The Overnight News Digest is nightly series dedicated to chronicling the day's news of import or interest. Everyone is welcome to add their own news items in the comments. Tonight's OND showcases news from around the world.
- Space - 'One Giant Leap': As Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45
Forty-five years ago today, humanity took a giant leap from its birthplace onto the surface of another world.
On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong clambered down the ladder of the Apollo 11 lunar lander and pressed his boot into the moon's gray dirt — a simple if clunky step, witnessed by billions from afar, that stands as perhaps the most memorable moment in all of human history.
"The whole world stopped to watch what was taking place," space historian Roger Launius, assistant director of collections and curatorial affairs at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, told Space.com. "I think it would not be an overstatement to say that."
[…]This stunning achievement required the investment of about $25 billion, experts say — well over $100 billion in today's dollars. (During the height of the Apollo program, NASA's share of the federal budget was about 4 percent. Today, that figure hovers around 0.5 percent.)
- AP - Whales under threat as US approves seismic oil prospecting in Atlantic
The Obama administration is reopening the eastern seaboard to offshore oil and gas exploration, approving seismic surveys using sonic cannons that can pinpoint energy deposits deep beneath the ocean floor…
The cannons create noise pollution in waters shared by whales, dolphins and turtles, sending sound waves many times louder than a jet engine reverberating through the deep every 10 seconds for weeks at a time. Arguing that endangered species could be harmed was the environmental groups' best hope for extending a decades-old ban against drilling off the US Atlantic coast.The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management acknowledged that thousands of sea creatures will be harmed even as it approved opening the outer continental shelf from Delaware to Florida to exploration. Energy companies need the data as they prepare to apply for drilling leases in 2018, when current congressional limits expire.
- WaPo - With liberals pining for a Clinton challenger, ambitious Democrats get in position
On the night before her Friday keynote address to a gathering of progressive activists here, Sen. Elizabeth Warren tried to slip into a hotel restaurant for a quiet dinner. But the former law professor has become a liberal superstar, and when a few admirers spotted her walking to the corner of the dining room, they cheered loudly. A moment later, more joined in the applause. Then one urged her, “Run for president!”
The next morning at Netroots Nation, where Warren (D-Mass.) gave a fiery sermon for economic populism — “The game is rigged, and it isn’t right!” — scores of swooning supporters wore faux-straw boater hats with “Warren for President” stickers and chanted, “Run, Liz, run!” …
One thing made clear by the scene in Detroit — and others like it recently from West Virginia to Oregon — is that candidate Clinton would be running against Warren in the primaries whether or not the Massachusetts senator enters the race.“This primary will be about the Wall Street wing versus the Warren wing of the party,” said Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America, a liberal group that spun out of Dean’s 2004 campaign. “The question is, will Hillary be with Wall Street like she’s been all along or will she evolve like the party to be with the Warren wing?”
- Bloomberg - Bubble Paranoia Setting In as S&P 500 Surge Stirs Angst
Two years of uninterrupted gains in U.S. stocks are sowing anxiety among financial professionals, with three in five saying the market is on the verge of a bubble or already in one, the Bloomberg Global Poll found.
Forty-seven percent of those surveyed said the equity market is close to unsustainable levels while 14 percent already saw a bubble, according to a quarterly poll of 562 investors, analysts and traders who are Bloomberg subscribers. Almost a third of respondents called the market for lower-rated corporate debt overheated and most said stock swings will increase within six months, the July 15-16 poll showed.With biotechnology stocks trading at more than 500 times earnings, mega-deals resurfacing and bond sales at a record, concern prices are too high is growing amid a rally that has pushed the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index almost 30 percent above its peak in 2007. The view isn’t shared by the Federal Reserve, which said this week that while valuations are stretched in smaller biotechnology and social media companies, asset prices in general are in line with historical levels.
