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

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NPR
 

Shorter prison sentences for nonviolent criminals, more programs to treat those convicted of low-level drug-related crimes and reductions in the number of crimes that carry "mandatory minimum sentences." Those are among the things Attorney General Eric Holder will suggest Monday when he addresses the American Bar Association in San Francisco.

NPR's Carrie Johnson previewed Holder's address for Morning Edition last Wednesday. Monday, The Associated Press added some more details about what he's planning to say — based on his remarks "as prepared for delivery." The wire service writes that:

— Holder will say he's changing Justice Department policy "so that low-level, non-violent drug offenders with no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs or cartels won't be charged with offenses that impose mandatory minimum sentences."

Reuters
 

The Justice Department plans to change how it prosecutes some non-violent drug offenders, ending a policy of mandatory minimum prison sentences, in an overhaul of federal prison policy that Attorney General Eric Holder will unveil on Monday.

Holder will outline the status of a broad, ongoing project intended to improve Justice Department sentencing policies across the country in a speech to the American Bar Association in San Francisco.

"I have mandated a modification of the Justice Department's charging policies so that certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs, or cartels, will no longer be charged with offenses that impose draconian mandatory minimum sentences," Holder said in remarks prepared for delivery at the conference.

The Guardian
 

The US government took the first tentative steps toward tackling its 1.5m-strong prison population on Monday by announcing that minor drug dealers would be spared the mandatory minimum sentences that have previously locked up many for a decade or more.

Reversing years of toughening political rhetoric in Washington, attorney general Eric Holder declared that levels of incarceration at federal, state and local levels had become both "ineffective and unsustainable."

The Department of Justice will now instruct prosecutors to side-step federal sentencing rules by not recording the amount of drugs found on non-violent dealers not associated with larger gangs or cartels.

"Our system is in many ways broken," Holder told the American Bar Association in San Francisco. "As the so-called war on drugs enters its fifth decade we need to ask whether it has been fully effective and usher in a new approach."

BBC
 

The Obama administration has unveiled major changes to the criminal justice system, dropping mandatory minimum sentences in certain drug cases.

Such terms will not be imposed for non-violent drug offenders with no gang or cartel ties, Attorney General Eric Holder said in a speech.

The US has one of the world's biggest prison populations, despite a 40-year-low in the country's crime rates.

Critics say that heavy drug sentences have hit minorities hardest.

"We need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, deter and rehabilitate - not merely to convict, warehouse and forget," Mr Holder said in a speech to the American Bar Association in San Francisco on Monday.

Al Jazeera
 

US Attorney General Eric Holder has called for major changes to the country's criminal justice system, announcing measures aimed at easing prison overcrowding.

The measures will scale back the use of harsh prison sentences for certain drug-related crimes, divert people convicted of low-level offences to drug treatment and community service programmes and expand a prison programme to allow for release of some elderly, non-violent offenders.

In a speech at the American Bar Association in San Francisco on Monday, Holder said he is mandating a change to Justice Department policy so that low-level, non-violent drug offenders with no ties to large-scale organisations, gangs or cartels will not be charged with offences that impose mandatory minimum sentences.

Mandatory minimum prison sentences - a product of the government's war on drugs in the 1980s - limit the discretion of judges to impose shorter prison terms.

Under the altered policy, the attorney general said defendants will instead be charged with offences for which accompanying sentences "are better suited to their individual conduct, rather than excessive prison terms more appropriate for violent criminals or drug kingpins".

US NEWS

Al Jazeera
 

Bradley Manning, the US soldier convicted for giving classified documents to the WikiLeaks website, exhibited behaviour that could have served as a warning he was unsuitable to serve abroad as an intelligence analyst, his lawyer has said.

As the defence began its case in the sentencing phase of Manning's court-martial at Fort Meade, Maryland, on Monday, lawyers discussed a psychological assessment report that describes him as having "regressed stages of development" and "narcissistic personality traits".

Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, said the report was important to explain the motivation for the unauthorised release of more than 700,000 diplomatic and military documents and videos, the biggest leak of classified information in US history.

"It's mostly to explain to the court what was going on," Coombs said. He also said Manning would make a statement during sentencing.

Reuters
 

A judge ruled on Monday the New York Police Department's "stop-and-frisk" crime-fighting tactic unconstitutional, dealing a stinging rebuke to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had argued the practice drove down the city's crime rate.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin called it "indirect racial profiling" because it targeted racially defined groups, resulting in the disproportionate and discriminatory stopping of tens of thousands of blacks and Hispanics while the city highest officials "turned a blind eye," she said.

"No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life," Scheindlin wrote in her opinion.

As part of her ruling, Scheindlin ordered the appointment of an independent monitor and other immediate changes to police policies. Her "remedies" address two lawsuits, one brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and the other by the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Spiegel Online
 

German intelligence services cooperate closely with the NSA, but the country is also a target of US surveillance, as a document seen by SPIEGEL makes clear. The spy software XKeyscore is operated from a facility in Hesse, with some of the results landing on President Obama's desk.

The US military compound in Griesheim, near Frankfurt, is secured with a tall wire fence topped with barbed wire. The buildings are relatively modest and surrounded by large areas of green space, which has long led local residents to suspect that many of those working at the facility spend much of their time underground -- and that they are engaged in espionage.

NBC News
 

A 40-foot-wide sinkhole caused a three-story building at a Florida resort near Disney World to collapse early Monday.

Firefighters arrived at the Summer Bay Resort, near Clermont, Sunday at about 11:30 p.m. ET after people reported the building had started to shake, Lake County Fire Rescue's Battalion Chief Special Operations Tony Cuellar said.

Cuellar said the sinkhole was beneath a central elevator shaft connected by breezeways to two apartment blocks.

“The building on the west side … a portion of that structure just collapsed. It’s literally breaking in half,” he said at about 3:20 a.m. ET.

The Guardian
 

If the barrage of US drone strikes over the last week weakened al-Qaida's Yemen affiliate, the terrorist organization that has captured Washington's attention isn't acting like it. Not only is it vowing another attack, it has prompted the US to keep its Yemen embassy closed while reopening all the others – implicitly highlighting the weakness of the US policy of launching drone strikes first and asking questions later.

Intelligence chatter indicating an imminent attack by al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula (Aqap) prompted two reactions by Washington. The first was to order a dramatic, temporary shutdown at embassies and consulates throughout the Middle East and Africa. The second was to order a surge in drone strikes in Yemen.

BBC
 

James "Whitey" Bulger, one of America's most notorious underworld bosses, has been convicted of nearly a dozen murders, racketeering and conspiracy.

The 83-year-old terrorised an Irish-Catholic neighbourhood of Boston in the 1970s and '80s as leader of the Winter Hill Gang.

He betrayed no emotion upon hearing the verdict after a two-month trial.

Bulger went on the run in 1994 and was finally captured in Santa Monica, California, in 2011.

He was said to have been an inspiration for the gangster played by Jack Nicholson in Oscar-winning 2006 film The Departed.

The trial in Boston heard gruesome evidence that Bulger had participated in 19 murders, but he was found guilty on Monday of a role in only 11 of them.

He faces a potential life prison sentence.

WORLD NEWS

Reuters
 

Greece's recession eased slightly in the second quarter but not nearly enough to boost tax revenues to levels the government needs to meet its bailout targets, figures showed on Monday.

The data follows a magazine report saying Germany's central bank saw risks to the rescue package aimed at keeping Greece afloat and expects the euro member to need more aid in 2014 after it scraped through the last aid review.

As Europe's largest economy Germany has funded a chunk of the bailout but there has been resistance from German voters who are also facing tight budgets. The subject of Greek aid has played into the campaign for elections next month.

The Greek data showed the economy shrank at an annual pace of 4.6 percent in the second quarter, according to the country's statistics agency ELSTAT.

