working in his office after a church meeting Sunday afternoon. Police did not know why Kenneth James Ward targeted and killed the bishop.
On Tuesday, the shooter's brother Mike Ward said that Kenneth had been a member of the LDS faith in the 1980s, but felt 'shunned to hell' by a bishop. Mike Ward said thier family was raised LDS, and that they used to attend church in the same building where the shooting took place.
Ward also said that his brother was mentally ill.
Clearwire launches Rover pay-as-you-go 4G service
|Clearwire announced a new pay-as-you-go brand for its 4G wireless service on Monday.
The new brand is targeting 18- to 24-year-olds who are recently out of college, urban, and looking to stay connected. The service will not require a contract, and customers can sign up for unlimited data usage for just $5 per day, $20 per week, or $50 a month.
The Rover Puck will offer download speeds of 3Mbps to 6Mbps. The Puck is available for $150. And the Rover Stick is $100 and will work on MacBooks using Mac OS X, as well as Netbooks and laptops using Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. It also offers the same download speeds of between 3Mbps and 6Mbps.
Mexico sacks 3,200 police officers
|Mexico has sacked 3,200 federal police officers, around 10 per cent of its force, in a bid to crack down on corruption, the government announced.
Facundo Rosas, the police commissioner, said at a news conference on Monday that the officers had failed to pass "confidence tests".
More than 450 of them are accused of committing crimes. Another 1,485 officers expected to lose their jobs in the coming weeks, Rosas said.
The commissioner's announcement is aimed at bolstering confidence in the Mexican federal police, who have taken a leading role in the country's four-year-old drug war but are widely viewed as incompetent and corrupt.
Turf wars between Mexico's seven major drug cartels and government forces have killed at least 28,000 people since Felipe Calderon, the Mexican president, began a crackdown in late 2006.
|As human rights activists around the world marked the International Day of the Disappeared by focusing on Peru, Iraq, Nepal and Mexico, Leslie Spillett sat in her office in Winnipeg, contemplating the fate of more than 500 indigenous women who have disappeared in Canada.
The violence, primarily targeting young women from disadvantaged backgrounds over the past three decades, is "truly appalling" according to Amnesty International and, say human rights groups, has not been properly addressed by security forces in one of the world's richest countries.
When framed purely in numerical terms, the disappearances in Canada pale in comparison to the 15,000 who vanished during Peru's battle with Shining Path fighters in the early 1990s and come nowhere near to the estimated one million who have disappeared in Iraq during 30 years of dictatorship and occupation.
But these facts provide little comfort to the families of the missing women.
"The measurement of what is worse is a pointless question," Jessica Yee, an indigenous youth activist in Ontario province, says. "Do you really brush something off because it is not open war?"
U.S. Sanctions Aim at N. Korean Elite
|WASHINGTON — The latest target for the United States, as it tries to tighten the screws on North Korea, is a shadowy party organization, known as Office 39, which raises hard currency to buy fine liquor, exotic food and luxury cars for cronies of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-il.
N. Korea Confirms Leader’s China Trip (August 31, 2010)
Under a new executive order, the United States will try to choke off the flow of luxury goods into North Korea, which officials say Mr. Kim uses to buy the loyalty of the political elite, as well as the sale of conventional weapons by the North. The Treasury Department also designated entities suspected of trafficking in nuclear technology, using existing authority.
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera to be reunited on Mexican bill
|-The Bank of Mexico said Monday it would place in circulation a new 500-peso bill featuring the well known faces of two of the country's best-known artists, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. In the bank's official video to promote the bill's anti-counterfeiting features (embedded above in Spanish), two figures resembling the celebrity couple stroll in costume around traditional and modern sites in Mexico.
The previous face on the 500-peso bill was Ignacio Zaragoza, hero of the Battle of Puebla. Milenio reports that in 2006, efforts to replace his face on the note were resisted in Congress. This time, the Bank of Mexico said it had the autonomy to change the look of Mexico's currency as it bolsters efforts to combat money laundering and counterfeiting.
Mexicana Airlines suspends all flights
|Mexicana Airlines suspended all operations Friday, ending a rapid financial unraveling for Mexico's oldest air carrier. The suspension affects not only the flagship airline but also domestic affiliates MexicanaClick and MexicanaLink. All flights were canceled as of midday Saturday.
