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Welcome to the Overnight News Digest (OND) for Tuesday, March 25, 2014.

OND is a regular community feature on Daily Kos, consisting of news stories from around the world, sometimes coupled with a daily theme, original research or commentary.  Editors of OND impart their own presentation styles and content choices, typically publishing near 12:00AM Eastern Time.

Creation and early water-bearing of the OND concept came from our very own Magnifico - proper respect is due.


This diary is named for its "Hump Point" video: Cyprus Avenue by Van Morrison

News below Aunt Flossie's hairdo . . .

Please feel free to browse and add your own links, content or thoughts in the Comments section.

Any timestamps shown are relative to each publication.


Top News
Outrage in Indian Country as Redskins Owner Announces Foundation

By (ICTMN Staff)
. . .

The campaign to quell controversy over the name of the Washington Redskins football team has in recent months included photo ops with Navajo code talkers and a highly suspect Native pro-Redskins grassroots campaign. Now Snyder has announced the creation of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.

. . .

Snyder's letter begins by affirming that he has no intention of ever changing his team's problematic name, referring to a letter he wrote to fans in the fall: "I wrote then–and believe even more firmly now–that our team name captures the best of who we are and who we can be, by staying true to our history and honoring the deep and enduring values our name represents."

The Redskins owner then describes his campaign of outreach to American Indian communities, and cites facts about poverty, health, and standard of living in Native communities that everyone in Indian country is all too familiar with.

. . .

Such willingness to let Indians say what is most beneficial for Indians does not, obviously, extend to his football team's name.

. . .

“We’re glad that after a decade of owning the Washington team, Mr. Snyder finally says he is interested in Native American heritage, but this doesn’t change the fact that he needs to stand on the right side of history and change his team’s name,” Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter, said in a statement to ThinkProgress.

Twenty-five percent of breast cancer survivors report financial decline due to treatment

By (ScienceDaily)
Four years after being treated for breast cancer, a quarter of survivors say they are worse off financially, at least partly because of their treatment, according to a new study led by University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers. In addition, 12 percent reported that they still have medical debt from their treatment.

. . .

"As oncologists, we are proud of the advances in our ability to cure an increasing proportion of patients diagnosed with breast cancer. But as treatments improve, we must ensure that we do not leave these patients in financial ruin because of our efforts," says study author Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil., associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan Medical School.

. . .

Blacks and English-speaking Latinas were more likely than Whites to have experienced one of these issues. Other factors that made a woman more likely to experience these hardships include age under 65, household income under $50,000, part-time work at diagnosis, reduced work hours after diagnosis, lack of substantial prescription drug coverage, breast cancer recurrence, and undergoing chemotherapy.

"These patients are particularly vulnerable to financial distress," Jagsi says. "We need to ensure appropriate communication between patients and their doctors regarding the financial implications of a cancer diagnosis and treatment decisions to help reduce this long-term burden."

Climate change is going to turn the Earth into a planet of hungry kids

By Ben Adler
. . . A report released Monday evening by Oxfam America, an anti-poverty organization, finds that, “food prices could double by 2030, with half of this rise driven by climate change.” The result? “There could be 25 million more malnourished children under the age of 5 in 2050, compared with a world without climate change.”

. . .

But it is not just extreme weather events that are causing problems. Even minor changes in rainfall or temperature can render land infertile. “Millions of poor people across Central America are facing hunger and destitution as a result of shifting patterns of rainfall and rising temperatures,” notes Oxfam. “In Guatemala, the total amount of rainfall is increasing, but there is significantly less rain during critical times in the crop cycle, and this is taking a heavy toll on harvests. In the last two years, small-scale producers have lost 80 percent of their maize crops because of drought.”

. . .

Oxfam has a few suggestions for how national governments can prepare themselves to reduce the risk of mass starvation in the inevitable event of some climate disruption. Among the group’s suggestions: Enshrine the right to food in the law, expand safety-net programs like school lunches, and assist small-scale farmers by investing in irrigation and other supports.