Spiegel Online
 

Britain said on Monday it may take legal action against Spain for imposing tighter controls at Spain's border with Gibraltar, a historic bone of contention between the two nations. Britain has also dispatched warships to the coast of Gibraltar -- for an exercise.

 Britain warned Spain on Monday it might take legal action against Madrid's imposition of tighter controls at the border with Gibraltar, the contested British enclave at the southern tip of Spain.

Spiegel Online
 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is trying to share the culpability for the NSA surveillance scandal with the opposition Social Democrats. It is a risky strategy, particularly now that German intelligence is suspected of having helped the US determine targets for drone attacks in Afghanistan. By SPIEGEL Staff

There is a key term experienced crisis managers always return to in their narratives: controllability. It applies, for example, when a government is suddenly confronted with an unpleasant development and has to keep the process under control.

New York Times
 

MOSCOW — If this article were published in a newspaper based in Russia, it could be labeled 18+ — like an X-rated movie — and start with the following disclaimer: “This article contains information not suitable for readers younger than 18 years of age, according to Russian legislation.”

Such warnings, put on any articles that discuss homosexuality or gay rights, are the result of a law nominally aimed at “protecting” children by banning “propaganda on nontraditional sexual relationships” but widely understood as an effort to suppress homosexuality and Russia’s fledgling gay rights movement.

The Guardian
 

In highly contentious moves heralding the renewal of Middle East peace talks this week, Israel on Sunday identified 26 long-term Palestinian prisoners to be released on Tuesday after authorising 1,200 new homes to be built in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The apparently choreographed steps came three days before the first substantive negotiations for five years, aimed at reaching a historic settlement of the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict by next May. The outcome of intense shuttle diplomacy by US secretary of state John Kerry, the talks will resume amid widespread scepticism on both sides.

The list of names was published late on Sunday night to allow time for last-minute legal challenges from the families of victims. The group is among a total of 104 prisoners whose crimes date back more than 20 years who will be freed in stages over the next nine months. Those convicted of the most serious crimes are expected to be the last to be released.

A statement from the office of Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said, of the 26 initially released, 14 would be deported or moved to the Gaza Strip and 12 repatriated to the occupied West Bank. All were convicted of murder or being an accessory to murder; one has been in prison for 28 years.

Al Jazeera
 

Egyptian authorities have postponed a move to disperse two Cairo sit-ins by supporters of the country's deposed president Mohamed Morsi, to "avoid bloodshed,'' security sources said, as Morsi's detention was extended by 15 days.

Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh, reporting from Cairo, said that the decision not to disperse the protesters on Monday came after there were some leaks to the media about the possible intervention of security forces and larger groups started to attend those pro- Morsi sit-ins.

"A security source said that with the number of protesters swelling, armed forces decided to not move in the direction of these camps" our correspondent said.

SCIENCE, HEALTH AND TECHNOLOGY

Reuters
 

Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry is looking at options that could include joint ventures, partnerships or a sale of the company as it struggles to survive against stiff competition

BlackBerry, which pioneered on-your-hip email with its first smartphones and email pagers, on Monday said it had set up a committee to review its options and that top shareholder Prem Watsa was stepping down from its board due to a possible conflict of interest.

BlackBerry, once a stock market darling, has bled market share to the likes of Apple Inc and phones using Google Inc's Android operating system, and its new BlackBerry 10 smartphones have failed to gain traction with consumers.

NPR
 

Imagine making the 380-mile trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles in about half an hour.

That's the kind of thing Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, says his "hyperloop" can do.

Now, what is hyperloop? From what we know, it's basically a vehicle that travels faster than the speed of sound inside a tube. John Gardi, a Canadian tinkerer whose guess got a thumbs-up from Musk, says it's like the pneumatic tubes used in banks to move your deposits around the building.

What we know for sure is that Musk will reveal the first draft of his idea this afternoon.

The BBC reports he talked about the idea last week during a Google Hangout with Richard Branson.

