As your humble scribe, I welcome you all to another edition of Overnight News Digest.
I am most pleased to share this platform with jlms qkw, maggiejean, wader, rfall, JLM9999 and side pocket. Additionally, I wish to recognize our alumni editors palantir, Bentliberal, Oke, Interceptor7, and ScottyUrb along with annetteboardman as our guest editor.
Neon Vincent is our editor-in-chief.
Special thanks go to Magnifico for starting this venerable series.
Hungry for answers to the global food shortage
Every six seconds a child on this planet dies of hunger. We've had industrial revolutions in the west and more recently in China and South Asia, yet we remain trapped in some previous century in that most basic of necessities; keeping the world population fed.
Remarkably, the facts today point to yet another global food shortage just a few years after the food crisis of 2007-08, which ended only when the Great Recession curbed a debilitating upward spiral in prices of basic staples like rice, corn and wheat worldwide. As the world economy recovers, the prospect of another global food crisis looms large.
The determining factors in famine are mostly man-made. They include civil war and political instability in many, if not most undernourished regions. Protectionism in affluent nations that removes the incentive for developing-world farmers to enhance crop yields in the hope of earning export revenue. A sharp decline in affluent-world donations of agricultural assistance to underfed countries. A growing scourge of crop failure related to global warming. And a ferocious debate between advocates of natural farming methods and those arguing for a new agricultural revolution based on genetically modified (GM) crops.
"We have the economic and technical means to make hunger disappear," said Jacques Diouf, director-general of the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization last month, in releasing a report showing that the number of people suffering from hunger crossed the one-billion threshold for the first time, in 2008 – a 10 per cent increase in global hunger in just one year.
Russia battles huge far east flood - 20,000 evacuated
Near Blagoveshchensk, the capital of the Amur region, the Zeya river is usually just a few hundred metres wide. But now, the water stretches more than 10km (6 miles) from bank to bank, covering streets and gardens in several villages.
A small dam is still holding, protecting the city - but local residents say if the waters rise further, this might not be enough.
Hundreds of people have been evacuated, but some have refused to leave their homes. They are camping out on rooftops, hoping to protect their possessions in case looting starts.
The authorities have deployed thousands of troops and emergency personnel - and they are calling for calm. Experts suggest the flooding will not get any worse over the next few days, but the weather forecast promises more rain later this month. The flood waters are not expected to fully recede until September.
Final batch of President Nixon's tapes being released
The final 340 hours of White House tapes former U.S. President Nixon recorded for his use are being released, the Nixon Library and National Archives said.
The tapes cover April 9-July 12, 1973, the last months Nixon recorded his conversations in the White House and follow the period in which Nixon took responsibility for the Watergate scandal that brought down his presidency and during which the last U.S. troops returned from the Vietnam war, CBS News reported.
The library said the tapes cover Watergate and other domestic issues, as well as foreign policy issues. The tapes also include recordings of Nixon's calls and meetings with world leaders and future presidents, including Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. The conversations were recorded as Congress amped up its Watergate investigations.
"I'm hoping we'll get to hear Nixon try to explain Watergate to Reagan and hear what Reagan says about that," Hughes said.
[Ken Hughes is a researcher with the Presidential Recordings Program at the University of Virginia's Miller Center.]
Terminator’ Arm is World’s Most Advanced Prosthetic
The bebionic3 by RSLSteeper is a carbon-fiber myoelectric hand which is also made from aluminium and alloy knuckles. The bebionic3 moves by responding to muscle twitches in the upper arm. The prosthetic limb uses sensors to trigger one of 14 pre-programmed grips that mirror common human hand movements.
The sensitivity is programmable, allowing the user to touch type on a computer keyboard, handle fragile objects like an egg and even use a computer mouse. Below you will find additional information on this remarkable device along with images and an amazing video that demonstrates the bebionic3′s capabilities.
