Welcome to the Overnight News Digest (OND) for Tuesday, March 27, 2012.

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: Wake Up Everybody by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes

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
Group aimed to pit blacks, Latinos against same-sex marriage

By (CNN Wire Staff)
A national group opposed to same-sex marriage aimed to fight it by driving "a wedge between gays and blacks" and identifying "glamorous" Latino artists and athletes to advocate traditional marriage, according to newly released confidential memos.

The strategies were among several pursued by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which has actively campaigned against same-sex marriage efforts.

. . .

"The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks -- two key Democratic constituencies," another memo states. "Find, equip, energize and connect African-American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of the party."

NOM argued "gay marriage is the tip of the spear, the weapon that will be and is being used to marginalize and repress Christianity and the Church."

Protecting your Facebook privacy at work isn't just about passwords

By Cory Doctorow
Facebook has threatened to sue companies that force their employees to reveal their Facebook login details. As laudable as this is, I worry that it will fail to accomplish its primary objective – protecting Facebook users from employer snooping.

Increasingly, firms configure the computers and devices on their internal networks to trust "self-signed certificates". These cryptographic certificates are the same files used by your browser to establish secure, eavesdropping-proof connections to websites and to validate software updates, and to generally validate the identity of remote machines and guard the files they send you from tampering and spying.

Firms have legitimate (ish) reasons to install these certificates. Many firms treat the names of the machines on their internal networks as proprietary information (eg accounting.sydney.australia.company.com), but still want to use certificates to protect their users' connections to those machines. So rather than paying for certificates from one of the hundreds of certificate authorities trusted by default in our browsers – which would entail disclosing their servers' names – they use self-signed certificates to protect those connections.

But the presence of your employer's self-signed certificate in your computers' list of trusted certs means that your employer can (nearly) undetectably impersonate all the computers on the internet, tricking your browser into thinking that it has a secure connection to your bank, Facebook, or Gmail, all the while eavesdropping on your connection.

News Corp unit promoted piracy against rivals: report

By Freya Petersen
Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation reportedly funded a secret unit that promoted a wave of high-tech piracy in Australia that sabotaged competitors at a time when News was moving to take control of the Australian pay TV industry.

The Australian Financial Review (AFR) cites documents it obtained over a four-year investigation as revealing that a secretive group of former police and intelligence officers within News Corp., known as Operational Security, to help cripple the finances of Austar, which Foxtel is now close to acquiring, and also targeted Optus.

 According to the AFR, the group's actions in unleashing waves of high-tech piracy devastated News's competitors and helped the company to bid for pay TV businesses at reduced prices, including DirecTV in the US, Telepiu in Italy and Austar.

 . . .

 News Corp. has categorically denied any involvement in promoting piracy and points to a string of court actions it has won brought by competitors alleging dirty competitive practices.

Egypt's crisis deepens as non-Islamists boycott writing a constitution

By Mohannad Sabry
A standoff between Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and the country's military rulers deepened Tuesday as dozens of non-Islamist politicians said they would boycott the writing of a new constitution because Islamists dominate the panel selected to draft the document.

 Some politicians called for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Egypt's ruling authority, to dissolve the panel, a move that would be certain to exacerbate tension between the Muslim Brotherhood, which dominates the country's new Parliament, and the military, which already has rejected Brotherhood efforts to dissolve the military-appointed Cabinet.

. . .

 The selection over the weekend of a mostly Islamist panel to draft the new constitution brought to a head what has been the dominant concern of liberals and other political groups in Egypt since the toppling last year of President Hosni Mubarak: What role the Muslim Brotherhood and other conservative Islamist factions would have in setting the pace for Egypt's political developments.

 The Brotherhood, which was effectively banned during Mubarak's 30-year reign, had been careful to walk a moderate path, offering only muted criticism of the country's military government and pledging not to nominate its own candidate in the upcoming presidential elections, now scheduled for May 23.

