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


This diary is named for its "Hump Point" video: I've Been Loving You Too Long by Otis Redding

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
Worldwide water shortage by 2040, new studies suggest

By Brooks Hays
. . .

The projections are based on current usage rates and the increasing reliance upon water for hydroelectricity and cooling more traditional power plants. As the need for water continues to grow, both for quenching the thirst of growing populations and as a source of energy, pressure on finite resources will eventually instigate an shortage.

Researchers with Aarhus University in Denmark, as well as analysts at the Vermont Law School and the Virginia-based non profit CNA Corporation, predict these imbalances will beset more than a third of the globe by 2020, and virtually all of it by 2040. The studies suggest previous water shortage predictions fail to account for the vast amounts of water it takes cool much of the world's power systems -- coal, gas and nuclear power plants.

. . .

Sovacool and colleagues suggest world leaders act fast to address these impending shortages by: improving energy efficiency; developing more efficient cooling cycles; tracking water use by power plants; abandoning fossil fuel facilities in water-stressed regions; and boosting investments in wind and solar energy.

"If we keep doing business as usual, we are facing an insurmountable water shortage -- even if water was free, because it's not a matter of the price," Sovacool added.

Obama’s coal-leasing program is costing taxpayers more than $50 billion

By Ben Adler
. . .

The Bureau of Land Management has leased 2.2 billion tons of publicly owned coal during the Obama administration, unlocking 3.9 billion metric tons of carbon pollution. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of over 825 million passenger vehicles, and more than the 3.7 billion tons that was emitted in the entire European Union in 2012. …

. . .

The carbon pollution from publicly owned coal leased during the Obama administration will cause damages estimated at between $52 billion and $530 billion, using the federal government’s social cost of carbon estimates. In contrast, the total amount of revenue generated from those coal leases sales was $2.3 billion. …

The federal coal leasing program is the source of 40% of US coal extraction. One BLM field office in Wyoming recently proposed a plan that estimates new coal leases amounting to 10.2 billion tons, which would unlock an estimated 16.9 billion metric tons of carbon pollution.

. . .

It’s also a bait-and-switch on climate change. If we produce enough coal on federal land to create the equivalent annual emissions of 825 million cars, we’re not doing the climate any favors by simply getting someone else to burn it. Yes, China will still need to get its electricity from somewhere. But if we left that coal in the ground, constraining global coal supplies, China might find it too expensive to get energy from coal and instead more aggressively build up its renewable sector or find greater energy efficiencies. (And some of this coal is still burned within the U.S., so we’re not entirely off the hook on that charge either.)

Taliban In Pakistan Derail World Polio Eradication

By Jason Beaubien
. . .

Today the militant group continues to threaten to kill not only vaccinators but also parents who get their children immunized. That threat has had a chilling effect on anti-polio efforts nationwide. And it completely halted vaccination drives in some Taliban-controlled areas. It's in these places that the crippling virus has come roaring back — and threatened to stymie global efforts to wipe out polio.

The worldwide campaign to eradicate polio has been going on for more than two decades. It has cost more than $10 billion. Now the success of the campaign hinges on whether Pakistan can control the virus.

. . .

The polio problem in Pakistan right now is a result of the CIA's actions in the country, says Mufti Muneeb Ur Rehman, a prominent and moderate cleric in Pakistan. He personally accepts the polio vaccine. He encourages people at his mosque to get their kids vaccinated.

"But there are certain areas in Pakistan where the people resist [the polio vaccine] because the CIA used the polio campaign for intelligence purposes," he says.

Like many Pakistanis, Ur Rehman erroneously says the CIA operation against bin Laden used a polio campaign for cover, even though it actually used a fake hepatitis B campaign. "The one who can use hepatitis for intelligence," he says, "they can use polio for intelligence."

Former NSA chief to profit from patented hacker detection tech, charging clients $1M a month

By Xeni Jardin
Keith Alexander, the former director of the National Security Administration, is filing for tech security patents related to his work running the NSA.

. . .

Is it ethical for an NSA chief to pursue patents on technologies directly related to their work running the agency? He is believed to be the first former NSA director do so. Will the Justice Department investigate? Don't hold your breath.

. . .

