Welcome to the Overnight News Digest with a crew consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors side pocket, maggiejean, Chitown Kev, eeff, Magnifico, annetteboardman, Besame, jck, and JeremyBloom. Alumni editors include (but not limited to) Interceptor 7, Man Oh Man, wader, Neon Vincent, palantir, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse (RIP), ek hornbeck (RIP), rfall, ScottyUrb, Doctor RJ, BentLiberal, Oke (RIP) and jlms qkw.
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 each day near 12:00 AM Eastern Time.
Nations contributing least to greenhouse gas emissions are least equipped to deal with climate-related destruction
...Loss and damage refers to the irreversible costs of extreme weather and slow-onset disasters such as sea level rise, ocean acidification and melting glaciers caused by global heating. It is about holding the biggest fossil fuel polluters liable for the pain and suffering already caused by climate breakdown. Climate finance for loss and damage is considered separately, and in addition to, securing funds for mitigation and adaptation to help developing nations prepare for what is coming.
...For more than 30 years, developed rich countries have used an array of tactics to block loss and damage funding to the most affected – and least responsible – nations. Finally, last year at the Cop27 summit in Egypt, there was a formal agreement to establish a new, broad fund and funding arrangements.
The victory was thanks in large part to the Egyptian Cop27 presidency and unwavering pressure from the G77 block of developing countries (plus China) led by Pakistan, where unprecedented floods had left a third of the country under water. But agreeing to set up the fund was just the first step.
The agreement was expected at the opening of the summit, five diplomats told POLITICO — leaving delegates with one less thing to argue about.
Countries are poised to seal a hard-fought agreement on Thursday for the creation of an international fund to help communities rebuild from climate-driven calamities, giving the U.N. climate talks a bit of a win on their opening day.
The hosts of the summit, known as COP28, released a draft agreement on Wednesday that would accept wholesale the recommendations a handful of countries adopted earlier this month. It includes a provision, demanded by the United States, that says all contributions to the fund are voluntary.
...Still to be decided: How much money the fund should contain and where the cash should come from. At this point, the draft “invites” developed countries to lead in providing financial resources to start up the fund. None have yet provided firm pledges.
A deal on the first day would remove a long-running point of conflict from the conference agenda. That, in turn, would allow delegates to focus talks on the root cause of the carnage: the burning of fossil fuels. It would be a positive sign for a conference facing headwinds from geopolitical upheaval, a bullish fossil fuel industry, and climate activists’ complaints that a major petro-state is hosting the gathering.
Bye bye, war criminal
The infamy of Nixon's foreign-policy architect sits, eternally, beside that of history's worst mass murderers. A deeper shame attaches to the country that celebrates him
Henry Kissinger died on Wednesday at his home in Connecticut, his consulting firm said in a statement. The notorious war criminal was 100.
...The Yale University historian Greg Grandin, author of the biography Kissinger’s Shadow, estimates that Kissinger’s actions from 1969 through 1976, a period of eight brief years when Kissinger made Richard Nixon’s and then Gerald Ford’s foreign policy as national security adviser and secretary of state, meant the end of between three and four million people. That includes “crimes of commission,” he explained, as in Cambodia and Chile, and omission, like greenlighting Indonesia’s bloodshed in East Timor; Pakistan’s bloodshed in Bangladesh; and the inauguration of an American tradition of using and then abandoning the Kurds.
“The Cubans say there is no evil that lasts a hundred years, and Kissinger is making a run to prove them wrong,” Grandin told Rolling Stone not long before Kissinger died. “There is no doubt he’ll be hailed as a geopolitical grand strategist, even though he bungled most crises, leading to escalation. He’ll get credit for opening China, but that was De Gaulle’s original idea and initiative. He’ll be praised for detente, and that was a success, but he undermined his own legacy by aligning with the neocons. And of course, he’ll get off scot free from Watergate, even though his obsession with Daniel Ellsberg really drove the crime.”
...No infamy will find Kissinger on a day like today. Instead, in a demonstration of why he was able to kill so many people and get away with it, the day of his passage will be a solemn one in Congress and — shamefully, since Kissinger had reporters like CBS’ Marvin Kalb and The New York Times‘ Hendrick Smith wiretapped — newsrooms. Kissinger, a refugee from the Nazis who became a pedigreed member of the “Eastern Establishment” Nixon hated, was a practitioner of American greatness, and so the press lionized him as the cold-blooded genius who restored America’s prestige from the agony of Vietnam.
A growing number of Senate Democrats appear open to making it harder for migrants to seek asylum in order to secure Republican support for aiding Ukraine and Israel.
They are motivated not just by concern for America’s embattled allies. They also believe changes are needed to help a migration crisis that is growing more dire and to potentially dull the political sting of border politics in battleground states before the 2024 elections.
“Look, I think the border needs some attention. I am one that thinks it doesn’t hurt,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), one of the Senate’s most vulnerable Democrats in next year’s election.
