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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.

CONFLICT

Karzai should be grateful to US troops, says Panetta

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has voiced frustration with Afghan President Hamid Karzai preferring to criticise American troops, rather than acknowledging the sacrifices they have made.

Panetta, who arrived in Peru on Friday night to begin a Latin American tour, told reporters aboard the military plane taking him to Lima that Karzai should remember that more than 2,000 Americans had died in Afghanistan.

The angry riposte came after President Karzai said on Thursday that the United States was failing to go after militants based in Pakistan, another charge that Mr Panetta chose to hit back at.

Speaking at a press conference in Kabul, Mr Karzai accused the United States of playing a “double game” by fighting a war against Afghan militants rather than their backers in Pakistan where, in the president’s words, “terrorism is financed and manufactured”.

And in Pakistan,
Pakistani authorities halt anti-drone protest
Pakistani authorities have stopped a protest over US drone strikes led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan from entering the troubled region of South Waziristan, prompting allegations the government is ambivalent about US actions.

Khan, who started the protest on Saturday, blames the government for allowing the US to operate in the country and had planned to lead the march from the capital Islamabad into South Waziristan, a tribal area frequently hit by the drone strikes.

But authorities on Sunday blocked the protesters' path with shipping containers on the highway. After several delays the army told protesters it was unsafe to be on the road after dark and they turned back.

Pakistan's military and the civilian government publicly complain that the strikes - aimed at remnants of al-Qaeda and
the Taliban - infringe the country's sovereignty and cause civilian casualties. Yet the government has done little to stop them.

Dawn.com had several articles on this topic, including whether the protests were grass-roots or a publicity stunt.  

AROUND THE WORLD

From slums to rich districts, Venezuelans vote en masse

From the red-brick slums of Caracas to its elegant wealthy neighborhoods, throngs of Venezuelans lined up Sunday to vote for President Hugo Chavez or his fresh-faced rival Henrique Capriles.

Hundreds of people waited patiently in a parking lot in the 23 de Enero (January 23) "barrio" to vote in the same school where Chavez, a hero of this slum bastion, cast his own ballot in the afternoon.

Norvi Henriquez, a 38-year-old teacher, changed voting district just so she could vote in the same place as "Comandante Chavez," the leftist leader who has used the country's oil wealth to pay for health care and education programs.

I love to see free & fair elections everywhere they happen.  May the Venezuelan elections & counting go smoothly and freely and fairly!

Hope for more negotiations as mine strikes continue

"Nothing much has changed since Saturday. At the moment we are not negotiating but we can't have them wondering around in the mine," spokesperson Gert Schoeman said. "It is all about safety. At the moment our priority is to normalise the situation and we need them to leave the mine. We also can't start blasting and drilling when they are moving about inside – that is not safe."

He said the group of "less that 300" workers staging the sit-in moved around, but mainly based themselves at one mine dump.

Kumba suspended production at Sishen Mine on Thursday due to the strikers blocking access to the pit, creating an unsafe environment for mining operations.

There is a wide range of labor unrest in South Africa.  

Air monitoring system comes under fire

Beijing's real-time report on PM2.5 levels has led to complaints from academics and the public over a "lack of detail".

The capital’s environmental monitoring center, which has 35 stations citywide, began releasing hourly updates on PM2.5, or particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, on Saturday, along with its usual reports on sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and PM10.

However, air quality readings on its website — bjmemc.com.cn/g356.aspx — are only available for the previous 24 hours.

Even academic researchers cannot access historical data, said Li Jinfeng, a PhD student at Peking University’s College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering.

"Many regions, including Hong Kong and Taiwan as well as cities in the United States and Europe, provide a download service for air-quality data, so the public can access information at any time and for any location," she said. "It is not necessary for the government to keep the data secret as it has already been released to the public."

Sounds . . . political? Instead of scientific?

Philippines announces peace deal with Muslim insurgents

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said Sunday that his government has reached a preliminary peace agreement with the nation’s largest Muslim rebel group in a major breakthrough toward ending a decades-long insurgency in the country’s south.

Aquino described the deal in a nationally televised announcement as a “framework agreement” -- a road map for establishing a new autonomous region to be administered by minority Muslims in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation’s south. It follows marathon negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Malaysia, which is brokering the talks.

The agreement is expected to be signed in a few days in the capital, Manila, officials said. It spells out the general principles on major issues, including the extent of power, revenues and territory of the Muslim region. If all goes well, a final peace deal could be reached by 2016, when Aquino’s six-year term ends, according to the officials.

In a first, IAF puts women pilots in attack mode
Another male bastion, this time in the air, has gone to women. For the first time ever, the Indian Air Force is preparing two of its women pilots for combat roles.

Flight Lieutenants Alka Shukla and M P Shumathi were trained at the Yelahanka station in flying twin-engine Mi-8, a utility and medium-size assault helicopter. Both pilots are at their operational units where they will continue with their armament and special heli-operations training.

Women pilots were only asked to operate single-engine helicopters such as Cheetah and Chethak, used only on non-combat missions. For Alka, this opportunity came her way after she spent over three years in a Chetak helicopter unit in West Bengal, performing casualty evacuation operations in Sikkim and Bhutan. "When I was at Bagdogra station, my senior told me that I have to go to Bangalore. Initially, it didn't click. By the time I realized the magnitude of the offer, I had all my colleagues congratulating me," she said.

