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The Overnight News Digest is an ongoing evening series dedicated to chronicling the day's news that the editor de la nuit finds of import or interest. Everyone is welcome to add their own news items in the comments. Tonight, I am featuring news from around the world.

Top Story


  • Guardian - Slow pace of carbon cuts brings catastrophic climate change closer: UN
    The world is straying further away from commitments to combat climate change, bringing the prospect of catastrophic global warming a step closer, a UN report said on Wednesday. The warning came as nearly 200 governments prepare to meet in Qatar for international climate negotiations starting next Monday.

    The gap between what world governments have committed to by way of cuts in greenhouse gases and the cuts that scientists say are necessary has widened, but in order to stave off dangerous levels of global warming, it should have narrowed. There is now one-fifth more carbon in the atmosphere than there was in 2000, and there are few signs of global emissions falling, according to the new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep).

    The warning of increasing emissions came as fresh evidence was published showing the last decade was the warmest on record for Europe.

USA


  • LAT - For Sandy survivors, a Thanksgiving they'd never expected
    This year, Aiman Youssef is thankful to be alive. The 42-year-old Staten Island man said he used to have a $300,000 house he could be thankful for, and a car, and two vans full of things he was going to sell on EBay. Then Superstorm Sandy ruined all that and the rest of his neighborhood too, so just being alive is the best he can ask for right now.

    "It's survival — that's what it is now," said Youssef, who sleeps in a tent, where it gets cold early in the morning, around 3 or 4 a.m. especially…

    As of Wednesday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency reported that 453,000 disaster survivors had applied for assistance in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island, with $844.4 million in relief aid approved. That translated into a $19,000 check for Youssef — a help, he said, but not enough for him to rebuild his life.
  • WaPo - Probe eyes any Petraeus staff role in Broadwell obtaining sensitive documents
    A federal investigation of how David H. Petraeus’s biographer obtained numerous classified records is focusing on whether the retired general’s staff gave her sensitive documents at his instruction, according to federal officials familiar with the inquiry.

    Petraeus aides and other high-ranking military officials were often tasked by Petraeus and other top commanders to provide military records and other documents to Paula Broadwell for her work as Petraeus’s biographer, former staff members and other officials told The Washington Post…

    The focus on the role of military staff members adds a new chapter to the complicated ethics scandal that led Petraeus to abruptly resign as CIA director on Nov. 9. His affair with Broadwell also has put the personal communication of Marine Gen. John R. Allen, Petraeus’s successor as commander of the Afghan war, under scrutiny by the Pentagon.
  • AP - US Ambassador Susan Rice defends Benghazi remarks
    U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said Wednesday that her early account of the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in Benghazi was based on the initial intelligence community assessments and was always subject to review and updates.

    She said she respects Republican Sen. John McCain, who has been critical of her, but says "some of the statements he's made about me have been unfounded, but I look forward to having the opportunity at the appropriate time to discuss all of this with him."

Europe


  • Spiegel - Slow-Downs for High-Speed Rail in Germany
    For many German train passengers, it has become just another part of winter. As soon as the weather begins to get cold, train delays on both local and long-distance routes start adding up. Last winter was particularly bad, because national rail operator Deutsche Bahn had too few trains in reserve to replace those in need of repair.

    This year, Deutsche Bahn announced on Thursday, the situation isn't likely to be much better. Long delays and even cancellations can be expected as the temperatures drop. The culprit, according to the company, is the German engineering group Siemens. Despite having waited years for an order for additional high-speed ICE trains, Deutsche Bahn still hasn't taken delivery, leading to insufficient reserve capacity at a time of near record passenger numbers.

  • EU Observer - France and Poland main winners in EU budget talks
    The first day of talks between leaders on the €1 trillion EU budget framework broke up shortly after midnight on Thursday (22 November) with France and Poland the main beneficiaries from a new compromise proposal.

    Following criticism over his initial plans to slash agricultural subsidies and regional development funds, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy presented leaders with a fresh compromise text of figures on which to base negotiations.