The answer, Alexander said in an interview Monday, is a new technology, based on a patented and "unique" approach to detecting malicious hackers and cyber-intruders that the retired Army general said he has invented, along with his business partners at IronNet Cybersecurity Inc., the company he co-founded after leaving the government and retiring from military service in March. But the technology is also directly informed by the years of experience Alexander has had tracking hackers, and the insights he gained from classified operations as the director of the NSA, which give him a rare competitive advantage over the many firms competing for a share of the cybersecurity market.
Ukraine rebel chief Igor Bezler threatens to execute interviewer

By Shaun Walker
With a walrus moustache, a fiery temper and a reputation for brutality, Igor Bezler is the most feared of all the rebel leaders in eastern Ukraine. Nicknamed Bes, or “the Demon”, he is regarded as something of a loose cannon, even by other rebels, who speak about him in hushed tones. If the Ukrainian security services, the SBU, are to be believed, the Demon and a group of his men were responsible for shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over the region a fortnight ago.

According to the recording of a phone call allegedly made two minutes before the disaster, the Demon was told: “A bird is flying towards you.” He asked whether it was small or big, and was told that it was hard to see, as it was flying high above the clouds. In another recording, apparently made 20 minutes later, the Demon reported to his interlocutor, supposedly a Russian intelligence official, that a plane had been shot down. Bezler said the recording was real, but referred to a different incident: as well as allegedly bringing down MH17, the rebels have shot down 10 Ukrainian aircraft.

. . .

The rebels have a healthy supply of weaponry and, if Kiev is believed, are still receiving shipments from Russia. But they are no match for the sheer size of the Ukrainian army and the various volunteer regiments fighting on Kiev’s side, whatever state of disarray the government forces may be in.

Deep down, they all expect to die here. One of the Demon’s men, a jovial Muscovite, gave us a number to call so we could tell his relatives where to find his body when he is killed. None of his family knew he had come to Ukraine to fight. “There is nowhere for us to go now. We will fight until the end, until the last drop of our blood is spilled and the last one of us is dead,” he said.

The question is how much more civilian blood will be spilled before that happens.

Chinese hackers steal Israel’s Iron Dome missile data

By Samuel Gibbs
. . .

The state-sponsored Comment Crew hacking group, thought to operate out of China, was responsible for attacks from 2011 onwards on three Israeli defence technology companies Elisra Group, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems (Rads) all involved with the Iron Dome project.

The Iron Dome is Israel’s advanced anti-missile defence system – part funded to the tune of $1bn by the US government. It fires missiles to intercept rockets and artillery shells fired from between 2.5 miles and 43 miles away into populated areas, commonly described as a missile shield.

. . .

Among the documents stolen from IAI were detailed schematics and specifications for the US-designed Arrow 3 missile, which is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations and a key component of Iron Dome, as well as drones and other rockets.

. . .

“The real victims here are the people on the other end who are put in harm’s way because of poor posture on security and the lack of urgency coming from a lot of folks on how to fix this problem,” said Drissel. “So many companies have become accustomed to low-budget IT costs. But the reality is that if you have certain sensitive information, you’ve got to spend a certain amount of money to secure it.”

USA Politics, Economy, Major Events
Scientists reveal the secrets of mysterious ship found under 9/11 ruins

By Jesus Diaz
Scientists have found the secrets of the old ship unearthed in 2010 under the ruins of the Twin Towers. First, the large vessel—buried under 22 feet (6.7 meters) of soil and wreckage—was built around the same time the Declaration of Independence was signed. There's more—but there's also one big mystery left unsolved.

By comparing the wood's ring patterns with the historical record, researchers at Columbia's Tree Ring Lab led by Dr Martin-Benito found that the ship was built in a Philadelphia shipyard around 1773. Most importantly, the rings matched samples from Independence Hall—the building where the founding fathers signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.

. . .

Past analysis of the wood also found burrowing holes produced by a worm plague, which researchers think the ship got in a trip to the Caribbean. Dr Martin-Benito believe that this was the reason why the ship suffered a premature death on the coast of Manhattan.

NCAA offers settlement in athlete concussion cases

By (BBC)
The US collegiate sport authority has offered to settle 10 lawsuits by former athletes who suffered concussions with a $70m (£41.3m) medical fund.

The money from the National Collegiate Athletic Association would be used to test and diagnose current and former athletes who played within the past 50 years for the effects of head trauma.

It would also tighten rules on returning to play after a concussion.

. . .

The sports covered under the settlement, which must be approved by a federal judge, include American football, men's and women's hockey, football, and other contact sports

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:
. . .

Were you in the music business before you joined Stax? No. I used to be a well driller. I made a $1.25 an hour, drilling wells in Macon, Georgia. One day I drove a friend of mine, Johnny Jenkins, up to do a recording session. They had thirty minutes left in the studio and I asked if I could do a song, "These Arms Of Mine." They did it and it sold about 800,000 copies. I've been going ever since. I wrote that song in 1960 when I wasn't even thinking of the music business. I recorded it in November 1962. I tried the song out with a small recording company but it didn't do anything. I knew it was saying something, though. I dug the words.