George Osborne seals deal for £10bn welfare cuts
George Osborne has opened the way for a fresh round of £10bn welfare cuts by securing agreement from the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, and promising the Liberal Democrats that the cuts will be balanced by a bigger contribution from the rich.

Duncan Smith had been the main Conservative obstacle to more welfare cuts but on Sunday he wrote a joint article with the chancellor saying he was "satisfied" such savings were possible.

In return, the Treasury has given him the final political go-ahead for universal credit, his cherished but risky master plan to merge benefits and tax credits from next year.

Senior Tory sources also suggested that senior Lib Dems had also accepted the fresh cuts as long as Osborne and Cameron stuck to their promises made that the rich would have to make the largest contribution to the next attack on the deficit.

Austerity v The Rich.  

Cuban dissident freed; court asks seven years for Spanish youth activist

Sanchez, her husband Reinaldo Escobar, and their driver were taken into custody along with a half dozen other local dissidents on Thursday, said Elizardo Sanchez of the independent Cuban Commission on Human Rights.

Government officials, who often use brief detentions against dissidents, had no comment on the arrests. But government-linked blogger Yohandry Fontana said Sanchez was detained because she had gone to Bayamo intent on creating a “provocation and media show” at the trial of Spaniard Angel Carromero.

Carromero, who was at the wheel in the July 22 car wreck that killed dissidents Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero, went on trial Friday on manslaughter charges.

Congestion in the Death Zone The Story Behind another Deadly Year on Everest
Memorials and plaques dedicated to mountain climbers who have died on Everest stand near Dughla, a village on the way to the base camp. Some 233 people have already died on the mountain. Schaaf's family will also have a memorial stone placed there in his honor.

Another record was set on Everest this year. The 73-year-old Japanese woman summited, making her the oldest woman who has ever stood on the roof of the world and made it back down unharmed.

The Tourism Ministry in Kathmandu is considering imposing an age limit of 80 for Everest alpinists. It has also decided to stop issuing certificates for records that have nothing to do with climbing. "Otherwise there'll be a dance party up there one of these days," says a ministry employee.

Billi Bierling, a Swiss professional mountain climber who has been writing an Everest diary for years, doesn't believe that the carnival atmosphere on Everest will end. "The disaster in May was a signal that the mountain urgently needs a break. But it won't get it. There's too much money to be made on Everest," he says.

Six people died on Mount Everest on the weekend of May 19-20, four on the South Col route and two on the Northern Ridge route.

Just one week later, 197 found their way to the summit of Mt. Everest.

There is no mention of local guides in this 3-page article.  There were rescue efforts presumably involving locals after the Big Fail Weekend.  

IN THE STATES, ESPECIALLY UTAH

Group says petroleum 'fracking' occurred near Los Padres National Forest

The wells that used hydraulic fracturing in the Sespe Oil Field in 2011 and 2012 were on private land owned by Seneca Resources Corp., according to the ForestWatch report. Seneca Resources, with headquarters in Texas, acquired several properties in Ventura County in 1987.

Responding to questions Friday, spokesman Rob Boulware wrote in an email that the company has an "exemplary safety record" in the Sespe Field and seeks transparency in its operations. He said it has voluntarily enrolled in FracFocus.org, an online registry where oil companies can voluntarily report chemicals used in fracking operations.

ForestWatch got its information from FracFocus and online oil well records kept by the state. Kuyper said some information differed. For example, chemicals disclosed on FracFocus for one well's operations differed from chemicals disclosed on forms to the state, he said.

LDS General Conference wraps up with messages of hope
After the previous day's moral lecture:
Mormon leader decries divorce, abortion, same-sex parents
Both Andersen and Cook warned Mormons not to believe all the disparaging messages they read about their religion and its roots on the Internet.
----
Cook said "some have immersed themselves in Internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and, in some cases, invent shortcomings of early church leaders," causing them to draw incorrect conclusions that can affect testimony.

But he said it’s not too late for such Mormons. When members’ commitment is weakened, he said, they should immerse themselves in the scriptures and repent to be "spiritually renewed."

Meanwhile, the local alt-weekly piped up with
The Mormon Masterpiece:  How Joseph Smith became prophet, seer and ... conceptual artist
The great English poet and painter William Blake, in his epic poem “Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion,” asked: “What is a church and what is a theatre? Are they two and not one? Can they exist separate?”

A church without theater wouldn’t last long. People need the fantasy, the performance and the mystery, which Smith provided in his founding of a new church—rife with rituals, stories of travel from faraway lands and theatrical acts of mystical translations that are at the core of the church’s history.

With theater being a crucial aspect of religion, it’s not too much of a reach to describe religion as a work of art. A religion generally is not viewed as such, and it is difficult to convince people that any religion qualifies as a work of art, but why?

And the Church leadership overjoyed the faithful by
Lowering Missionary Minimum Ages!!!!!! Old: 19 for men, 21 for women; new 18 for men, 19 for women.  

OTHER STUFF
Captcha, With Feeling
Stewart-O'Reilly Rumble Review
Jones Denied Tenure**

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