- NYT - Ukraine Says It Can Prove Russia Supplied Arms System That Felled Jet
The Ukrainian government said on Saturday that it had proof that Russia had provided the surface-to-air missile system that shot down a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 298 people aboard.
That claim came as officials from Malaysia and the Netherlands pleaded for politics to be put aside so they could recover their dead, still lying in a field in a war zone.
Ukraine also accused Russia and separatist rebels in the east of trying to cover up their role by blocking recovery workers from the crash site, removing evidence and driving three missile launchers back to Russia just hours after the crash.At a news conference in Kiev, Vitaly Nayda, the head of counterintelligence for the Ukrainian State Security Service, displayed photographs that he said showed the three Buk-M1 missile systems on the road to the Russian border. Two of the devices, missile launchers mounted on armored vehicles, crossed the border into Russia about 2 a.m. Friday, or less than 10 hours after the jet, Flight 17, was blown apart in midair, he said. The third weapon crossed about 4 a.m.
- Guardian - Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' as world fury mounts over flight MH17
Global leaders rounded on Vladimir Putin on Saturday night as armed separatists continued to block international inspectors attempting to identify and repatriate bodies at the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine.
Amid reports that pro-Russia rebels accused of shooting down the plane had removed corpses themselves and were looting credit cards and other possessions belonging to some of the 298 victims, Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, said that Putin had "one last chance to show he means to help [rescuers recover the bodies]".Rutte vented his anger following what he called a "very intense" conversation with the Russian president. Referring to allegations that bodies of the passengers, including 193 Dutch nationals, were being treated with contempt and allowed to rot at the scene, he said: "I was shocked at the pictures of utterly disrespectful behaviour at this tragic spot. It's revolting."
- Reuters - Heavy clashes erupt over Tripoli airport, at least four dead
Heavy fighting erupted on Sunday around Tripoli International Airport, where rival militias have been battling for control, killing at least four people and forcing thousands from their homes, local residents and witnesses said.
The airport standoff is the most serious violence in Tripoli since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi, with Libya's fragile government unable to assert authority over rival brigades of former rebels fighting for political and economic power.Militias used heavy anti-aircraft cannons, Grad missiles and rockets in exchanges around the Qasr Ben Ghashir neighbourhood, trapping some families while several thousand others fled the fighting around their homes, community leaders said.
- Jurist - Ethiopia court charges journalists with terrorism, inciting violence
An Ethiopian court on Friday charged nine journalists with terrorism and inciting violence under Ethiopia's anti-terrorism law [text, PDF]. The journalists, including six bloggers, were arrested [HRW report] in April and have been prevented from accessing their families or legal counsel since their arrests. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) [advocacy website], since the implementation of the anti-terrorism law in 2009, Ethiopian authorities have used it as a tool to limit journalism critical of the government [CPJ report]. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] has repeatedly called upon the Ethiopian government to repeal the law, alleging that the government stifles the establishment of new media publications [HRW report].
- AJE - Al-Shabab claims deadly Kenya bus attack
Al-Shabab has said it carried out a deadly bus attack on Kenya's coast that killed seven people, the latest in a series in the region that have left almost 100 dead.
In a statement on Saturday, the Somalia-based group said the attack near Witu in Lamu Country was "a clear response to the government of Kenya's false claim that they beefed up security in the area". The group's military spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab told the AFP news agency that the group was "ready to act or attack anywhere necessary within Kenya".Miiri Njenga, the police commissioner of Lamu County, said attackers hijacked the bus, which was travelling to Lamu from the tourist resort of Malindi, a 220km journey.
- Globe and Mail - Thousands flee Gaza homes as Israel expands ground assault killing at least 60
At least 60 people were said to have been killed Sunday and thousands were fleeing their homes in Gaza after intense shelling from an overnight expansion of Israel’s ground operation in Gaza.
Medics found a gruesome scene of carnage when they were allowed access to remove the dead and injured. Israel continued shelling neighbourhoods of east Gaza as its tanks advanced. Israeli said it was rooting out what called remnants of “terrorist” enclaves.