Spanish record industry cartel sues business prof who called their system an illegal cartel, claims "threatened honor"

By Cory Doctorow
Enrique Dans is a professor at Spain's IE Business School and a well-known blogger who has been a fierce critic of the entertainment industry. Last summer, Prof Dans wrote a blog post, Siete motivos por los que el caso SGAE es mucho más que la propia SGAE, which set out his view that Promusicae, the Spanish record industry consortium, had formed an illegal cartel to distribute music for radio broadcast, which shut out non-members and independents.

 Now Promusicae is suing Dans for EUR20,000, accusing him of libel and "threatening their honor," and they are demanding a retraction. As Ernesto writes on TorrentFreak, Dans is standing his ground.

The professor, on the other hand, says his claim was well researched and that he consulted experts in competition law before he wrote it up. And even if that’s not the case, Dans believes he has the right to make such claims in an open and free society.
OxyContin abuse hits Canada First Nations communities

By Linda Pressly
Addiction to prescription drugs is devastating Canada's First Nations peoples. Fort Hope, almost a three-hour flight north of Tor, is one of the worst-affected communities.

. . .

"It makes everything go away," Mr Waswa says of the prescription-only painkiller. "You don't have no feeling. You just want to stay high… But I'm tired of it. I lost a buddy last summer. He was 38 years old and took an overdose, went into a coma and never got up."

. . .

Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, has recently stopped manufacturing the drug for Canada and replaced it with a formulation supposed to be more difficult to tamper with. The province of Ontario has also imposed tighter controls on prescriptions.

Meanwhile, it has been estimated that up to 80% of the working age population of Fort Hope is abusing the drug. Mr Waswa has been hooked for seven years. Now he wants out.

Sudan and South Sudan in fierce oil border clashes

By (BBC)
Clashes have broken out in oil-rich border areas between Sudan and South Sudan in what has been called the biggest confrontation since the countries split last July.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir said his forces had seized a key oil field - a claim denied by Sudan.

Sudan state radio says President Omar al-Bashir has put off next week's visit to South Sudan for a summit.

The countries fought a long civil war before the South seceded from Sudan.

UK riot report reveals 'forgotten families'

By (AL Jazeera)
Poor parenting and a lack of support for disenfranchised young people played a major role in sparking last year's British riots, an independent panel reported.

. . .

The panel identified a series of problems facing inner cities, ranging from poor parenting and education to high joblessness that left many people with no stake in society and nothing to lose if they joined the riots.

It urged the government to develop a strategy for helping half a million "forgotten families" who "bump along the bottom" of society.

"When people don't feel they have a reason to stay out of trouble, the consequences for communities can be devastating - as we saw last August," panel chair Darra Singh said.

USA Politics, Economy, Major Events
JOBS Act gains final passage

By (UPI)
The U.S. House Tuesday gave final passage to the JOBS Act, making it easier for companies to raise money and comply with securities laws.

. . .

The bill was approved last week by the Senate, which tweaked the "crowdfunding" provisions to better protect against credit scams, forcing the House to rehandle the measure, which Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., described as a rare bipartisan legislative victory, The Washington Post reported.

City of Boston pays $170,000 to settle landmark case involving man arrested for recording police with cell phone

By Mark Frauenfelder
In October 2007 Simon Glik used his phone to videotape police officers arresting a man in Boston. The police immediately turned their attention to Mr. Glik and arrested him for "illegal electronic surveillance." Glik filed a civil suit against the city, and he was awarded $170,000 in a settlement.
Mr. Glik was forced to defend himself against criminal charges of illegal wiretapping, aiding the escape of a prisoner, and disturbing the peace. After a judge threw out those charges, Glik filed a civil rights suit against the city and the arresting officers in federal court in Boston, aided by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and Boston attorneys Howard Friedman and David Milton. This settlement resolves that case.

The settlement follows a landmark ruling last August by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, declaring that the First Amendment protects the right to record police carrying out their duties in a public place, Glik v. Cunniffe 655 F.3d 78 (2011). The First Circuit's ruling is binding only in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, and Puerto Rico, but its persuasive reasoning has been cited by courts and lawyers nationwide facing the recurrent issue of police arresting people for filming them.

