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.
Meet the 2013 MacArthur Fellows
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society. MacArthur is one of the nation's largest independent foundations. Through the support it provides, the Foundation fosters the development of knowledge, nurtures individual creativity, strengthens institutions, helps improve public policy, and provides information to the public, primarily through support for public interest media.
Afghan Warlord: 'The West Must Give Us Our Weapons Back'
Once, he was the Lion of Herat. Now Ismail Khan is a minister in the government of Afghan president Hamid Karzai. In an interview, he calls for the West to rearm the tribal militias to prevent a civil war once NATO forces leave the country.
Though NATO claims it will be leaving behind a pacified Afghanistan when it withdraws its troops next year, there are already increasing signs that the former mujahedeen are reactivating their militias. The mujahedeen were the main military force that resisted the Soviet occupiers and the communist Najibullah regime -- and later fought the Taliban. Their leaders, who represented diverse ethnic groups, were popular but also often notorious for their ruthlessness. Now, the mujahedeen want to arm their militias for renewed fighting and a possible civil war.
Even leading politicians in Kabul -- including Vice President Mohammed Fahim, who is himself a former warlord -- are predicting that the mujahedeen will make a comeback in 2014. Ahmed Zia Massoud, the brother of legendary mujahedeen commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, publicly proclaims that his supporters are in the process of rearming themselves.
Furthermore, Ismail Khan, 65, a leader of Afghanistan's Tajiks, warns in a SPIEGEL ONLINE interview that the Afghan army trained by the West will never be capable of ensuring the country's long-term security. Khan, who once ranked among the country's most powerful warlords, comes from the western province of Herat, which remains his stronghold. He was the provincial governor there until 2004, and is currently the minister for water and energy in Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government.
Proposed Power Lines Tangle With Native American History
Imagine running power lines through a cathedral. That's how archaeologists describe what the Bonneville Power Administration proposes doing in the Columbia River Gorge in Washington state. The federal electricity provider is trying to string a new transmission line near a cave that contains ancient paintings, a site considered sacred by Native Americans.
"There's actually a very complex picture on this wall. You can see little elements of it over here in a different color," says Mike Taylor, an amateur archaeologist who helped write a book on Columbia River rock art. He says for generations, Northwest tribes have used this place for vision quests and other spiritual ceremonies. They still do. In fact, it's so sensitive, the nearby Yakama Nation declined to speak on tape about this cave. Taylor says it's rare to find one still intact.
The site lies along the path of transmission lines carrying electricity from vast wind turbine farms upriver to the Western electrical grid. The BPA proposes building a new 243-foot tower near here to carry even more cables across the Columbia River.
But not if Robert Zornes, the owner of the property, has anything to do with it.
What Happens When Weed Killers Stop Killing?
"U.S. farmers are heading for a crisis," says Stephen Powles of the University of Western Australia, Crawley. Powles is an expert on herbicide resistance, a worsening problem in U.S. fields. Weeds resistant to glyphosate—the world's most popular herbicide—are now present in the vast majority of soybean, cotton, and corn farms in some U.S. states. Perhaps even worse, weeds that can shrug off multiple other herbicides are on the rise. Although the problem was highlighted here last week at an American Chemical Society (ACS) meeting symposium, chemists have little to offer: Few new weed killers are near commercialization, and none with a novel molecular mode of action for which there is no resistance.
Herbicide resistance has ebbed and flowed for decades. But because most herbicides could not kill all weeds, farmers had to continually rotate their crops and rotate herbicides to prevent resistant weeds from taking over their fields. That picture changed in the 1990s with the commercialization of transgenic crops resistant to glyphosate, marketed as Roundup by Monsanto. Glyphosate disrupts the ability of growing plants to construct new proteins. Because the transgenic crops didn't suffer this fate, their use—and glyphosate's—soared.
"Glyphosate used to control everything easily," says Bryan Young, a plant biologist at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Some experts referred to it as agricultural heroin because it was so effective and easy to use that farmers quickly became hooked. "We trained a generation of farmers that weed control was very easy," says Thomas Mueller, a weed management scientist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. But the overuse had a cost, selecting for resistant weeds.
