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Welcome to the Overnight News Digest (OND) for Tuesday, October 23, 2012.

OND is a regular community feature on Daily Kos, consisting of news stories from around the world, sometimes coupled with a daily theme, original research or commentary.  Editors of OND impart their own presentation styles and content choices, typically publishing near 12:00AM Eastern Time.

Creation and early water-bearing of the OND concept came from our very own Magnifico - proper respect is due.


This diary is named for its "Hump Point" video: Spill the Wine by Eric Burdon and War

Please feel free to browse and add your own links, content or thoughts in the Comments section.

Any timestamps shown are relative to each publication.


Top News
Arctic Ocean pollution doubled in 10 years

By (UPI)
The seabed in the arctic deep ocean is increasingly strewn with litter and plastic waste, a German researcher says, with twice as much debris as ten years ago.

Marine biologist Melanie Bergmann of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven examined some 2,100 seafloor photographs taken near a deep-sea observatory in the arctic's eastern Fram Strait between Greenland and the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen.

. . .

The increasing plastic contamination of the seafloor is affecting deep-sea inhabitants at risk, she said.

"Almost 70 percent of the plastic litter that we recorded had come into some kind of contact with deep-sea organisms. For example we found plastic bags entangled in sponges, sea anemones settling on pieces of plastic or rope, cardboard and a beer bottles colonized by sea lilies."

America's Facebook Generation Is Reading Strong

By (NPR Staff)
In what may come as a pleasant surprise to people who fear the Facebook generation has given up on reading — or, at least, reading anything longer than 140 characters — a new report from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project reveals the prominent role of books, libraries and technology in the lives of young readers, ages 16 to 29. Kathryn Zickuhr, the study's main author, joins NPR's David Greene to discuss the results.
Interview Highlights

. . .

"We found that about 8 in 10 Americans under the age of 30 have read a book in the past year. And that's compared to about 7 in 10 adults in general, American adults. So, they're reading — they're more likely to read, and they're also a little more likely to be using their library."

. . .

"We found that [younger people are] very interested in the idea of preloaded e-readers — being able to check out an e-reader at a library that already has some popular titles on it. And a lot of libraries are really looking at how they can engage with this younger age group, especially with Americans in their teens and early 20s. And so a lot of libraries are looking at ways to sort of give them their own space in the libraries, have activities just for them. Some libraries even have diner-style booths for the teens where they can just socialize and hang out, and so that they can think of the library as a space of their own."

Penn State climate scientist files defamation suit

By Renee Schoof
Penn State University scientist Michael Mann, whose work showed that Earth’s temperatures have risen along with increased fossil fuel use, announced Tuesday he had filed a lawsuit against the conservative National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute for defamation, complaining that they falsely accused him of academic fraud and compared him to convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky.

. . .

Mann was one of the scientists whose emails were hacked from a climate research center at Britain’s University of East Anglia in 2009. Climate skeptics quoted portions of the emails in an attempt to discredit the scientists in what the critics dubbed "Climategate." But government and university investigations found no misconduct.

. . .

Simberg, in a Competitive Enterprise Institute blog post in July, wrote that “Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except for instead of molesting children, he molested and tortured data.”

. . .

"There is a larger context for this latest development, namely the onslaught of dishonest and libelous attacks that climate scientists have endured for years by dishonest front groups seeking to discredit the case for concern over climate change,” Mann said in an email. “It’s why I wrote my book ‘The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars’ about my experiences as a public figure in the climate change debate, and it’s why I filed this suit."

Passengers on delayed flights should get compensation, EU court confirms

By Gwyn Topham
Airlines face payouts of millions of pounds to passengers after a European court upheld a ruling that compensation should be paid for flight delays as well as cancellations.

The EU's court of justice ruled that passengers whose flights arrive more than three hours late are entitled to compensation of up to €600 (£488) each unless the delay is due to extraordinary circumstances outside the airline's control, such as strikes or bad weather.

In confirming its interpretation of EU law, the court reiterated that passengers delayed could suffer similar inconvenience to those on cancelled flights and therefore should be similarly recompensed.