The Guardian
 

A lot of publicity in both the scientific and mass media was recently prompted by the huge investment that the European commission and, very soon after, the US government made in two large research projects that aim to unravel how the human brain works.

The European project, with the extraordinary budget of €1bn (£860m), is called the Human Brain Project, while the US project is called the Brain Initiative and has a more moderate, but still mind-boggling, budget of $100m (£64m). Almost immediately following the announcements, there was an avalanche of public statements and press releases from various institutions and organisations on how computer science, genetics, nanotechnology – almost every single field – will help us identify, map and explain our brains.

When politicians make grandiose announcements about specific science projects that are poised to "save the world", "move humanity further", "cross the next human frontier", I cannot help but feel cynical, suspicious and soon after, a little depressed.

BBC
 

Experimental drugs already used to treat breast cancer may also fight lung cancer, research reveals.

Non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the commonest type of lung cancer, is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Few drug treatments exist.

Scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research in London discovered breast cancer drugs called PARP inhibitors worked in up to half of NSCLC tumours.

ScienceBlog

A newly discovered fossil reveals the evolutionary adaptations of a 165-million-year-old proto-mammal, providing evidence that traits such as hair and fur originated well before the rise of the first true mammals.

The biological features of this ancient mammalian relative, named Megaconus mammaliaformis, were described by scientists from the University of Chicago in the Aug 8 issue of Nature.

“We finally have a glimpse of what may be the ancestral condition of all mammals, by looking at what is preserved in Megaconus. It allows us to piece together poorly understood details of the critical transition of modern mammals from pre-mammalian ancestors,” said Zhe-Xi Luo, professor of organismal biology and anatomy at the University of Chicago.

National Geographic Daily News
 

Last night a sinkhole opened beneath a central Florida resort, collapsing one three-story building and pulling another slowly into the ground.

An estimated 35 guests escaped unharmed as the 50-foot (15-meter) wide, 15-foot (4.5-meter) deep crater broke glass, snuffed lights, and shook the ground at the Summer Bay Resort in Clermont, about ten miles west of Walt Disney World.

It's the second time this year a major sinkhole has roiled the region. In late February a mouth 20 feet (6 meters) wide swallowed 37-year-old Jeff Bush as he slept in Seffner, Florida, inhaling his entire bedroom. Five others in the house escaped without injury, including Jeremy Bush, who tried in vain to save his brother.

That tragedy left the community shaken and full of questions. To find out more about how and why sinkholes happen, National Geographic sat down earlier this year with Randall Orndorff of the U.S. Geological Survey.

ENTERTAINMENT

Behind 'The New Black': The Real Piper's Prison Story

NPR
 

Piper Kerman was a 24-year-old Smith College graduate in 1993, when she flew to Belgium with a suitcase of money intended for a West African drug lord.

This misguided adventure started when she began a romantic relationship with a woman who was part of what Kerman describes as a "clique of impossibly stylish and cool lesbians in their mid 30s." That woman was involved in a drug smuggling ring, and got Kerman involved too, though Kerman left that life after several months.

Five years later, Kerman was named as part of the drug ring and, in February 2004, she reported to the Federal Correction Institution in Danbury, Conn.

The new Netflix series Orange is the New Black is based on Kerman's memoir of the same name about her year in that minimum security women's prison.

NPR
 

Stephen Burt latest book is the poetry collection, Belmont.

We can go to science fiction for its sense of wonder, its power to take us to far-off places and future times. We can go to political fiction to understand injustice in our own time, to see what should change. We may go to poetry — epic or lyric, old or new — for what cannot change, for a sense of human limits, as well as for the music in its words.

And if we want all those things at once — a sense of escape, a sense of injustice, a sense of mortality and an ear for language — we can read the stories of James Tiptree Jr., real name Alice Sheldon.

The daughter of a famous travel writer, Sheldon grew up privileged, eloped and regretted it, then joined the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps; after World War II she married a career intelligence officer and earned a Ph.D. in psychology. In 1967, at 51, she began sending science fiction to magazines, taking her pseudonym from a marmalade.

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