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As your faithful scribe, I welcome you all to another edition of Overnight News Digest.
I am most pleased to share this platform with jlms qkw, maggiejean, wader, rfall, JLM9999 and side pocket. Additionally, I wish to recognize our alumni editors palantir, Bentliberal, Oke, Interceptor7, and ScottyUrb along with annetteboardman as our guest editor.
Neon Vincent is our editor-in-chief.


              Special thanks go to Magnifico for starting this venerable series.

Lead Off Story

On Tiananmen Anniversary, Hong Kong Rallies, Beijing Clamps Down

China imposed smothering security in central Beijing on Wednesday, the 25th anniversary of the deadly Tiananmen Square crackdown, as tens of thousands gathered in Hong Kong for potentially the biggest commemoration yet seen in honor of the student protesters killed in 1989.


Evening candlelit vigils were due to take place in Macau and Taipei as well as Hong Kong, where organizers said a record crowd as large as 200,000 people would attend a vast gathering in a downtown park.


But 25 years later, the ruling Communist Party’s authority is intact and its global clout continues to rise in line with the country’s rapid growth, which has taken China to second place in the global economic rankings behind only the United States.


Since 1989, China has worked hard to erase public memories of the bloodshed, censoring any mention of the incident from online social networks and detaining scores of activists, lawyers, artists and relatives of victims in recent weeks.

Among those detained ahead of this year’s anniversary is prominent human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, who along with four others was taken away by authorities last month after attending a private seminar discussing the crackdown.



World News

Anger As Plan To Redraw French Map Omits 'Great Brittany'

Many Bretons, who dream of a reunified “Great Brittany”, are furious that a planned redrawing of France’s regional borders does not include the restoration of the Loire Atlantique department.

In 1941, the Loire Atlantique department (administrative sub-region) was separated from Brittany and attached to the neighbouring Loire region.

The decision to sever the department, approved by wartime collaborationist leader Philippe Pétain in 1941, is still seen by many as grossly unfair.


On Monday, President François Hollande outlined his plan to reduce the number of French regions to save costs and streamline regional government.

This will include merging Champagne and Ardenne, as well as Alsace and Lorraine. But Brittany and Pays de la Loire will not change their borders.





'A European War': The Fight For Ukraine's East Gets Bloodier

The man with the full, black beard looks satisfied, sitting on his wooden chair. He is wearing a white-striped baseball cap and his Kalashnikov sits on the table beside him. Fighters refer to him respectfully as "Komandir." His casual hand signals determine who is allowed into the headquarters of the regional administration of Donetsk and who is not. In response to questions, the Komandir answers in Russian, with a strong Caucasian accent.

 Is he the boss here? "Yes, apparently." But he's not from here? "As you can see." Then, his mobile phone rings and he speaks in a Caucasian language. Is it Chechen? "Why do you want to know, my friend?"

After months of obfuscation, Russia's direct involvement in eastern Ukraine is becoming visible. And last week, it became clearer than ever that Russian and Chechen mercenaries are supporting the separatists in Donetsk, fighting side-by-side with Ukrainians against troops sent by Kiev. At first, the presence of Russian fighters was but a rumor, but then, last Thursday, a column of vehicles carrying 34 coffins draped with red cloth left Donetsk heading for the border. Two-thirds of the some 50 rebels who died in heavy fighting 10 days ago were Russian citizens.

Some of the fighters in Donetsk openly told journalists that they came "on the orders of Kadyrov." The Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov would only say on his Instagram page: "If any Chechen has been seen in the conflict zone, that's his personal business."

At the beginning of last week, it seemed as though the troops from Kiev, after weeks of hesitation, might finally be gaining the upper hand. The army was able to quickly regain control of the Donetsk airport, which had been occupied by the separatists. But the eastern flank remained open: On the drive from the Russian border to Donetsk, not a single Ukrainian soldier could be seen; at the edge of the city were fighters from the separatist battalion called Vostok, or East, their Kalashnikovs at the ready.





Britain Offers Tanks And 1,000 Troops For Nato Show Of Strength Against Putin

Britain has offered Nato an armoured battle group including up to 25 tanks to join exercises in Poland as a show of force against Vladimir Putin.


The offer was disclosed as David Cameron prepares to meet the Russian president on Thursday and wrangling over the Ukraine crisis seems certain to dominate world leaders’ visits to the D-Day anniversary events.

The diplomatic storm over Ukraine continued as Barack Obama condemned Moscow’s “dark tactics”, while Mr Putin hit back against American aggression.

America has already said it will review "the US force presence in Europe" because of the crisis and start a billion dollar fund to bolster US military deployments in Eastern European nations worried about Russian aggression.


