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Sunset over the Great Salt Lake (random retweet sourced)

Welcome to Sunday OND, tonight's edition of the daily feature.   The Overnight News Digest crew consists of founder Magnifico, regular editors jlms qkw, Bentliberal, wader, Oke, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir and ScottyUrb, guest editors maggiejean and annetteboardman, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent.

You are all welcome to read and comment, share links and news, and spend some time winding down this evening with the day's news.

I hope you all have your fill of SCOTUS news.  

WAR
Crisis talks produce little hope for peace in Syria

WORLD powers have failed to reach a consensus on calling for the removal of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad from power, agreeing instead on a plan for a political transition with little chance of implementation.

The weekend meeting of nine nations in Geneva to try to end the bloodshed in Syria ended in a now-familiar division, with Russia and China blocking the rest from calling for Dr Assad's ouster.

Kofi Annan, the UN and Arab League mediator who convened the action group, tried to put the best possible spin on the agreement, which calls for the formation of a national unity government that would oversee the drafting of a new constitution and elections. The agreement, he said, provided ''a perspective for the future that can be shared by all in Syria, a genuinely democratic and pluralistic state''.

Khartoum: Sudan austerity protesters 'tear-gassed'
Some of the demonstrators reportedly carried anti-government placards as President Omar al-Bashir prepares to mark 23 years in power, on Saturday.

This is the latest in two weeks of protests, initially led by students.

The government is trying to cut spending after losing much of its oil revenue when South Sudan seceded.

Following recent subsidy cuts, prices have risen - especially for food and fuel - and inflation has soared in the year since South Sudan's independence.

I am pretty sure there are even more horrible things happening in Sudan, and I cannot track down the stories.  Yet.  I see bits and pieces in tweets.  

AROUND THE WORLD

Parliament Approves ESM and Fiscal Pact: Merkel Secures Vote for Euro Treaties

It's been a rough few years and a particularly long and stressful day for Angela Merkel. But, for now at least, Germany's chancellor can breathe a sigh of relief.

Late Friday evening, Germany lawmakers -- including politicians from two opposition parties -- approved two key pillars of her efforts to bring calm to the long-raging euro storm.

In the first vote, members of the Bundestag, Germany's federal parliament, approved the fiscal pact, which commits countries to stricter budgetary rules, such as reducing their structural deficits to 0.5 percent of gross domestic product. Lawmakers voted 491-111, with six abstentions, in favor of the pact, a pet project of Merkel's that was agreed on by 25 of the EU's 27 member states at a summit in January. Ireland became the first of these countries to ratify the pact in early June. A two-thirds majority, or 414 votes, was needed for the measure's passage because it involves an internationally binding commitment to limit Germany's deficit.

The ongoing saga of the Euro.  Der Spiegel has several articles, this is the first one.  

Protests greet day one of Aussie carbon tax

Day one of the carbon tax and the sky failed to fall in.

That was the message from Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her Cabinet, who have tried to paint Opposition leader Tony Abbott's claims about the tax as dishonest.

The A$23-a-tonne price on carbon emissions started yesterday, directly affecting 294 electricity generators and other companies.

The federal Government is aiming to cut carbon emissions by 5 per cent by 2020, with the carbon tax shifting to an emissions trading scheme in 2015.

Abbott says the carbon tax will push up prices for consumers, hurt local businesses and cost jobs.

Gillard spent much of yesterday rebuffing Abbott's claims.

"Is the Sunday roast now costing A$100?" Gillard asked reporters in Melbourne. "Has the coal industry closed down? Is my weekly shop now 20 per cent more expensive? Has Australia entered a permanent depression?"

China dispatches patrol ships as tensions with Vietnam mount
China has deployed four patrol ships to a disputed area of the South China Sea, state media said Sunday, amid a deepening row with Vietnam over competing territorial claims.

The ships, described by the Xinhua news agency as surveillance vessels, reached what China calls the Huayang reef in the Spratly islands on Sunday.

