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Welcome to the Overnight News Digest (OND) for Tuesday, April 29, 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.

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This diary is named for its "Hump Point" video: Wade by Jay Stolar

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.

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Top News
Almost half of Americans live with unhealthy levels of air pollution

By Suzanne Goldenberg
. . .

Nearly 148 million people live in areas where smog and soot particles make it unhealthy to breathe the air, according to the ALA's annual study on US air quality.

. . .

There is growing concern globally – including in the US – about the health risks of air pollution. The report's release comes a day after the supreme court endorsed the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to deal with smog and soot that travel across state lines. The ALA had joined that case on behalf of the EPA. The group has also been pushing hard to tighten air pollution standards, and has supported the EPA's moves to force power plants to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

Scientific research shows that smog and soot are far more harmful at lower levels than previously thought. A growing body of research over the last decade has connected air pollution to increased deaths from heart disease and respiratory illnesses. The World Health Organisation said last autumn that particulate pollution causes lung cancer.

. . .

Eighteen of the 25 US cities with the worst particulate pollution saw a drop in year-round particle pollutants because of cuts in emissions for coal-fired power plants and other measures. Thirteen of them, including Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Atlanta, registered their lowest ever levels. But the report said those cities still failed to meet national standards for year-round particle pollution.

Working women in US who survive breast cancer and chemo 30% more likely to lose their jobs within 4 years

By Xeni Jardin
A new study shows that working women with breast cancer who receive chemotherapy and live for four or more years after treatment are 30% more likely to lose their jobs within those first four years of survival.

 The focus of the study is on women who receive chemotherapy, and researchers say their findings should be considered when patients decide whether to receive adjuvant chemotherapy (that's chemo after surgery, as opposed to before surgery), "particularly when the expected benefit is low."

. . .

. . .

 Many people are forced to take time off while getting chemotherapy treatment to deal with extreme fatigue, nausea and other immediate side effects of the therapy. The researchers say it's possible this could lead to long-term employment problems for a number of reasons. For example, chemotherapy treatments can cause long-term side effects such as neuropathy or cognitive issues, causing a drop-off in work performance. More than half of the women who had lost their jobs said it was important for them to work and 39 percent said they were actively looking for work. Those who were not working were significantly more likely to report they were worse off financially.

US Supreme Court hears arguments in mobile search case

By (BBC)
The US Supreme Court is hearing arguments over whether police may search a suspect's mobile phone without a warrant during an arrest.

. . .

The Supreme Court has previously ruled that during an arrest, police do not need a warrant to empty a suspect's pockets and examine whatever they find in order to ensure officers' safety and prevent the destruction of evidence.

. . .

Under the fourth amendment to the US constitution, police and other government officials generally need to obtain a warrant from a judge before they can conduct a search. A warrant requires evidence that a crime has been committed by the suspect.

Lawyers for Riley and Wurie argue that allowing police to search mobile phones during the initial arrest would radically broaden police powers, because many arrests occur for minor violations and never end in conviction.

. . .

The defendants are also backed by privacy advocates who say mobile phones, especially smartphones, contain enormous quantities of sensitive personal information that have no bearing on the arrest.

eBay to repatriate $9bn in cash to US

By (BBC)
E-commerce giant eBay has said it is repatriating almost $9bn (£5.3bn) of its cash held overseas back to the US.

The firm said the move, which will see it paying taxes of $3bn on the cash, would help it access funds for any potential acquisitions in the country.

Many US firms have kept some of their cash overseas, a move widely seen as a way to avoid high US tax rates.

On Tuesday, Apple raised $12bn via a bond sale, rather than bring back some of the $159bn it holds offshore.

However, the chief executive of eBay said the company could utilise its cash in the US as it looks to expand its business.

International
AstraZeneca shares soar after Pfizer confirms bid talks

By (BBC)
Shares in pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca rose by more than 14% on Monday, after US giant Pfizer confirmed its interest in a takeover bid.

. . .

Pfizer also pledges that AstraZeneca shareholders would be able to take up significant rights in any combined company.

. . .

Pfizer has the cash, with a multi-billion dollar war chest held off-shore to shield it from American tax laws.

. . .

It said if the takeover went through, the combined firm would have management in both the US and the UK, but would list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

China charges labour activist after Yue Yuen strike

By (BBC)
Police in China have formally charged a labour activist with disturbing public order, reports say, following one of the country's biggest strikes in years.