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:
. . .

Among the Blue Notes' most important and successful recordings are . . . socially conscious songs such as "Wake Up Everybody" and "Bad Luck" (both 1975). "Bad Luck" holds the record for longest-running number-one hit on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart: eleven weeks. . .

. . .

Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes are arguably the most-covered Philly soul group in history:[citation needed] many of their hits have been re-recorded by other artists, including Simply Red, David Ruffin, Jimmy Somerville Sybil, and John Legend, while dance music DJ Danny Rampling cites "Wake Up Everybody" as his favorite song of all time. . .

Back to what's happening:
Environment and Greening
Great Barrier Reef suffering from Australia's decision to allow pesticides

By Alison Rourke
Australia's Great Barrier Reef will suffer damage as a result of a decision to allow farmers in far north Queensland to resume using a pesticide, according to environmental groups.

The World Wildlife Fund says a decision by the Australian government to lift a three-month moratorium on the use of the pesticide, diuron, on tropical crops like bananas, pawpaw, pineapples and sugar cane is a "disaster" for the reef.

. . .

In December a three-month ban on diuron came into force. It covered the wet season when soil run-off is at its greatest. From this weekend, farmers can resume spraying, with some restrictions still in place – spraying is not allowed if 50mm of rain is expected within three days of application or if the land has a slope greater than 3%.

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, which regulates the use of pesticides, says more analysis is needed before any long term decision on diuron's future use is made.

What’s the deal with EPA carbon rules for existing power plants?

By David Roberts
. . .

Today’s rule effectively means there will be no more coal plants built in the U.S., but that was more or less a fait accompli due to market forces. What to do about existing plants is in many ways a more fraught and important question. It could have much larger effects on near-term pollution from the power sector.

. . .

Here’s the story: Once something is deemed a pollutant under the Clean Air Act (which, in the case of CO2, was settled by the Mass v. EPA Supreme Court case), then it must be regulated under Section 111 of the act, the New Source Performance Standards program.

Section 111b governs new sources. That’s what was issued today. But when EPA regulates under 111b, that triggers a legal obligation for it also to regulate existing sources under 111d.

. . .

All that remains is to determine the timing. . .

Gazprom seeks Israeli gas

By Robert M Cutler
Russia's Gazprom announced this week that its Swiss-based subsidiary Gazprom Marketing and Trading, created just last year, has signed a letter of intent with the consortium exploiting the Tamar offshore Israeli natural gas deposit to begin talks for marketing gas from Tamar and another offshore field, most probably Dalit.

Tamar is estimated to contain 265 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas. Gazprom has also expressed an interest in the offshore Leviathan deposit. It is being developed by Israel's Delek Group, and is estimated to hold 700 bcm of gas in addition to 4.2 billion barrels of oil.

Gazprom would purchase the liquefied natural gas (LNG) from a company that the Israeli consortium would create, Russian

. . .

In order to avoid the lengthy and politically sensitive process of permit-granting for an onshore gasification facility, efforts are being made to develop technology allowing the tankers to anchor offshore and take on the gas directly while also liquefying it, a process that involves cooling it to a temperature of approximately -160 degrees Celsius (-260 degrees Fahrenheit).

Science and Health
Researchers Discover a New Path for Light Through Metal

By (ScienceDaily)
. . .

Metals carry electricity with ease, but normally do nothing to transmit light waves. Surface plasmons, unusual light-coupled oscillations that form on the surface of metallic materials, are the exception to that rule. When excited on the surface of metals by light waves of specific frequencies, plasmons are able to retain that same frequency, but with wavelengths that are orders-of-magnitude smaller, cramming visible and near-infrared light into the realm of the nanoscale.

. . .