Among the biggest concerns is a family of weeds that includes waterhemp (Amaranthus rudis). At the ACS meeting, Kevin Bradley, a weed management scientist with the University of Missouri, Columbia, reported that a 2008 to 2009 survey of 144 populations of waterhemp in 41 Missouri counties revealed glyphosate resistance in 69%. "It's way higher than that now," Bradley says. "It just blew up dramatically." The problem extends far beyond Missouri. Micheal Owen of Iowa State University in Ames reported that surveys of weeds from some 500 sites throughout Iowa in 2011 and 2012 revealed glyphosate resistance in approximately 64% of waterhemp samples.
Puny Plastic Particles Mar Lake Erie’s Waters
Lingering in Lake Erie are millions of tiny pieces of plastics loaded with toxic pollutants, a new study finds. The results are part of the first study to look at the distribution and possible effects of plastic pollution in the Great Lakes.
The results don’t surprise Joel Baker, science director of the Center for Urban Waters at the University of Washington Tacoma. Plastic debris “is everywhere,” he says.
Lorena Rios Mendoza of the University of Wisconsin-Superior and her colleagues combed the Great Lakes’ waters for microplastics — pieces up to 5 millimeters across, or about as big as a BB gun pellet. When bigger pieces of plastic trash get battered by waves and baked by the sun, they break down into tiny bits. The researchers found that these microplastics make up about 80 percent of total plastic samples collected in Lake Erie.
Chemical analysis of the samples revealed varying levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, Rios Mendoza reported April 11 at the American Chemical Society meeting in New Orleans. The bits of plastic, which are basically “solid oil,” says Rios Mendoza, take up the pollutants like a sponge.
Why Are Swedes So Quiet? It’s all because of lagom—the single word that sums up the Swedish psyche.
STOCKHOLM, Sweden—Eight of us—six Swedes, one Finn, and me, the Nigerian-American—are gathered in a modest city-center studio apartment in Stockholm’s eclectic Södermalm district. Next to our dinner table is a small window with a gorgeous view of Stockholm’s history-rich old town, Gamla stan, with its narrow red clay, melon, and burnt-sienna-colored structures. The location alone makes this modest studio as coveted as a New York penthouse with direct views of Central Park.
Jörgen is making single cups of coffee on a mini press as we each wait silently in turn. The silence leaves me unsettled, almost feeling obliged to fill it with random chit-chat, a few words about the weather. I glance from silent guest to silent guest. Surely I can’t be the only one struck by this odd stillness?
At Jörgen’s, instead of filling the emptiness, we wait patiently until everyone has their coffee before easing back into conversation. And even when we break the silence, there is a profoundly understated tone to our interactions. The guests at Jörgen’s studio are remarkably accomplished musicians who play in high-profile Swedish orchestras, but no one talks about that until asked. No one talks over someone else. Everyone speaks three or four languages fluently but dismisses their skill. Dressed in worn out jeans, single-color shirts or blouses and sock-clad feet, they could not look more ordinary.
I had heard of this unspoken custom before moving to Sweden a couple of years ago. This untranslatable ethos is called lagom (pronounced: law-gum) and it permeates all facets of the Swedish psyche. Often misconstrued as indifference, or the stereotypical Scandinavian "coldness," lagom is loosely translated from Swedish as “just the right amount,” “in moderation,” “appropriate,” and other such synonyms. For example, a common usage would be: The water is lagom hot, or the coffee is lagom strong.
Looking for Bigfoot?
Follow this map — others have seen 'em there.
Reported sightings of Bigfoot — the legendary apelike creature that's been a favorite of cryptozoologists for decades — have abounded for decades. Now, for the first time, someone has created a map showing the places where alleged Bigfoot sightings have occurred.
Joshua Stevens, a doctoral candidate at Pennsylvania State University, used data compiled by the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO), which tries to document "the presence of an animal, probably a primate, that exists today in very low population densities," according to the group's website.
Despite his exhaustive analysis of the BFRO data, Stevens stops short of giving the information more credibility than it deserves. "Ultimately, I'm not convinced there's a descendant of (giant ape) Gigantopithecus playing hide-and-seek in the Pacific Northwest," Stevens said. "But if respectable folks like … primatologist Jane Goodall believe there's something more to the myth, I think it's at least worth putting on the map."
Goodall, in an interview that was broadcast on NPR in 2006, said, "I'm sure that they exist." The famed primate researcher also confessed, "Well, I'm a romantic, so I always wanted that."
Bill Moyers and Company: Robert Reich (on his movie "Inequality For All")
(Highly Recommended - Man)