Welcome to the Overnight News Digest
The OND is published each night around midnight, Eastern Time.
The originator of OND was Magnifico.
Current Contributors are ScottyUrb, Bentliberal, wader, Oke, rfall, JML9999 and NeonVincent who also serves as chief cat herder.
Stories and Headlines
- A Climate Hazard, Medium Rare, Please
NYT - Eating a small cheeseburger for lunch is, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to driving an extra 10 miles. By contrast, eating a serving of lentils would barely get your car out of the driveway, according to a new report released on Monday by the Environmental Working Group, a research organization.
The study, “A Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health,” highlights the impacts of the nation’s meat addiction and offers a suite of user-friendly online tools to help consumers understand the many-faceted repercussions of their food choices.
In particular, the study calculates the “cradle to grave” climate impact for 20 different types of protein, including meat, cheese, seafood, beans, nuts and lentils.
- BBC: China's bee-wearing contest
- Neanderthals Mated With Humans Outside of Africa
Wired Science - Damian Labuda of the University of Montreal’s Department of Pediatrics and the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center and team have found part of the human X chromosome comes from the Neanderthals and is found only in people outside of Africa.
In a paper published in the July issue of the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, the geneticists write: “We provide evidence of a notable presence (nine percent overall) of a Neanderthal-derived X chromosome segment among all contemporary human populations outside Africa”. The team analyzed 6,092 X-chromosomes “from all inhabited continents”. Their discovery confirms earlier hypotheses that early modern man and Neanderthals mixed and mated.
- NASA spacecraft is orbiting massive asteroid
PASADENA, Calif.—NASA's Dawn spacecraft was captured into orbit around the massive asteroid Vesta after a 1.7 billion-mile journey and is preparing to begin a study of a surface that may date to the earliest era of the solar system, the space agency said Monday.
The entry into orbit occurred while the spacecraft's antenna was pointed away from Earth, so mission controllers had to wait for Dawn to re-establish contact to confirm its success.
- Mandela's 93rd birthday inspires South Africa
"South Africans celebrate Mandela Day, the birthday of their beloved anti-apartheid hero, by doing good works in his honor, bringing the nation's extremes of wealth and poverty a bit closer together."
By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Alexandra, South Africa—A highway and a mile-wide valley divide the glittering retail towers and leafy suburbs of Sandton from the exuberant chaos and squalid poverty of Alexandra township in South Africa. But on Mandela Day, the birthday of the nation's best-loved liberation hero, the gulf seems less impossible.
Attribution: South Africa The Good News / www.sagoodnews.co.za
Nelson Mandela celebrated his 93rd birthday Monday with family in his home village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape, while his adoring compatriots rolled up their sleeves and did some good.
It's a day when people in South Africa try a little kindness — 67 minutes' worth — in honor of the 67 years that Mandela worked for equality in the African nation from 1942 until his retirement from public life in 2009.
- Grandparent drivers keep kids safer in crashes, study finds
Overprotective parents, hand over the car keys: A new study finds that kids may be safer when their grandparents drive than when mom and dad are behind the wheel.
That’s the surprising conclusion of research published today in the journal Pediatrics, which found that children involved in car crashes with grandparent drivers had half the risk of being injured as kids riding with their parents.
Grandparents made up 9.5 percent of drivers in crashes involving kids between 2003 and 2007, but they were associated with only 6.6 percent of injuries, Henretig found. In addition, grandparents were just as safe as parents when it came to markers of crash type and severity, such as posted speed limits, the direction of impact and whether wrecks resulted in rollovers or tows.
- Murdoch Aides Long Tried to Blunt Scandal Over Hacking
New York Times - Interviews with dozens of current and former News Corporation employees and others involved in the multiple hacking inquiries provide an inside view of how a small group of executives pursued strategies for years that had the effect of obscuring the extent of wrongdoing in the newsroom of Britain’s best-selling tabloid. And once the hacking scandal escalated, they scrambled in vain to quarantine the damage.
Evidence indicating that The News of the World paid police for information was not handed over to the authorities for four years. Its parent company paid hefty sums to those who threatened legal action, on condition of silence. The tabloid continued to pay reporters and editors whose knowledge could prove embarrassing even after they were fired or arrested for hacking. A key editor’s computer equipment was destroyed, and e-mail evidence was lost. Internal advice to accept responsibility was ignored, former executives said. John Whittingdale, a Conservative member of Parliament who is the chairman of the committee that will question the Murdochs, said they need to come clean on the depth of the misdeeds, who authorized them and who knew what, when.
“Parliament was misled,” he said. “It will be a lengthy and detailed discussion.”
- Bachmann criticizes black farmer settlement
By MARGERY A. BECK, The Associated Press (via ajc.com)
OMAHA, Neb. — Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann pointed to one program in particular Monday when talking about wasteful government spending: a multibillion dollar settlement paid to black farmers, who claim the federal government discriminated against them for decades in awarding loans and other aid.
