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Welcome to the Overnight News Digest (OND) for Tuesday, November 13, 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: People Are People by Depeche Mode

News below Aunt Flossie's hairdo . . .

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
Google report reveals sharp increase in government requests for users' data

By Dominic Rushe
Government surveillance of citizens' online lives is rising sharply around the world, according to Google's latest report on requests to remove content and hand over user data to official agencies.

In the first six months of this year, authorities worldwide made 20,939 requests for access to personal data from Google users, including search results, access to Gmail accounts and removal of YouTube videos. Requests have risen steeply from a low of 12,539 in the last six months of 2009, when Google first published its Transparency Report.

. . .

US figures represent a larger share of the requests for a variety of reasons. Google has a larger number of US users, the US authorities are more familiar with working with Google and foreign countries sometimes make requests for information through US agencies. Those queries are logged as US requests, as Google is not told where the query originated from.

Europe now accounts for five of the top 10 countries making requests for user data. France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK are all in the top 10 in terms of numbers of requests. The number of requests for content removal in the UK shot up 98% in the UK and 60% in Spain. In the UK, local police authorities unsuccessfully pressed for Google to remove links to sites that accused the police of obscuring crime and racism. The UK is currently considering a bill that would require internet and phone companies to track and store every citizen's web and mobile phone use, including social networking sites, without retaining their content, for 12 months.

. . .

The top three reasons cited by governments for the removal of content are defamation, privacy and security. Google also reported that it has received a number of falsified court documents calling on them to remove content.

New Group Unveils Its Plan to Get Money Out of Politics

By Gavin Aronsen
The 2012 election wrapped up barely a week ago, which means that fundraising for the 2014 midterm election has begun in earnest. But a new campaign to get money out of politics has just launched as well. Represent.Us says its goal is to pass the American Anti-Corruption Act, a nine-point plan to crack down on lobbyists, strengthen the flimsy law intended to prevent super-PACs from coordinating with campaigns, and put a stop to undisclosed donations funneled through dark-money nonprofits. (Represent.Us is a project of United Republic, a campaign finance reform group that, like many of the outside spending organizations it takes aim at, is a 501(c)(4).)

Represent.Us boasts a high-profile, bipartisan board of advisors, among them former Federal Elections Commission chair (and Stephen Colbert's "personal lawyer") Trevor Potter, Lawrence Lessig, disgraced lobbyist-turned-reformer Jack Abramoff, representatives from Occupy Wall Street and the DC Tea Party Patriots, and even Teddy Roosevelt's great-grandson, Theodore IV. . .

. . . The group says it will wage a "hard-hitting campaign" against members of Congress who fail to sign on. . .

LHC Sends Supersymmetry "To the Hospital" By Observing Bizarre Meson Decay

By Jason Mick
Supersymmetry, or SUSY for short, has been a popular physics theory used to explain away quirks in the Standard Model.  But recent findings from CERN's Large Hadron Collider cast serious doubts on traditional SUSY theory, sending physicists back to the drawing board.

. . .

 Many popular version of SUSY predict that the "strange" B-meson -- a short-lived 0.5 TeV (in mass) particle that oscillates between a matter and antimater state -- will decay to muons at a far greater rate than the extremely low rate predicted by the vanilla Standard Model.  The source of this shift stems from decay loops such as the chargino and Charged Higgs boson, which SUSY predicts [source] will enhance muon decay rates, by about an order of magnitude.

 But it turns out the decay was not as frequent as SUSY expected.  

.  ..

 An important thing to note is that while CERN physicists say the new data "squeezes" super-symmetry models, it does not say it invalidates all of them.  For example the so-called AKM model -- theorized by professors Ambrosanio, Kane, Kribs, Martin and Mrenna -- appears to encompass the results in its fringe reaches.

. . .

 In other words, the possible fall of SUSY sets the stage for a renaissance of new theory, the kind that equally delights physicists and gives the average member of the public at large a painful headache.

DNA sequencing of MRSA used to stop outbreak

By James Gallagher
An outbreak of the hospital superbug MRSA has been brought to an end by UK doctors cracking the bacterium's genetic code.