    The draft paper seen by EUobserver keeps to the same overall top-line figure of 972 billion stated in the proposal sent to national capitals last week, equivalent to 1.01% of GNI.
  • Telegraph - Prisoners should get the vote, Lib Dem minister Lord McNally says
    Maintaining the current ban on prisoner voting, in defiance of European laws, could make it more difficult for Britain to challenge other countries over human rights abuses, Lord McNally suggested.

    The peer, the Lib Dem leader in the House of Lords, offered his “personal view” as the government prepares for a wave of compensation claims from criminals who cannot participate in elections…

    During a debate on the plans in the House of Lords, Lord McNally said that he “personally” believed that “it could be possible to devise a system of enfranchisement of some prisoners that could play a useful part in a rehabilitation process”.

Africa


  • Guardian - Mohamed Morsi bars court challenges and orders Hosni Mubarak retrial
    Egypt's president, Mohamed Morsi, has granted himself far-reaching powers and immunity from legal oversight as he ordered the retrial of his predecessor Hosni Mubarak over the killing of protesters during the country's revolution.

    In a surprise move, Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who was instrumental in securing a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas on Wednesday, issued a series of measures preventing Egypt's courts from challenging any laws or decrees passed since he assumed office in June.

    The decrees prevent the courts from attempting to dissolve the upper house of parliament or the constituent assembly which is drawing up the country's new constitution, both dominated by his Islamist allies.
  • BBC - DR Congo army chief Gabriel Amisi suspended
    The head of the army in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been suspended pending an investigation into claims that he sold weapons to rebel groups.

    A UN report accused Gen Gabriel Amisi of running a network supplying arms to poachers and rebel groups including the notorious Mai Mai Raia Mutomboki. A government spokesman said other officers were also being investigated.

    The suspension follows the seizure of the city of Goma by rebels of the M23 group on Tuesday.
  • Reuters - Two killed in clash at Harmony Gold South Africa mine
    Two miners were killed in clashes between rival unions in South Africa on Thursday at a mine run by Harmony Gold, in a fresh flare-up of labor violence in Africa's largest economy days after a wave of wildcat strikes ended, police said.

    A third miner was in hospital after being shot in the leg during the confrontation at Kusasalethu mine, 65 km (40 miles) west of Johannesburg, police spokeswoman Katlego Mogale said.

    "Now its quiet. Police are here to monitor the situation,' she told Reuters, adding that between 500 and 1,000 miners were gathered at the mine operated by South Africa's third largest bullion producer.

Middle East


  • Globe and Mail - Is Mahmoud Abbas a political dead man walking?
    If the militant Palestinian movement Hamas is being portrayed as the big winner in its battle with Israel over the past eight days, enjoying widespread Arab support and Palestinian popularity, the big loser is Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank.

    Mr. Abbas, known widely as Abu Mazen, can still lay claim to be the president of all the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. But the man who helped to advance the 1993 Oslo Accords that proffered peace with Israel, and was the preferred Palestinian of Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak, today is the forgotten man when it comes to negotiations between Gaza’s rulers and Israel.

    Worse, to many Palestinians, he’s a political dead man walking.
  • Reuters - Gaza ceasefire holds but mistrust runs deep
    A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas held firm on Thursday with scenes of joy among the ruins in Gaza over what Palestinians hailed as a victory, and both sides saying their fingers were still on the trigger.

    In the sudden calm, Palestinians who had been under Israeli bombs for eight days poured into Gaza streets for a celebratory rally, walking past wrecked houses and government buildings.

    But as a precaution, schools stayed closed in southern Israel, where nerves were jangled by warning sirens - a false alarm, the army said - after a constant rain of rockets during the most serious Israeli-Palestinian fighting in four years.
  • NYT - Deadly Strikes by Syrian Forces Close a Hospital in Aleppo
    Airstrikes by the Syrian government damaged a hospital in the northern city of Aleppo early on Thursday and flattened a building next to it, killing at least 15 people and leaving as many as 40 missing in an attack that closed one of the city’s few functioning medical facilities, antigovernment activists said.