The issue came up after Bachmann and Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa toured flooded areas along the Missouri River. During a news conference, they fielded a question about whether farmers affected by the flooding also should be worried by proposed U.S. Department of Agriculture cuts.
The two responded by criticizing a 1999 settlement in what is known as the Pigford case, after the original plaintiff, North Carolina farmer Timothy Pigford. Late last year, President Barack Obama signed legislation authorizing a new, nearly $1.2 billion settlement for people who were denied payments in the earlier one because they missed deadlines for filing.
King has likened the Pigford settlement to "modern-day reparations" for African-Americans.
- Japan plans to ban Fukushima beef
BBC - Japan's government is set to suspend all cattle shipments from Fukushima as concerns over radiation-tainted beef escalate.
Senior Vice Health Minister Kohei Otsuka said beef from surrounding areas may also be affected.
It comes after 136 cows were found to have consumed feed affected by radioactive caesium.
- A Consumer Bust? Or a Wage Bust?
I don’t think the underlying problem is so much that American consumers have for years spent beyond their means as it is the means of typical consumers haven’t kept up with what the growing economy could have (and should have) been able to provide them.
- U.S. Pays a Third More for Defense as in 2001: Analyst
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military has essentially the same size, force structure and capabilities as it did a decade ago but costs 35 percent more, an independent public policy think tank said on Monday in an analysis of the 2012 defense budget.
The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, in a 75-page report, also said the Defense Department had spent some $46 billion over the past decade developing weapons systems that were ultimately never fielded, either due to cost overruns or technical challenges.
- Murdoch may lose grip on News Corp
Analysts say Rupert Murdoch's grip on his global media empire could be slipping as the News Corp boss prepares for an interrogation by angry British MPs tonight and his share prices continue to fall.
News Corporation Class A shares trading on the New York stock exchange closed down more than 4 per cent, or 67 cents, to $14.96 this morning, and the Class B Voting shares were down by a similar amount.
Senior analyst at BBY Mark McDonnell has told ABC News Breakfast that if the stock continues to slide the 80-year-old Mr Murdoch may have no choice but to step aside.
- Greek Union and Premier Brace for a Fight
Last month, amid violent protests, Prime Minister George A. Papandreou narrowly managed to push a new package of austerity measures through Parliament, including plans for selling $71 billion in state assets, a step that economists and the troika say is crucial to overhauling Greece’s bloated public sector.
But whether Mr. Papandreou will be able to carry out the plan will depend to a large extent on people like Mr. Fotopoulos. His union, Genop, represents workers at the Public Power Corporation, which is owned jointly by the government and by private investors.
The union vehemently opposes privatizing public entities and is known for its aggressive protests, including walkouts at the Public Power Corporation that have caused rolling power failures, costing Greece $42 million to $57 million in recent weeks, the company estimates.
- U.S. urges Gaddafi to go as rebels claim oil town
(Reuters) - Libyan and U.S. officials met face-to-face, but while Tripoli said it was seeking talks with no preconditions, Washington said it delivered a clear message: Muammar Gaddafi must go.
The secret meeting occurred at the weekend as Libyan government forces fought rebels for control of the oil port of Brega, which the insurgents said on Monday they now had surrounded in what would be a major boost to their campaign. Tripoli denied this.
The meeting was held "to deliver a clear and firm message that the only way to move forward is for Gaddafi to step down," a U.S. State Department official said.
- Gold soars above $1,600 for first time
LONDON — The price of gold soared above $1,600 for the first time on Monday as investors bought the safe-haven metal amid deepening debt worries in the eurozone and the United States.
Gold jumped as high as $1,607.45 an ounce at 1520 GMT on the London Bullion Market, as the precious metal extended its recent record-breaking surge.
It later stood at $1,604 an ounce, compared with $1,587 late on Friday.
- US Senate confirms first openly gay district judge
(AFP) WASHINGTON — The US Senate late Monday overwhelmingly confirmed the first openly gay male federal judge in US history.
Senators voted 80-13 to confirm Paul Oetken to the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy praised Oetken as "a superbly qualified nominee,"
- News Corp gets credit warning over hacking scandal
(AFP) WASHINGTON — Standard & Poor's warned News Corp. Monday its credit rating could be cut as the snowballing British phone hacking scandal threatened to claim more victims.
S&P placed News Corp.'s BBB+ rating on a negative watch -- a prelude to a potentially costly downgrade -- citing "increased business and reputation risks" from investigations into the widening phone hacking scandal in Britain.
"Since our last research update on July 13, the UK legal process has expanded and pressure from US lawmakers has increased for an FBI probe" into the practices of News Corp's media holdings in both countries, S&P said.