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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.

 N Y Daily News

I have to begin with some reference to Downton Abbey because everyone will be watching it including Mrs. side pocket.

'Downton Abbey' and its cast deal with life without Matthew Crawley in Season Four.

When Dan Stevens left “Downton Abbey” at the end of last year’s Season Three, taking his character Matthew Crawley with him, Stevens said he didn’t see many more dramatic places for Matthew to go.
A lot of “Downton Abbey” fans, and let’s remember we are talking about the most-watched series in PBS history, disagree.
My wife is among them. She is on record announcing that she will never forgive Dan Stevens.
Maintaining permanent resentment, however, was not an option for Julian Fellowes, the writer of “Downton Abbey,” and producer Gareth Neame.
They soldiered on and wrote a Season Four, which premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. and has the unenviable task of creating, in many ways, a new “Downton” world.
A world that, for those tens of millions of fans, will be measured against the memory of the first three seasons, which are already encased in amber.
BBC
N America weather: Polar vortex brings record temperatures
Parts of the US are braced for potentially record-breaking low temperatures as a "polar vortex" brings more freezing weather.
A winter storm has already blanketed areas of Canada and the north-eastern US with up to 2ft (60 cm) of snow.
It has been blamed for 16 deaths and the cancellation of more than 3,700 flights since Saturday.
A plane from Toronto slid into snow as it turned onto a taxiway after landing at New York's JFK airport.
No-one was hurt in the incident but all flights at the airport were suspended for two hours because of icy runways.
The plMarijuana laws: New York 'to relax' drug's useunging temperatures result from the polar vortex, a anti-clockwise pool of cold, dense air.
BBC

Marijuana laws: New York 'to relax' drug's use

The US state of New York is planning to relax its marijuana laws to allow limited use by seriously ill patients, reports say.
Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo - long opposed to the legalisation of medical marijuana - is to make the announcement this week, the New York Times says.
Twenty US states have already gone down the same road.
On Wednesday, Colorado became the first US state to allow shops to sell cannabis for recreational purposes.
Washington state is expected to allow the sale of marijuana later in 2014.
The drug is still illegal under federal law.
New York's new policy is expected to be far stricter than in California or Colorado, which had already loosened rules around the use of medical marijuana.
In California, people suffering from mild medical complaints can obtain prescriptions for the drug.

But in New York, the drug will be made available in only 20 hospitals across the state for people with cancer, glaucoma or other serious diseases that meet standards to be set by the state department of health.

BBC

France: 'Whale' spotted on motorway

A giant sperm whale apparently strapped to the back of a lorry in Lorraine, eastern France, has bemused motorists and prompted Twitter users to solve the mystery, it seems.
Pictures of the 17m (55ft) sea creature being towed along the motorway appeared on the social network on New Year's Eve.
The Dutch lorry caused consternation among drivers and scepticism from social media users - especially after pictures of it parked at a service station emerged.
Twitter users claimed that moving whales on dry land is strictly regulated, and that the whale would be unlikely to survive such a journey, the Republicain Lorrain newspaper reported.

As it transpired, the whale was actually a life-size fibreglass dummy built by a group of Belgian artists. One of the group, Bart Van Peel, told the paper that the model was on its way home to the Netherlands from an exhibition in Spain. It had been touring Europe as a way of raising awareness about the plight of sperm whales. "I'm sorry it surprised people on the road. Usually we completely cover it over," he said.

BBC

Residents flee occupied Fallujah amid army bombardment

Thousands of residents are fleeing the Iraqi city of Fallujah, amid artillery fire and air strikes by government forces, witnesses told the BBC.
The exodus comes after the government admitted it had lost control of the city - west of Baghdad - to al-Qaeda-linked militants and allied tribesmen.
Fighting is also reported in Ramadi, also in Anbar province, parts of which are in the hands of militants.
Both the US and Iran have offered military support, though not troops.
Fallujah is a highly symbolic city for many Iraqis, particularly Sunni Arabs, say correspondents.
It is remembered for the battles fought there between insurgents and US-backed forces in 2004.

The latest upsurge in violence in Anbar began after troops broke up a protest camp by Sunni Arabs in the city of Ramadi on Monday.

BBC

Triple star system 'can reveal secrets of gravity'

Astronomers have discovered a unique triple star system which could reveal the true nature of gravity.
They found a pulsar with two white dwarfs all packed in a space smaller than Earth's orbit of the Sun.
The trio's unusually close orbits allow precise measurements of gravity and could resolve difficulties with Einstein's theories.

The results appear in Nature journal and will be presented at the 223rd American Astronomical Society meeting.

"This triple system gives us a natural cosmic laboratory far better than anything found before for learning exactly how such three-body systems work and potentially for detecting problems with general relativity that physicists expect to see under extreme conditions," said Scott Ransom of the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville, VA.
"This is a fascinating system in many ways, including what must have been a completely crazy formation history, and we have much work to do to fully understand it."

L A Times

West Coast sardine crash could radiate throughout ecosystem.

The sardine fishing boat Eileen motored slowly through moonlit waters from San Pedro to Santa Catalina Island, its weary-eyed captain growing more desperate as the night wore on. After 12 hours and $1,000 worth of fuel, Corbin Hanson and his crew returned to port without a single fish.
"Tonight's pretty reflective of how things have been going," Hanson said. "Not very well."
To blame is the biggest sardine crash in generations, which has made schools of the small, silvery fish a rarity on the West Coast. The decline has prompted steep cuts in the amount fishermen are allowed to catch, and scientists say the effects are probably radiating throughout the ecosystem, starving brown pelicans, sea lions and other predators that rely on the oily, energy-rich fish for food.
If sardines don't recover soon, experts warn, the West Coast's marine mammals, seabirds and fishermen could suffer for years.
L A Times

UC President Napolitano opposes clemency for Edward Snowden .

WASHINGTON — University of California President Janet Napolitano, the former chief of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said Sunday that she opposed offering clemency to Edward Snowden, putting herself at odds with a movement that has gained strength in many parts of the state.
"I think Snowden has exacted quite a bit of damage and did it in a way that violated the law," Napolitano said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” referring to the former National Security Agency contractor’s disclosure of classified documents on intelligence surveillance operations at home and abroad.
"I think he's committed crimes," she said. "And I think that, you know, the damage we will see now and we'll see for years to come."
Wake up, lady. He exposed the damage in which you were complicit.

CNN

First on CNN: Liz Cheney to abandon Senate bid

You can all breathe a sigh of relief.

New York (CNN) -- Liz Cheney, whose upstart bid to unseat Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi sparked a round of warfare in the Republican Party and even within her own family, is dropping out of the Senate primary, sources told CNN late Sunday.
Cheney, the eldest daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, began telling associates of her decision over the weekend and could make an official announcement about the race as early as Monday.
Cheney's surprising decision to jump into the race, an announcement made in a YouTube video last summer, roiled Republican politics in the Wyoming, a state Dick Cheney represented in Congress for five terms before moving up the Republican food chain in Washington.
Enzi was a low-key presence in Washington who was elected in 1996 and, with few blemishes, amassed a conservative voting record in the Senate. He expressed public annoyance at Cheney's decision to mount a primary challenge. A number of his Senate colleagues quickly rallied to his side and pledged support for his re-election bid.
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