. . .

They compared the entire genetic code of MRSA bugs from each baby to build a family tree. It showed they were all closely related and part of the same outbreak.

After two months without a case and deep cleaning the ward, another case appeared. Analysing the DNA showed that it was again part of the outbreak and attention turned to a carrier.

Tests on 154 members of staff showed that one was also carrying MRSA, which may have been spread to babies in the unit. They were treated to remove the infection.

. . .

"We think this is the first case where whole genome sequencing has actually led to a clinical intervention and brought the outbreak to a close."

Why bankers rule the world

By Ellen Brown
In the 2012 edition of Occupy Money released this month, Professor Margrit Kennedy writes that a stunning 35% to 40% of everything we buy goes to interest. This interest goes to bankers, financiers, and bondholders, who take a 35% to 40% cut of our gross domestic product.

. . .

Exponential growth is unsustainable. In nature, sustainable growth progresses in a logarithmic curve that grows increasingly more slowly until it levels off (the red line in the first chart above). Exponential growth does the reverse: it begins slowly and increases over time, until the curve shoots up vertically (the chart below). Exponential growth is seen in parasites, cancers... and compound interest. When the parasite runs out of its food source, the growth curve suddenly collapses.  

People generally assume that if they pay their bills on time, they aren't paying compound interest; but again, this isn't true. Compound interest is baked into the formula for most mortgages, which compose 80% of US loans. And if credit cards aren't paid within the one-month grace period, interest charges are compounded daily.

.  ..

Direct reimbursement to the people is a hard system to work out, but there is a way we could collectively recover the interest paid to banks. We could do it by turning the banks into public utilities and their profits into public assets. Profits would return to the public, either reducing taxes or increasing the availability of public services and infrastructure.

France Declares Its Recognition of New Syria Rebel Group

France announced Tuesday that it was recognizing the newly formed Syrian rebel coalition and would consider arming the group, seeking to inject momentum into a broad Western and Arab effort to build a viable and effective opposition that would hasten the end of a stalemated civil war that has destabilized the Middle East.

. . .

 Some drew an analogy to France’s leading role in the early days of the Libyan uprising when it helped funnel aid, and later military support, to the rebels who had firmly established themselves in eastern Libya and would later topple Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. But in Syria, rebels have not been as organized and have no hold on significant amounts of territory — at least not enough to create a provisional government that could resist Mr. Assad’s military assaults. The West has also refused, so far, to impose a no-fly zone over Syria, which was critical to the success of the Libyan uprising.

. . .

 What the French have done, Mr. Tabler said, is significant because they have started the process of broader recognition, putting pressure on the group to succeed. “They’ve decided to back this umbrella organization and hope that it has some kind of political legitimacy and keep it from going to extremists,” he said. “It’s a gamble. The gamble is that it will stiffen the backs of the opposition.”

Chinese Communist Party may fear reform more than corruption

By Tom Lasseter
. . .

 A weeklong party congress that began with that speech on Nov. 8 and draws to a close on Wednesday has suggested that although China’s officials acknowledge a long list of domestic challenges, they intend to keep any changes tightly within their grasp.

The situation points to a predicament that frequently grows larger and harder to unwind for rulers of one-party systems – while recognizing that societal problems are worsening, they see no alternative other than the organization that helped create many of the complications in the first place.

. . .

The reason, observers say, can partly be boiled down to this: Beijing does not want anything resembling a Chinese version of Mikhail Gorbachev, the general secretary of the Soviet Union’s Communist Party whose aggressive policy changes in the 1980s unwittingly hastened the downfall of an empire.

Madhav Chavan wins education 'Nobel prize'

By Sean Coughlan
This year's winner of one of the biggest awards in international education is Madhav Chavan - who has provided an education for millions of impoverished families in India.

Dr Chavan has won the WISE Prize, which has been likened to a "Nobel prize for education".

. . .

Dr Chavan began his social activism helping uneducated slum-dwellers in Mumbai in the late 1980s, when he returned to India after studying in the United States.

Working with Unicef and the city authorities, he developed an innovative system for providing lessons for large numbers of people at low cost.

. . .