Lin Dong, who works at a labour dispute service, was charged with helping to organise protests, his colleague said.

. . .

Strikes are common in the city of Dongguan one of China's main manufacturing hubs, says the BBC's Martin Patience in Beijing.

But the scale and duration of this walk-out would have worried the authorities, fearing it could trigger wider social unrest, our correspondent adds.

President Uhuru Kenyatta signs Kenya polygamy law

By (BBC)
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta has signed into law a controversial marriage bill legalising polygamy.

. . .

Controversy surrounded an amendment to the bill, supported by many male MPs, allowing men to take more wives without consulting existing spouses.

. . .

"The tone of that bill, if it becomes law, would be demeaning to women since it does not respect the principle of equality of spouses in the institution of marriage," Archbishop Timothy Ndambuki, from the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), was quoted by Kenya's Standard newspaper as saying.

. . .

But plans to ban the payment of bride prices were dropped - although a person must be 18 to marry and this now applies to all cultures.

USA Politics, Economy, Major Events
Liberal Outside Money Groups Spend Big in North Carolina

By Theodoric Meyer and Kim Barker
Most people have come to associate outside money — the hundreds of millions of dollars from politically active nonprofits and super PACs pouring into American elections — with conservatives.

And why not? Since the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, conservative groups have far outspent their liberal counterparts. In the 2012 federal election cycle alone, conservatives shelled out almost two and a half times the amount of outside money as liberal groups, including labor unions.

. . .

On the dark money side, three conservative groups, led by Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers' flagship dark money group, have spent almost $1.4 million on ads criticizing Hagan. One ad portrays her as being best pals with President Obama. "Tell Sen. Hagan to stop thinking about politics and start thinking about people," says another.

But two liberal nonprofits have more than countered in recent months, booking more than $1.3 million for ads of their own. One of them, Patriot Majority USA, has spent more than $500,000 on ads attacking a likely Hagan opponent. The other nonprofit, a charity called the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, has bought several spots praising Hagan.

Religious Conservatives Tend to Be Pretty Old

By Kevin Drum
There's nothing surprising here, but Brookings has a new report out about the fate of religious progressives in the political arena (short version: things don't look too hot), and it includes the data on the right about the demographics of religion in America.

Bottom line: religious conservative are old. Nearly two-thirds are over 50. Conversely, the unaffiliated are young: two-thirds are under 50.

blog_religious_demographics

How the US Created the Afghan War, and Then Lost It

By Anand Gopal
. . .

Though it's now difficult to imagine, by mid-2002 there was no insurgency in Afghanistan: al-Qaeda had fled the country and the Taliban had ceased to exist as a military movement. Jalaluddin Haqqani and other top Taliban figures were reaching out to the other side in an attempt to cut a deal and lay down their arms. Tens of thousands of US forces, however, had arrived on Afghan soil, post-9/11, with one objective: to wage a war on terror.

As I report in my new book, No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes, the US would prosecute that war even though there was no enemy to fight. To understand how America's battle in Afghanistan went so wrong for so long, a (hidden) history lesson is in order. In those early years after 2001, driven by the idée fixe that the world was rigidly divided into terrorist and non-terrorist camps, Washington allied with Afghan warlords and strongmen. Their enemies became ours, and through faulty intelligence, their feuds became repackaged as "counterterrorism." The story of Jalaluddin Haqqani, who turned from America's potential ally into its greatest foe, is the paradigmatic case of how the war on terror created the very enemies it sought to eradicate.

. . .

By classifying certain groups as terrorists, and then acting upon those classifications, the US had inadvertently brought about the very conditions it had set out to fight. By 2010, the Haqqani network was the deadliest wing of an increasingly violent insurgency that was claiming the lives of countless civilians, as well as American soldiers. It was hard, by then, even to recall that, back in mid-2002, US forces had been without an enemy: the remnants of al-Qaeda had fled to Pakistan, the Taliban had collapsed, and the Haqqanis were attempting to reconcile.

If Pacha Khan Zadran was able to convince his American allies otherwise, it was because of the logic of the war on terror. "Terrorism" was understood not as a set of tactics (hostage taking, assassinations, car bombings), but as something rooted in the identity of its perpetrators, like height or temperament. This meant that, once designated a "terrorist," Jalaluddin Haqqani could never shake the label, even when he attempted to reconcile. On the other hand, when PKZ eventually broke with the Karzai government and turned his guns on the Americans, he was labeled not a terrorist but a "renegade." (He eventually fled to Pakistan, was arrested, turned over to the Afghan government, and later was elected to parliament.)