The bodies of men, women and children were carried from building after building and laid in waiting ambulances. The body of one small boy was laid on a blanket on the floor.
As a result of the early morning operation, people left by the thousands, carrying nothing but the clothes on their backs, not sure to where they were going, just walking West, toward the sea.
- Guardian - Baghdad bombings kill dozens
A series of bombings, including three in the space of less than 10 minutes, killed at least 27 people across Baghdad on Saturday, shaking the fragile sense of security the capital has maintained despite the Sunni militant offensive in northern and western Iraq.
The attacks are among the most significant in Baghdad since insurgents led by the Islamic State (Isis) captured Iraq's second-largest city of Mosul last month at the start of its advance across the country.After the fall of Mosul, the government moved aggressively to try to secure Baghdad in response to fears it might fall as well, and the city has seen few major attacks in recent weeks.
- Reuters - Top Kurdish security official warns West of Iraq blowback
Western countries will end up fighting insurgents who have overrun large parts of Iraq on their own doorstep unless they intervene to combat the threat at its source, a senior Kurdish security official said in an interview.
Masrour Barzani, head of the Kurdish region's National Security Council, said he doubted Iraq's army would be able to roll back militant gains without help from outside, but that the world did not appear serious about confronting the insurgency…Barzani said Kurdistan, which has managed so far to insulate itself against violence in the rest of Iraq and neighboring Syria, was the "frontline against terrorism" in the Middle East, and that the inaction of Western nations was at their peril.
- Times of India - Delayed monsoon starts farmer's 'journey to hell'
Farmer Asghar Bhura scrapes a living by growing sugarcane, but this year's late monsoon has left his tiny plot parched and he will earn nothing from his harvest.
Bhura will have to go and work for a big grower to feed his family of six, making Rs 250 ($4.00) a day, as he did when India suffered its last severe drought in 2009. "I have no option but to become a bonded labourer just to feed my family one meal a day," said Bhura, 50, looking at his stunted crop on his third of a hectare of land. Bhura's borderline existence is shared by many farmers in the district of Shamli, in the sugarcane belt of the most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, three hours' drive north of the capital New Delhi.With this year's monsoon rains several weeks late, the world's second-largest sugar and rice producer is on the verge of widespread drought in the face of a developing Pacific Ocean weather event known as El Nino, which is often associated with drought in South Asia.
- NYT - U.S. Drone Kills 15 Militants in Pakistan
Fifteen militants were killed early Saturday morning when an American drone struck a compound in the Pakistani tribal region of North Waziristan, according to local residents and a security official. It was the fourth known drone strike in the region since Pakistan launched a military operation there last month.
Residents said the drone fired four missiles into the compound about 2 a.m. They said that 10 of the militants killed were from Punjab, Pakistan’s largest province, and that the five others were Uzbeks affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The strike occurred in the village of Datta Khel, a few miles from the Afghan border…The Pakistani military, which began its operation in North Waziristan on June 15, says it has lost 26 men in the fighting, including two officers. It estimates that 400 militants have been killed.
- WSJ - Afghan Election Audit Bogged Down By Squabbling Campaigns
The audit of all votes cast in Afghanistan's presidential election is facing fresh obstacles just days after it began, with no agreement between the two campaign teams on how to disqualify fraudulent ballots.
The audit of more than eight million ballots began Thursday as part of a deal brokered last week by Secretary of State John Kerry to overcome a political deadlock between the two candidates: former World Bank official Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister and mujahedeen fighter.The political crisis, triggered by allegations of widespread fraud in the June 14 runoff, raised the specter of civil war. Mr. Abdullah has refused to accept the preliminary results, released by Afghanistan's election authorities, that showed Mr. Ghani winning the election.
