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Welcome to the Overnight News Digest with a crew consisting of founder Magnifico, current leader Neon Vincent, regular editors side pocket, maggiejean, wader, Man Oh Man, 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.

Please feel free to share your articles and stories in the comments.

 Gardening news
  A visit to a hidden coca plantation

The Peruvian government says it is committed to eradicating the coca leaf, from which cocaine is made - but a walk in the jungle suggests that for cash-strapped farmers, it is not an easy choice.
I should probably have listened just a little more carefully when the farmer answered my question.
I had asked if she would show me where her hidden coca plantation was - and what she said was: "Yes, of course, but it will mean a bit of walking."
Now, I like walking, I walk for pleasure. But what a Peruvian farmer means by a "bit of walking" turned out to be rather different from what I mean.
We were in the region known as the High Amazon. It is breathtakingly beautiful. Green, lush hillsides and steep wooded valleys, where the foothills of the Andes meet the Amazon jungle. Traditionally it has been one of the main production centres for Peruvian cocaine.
Syrian chemical arms 'to be destroyed on US Navy ship'
The body charged with overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons has confirmed some will be "neutralised" aboard a US Navy ship.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said the US was contributing technology and financing.
The chemicals will be diluted to safer levels using a process called "hydrolysis".
The OPCW said 35 firms had submitted expressions of interest in destroying Syria's remaining chemical stockpiles.China space: 'Jade Rabbit' lunar mission blasts off

Their suitability is being evaluated.

China space: 'Jade Rabbit' lunar mission blasts off
China has launched its first lunar rover mission, the next key step in the Asian superpower's ambitious space programme.
The Chang'e-3 mission blasted off from Xichang in the south at 01:30 Monday local time (17:30 GMT Sunday).
The Long March rocket's payload includes a landing module and a six-wheeled robotic rover called Yutu (or Jade Rabbit).
The mission should land in the Moon's northern hemisphere in mid-December.
Chinese state TV carried live pictures of the launch of the Chinese-developed Long March 3B rocket carrying the lunar probe.
This will be the third robotic rover mission to land on the lunar surface, but the Chinese vehicle carries a more sophisticated payload, including ground-penetrating radar which will gather measurements of the lunar soil and crust.
L A Times
Afghan president defies U.S. on security pact, adds new demands
With the clock ticking down to an end-of-year deadline for a U.S.-Afghan security agreement, U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice on Monday failed to persuade recalcitrant Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign the pact, according to Afghan and U.S. accounts of the meeting.
Karzai refused Sunday to heed the vote of a 2,500-member national assembly advising him to conclude the deal that would keep several thousand U.S. troops in Afghanistan to train national military and police forces after U.S. troops withdraw next year            Somewhat ungrateful, I think.

U.S. looks to bypass Karzai on Afghanistan security deal  

WASHINGTON — U.S. officials seeking to resolve a tense standoff with Afghan President Hamid Karzai were exploring on Tuesday whether they could bypass him and get other senior officials to sign a security deal authorizing American troops to remain in the country after 2014.

A day after Karzai abruptly said he would not sign unless Washington agreed to additional conditions, the Obama administration was pushing for Foreign Minister Zarar Ahmad Osmani or another official to endorse the agreement on behalf of the government in Kabul, several U.S. officials said.
The Pentagon has been saying for months that it needs the security pact in place by the end of the year to give planners time to draft deployment schedules and secure funding for post-2014 operations.

CNet    Pizzas are next.
Amazon testing 'octocopter' package-delivery drones
Amazon is testing a delivery service that uses drones to deliver packages within 30 minutes of an order being placed.
Dubbed Amazon PrimeAir, the service uses 8-propeller drones about the size of a remote-controlled airplane to transport shoe-box-size plastic bins from fulfillment centers to customers' homes. The service, which still requires more testing and clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration, could take to the skies as soon as four to five years, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told Charlie Rose during an interview Sunday on "60 Minutes."
USA Today

Icy roads cause 65-car pileup in Massachusetts

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — Freezing rain was blamed for highway pileups that sent dozens of people to the hospital Sunday morning in central and northern Massachusetts.
Massachusetts State Police say a crash involving 65 cars and three tractor-trailers closed Interstate 290 in Worcester at about 7 a.m. About 35 to 40 people were taken to local hospitals. Two were seriously injured.
N Y Times
The Vaccination Effect: 100 Million Cases of Contagious Disease Prevented
Vaccination programs for children have prevented more than 100 million cases of serious contagious disease in the United States since 1924, according to a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The research, led by scientists at the University of Pittsburgh’s graduate school of public health, analyzed public health reports going back to the 19th century. The reports covered 56 diseases, but the article in the journal focused on seven: polio, measles, rubella, mumps, hepatitis A, diphtheria and pertussis, or whooping cough.

French MPs vote to impose fines on prostitutes' customers
French MPs have voted to impose punitive fines on prostitutes' customers as part of a controversial new law going through parliament aimed at helping sex workers throw off the shackles of pimps and organised criminal gangs.
The measure, part of an anti-sex-trade bill, was approved by a show of hands in the Assemblée Nationale in the early hours of Saturday.
If the rest of the law is approved, customers of prostitutes will face a fine of €1,500 for a first "contravention", rising to €3,750 for subsequent offences, which will be considered crimes.
The proposals, introduced under a private members' bill, shift the criminal responsibility away from the estimated 40,000 prostitutes in France and on to their clients. Prostitution is legal in France, but soliciting, pimping and selling underage sex are not.
Andrew Cuomo announces probe into New York train derailment
The governor of New York State, Andrew Cuomo, has announced the beginning of a potentially lengthy investigation into the derailment of a Metro-North passenger train, in which four people were killed. The incident, which occurred outside Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx borough of New York City at 7.20am on Sunday, also left 63 people injured, 11 of them critically.

The Hudson line was immediately suspended between Croton-Harmon and Grand Central, and Amtrak services between New York City and Albany were cancelled. It was not clear when service would resume on the Hudson line, which carries about 18,000 commuters each weekday morning.

Google Earth reveals Persian gulf fish catch is six times larger than thought
Google Earth has been once again used by researchers for scientific discovery.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia scoured Google Earth in search of fishing weirs along the coasts of seven Persian Gulf nations. They found some 1,900 fish traps, suggesting that the total fish catch in the Persian Gulf may be up to six times the officially reported level of 5,260 metric tons per year.
The findings, published in ICES Journal of Marine Science, indicate that the traditional fishing approach — which is used widely around the world — has a larger impact than conventionally believed.
“This ancient fishing technique has been around for thousands of years,” said Dalal Al-Abdulrazzak, a PhD student with the UBC Fisheries Centre’s Sea Around Us Project and the study’s lead author, in a statement. “But we haven’t been able to truly grasp their impact on our marine resources until now, with the help of modern technology.

Originally posted to side pocket on Sun Dec 01, 2013 at 09:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Overnight News Digest.

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