But adaptation has its limits, warn the report’s authors. The best thing we can do to minimize the human suffering from global warming is to minimize our greenhouse gas emissions. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot of hungry people, a lot of desperately poor fishermen and farmers, and a lot of cranky people sick of overpaying for coffee.

Cyber-attacks increase leads to jobs boom

By Sean Coughlan
As the number and sophistication of cyber-attacks increase, so too does the demand for people who can prevent such digital incursions. Cyber-security is having a jobs boom.

But there aren't enough people with the necessary skills to become the next generation of cyber-cops.

. . .

In response, private sector firms and governments have been hurrying to work with universities to fill the gap.

. . .

According to its latest report, the X-Force Threat Intelligence Quarterly, half a billion individual records, such as emails or credit card passwords, were leaked last year.

. . .

And the UK government wants cyber-security to be "integral to education at all ages", announcing this month that there would be lessons for pupils from the age of 11 and plans for cyber-security apprenticeships.

Kansas can strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding, court rules

By (AP via
. . .

A divided court in Denver on Tuesday overturned a judge's order that forced Kansas to keep funding Planned Parenthood's clinics in Wichita in Hays.

At issue is money distributed under a federally financed family planning program. A Kansas law requires the state to first allocate the Title X money to public health departments and hospitals, leaving no funds for the Planned Parenthood clinics.

. . .

The clinics in question don't provide abortions. The only Planned Parenthood clinic that provides abortions in Kansas is in the Kansas City area.

Iraq's electoral commission board quits just weeks before general election

By (AFP via
The board of Iraq's electoral commission resigned en masse on Tuesday in protest at political and judicial "interference," throwing a general election due next month into disarray.

. . .

Much is at stake in the election, as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki bids for a third term with his security credentials thrown into question by a surge in violence to levels not seen since 2008.

. . .

But a greater source of frustration for the IHEC board has been the exclusion of scores of hopefuls on the basis of what critics say is a vague provision in Iraq's electoral law that requires that parliamentary hopefuls be "of good reputation."

. . .

It was not immediately clear what impact the resignation of the IHEC board would have on next month's election, which all major parties are agreed must take place on schedule.

The looming vote has been a factor in the rising bloodshed in recent months, analysts and diplomats say.

Ethiopia uses foreign kit to spy on opponents - HRW

By (BBC)
Ethiopia's government is using imported technology to spy on the phones and computers of its perceived opponents, a Human Rights Watch report says.

. . .

"The foreign firms that are providing products and services that facilitate Ethiopia's illegal surveillance are risking complicity in rights abuses," HRW's business and human rights director, Arvind Ganesan, said.

According to the report, the government has extended its surveillance to Ethiopians living overseas.

. . .

HRW says the firms that sell surveillance technology to governments also have a duty to ensure that their products are not helping to suppress human rights.

Arab League summit under way amid divisions

By (Al Jazeera)
Heads of Arab states are holding their annual summit amid an unprecedented diplomatic fallout among the Gulf countries and tension over the crisis in Egypt and the conflict in Syria.

. . .

Egypt and Saudi Arabia have labelled the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, and two senior officials told the Associated Press news agency that those two countries would take the lead in attempting to isolate Doha by calling for a collective Arab approach to terror.

. . .

"We cannot accuse a lot of sects of being terrorists because this will generalise terrorism instead of isolating terrorism... It's not good enough for those who fail to achieve unity to accuse others of supporting terrorism in the country."

Publicly airing differences among members of the GCC is unusual for the bloc, created in 1981 as a loose political and economic alliance. The members are Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait.

USA Politics, Economy, Major Events
Double Dip: Doctors Paid to Advise, Promote Drug Companies That Fund Their Research

By Charles Ornstein and Ryann Grochowski Jones
. . .

A ProPublica analysis shows that more than 1,300 practitioners nationwide received both research money and speaking or consulting fees from the same drug maker in 2012. All told, they received more than $90 million in research grants — plus nearly $13 million for speaking engagements and another $4 million for consulting.

. . .