This expanded to other cities and states to become the largest non-governmental education provider for deprived children in India.

Ugandans evicted to make way for oil refinery

By Catherine Byaruhanga
Jennifer Makune lives in Kabaale village not far from the shores of Lake Albert, one of the most visually stunning parts of Uganda.

. . .

Altogether nearly 8,000 people will be evicted from their homes and farms to make way for the refinery.

. . .

The biggest concern for people like Ms Makune is whether the authorities will adequately compensate them for the property they will lose.

. . .

The government, however, is adamant that the refinery will be of great benefit to the people of Kabaale village, the surrounding area and country as a whole.

Its key argument is that Uganda cannot simply export raw materials, it needs to add value to the crude by refining it, before shipping it out.

Scandal in Ireland as woman dies in Galway 'after being denied abortion'

By Ben Quinn
. . .

Savita Halappanavar, who was 17 weeks pregnant, died of septicaemia a week after presenting with back pain on 21 October at University hospital in Galway, where she was found to be miscarrying.

After the 31-year-old dentist was told that she was miscarrying, her husband reportedly said that she had asked for a medical termination a number of times over a three day period, during which she was in severe pain.

But he said these requests were denied because a foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told at one point: "This is a Catholic country."

. . .

The Fine Gael/Labour government has struggled to respond to a 2010 ruling by the European court of human rights, which found it had failed to implement laws to enable women to have an abortion when their life is at risk during pregnancy.

USA Politics, Economy, Major Events
Fear of Obamacare Plummets After Election

By Kevin Drum
. . . In its latest healthcare tracking poll, the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that 49 percent of the public wants to keep or expand Obamacare, while 33 percent want to repeal it. This is down considerably from August (the most recent previous poll), when 40 percent of the public wanted to repeal Obamacare. Likewise, overall unfavorability ratings are also down, from 43 percent to 39 percent.

. . . The mere fact that Obama won, and therefore Obamacare was here to stay, apparently changed a lot of minds. Elections really do have consequences.

NY utility worker punched by man upset by lack of power

By (
. . .

Applewhite had just finished working a 16-hour day when a well dressed man in a BMW started yelling at him and another worker.

. . .

The attacker parked the car, got out and punched Applewhite in the face and possibly hit him with an object. The man then fled in the BMW.

. . .

Applewhite reportedly has a cracked cheekbone and will need to have reconstructive surgery on his face. Both workers were treated at Nassau Medical Center.

Applewhite, from Lakeland, Florida, was working temporarily on Long Island helping to restore electricity to the area after Sandy.

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:
. . .

What's the meaning of the lyrics?

. . . they don't only deal with the . . . there's war and it's also just the fact that there's alot of hate between men, it's not only between soldiers . . .

Back to what's happening:
Environment and Greening
US governors cross party lines in support of windfarm subsidies

By Suzanne Goldenberg
. . .

In a first sign of a possible shift in the landscape after Barack Obama's re-election, governors from both parties urged Congress to extend subsidies for windfarms.

The governors from Colorado, Iowa, Kansas and Oregon, who included two Democrats and two Republicans, said ending the subsidies would stunt an emerging industry.

. . .

Investments in windfarms soared this year to $3bn with producers rushing to beat the subsidy deadline, Brownback said. "We are seeking to be the renewable state but all those numbers go to nearly zero next year," he told a conference call with reporters. "Virtually no new wind operations going in next year. That shows you just how dramatic the impact of the production tax credit is."

. . .

Al Gore, in an interview with the Guardian, said a carbon tax would allow Obama to solve both the climate and budget crises, reducing emissions that cause global warming while raising government revenue.

Calif. To Begin Rationing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

By Christopher Joyce
California begins a controversial experiment to curb climate change on Wednesday: The state will start rationing the amount of greenhouse gases companies can emit.

. . .

Here's how the climate deal works. Big companies must limit the greenhouse gases they emit — from smokestacks to tailpipes — and they have to get permits for those emissions. The clock starts Jan. 1.

Most of these permits are free, but the state has held back some, to sell at an auction on Nov. 14. Lots of companies will have to buy some to cover their pollution, and no one knows exactly how much a permit will sell for.

