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Welcome to the Overnight News Digest (OND) for Tuesday, December 25, 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: Jingle Bells by Barenaked Ladies

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
Iranian industrial sites hit by computer virus

By (Reuters in Dubai via
. . .

An internet virus has attacked computers at industrial sites in southern Iran in an apparent extension of a covert cyberwar that initially targeted the country's nuclear facilities, an Iranian official has said.

. . .

The unit tasked with fighting cyber-attacks, the Passive Defence Organisation, said a virus had infected several sites in Hormozgan province in recent months but had been neutralised. "Enemies are constantly attacking Iran's industrial units through internet networks in order to create disruptions," Ali Akbar Akhavan, head of the Hormozgan branch of the organisation, was quoted as saying by the Iranian Students' News Agency.

. . .

Israeli officials have threatened military action against Iranian nuclear facilities if western sanctions on Tehran's banking and oil sectors do not persuade the Islamic Republic to shelve its disputed atomic programme. Western powers suspect Iran is trying to develop the means to produce nuclear weapons. Tehran says it is enriching uranium only for civilian energy.

Scrooge's transformation parallels reality

By (UPI)
U.S. researchers who conducted an in-depth study of 14 people who experienced profound, sudden and lasting change say Ebenezer Scrooge would fit in the study.

. . .

"Like our participants, Scrooge was suffering," Skalski said in a statement. "There was disintegration. There was a world that was ripe for change because of suffering."

. . .

"Just by their presence, a trusted friend can open up possibilities and a sense of faith in what's possible that one can't see," Skalski said.

The experiences shared by the study participants were not recent events, but were on average, nine years from the transformation and their interview.

Chipmunk Christmas, slowed down to original speed

By Rob Beschizza
"Put it on repeat and you'll drift gradually into madness - it's like an acid flashback to fetal languor, the surreal sounds that filtered through the uterine wall." — Sean Michaels
Israel to build 942 more settler homes

By (Al Jazeera)
Israel has advanced the process of building 942 more settler homes in East Jerusalem under a new fast-track plan to tighten its grip on the territory, which the Palestinians seek to have as the capital of Palestine.

A government planning committee on Monday moved the project to the advanced stage of asking contractors to submit bids to build them, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.

. . .

An additional 300 units can be built after further planning, said attorney Daniel Seidemann, an expert on Jerusalem construction who sees the building as an obstacle to peacemaking. About 40,000 Israelis live in Gilo.

"With God's help, we will continue to live and build in Jerusalem, which will remain united under Israeli sovereignty," Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at the campaign launch event of his Likud Party. "We will continue to strengthen the settlements." Israeli elections are set for January 22.

BBC iPlayer top of the brands as tax scandal hits Starbucks and Amazon

By Simon Neville
Starbucks, Amazon and Google are among the most damaged brands of 2012 after months countering accusations of tax avoidance, according to pollsters.

. . .

She said despite Amazon and Google also being accused of using offshore tactics to cut their tax bill, initially only Starbucks had suffered from the revelation that it had paid just £8.6m in corporation tax in 14 years. "Google up until last week were not as badly impacted because it's not something you overtly purchase, unlike Starbucks, but clearly they have suffered. Until now, Google have always been one of the strongest brands we track."

. . .

The Olympics played a part in boosting the BBC's ranking: a dip after the diamond jubilee coverage, which attracted almost 5,000 complaints, was followed by its highest ever ratings during the Games. London Underground also benefited from the Olympics, with its first ever positive score as it coped with extra passengers.

Egypt referendum: President Morsi backers urge unity

By (BBC)
Backers of President Mohammed Morsi have urged all Egyptians to work together after the adoption of a controversial new constitution.

Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie said Egyptians should "begin building our country's rebirth with free will... men, women, Muslims and Christians".

More than 60% of voters backed the constitution in a referendum, although only a third of the electorate voted.

Critics say the document favours Islamists and betrays the revolution.

