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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.

Regular editors are jlms qkw, Bentliberal, wader, Oke, rfall, and JML9999, with occasional guest stints from maggiejean and annetteboardman. NeonVincent edits on Saturdays and serves as chief cat herder.

Researchers find link between spying programs - Two leading computer security firms have linked some of the software code in the powerful Flame virus to the Stuxnet cyber weapon, which was widely believed to have been used by the US and Israel to attack Iran's nuclear programme.

Eugene Kaspersky, chief executive of Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab, which uncovered the Flame virus last month, said on Monday his researchers had since found that part of the Flame program code is nearly identical to code found in a 2009 version of Stuxnet.

Later in the day, the largest security firm, the US-based Symantec Corp, said it had confirmed that some source code had been shared.

The new research could bolster the belief of many security experts that Stuxnet was part of a US-led cyber program still active in the Middle East and perhaps other parts of the world.

-Al Jazeera



Wildfires in Colo., NM burn out of control - Authorities say they have found the remains of a person reported missing in an area burned by a 64-square-mile fire in northern Colorado.

Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith says 62-year-old Linda Steadman's home received two emergency notifications after the fire started this weekend, and a firefighter who tried to get to her home to warn her was chased out by flames.

... The fire also has damaged an estimated 118 structures west of Fort Collins and has prompted hundreds of evacuations.

By THOMAS PEIPERT, AP, sfgate




UN observers confirm Syria aerial attacks - United Nations monitors have said Syrian helicopters fired on rebel strongholds north of Homs and that many women and children are trapped in the city.

The observers called on Monday for "immediate and unfettered access" to the conflict zones, while in Haffeh, a mainly Sunni town near the Mediterranean coast, the US State Department said it feared a "potential massacre".

It was the first time the UN has verified repeated allegations by activists that Assad's forces have fired from helicopters in the military crackdown on rebels.

"UN observers reported heavy fighting in Rastan and Talbiseh, north of [Homs], with artillery and mortar shelling, as well as firing from helicopters, machine guns and smaller arms," UN spokeswoman Sausan Ghosheh said in a statement.

-Al Jazeera



Egypt officials say Mubarak's health at risk  - Doctors used a defibrillator twice on Hosni Mubarak when they could not find a pulse, security officials said, in the latest crisis for the ousted Egyptian president since he was sentenced to life and moved to a prison hospital nine days ago.

Officials said the 84-year-old Mubarak was slipping in and out of consciousness and was being fed liquids intravenously.

Mubarak also reportedly lost consciousness several times on Sunday and officials have said he is suffering from high blood pressure, depression and breathing difficulties.

-Al Jazeera




Chile protesters rally against Pinochet film - Hundreds of protesters have clashed with police in the streets of the Chilean capital to protest a ceremony centred
around a new documentary honouring the late Augusto Pinochet.

...

Police responded by firing tear gas and water cannons at demonstrators to prevent their advance toward the theatre, which was hosting more than 1,000 Pinochet sympathisers for the tribute.

"The police are limiting our activity in order to allow activities in honour of the dictator. This is paying tribute to a criminal," Mireya Garcia, vice-president of the Association of Relatives of Detained and Disappeared (AFDD), told CNN Chile

-Al Jazeera



New education standards end rote learning, cursive - ... "Is it still necessary for kids to learn their times table when they can pick up their iPhone and ask Siri what is 20 times 2?" asked Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators.

A new set of national standards, called the Common Core, has sought to answer that, offering states a guide for what skills and knowledge children should have at the end of each grade level.

The ultimate goal is to get every child college and career ready. That means, cursive is out and keyboarding is in. Repetition and rote learning are passe while critical thinking is, well, critical.

Literature and novels see less class time than literary nonfiction and informational texts, including essays and speeches. Spelling gets a cursory nod, with the caveat that kids can consult "references."
New national push

Critics have called the effort a federal push that weakens states' authority over public schools.