But the chief negotiators separately indicated Tuesday they’re not yet close to an agreement. The White House and Democrats are resisting changes to the humanitarian parole system, including forcing migrants to remain in Mexico or other countries while they await entry into the United States, according to a person briefed on the talks. And Republicans won’t allow Democrats’ priorities on undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers” to be part of the discussions.
Oh, and also… there have been a ton of articles lately about a “collapse” in EV demand — most quoting only statistics on how long EVs sit on the lots of dealers who are disinclined to try to sell them — which somehow fail to mention actual statistics on how many EVs are actually selling….
U.S. sales of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery-electric vehicles reached 17.7% of new light-duty vehicle sales in the third quarter, according to the Energy Information Administration.
- U.S. consumers purchasing new light-duty cars or trucks are increasingly considering electric vehicles, which are on pace to make up 9% of sales this year according to data from EV Hub, a tracker run by Atlas Public Policy. EVs, including plug-in hybrids, accounted for 7.3% sales in 2022.
- Combined U.S. sales of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery-electric vehicles reached 17.7% of new light-duty vehicle sales in the third quarter, according to the Energy Information Administration. Experts say the figure illustrates growing consumer interest in the range of benefits provided by EVs and other efficient vehicles.
- Despite a spate of news articles lamenting slower EV uptake, observers say the data may not bear out that narrative as supply chain shortages are alleviated. “I don’t see sales lagging at all,” said Joel Levin, executive director of Plug In America.
The Verge — Tens of billions of dollars of IRA funding will now be earmarked for environmental justice
The Biden administration is officially folding Inflation Reduction Act programs into its environmental justice initiative
Programs totaling $118 billion in federal funding through the Inflation Reduction Act will now have to ensure that at least 40 percent of the benefits they produce flow into disadvantaged communities in the US. The Biden administration updated its list today of federal programs included within its Justice40 Initiative, a document it shared first with The Verge.
President Joe Biden launched the Justice40 program with an executive order in 2021. It stipulates that the “overall benefits of certain Federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.” To be clear, that doesn’t mean that 40 percent of the funding will be designated for those groups, just the “benefits” (more on that later).
The list of federal programs covered by the initiative includes — for the first time — measures funded through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed last year. Altogether, the 74 new IRA programs represent $118 billion in federal funding. That includes programs aimed at reducing pollution, promoting clean energy and workforce development, restoring habitats, and helping communities adapt to the consequences of climate change like more intense heatwaves and wildfire seasons.
Just a reminder… as the climate warms, more moisture goes into the air, leading to more and more heavy precipitation events…
Significant winter weather hit communities across the interior Northeast on Wednesday morning, causing at least one fatal road accident.
As expected, more than 40 inches of snow fell over the past two days over parts of the Great Lakes and interior Northeast in the first significant lake-effect snow event of the season.
The heaviest snowfall was recorded at Constableville, New York, where 42.7 inches landed.
Photos shared by the weather service showed low visibility and nearly white-out conditions due to the snow and wind.
Frost- and freeze-related advisories are in place from the Florida Panhandle to south Georgia as temperatures may dip again Thursday morning to near or below the freezing mark, which could damage or kill sensitive crops, the weather service warned.
A new kind of geothermal plant will feed the power grid that serves two Google data centers in Nevada.
Google is partnering with startup Fervo, which has developed new technology for harnessing geothermal power. Since they’re using different tactics than traditional geothermal plants, it is a relatively small project with the capacity to generate 3.5 MW. For context, one megawatt is enough to meet the demand of roughly 750 homes. The project will feed electricity into the local grid that serves two of Google’s data centers outside of Las Vegas and Reno.
It’s part of Google’s plan to run on carbon pollution-free electricity around the clock by 2030. To reach that goal, it’ll have to get more sources of clean energy online. And it sees geothermal as a key part of the future electricity mix that can fill in whenever wind and solar energy wane.
“If you think about how much we advanced wind and solar and lithium ion storage, here we are — this is kind of the next set of stuff and we feel like companies have a huge role to play in advancing these technologies,” says Michael Terrell, senior director of energy and climate at Google.
...Unlike wind and solar farms that are sensitive to weather and time of day, geothermal projects can generate electricity on a more consistent basis. That’s one reason why Google is working to bring more projects like this online.
Just a few short years ago, the idea of manufacturing EV batteries in the US was fraught with hurdles, with one key issue being the absence of a domestic lithium pipeline. The supply chain is still problematic to the extent that it involves digging new surface mines, but an alternative solution has been emerging in the form of geothermal brine, and the US Department of Energy is pulling out all the stops to promote it.
...The Salton Sea in California has been one key focus of DLE activity in the US, and now the Department of Energy has put some hard numbers on the lithium resources at hand in the area.
On Tuesday, the Department of Energy released the results of an analysis of Salton Sea lithium resources conducted by its Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The lab found that new DLE technology could lead to the production of more than 3,400 kilotons of lithium, or enough to manufacture more than 375 million EV batteries.
It’s tempting to think of the Great Enshittening – in which all the internet services we enjoyed and came to rely upon became suddenly and irreversibly terrible – as the result of moral decay. That is, it’s tempting to think that the people who gave us the old, good internet did so because they were good people, and the people who enshittified it did so because they are shitty people.
