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Welcome to the Overnight News Digest with a crew consisting of founder Magnifico, current leader Neon Vincent, regular editors jlms qkw, maggiejean, wader, Oke, rfall, and JML9999. Alumni editors include (but not limited to) palantir, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, ek hornbeck, ScottyUrb, Interceptor7 and BentLiberal. The guest editor is annetteboardman.

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Michigan (CONSSENT)’s 14th district underscores how Democrats across the U.S. are bunched in big metropolitan areas, resulting in the party’s House candidates often winning by wide margins on Election Day while Republicans capture more seats because their voters are spread out.

Its unusual shape is intentional. Michigan Republicans, seeking to maximize their political strength, drew the district lines -- and the residential patterns of Democratic voters made their job easier.

14th district underscores how Democrats across the U.S. are bunched in big metropolitan areas, resulting in the party’s House candidates often winning by wide margins on Election Day while Republicans capture more seats because their voters are spread out.

It’s a prime reason Democrats fell 17 seats short of winning a House majority in 2012, even as their congressional candidates drew about 1.4 million more votes than Republicans nationwide, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. And it will hinder the Democrats from regaining control of the chamber in 2014....



The University of Central Florida closed its main campus in Orlando on Monday morning while police investigated an apparent suicide and a number of bombs found in a residence hall, the school said.

Campus police received a fire alarm and then a 911 emergency call "regarding a man with a gun" early Monday morning, according to the university, which is one of the largest in the United States.

When police officers arrived, they found the body of a male student with an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound and closed the seven-story residence hall. Police found a handgun, an assault weapon and a bag containing explosives in the student's room, said university spokesman Grant Heston.

At 2:09 a.m., police sent students a text message alert that the residential Tower 1 dormitory, home to about 500 students, would be evacuated due to a "suspicious death."

The Guardian

There'll be no toast for breakfast, nor club sandwiches from room service. Muesli, pasta and traditional cakes are also off the menu. And if Barack Obama fancies a cold beer at the end of a long day of ceremonial statesmanship and high-end diplomacy, he is going to be a disappointed man.

The renowned King David hotel, overlooking the walls of Jerusalem's Old City and home to the presidential entourage during this week's three-day visit, has almost completed its preparations for the Jewish holiday of Passover, which begins at sunset next Monday. By the time Obama checks in this Wednesday, not a trace of wheat will remain within the hotel's historic walls.

"All hotels in Israel prepare their kitchens for Passover a few days in advance; it's a long process," said Dror Danino, manager of the King David. "For us, it would have meant starting in the middle of the presidential visit, which was too messy. So we decided to finish it before the arrival of the delegation. From tonight [Monday] we will be kosher for Pesach [Passover]."

The Guardian

At least three more injured and up to 200 people evacuated from houses after small jet crashes near regional airport

A private jet apparently experiencing mechanical trouble crashed in Indiana on Sunday, hitting three homes and killing two people on board the plane, authorities and witnesses said.


A group of foreign college students who came to the U.S. on cultural work exchange visas in December have been protesting their working conditions at a McDonald's in Harrisburg, Pa. In the process, they've wading into a debate about guest workers in the U.S.

The students include Jorge Rios, who says three months ago he eagerly did the legwork necessary to get a J-1 visa, used for student work exchange.

"I had to do a lot of paperwork back in my country to get the visa. I had to travel long distances because I don't live in the capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires, I live 14 hours away from there," he says.

Rios borrowed much of the $3,000 it cost. When he arrived in the U.S., the experience wasn't what he was told to expect.

He was escorted to a room in the basement of a house owned by family of the McDonald's franchise owner where he worked. He shared the tiny quarters with seven other students. Each of them got $300 deducted from their paychecks every month for rent — far above market rates.


America has been debating the role of women in combat since 1779.

That's when the Continental Congress first awarded a military disability pension to Mary Corbin after she manned a cannon in the Revolutionary War at the battle of Fort Washington in New York. Corbin got only half the pension male soldiers received, but she asked for — and received — the full ration of rum.

Today, as the Pentagon decides how to remove the combat exclusion, women still have trouble getting fully recognized for what they've achieved at war.

"Are women in combat?" asks Sgt. Jessica Keown. "Hell, yes."