Until now, the best candidates for plasmonic materials were gold and silver. These noble metals, however, are not compatible with standard silicon manufacturing technologies, limiting their use in commercial products. Silver is the metal with the best optical and surface plasmon properties, but it forms grainy, or semi-continuous, thin films. Silver also easily degrades in air, which causes loss of optical signal, making it a less-attractive material in plasmon technologies.

. . .

In addition to plasmonics, the researchers also speculate that titanium nitride may have applications in metamaterials, which are engineered materials that can be tailored for almost any application because of their extraordinary response to electromagnetic, acoustic, and thermal waves. Recently proposed applications of metamaterials include invisibility cloaks, optical black holes, nanoscale optics, data storage, and quantum information processing.

Placenta On Toast? Could We Derive Benefits from Ingesting Afterbirth?

By (ScienceDaily)
Almost all non-human mammals eat placenta for good reasons. Are we missing something? A paper by neuroscientists at the University at Buffalo and Buffalo State College suggests that ingestion of components of afterbirth or placenta -- placentophagia -- may offer benefits to human mothers and perhaps to non-mothers and males.

. . .

Kristal says there is a current fad of ingesting encapsulated placenta, which mirrors unverified reports in the 1960s and 1970s of people in back-to-nature communes cooking and eating human placentas. The upsurge in recent anecdotal reports of the benefits of taking placenta by new mothers, irrespective of dose, method of preparation, or time course, suggests more of a placebo effect than a medicinal effect.

"People will do anything," Kristal says, "but we shouldn't read too much significance into reports of such exceptions, even if they are accurate, because they are neither reliable nor valid studies. My own studies found no evidence of the routine practice of placentophagia in other cultures, findings supported by a recent extensive study by anthropologists at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Why is there something instead of nothing?

By Ethan Siegel
. . .

The Universe is expanding and cooling, and what this means is that -- when the temperature drops below a certain point -- you can no longer create matter/antimatter pairs as quickly as you destroy them! Why's that? Because E = mc2, and once the energy of your Universe drops below the mass necessary to create the particles/antiparticles you're looking to make, the ones that already exist simply go away.

. . .

Same deal with the anti-neutrons/positrons and the neutrons/electrons. But although it's possible that these individual percentages are equal, it isn't mandatory. The other possibility is -- and this happens in nature -- that particles will prefer one type of decay, while antiparticles will prefer a different type!

. . .

Looking solely at the protons/neutrons/anti-protons/anti-neutrons that result from this decay, what would we wind up with?

More matter than anti-matter! In fact, so long as you fulfill these three famous criteria:

1.  Out-of-equilibrium conditions,
2.  Baryon-number-violating interactions, and
3.  C- and CP-violation (the differences in decays, above),

 you not only can create more matter than antimatter (or vice versa), but an asymmetry is inevitable. And since something like this is required to create more matter than antimatter in the Universe, and that's the Universe we have, this is why there's something instead of nothing!

Most kids don't spend 1 hour a day outside

By (UPI)
Sixty percent of U.S. parents said their children spend less than an hour a day outdoors, a survey by L.L.Bean and the National Park Foundation indicated.

"Getting your children outside does not have to mean going for a long hike or needing expensive equipment. It can often be as simple as pitching a tent in your own backyard," Rob Hutchison, outdoor discovery school instructor at L.L.Bean, said in a statement. "By engaging your kids in the outdoors and making activities both educational and fun, they are more apt to develop a love of the outdoors and a desire to stay active."

Heart attack aspirin dosage not an issue

By (UPI)
U.S. researchers said they found no significant difference between high- versus low-dose aspirin in the prevention of recurring cardiovascular events.

Lead author Payal Kohli, a cardiology fellow at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston said each year, more than 1 million Americans suffer a heart attack and nearly all are prescribed a daily aspirin and an anti-platelet medication during recovery. However, the optimal aspirin dose has been unclear.

. . .

"We observed no difference between patients taking a high dose versus a low of aspirin as it relates to cardiovascular death, heart attack, stroke or stent thrombosis," Kohli said in a statement.