. . .

The group's influence, however, lives on. In 2012, I received a phone call from the family of Arsala Rahmani, the Afghan senator with whom I'd become friendly. That morning, a gunman had pulled up alongside Rahmani's vehicle, idling in a crowded intersection, and shot him point blank. Later, I learned that a former Haqqani-aligned commander named Najibullah was the culprit; he had launched his own faction, Mahaz-e-Fedayeen, whose ruthlessness made the Haqqanis look like amateurs. Now in the crosshairs of US counterterrorism forces, his group is but the latest enemy in a war that never seems to end.

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:
Jay Stolar's music is soul and R&B wrapped up in pop friendly boxes for lovers of ballads that pull you down into deep pools drowning you in cascading lyrics and luscious beats. His new album "More Than We Think" includes single “Like You Do” which has already been featured on the hit TV show “90210.” Jay Stolar's cover of Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" (watch below) shows how the artist can take on a number one hit and master it like child's play. When you get deep within his debut album the song "Holding You All Through The Night" will bring you to your knees the way only Otis Redding's "Dock of the Bay" can do playing on repeat.

. . .

Jay: When I was younger, like really young like one, two, three, four, the only music that I remember was music like Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind, & Fire, Stevie Wonder and that whole world of funk, soul, pop songs. That was just the music that I listened to like in my parent's car and when I was home and I was really, really into that. As I got older, some of the artists that I like were a little more on the songwriter side, Paul Simon, Paul McCartney, I had a really deep Radiohead period, which I think just as a songwriter for thinking about form and lyrics and just craft as a whole, Thom Yorke is a brilliant songwriter.

Listening to [Paul Simon's] Graceland and listening to some of his other works has just changed my whole way of thinking about the power of the lyric. I would say that dichotomy and dynamic between old soul music and funk and pop music with these just powerful, powerful songwriters and their lyrics and just the voice and an acoustic guitar. . . .

Jay: What holds me together? I would say the people that I love and that I have in my life and then music really. There is a reason that crazy people like me do what we do. It is not an easy game and even writing songs and producing songs can be incredibly painful and emotional, but it keeps me together.  It is what I wanted to do from the moment I can remember wanting something. Yeah, people and music. I like food a lot too. I guess that is probably pretty essential in my business.

Back to what's happening:
Environment and Greening
Factory farms get even grosser

By John Upton
. . .

The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism reports on the growth of the revolting practice of using water irrigation systems to squirt manure over farmland.

. . .

Applying liquid manure to fields using pipelines and farm irrigation systems is less expensive than trucking manure and applying it with traditional land-spreading rigs. …

The issue is tied inextricably to the controversial spread of CAFOs across the Wisconsin landscape. The farms produce overwhelming amounts of manure and have angered and frustrated nearby residents who feel they have little control over the growth and operations of the industrial farms. Cattle on Wisconsin farms produce as much waste each year as the combined populations of Tokyo and Mexico City, according to calculations by Gordon Stevenson, a retired former chief of the [Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource's] runoff management section.

. . .
Some research suggests that the plethora of chemicals and pathogens found in liquid manure can have serious health impacts, ranging from respiratory disease to potentially lethal antibiotic resistant infections. Opponents fear wider use of manure irrigation will increase the risk of human illness
Farmers vacuum maple syrup out of trees in an attempt to save breakfast

By Holly Richmond
Maple syrup is one of the many foods climate change is screwing with. Mild winters make for off-flavored sap, and we’re already experiencing terrible maple syrup seasons as a result of warming.

. . .

According to National Geographic, maple syrup farmers are trying something new to salvage what syrup they can get. Instead of tapping the tree with a bucket to collect sweet dribblings, farmers are sticking vacuum tubes into the trees to suck the gooiness out:

. . .

Did you know one gallon of maple syrup requires 43 gallons of sap? Yeah. So the vacuum’s a big deal. There’s even an app, TapTrack, to make sure the syrup vacuum is working properly.

