Welcome to the Overnight News Digest
The OND is published each night around midnight, Eastern Time.
The originator of OND was Magnifico.
Current Contributers are ScottyUrb, Bentliberal, wader, Inerceptor7, rfall, JML9999 and NeonVincent.
Stories and Headlines
- Man who hired Meg Whitman at eBay wouldn't vote for her
Meg Whitman likes to talk about how she can translate her experience as the former CEO at eBay into being California's governor -- even though she's never run for public office before and for decades couldn't be troubled to vote.
But the man who hired Whitman at eBay -- Pierre Omidyar -- told Bloomberg TV Tuesday that he wouldn't vote for Whitman if he lived in California.
- Woodward's 'Obama's Wars' reveals battles over exit plan
By PETER BAKER (nytimes)
Published: September 21, 2010
WASHINGTON — Some of the critical players in President Obama’s national security team doubt his strategy in Afghanistan will succeed and have spent much of the last 20 months quarreling with one another over policy, personalities and turf, according to a new book.
The book, "Obama’s Wars," by the journalist Bob Woodward, depicts an administration deeply torn over the war in Afghanistan even as the president agreed to triple troop levels there amid suspicion that he was being boxed in by the military. Mr. Obama’s top White House adviser on Afghanistan and his special envoy for the region are described as believing the strategy will not work.
The president concluded from the start that "I have two years with the public on this" and pressed advisers for ways to avoid a big escalation, the book says. "I want an exit strategy," he implored at one meeting. Privately, he told Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to push his alternative strategy opposing a big troop buildup in meetings, and while Mr. Obama ultimately rejected it, he set a withdrawal timetable because, "I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party."
- Some Obama health care changes start Thursday
The first significant wave of changes in the new federal health law will take effect Thursday, including a provision putting an end to insurers' practice of excluding children with pre-existing health conditions from coverage and another one allowing young adults to stay on their parents' plans until age 26.
Most major elements of the landmark law, part of an overall plan to extend coverage to 30 million Americans, won't be in place for nearly four years. In 2014, the law will require most Americans to obtain health insurance, and insurers will be prevented from rejecting applicants because of their pre-existing medical conditions.
- Workers unearth huge fossil cache in California
Workers building a substation in California have discovered 1,500 bone fragments from about 1.4 million years ago.
The fossil haul includes remains from an ancestor of the sabre-toothed tiger, large ground sloths, deer, horses, camels and numerous small rodents.
Plant matter found at the site in the arid San Timoteo Canyon, 85 miles (137km) south-east of Los Angeles, showed it was once much greener.T
- Vatican Bank being investigated
The head of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, is under investigation as part of a money-laundering inquiry, police sources say.
Prosecutors also seized 23m euros ($30m; £19m) from the bank's accounts with another smaller institution.
The inquiry was launched after two suspicious transactions were reported to tax police in Rome.
The Vatican said it was "perplexed and astonished", and expressed full confidence in Mr Tedeschi.
- UN faults Israeli & Hamas probes into Gaza conflict
A UN panel has criticised Israel and Hamas for failing to conduct credible and adequate probes into alleged war crimes during the 2008-2009 Gaza war.
Israel only investigated low-ranking officials, the three-member panel said.
And a Hamas inquiry "made no serious effort" to address allegations raised by a previous UN investigation led by South African Judge Richard Goldstone.
Continue reading the main story
The investigations... remain incomplete in some cases or fall significantly short of meeting international standards in others"
End Quote UN Human Rights Council Panel
More than 1,400 Gazans and 13 Israelis died during Israel's 22-day assault on Gaza which began in December 2008.
- Mexico Hurricane crocodile escape contained
Hundreds of crocodiles reported to have escaped from a breeding centre in Mexico during Hurricane Karl are still contained in a nature reserve, Mexico's environment agency has said.
The reptiles were reported to have swam away after their outdoor enclosure in Veracruz state was flooded.
But officials said only some had got out of their cages, and they had remained inside a nature reserve.
- Google releases censorship tools
The US government asked Google for user information 4,287 times during the first six months of 2010.
During the same timeframe the UK government put in over 1,000 such requests.
This is just two snippets from Google's new Transparency Report, a set of tools designed to show censorship levels around the globe.
Civil liberty groups welcomed the tool but called on Google to provide even more detail about the requests.
- Somalia's Prime Minister Sharmarke resigns
The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in Somalia says little is likely to change on the ground as a result of the resignation.
However, he said it could come as a blow to the insurgents who were happy for the political turmoil to continue.
Islamist militants now control most of southern and central Somalia and the government, backed by African Union peacekeepers, runs only a few parts of the capital.