Bottlenose dolphins: 'Gangs' run society, scientists say

By Victoria Gill
Male bottlenose dolphins organise gang-like alliances - guarding females against other groups and occasionally "changing sides".

A team studying dolphins in Shark Bay, western Australia, say the animals roam hundreds of square kilometres, often encountering other dolphin groups.

. . .

This latest study reveals that these highly intelligent marine mammals live in an "open society". Rather than males guarding a specific territory, groups have what Dr Connor described as a "mosaic of overlapping ranges".

The fact that the dolphins travel in their troops and frequently encounter strangers reveals a great deal about their intelligence, because when one group meets another, the animals have to decide how to respond.

Mobile and the news media's imploding business model

By Michael Wolff
Pew research has a new survey showing that tablets and smart phones are now 27% of Americans' primary news source. The overwhelming share of this is phones, not tablets; and a reasonable view says this will rise to 50% in three years.

. . .

There is another bleak element here: a basic shift in how advertising is bought and sold. More and more digital space, both web and mobile, is moved through a real-time auction process: audiences (or demographic segments) are sold like soy beans. Curiously, for all other commodities, the auction process raises prices. In a virtually unlimited world of digital advertising space, it lowers them.

. . .

Hence the new consensus about the pay wall – on the web, but even more optimistically on anything handheld. In a very short time, the industry consensus has moved from "it will never work" to "it's inevitable". It doesn't seem to matter that this has happened without any evidence that it can work, other than on the most incremental basis. It does seem to be, however, the only alternative – or roach-like adaptation, no matter how meager and clawing in the dirt – to ad-based oblivion for large news organizations. (And even so, they surely won't be large anymore if they are to be supported on a paid-for basis.)

. . .

The bleak or non-existent future for news professionals in a mobile-dominated world is further compounded by our remoteness from, and antipathy to, the thing that has always fed us: advertising. The news business began and thrived on the basis of an historic, if anomalous partnership between the immediate and the commercial. Freedom of the press had as much to do with department stores as with the constitution.

New Hospital Alarm System Shames Smokers into Stopping

By Andrew Tarantola
There's no smoking in front of Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Scotland—the sign says so—though nobody really paid attention to it. That's why the hospital installed a loudspeaker-backed smoke alarm commanding cigarette scofflaws—in no uncertain terms—to cut that shit out.

"Despite warning signs telling patients, visitors and staff that smoking is banned in the hospital grounds, people continue to smoke. The result is masses of cigarette ends littering the area." Mike Mackay, Contract Director for the company that installed the device, said in a statement. To combat this, the new alarm will play a prerecorded message whenever someone lights up near the hospital's front entrance. The system is reportedly sensitive enough to trigger if even a single person takes a drag. If the current system is successful, the hospital plans to install it at every entrance.

Wrath of the Titans: Microsoft, U.S. Feds Slay Godly "Zeus" Botnets

By Jason Mick
In the era of organized cybercrime, one of the most dangerous threats to arise in recent years was "Zeus".  A malware program named after the king of the Greek gods, Zeus spread via combination of phishing emails that encouraged users to download a malicious executable, and by "drive-by-downloads", automatic downloads which largely target insecure older browser versions.  Once installed, Zeus committed all sorts of villainy, including keylogging and form-grabbing, both of which were used to steal internet users' credit card info.

. . .

 Microsoft, its partners, and U.S. Federal Marshalls executed a pair of daring real world raids in Scranton, Penn. and Lombard, Ill., entering the premises of two hosting companies and seizing the active CnC servers, before the owners could try to destroy evidence.

. . .

 The daring takedown was aided by The Electronic Payments Association -- an industry association representing e-commerce sites and banks -- and Kyrus Technologies -- a security firm specializing in reverse engineering.  F-Secure, a European secure firm also lent its expertise.  Together, a major blow was struck at the heart of many of the largest Zeus botnets.

Passing on gas: Driving rates falling across the board

By Clark Williams-Derry
In a story about the decline of youth car culture, The New York Times quotes an advertising exec on the feelings of today’s youth toward the auto:

“They think of a car as a giant bummer,” said Mr. Martin. “Think about your dashboard. It’s filled with nothing but bad news.”