Keown was a combat medic in Iraq and then pulled patrols with a female engagement team (FET) in Logar, Afghanistan, last year. She accompanied Special Forces raids and infantry dismounts through dozens of firefights.

"It got to the point where you're doing a patrol and they start shooting at you — right next to your head, that whizzing sound," says Sgt. Jaclyn O'Shea, who served in the same unit. "And you're just like, you get used to it."

Little Recognition

Back home, however, female soldiers don't always get acknowledged for what they've accomplished — especially because the official prohibition on women in combat is still on the books.


Calling November's presidential election defeat a "wake up call", party chairman Reince Priebus said they must also embrace immigration reform.

Republicans were seen as "narrow minded" and increasingly as a party of the rich, he said.

The party has outlined a $10m (£6.6m) plan to reach minority and gay voters.

"When Republicans lost in November, it was a wake-up call," Mr Priebus said in prepared remarks posted on the Republican National Committee website.

We should speak out when [chief executives] CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years”

Growth and Opportunity Project report

"Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren't inclusive; we were behind in both data and digital; our primary and debate process needed improvement," he added.

The 98-page Growth and Opportunity Project report concludes that while Republican principles may be sound, "the way we communicate our principles isn't resonating widely enough".



Cypriot ministers were trying to revise a plan to seize money from bank deposits before a parliamentary vote on Tuesday that will secure the island's financial rescue or could lead to its default, with reverberations across the euro zone.

The weekend announcement that Cyprus would impose a tax on bank accounts as part of a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) bailout by the European Union broke with previous practice that depositors' savings were sacrosanct. The euro and stock markets fell on concern the euro zone crisis was returning.

Before the vote, which is too close to call, the government was working to soften the blow to smaller savers by tilting more of the tax towards those with deposits greater than 100,000 euros ($130,700. Many of these depositors Russians and the planned levy has already elicited an angry reaction from President Vladimir Putin.

The Guardian

A new system of press regulation established by royal charter and underpinned by statute has been agreed by political parties in late-night talks, and will be sent to the palace for royal approval.

The system of statutory underpinning will be inserted into law in the enterprise and regulatory reform bill on Monday. A system of exemplary damages directed at newspapers that refuse to comply with the new regulatory structure will be agreed in the Commons in the afternoon.

Both sides were claiming victory, but David Cameron, in talks with the other party leaders last Wednesday, had set his face against a charter underpinned by statute. The underpinning clause, now accepted by Cameron, has been drafted by the Hacked Off legal adviser Hugh Tomlinson QC and has been on offer to the Conservatives for weeks.

The prime minister said on Monday: "It's not statutory underpinning. What it is is simply a clause that says politicians can't fiddle with this so it takes it further away from politicians, which is actually, I think, a sensible step.

The Guardian

France is to return seven paintings stolen, or appropriated under pressure from their Jewish owners, by the Nazis in the 1930s to their families on Tuesday.

The paintings were destined to be displayed in an art gallery Adolf Hitler planned to build in Austria, where he grew up. Four of the works have been hanging in the Louvre in Paris.

The official handover is part of a renewed effort by the French government to return looted or misappropriated artworks to their rightful owners.

Between 1933 and 1945, the Nazis purloined about 100,000 paintings, sculptures and other valuable objects in Jewish private collections in Europe. Some were stolen, other objects were sold under pressure, often to fund an escape from German occupation and the death camps


Despite Afghanistan's fierce winter, it's rare to find a house with insulation or a modern heating system. So Afghans rely on bukharis, stoves that look like an oil drum with a big rusty pipe growing out of the top that bends off into a hole in the wall.

That fact keeps the hundreds of wood vendors around Kabul quite happy. This winter, NPR staff fed several tons of firewood into their bukhari — and that's just one house in a city of about 5 million people.

"Three, four decades ago, 50 percent of the total land was covered by forest," says Wali Modaqiq, deputy director of Afghanistan's environmental protection agency.

He says that today forests cover only about 2 percent of Afghanistan. He says years of war and drought have felled more trees than wood stoves, which generally burn scrap wood. The big killer of trees, though, is economics.

"There is a huge demand for Afghan timber in the international market," Modaqiq says.