    Video purporting to depict the aftermath showed the facade shorn off the first three stories of the hospital, with its name, Dar el-Shifa, in red letters on its tower. Beside it, another building was reduced to a two-story pile of rubble. People milled in the street, shouting “God is great.”

    Among the 15 people confirmed dead were two hospital workers and two children, said Abu Louai al-Halabi, an activist in Aleppo, adding that up to 40 people were still believed to be trapped under the rubble. One man was pulled out alive several hours after the explosion, according to another video posted on the Internet by opponents of President Bashar al-Assad.
  • WaPo - Iran faces possible health-care crisis
    Iran is facing a possible crisis in its health-care system as a result of economic sanctions and alleged government mismanagement of diminishing state funds, according to officials here.

    The lack of money is already being felt in hospitals throughout Iran, where medical staffs have been told that they are working in “war-time conditions” and should prescribe drugs sparingly — or in many cases, not all — in an effort to save resources.

    “It means our hands are tied,” said Nasrin, a doctor at a government-run hospital in the central city of Shiraz. “We’ve been given a list of over 120 drugs that we are not to prescribe, because we simply don’t have them.”

South Asia


  • NYT - India Executes Pakistani Gunman Involved in 2008 Attacks on Mumbai
    India hanged Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving Pakistani gunman from the November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, which left more than 160 people dead, in a surprise action on Wednesday that analysts in both countries said would nonetheless be unlikely to derail improving ties.

    Mr. Kasab was one of 10 young men who hijacked an Indian fishing boat, killed its captain, took a rubber dinghy into Mumbai and then systematically attacked high-end hotels, a train station, a hospital and a Jewish community center over the course of three chaotic days. The 10 were members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani-based terrorist group, and their actions were directed by phone by people in Pakistan. Nine of the attackers were killed by Indian forces, and their bodies were buried in an undisclosed location.

  • LAT - More Afghan land cultivated for opium poppies, U.N. finds
    More Afghan land is being used to grow opium poppies than a year ago, the United Nations drug agency said in a new report released Tuesday that underscores the challenges in combating the illicit crop.

    It marks the second year that opium cultivation has expanded in Afghanistan, according to the U.N., bringing it close to levels last seen four years ago.

    Though the Afghan government stepped up eradication efforts, more than doubling the area it tackled, the area devoted to cultivating opium poppies grew by nearly a fifth, spanning 154,000 hectares, or about 380,542 acres. Almost all the poppies were found in the troubled southern and western stretches of Afghanistan, which churns out the bulk of the worldwide crop.
  • NYT - Afghanistan Executes Six in Gesture on Taliban
    The Afghan government executed six Taliban prisoners on Wednesday, just days after welcoming Pakistan’s release of other Taliban prisoners, illustrating the tightrope that President Hamid Karzai is trying to walk: reaching out to the Taliban politically while demonstrating his opposition to their terrorist acts.

    The executions were carried out in accordance with an order Mr. Karzai issued this week that covered 16 prisoners. The six executed on Wednesday had been convicted of terrorist acts, including plotting suicide bombings, kidnappings and assassinations. Eight men executed Tuesday had been convicted of criminal offenses like rape and murder.

Asia


  • China Daily - China vows to maintain territorial sovereignty
    No external pressure can shake the strong will and determination of the Chinese government and people to maintain territorial sovereignty, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said here Thursday.

    Spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the remarks at a regular press briefing when asked to comment on the new campaign platform released by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Japan's main opposition party.

    The LDP issued its pre-election pledges on Wednesday. Shinzo Abe, head of the opposition, said Wednesday that he would set up a national security council at the prime minister's office to beef up Japan's defense and security amid an escalating territorial spat with China over a set of islands in the East China Sea.
  • BBC - Japan's ninjas heading for extinction
    Japan's era of shoguns and samurai is long over, but the country does have one, or maybe two, surviving ninjas. Experts in the dark arts of espionage and silent assassination, ninjas passed skills from father to son - but today's say they will be the last.