. . .

Why do you think white blues performers are so much more successful than the originals? Because the white population is much larger than the colored. I like what these rock and roll kids are doing. Sometimes they take things from us, but I take things from them, too. The things that are beautiful, and they do a lot of beautiful things.

What's the difference between the Stax sound and the Motown sound? Motown does a lot of overdubbing. It's mechanically done. At Stax the rule is: whatever you feel, play it. We cut everything together — horns, rhythm, and vocal. We'll do it three or four times, go back and listen to the results and pick the best one. If somebody doesn't like a line in the song, we'll go back and cut the whole song over. Until last year, we didn't even have a four-track tape recorder.

Do you think R&B has changed a great deal? Yes. I'd like to say something to the R&B singers who were around ten years ago. They've got to get out of the old bag. Listen to the beat of today and use it on records. Don't say we're gonna go back ten years and use this old swing shuffle. That's not it. . .

Back to what's happening:
Environment and Greening
This huge corporation is tackling climate change — because it’s a threat to the bottom line

By James West
General Mills was branded a “clear laggard” by climate activists for not doing enough to cut its carbon footprint. Oxfam International accused the company of dragging its feet on reducing so-called “scope 3″ greenhouse gas emissions — those not directly controlled by the company, but essential in making its products; for example, emissions from a farm contracted by General Mills to grow the oats that eventually wind up in your cereal bowl. Oxfam also faulted the company for not using its clout to engage directly with governments to “positively influence climate change policy.”
As a global food company, General Mills recognizes the risks that climate change presents to humanity, our environment and our livelihoods. Changes in climate not only affect global food security but also impact General Mills’ raw material supply which, in turn, affects our ability to deliver quality, finished product to our consumers and ultimately, value to our shareholders.
. . .

In another big step, the company also announced Monday that it will join Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy “to advocate more closely with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation,” according to the company. The group of 31 companies (including big guns like eBay and Starbucks) is run by the nonprofit Ceres, and is designed to help businesses directly lobby policymakers on issues like renewable energy, green transportation, and pollution controls on power plants. Ceres also campaigns to get companies and investors to adopt more sustainable environmental practices.

Australia approves $15.5bn coal and rail project

By (BBC)
. . .

The Carmichael project in Queensland would include one of the world's biggest coal mines and a new railway.

. . .

The decision to approve the Carmichael project, which will dig up and transport about 60m tonnes of coal a year for export, mostly to India, was announced on Monday.

. . .

Separately, environmentalists are also concerned about extensions to the deepwater port at Abbott Point, where Adani already has approval to build a coal export terminal.

In January, Australian authorities approved the dumping of dredged sediment in the Great Barrier Reef marine park as part of an Abbott Point coal port extension project.

Science and Health
Rats Experience Feelings of Regret

By Fikri Birey
A new study shows for the first time that rats regret bad decisions and learn from them. In addition to existentialist suggestions of a rat’s regret — and what that takes away from, or adds to, being “human” — the study is highly relevant to basic brain research. Researchers demonstrated that we can tap into complex internal states of rodents if we hone in on the right behavior and the right neurons. There is a significant literature on what brain regions are representative of certain states, like reward predictions and value calculations, but the study, powered by a novel behavioral test, is able to put together such discrete behavioral correlates into a “rat” definition of regret.

. . .

A fascinating conclusion of these recordings revealed a subtle subtext of human regret that is mirrored in rats. Studies of regret in humans show that people regret miscalculated actions more than the missed outcomes — i.e a gambler feels more regret over misplaying a hand than over how much money she lost.

 In an effort to see if rats had a similar cognitive structure of regret, investigators first examined the neural activity signatures in the OFC and vStr in two separate instances: when a rat entered a zone and when it received a reward. When compared to the activity signatures at the moment of regret (based on when a rat turned and looked at the missed opportunity), it was the signature of zone, not of the regret, that lit up in the respective brain regions: Rats regret having skipped the zone more than having not received the reward.

Mortality rates increase due to extreme heat and cold

By (ScienceDaily)
increase in the number of deaths caused by heart failure or stroke. This has been confirmed by epidemiological studies conducted by researchers at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, who have now published their results in the medical journal Heart.

. . .

