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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 editors are Doctor RJ and annetteboardman.

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


Ukraine 'to scrap' anti-protest law

The Ukrainian president and opposition leaders have agreed to scrap anti-protest laws, the presidency has said, a key demand of demonstrators.
Viktor Yanukovych also offered the post of prime minister to opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk, but he rejected it.
The president met leaders of the three main opposition parties to try to end the deepening political crisis.
Demonstrators had rejected previous offers of concessions, pointing to the protest laws as a sticking point.
The law was hastily passed in parliament by Yanukovych loyalists on 16 January.
The changes included a ban on unauthorised tents in public areas, and criminal responsibility for slandering government officials.
BBC     Very interesting but rather long article.

After Snowden: How vulnerable is the internet?

The internet was designed to be free and open. Eight months after Edward Snowden's first leaks of classified information, is that still the case?
The technology pioneers who designed the net's original protocols saw their creation as a way to share information freely across a network of networks.
Yet Edward Snowden's leaks of classified documents from the US National Security Agency have revealed that American spies - and their British counterparts at GCHQ - now use that very same internet to sweep up vast amounts of data from the digital trail we leave every day.

It isn't simply that they mine social media updates and the information we already give to companies. The NSA and GCHQ have allegedly tapped into the internet's structure.


2nd grand jury indicts officer in shooting of ex-FAMU football player

A grand jury has indicted Officer Randall Kerrick of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department on a charge of voluntary manslaughter in the September 14 shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell, according to a statement from state Attorney General Roy Cooper.
The grand jury heard evidence from both the state Bureau of Investigation and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the statement said.

A Charlotte, North Carolina, police officer faces the second grand jury proceeding in a week for the fatal shooting of an ex-college football player who was reportedly seeking assistance after a car accident.
Attorneys for Officer Randall Kerrick have denounced the prosecution's move to resubmit the case to another grand jury as unlawful and filed a motion to block it, but CNN affiliate News 14 Carolina reported the grand jury convened Monday morning.


This might have been covered already But it's so cool it deserves a repeat.

Tomb of ancient Egypt's beer maker to gods of the dead discovered

Imagine a warm brew of lager so heady you had to plunge a straw through the thick surface scum to get to the fermented liquor below.
Welcome to the favored brew of ancient Egypt's New Kingdom; a 3,200-year-old barley beer that a new archaeological find this month is shedding new light on.
A Japanese team headed by Jiro Kondo of Waseda University stumbled on the tomb of ancient beer-maker Khonso Em Heb while cleaning the courtyard of another tomb at the Thebes necropolis in the Egyptian city of Luxor.
The tomb, replete with highly colored frescoes, is being hailed as one of the most significant finds of recent times.
Egypt's antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim described Khonso Em Heb as the chief "maker of beer for gods of the dead" adding that the tomb's chambers contain "fabulous designs and colors, reflecting details of daily life... along with their religious rituals."
N Y Times
In South Korea, Spam Is the Stuff Gifts Are Made Of       Not only in your in-box.
SEOUL, South Korea — As the Lunar New Year holiday approaches, Seoul’s increasingly well-heeled residents are scouring store shelves for tastefully wrapped boxes of culinary specialties. Among their favorite choices: imported wines, choice cuts of beef, rare herbal teas. And Spam.
Yes, Spam. In the United States, the gelatinous meat product in the familiar blue and yellow cans has held a place as thrifty pantry staple, culinary joke and kitschy fare for hipsters without ever losing its low-rent reputation. But in economically vibrant South Korea, the pink bricks of pork shoulder and ham have taken on a bit of glamour as they have worked their way into people’s affections.

“Here, Spam is a classy gift you can give to people you care about during the holiday,” said Im So-ra, a saleswoman at the high-end Lotte Department Store in downtown Seoul who proudly displayed stylish boxes with cans of Spam nestled inside.

N Y Times
Farm Bill Deal Would Cut Food Stamps by 1 Percent
WASHINGTON — A House plan to make major cuts to food stamps would be scaled back under a bipartisan agreement on a massive farm bill, a near end to a more than two-year fight that has threatened to hurt rural lawmakers in an election year.
The measure announced by the House and Senate Agriculture committees preserves food stamp benefits for most Americans who receive them and continues generous subsidies for farmers. The House could vote on the bill as soon as Wednesday.
The compromise was expected to cut food stamps by about $800 million a year, or around 1 percent. The House in September passed legislation cutting 5 percent from the $80 billion-a-year program.
The Democratic-controlled Senate had passed a bill with $400 million in annual food stamp cuts.
N Y Times
Afghanistan Exit Is Seen as Peril to C.I.A. Drone Mission
WASHINGTON — The risk that President Obama may be forced to pull all American troops out of Afghanistan by the end of the year has set off concerns inside the American intelligence agencies that they could lose their air bases used for drone strikes against Al Qaeda in Pakistan and for responding to a nuclear crisis in the region.
Until now, the debate here and in Kabul about the size and duration of an American-led allied force in Afghanistan after 2014 had focused on that country’s long-term security. But these new concerns also reflect how troop levels in Afghanistan directly affect long-term American security interests in neighboring Pakistan, according to administration, military and intelligence officials.
N Y Times
Himmler Papers Shed Light on Personal Life of a Nazi
JERUSALEM — When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, the wife of Heinrich Himmler, chief of the Nazi Gestapo and the SS and one of the main orchestrators of the Holocaust, sent him a message: “There is a can of caviar in the ice box. Take it.”
On another occasion Himmler’s wife, Margarete, received a note: “I am off to Auschwitz. Kisses, Your Heini.”