Pharmaceutical companies’ payments for promotional speaking and consulting appear to have decreased in recent years, as blockbuster drugs have lost patent protection and the push for transparency has advanced. Beginning this fall, all drug companies will have to publicly disclose payments they made to doctors, under the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

But industry-backed clinical studies, which can lead to advances in care, have largely been seen as a separate matter.

Inside America's illegal "Little Guantánamos"

By Cory Doctorow
Prisoners in America's notorious communication management units (called "CMUs" or "Little Guantánamos") are making great strides in their legal action against the US government over the prisons' illegal status, the illegally discriminatory detention of people in CMUs based on their political or religious beliefs, and their inhumane treatment of prisoners.

. . . more than 70 percent of those imprisoned in CMUs are Muslim . . .

 Waldman profiles one of the CMU prisoners, Yassin Aref, who has only held his youngest daughter twice since she was five. A Kurdish anti-Saddam Iraqi refugee, he served as an imam after migrating to the USA, and was caught in an FBI terrorism sting in which he agreed to witness a loan involving an paid FBI informant who had told the counterparty (but not Aref) that the money originated with an arms sale. Aref is serving 15 years in the CMU . . .

Welcome to the "Hump Point" of this OND.

News can be sobering and engrossing - at this point in the diary, an offering of brief escapism:

Random notes related to this video:
. . . It is the ultimate outsider song, with the narrator tongue-tied and "conquered in a car seat" (one of Morrison's all-time great lines), watching the refined school girls drift down the upscale title street. . . For the voyeur and the outsider, the fantasy world is a safer place, far safer than actual human conforontation - far safer for a boy from the more working-class streets of Belfast and a world away from the social status that Cyprus Avenue represents.

"Cyprus Avenue" also represents a complete mastery of the blues for Van Morrison - "mastery" in the sense that, after years of absorption and emulation, he is suddenly creating his own distinct and offbeat take on the blues, locating it in his own artistic, psychological, and geographical landscape.

Back to what's happening:
Environment and Greening
Hidden in Old Paintings, A Clue to Past Climate

By Lindsey Konkel and The Daily Climate
. . .

German artist Caspar David Friedrich's 1818 painting "Woman in Front of the Setting Sun" places the silhouette of a woman with outstretched hands under a deep ochre sky – a likely scene, the researchers say, given the 1815 eruption of Indonesia's Tambora volcano. That eruption scattered particles high into the atmosphere that produced bright red and orange sunsets throughout Europe for three years.

. . .

They also found that depictions of sunsets have gotten redder from the Industrial Revolution onwards, even during periods of no volcanic activity. Artists, they suggest, are inadvertently capturing increases in pollution during the past 150 years.

. . .

"Early artists created an inadvertent record of climate change. That began to change around the mid-20th century when artists deliberately started picturing the explosion of the human footprint," said William L. Fox, director of the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art.

While brilliant sunsets may be one potential "upside" to smog, the harms clearly outweigh the benefits, added Ravishankara. "Do you want vibrant colors or better quality of air to breathe?"

The most common fallacy in discussing extreme weather events

By stefan
Does global warming make extreme weather events worse? Here is the #1 flawed reasoning you will have seen about this question: it is the classic confusion between absence of evidence and evidence for absence of an effect of global warming on extreme weather events. . .

If an increase in extreme weather events due to global warming is hard to prove by statistics amongst all the noise, how much harder is it to demonstrate an increase in damage cost due to global warming? Very much harder! A number of confounding socio-economic factors clouds this issue which are very hard to quantify and disentangle. Some factors act to increase the damage, like larger property values in harm’s way. Some act to decrease it, like more solid buildings (whether from better building codes or simply as a result of increased wealth) and better early warnings. Thus it is not surprising that the literature on this subject overall gives inconclusive results. Some studies find significant damage trends after adjusting for GDP, some don’t, tempting some pundits to play cite-what-I-like. The fact that the increase in damage cost is about as large as the increase in GDP (as recently argued at FiveThirtyEight) is certainly no strong evidence against an effect of global warming on damage cost. Like the stranger’s dozen rolls of dice in the pub, one simply cannot tell from these data.

