Welcome to the Overnight News Digest
(graphic by palantir)
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.
9 Progressive Vets to Watch in the Battle for Congress - Six years ago, Democrats rode a wave of public disaffection with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to take back Congress. Part of their winning strategy was to tout military veterans as progressive candidates. Few of these "fighting Dems" made it into office; of 50 candidates listed by Democrats, 5 were elected to the House, and 1 became a senator. But they helped wrest the national security mantle from Republicans, and supported successful efforts to wind down the wars, expand military opportunities for women, and repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
This year, the Dems are again trying to take back the House, and again they're relying on military experience to help. So far, 41 progressive-leaning vets are running for Congress
--By Adam Weinstein, Mother Jones
Can GMO Mosquitoes Save You From Dengue?
To combat dengue fever, a biotech firm unleashes genetically engineered bloodsuckers. What could possibly go wrong?
[S]pecialized skeeters, developed by the British company Oxitec, are genetically engineered to need the antibiotic tetracycline—common in the lab but scant in the wild—in order to survive past the larval stage. The altered males mate with wild females and presto: Lacking tetracycline to feed on, their offspring die before they're old enough to bite.
(Illustration by David Goldin)
So far, Oxitec has teamed up with local officials and released its critters in Brazil, Malaysia, and the Cayman Islands—where the company claims an 80 percent decline in the Aedes aegypti population over three months. Mosquito control wonks everywhere were impressed. Oxitec's method can cost less than spraying, never mind the nasty chemicals ...
This February the company secured an investment of $13 million to expand its technology. ...[T]he University of California-Irvine are testing out their own Aedes aegypti mutants, which are engineered to produce flightless offspring.
But not everyone is convinced ... "This technology hasn't been properly tested, nor is it clear that it's going to work," says Eric Hoffman, who tracks genetic engineering issues for the environmental group Friends of the Earth. "The public isn't being told the whole truth."
For starters, Hoffman says, no one quite knows what will happen to an ecosystem suddenly devoid of Aedes aegypti. Suppose a worse mosquito species takes over? ...
Then there are the offspring that don't self-destruct. Oxitec admits that a small percentage of its altered mosquitoes, including biting females, can survive in the lab without tetracycline. Introducing any new engineered species into the wild, Hoffman says, brings up the possibility that we may be allergic to it.
-- Kiera Butler, Mother Jones
Epithet that divides Mexicans is banned by Oxnard school district - [I]ndigenous leaders are fighting back against an epithet that lingers among immigrants from Mexico, directed at their own compatriots. Earlier this month the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project in Oxnard launched the "No me llames Oaxaquita" campaign. "Don't call me little Oaxacan" aims to persuade local school districts to prohibit the words "Oaxaquita" and "indito" (little Indian) from being used on school property, to form committees to combat bullying and to encourage lessons about indigenous Mexican culture and history.
Indigenous Mexicans have come to the U.S. in increasing numbers in the last two decades. Some estimates now put them at 30% of California's farmworkers. In Ventura County, there are about 20,000 indigenous Mexicans, most of whom are Mixtec from the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero who work in the strawberry industry, according to local organizers.
Many speak little or no Spanish and are frequently subjected to derision and ridicule from other Mexicans. The treatment follows a legacy of discrimination toward indigenous people in Mexico, said William Perez, a professor of education at Claremont Graduate University who has interviewed and surveyed numerous indigenous Mexican students.
"One of the main themes is the discrimination, bullying, teasing and verbal abuse that they receive from other Mexican immigrant classmates who are not indigenous," he said. The abuse, which often goes unnoticed or is minimized by teachers and administrators, has left some of the indigenous students too embarrassed to speak their native languages, he said.
Paloma Esquivel, Los Angeles Times
Wind farms considering detection systems to prevent bird deaths - [W]ind farms are considering using radar units and experimental telemetry systems that they hope will avoid harming birds by identifying incoming species early enough to switch off the massive turbines and then — to minimize costs and maximize profits — turn them back on again as quickly as possible.
"The greatest threat to migrating birds in my lifetime is unfolding in those mountains," said Jesse Grantham, former California condor coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "As for condors, strikes are inevitable. They travel together when a food source appears, so a single turbine blade could take out a lot of them in one swing."