USA Politics, Economy, Major Events
Poll: 45 percent want more oil regulation

By (UPI)
Oil tops the list of industries U.S. residents would like to be more heavily regulated, closely followed by pharmaceuticals, a Harris Poll said.

. . .

Under 10 percent said computer hardware and software companies, online search engines, online retailers and supermarkets need more regulation. The percentage of people who would like more regulation of banks dropped 5 percentage points from last year's poll.

. . .

The least trusted industries are tobacco at 3 percent, oil at 6 percent, social media at 8 percent, managed care at 9 percent and telecom at 9 percent.

NBC Meet the Press moderator investigated by DC police after displaying ammunition

By Alexander Besant
. . .

The incident occurred during an interview with NRA's Wayne LaPierre on Sunday during which Gregory asked the organization's chief if banning high-capacity ammunition would make a difference in reducing gun murders.

“So here’s a magazine for ammunition that carries 30 bullets. Now isn’t it possible that if we got rid of these, if we replaced them and said well, you can only have a magazine that carries five bullets or ten bullets, isn’t it just possible that we could reduce the carnage in a situation like Newtown?” David Gregory asked LaPierre, reported CNN.

Washington DC law says that it is illegal to be in possession of a clip that has more than 10 rounds.

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:
Jingle Bells, by The Barenaked Ladies.

This song is about as schizophrenic as every one of your relatives, but with fun in the place of ceaseless criticism.


Back to what's happening:
Environment and Greening
Saving the rhino with surveillance drones

By David Smith
. . .

Clive Vivier, cofounder of the Zululand rhino reserve in KwaZulu-Natal province, said he has been granted permission by the US state department to buy the state-of-the-art Arcturus T-20 drone.

. . .

Around 400 rhinos have been killed this year in the world-famous Kruger national park, which spans 2m hectares – impossible for a limited number of rangers to guard effectively. Vivier estimates it as the equivalent of a town with one policeman for every 100,000 houses, "all with the doors and windows and open and rhino horn inside".

. . .

The answer, he believes, is the unmanned Arcturus T-20, which, with a 17ft wingspan, can fly for 16 hours without refuelling at a height of 15,000 feet. Its lack of noise and infrared camera would be invaluable for spotting poachers at night. "It can tell whether a man is carrying a shovel or firearm and whether he has his finger on the trigger or not," said Vivier, 65. "We can see the poacher but he can't see us. We're good at arresting them when we know where they are. Otherwise it's a needle in a haystack."

Science and Health
A review of cosmic rays and climate: a cluttered story of little success

By rasmus
A number of blogs were excited after having leaked the second-order draft of IPCC document, which they interpreted as a “game-changing admission of enhanced solar forcing”.

However, little evidence remains for a link between galactic cosmic rays (GCR) and variations in Earth’s cloudiness. Laken et al. (2012) recently provided an extensive review of the study of the GCR and Earth’s climate, from the initial work by Ney (1959) to the latest findings from 2012.

. . .

The hype in the past was prompted by films, such as the ‘Cloud Mystery’, and proponents who gave the impression that GCRs can explain the global warming. There was never any solid support behind this claim: in fact, as noted long ago, there has been no trend in GCR. Furthermore, any resemblance between GCR/clouds and the global mean temperature is lacking . . .

. . .

In my opinion, Laken et al. provide an accurate comprehensive review of the hypothesised effect of GCRs on our climate through moderating the clouds. There is still no evidence suggesting that the GCR influence our climate in significant ways.

Too much eating like jet lag to body clock

By (UPI)
Excessive eating and drinking disrupts the body's clock similar to jet lag, U.S. researchers say.

. . .

In most organisms, biological clockworks are governed by a master clock, referred to as the "circadian oscillator," which keeps track of time and coordinates biological processes with the rhythm of a 24-hour cycle of day and night.

The findings have implications for understanding the molecular basis of diabetes, obesity and other metabolic syndromes because a desynchronized food clock may serve as part of the pathology underlying these disorders, Ptacek said.