. . .

While statistical studies on extremes are plagued by signal-to-noise issues and only give unequivocal results in a few cases with good data (like for temperature extremes), we have another, more useful source of information: physics. For example, basic physics means that rising temperatures will drive sea levels up, as is in fact observed. Higher sea level to start from will clearly make a storm surge (like that of the storms Sandy and Haiyan) run up higher. By adding 1+1 we therefore know that sea-level rise is increasing the damage from storm surges – probably decades before this can be statistically proven with observational data.

. . .

With good physical reasons to expect the dice are loaded, we should not fool ourselves with reassuring-looking but uninformative statistics. Some statistics show significant changes – but many are simply too noisy to show anything. It would be foolish to just play on until the loading of the dice finally becomes evident even in highly noisy statistics. By then we will have paid a high price for our complacency.

Offshore windfarms vital amid tensions with Russia, says energy secretary

By Terry Macalister
Britain's growing fleet of offshore windfarms provides a vital national security role as the western world engages in a stand-off with Moscow over Ukraine, Ed Davey has said.

. . .

The move, which has been talked about for years but not acted on, has particular significance because it comes just after the cancellation of new projects such as the Atlantic Array, off England and the Argyll Array, off Scotland. This caused nervousness around the renewable sector at a time when some Conservative politicians were arguing that Britain could not afford expensive windfarms amid austerity measures and rising domestic energy bills.

. . .

Davey said the new turbine factory in Hull, which will create 1,000 new jobs, was also a vote of confidence in the cost of wind dropping fast in the future as new technology brings savings.

The government had previously said it wanted to see wind developers find ways of reducing costs by 30% by the end of the decade. But Siemens, developer Dong Energy and Statkraft of Norway believe costs can be cut by 40%, according to Davey.

Wait, why are we dunking so many of our seeds in neonic poison?

By John Upton
In the same way that America’s fast-food industry fooled us into accepting that a burger must come with a pile of fries and a colossal Coke, the agricultural industry has convinced farmers that seeds must come coated with a side of pesticides.

And research suggests that, just like supersized meals, neonicotinoid seed treatments are a form of dangerous overkill – harming bees and other wildlife but providing limited agricultural benefits. The routine use of seed treatments is especially useless in fields where pest numbers are low, or where insects, such as soybean aphids, chomp down on the crops after the plant has grown and lost much of its insecticidal potency.

. . .

The lack of solid science on the actual benefits of neonic-coated seeds is a major problem. Cornell University scientists noted in a 2011 paper published in the Agronomy Journal that “there have been few peer-reviewed studies on seed-applied insecticide/fungicides” — something the scientists speculated was “because of the recent commercialization of these products.” Three years later, we still don’t know much about seed-coating benefits.

And what ever happened to the precautionary principle? The EPA has the power to regulate these poisons under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. Yet, the report notes, “Although not all records are public, to date, no indication exists that EPA has ever formally denied a full registration for any proposed neonicotinoid product because its foreseeable costs exceeded its benefits.”

How Global Warming Is Dissolving Sea Life (And What We Can Do About It)

By Andrew Tarantola
The last time Earth's oceans were this acidic, a six mile-wide sulphur-rich space rock had just smashed into the Yucatan Peninsula, unleashing a deluge of acid rain that exterminated all sea life in the the top 400 meters of the water column. Now, some 65 million years after the Cretaceous extinction, human activity is threatening to similarly decimate the ocean's ecosystem—this time, from the bottom up.

. . .

Normally, there's a supersaturation of carbonate ions, which these animals process into aragonite for use in their shells. However, as the pH decreases, calcium carbonate becomes more soluble which reduces the concentration of available carbonate ions. And not only does this reduce the rate at which organisms can build their protective structures, it also increases the rate at which existing shells dissolve. They're literally being melted away by increasingly corrosive seawater.

And it's not just shellfish that are at risk. Decreased pH levels have been linked to a number of other adverse effects—both direct and indirect—such as the CO2-induced acidification of body fluids, known as hypercapnia, the reduced metabolism in jumbo squid, slowed embryonic development in Atlantic longfin squid, the inability of juvenile clownfish (poor Nemo!) to hear and smell approaching predators, and the diminished echolocation capacity of dolphins and whales.