Analogue television disappears from UK airwaves

By John Plunkett
. . . 76 years of television history came to an end at midnight on Wednesday when the analogue TV signal was switched off in Northern Ireland.

It completed the UK's five-year digital switchover process, at a cost of more than £1bn, that began in the Cumbrian town of Whitehaven in 2007 and was first mooted by the then culture secretary Chris Smith in 1999.

. . .

The potentially tricky switchover process was aided by advances in small screen technology, not just from analogue to digital but flat screen, high definition and 3D sets which encouraged people to buy new TVs rather quicker than they once might.

. . .

But viewers should not rest easy in their armchairs quite yet. The switchoff of the analogue signal has opened up the airwaves for the fourth generation of mobile phone services, or 4G, which is expected to arrive in the UK by next summer and will raise up to £4bn for the government.

Cocaine detected in the air of 8 Italian cities

By Freya Petersen
Italy has measurable levels of cocaine in the air in eight of its major cities, according to a study.

Italy's Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research found trace levels of cocaine and cannabanoids from marijuana use in Rome, Palermo, Bologna, Florence, Turin, Milan, Verona and Naples, The Atlantic reported.

. . .

Wired noted that while Sicily and Naples might the recognized hubs of illegal Mafioso activity, the majority of addictive substances trafficked to Italy were consumed in Turin.

Judges hear claims UK intelligence used for drone strikes

By (BBC)
UK officials alleged to be providing intelligence for US drone strikes could be "encouraging or assisting murder", the High Court has been told.

Judges are deciding whether there should be a full judicial review into the legality of any UK co-operation with the Central Intelligence Agency.

The case was brought by a Pakistani man whose father was killed in a suspected CIA drone strike in northern Pakistan.

Government lawyers say English courts cannot rule on the case.

South African gold mine sacks 8,500 strikers

By (BBC)
More than 8,000 striking South African gold miners have been sacked after refusing to return to work, mine owners say.

Gold Fields said workers at the KDC East mine had ignored a final deadline set for 16:00 (14:00 GMT).

Last week, some 11,000 miners at Gold Fields' KDC West mine heeded a company ultimatum and returned to work.

South Africa's mining sector has been hit by a wave of recent unrest which has left almost 50 people dead.

USA Politics, Economy, Major Events
NY top court nixes gay marriage challenge

By (UPI)
New York's top court refused without comment Tuesday to hear an appeal challenging the state's same-sex marriage law.

. . .

The evangelical Christian group New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms had argued the Senate didn't follow proper procedures by meeting privately.

"With the court's decision, same-sex couples no longer have to worry that their right to marry could be legally challenged in this state," Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who pushed for passage of the law last year, said in a statement.

. . .

Cuomo, a Democrat, Thursday endorsed Republican state Sen. Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie, who cast the decisive vote for the measure. Saland voted "no" on same-sex marriage in December 2009.

Salina, Kan., rallies against pro-LGBT law

By (UPI)
The repeal of a Salina, Kan., law giving protection to the gay community was encouraged at a rally, speakers equating it to a threat against religious liberty.

The protection from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered, was approved in a 3-2 vote of city commissioners in May and in effect since June, and will be put to a public vote after petitions for its repeal, signed by the required number of registered voters, were presented, the Salina Journal said Tuesday.

. . .

"Today we are fighting LGBT. We have taken religion and the Bible out of our schools," said the Rev. Richard Edds, and, noting the public accommodation phrase in the ordinance, added, "Do you want your wife or little girl to go into a restroom and have some ungodly man go in with them? I don't think so."

Welcome to the "Hump Point" of this OND.

News can be sobering and engrossing - at this point in the diary, an offering of brief escapism:

Random notes related to this video:
Harold: . . . And then one day we were up in San Francisco, just playing and stuff. Lonnie came in acting all drunk and stuff and out. They had a bottle of wine, and some of that wine got spilled over in the console. Lee says he felt that the song didn't have anything to do with the wine going into the console, but all I know is after that they moved out of the A studio, they moved us into the B studio, and then we were playing a Latin thing, and even if Eric had been writing 'Spill The Wine' all along, and writing the concepts, that's when it all came together. That's when we went into the studio, we started playing it, Eric was putting stuff together, and all of the sudden there came our first hit, 'Spill The Wine.'..."