Science and Health
'Feel good' factor higher when you own, not just use, luxury items

By (ScienceDaily)
It means more to people to own a luxury product or brand than to have the privilege of simply using one. Just using an affordable luxury item you don't own can, in fact, dampen the feel good factor that normally surrounds such products, say Liselot Hudders and Mario Pandelaere of Ghent University in Belgium. The research was published in Springer's journal Applied Research in Quality of Life.

. . .

The respondents who were able to keep the luxury versions of the products they tested were more satisfied with life than the participants who received the low-budget versions. On the other hand, the well-being of participants who could not keep the luxury versions they evaluated was significantly lower than that of respondents who evaluated the plain versions.

Another interesting finding from the non-ownership category is that these participants were significantly more satisfied with their life after using the chocolate than after using the pen. "The finding that people are more satisfied with life when they own luxury products than when they only get to use them is in line with prior research that equates consumption with ownership," says Hudders. "In contrast, the mere use or mere knowledge of luxury products seems to be detrimental for one's satisfaction with life."

Consuming high-protein breakfasts helps women maintain glucose control, study finds

By (ScienceDaily)
In healthy individuals, the amount of glucose, or sugar, in the blood increases after eating. When glucose increases, levels of insulin increase to carry the glucose to the rest of the body. Previous research has shown that extreme increases in glucose and insulin in the blood can lead to poor glucose control and increase an individual's risk of developing diabetes over time. Now, a University of Missouri researcher has found that when women consumed high-protein breakfasts, they maintained better glucose and insulin control than they did with lower-protein or no-protein meals.

. . .

"Since most American women consume only about 10-15 grams of protein during breakfast, the 30-39 grams might seem like a challenging dietary change," Leidy said. "However, one potential strategy to assist with this change might include the incorporation of prepared convenience meals, such as those included in this study."

Leidy said the study provides a good model to initially examine the effect of higher-protein breakfasts on glucose and insulin responses since only healthy, non-diabetic women with appropriate glucose control were included in the study. Based on the study's findings, the researchers are hopeful that the consumption of protein-rich breakfasts also would benefit individuals with pre-diabetes, although future research is needed to confirm.

Pre-pregnancy diet 'permanently influences baby's DNA'

By Helen Briggs
. . .

The research followed women in rural Gambia, where seasonal climate leads to big differences in diet between rainy and dry periods.

. . .

Lead scientist Dr Branwen Hennig, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said it was the first demonstration in humans that a mother's nutrition at the time of conception can change how her child's genes will be interpreted for life.

. . .

Co-researcher Dr Rob Waterland of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston said the findings, published in Nature Communications, were a proof in principle that a mother's diet can have epigenetic effects.

The research was showing that a mother's nutrition "can leave permanent marks on her child's genome on all the cells of the body", he told BBC News.

Technology
FCC: We'll Treat Internet Like Telephones if That's What It Takes

By Adam Clark Estes
FCC chairman and former big telecom lobbyist Tom Wheeler just said in a blog post that he's won't hesitate to use Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 if he has to. This is the authority the FCC uses to regulate telephone companies. It's also a move that's sure to please net neutrality advocates.

As such, it's kind of hard to tell if Wheeler's acting tough or just talking tough. The general gist of his blog post is that everybody's misunderstanding the FCC's proposed rules and is unnecessarily freaking out. Furthermore, we need to do something quickly to secure Open Internet rules, so if push comes to shove, Wheeler's willing to do whatever it takes to ensure "a broadly available, fast and robust Internet as a platform for economic growth, innovation, competition, free expression, and broadband investment and deployment." It actually sounds like Wheeler's saying the FCC will defend the internet at all costs. This, despite the fact that the FCC's always been terrible at defending the internet.

. . .

If anyone acts to degrade the service for all for the benefit of a few, I intend to use every available power to stop it.

Using every power also includes using Title II if necessary. If we get to a situation where arrival of the "next Google" or the "next Amazon" is being delayed or deterred, we will act as necessary using the full panoply of our authority. Just because I believe strongly that following the court's roadmap will enable us to have rules protecting an Open Internet more quickly, does not mean I will hesitate to use Title II if warranted.

Pretty tough talk, right?! Well, it's just talk for now. The proposed rules—rules that would allow pay-to-play deals between internet companies—remain the same. They're up for public review until May 15, at which point it's entirely possible the FCC could approve them and close the book on net neutrality as we know it. At least we know now that Wheeler might steer the agency down a different path. Possibly. Maybe. But only if he has to.
Dementia Facebook app to raise awareness of the illness

By (BBC)
Facebook users are being invited to experience what it is like to live with dementia in a bid to raise greater awareness about the disease.