. . .

One obvious answer is to simply reduce the amount of CO2 we're discharging into the air, though that is far easier said than done. While the world's governments continue t0 work towards a political solution (see: the Kyoto Protocol) and coastal fisheries simultaneously strive to both slow the rate of acidification and adapt to changing water chemistry, there are a number of steps individuals can take to reduce their carbon footprint. And while reducing your personal carbon emissions may not make a very big impact, the actions of 6 billion individuals taken together could very well save the world.

Science and Health
Food Tastes Bland While Multitasking

By Tori Rodriguez
Eating while distracted is well known to cause overindulgence, as confirmed by a recent review of 24 studies published in April 2013 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The exact mechanism behind such mindless bingeing, however, has been unclear. A recent study in Psychological Science suggests that mentally taxing tasks dampen our perception of taste, causing us to eat more. . . The researchers believe cognitive load may compete with sensory input for our attention.
Mars-mimicking chamber explores habitability of other planets

By (ScienceDaily)
A research team in Spain has the enviable job of testing out new electromechanical gear for potential use in future missions to the "Red Planet." They do it within their Mars environmental simulation chamber, which is specially designed to mimic conditions on the fourth planet from the sun -- right down to its infamous Martian dust.

. . .

"We're simulating the effect of the Martian dust -- one of the primary problems for planetary exploration -- to gain a better understanding of how instruments behave when covered in dust," said Jesus Sobrado, the scientist in charge of the machine's technical development.

. . .

Martín-Gago and colleagues are currently collaborating with NASA on its mission to test the new meteorological station "Temperature and Wind for Insight," associated with the Insight mission, and are also expected to test the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer and Sign of Life Detector instruments proposed for the next mission to Mars in 2020.

Sensing gravity with acid: Scientists discover role for protons in neurotransmission

By (ScienceDaily)
While probing how organisms sense gravity and acceleration, scientists at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and the University of Utah uncovered evidence that acid (proton concentration) plays a key role in communication between neurons. The surprising discovery is reported this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The team, led by the late MBL senior scientist Stephen M. Highstein, discovered that sensory cells in the inner ear continuously transmit information on orientation of the head relative to gravity and low-frequency motion to the brain using protons as the key means of synaptic signal transmission. (The synapse is the structure that allows one neuron to communicate with another by passing a chemical or electrical signal between them.)

. . .

Previously, Erik Jorgensen of University of Utah (who recently received a Lillie Research Innovation Award from the MBL and the University of Chicago) and colleagues discovered that protons act as signaling molecules between muscle cells in the worm C. elegans and play an important role in muscle contraction. The present paper is the first to demonstrate that protons also act directly as a nonquantal chemical neurotransmitter in concert with classical neurotransmission mechanisms. The discovery suggests that similar intercellular proton signaling mechanisms might be at play in the central nervous system.

Coffee, colas and candy stain teeth, but chocolate, tea and strawberries whiten

By (UPI)
. . .

Marc Liechtung, a member of the International Academy for Dental and Facial Aesthetics and principal in New York-based Manhattan Dental Arts, says blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, cherries and other berries are healthy, but can stain teeth.

. . .

 Beets, which can stain clothes and skin as well as teeth; soy sauce and tomato sauce; grape, pomegranate and cranberry juice are highly pigmented and can cause staining.

. . .

Dark chocolate whitens teeth, while tannins -- the antioxidants found in cacao -- prevent bacteria from sticking to teeth while also neutralizing the microorganisms that cause bad breath, Liechtung says.

Thanks to high levels of polyphenols, tea battles bacteria and acid, while snacking on cheese raises the mouth's pH to nearly perfect, freshly-brushed levels; shitake mushrooms help inhibit bacteria from growing in the mouth, apples and pears increase salivary production which flushes away stains over time and onions help reduce bacteria that cause tooth decay.