Breaking Down the Hemorrhagic Disease Outbreak
Hemorrhagic diseases include both the bluetongue and epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) viruses. Although the majority of confirmed-infected deer had the EHD virus, the bluetongue virus was also detected in Missouri. These viruses have indistinguishable symptoms, so we group them together for simplicity and refer to them as hemorrhagic diseases, or HD. Symptoms can appear similar to other diseases that affect deer, including chronic wasting disease (CWD). Therefore, it is important to notify the Conservation Department when sick or unexplained dead deer are found.
Hemorrhagic diseases are expressed in three different forms, with each causing a variety of symptoms. The three forms of HD are peracute, acute, and chronic (not related to chronic wasting disease) and dictate the length that a deer can survive. The peracute form progresses rapidly and causes death within a week after infection, which is the quickest of the HD forms. This form can cause swelling, or edema, when fluid accumulates in the head, tongue, neck, and lungs. Therefore, deer that die due to the peracute form often appeared healthy with very few clinical signs.
The way HD affects a population can vary greatly based on the size and make-up (i.e., sex ratio) of the population and severity of the outbreak, which is often not fully expressed in changing harvest until two to three years following an outbreak. Typically, the year following an HD outbreak hunters harvest the same number of deer as before the outbreak resulting in a greater proportion of deer being removed from the population because the pre-season population has already been reduced due to hemorrhagic mortality, thus leading to population declines. The declines will likely be intensified due to the record-low acorn crop, subsequently making deer more vulnerable to harvest in heavily forested areas. Alternately, in some areas where local harvest rates are typically low, the additional HD mortality will have little affect on long-term population size.
Meet Ron Finley
Ron Finley is a man who will not sit still and watch a problem take root. Having grown up in the South Los Angeles food desert, Ron is familiar with the area’s lack of fresh produce. He knew what it’s like to drive 45 minutes just to get a fresh tomato.
In 2010, he set out to fix the problem. Outside his front door, that is. Ron planted vegetables in the curbside dirt strip next to his home. And quietly, carefully, tenderly started a revolution.
“I wanted a carrot without toxic ingredients I didn’t know how to spell,” says Ron.
His was an exceptionally creative, cost-effective and simple solution; however, it was also an act of spirited rebellion that led to a run-in with the authorities. The City of Los Angeles owns the “parkways,” the neglected dirt areas next to roads where Ron was planting. He was cited for gardening without a permit. This slap on the wrist did little to dissuade his green thumb. So Ron fought back. Hard. He started a petition with fellow green activists, demanding the right to garden and grow food in his neighborhood – and then, the city backed off. This caught the eyes of creative leaders and media voices that lauded his courageous act of ebullient defiance. Ron has continued to share his story and vision with the world, giving a TED talk and planning many exciting ways to continue his involvement in mitigating Los Angeles food deserts.
His dreams have been reshaped into a thriving garden of pumpkins, peppers, sunflowers, kale and corn. But more than being a guerilla gardener, Ron is a community leader. Determined to change South Los Angeles from food desert to food forest, he wants his actions to be educational, inspiring, and nutritious. He wants kids to grow up with the option of healthy food, instead of fried, fattening staples. He wants to sweep up and transform his street, his hood, the city of LA and communities everywhere.
Snapshots of Life Captured on Google Street View
[...] Jon Rafman’s ongoing Nine Eyes of Google Street View project continues to find fascinating glimpses of life, cityscapes and landscapes through the nine cameras (eyes) mounted to the tops of Google cars that are mapping the world. The ‘all-seeing’ eyes capture whatever moves through their frame every 10-20 meters.
As Rafman explains:
“The detached gaze of their cameras witness but do not act in history. Street View photography, artless and indifferent, without human intention, ascribes no particular significance to any event or person. Bereft of context, history or meaning, the only glue holding the Street View images together is geospatial contiguity. Such a perspective does not easily contain the sublime.”
Bill Moyers and Company: Encore Edition Marshall Ganz, Rachel LeForest, Madeline Janis