That uncertainty has led to a lot of self-examination about energy use by people like Nathan Brostrom, vice president of business operations at the University of California. "We're trying to control our own destiny in terms of bringing down our carbon emissions," says Brostrom, "so we are not going to be subject to the fluctuations of the auction."

Science and Health
Common Enzyme Deficiency May Hinder Plans to Eradicate Malaria

By (ScienceDaily)
In malaria-endemic countries, 350 million people are predicted to be deficient in an enzyme that means they can suffer severe complications from taking primaquine, a key drug for treating relapsing malaria, according to a study funded by the Wellcome Trust and published in this week's PLOS Medicine.

. . .

Dr Howe explains: "Malaria control and elimination are a top priority on the global health agenda. Yet, a key drug to help achieve this goal remains too dangerous for widespread use. We have developed a map of this risk factor, G6PD deficiency, and find it to be very common across many malaria endemic regions. Much work remains to be done to fully understand this disease, notably its genetic diversity."

. . .

When the authors took the severity of the G6PD deficiency (the more severe the deficiency, the higher the risk of hemolysis), they found that the greatest risk was across Asia, where severe G6PD variants are commonly inherited.

Road to Language Learning Is Iconic

By (ScienceDaily)
Languages are highly complex systems and yet most children seem to acquire language easily, even in the absence of formal instruction. New research on young children's use of British Sign Language (BSL) sheds light on one mechanism -- iconicity -- that may play an important role in children's ability to learn language.

. . .

Thompson and colleagues hypothesize that iconic links between our perceptual-motor experience of the world and the form of a sign may provide an imitation-based mechanism that supports early sign acquisition. These iconic links highlight motor and perceptual similarity between actions and signs such as DRINK, which is produced by tipping a curved hand to the mouth and represents the action of holding a cup and drinking from it.

The researchers emphasize that these results can also be applied to spoken languages, in which gestures, tone of voice, inflection, and face-to-face communication can help make the link between words and their meanings less arbitrary.

Weather records show summer climate change

By (UPI)
Ninety years of observational data has revealed summer climates in regions across the globe are changing and mostly warming, U.S. researchers say.

. . .

"It is the first time that we show on a local scale that there are significant changes in summer temperatures," Mahlstein said. "This result shows us that we are experiencing a new summer climate regime in some regions."

. . .

Temperature extremes became more frequent in the later time periods, Mahlstein said.

"You see how the extreme events of the past have become a normal event."

Facebook couples pages anger the internet

By Amy Silverstein
Facebook has unveiled a new feature: pages for couples. Many people on the internet reacted by complaining that the idea is sickening. Maybe they're just single and jealous.

The couples page comes a week after Facebook also introduced new Friendship Pages that combine tagged photos and posts of you and your Facebook friends on the same page, ZDNet reported. And now, the link goes a step further, taking you on a virtual tour of your love life, with photos, wall posts and photo comments shared between you and the person you are Facebook official with.

. . .

Beyond potential privacy concerns though, some people are worried that the couples pages will inspire that annoying Facebook couple you're friends with (we all have them) to become even more annoying. "I want to vomit," blogger Jennifer Wright wrote.

Report: Samsung Now Charging Apple 20% More for iPhone Processors

By Shane McGlaun
The legal battles between Samsung and Apple have reached near legendary proportions. Apple won a major decision against Samsung in U.S. courts where the jury awarded Apple $1 billion in damages. Samsung is appealing that ruling and is even trying to get the case thrown out of court by alleging juror misconduct.

 Apple lost a patent infringement suit against Samsung in Europe and was forced to run apology ads in major publications stating that Samsung did not copy the iPad.

Reports are now coming in that Samsung Electronics has recently raised the price it charges for mobile processors to Apple. Samsung supplies the processors for the popular Apple iPad and iPhone.

 Apple was, understandably, was unhappy with the price hike and initially refused to pay it. However, it came back and agreed to pay the additional costs when no alternative provider could be found.