Sahagun, Los Angeles Times,
Hollywood a longtime friend of the CIA - Some Republican lawmakers were outraged when federal records released last week showed that the White House, CIA and Defense Department granted high-level access last year to a pair of acclaimed filmmakers researching an action thriller about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
The documents tell "a damning story of extremely close, unprecedented, and potentially dangerous collaboration" between the filmmakers and the Obama administration, fumed New York Rep. Peter T. King, GOP chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
The Defense Department's inspector general is investigating whether any classified information was improperly disclosed. But barring that, the episode is just the latest in an increasingly close, cooperative arrangement — spanning administrations — that gives Hollywood extraordinary access to military assets and CIA operatives. In turn, the Pentagon and CIA have exercised subtle and not-so-subtle influence on scripts and helped burnish their images on screen.
--Ken Dilanian and Rebecca Keegan, LA Times
"More than one in four Africans—close to 218 million people—is undernourished," the UN Development Progam declared in a recent report. With food prices gyrating upward in recent years, the situation has reached a crisis ...
(Pete Souza/White House photo)
According to President Obama and his fellow heads of state in the G-8 (US, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, Canada, and Russia), the solution lies in the private sector. At last weekend's G-8 summit at Camp David, the group launched "The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition," described as a "commitment by G-8 nations, African countries and private sector partners to lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years through inclusive and sustained agricultural growth."
The "private-sector partners" in the alliance have pledged $3 billion in new investments in African ag over the next decade ... to include global agribiz giants Cargill, Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, and Yara; and junk-food behemoths Unilever, Kraft, Hershey’s, and Mars.
And a whopping $2 billion of the total $3 billion in pledged investments will come in the form of a single "world-class fertilizer production facility" planned by the Norwegian company Yara,...
Over on the Triple Crisis blog, Tufts researchers Sophia Murphy and Tim Wise spell out what's wrong with this picture:
... Corporations are accountable to their shareholders, obliged to make a profit. They are not charities. They are bound by law, but not by the public interest. They are not bound by the outcomes of the Paris and Accra Aid Effectiveness conferences, which committed donors to allow and encourage national ownership of development spending and to better coordinate their efforts. They are not bound by the five Rome Principles, agreed by over 60 Heads of State at the 2009 World Food Summit, which reinforced the aid effectiveness outcomes focused specifically on donor investments in agriculture. Corporations are not parties to the human rights covenants that oblige most governments to realize the universal human right to food.... African governments had to agree to "refine policies in order to improve investment opportunities," which is an uncomfortable echo of the old IMF "structural adjustment" agreements that forced countries to open their food markets to foreign competition in order to qualify for loans. On Alternet, Jill Richardson has a good post on how large agribiz projects often have little relevance to Africa's small-scale farmers—the very people best positioned to solve the continent's hunger problems.
—By Tom Philpott, Mother Jones -
Obama calls treatment of Vietnam War veterans "a disgrace" - (Reuters) - President Barack Obama called the treatment decades ago of returning Vietnam War veterans a "national shame" on Monday and promised as commander-in-chief not to send U.S. troops back into harm's way without a clear mission and strategy.
Many of those who survived brutal fights in the Southeast Asian jungle faced derision when they got home in the 1960s and 1970s as a result of public opposition to that Cold War battle.
Some 58,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War, compared to 4,000 who were killed in Iraq and nearly 2,000 who have been killed so far in Afghanistan.
--Jeff Mason and Laura MacInnis, Reuters
Insight: European firms plan for Greek unrest and euro exit - The planning, says Dixons chief Sebastian James, may look alarmist but it's good to be prepared.
Company bosses around Europe agree. As the financial crisis in Greece worsens, companies are getting ready for everything from social unrest to a complete meltdown of the financial system.
Those preparations include sweeping cash out of Greece every night, cutting debts, weeding out badly paying customers and readying for a switch to a new Greek drachma if the country is forced to abandon the euro.
"Most companies are getting ready and preparing for a Greek exit and have looked at cash, treasury and currency issues," said Roger Bayly, a partner at advisory and accountancy firm KPMG.
--David Jones , Reuters