"Financial deterioration and lack of agreements force Grupo Mexicana to stop flying," said a statement posted on the company's website. "Grupo Mexicana deeply regrets any inconvenience caused to passengers."
|A rare victory was won by Iranian moderates Monday. The legislature opted to shelve a controversial set of proposals that activists said would have further restricted women's rights.
According to a report by the Iranian Labor News Agency, Iran's parliament has decided to send three articles of the family law bill back into committee for additional study.
|AMRITSAR, India — The groaning, clattering machines never stop, transforming 12 tons of whole wheat flour every day into nearly a quarter-million discs of flatbread called roti. These purpose-built contraptions, each 20 feet long, extrude the dough, roll it flat, then send it down a gas-fired conveyor belt, spitting out a never-ending stream of hot, floppy, perfectly round bread.
It is lunchtime at what may be the world’s largest free eatery, the langar, or community kitchen at this city’s glimmering Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of the Sikh religion. Everything is ready for the big rush. Thousands of volunteers have scrubbed the floors, chopped onions, shelled peas and peeled garlic. At least 40,000 metal plates, bowls and spoons have been washed, stacked and are ready to go.
Anyone can eat for free here, and many, many people do. On a weekday, about 80,000 come. On weekends, almost twice as many people visit. Each visitor gets a wholesome vegetarian meal, served by volunteers who embody India’s religious and ethnic mosaic.
|When seeking peace in the Middle East, it pays to learn from your mistakes. That's what veterans of previous peace talks advise as the Obama administration begins its first effort this week to bridge decades of discord between Israelis and Palestinians.
Seven front-line negotiators dating back to President Jimmy Carter's successful Camp David accord between Israel and Egypt offered lessons from the past 33 years that they say could help President Obama avoid the pitfalls of the past.
To succeed where most of his predecessors have failed, they say, Obama must be strong but not ever-present. He should involve Arab states and others but remain the dominant third party. He should stress both the importance of avoiding leaks and getting things down on paper.
Perhaps above all else, former negotiators say, the president should be careful to avoid outright failure even if he doesn't achieve total success.
"What many rightly fear is that if we fail a third time, it will discredit negotiation as the path to a solution in the Middle East," says Stephen Hadley, who led the National Security Council under President George W. Bush during Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in 2007-08.
Banks’ Self-Dealing Super-Charged Financial Crisis
|Over the last two years of the housing bubble, Wall Street bankers perpetrated one of the greatest episodes of self-dealing in financial history.
Faced with increasing difficulty in selling the mortgage-backed securities that had been among their most lucrative products, the banks hit on a solution that preserved their quarterly earnings and huge bonuses:
They created fake demand.
A ProPublica analysis shows for the first time the extent to which banks -- primarily Merrill Lynch, but also Citigroup, UBS and others -- bought their own products and cranked up an assembly line that otherwise should have flagged.
The products they were buying and selling were at the heart of the 2008 meltdown -- collections of mortgage bonds known as collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs.
Justice Dept: No Charges Coming Soon Against Prisoner Who Was Waterboarded
|The military prosecution of a Guantanamo prisoner — alleged to be a senior al-Qaida operative, a close associate of Osama bin Laden and the mastermind of the deadly attack on the USS Cole in Yemen — has come to a halt, reported The Washington Post.
The prisoner, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was waterboarded while in CIA custody. He allegedly confessed to orchestrating the suicide attack on the Cole attack — which killed 17 sailors and wounded many more in October 2000 – but the CIA destroyed the videotapes of his interrogation.
Dutch police question two men on trans-Atlantic flight
|Dutch police have questioned two men who arrived at Amsterdam airport from Chicago, after US authorities spotted "suspicions items" in their luggage.
One man's bags contained a mobile phone strapped to a medicine bottle, knives and watches, said US officials.
However, a spokeswoman for the US Department of Homeland Security said none of the items were dangerous "in and of themselves".
But the information was passed to the Dutch authorities, who held the men.
They were travelling on United Airlines Flight 908 from Chicago O'Hare to Amsterdam Schiphol.