Airliners should broadcast location every 15 minutes, says Inmarsat expert

By Charles Arthur
Every commercial airliner should be upgraded to transmit its position to satellites every 15 minutes, particularly for flights which go out of radar contact as they cross the Indian or Pacific oceans, an expert from Inmarsat says.

Had that been in place, the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines MH370 would have been substantially narrowed to perhaps a quarter of its current size.

. . .

"It's nothing to do with the age of the aircraft," said Chris McLaughlin, senior vice-president of external affairs at Inmarsat. "Ships are already required by the International Maritime Organisation to have long-range identification and tracking, and are required to report their position every six hours. They're moving much slower than an aircraft – and if you're in a fast-moving aircraft then when you get over the Indian or Pacific ocean then if you don't report your position, effectively you're off the network."

. . .

McLaughlin said that the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO), which has the power to make the use of more frequent reporting systems mandatory, had been considering whether to make them mandatory for civil airliners in 2009 but had not reached a decision. "Like every multinational organisation, it moves very slowly," he said.

Judge tells porno copyright troll that an IP address does not identify a person

By Cory Doctorow
In Florida, District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro has dismissed a suit brought by notorious porno-copyright trolls Malibu Media on the grounds that an IP address does not affirmatively identify a person, and so they cannot sue someone solely on the basis of implicating an IP address in an infringement. This is a potentially important precedent, as it effectively neutralizes the business-model of copyright trolls, who use IP addresses as the basis for court orders to ISPs to turn over their customers' addresses . . .
These nations are using food to project power around the world. And it's working.

By Emily Lodish
"Noodle diplomacy" and "chopstick diplomacy" may be new phrases, but the concept that food and diplomacy go together is as old as, well, food.

. . .

Thailand should be credited with reviving the ancient trend in 2002, with its "Global Thai program." The idea was to increase the number of Thai restaurants worldwide, which The Economist presaged would "not only introduce delicious spicy Thai food to thousands of new tummies and persuade more people to visit Thailand, but it could subtly help deepen relations with other countries."

Based on how I feel about Pad Thai as well as the fact that there were 10,000 Thai restaurants in the world in 2011 — up from 5,500 in 2002, according to the Thai government — I would call the program a success.

. . .

Malaysia and Peru also have programs. The United States, our grand melting pot, launched "The Diplomatic Culinary Partnership" in September 2012, which has a corps of famous chefs who travel the world winning hearts and minds through stomachs.

American Dream breeds shame and blame for job seekers

By Debbie Siegelbaum
Decades ago, the American dream inspired employees, offering the promise of the good life. But now, with jobs disappearing, that dream has become a nightmare for the unemployed who see their joblessness as a personal - and shameful - failure.

. . .

"A lot of workers are internalising, 'You succeed on your own merits and your own abilities, and if you fail, you're to blame'," Chen says.

. . .

When US workers fail to recognise structural problems within the current labour market or that the "deck is stacked in certain ways", she says, they experience depression and a loss of motivation, ultimately lengthening the period of unemployment.

. . .

"Employers would rather hire a short-term [unemployed] applicant with no experience than bring in someone for an interview that's long-term unemployed with the exact experience they're looking for," he says. "They're giving up on the good people."

. . .

Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, argues there's nothing wrong with current US job seekers as a group other than their "misfortune of being jobseekers during the worst labour market downturn this country has seen in 70 years".

Oklahoma City Girl Scout breaks US cookie-sales record

By (BBC)
A US Girl Scout has broken the organisation's national record, selling 18,107 boxes of cookies in seven weeks.

Katie Francis, 12, of Oklahoma City, said the secret of her success is asking everyone she meets to buy a box.

. . .

Her troop receives a share of the proceeds from the fundraiser and said it intended to donate to breast cancer research.

. . .

Last month, a 13-year-old in San Francisco made the shrewd decision to set up her cookie stall outside a medical marijuana dispensary.

Supervised by her mother, she sold 117 boxes in just two hours.

Meteor Blades is known to offer an enlightening Evening Open Diary - you might consider checking that out tonight if you haven't already.
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