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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

  • Spiegel - Scientists Forecast Dramatic Temperature Increase
    Normally, Christiana Figueres is thoroughly enthusiastic. The United Nations' top diplomat for climate changes issues uses her personal Twitter account to relay even the smallest advances in the fight against global warming with impressive euphoria. But recently, the Costa Rican hasn't been in the mood to celebrate. She has observed little interest or support for pushing governments to reach "ambitious and brave decisions," she complained after the first week of the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar.

    Her pessimism is justified. Since 2010, the official goal of negotiations has been limiting the increase in the earth's temperature to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), when compared to pre-industrial values, by the year 2100. Small island nations, who want to keep the increase even lower, have been pushing for a goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius. But scientists are certain that this can hardly be achieved any longer.

    And now a new study has shown just how unrealistic the 2-degree goal is. "If we keep going on as we have been, it will be 5 degrees," says co-author Glen Peters, who works at Norway's Center for International Climate and Environmental Research (CICERO). And scientists agree that such a dramatic warming of the earth's temperature would have devastating consequences.


  • WaPo - Fox News chief’s failed attempt to enlist Petraeus as presidential candidate
    Roger Ailes, the longtime Republican media guru, founder of Fox News and its current chairman, had some advice last year for then-Gen. David H. Petraeus.

    So in spring 2011, Ailes asked a Fox News analyst headed to Afghanistan to pass on his thoughts to Petraeus, who was then the commander of U.S. and coalition forces there. Petraeus, Ailes advised, should turn down an expected offer from President Obama to become CIA director and accept nothing less than the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military post. If Obama did not offer the Joint Chiefs post, Petraeus should resign from the military and run for president, Ailes suggested.

  • Oregonian - U.S. Supreme Court may punt on Oregon logging road pollution case
    The U.S. Supreme Court may decide to punt on an Oregon logging road pollution case that has already bounced through the federal courts since 2006, justices indicated today, a move that could spawn years of additional litigation.

    The justices' comments came after the Environmental Protection Agency issued a new rule Friday clarifying that polluted run-off from logging roads shouldn't be treated like "point source" run-off from factories and feedlots under the Clean Water Act.

    EPA's new rule was intended to be timber-industry friendly, directly contradicting a 2010 decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that the Supreme Court had decided to review.


  • NYT - Terms of Greek Bond Buyback Top Expectations
    In a bold bid to reduce its debt burden, Greece offered on Monday to spend as much as 10 billion euros to buy back 30 billion euros of its bonds from investors and banks.

    While the buyback had been expected, the prices offered by the government were above what the market had forecast, with a minimum price of 30 euro cents and a maximum of 40 cents, for a discount of 60 percent to 70 percent.

    Analysts said they expected that the average price would ultimately be 32 to 34 euro cents, a premium of about 4 cents above where the bonds traded at the end of last week.
  • Guardian - Ex-Greek PM's mother linked to $550m Swiss account
    Greece's civil war over naming and shaming suspected tax evaders intensified following the claim by police that former prime minister George Papandreou's octogenarian mother was behind a Swiss bank account of mutual funds worth $550m (£342m).

    Allegations that US-born Margaret Papandreou was on the so-called "Lagarde list", identifying Greeks who had stockpiled fortunes in Switzerland, provoked uproar after two popular newspapers published the claims on Sunday.

  • Copenhagen Post - Pompeii’s downfall was a volcano, Portugal’s an earthquake, and Denmark’s the Royal Navy
    It was an ill-advised move to join Russia by backing the French in the Napoleonic Wars against Britain. It cost Denmark 1,500 buildings, 400 lives and ultimately its status as a prosperous European nation…

    After two weeks of seige, the British sent their last ultimatum: hand over your fleet or else. The Danes did not budge and the first terror bombing of a European capital began at 7:30pm on 2 September 1807.