Jill Tucker, sfgate.com



Gabrielle Giffords campaigns for ex-aide in Arizona - The contest to fill the congressional seat vacated by Gabrielle Giffords, the Democrat who survived an assassination attempt last year, has been widely referred to as the race for "Gabby's seat."

Her chosen successor, Ron Barber, has tried to step out from her shadow, though, saying at campaign events and in interviews that the race is, in fact, for "the people's seat."

Still, at Barber's last big rally Saturday, Giffords figured as the guest of honor and the main attraction. She stepped onto the stage to boisterous cheers - with her right arm in a brace, a slight limp and a big smile on her face.

New York Times via sfgate.com



Canada's Quebec sues tobacco giants for $60bn - The Canadian province of Quebec has announced that it is suing tobacco giants for more than $60 billion in a bid to recover health care costs associated with smoking-related illnesses.

The lawsuit targets the Canadian tobacco companies and their parent companies abroad and seeks damages related to the cost of treating patients from the 1970s until 2030, Quebec Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fourner said.

"These manufacturers neglected to warn consumers, including children and teenagers, about the harmful aspects of their products," Fournier said on Friday, blasting the tobacco industry for targeting young people in advertisement campaigns.

AFP via al-jazerra




Northwest debates shipping of coal for export - With the Northwest poised to become the country's leading coal-export region, fights are emerging on several fronts.

On the table are proposals to capitalize on Asia's thirst for cheap energy by building a half-dozen terminals in Washington and Oregon that would export coal from the Rockies.

Physicians fret about an explosion of locomotive exhaust, while mayors grumble about the potential for long traffic-snarling trains. Washington state fears that 1,200 new barge trips on the Columbia River could spark more accidents and marine-vessel groundings. Tribes worry that spilled coal could poison aquatic food webs.

Craig Welch, Seattle Times via sfgate



Russians show up at France arms fair - France is being criticised by human-rights groups who say it should not have invited one of Syria's weapons suppliers at its biggest arms fair of the year.

...
Among the guest was Moscow's weapons maker Rosoboronexport, which currently exports its arms to Syria.

-Al-jazerra




French voters hand mandate to Hollande - French President Francois Hollande's Socialists and allies have come out on top in first-round parliamentary elections, and appear poised to secure the majority needed to push through reforms aimed at bolstering France's ailing economy.

The Socialists, the Greens and other aligned parties won about 46 per cent of the vote, ahead of the 34 per cent for ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy's right-wing UMP party and its allies, according to the final results released by the interior ministry.

The results suggest that Hollande will be able to count on obtaining the 289 seats needed for an outright majority in the lower-house National Assembly following next Sunday's runoff vote.

That would represent a pronounced swing to the left in France since the last elections in 2007, when UMP won 320 seats compared to the Socialists' 204 seats

Reuters via al-jazeera



Lions threatened by roaring trade in bones - With tigers on the brink of extinction, lion bones are increasingly being used as a substitute in Asia, where some believe the bones of big cats can cure illnesses.

...

Al Jazeera's Tania Page reports from South Africa.

(Warning: Video show Lions being hunted)



* * *



(Spoilers!)

‘Mad Men’ finale: The misery of Don Draper - Remember when people were worried that Zou Bisou Bisou would be this year’s most memorable Mad Men moment?

That was back at the start of the season, when, as usual, the show seemed to be more about setting a mood than telling a story. Before Lane killed himself, that is, and Joan prostituted herself, and Peggy found herself another job. Back when there seemed there might be some small, outside chance — unlikely, but not impossible — that Don Draper could be happy.

If viewers took anything away from Sunday’s season finale of AMC’s prize-winning drama, it’s that conventional happiness is probably not going to be Don’s lot. How could it be, when he leaves his wife, Megan, as she shoots the commercial he won for her and walks into a bar, where the episode ends before he can answer the crucial, final question: “Are you alone?”

--by Robert Bianco,TucsonCitizen/USA Today



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