. . .

Harold: I think that Eric was already working on an idea about leaking gnomes, waking up in a grassy field, and then when the wine inadvertently got knocked over, whether it was part of the song or not, it all just came together right at that moment.

SF: And is he saying, "Dig that girl?"

Harold: "Spill the wine, take that girl. Spill the wind, take that pearl."

Back to what's happening:
Environment and Greening
Climate Deniers To Release Rip-Off Report

By Kate Sheppard
Back in June 2009, the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) released a detailed 188-page report, "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States," showing how climate change would affect different regions of the country. The USGCRP is at work on its next assessment right now, which is due out in 2013. But this week a climate-change-denying think tank is trying to muddy the water by releasing what it calls an "addendum" to the USGCRP report.

. . .

The Daily Climate flagged the fake report on Monday, noting that the addendum "matches the layout and design of the original, published by the U.S. Global Change Research Program: Cover art, 'key message' sections, table of contents are all virtually identical, down to the chapter heads, fonts and footnotes."

While the real USGCRP report had grim predictions for many regions of the US, the Cato report claims that "observed impacts of climate change have little national significance." A draft version of the Cato report is posted online. It lists noted climate contrarian and Cato senior fellow Pat Michaels as the editor in chief.

Ikea unveils plans to use 100% clean energy by 2020

By Will Nichols
Ikea plans to be energy and resource independent by 2020 under an ambitious new sustainability strategy backed by €1.5bn in clean energy investment and unveiled today by the global furniture retailer.

. . .

Alongside its energy and resource goals, the plan commits the company to helping Ikea's 770 million customers save money through the use of more efficient products, improving sustainability throughout its supply chain, and supporting human rights and education efforts.

. . .

He added the move should protect the company from both spikes in global and regional energy prices and the introduction of carbon legislation around the world.

Fossil Study Helps Pinpoint Extinction Risks for Ocean Animals: When It Comes to Ocean Extinctions, Range Size Matters Most

By (ScienceDaily)
. . .

An analysis of roughly 500 million years of fossil data for marine invertebrates reveals that ocean animals with small geographic ranges have been consistently hard hit -- even when populations are large, the authors report.

The oceans represent more than 70% of Earth's surface. But because monitoring data are harder to collect at sea than on land, we know surprisingly little about the conservation status of most marine animals. By using the fossil record to study how ocean extinctions occurred in the past, we may be better able to predict species' vulnerability in the future.

. . .

"But the take home message is that reductions in range size -- such as when a species' habitat is destroyed or degraded -- could mean a big increase in long-term extinction risk, even if population sizes in the remaining portions of the species' range are still relatively large."

Why no one said the c-word in the debates

By Chris Mooney
. . .

Speaking from his hotel room in Washington, D.C., after the third presidential debate last night, Bob Inglis — the former South Carolina Republican representative, and now conservative advocate for climate solutions — said he had truly expected the subject of climate change at last to come up. In this final, foreign-policy focused debate, Inglis thought, a climate-centered exchange between the candidates might have come more naturally than in the U.S. domestic context, where pocketbook issues predominate.

. . .

In truth, the attitudes of the candidates’ strategists towards the climate issue, and towards science policy in general, may be quite similar to those of moderators Crowley, Lehrer, and Schieffer. “I’ve talked to political operatives, and they think science is a boutique issue, like changing to the metric system or something,” says Shawn Otto, the CEO of the nonprofit group Science Debate, which focuses on trying to inject discussions of science-based issues into presidential and other campaigns. “They don’t see votes in it.”

. . .

Yet climate isn’t unique on the Science Debate list when it comes to its omission in the presidential debates. Almost none of the other topics have been discussed seriously at these events either. That list includes food policy, the heath of the oceans, the availability of freshwater, the state of our natural resources (and especially rare earth elements), fighting off future pandemics, and growing vaccine refusal in the population, with the attendant reemergence of vaccine-preventable diseases.

. . .