    Some 13,000 Danish troops did what they could to withstand the attacks, but their defence posts were outdated and they were heavily outmatched by the 30,000 experienced British troops and their almost 50 warships. Also, the British used newly-improved firebombs to strike Copenhagen with disregard for civilian losses.

    The civilian population of Copenhagen, which numbered more than 100,000 people, was targeted to speed up the process of surrender.


  • LAT - Egypt's Supreme Judicial Council to oversee vote on draft charter
    Egypt's Supreme Judicial Council agreed Monday to oversee a national referendum on the country's draft constitution, a move that suggested at least a temporary easing of the crisis between the courts and President Mohamed Morsi.

    The decision by the council, which last month condemned a power grab by Morsi as an "unprecedented attack" on the courts, indicates the influential judicial organization is looking to contain Egypt's political unrest. But it also highlights disagreements within the judiciary because many judges have gone on strike and vowed to boycott the Dec. 15 referendum.

    The decision by the Supreme Judicial Council came a day before Tuesday's planned march on the presidential palace by political opposition forces to pressure Morsi to rescind a decree that gave him immunity from judicial oversight. The march has been dubbed "The Final Warning" and is to be led by leading dissidents, including Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei.
  • Guardian - Aids drugs increase South African life expectancy by five years
    South Africa has witnessed an "unparalleled" five-year increase in life expectancy since 2005 thanks to the world's biggest programme of HIV/Aids drug treatment, researchers say.

    The trend marks a spectacular reversal from when former president Thabo Mbeki was branded an "Aids denialist" whose dogma was blamed for 330,000 deaths. In a few short years, South Africa has gone from global disgrace to shining example…

    Professor Salim Abdool Karim, president of the South African Medical Research Council, said the rise in life expectancy – from 54 years in 2005 to 60 in 2011 – was of the order usually only seen after a major societal shift, such as the abolition of slavery.
  • AJE - DR Congo army returns to Goma
    DR Congo troops have entered the eastern mining city of Goma, two days after rebel M23 fighters withdrew in line with a regionally brokered deal. But the rebels have warned they will retake the city, if the government fails to meet their demands within 48 hours.

    The rebels' lightning capture of Goma on November 20 eight months after they launched an uprising against Kinshasa had sparked fears of a wider war and major humanitarian crisis, and their withdrawal was widely welcomed.

    Dozens of government army trucks, crammed with heavily armed soldiers, entered the regional capital in the afternoon, after trundling along the shores of Lake Kivu.

Middle East

  • NYT - U.S. Warns Syria on Chemical Weapons
    President Obama warned Syria on Monday not to use chemical weapons against its own people, vowing to hold accountable anyone who did, even as American intelligence officials picked up signs that such arms might be deployed in the fighting there.

    The White House said it had an “increased concern” that the government of President Bashar al-Assad was preparing to use such weapons, effectively confirming earlier reports of activity at chemical weapons sites. The administration said it would take action if they were used, suggesting even the possibility of military force.

    “Today I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command: The world is watching,” Mr. Obama said in a speech at the National Defense University in Washington. “The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable. If you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable.”
  • LAT - Turkey scrambles fighter jets as Syria bombs city of Ras Ayn
    Turkey scrambled fighter jets after Syrian warplanes bombed the rebel-held border city of Ras Ayn in northeastern Syria on Monday, killing at least eight people and injuring 16, according to opposition accounts and at least one person reached in the town.

    The bombardment shattered windows on the Turkish side and sent people from Ras Ayn fleeing into Turkey, where ambulances took the wounded to hospitals.

    Last month, a Syrian rebel force seized Ras Ayn, once home to more than 50,000 people, from government control. Thousands fled to Turkey during the fighting and an intense government bombing campaign that left dozens of civilians dead, residents say.
  • Guardian - Israel defiant on settlements expansion after European condemnation
    Israel was defiant on Monday in the face of a serious diplomatic rift with five European countries over its plans to expand illegal settlements in the West Bank, warning that it may take "additional steps" despite mounting international alarm that it was killing off any prospect of a future peace agreement with the Palestinians.