Fairweather Friends "Unlike" Romney on Facebook

By Jason Mick
. . . as the President celebrates the title of "Most Popular Tweet in History", some of those same once-engaged Romney fans are abandoning their former Facebook friend.  Mitt Romney is seeing his social media stock rapidly sink.  A site called "Disappearing Romney" is tracking this trend real time -- updating how many fans his page has.

 In the last 18 hours former Gov. Romney was losing nearly 1,000 supporters an hour, as each hour on average he was "unliked" by 982 former social media buddies.

. . .

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and his VP candidate Paul Ryan lost the social media race, with Barack Obama receiving nearly 3 times as many likes.

Lockheed Warns Foreign Cyberattackers are Targeting Its Contractors

By Jason Mick
Amidst a mix of public testimony and leaked intelligence reports suggesting persistent cyber attacks on U.S. institutions by Iran and China, the top supplier to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is issuing a strongly worded warning.  Lockheed Martin Comp. (LMT), whose annual revenues eclipse $47B USD, warned Monday of a rising number of so-called "advanced persistent threats", noting that many of these sophisticated attacks were linked.

. . .

 All eyes are on Lockheed, after the company was selected to support the Pentagon's Cyber Crime Center (DC3), beating out previous contract holder General Dynamics Corp. (GD).

 If you believe the gospel according to Lockheed, so to speak, the weakest part of the security chains at present are contractors.  In a discussion Lockheed executives revealed that EMC Corp. (EMC) subsidiary RSA, makers of the titular cryptographic standard was only one of two major contractor breaches.  Like RSA, the other contractor's info was used in an attempted second-wave attack on Lockheed.

Nepalese isolation rituals over first menstruation scrutinized

By Kamala Gautam
Prekchhya Sharma, who just turned 12, was locked in a room inside her home for 10 days recently during her first menstruation.

 Her mother told her that, in accordance with Hindu tradition, she must not look at the male members of her family or at the roof of her house in the heart of Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital. Her mother didn’t allow her to leave her room and blanketed it with heavy curtains to block any light from entering.

 “I am kept here because I started menstruating,” Prekchhya says.

. . .

 Isolation of girls during their first menstruations is a Hindu custom in cities and villages of Nepal, but some scholars say rituals are not all rooted in scripture. Still, parents and guardians continue the practice because of tradition and societal pressure. Nongovernmental organizations and health professionals call for increased education and counseling about menstruation. International and local organizations and the government are working to raise awareness but admit the need for expanded efforts.

Neda Soltani: 'The media mix-up that ruined my life'

By (BBC)
In June 2009, a woman was shot dead in a demonstration in Tehran. Neda Agha-Soltan became the face of the Iranian protest movement - except that it was not her face to begin with, but the face of university teacher Neda Soltani. . .

. . .

The Iranian regime felt harassed by the attention Agha-Soltan's death had brought on them from abroad. Within three days, Ministry of Intelligence agents came to my home and summoned me for a meeting.

. . .

In the past, reporters on the ground would approach relatives for a hand-out picture, which agencies would syndicate to national and international media. But this takes time and today we consume, and demand, stories and photographs faster than ever before, which means news organisations will dig for those pictures on social media sites.

. . .

My situation was getting very complicated. Many friends and colleagues decided that being in contact with me could endanger them as well. My boyfriend was one of these people - I lost contact with him.

. . .

The whole thing happened in a matter of 12 days. In less than two weeks I had gone from being a professor of English literature, leading a very normal life, to a person who had to flee her homeland.

Tablet computer added to Queen's Royal Collection

By (BBC)
The Queen will add the first tablet computer to the Royal Collection when she is presented with a "digital time-capsule" this Wednesday.

The touchscreen device will provide access to videos, photographs and text submitted by participants who have recounted memories from the past 60 years of Queen Elizabeth II's reign.

. . .

Organisers have pledged that the complete library of 80,000 entries will remain available online to all "in perpetuity". It has been called the Diamond (re)Collection.

. . .

The organisation said it had at one point considered using an Apple iPad, but ultimately opted for Samung's tablet after discussing the project with both firms.

Meteor Blades is known to offer an enlightening Evening Open Diary - you might consider checking that out tonight if you haven't already.
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