In the end, though, the climate change omission certainly hurts the most. That’s not just because it’s the most high profile science-focused issue today, but also because there are so many ways that it relates to other realms of obvious public concern — from innovation and the clean energy economy to our diplomatic relations with the rest of the world. “To me, these are all issues of public importance,” says Mariette DiChristina, editor in chief of Scientific American magazine. “We just happen to be putting them in a box called ‘science issues’” — which, she suggests, is the fundamental  problem.

Science and Health
Twitter Principles of Social Networking Increase Family Success in Nesting Birds

By (ScienceDaily)
. . .

The study found that, regardless of how big and healthy individual chicks are, what really matters to their chances of surviving and breeding is how siblings in the nest interact with each other, with cooperative families faring best.

Differences in patterns of feeding between mothers and fathers were a key factor in determining the behaviour of their offspring, according to the study published online October 23 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Mothers selected weaker, hungrier nestlings while fathers did the opposite, choosing those who were the most competitive.

. . .

Dr Nick Royle concluded: "Users of Twitter will know that the more interactions they have, the more successful their profile is likely to be, and it's similar for nesting great tits; at least at nests where mothers provide most of the feeds. When fathers do most of the work offspring are much less gregarious. For young great tits social networking is related to the amount of physical contact each nestling has with their siblings, not the amount of tweeting they do. But using our social networks measure enabled us to demonstrate a novel link between how family members interact with one another and the success of those families."

Exercise linked to less memory loss

By (UPI)
Seniors age 70 and older who exercised regularly had less brain shrinkage -- linked to memory loss -- than those not active, Scottish researchers said.

. . .

The Edinburgh team used magnetic resonance imaging scans to measure the volume of brain tissue and the volume and health of the brain's white matter in nearly 700 people who took part in mentally stimulating activities such reading and participating in social groups as well as exercising.

. . .

The study, published in the journal Neurology, found people age 70 and older who were more physically active had fewer "damaged" areas -- visible as abnormal areas on scanning -- in the white matter of the brain than those who did little exercise.

Free fruit = kids eating fewer snacks

By (UPI)
A program in Norway that offered free fruit to students in school resulted in children eating more produce and fewer unhealthy snacks, researchers say.

Nina Cecilie Overby of the University of Agder in Kristiansand and colleagues said the objective was to analyze changes in the frequency of consumption of unhealthy snacks -- soda, candy and potato chips -- from 2001 to 2008 in Norwegian children and assess if a school fruit program reduced the frequency of unhealthy snack consumption.

. . .

The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found from 2001 to 2008, the frequency of unhealthy snack consumption decreased from 6.9 to 4.6 times per week. The decrease was largest in the schools that had been included in the national free school fruit program -- almost three times a week.

Cooked food made brains grow during human evolution, says study

By Alexander Besant
Cooked food may be the reason why the human brain got as big as it did.

. . .

The researchers point to the gorilla's raw food diet cannot possibly provide the energy to develop a bigger brain.

. . .

The study suggests that a human could not have developed a brain that holds 86 billion neurons without cooking their food and thus having the spare time to not continually eat all day as other primates do.

What Happens When You Flush a Toilet on an Airplane?

By Andrew Tarantola
. . .

An airplane's facilities work on a different principle than the conventional siphon toilet found in your home, and for a good reason. Siphon toilets rely on a water-filled bowl to help initiate the passive suction effect that drains them. However, without water in the bowl—either by design or due to a turbulence-induced slosh—there's nothing to flush. And since airline cabins are now pressurized, the old bucket-and-an-open-window technique won't work either. Instead, planes today rely on actively powered evacuation systems.

. . .

When dropped from a sufficient height, frozen human excrement can be surprisingly destructive. Between 1979 and 2003, at least 27 wads of "blue ice" fell from the sky in the United States alone, impacting with enough force to tear through roofs and smash cars. Even though it was a longshot, the potential to crush an innocent person's skull with falling frozen feces was enough to convince the airline industry to develop a fluid-free alternative. So in 1975, inventor James Kemper patented the terrifyingly-loud vacuum toilets we use today.