The mechanisms that cause these deaths, however, are not yet fully understood. Up to now it has been known that high temperatures, amongst other things, can affect the blood-clotting mechanism (haemostasis) and make the blood more viscous, thereby increasing the risk of thrombosis. Furthermore, as decreasing temperatures have an impact on blood pressure, it can be assumed that there is a link between cold temperatures and the increase in cardiovascular events and stroke.

. . .

The scientists plan to conduct further research into the mechanisms that may be responsible for the health effects observed during cold and, in particular, hot temperatures. They are also interested in possible interactions with air pollutants, which are required in order to predict the effects of climate change on the health of the population, especially in cities and in major conurbations.

Fruit and veg: More than five-a-day 'no effect'

By Helen Briggs
An analysis of 16 worldwide studies suggested that for every portion of fruit and vegetables consumed, there was a lower risk of premature death.

But after five portions a day, there was no further impact, researchers report in The BMJ.

. . .

 "This analysis provides further evidence that a higher consumption of fruit and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality, particularly cardiovascular mortality," said the team, led by Prof Frank Hu, of Harvard School of Public Health, in Boston, US.

Running just seven minutes a day 'cuts risk of dying from heart disease'

Running for just a few minutes each day can reduce the risk of dying from heart disease, research has shown.

. . .

The findings, from a study of 55,137 adults aged 18 to 100, suggest that healthy exercise does not necessarily have to be exhausting or time-consuming.

. . .

Runners, who made up just under a quarter of the study population, had a 30% lower risk of death from all causes and a 45% lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke than non-runners. They also lived an average three years longer.

. . .

"Running may be a better exercise option than more moderate intensity exercises for healthy but sedentary people since it produces similar, if not greater, mortality benefits in five to 10 minutes compared to the 15 to 20 minutes per day of moderate intensity activity that many find too time consuming."

Using TV, videos or a computer game as a stress reducer after a tough day at work can lead to feelings of guilt and failure

By (ScienceDaily)
t seems common practice: After a long day at work, most people sometimes just want to turn on the TV or play a video or computer game to calm down and relax. However, in a study recently published in the Journal of Communication researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany and VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands found that people who were highly stressed after work did not feel relaxed or recovered when they watched TV or played computer or video games. Instead, they tended to show increased levels of guilt and feelings of failure.

. . .

The results suggest a paradoxical pattern between depletion and media-induced recovery: Those who could have benefited the most from recovery through media use instead experienced less recovery because they were more prone to think of their media use as a failure in self-control.

. . .

"We are beginning to better understand that media use can have beneficial effects for people's well-being through media-induced recovery. Our present study is an important step towards a deeper understanding of this. It demonstrates that in real life the relationship between media use and well-being is complicated and that the use of media may conflict with other, less pleasurable but more important duties and goals in everyday life," said Dr. Leonard Reinecke, lead author of the study. "We are starting to look at media use as a cause of depletion. In times of smartphones and mobile Internet, the ubiquitous availability of content and communication often seems to be a burden and a stressor rather than a recovery resource."

US government increases funding for Tor, giving $1.8m in 2013

By Alex Hern
. . .

According to the Tor Project's latest annual financial statements, the organisation received $1,822,907 from the US government in 2013. The bulk of that came in the form of "pass-through" grants, money which ultimately comes from the US government distributed through some independent third-party.

Formerly known as "the onion router", Tor is software which allows its users to browse the internet anonymously. It works by bouncing connections through encrypted "relays", preventing any eavesdropper from determining what sites a particular user is visiting, or from determining who the users of a particular site actually are. That makes it popular amongst organisations trying to promote freedom of speech in nations like China and Syria – but also popular amongst users trying to evade surveillance in the West.

. . .

The continued funding of Tor by the American government, including (indirectly) the Department of Defense, stands in stark contrast to the Guardian's revelation in October 2013 that the National Security Agency and GCHQ were attempting to destroy the network. Documents obtained by the Guardian detailed proof-of-concept attacks designed to either bring down the Tor network entirely, or to de-anomymise users.

Vodafone chairman promises to protect customers' right to privacy

By Juliette Garside
Vodafone's chairman, Gerard Kleisterlee, has promised to protect the right to privacy, saying the mobile network will engage with the UK government's review of how the intelligence agencies intercept and collect data on its customers.

. . .

The home secretary, Theresa May, has asked the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson QC, to lead a review of the interception and data collection powers required by law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and the legal framework under which they operate.

. . .

The campaign group Access urged the firm to reduce the number of countries which use secret wires to gain access all data on its network without warrants. Peter Micek of Access said: "Vodafone have already called for an end to unfettered access. Put some action behind those words and announce five years from not that it's no longer happening."