One source said: “We have offered a whole range of capabilities and one is a battle group with heavy armour. It’s all scoping at the moment and we are waiting to see what Nato wants from us.”


U.S. News

On Taliban Video, a Message as Soldier Is Released: Don’t Come Back

 The Taliban released a video on Wednesday showing their fighters handing over Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to American forces, providing a direct look at a dramatic moment in the American military campaign in Afghanistan that is prompting sharp criticism in Afghanistan and the United States.

The video also provided an important moment for the Taliban, and their push to refine their publicity efforts to support an argument that they are a legitimate state in exile.

Within hours of the video’s release, the Taliban website where it was posted was overwhelmed with traffic and crashed, according to Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the insurgents. The video has since been uploaded in dozens of different versions on YouTube — a triumph for the Taliban’s efforts to get their message out, unfiltered, to a world audience.


He [the narrator in the video] then expresses dismay with the Americans, who rushed through the encounter and did not stop to talk or exchange polite greetings, as is customary in Afghanistan, even during hostage releases. He complains that they had managed to shake hands with only two of the Americans, and that one of them had hastily shoved his left hand forward, considered a particularly rude gesture in Afghanistan.


In all, as a propaganda document, the message is clear: The Taliban saw the Americans come meet them on equal footing, on insurgent turf, and found them wanting.





A Kick-Start To Clearing The Air

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to curb carbon dioxide emissions from coal power plants sets a huge target: a 30 percent nationwide cut by 2030 from 2005 levels.

The more than 600-page rule, unveiled Monday, makes great demands on Illinois. This state slashed carbon emissions by 8 percent from 2005 to 2012, according to a Sierra Club analysis of Energy Information Administration data. But this proposed rule would require much more.

This proposal sets up a difficult balancing act for the states — particularly a state that A) is broke and B) has the third-highest unemployment rate in the nation. You know which state it is.


When she unveiled the rule, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy touted economic benefits (more jobs to modernize plants or build alternatives) and health benefits (a reduction in asthma and heart disease). But the curbs would also eliminate jobs — particularly in coal-producing states such as, yes, Illinois — and cost consumers billions of dollars in higher electricity rates.

When the EPA launched this process, we urged it to back off and let Congress develop tougher rules for carbon dioxide emissions and other gases that are blamed for global warming. That's still the better approach — in theory. But Congress has done nothing and there are no signs that the gridlock will ease anytime soon. Advantage, EPA.





Last Of Original Group Of Navajo Code Talkers Dies

The language he once was punished for speaking in school became Chester Nez's primary weapon in World War II.

Before hundreds of men from the Navajo Nation became Code Talkers, Nez and 28 others were recruited to develop a code based on the then-unwritten Navajo language. Locked in a room for 13 weeks, they came up with an initial glossary of more than 200 terms using Navajo words for red soil, war chief, braided hair and hummingbird, for example, and an alphabet.

Nez never tired of telling the story to highlight his pride in having served his country and stress the importance of preserving the Navajo language. The 93-year-old died Wednesday morning of kidney failure with plenty of appearances still scheduled, said Judith Avila, who helped Nez publish his memoirs. He was the last of the original group of 29 Navajo Code Talkers.


After World War II, Nez volunteered to serve two more years during the Korean War. He retired in 1974 after a 25-year career as a painter at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Albuquerque. His artwork featuring 12 Navajo holy people was on display at the hospital.


Nez threw the opening pitch at a 2004 Major League Baseball game and offered a blessing for the presidential campaign of John Kerry. In 2012, he received a bachelor's degree from the University of Kansas, where he abandoned his studies in fine arts decades ago after tuition assistance he received for his military service ran out.


[Reccommended Article- Editor]

Science and Technology

The Five Biggest Threats To Human Existence

In the daily hubbub of current “crises” facing humanity, we forget about the many generations we hope are yet to come. Not those who will live 200 years from now, but 1,000 or 10,000 years from now. I use the word “hope” because we face risks, called existential risks, that threaten to wipe out humanity. These risks are not just for big disasters, but for the disasters that could end history.


1. Nuclear war

While only two nuclear weapons have been used in war so far – at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II – and nuclear stockpiles are down from their the peak they reached in the Cold War, it is a mistake to think that nuclear war is impossible. In fact, it might not be improbable.

2. Bioengineered pandemic

Natural pandemics have killed more people than wars. However, natural pandemics are unlikely to be existential threats: there are usually some people resistant to the pathogen, and the offspring of survivors would be more resistant. Evolution also does not favor parasites that wipe out their hosts, which is why syphilis went from a virulent killer to a chronic disease as it spread in Europe.

3. Superintelligence

Intelligence is very powerful. A tiny increment in problem-solving ability and group coordination is why we left the other apes in the dust. Now their continued existence depends on human decisions, not what they do. Being smart is a real advantage for people and organisations, so there is much effort in figuring out ways of improving our individual and collective intelligence: from cognition-enhancing drugs to artificial-intelligence software.

4. Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is the control over matter with atomic or molecular precision. That is in itself not dangerous – instead, it would be very good news for most applications. The problem is that, like biotechnology, increasing power also increases the potential for abuses that are hard to defend against.

5. Unknown unknowns

The most unsettling possibility is that there is something out there that is very deadly, and we have no clue about it.





Rocks Made Of Plastic Found On Hawaiian Beach

Plastic may be with us a lot longer than we thought. In addition to clogging up landfills and becoming trapped in Arctic ice, some of it is turning into stone. Scientists say a new type of rock cobbled together from plastic, volcanic rock, beach sand, seashells, and corals has begun forming on the shores of Hawaii.


Geologist Patricia Corcoran of the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, and Charles Moore, captain of the oceanographic research vessel Alguita, stumbled upon the new rocks on a beach on the Big Island of Hawaii. These stones, which they’ve dubbed “plastiglomerates,” most likely formed from melting plastic in fires lit by humans who were camping or fishing, the team reports this month in GSA Today. Although anywhere there is a heat source, such as forest fires or lava flows, and “abundant plastic debris,” Corcoran says, “there is the potential for the formation of plastiglomerate.” When the plastic melts, it cements rock fragments, sand, and shell debris together, or the plastic can flow into larger rocks and fill in cracks and bubbles to form a kind of junkyard Frankenstein.

Corcoran says some of the plastic is still recognizable as toothbrushes, forks, ropes, and just “anything you can think of.” Once the plastic has fused to denser materials, like rock and coral, it sinks to the sea floor, and the chances it will become buried and preserved in the geologic record increase.


The discovery adds to the debate about whether humanity’s heavy hand in natural processes warrants the formal declaration of a new epoch of Earth history, the Anthropocene, says paleontologist Jan Zalasiewicz of the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, who was not involved in the study. Plastics in general are so pervasive that they’ve been documented in a number of surprising places, including ingested in wildlife and on the sea floor. The mass of plastic produced since 1950 is close to 6 billion metric tons, enough to bundle the entire planet in plastic wrap. Combine plastic’s abundance with its persistence in the environment, and there’s a good chance it’ll get into the fossil record, Zalasiewicz says. “Plastics, including plastiglomerates, would be one of the key markers by which people could recognize the beginning of the Anthropocene.”




Astronomers Discover First Thorne-Zytkow Object, A Bizarre Type Of Hybrid Star

n a discovery decades in the making, scientists have detected the first of a "theoretical" class of stars first proposed in 1975 by physicist Kip Thorne and astronomer Anna Żytkow. Thorne-Żytkow objects (TŻOs) are hybrids of red supergiant and neutron stars that superficially resemble normal red supergiants, such as Betelguese in the constellation Orion. They differ, however, in their distinct chemical signatures that result from unique activity in their stellar interiors.

TŻOs are thought to be formed by the interaction of two massive stars―a red supergiant and a neutron star formed during a supernova explosion―in a close binary system. While the exact mechanism is uncertain, the most commonly held theory suggests that, during the evolutionary interaction of the two stars, the much more massive red supergiant essentially swallows the neutron star, which spirals into the core of the red supergiant.

While normal red supergiants derive their energy from nuclear fusion in their cores, TŻOs are powered by the unusual activity of the absorbed neutron stars in their cores. The discovery of this TŻO thus provides evidence of a model of stellar interiors previously undetected by astronomers.

Project leader Emily Levesque of the University of Colorado Boulder, who earlier this year was awarded the American Astronomical Society's Annie Jump Cannon Award, said, "Studying these objects is exciting because it represents a completely new model of how stellar interiors can work. In these interiors we also have a new way of producing heavy elements in our universe. You've heard that everything is made of 'star stuff' -- inside these stars we might now have a new way to make some of it."


The team is careful to point out that HV 2112 displays some chemical characteristics that don't quite match theoretical models. Massey points out, "We could, of course, be wrong. There are some minor inconsistencies between some of the details of what we found and what theory predicts. But the theoretical predictions are quite old, and there have been a lot of improvements in the theory since then. Hopefully our discovery will spur additional work on the theoretical side now."  


Well, that's different...

Only in Florida

Calvin Rodriguez was arrested in Port St. Lucie, Florida, in May as the man who had been using a shaved key to steal a series of cars from parking lots. His spree came to an abrupt halt as he sped away from police in a stolen Honda Civic only to crash into a huge alligator in the road.


Bill Moyers and Company:

Joseph E. Stiglitz Calls for Fair Taxes for All
The Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz on why America’s future prosperity depends on tax reform today

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