    Israeli ambassadors to the UK, France, Sweden, Spain and Denmark were summoned to hear condemnation of plans to develop a highly sensitive expanse of land east of Jerusalem. The move signalled a widening gulf not just between Israel and Europe but also between Europe and the United States.

    Despite growing international isolation, a source in the Israeli prime minister's office said: "We will continue to stand by our vital national interests against international pressure and there will be no change in the decision that was made."

South Asia

  • Reuters - Indian navy ready to deploy to South China Sea as tensions climb
    India has declared itself ready to deploy naval vessels to the South China Sea to protect its oil-exploration interests there, a potential new escalation of tensions in a disputed area where fears of armed conflict have been growing steadily.

    India's naval chief made the statement on Monday just as Vietnam's state oil and gas company, Petrovietnam, accused Chinese boats of sabotaging an exploration operation by cutting a seismic cable being towed behind a Vietnamese vessel.

  • Xinhua - Reports of violence against women continue in Afghanistan
    Afghan Minister for Women Affairs Husan Bano Ghazanfar confirmed last week that 3,500 cases of violence against women had been registered in Afghanistan in the first six months of Afghan year which began from March 21, 2012.

    In Kunduz province alone, according to women rights' activists, 12 women and girls have been killed so far this year. Just two days ago, a man beheaded a young girl in Imam Sahib District of Kunduz province after the girl's father refused to let him marry his daughter…

    Women in Afghanistan are facing variety of discrimination and violence ranging from child marriage, forced marriage, rape, polygamy and even "baad," a tribal custom of giving forcibly the hand of a widow or girl to a man from an opposing tribe to settle a dispute and end enmity.
  • DAWN - Closer Pakistan-Iran military ties proposed
    The first Pakistan-Iran parliamentary dialogue on security recommended on Monday contacts between military and intelligence leaders of the two countries to address the underlying mistrust that refuses to go despite enhanced political exchanges keenly flaunted by both countries.

    The Senate Defence Committee, which has broken taboos in the realm of national security by opening up debates on defence budget, counter-terrorism policies, civil-military relations, had this time invited a delegation of Iranian parliament led by Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman, National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of Majlis-i-Shura, for security dialogue.

    Despite improvement in bilateral ties that followed elimination of Jundullah threat two years ago, security establishments of both countries remain wary of each other as reflected by sluggish progress on different mega projects that political leaders of the two countries have agreed.


  • Guardian - China unearths ruined palace near terracotta army
    Archaeologists have found the remains of an ancient imperial palace near the tomb of emperor Qin Shi Huang, home of the famous terracotta army, China's state media reported on Sunday.

    The palace is the largest complex discovered so far in the emperor's sprawling 22 square-mile (56 square-km) second-century BC mausoleum, which lies on the outskirts of Xi'an, an ancient capital city in central China…

    It is an estimated 690 metres long and 250 metres wide – about a quarter of the size of the Forbidden City in Beijing – and includes 18 courtyard-style houses with one main building at the centre, according to the researcher, Sun Weigang.
  • China Daily - Former TV host accuses legislator of assault, graft
    Local authorities in Shuangcheng city, Heilongjiang province, have removed the manager of a State-owned company who was also deputy to the city's people's congress from his posts, after a former TV host reported him for sexual assault.

    Wang Dechun, a 42-year-old former TV host at Shuangcheng TV Station, has accused Sun Dejiang of pressuring her to maintain a sexual relationship with him. Wang made the allegations on micro-blogging platform Sina Weibo on Nov 23.

    She also alleged Sun had abused his power for private gain, and helped people to fake retirement documents to receive pensions, sold public property at low prices and helped his relatives make illicit gains.
  • Bloomberg - Storm Bopha Slams Into Southern Philippines, Forcing Evacuations
    Storm Bopha lashed the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, cutting power and forcing Philippine Airlines Inc. and Cebu Air Inc. (CEB) to cancel flights.