Dry weather reveals archaeological 'cropmarks' in fields
|Hundreds of ancient sites have been discovered by aerial surveys, thanks to a dry start to the summer, English Heritage has said.
The surveys show marks made when crops growing over buried features develop at a different rate from those nearby.
The newly-discovered Roman and prehistoric settlements include a site near Bradford Abbas, Dorset.
The Roman camp was revealed in June after three sides became visible in sun-parched fields of barley.
The lightly-built defensive enclosure would have provided basic protection for Roman soldiers while on manoeuvres in the first century AD and is one of only four discovered in the south west of England, English Heritage said.
The dry conditions also allowed well-known sites to be photographed in greater detail.
Mexico arrests drug trafficker Edgar 'Barbie' Valdez
|Mexican police have arrested top drug trafficker Edgar Valdez, a US citizen also known as Barbie, Mexico's attorney general says.
He was reportedly detained in the centre of the country.
Edgar Valdez is linked to the influential Beltran Leyva drug cartel.
Mr Valdez has been fighting Hector Beltran Leyva for control of the drug cartel, previously led by his brother Arturo until he was shot dead by the Mexican security forces last December.
Call for inquiry into Iraq War civilian deaths
|The UK-based Iraq Body Count group said the Chilcot inquiry into the war had paid only "derisory" attention to Iraqi casualties in the conflict.
The group said the inquiry had instead "obsessed minutely" over conflicts between politicians and generals.
"One would almost think that the Iraq war largely took place in Britain," Iraq Body Count said in a statement. The organisation said there had been at least 106,000 civilian deaths in Iraq since 2003 when the war started.
Obama promises new efforts to boost economy
|Under pressure to revive the faltering recovery, President Obama said Monday that he and his economic team are discussing "additional measures" to bolster growth and spur hiring, including "further tax cuts" to encourage businesses to create jobs.
Obama offered no new proposals during brief remarks in the Rose Garden, saying he would provide details "in the days and weeks to come." Meanwhile, he urged Senate Republicans to drop their "blockade" of a Democratic measure aimed at aiding small businesses by cutting their taxes and creating a $30 billion loan fund to give them easier access to credit.
|Labor has regained a slender lead in the national two-party preferred vote, one of the key elements Prime Minister Julia Gillard has relied on to argue her party has the better right to form a minority government.
Late last night, Labor's two-party lead had dramatically turned into a deficit of about 1900 votes - with nearly 10.7 million counted - giving the Coalition a lead on both the primary and two-party vote.
But, as at 1pm, further counting had put Labor back in front by more than 3700 votes.
|Alan Boyle writes:Archaeologists have found a cave in Israel that was clearly used for funerals and feasts 12,000 years ago, during a time when humans were just starting to settle down in villages. Among the menu items: piles of steak and tortoise meat.
"We guess that people were having communal meals previously, but this is different from that," said Natalie Munro, a zooarchaeologist from the University of Connecticut and co-author of a study on the find appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "It's more than just an opportunity. It's an intentional, planned event."
The evidence suggests that the feasts and the funerals were connected — sort of like the dinners that were served after funerals at the American Legion Hall when I was growing up in Iowa. There's no sign that the Hilazon Tachtit Cave in the Galilee region of northern Israel was used as a residence 12,000 years ago, but there's plenty of evidence of funerals: Earlier excavation work turned up at least 28 human skeletons buried there, including a woman who appeared to be interred with ritual items as a shaman.
Plans for manned asteroid mission gains ground
|Plans for sending humans to visit an asteroid are heating up, with at least one company already scoping out the technological essentials for a deep space expedition within a decade, given the go-ahead.
The asteroid space trek is seen as both scientifically valuable and as a dress rehearsal for a Mars mission, NASA officials have said. It could also hone ideas for planetary defense to guard Earth from a messy head-on clash with a space rock.
Launching a manned asteroid mission by 2025 is NASA's new goal set by President Barack Obama, who announced the plan in April. The deep space mission would serve as a stepping stone to a crewed mission to Mars in the mid-2030s, he said.
Lockheed Martin, which has been building NASA's Orion space capsule to replace the agency's retiring shuttle fleet, has already completed a study on how an asteroid mission might work.