How to Scientifically Explain Santa Claus to Your Children

By Gregory
The Santa questions start firing at you before your kids turn five. How does he speed around the world in a single night? How does he know what I want? Sure, you could deny Santa's existence, but be ready for some tears.

. . .

Santa clearly uses wormholes . . .

Obviously, his suit allows him to become invisible . . .

Finally, if you're asked why elves have pointy ears, the answer is should be obvious. They are Vulcans.

Toy companies 'terrified' of tablets

By (UPI)
A U.S. toy industry analyst says toymakers Mattel and Hasbro are "terrified" of children turning away from traditional toys toward tablet computers.

Sean McGowan, managing director of equity research at investment banking firm Needham & Company, said children as young as 3 years old are receiving tablets such as iPads and Kindle Fires for Christmas this year, instead of Barbie and other traditional playthings, The Financial Times reported Tuesday.

. . .

Frascotti said one of the company's attempts to recognize the importance of digital media is the reinvention of popular 1990s toy Furby, which now comes with a free mobile app used to "feed" the toy and translate its language, "Furbish," into English.

What Does It Really Cost to Be Santa Claus?

By Alex Planes
. . .

Since Santa Claus has been seen for decades as the master of a workshop full of elves, let's see what it would really cost to manufacture presents at the North Pole.

. . .

We still have to handle electricity and basic upkeep for Santa's reindeer. Alaska consumes 899 million Btus of total energy per person each year. Diesel fuel is the only reliable source of power generation this far north, so 899 million Btus work out to about 6,950 gallons of diesel per capita. Elves' small size and Santa's ability to hitch a ride on a magic flying sleigh should reduce that substantially, so we'll shave half the demand off our final total. With diesel prices in the remote north hovering above $5 per gallon, Santa will spend $3.3 billion each year to keep the power on at the North Pole. It's too bad he can't sell parts of the country to oil companies the way Alaska does to recoup his extreme spending on energy.

Finally, Santa has to keep his factory in top shape. Taking another cue from Foxconn, Santa spends about 3% of his revenue on capital expenditures, resulting in about $500 million in capex spending.
Energy expenditures: $3.3 billion.
Capital expenditures: $500 million.
Total costs: $16.5 billion.
Net loss: $700 million.

 Santa's workshop illustrates how difficult it can be to operate a manufacturing company in the wrong part of the world. The only way for Santa to break even on this arrangement is to pay his elves less or charge them a fee for room and board. Either way, the end result is the same. Santa could also install solar panels to generate electricity all day and all night. Of course, that would only work for half the year, but it's still enough to swing Santa from a loss to a $900 million profit. If Santa wanted to be generous with that windfall, each elf would be eligible for a $4,700 bonus, equivalent to a 60% pay raise. Someone let First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR  ) know that a well-known jolly old elf might be looking to build a solar farm

Snoutless hero dog Kabang beats cancer, ready for cosmetic surgery

By Alexander Besant
The "hero dog" that lost her snout while protecting two children in the Philippines, has beaten cancer.

Kabang was given a clean bill of health by University of California, Davis veterinarians who are caring for the dog after it was brought from the Philippines for treatment.

. . .

The dog gained worldwide celebrity last year when it was reported that she had thrown herself in front of an oncoming motorcycle to protect two kids.

The children were unharmed but the dog had her snout and upper jaw torn off by the spokes.

Israel takes in more Bnei Menashe 'lost tribe' members

By (BBC)
Dozens of members of an Indian tribe said to be lost descendants of ancient Israelites have emigrated to Israel after the government lifted a visa ban.

Some 1,700 of the 7,200-strong Bnei Menashe already arrived nearly a decade ago after a chief rabbi recognised the community as a lost tribe in 2005.

. . .

The community says it is one of the lost 10 tribes of Israel who were exiled when Assyrians invaded the northern kingdom of Israel in the 8th Century BC.

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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