- Star - MH17 crash: Putin morally bound to assist, says Masing
Russia’s president Vladimir Putin is morally bound to assist for the sake of humanity, said Sarawak’s Land Development Minister Tan Sri James Masing Sunday. Masing urged Putin to allow investigators to proceed with their works unimpeded. He also urged all Malaysians stand together in condemning the crash of MH17, which was reportedly shot down by separatist.
“We’ve been sheltered from tsunami, earthquake, typhoon and other natural calamities. Suddenly in the space of six months, two tragedies (MH370 and MH17) befall us like a torrential rain.“Let all Malaysians regardless of political divide and religious beliefs stand together and fight to ensure that the perpetrators no matter who they are, pay for what they’ve done to the passengers of MH17,” said Masing.
- Xinhua - Super typhoon Rammasun batters China, killing 18
The death toll from super typhoon Rammasun has increased to 18 as the strongest typhoon in four decades brought gales and downpours to a number of southern provinces.
More than 3.3 million people were affected by Rammasun, which swept dozens of southern coastal cities in Guangdong and Hainan provinces, and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, local civil affairs authorities said on Sunday. Eight people were confirmed dead in Hainan, where the typhoon made its first landfall on Friday afternoon, while nine others died in Guangxi.In Hainan, the typhoon destroyed about 51,000 houses and 40,600 hectares of crops, causing economic losses worth over 4.7 billion yuan (752.58 million U.S. dollars), the provincial civil affairs authorities said.
- WSJ - Japan's Military Contractors Make Push in Weapons Exports
Japanese military contractors are taking their first steps toward selling weapons abroad since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe relaxed an export ban, a politically sensitive shift for a nation that long hesitated to turn its technology prowess into arms-sales profits.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Defense approved exports of a sensor made by Japan's largest military contractor, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., for use in air-defense missiles made by Raytheon Co. of the U.S. The ministry also cleared a Japan-Britain research project involving technology for air-to-air missiles.
A week earlier, Mr. Abe and Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia signed an agreement to collaborate on submarine development. Analysts say the deal could give Australia access to a propulsion technology that allows Japanese submarines, built by Mitsubishi Heavy and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., to remain submerged for unusually long periods."My sense in talking to Japanese defense companies is that there is a great deal of excitement and anticipation about what they can achieve," said Jon Grevatt, an analyst at IHS Jane's in Bangkok.
- Globe and Mail - Coup forces mass exodus of Cambodian labourers from Thailand
The military coup in Thailand has uprooted tens of thousands of Cambodian migrants who have been working there illegally, drawn by the abundance of jobs that many Thais are unwilling to take.
Amid rumours of violence and impending arrests, the majority of migrants voluntarily surrendered to Thai police and were then transported by the military to Poipet, a small Cambodian town on the border with Thailand. But others recounted arrests, raids and extortion by Thai soldiers.With the coup, Poipet was instantly transformed into an aid camp teeming with hundreds of soldiers and relief workers workers as thousands of migrants poured into the town, arriving in overcrowded Thai detention vehicles, cattle trucks and buses.
- SMH - Hostile climate for PM despite repeal of tax
Prime Minister Tony Abbott's success in scrapping the carbon tax last week has not arrested his government's poll slide, with Labor's primary support jumping three points and voters still favouring Opposition Leader Bill Shorten for a third consecutive month.
Mr Abbott's trustworthiness rating now stands at a record low of 35 per cent after Joe Hockey's first budget, which has also shredded his standing as preferred treasurer…His approval rating has improved mildly since the June survey but he remains deeply unpopular with a net rating - the percentage of those who approve of his performance minus those who disapprove - sitting at minus 18 per cent.
- Globe and Mail - MH17: International AIDS Conference becomes a sombre event
The historic Princess Bridge has been decorated with the words “AIDS 2014,” a blood-red, two-metre high welcome to the 13,000 delegates to the 20th International AIDS Conference.