    The cyclone, known locally as Pablo, battered the region with gusts as strong as 210 kilometers (130 miles) per hour, state weather forecaster Fernando Cada said by phone. The storm may weaken slightly as it crosses Mindanao and heads toward the Visayas Islands, he said.

    “We expect floods and landslides,” Cada said, adding that Bopha may not cause the same devastation as last year’s Storm Washi, the deadliest to hit the Philippines since 2008.
  • AJE - Japan prepares for North Korean rocket launch
    Japan has begun deploying a surface-to-air missile defence system and is putting its armed forces on standby in advance of a planned North Korean missile launch this month, reports and officials say.

    The Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported that a naval vessel carrying PAC-3 (Patriot Advanced Capability-3) ballistic missiles left a western Japan naval base on Monday, headed for the country's southern Okinawa island chain.

    North Korea announced on Saturday that it would launch a rocket between December 10 and 22 - its second long-range rocket launch this year after a much-hyped but botched attempt in April.


  • SMH - Origins of 'undiscovered' island discovered: historic traces of 'phantom' Sandy found on chart
    The mystery of when and how a phantom island in the Pacific came to be first marked on a map may have been solved by a New Zealand librarian…

    After reading a story about the "undiscovered" island, Shaun Higgins, a pictorial librarian at the Auckland Museum, trawled through ancient maps and charts at his workplace for clues on the origin of the mystery island.

    On an admiralty chart dated 1908, Mr Higgins found what he was looking for: a dotted circle labelled Sandy Island.
    Advertisement "It has the same shape as [on] Google Earth, but it's dotted," said Mr Higgins. "It could have been dotted because it was an unidentified hazard," he said.


  • MercoPress - Brazil farmland prices quadrupled over the past decade outpacing inflation
    Prices for farmland in Brazil surged by an average 14% a year to nearly quadruple over the past decade, well outpacing inflation and nearly matching gains made by São Paulo's blue-chip Ibovespa stock index, a new study shows.

    Improving diets in economies such as China have driven up prices of commodities like soybeans, corn and animal proteins, which in turn have led investment and pension funds to buy Brazilian farmland.

    This has steadily pushed up the prices of and investment returns from Brazil's increasingly productive tropical farmland, according to research from São Paulo-based consultancy Informa Economics FNP.
  • LAHT - Venezuela Stock Market Rises 248% on Optimism of Political Change from Chavez Illness
    Venezuela's stock market rose sharply the week ending November 30, with the Caracas Stock Index up 6.3% at 407,593, with investors betting that once again there is an increased probability for political change after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez returned to Cuba for more cancer treatment…

    The Venezuela Stock Market is now up 248.26% for the year to date.

  • LAT - Mexico's Enrique Peña Nieto assumes presidency amid protests
    Enrique Peña Nieto, a 46-year-old career politician and member of Mexico's old-guard political party, Saturday assumed the presidency of a nation reeling from drug-related violence, promising his fellow citizens that "the primary focus of my government is to achieve a Mexico at peace."

    By that measure, his term did not start well. Outside the lower house of Congress, where Peña Nieto was given the presidential sash by his predecessor, Felipe Calderon, protesters clashed with police, lobbing Molotov cocktails and rocks. Authorities responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. A number of police officers and protesters were injured, some of them seriously, officials said.

  • CBC - Canadian winter will 'feel tougher' this time around
    Canadians preparing for chillier weather, or already in the thick of it, should not expect a repeat of last winter — what many were calling the winter that wasn't.

    "It will feel tougher, but it won't be the winter of our youth," David Phillips, Environment Canada's senior climatologist, said about the agency's seasonal outlook for December to February.

    Those in the eastern half of the country can look forward to slightly above-normal temperatures, particularly this month, but it will still be colder than it was over the same period last winter.

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