But the services that defined the old, good internet weren’t designed or maintained by individuals; they were created by institutions – mostly for-profit companies, but also non-profits, government and military agencies and academic and research facilities. Institutions are made up of individuals, of course, but the thing that makes an institution institutional is that no one person can direct it. The actions of an institution are the result of its many individual constituent parts, both acting in concert, and acting against one another.
In other words: institutional action is the result of its individuals resolving their conflicts. Institutional action is the net results of wheedling, horse-trading, solidarity, skullduggery, power-moves, trickery, coercion, rational argument, love, spite, ferocity, and indifference among the institution’s members.
...Every institutional action can be thought of as a victory lap for the winner of an internal struggle. The enshittification of the services we once loved and still rely on represents a series of victories for the forces of evil over the forces of good – a victory for the people who want to use the internet to trap us, over the people who want to use the internet to set us free.
De-orbiting SpaceX rockets are smashing temporary holes in the upper atmosphere, creating bright blobs of light in the sky. Now, scientists have warned that these "SpaceX auroras," which look like glowing red orbs of light, could be causing unrecognized problems — though they are not a threat to the environment or life on Earth.
Researchers have known for decades that launching rockets into space can punch holes in the upper ionosphere — the part of the atmosphere between 50 and 400 miles (80 and 644 kilometers) above Earth's surface where gas is ionized, or stripped of electrons. These "ionospheric holes" can excite gas molecules in this part of the atmosphere and trigger vibrant streaks of red, aurora-like light.
For example, in July, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which was carrying Starlink satellites into orbit, ripped open a hole above Arizona that made the sky bleed. And, in September, a U.S. Space Force rocket accidentally punched an ionospheric hole above California, which created a faint red glow.Now, astronomers at the McDonald Observatory in Texas have spotted similar but unique red lights appearing long after SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets have left Earth's atmosphere. These lights, which are smaller and more spherical than the long streaks created by launching rockets, are the result of ionospheric holes carved out by the rockets' secondary boosters as they fall back to Earth after detaching from the rockets, Spaceweather.com reported.
The way Pacific Islanders used to navigate using only cues found in the environment may seem irrelevant today. But natural navigation still holds surprising lessons.
...Wayfinding – the art of navigating using the wind, stars, ocean swells, and other environmental cues – was how sailors from the Marquesas Islands first discovered Hawaii more than 1,500 years ago. Over time, however, wayfinding all but vanished throughout the Pacific, in large part because colonial powers banned canoe travel or forced compasses and other navigational tools onto their subjects. By the time the Hokule'a was seaworthy, it had been over 600 years since Hawaiians regularly practised wayfinding.
… Today, there are numerous organisations throughout the Pacific dedicated to the art of canoe making, open ocean voyaging, and wayfinding. "It's about making sure that the knowledge that we've gained over the years from Mau and all the other voyagers is going to carry on to the next generations," says Junior Coleman, who is in charge of sailing and seamanship at one such society, called 500 Sails, in Saipan.
Wayfinding is how humans have found their way for most of our existence. It's what enabled the Aboriginals, Arab nomads, and Inuits to journey across monotonous yet shifting landscapes of land, desert, and ice. But it was the sailors of the South Sea – those from Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia – whose voyages were most impressive in terms of distance. Despite being spread across a bewilderingly vast ocean three times the size of Europe, Pacific Islanders regularly journeyed in their canoes to fish, trade, and discover new lands.
...But because stars aren't always visible on a cloudy night and during the day, navigators learn to steer in other ways too. Wind direction is an important cue, as are certain species of bird, which allow you to estimate how close you are to land. The brown noddy, a type of tern, has a foraging range of under 40 miles (64km), for instance, while its cousin the white fairy tern can fly three times as far. "They help us hone in on our target because when you see them at sunrise or sunset, they're either flying from an island [to their fishing grounds] or back to it," says Murphy.
And speaking of those who embark on perilous and lengthy journeys…
Hobbits are famously hungry, eating up to seven meals a day, including two dinners when they can get it. So when a science-fiction convention brought the four principal actors who played Hobbits in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy to San Francisco, it’s perhaps no surprise that they reconvened over an elaborate dinner.
Dominic Monaghan, who played Merry in the films, posted a picture to Instagram Sunday night showing himself seated next to Sean Astin (Samwise) and opposite Elijah Wood (Frodo Baggins) and Billy Boyd (Pippin) at what looks to be the end of dinner at Atelier Crenn. Three bottles of the dessert wine Madeira are on the table, plus Monaghan himself has a carafe of what appears to be white wine.
“The road goes ever on @atelier.crenn we got a tour of the kitchen and our table had been given the name “top gun”. Love that. But I wondered later over dessert…which one was Goose?!?” the caption read.
...Cast largely for their short stature and generally adorable auras, all four actors were in their 20s and 30s when the films were shot. Elijah Wood is the youngest, at 42, while Billy Boyd is now 55.
Where are you voyaging this month? Tell us all about it in the comments!