Below the carefully crafted sign is an inconspicuous but equally powerful hand-written message : “ R.I.P. In memory of the many lives sadly lost on the way to beautiful Melbourne,” and alongside it an ever-growing number of flower bouquets and flickering candles, a touching makeshift memorial to the six conference delegates who were among the 298 victims of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17…The deaths of a half-dozen activists and scientists – and that of renowned AIDS researcher Joep Lange in particular – have struck a chord because of the cruel manner in which they occurred and because they come at a time when there is such a sense of hope about reining in the pandemic.
- CP - First Nation pulls out of hearings into Grand Rapids oil sands pipeline
An aboriginal group that lives in northern Alberta’s oil sands region has withdrawn from a regulatory hearing into the proposed Grand Rapids crude pipeline, but the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation vowed to explore other ways to fight the $3-billion project.
The ACFN announced late Tuesday it would no longer be participating in the Alberta Energy Regulator’s process, which it criticized as too rushed and skewed in favour of the oil industry. Landowners along the proposed route raised similar concerns when hearings kicked off last month…“The AER put us in an impossible position. I am dumbfounded by this process,” chief Allan Adam said in a statement… “It is supposed to be the test of the new regulatory regime for oil and gas and pipelines in Alberta. Yet it has seriously undermined our efforts to address any concerns about First Nations impacts.”
- LAT - U.S. sends first planeload of moms, children back to Honduras
A chartered flight that landed here Monday was the first carrying only mothers and children deported by the U.S. as it tries to stem a wave of migration from Central America that has overwhelmed U.S. border officials. U.S. officials said there would be many more.
While Honduran officials were trying to put the best face on the process, one human rights worker termed the exodus of thousands in search of jobs or safety from rampant violence, and their forced return by the United States, “a great tragedy.”
Critics said Honduran government inaction was largely responsible and that the welcome in San Pedro Sula, a city sometimes called the murder capital of the world, was mostly a show. Despite the government's promise of job leads, a $500 stipend, psychological counseling and schooling, returning mother Angelica Galvez said she wasn't expecting much.
“They haven't helped me before,” said Galvez, 31, who was traveling with her 6-year-old daughter, Abigail. “Why should I believe them now?”
- NYT - On Southern Border, Mexico Faces Crisis of Its Own
For years, Mexico’s most closely watched border was its northern one, which generations of Mexican migrants have crossed seeking employment and refuge in the United States. But the sudden surge of child migrants from Central America, many of them traveling alone, has cast scrutiny south, to the 600-mile border separating Mexico and Guatemala.
Now Mexico finds itself whipsawing between compassion and crackdown as it struggles with a migration crisis of its own. While the public is largely sympathetic to migrants and deeply critical of the United States’ hard-line immigration policies, officials are under pressure from their neighbors to the north and south as they try to cope with the influx. As a result, they are taking measures that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.Mexico has quietly stepped up the pace of deportation of migrants, some of them unaccompanied children. It announced plans to stop people from boarding freight trains north and will open five new border control stations along routes favored by migrants.
- Miami Herald - Rio Olympics organizers can glean lessons from Brazil’s World Cup
Despite misgivings about everything from security to transportation to whether stadiums would be finished on time, Brazil managed to pull off a successful FIFA World Cup. That’s a positive omen for the Aug. 5-21, 2016 Olympics and Sept. 7-18 Paralympics.
“Brazil and Brazilians can be proud,’’ Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, said of Brazil’s World Cup hosting efforts.
Bach met with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia just as the month-long World Cup was coming to a close. He said she assured him that as of last Monday — the day after the World Cup final — hosting the Olympics would be a top priority for the government.
If the World Cup was big for Brazil, the Olympics will be even bigger for Rio de Janeiro. Instead of 64 soccer matches spread over 12 Brazilian cities that were played by 736 athletes, Rio will host 16,000 athletes competing in 65 Olympic and Paralympic championships.