"Confused Cats Against Feminism" Is the Purrfect Response to "Women Against Feminism"

By Rebecca Cohen
The Tumblr Women Against Feminism has inspired scores of think pieces decrying its misuse of the term "feminist." Yet when David Futrelle saw the collection of photos of women holding handwritten signs like "I don't need feminism because I am not a victim," it reminded him of his cats.

. . .

So last Thursday, Futrelle posed his felines next to Women Against Feminism-style signs, snapped a picture, and launched his own Tumblr: Confused Cats Against Feminism. . .

. . .

The Chicago resident thinks his project taps a deep vein of exasperation among feminists that goes beyond the outrage over Women Against Feminism. "A lot of women and feminists are frustrated at trying to respond to arguments that are disingenuous or just weird and silly," he says. "Part of what's fun about the blog is to say, Look, we're just gonna respond with cats."

The most successful posts, he says, "manage to tap into cat logic" or "capture the cats' desire to be pampered and protected, which is the complaint that some people have about the Women Against Feminism blog." His favorite submission so far is a cat sprawling on its back, exposing a patch of fur the size and color of a chocolate chip cookie on its stomach. "I DON'T NEED FEMINISM BECAUSE...COOKIE BELLY," the text reads.

A century ago, Detroit’s “potato patch mayor” knew how to ride out hard times

By Heather Smith
. . .

. . .

No one knew quite what to do. America had just sprawled itself out along the path of the railroad, without imagining that this amazing technology boom might not last forever. Farmers began to go under because they couldn’t get their goods to market, and people in cities began to go hungry because they couldn’t afford the food that was still being shipped in from the countryside. Nearly half of Michigan’s population was unemployed.

. . .

Pingree repaved the entire city, built the city’s first municipal power plant, added 68 miles of municipal rail lines, and developed a large-scale public works program. He paid for it all by bringing in an assessor to see if property taxes were being calculated fairly all over the city. They weren’t — as it turned out, speculators were being assessed at about half the rate that homeowners were, and companies that were headquartered in Detroit were evading taxes by listing their main business address as a shack built just outside the city limits.

But it was Pingree’s wife, Frances, who came up with the idea that Pingree is most often remembered for. She noticed that the still-growing city was patchworked with vacant lots. If people were hungry and unemployed all over the city, why couldn’t the lots be turned into temporary vegetable gardens until the recession was over?

The measure was popular with would-be gardeners, though less popular with the people who actually owned the vacant lots. Hazen Pingree managed to secure the loan of 500 acres across the city — only a third of the amount needed to supply the 3,000 families that had applied for half-acre garden plots, but still better than nothing. After a call for donations to help pay for seed and equipment yielded minuscule donations, Pingree auctioned off his prize saddle horse as a combination PR stunt/fundraiser/shaming gesture. By the time the autumn harvest yielded a bumper crop, the mayor had a new nickname: “Potato Patch Pingree.”

Zaatari Syrian refugee camp fertile ground for small businesses

By Dale Gavlak
. . .

The entrepreneurial acumen of Syrians, like Mr Harib, championing their own grassroots businesses have helped to transform the camp of 85,000 into Jordan's fifth biggest city, while turning a profit for many as well.

. . .

Although sprawling and slum-like, the lively camp boasts of home-grown barber shops, wedding rentals, vegetable stalls and even a travel agency and pizza delivery service.

. . .

Kilian Kleinschmidt says with international funding low for aid, he and others are turning to the private sector for help - not for funds, but creative ideas and innovative technologies to assist the refugees.

Mr Kleinschmidt is working with municipal engineers in Marseilles for solutions to the camp's water and sewage problems, while the head of transport for Amsterdam -Zaatari's twin city - is drawing up proposals from the private sector to put in proper transportation.

. . .

There is a "new breed of corporate involvement in humanitarian work targeting refugees where they realise there is a real potential for profit," said Overseas Development Institute's Steve Zyck.

England's Moeen Ali warned over pro-Gaza Test wristbands

By (BBC)
England batsman Moeen Ali has been warned not to wear wristbands showing support for Gaza during the third Test with India any more.

 The 27-year-old wore bands saying "Free Palestine" and "Save Gaza" on the second day in Southampton.

. . .

 The ICC added: "Moeen Ali was told by the match referee that whilst he is free to express his views on such causes away from the cricket field, he is not permitted to wear the wristbands on the field of play and warned not to wear the bands again during an international match."

. . .

 According to Rule 19F of the ICC Clothing and Equipment Rules and Regulations, players should not convey messages with their clothing unless approved in advance by the player's official board, but approval would not be granted for political messages.

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