Spiegel Online

There are a number of firsts associated with the election of Pope Francis, including that of shunning some of the pomp of the papacy. But the list of expectations that have been placed on his shoulders is even longer. Will he be able to lead the Catholic Church out of crisis?

It's lying on the table in front of him, a thin, faded little book called "De consideratione." It describes the pressures and demands facing a pope while in office. Just prior to heading for the conclave at the Vatican, Cardinal Karl Lehmann, Bishop of Mainz, had quickly pulled it out of his private library, the only book from his collection -- some 120,000 volumes he claims -- to have traveled with him to Rome. He leafed through it often during the conclave, reading passages from it in the evening at the heavily guarded Santa Marta guesthouse, where the 115 cardinal-electors stayed, sealed off from the outside world, without television, mobile phones or Internet.

Spiegel Online

As prices for carbon emissions continue to languish, Berlin is planning to cancel some key subsidy programs aimed at increasing reliance on renewable energies. Germany and other European countries seem uninterested in fixing the problem.

That the German government is facing a massive budget shortfall for projects aimed at transforming the country into a model of alternative energy and environmental friendliness is hardly new. The European cap-and-trade system has for months been sliding into inconsequence as prices for CO2 emissions have stubbornly remained below €5 ($6.47) per ton. The revenues Berlin earns on the mandatory emissions certificates have suffered as a result.


Science Blog

Research led by a psychologist at the University of Liverpool has found that using memories of recent meals reduces the amount of food eaten later on.  It also found that being distracted when eating leads to increased consumption.
Researchers analysed 24 separate studies which had examined the impact of awareness, attention, memory and distraction on how much food we eat


Andrew Auernheimer, professional Internet troll, is a uniquely unsympathetic defendant. But even his detractors are protesting a 41-month prison sentence that a federal judge levied today.

In the latest criminal prosecution to alarm Internet activists, a security researcher who accessed a non-password protected portion of AT&T's Web site was sentenced today to 41 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

Andrew Auernheimer who goes by the nickname "Weev" and was convicted by a federal jury last year of hacking, was sentenced today by a federal judge in Newark, N.J. "No matter what the outcome, I will not be broken," Auernheimer said this morning after hosting an all-night party in Newark and making an unsuccessful appearance on Reddit. "I am antifragile."


Samsung Electronics' theatrical launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4 was just the stage rehearsal for its eventual split from Google and Android.
During the hour-long production -- and it was more of an over-the-top Broadway show than an actual product launch -- neither Samsung's executives or the troupe of actors once mentioned Google or Android.

It wasn't until the specifications were displayed on the large screens flanking the stage after the event concluded that attendees found out that the Galaxy S4 would run on Android 4.2.2, the latest version of the operating system, also known as Jelly Bean.


A million-dollar puzzle relating to prime numbers could be tackled using only a mid-sized quantum computer.

There is a race to find ever bigger primes, but no way to predict when the next one will pop up. One option is to measure their distribution via a formula that calculates how many exist below a number, X. The Riemann hypothesis says this is possible for every X. But though a proof for this is worth $1 million in prize money from the Clay Mathematics Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, no one has yet managed to produce one.

Instead mathematicians find ways to count primes below ever bigger values of X and compare these to the Riemann prediction to see if any disagree – if they do, this would disprove Riemann.


"The geeks are winning!"

So said internet pioneer Vint Cerf today as he and four fellow engineers who contributed to the creation of the internet and the web picked up the inaugural Queen Elizabeth prize for engineering - billed by its promoters as the new "Nobel prize for technology".

The winners were Bob Kahn, Louis Pouzin and Cerf for their development of the internet's robust packet-based transmission systems, Tim Berners-Lee for the World Wide Web itself and Marc Andreesen for the first browser, NCSA Mosaic.

The winners scooped a £1 million prize pot donated by 11 award sponsors, including BAE Systems, Toshiba, GlaxoSmithKline and Sony. Despite being a UK-run competition, the prize is open to inventions from any nation and will be run every two years.

Organised by the British Royal Academy of Engineering, the prize is given for an "outstanding advance in engineering that creates significant benefit to humanity". The winner was chosen because its technology, in the words of judge Brian Cox, "has demonstrably had an effect on the whole world".

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