China last month summoned Vietnam’s ambassador in Beijing and protested a law adopted by the Vietnamese parliament that places the disputed Spratly islands under Hanoi’s sovereignty.

China and Vietnam, as well as other neighbouring nations, are locked in long-standing territorial disputes over the South China Sea, including the resources-rich Spratly and Paracel islands.

I normally don't care for Raw Story, but I thought this potential news was important enough to include this.  China, as the story notes, is continuing to have various territorial disputes.  It seems to me that the only winner will be China.  And this is sad for all those other little countries, and for our world.  

Timbuktu world heritage site attacked by Islamists

slamists armed with Kalashnikovs and pick-axes have destroyed the centuries-old mausoleums of saints in the Unesco-listed city of Timbuktu in front of shocked locals, witnesses say.

The attack by the al-Qaida-linked Ansar Dine group came days after Unesco placed Timbuktu on its list of heritage sites in danger and will recall the 2001 dynamiting by the Taliban of two sixth-century statues of Buddha carved into a cliff in Bamiyan in central Afghanistan.

"There's about 30 of them breaking everything up with pick-axes and hoes. They've put their Kalashnikovs down by their side. These are shocking scenes for the people in Timbuktu," said Boulahi.

Ansar Dine backs strict sharia law, and considers the shrines of the local Sufi version of Islam to be idolatrous. Sufi shrines have also been attacked by hardline Salafists in Egypt and Libya in the past year.

Locals said the attackers had threatened to destroy all of the 16 main mausoleum sites. The Unesco director general, Irina Bokova, called for an immediate halt. Late on Saturday, Tandina said Ansar Dine had halted the attacks. Attempts to contact members of the group were unsuccessful.

A Less Toxic Environment Austrian Family Lives a Life without Plastic
Try to imagine living without plastic for just a single day. No computer, no mobile phone, no car and certainly no pre-packaged food. Modern life, marked by the ubiquity of plastic, makes avoiding the synthetic substance a nearly impossible undertaking. But concerned by a growing number of health and environmental problems that arise from constant contact with plastic, one Austrian family decided to go without.

In a new book published in German, titled "Plastikfreie Zone," or "Plastic-Free Zone," Sandra Krautwaschl details how her family of five got rid of many of their plastic items and now rarely buys anything made of the petroleum-based material.

It began as a month-long experiment, but has since turned into a way of life, says Krautwaschl. During a 2009 vacation to Croatia, the 40-year-old physical therapist was struck by how often her three children asked where all of the trash on the beach came from. The experience led her to consider her own responsibility for the problem

You can pry my Legos from my cold, dead, hands.  Or cremate them with the rest of me.  

AROUND THE USA

Western wildfires destroy nearly 1,000 homes so far this year

From Montana to New Mexico, record-setting wildfires are charring mountains, valleys and houses, leaving behind a heady toll of about 1,000 homes lost — a number that may only increase through a punishingly hot and dry summer.

The Waldo Canyon fire on the outskirts of Colorado Springs — which recently climbed into national headlines by forcing tens of thousands of evacuations — has engulfed at least 346 homes, and firefighters have it only 45% contained.

But that fire is just one of many destructive conflagrations this season as the United States progresses through an era of increasingly bigger and more destructive blazes.

Fire Myths/Fire Realities
But like any scientific fact, the more we know, the more we realize how little we really understand. While fuels are important to any blaze, the latest research is suggesting that weather/climatic conditions, rather than fuels, drive large blazes. In other words, you can have all the fuel in the world, but if it’s not dry enough, you won’t get a large blaze.

On the other hand if you have severe drought, combined with low humidity and high winds, almost any fuel loading will burn and burn well. Despite all the rhetoric about “historic” fire seasons, including several years where more than 7-8 million acres burned, the total acreage burned today is actually quite low by historic standards. As recently as the 1930s Dust Bowl drought years, more than 39 million acres burned annually in the US. And long term research going back thousands of years suggests that the past 50-70 years may be real anomalies in terms of acreage burned as well as fire severity. It may be that the limited fire activity between the 1930s and 1990s was more a reflection of moister climate conditions than due to any effective fire suppression.