Excerpts from a private collection of hundreds of the Himmlers’ personal letters, diaries and photographs were published for the first time this weekend by the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot and the German paper Die Welt, providing a rare, if jarring, glimpse into the family life of one of Hitler’s top lieutenants while he was busy organizing the mass extermination of Jews.
A team of researchers and writers at Die Welt have been analyzing copies of the papers since 2011, according to the German newspaper’s website. The newspaper described the collection, which is kept in Israel, as “the largest and most significant find of private documents of a leading Nazi criminal.”

USA Today

DDT exposure linked to Alzheimer's disease

A new study links exposure to the insecticide DDT with Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers found evidence of DDT exposure in 80% of patients with Alzheimer's disease, as well as 70% of those without the condition.
The body breaks down DDT into a related chemical called DDE. Researchers measured levels of this chemical to assess DDT exposure in 86 people with Alzheimer's disease, which causes memory loss and death, as well in 79 others without the condition. Doctors conducted memory tests on patients while they were alive, then confirmed the Alzheimer's diagnosis after death through an autopsy, says Jason Richardson, an associate professor at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey and lead author of the study, published today in JAMA Neurology.
Side story

During the 50s towns everywhere sprayed for mosquitos via trucks which laid down an opaque smokescreen. It was irresistible to kids on bikes who followed the trucks because our heads were above the "smoke" but our bodies were invisible. I've heard this story from many people in my age group.

USA Today
Deep South bracing for rare snow and ice storm

ATLANTA – They were salting down bridges and overpasses Monday and pre-emptively closing schools and governments as the Deep South prepared for a rare winter storm.
Snow and ice were predicted Tuesday into Wednesday for places that rarely see it.
"We're getting ready for some snow – there may be a few snowmen in our future," said Columbus (Ga.) Mayor Teresa Tomlinson. "We've loaded up the truck with barricades in case we have to close roads, loaded up the trucks with sand and sharpened the chain saws. We've just got everything sitting on ready."
She said officials in the city of 198,000 will wait until around noon Tuesday to reassess the situation. If the storm is as bad as predicted, the city will close except for essential services and cancel Tuesday night's City Council meeting.
USA Today

Rieder: Can Al Jazeera America flourish?

Al Jazeera America said from the get-go that it would be a very different kind of cable news channel.
And it has followed up on that threat.
Last week, when much of the media world was going crazy over the DUI arrest of troubled pop star Justin Bieber — CNN quickly ordered up a special — Al Jazeera America settled for a few brief mentions.

AJAM, which launched in August, takes a very serious approach to news. Unlike rivals Fox and MSNBC, it stresses that it has no political point of view. There's no real estate for partisan bickering. Its diet of top national and international stories is a throwback to the story lineup on the network newscasts of decades ago. You want the latest on Syria, on the West Virginia chemical spill, on turmoil in Ukraine? This is your destination. It's a Kardashian-free zone.

AlJazeera America

Report suggests NSA surveillance has not stopped terrorism

A new analysis of the National Security Agency’s data-collection programs suggests that some of its most controversial techniques may not be effective in stopping Al-Qaeda and other groups from attacking the United States.
The study, released Monday by the New America Foundation, checked claims by NSA officials and President Barack Obama that the agency’s bulk data-collection programs helped stop dozens of attacks on U.S. targets. The study examined records for investigations into 225 people who have been indicted, convicted or killed by the U.S. for their reported ties to Al-Qaeda and Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups like Al-Shabab after Sept. 11, 2001.
The review found that the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone metadata, justified under the Patriot Act, was responsible for initiating investigations in only four of the 225 cases detailed by the New America Foundation and that none of those four prevented attacks.
That counters claims by Obama and other administration officials that the program has prevented 50 terrorist attacks.
AlJazeera America
Syria peace talks stall on Assad departure
The United States on Monday demanded that Syria allow aid into the "starving" city of Homs, as talks aimed at ending three years of civil war stalled once again over the future of President Bashar al-Assad.
The Syrian government said women and children could leave the besieged city and that rebels should hand over the names of the men who would remain. A U.S. State Department spokesman said an evacuation was not an alternative to immediate aid.
"We firmly believe that the Syrian regime must approve the convoys to deliver badly needed humanitarian assistance into the Old City of Homs now," said State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez. "The situation is desperate and the people are starving."
Christian Science Monitor
Historic California drought called a red flag for future of US
LOS ANGELES — As California faces the worst drought in its 163-year history with no hint of relief in sight, some scientists are calling the event a red flag for the future of the nation.
Gov. Jerry Brown raised the issue in his State of the State address Wednesday, saying “we do not know how much our current problem derives from the build-up of heat-trapping gasses, but we can take this drought as a stark warning of things to come.”

Water shortages have widespread impacts. Agriculture and energy generation account for 80 percent of the nation’s clean water use, says David Dzombak,  head of Carnegie Mellon University’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. And even when cities meet their water demands during a drought, the costs can leave them “exposed to significant risk of financial failures,” says Patrick Reed, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Cornell University, in an e-mail.

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