The FaceDementia app, by Alzheimer's Research UK, "takes over" personal Facebook pages, and temporarily erases important memories, mimicking how dementia affects the brain.

. . .

"We wanted to use these Facebook features to illustrate how those thoughts and memories can be confused, or forgotten altogether, as experienced by some of the hundreds of thousands of people across the UK living with dementia.

"Stigma around dementia is due in part to a lack of public awareness and understanding, so FaceDementia will be invaluable in helping people better understand the condition."

Apps for attacks: Software to combat anxiety disorders

By Nastaran Tavakoli-Far
. . .

Dr Green's arachnophobia - the exaggerated fear of spiders - is so severe that even a picture of one is enough to scare him.
Augmented-reality arachnids

But he has now co-developed Phobia Free, an app designed to help others with the same problem.

It uses a technique called systematic desensitisation- a method of slowly exposing sufferers to the object of their phobia.

. . .

"We are hoping to get that magic bit of motivation that you get from games, where people will play them for hours and hours, and use that to get people to complete their treatment," Dr Fonseca says.

. . .

However some experts, including analytical psychologist Elizabeth Gray, warn that even if these apps prove effective alongside more traditional forms of therapy, they should not be a viewed as a replacement for it.

Cultural
How a passive police force is fueling Ukraine’s crisis

By Dan Peleschuk
. . .

Whether it’s protecting eastern Ukraine’s embattled pro-unity protesters or defending local administrative buildings from seizures by anti-government rebels, law enforcement here has proven largely useless. Instead, it’s playing into the hands of pro-Russian rebels, further inflaming a crisis that’s threatening to tear the country apart at the seams.

. . .

One by one, rebels have stormed key strategic assets in cities such as Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, where an atmosphere of lawlessness now pervades. Heavily armed rebels roam with impunity as reports of mysterious kidnappings are growing.

. . .

Observers suggest the problem is most acute in Donetsk, Ukraine’s traditionally pro-Russian industrial heartland, where many officers appear to have openly sided with anti-government protesters.

Loyalty to one’s region runs deep here, where most locals denounce the revolution in Kyiv as a nationalist-backed “coup” that overthrew a legitimately elected president.

. . .

Markeyeva believes much of the police force in eastern Ukraine would also fulfill their duties under pressure if years of stalled reforms in the law enforcement sector hadn’t failed to create incentives for the underpaid and demoralized officers.

Moscow Is Turning a Historic Soviet Factory Into Its Very Own High Line

By Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan
In its heyday, Hammer & Sickle Factory was the lynchpin of industry in Russia—a plant that churned out the country's steel for an entire century. Now, Moscow is turning the sprawling factory into luxury housing, boutiques, and a High Line-style park. Basically, the Meatpacking District.

. . .

The icing on the cake will be an elevated walkway, a la the High Line:

An existing factory transport ring will be repaired and become part of a park that will form a three-dimensional spine for the new neighbourhood. This public urban space will house playgrounds, sports facilities, open air markets and pavilions. Schools and day care centres are connected to this ring park.

The factory, which was built in 1883, was also known as the Moscow Metallurgical Plant. But its workers played a central role in both the Revolution of 1905–07 and the October Revolution of 1917, and it was renamed Serp i Molot, or Hammer and Sickle, when the Soviet Union was formed in 1922. It kept churning out steel products well into the later years of the USSR, until it fell into disrepair in the 90s.

European elections: Busy being unemployed in Spain

By Patrick Jackson
While Europe's politicians wait for election day, members of Spain's huge jobless population are getting on with their lives where they can.

. . .

In the southern region of Andalusia, where official unemployment reached 37% last year, jobless people have long been learning to occupy themselves.

The more cynically minded might say they are too busy working in the black economy to worry about either welfare or democracy. "The big parties are thieves because we are all thieves in Spain!" in the words of unemployed businessman Juan.

. . .

As for politics, Jose has never voted in his life but may vote now for the new leftist movement Podemos. He dismisses the big parties of the right and left, saying their politicians are all "out to make money for themselves".

. . .

Jorge will be voting in the European elections but not for one of the big parties. He will choose either the largely ex-communist United Left or Podemos.

He is not enthusiastic about the EU, however, as it does not fit his aspiration towards a "more open world that puts humanity first".

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