. . .

Regardless of the reasons, the latest figures show that driving is continuing to decline — not simply among young people, but across the board.

. . .

I could go on (and on).  But suffice it to say that the data now leave no room for doubt: For all sorts of reasons, people have less appetite for car travel than they did just a few years back. A look at the demographics suggests that these trends could well continue, even as the economy recovers. Baby boomers are aging past their peak driving years, and are being replaced by the much smaller baby bust generation. Gas prices are showing no sign of a sustained drop. And meanwhile, young people just aren’t taking to the roads the way they used to.

Angry Birds Space takes flight with 10 million downloads in three days

By Alexander Besant
According to a tweet by game maker Rovio, Angry Birds Space, the latest edition of the popular video game, has been downloaded 10 million times in three days.

 It remains difficult to estimate the earnings the game has generated, according to the Washington Post, as it sells for different prices on different platforms: 99 cents on the iTunes Store, $6 on Windows PCs, and is free on Android.

 "I can't think of another app that has done this well, especially when you consider that they only have a paid version available in the iTunes App Store," said Peter Farago, vice president of marketing at the mobile analytics firm Flurry, according to the Los Angeles Times. "The closest success story I can think of is OMGPOP's Draw Something, which racked up 20 million total downloads in five weeks."

The Afghan girls who live as boys

By Tahir Qadiry
For economic and social reasons, many Afghan parents want to have a son. This preference has led to some of them practising the long-standing tradition of Bacha Posh - disguising girls as boys.

. . .

"When you have a good position in Afghanistan and are well off, people look at you differently. They say your life becomes complete only if you have a son," she says.

There has always been a preference for having sons in Afghanistan, for various economic and social reasons.

. . .

Girls brought up as boys do not stay like this all their lives. When they turn 17 or 18 they live life as a girl once again - but the change is not so simple.

Time to lay responsibility at the rapist's door

By Carlene Firmin
A 15-year-old boy was describing to me and a group of 12 other young men his relationships with teenage girls. He held firm with his opinion that if a girl came round to his house it implied that she wanted to have sex. But there was one boy in the group who, even in the face of pressure from the others, was certain that "even if she's naked, she's not supposed to be raped".

I was interviewing the young men about their experiences of relationships for the Female Voice in Violence project, and it was clear that the majority of the boys did not understand the concept of rape. They could not see it.

. . .

It is right that girls are supported to reduce their vulnerability. However, there is a growing sense of frustration among girls, and some services that work with them, that this vulnerability is communicated as the cause of sexual violence. The message they hear is that girls are raped because they are vulnerable. Where, they ask, is the space to consider the responsibility of those who are perpetrating abuse? So a campaign that challenges the perpetrators to ask whether they see rape is welcome.

. . .

The campaign signals a move to reframe and revisit questions about how to prevent sexual violence, so it is crucial that the response on the ground is able to mirror this. While investment has been made in services for boys and men who commit forms of violence such as gun and knife crime, little attention has been given to preventing their use of sexual violence. This needs to change.

Raunchy dangdut music stirs debate in Indonesia

By Karishma Vaswani
Dangdut sounds like a cross between techno and Bollywood, but it is 100% Indonesian. With influences from Indian, Arabic and Malay music, it has traditionally been extremely popular with the working classes and lower income groups, but it can be heard in train stations, police offices and even the bank, if your teller likes it.

. . .

Dangdut is an integral part of Indonesian life. The world's most populous Muslim nation even wants to register it as part of its musical heritage with Unesco.

. . .

"We don't have anything against dangdut music per se," Amidan Shaberah, the chairman of the Indonesian Council of Ulamas said in his offices in Jakarta. The organisation is one that many Indonesians believe is the highest authority on Islamic issues.

Meteor Blades is known to offer an enlightening Evening Open Diary - you might consider checking that out tonight if you haven't already.