Somalia has been wracked by conflict ever since President Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.
But insurgents from the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab group have recently intensified their campaign. Earlier this month suicide bombers attacked Mogadishu airport, killing two African Union peacekeepers and a number of civilians.
- Twitter scrambles to block worms
Twitter has patched a flaw in its website that was being exploited to pump out pop-up messages and links to porn sites.
Initially, users only had to move their mouse over a message containing a link - not click it - to open it in the browser.
The code was spread by worms, self-replicating, malicious pieces of code.
- The National Museum of the American Indian
Today is the anniversary of the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian in 2004. I attended the opening and walked with over 25,000 other indigenous people in the Native Nations Procession that started the festivities. ... I don't live on or near a reservation so it was rewarding to be with so many other people who look like me. Complete strangers would smile at me as I walked around D.C. because we could see that we shared blood, the same cheekbones and dark eyes.
- Homeowners across the country my be able to challenge foreclosure proceedings
Some of the nation's largest mortgage companies used a single document processor who said he signed off on foreclosures without having read the paperwork - an admission that may open the door for homeowners across the country to challenge foreclosure proceedings.
The legal predicament compelled Ally Financial, the nation's fourth-largest home lender, to halt evictions of homeowners in 23 states this week. Now Ally officials say hundreds of other companies, including mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, may also be affected because they use Ally to service their loans.
As head of Ally's foreclosure document processing team, 41-year-old Jeffrey Stephan was legally required to review cases to make sure the proceedings were justified and the information was accurate. He was also required to sign in the presence of a notary.
In a sworn deposition, he testified that he did neither.
- Russia: Protest Over Gay Rights
At least eight gay-rights activists were taken into police custody on Tuesday at a protest calling for the arrest of Moscow’s conservative mayor, Yuri M. Luzhkov, left, a longtime opponent of gay rights.
- Paris Offers Water With Bubbles, but No Bottles
Paris - In the latest in a series of unusual efforts to make Paris green, the city is now offering residents free sparkling water to try to wean Parisians not from red wine, but from overconsumption of plastic bottles ...
The new water fountain is part of an operation "aimed at promoting tap water in a country where we invest a lot to preserve its quality," Mr. Burguière added.
The fountain is connected to the public water system and uses six taps to provide both sparkling and flat water.
- Baby snow leopard filmed in wild mountains of Bhutan
"No wonder hardly anyone sees snow leopards, they are just so well camouflaged. You could literally walk four metres past one and not notice," says BBC wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan, who took the images.
Video & Story
- A social network for drivers
(A) startup (company) hopes drivers will join its mobile social network, which is tied to license plate numbers, so they can send driver-to-driver messages.
ENRON AUDITORS FIND FLORIDA GOP SQUEAKY CLEAN!
|Holes in the GOP audit
By Daniel Ruth, St. Petersburg Times correspondent
Sheesh, Neville Chamberlain's Munich peace treaty with Adolf Hitler had more credibility than the Republican Party of Florida's whitewash audit of its spending irregularities.
You would think the party of Richard Nixon and Dick Cheney could do a better job when it comes to cover-ups instead of simply offering what amounts to: "The dog ate our expense accounts."
It also probably doesn't help the GOP's veracity that among all the accounting/auditing experts in the country, party chairman John Thrasher, R-"I Hold In My Hand A List of Communists In The State Department," hired the same guys who counted the numbers for Enron.
GOP records vague about who paid for Crist's family trip to Disney World
By Aaron Sharockman, Times Staff Writer
A Republican Party of Florida investigation into party finances revealed that former party chairman Jim Greer and Gov. Charlie Crist spent a weekend with their families at Disney World in 2009.
The cost: More than $13,400.
The tab: Picked up by Republican Party of Florida donors.
"My family paid for our personal expenses," an angry Crist responded Saturday.
Who paid for what? How much? And how do we know?
PolitiFact Florida reviewed Crist's weekend Disney getaway seeking answers. We we found is that while the governor tried to pay his own way, it's difficult to say with certainty that every dollar came from his pocket and not the wallets of party donors.
- Rumsfeld's Revenge
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's memoir, Known and Unknown will be released in January 2011 by Penguin Group (USA)'s Sentinel imprint. To write the book, Rumsfeld (pictured) had to use previously unreleased and recently declassified documents. The non-fiction publication will include anecdotes about everyone from Elvis Presley to his good friend, former Vice-President Dick Cheney.
Funniest Headline Award for this story (or should it be Honesty Award?) belongs to the New York Observer:
And that's the news that's fit to print (and then some) ...