    Japan's ninjas were all about mystery. Hired by noble samurai warriors to spy, sabotage and kill, their dark outfits usually covered everything but their eyes, leaving them virtually invisible in shadow - until they struck.

  • BBC - South Korea marks Yeonpyeong island attack
    South Korea is marking the anniversary of a deadly North Korean attack on a border island, amid further threats from its northern neighbor.

    Two civilians and two marines were killed when North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong island on 23 November 2010. A memorial hall will be opened on the island and military exercise held.

    North Korea has warned it will respond to any "provocation", saying it regretted not sending the island "to the bottom of the sea".

Oceana


  • SMH - Where did it go? Scientists 'undiscover' Pacific island
    Most explorers dream of discovering uncharted territory, but a team of Australian scientists have done the exact opposite. They have found an island that doesn't exist.

    The island, named Sandy Island on Google Earth, also exists on marine charts and world maps and allegedly sits between Australia and New Caledonia in the south Pacific. But when the voyage's chief scientist, Maria Seton, and her crew sailed past where the island should be, they found nothing but blue ocean.

    "We became suspicious when the navigation charts used by the ship showed a depth of 1400 metres in an area where our scientific maps and Google Earth showed the existence of a large island," Dr Maria Seton, a geologist from the University of Sydney, said.

Americas


  • Guardian - Argentina fears default after American court ruling
    Argentinian politicians and global debt campaigners have responded with fury to a US court judgment that risks plunging the country back into default.

    Elliott Capital Management and Aurelius Capital Management, regarded as "vulture funds" by Buenos Aires, won a ruling in a New York court on Wednesday that could force Argentina to hand over $1.3bn (£816m) in repayments and interest to the tiny minority of bondholders who refused to sign up to a hard-fought writedown of its debts after the country defaulted in 2001.

    Judge Thomas Griesa upheld his own ruling of last month backing Elliott Associates, and said: "Argentina owes this and owes it now."
  • LAT - Brazil swears in nation's first black Supreme Court president
    Joaquim Barbosa, a judge famous for his tough stand against political corruption, has been sworn in as the first black president of Brazil’s Supreme Court.

    At the ceremony Thursday in Brasília, the capital, his work was widely praised by politicians, artists and public figures. He spoke of the challenges ahead for Brazil’s justice system.

    “I must be intellectually honest and say there is a great justice deficit among us,” Barbosa said, according to local media. “Not all Brazilians are treated equally.” What one often sees is “special treatment and privileges that have no basis in reason,” he said.
  • BBC - Mexico's President Calderon seeks to change country's name
    Mexican President Felipe Calderon has sent a bill to congress to change the official name of the country.

    The current name, the United States of Mexico, was adopted in 1824 and was intended to emulate its northern neighbour. President Calderon wants to change it to just Mexico, as the country is known the world over…

    "The name of our country no longer needs to emulate that of other nations," Mr Calderon told a news conference. "Forgive me for the expression, but Mexico's name is Mexico."
  • The World - Electronic Pow Wow with ‘A Tribe Called Red’
    It’s the second Saturday of the month, Electric Pow Wow night, at Ottawa’s trendy Babylon club. The line to get in snakes down the block. Inside, A Tribe Called Red’s three DJs — NDN, Bear Witness, and Shub — warm up the crowd with a mix of dancehall and hip hop.

    Brittany Jones and Marissa Martin sip cocktails in a cozy booth. They’re both native, Chippewa and Mi’kmaq, respectively. They say the Electric Pow Wow is special for aboriginal people, particularly for students far from their homes and tribes…

    Bear Witness says, “My East Indian friends would have their “Brown Parties.” “Brown parties” is what they’d call it. There was Korean parties. There were all these culturally significant parties they’d have. I realized that they really didn’t have any representation like that for the aboriginal population in the city, so we just kinda wanted to throw one for that.”

Originally posted to Overnight News Digest on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 10:27 PM PST.

Also republished by J Town.

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