First installed by Boeing in 1982, vacuum toilets rely on strong suction and slick walls to pull waste away using just a fraction of a gallon of water. Pressing the flush button opens a valve in the bottom of the bowl, exposing the contents to a pneumatic vacuum. That vac sucks the load down the plane's sewer line into a 200-gallon holding tank—vapors and all. A Teflon-like non-stick coating around the inside of the bowl assists in the transfer. Then, waste remains in the tank for the duration of the flight, and it's vacuumed out by crews on the ground. An exterior latch on the holding tank ensures that pilots don't accidentally drop a load in mid-air.

Placebo effect may be 'down to genes'

By (BBC)
. . .

The placebo effect is when a patient experiences an improvement in their condition while undergoing an inert treatment such as taking a sugar pill or, in this case, placebo acupuncture, where the patient believes they are receiving acupuncture but a sham device prevents the needles going into their body.

. . .

Two groups in the study had this type of treatment. One group received it in a business-like clinical manner and the other from a warm supportive practitioner. A third randomly chosen group received no treatment at all.

After three weeks the patients were asked if they had seen an improvement in their IBS, a common gastrointestinal disease that can cause abdominal pain and discomfort.

The team then used blood samples to look at what variant the individual had of the catechol-O-methyltranferase (COMT) gene. This plays a role in the dopamine pathway, a chemical known to produce a feel-good state.

A Bandwidth Breakthrough

By David Talbot
Academic researchers have improved wireless bandwidth by an order of magnitude—not by adding base stations, tapping more spectrum, or cranking up transmitter wattage, but by using algebra to eliminate the network-clogging task of resending dropped packets of data.

. . .

The technology transforms the way packets of data are sent. Instead of sending packets, it sends algebraic equations that describe series of packets. So if a packet goes missing, instead of asking the network to resend it, the receiving device can solve for the missing one itself. Since the equations involved are simple and linear, the processing load on a phone, router, or base station is negligible, Medard says.

. . .

If the technology works in large-scale deployments as expected, it could help forestall a spectrum crunch. Cisco Systems says that by 2016, mobile data traffic will grow 18-fold—and Bell Labs goes farther, predicting growth by a factor of 25. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has said the spectrum of available wireless frequencies could run out within a couple of years.

Nano-machines can mimic muscle movement

By (UPI)
French researchers say they've managed to assemble thousands of nano-machines capable of producing a coordinated movement like that of human muscle fibers.

. . .

Human muscles are controlled by the coordinated movement of thousands of protein molecules -- biological "nano-machines" -- which only function individually over distances on the order of a nanometer.

. . .

Taken together, the whole polymer chain can contract or extend over about 10 micrometers, thereby amplifying the movement by a factor of 10,000, the researchers said.

Twitter "Saturday School" For Teachers

By (Tell Me More)
. . .

ROCCO: Well, the original idea started with Brad Currie and I. We're both administrators and we were administrators in a town right next to each other. We started talking about some opportunities for having a discussion through social media on educational purposes and having a positive and progressive conversation. So we toyed around with the idea of creating a hash tag, #satchat, on Saturday mornings and we didn't know if it was going to end up being an interesting concept or something people bought into, but it did and we've got over 200 people all around the world who join us 7:30 in the morning East Coast time and now we also do a West Coast 7:30 #satchat with some administrators out of California and Texas, so it's been popular over the last couple of months.

. . .

MARTIN: Have you incorporated anything you've learned into your specific practices at school?

ROCCO: Yeah, yeah. It's a great question because a lot of ideas get generated, but if you don't use any of those ideas in your job - in your profession, then what's the value? And I have. I've done a number of different things. We, in New Jersey, are required to pick a new observation model. And we agreed, as a committee of 51 staff members, teachers and administrators that we would be transparent and so, when our subcommittees began to report out what they were finding in the various model examples, we began tweeting that out. And, when the committee chose, we were tweeting out that meeting so that our entire staff understood where we were going and why we were going that way. That's one example.

Another example is the use of QR codes, the bar codes, or the boxes that look like bar codes. I now have a business card for my job because I do personnel with a QR code on the back, which links immediately to our website. It has our vacancies. It has our online application. It has a recruitment page that tells people about our district. I learned about QR codes through talking with people on Twitter.