Thoughts about wildfires from a real westerner:  It's the math.  In Utah, the new fires are starting more quickly than the active fires are being contained.  It's the fuel load from last year's 300% precip that's all dried out by this year's 60% of normal precip.  It's the number of humans in the interface zones who are stupid with fireworks, shotguns, cigarettes, car mufflers or whatever else.  It's the American obsession with having a cabin in the woods.  

BREAKING: Federal Judge Blocks Abortion Clinic Closing

Mississippi's only abortion clinic, located in the Fondren district of Jackson, will stay open at least until July 11. A group of pro-abortion rights advocates and lawyers sent out a press statement tonight announcing the temporary injunction. Here is the statement, verbatim:

#07/01/2012—(PRESS RELEASE) Mississippi officials cannot enforce a new law that would have shuttered the state’s last remaining reproductive health clinic offering abortion services after July 1, according to a preliminary injunction granted this evening by a federal judge [TRO attached].

#The Center for Reproductive Rights, representing the Jackson Women’s Health Organization and Dr. Willie Parker, filed for immediate court action on June 27 to block a new, medically unjustified requirement that any physician performing abortions in the state must be a board-certified or eligible obstetrician-gynecologist with admitting privileges at an area hospital.

San Jose among three places to get U.S. Patent Office
The Denver metro area is among three places -- along with San Jose and Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas -- that will get a new U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, according to documents obtained this weekend by The Denver Post.

The announcement, expected Monday by the U.S. Department of Commerce, comes after six years of aggressive lobbying from a cabal of business leaders, lawyers and politicians in the three regions that landed the valuable offices.

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed was so determined to attract the new satellite to Silicon Valley he enthusiastically backed a highly detailed 58-page application that promised the federal agency would have its choice of several Class A buildings in downtown San Jose "at reasonable rates." Reed even tossed out another attractive enhancement: a 20,000-square-foot floor in City Hall.

IN UTAH

Trooper remembered as storyteller, computer ‘wizard’

Aaron Beesley, 34, went out Saturday as the search and rescue eyes from the air, looking for a pair of lost hikers on Mount Olympus as a pilot swept over the rugged terrain.

It was a job the 13-year veteran knew well, said UHP Col. Daniel Fuhr.

"He finds them one after another after another," Fuhr said, fighting tears.

But that wasn’t Aaron Beesley’s only role: He also worked with crash statistics and developed smart-phone applications for UHP, acted as assistant fire chief in the town of Corinne and was a husband and father to three boys: a 7-year-old and 4-year-old twins.

Fred Karger: Don't Hate
Fred Karger, the first openly gay Republican candidate for president, released a series of TV campaign ads prior to Utah’s Republican primary elections. Judging by the ads, one might think Karger wasn’t running against GOP candidate Mitt Romney, but rather against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

One 58-second ad leads in with dramatic music, while Karger references a recent study that found that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Mormon youth who feel rejected by their families are eight times more likely to commit suicide. As Karger speaks, the commercial flashes images of troubled youths—one holding a gun to his head, another with an empty pill bottle in hand and one hanging from a noose.

“We need to stop the suicides, end homelessness and, once and for all, to stop the hate,” Karger says on the video.

I find it odd that Fred Karger is still in the news, but this article is dated June 27.  Also, on these videos, I think it's called "It Gets Better."  

OTHER
Links
The weapon of words  Thoughts of Orwell in today's political climate.  
Seven Kittens Nightly Cute.
Sports
Dara Torres, 45, moves onto semifinals at Swim Trials

Fiber Arts
The Particle Zoo Subatomic plushies, squeee!  h/t Tia Rachel.

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