Using Facebook Without Numbers Is Like Growing Up Without Peer Pressure

By Casey Chan
You might not think of it at first but Facebook actually has a ton of numbers to it. Notifications, likes, friends, mutual friends, comments and so on and so on. There's always some number hovering over you, influencing you so what if you used Facebook... without numbers?

Artist Benjamin Grosser has created Facebook Demetricator, a browser extension that removes all numbers from Facebook to see if people would use Facebook any differently. Grosser says:

No longer is the focus on how many friends you have or on how much they like your status, but on who they are and what they said. . .
US Apple bounce-back patents ruled invalid

By (BBC)
A handful of Apple patents have been ruled invalid, throwing doubt on a landmark trial that awarded huge damages to the smartphone maker.

The US Patent and Trademark Office has ruled that 20 patents relating to scroll technology "lack novelty".

. . .

Some of the patents were rejected because there was not enough of an inventive step between the prior technology and Apple's patent.

. . .

Samsung has been calling for a retrial of the patent dispute case, claiming that the jury foreman had "failed to answer [questions] truthfully" and might have been biased.

Cambodia Vs. Sotheby's In A Battle Over Antiquities

By Anthony Kuhn
The governments of Cambodia and the United States are locked in a legal battle with the auction house Sotheby's over a thousand-year-old statue. The two governments say the statue was looted from a temple of the ancient Khmer empire. Sotheby's says this can't be proved, and a court in New York will decide on the matter soon.

The case could affect how collectors and museums acquire artifacts, and how governments recover lost national treasures.

. . .

The iconography is Hindu, which was the official religion during Jayavarman IV's reign, but Phin Samnang says the statues' facial features are clearly Khmer.

Phin Samnang says computer modeling has shown that the missing statues fit the pedestals perfectly and, he says, proves that the statues were looted from this temple.

. . .

The auction house declined to be interviewed for this report, but provided documents arguing that Cambodia has no physical evidence of exactly when over the past 1,000 years the statue was looted. There have been multiple periods of upheaval involving both foreign invaders and domestic conflict, in which looting occurred.

John Paulson, billionaire, gives $100M to New York’s Central Park

By Samantha Stainburn
Billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson and the Paulson Family Foundation are donating $100 million to New York City’s Central Park, the New York Times reported.

. . .

Paulson and his foundation are giving the money to the Central Park Conservancy, a nonprofit group that operates the park for the city and raises more than 80 percent of the park’s $45.8 million annual budget, the New York Times reported.

Half of Paulson’s donation will be spent on renovating and maintaining facilities in the 843-acre park, including the Merchant’s Gate entrance at the park’s southwest corner, as well as funding programs for families and young people, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. The other half will be used to enlarge the park’s endowment, currently $144 million.

Mass rallies mark 1956 Hungary uprising

By (BBC)
Large pro and anti-government rallies have taken place in Budapest to mark the anniversary of the failed 1956 revolution against Soviet rule.

Up to 150,000 people gathered across the Hungarian capital, state news agency MTI reported.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban gave a fiery speech, attacking the EU for interfering in national affairs.

Meanwhile ex-Hungarian leader Gordon Bajnai announced a new alliance against the conservative Fidesz government.

. . .

Following World War II, the country found itself under communist rule. An uprising against Soviet domination in 1956 was crushed by Red Army forces but Hungary did later become the first Eastern European country to gain some economic freedom.

New York strip club loses bid to have lap dances legally defined as art

By Amanda Holpuch
A New York appeals court has ruled that lap dances are not an artistic performance and are therefore not exempt from state tax.

A 4-3 ruling by New York's top court determined that Nite Moves strip club must pay a $124,000 bill for not paying proper sales tax on club admission and private dances. The Albany strip club claimed they did not owe the state tax because the strip club is "a place of amusement featuring dramatic or musical arts performances".

. . .

Judge Robert Smith said in a dissent that the majority opinion "raises significant constitutional problems" because it makes a distinction between lowbrow and highbrow dance.

"It does not matter if the dance was artistic or crude, boring or erotic," said Smith. "Under New York's tax law, a dance is a dance."

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