Welcome to the Overnight News Digest with a crew consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors side pocket, maggiejean, Chitown Kev, Interceptor7, Magnifico, annetteboardman, Besame and jck. Alumni editors include (but not limited to) Man Oh Man, wader, Neon Vincent, palantir, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse (RIP), ek hornbook (RIP), 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.
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Trump faces pressure from Republicans to drop 'corrosive' fight to overturn election
Donald Trump faced growing pressure from Republicans on Sunday to drop his chaotic, last-ditch fight to overturn the US presidential election, as victor Joe Biden prepared to start naming his cabinet and a Pennsylvania judge compared Trump’s legal case there to “Frankenstein’s monster”.
Despite Republican leadership in Washington standing behind the president’s claims that the 3 November election was stolen from him by nationwide voter fraud, other prominent figures, including two of his former national security advisers, were blunt.
Former Trump national security adviser John Bolton said that Biden would be sworn in in January and added: “The real question is how much damage Trump can do before that happens.”
The president’s efforts were designed mainly to sow chaos and confusion, he told CNN’s State of the Union show, as a demonstration more of “raw political power” than a genuine legal exercise.
President-elect Joe Biden will announce cabinet picks Tuesday
US president-elect Joe Biden will announce the first names chosen for his cabinet on Tuesday, the incoming White House chief of staff said – and is expecting a scaled-down inauguration celebration because of the risks of spreading coronavirus.
In a sign that his transition team is pressing ahead swiftly – despite Donald Trump’s failure to concede the election and ongoing attempts to thwart the transition process – Ron Klain said on Sunday that the appointments were moving at a faster pace than the previous two administrations.
“You’re going to see the first cabinet picks this Tuesday. But if you want to know what cabinet agencies they are, who’s going to be in those cabinet agencies, you’ll have to wait for the president-elect to say that himself on Tuesday,” he told ABC.
Antony Blinken, a career diplomat who served as No 2 at the state department and as deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration, was Biden’s most likely pick to be secretary of state, according to reports on Sunday night by the New York Times and Reuters.
Republicans are making plans to torpedo Biden’s Cabinet picks: report
Republicans are planning to torpedo some of President-elect Biden’s prospective Cabinet, agency and judicial nominees if the GOP keeps its majority, aides told Axios Sunday.
“The top targets include political names and civil servants who spoke out loudest against President Trump, forced out his appointees or became stars in the impeachment hearings — like Sally Yates and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman — as well as longtime targets of conservative media, like Susan Rice,” Axios revealed. “They also include more obscure potential nominees for federal judgeships, solicitor general and the Supreme Court. Republicans worry these nominees could blunt conservative moves on deregulation or social policy.” Biden is expected to announce his first slate of Cabinet picks this week as GOP staffers begin “gathering opposition research and even planning potential hearing questions.” There’s a labeling process, according to aides. One of the descriptors being floated is “really objectionable,” which is assigned to a candidate by Republican senators who are “working behind the scenes to preempt their nomination.”
United States formally withdraws from Open Skies treaty
The United States has formally withdrawn from the Treaty on Open Skies, an agreement that sought to foster trust by allowing the 34 participating nations to observe one another’s militaries through unarmed flyovers.
On Sunday, a US Department of State spokesman said that six months had passed since the US in May had notified countries party to the agreement that it was withdrawing.
As of Sunday, “The United States is no longer a State Party to the Treaty on Open Skies,” the statement said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on Twitter, said “America is more secure” because of the withdrawal, while adding “Russia remains in non-compliance with its obligations”.
Russia has been accused of repeatedly violating the treating by blocking surveillance flights around certain areas, including the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad and the border with Georgia, as well as denying flights over Russian military exercises.
Trump Appointee Unconstitutionally Interfered With VOA, Judge Rules
The chief executive over the Voice of America and its sister networks has acted unconstitutionally in investigating what he claimed was a deep-seated bias against President Trump by his own journalists, a federal judge has ruled.
Citing the journalists' First Amendment protections, U.S. Judge Beryl Howell on Friday evening ordered U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack to stop interfering in the news service's news coverage and editorial personnel matters. She struck a deep blow at Pack's authority to continue to force the news agency to cover the president more sympathetically.
Actions by Pack and his aides have likely "violated and continue to violate [journalists'] First Amendment rights because, among other unconstitutional effects, they result in self-censorship and the chilling of First Amendment expression," Howell wrote in her opinion. "These current and unanticipated harms are sufficient to demonstrate irreparable harm."
Kabul Battered By Rockets Ahead Of Pompeo's Planned Talks With Taliban
Nearly two dozen rockets rained down on the Afghan capital Saturday, killing at least eight people and marking an inauspicious start to a day that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had earmarked for discussing peace efforts in Afghanistan.
A spokesperson for the Afghan Interior Ministry said that the attacks launched from two vehicles hit at least six different neighborhoods of Kabul. In addition to the dead, at least 31 people were injured in the attack.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the barrage, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadi organizations online. It's just the latest act of violence claimed by the Sunni Islamist militant group, whose branch in Afghanistan says it perpetrated several deadly attacks in recent weeks — including an assault on Kabul University and a suicide bombing in the capital.
Afghan officials, including Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian, initially blamed the Taliban for the attacks, though the group explicitly denied involvement.
An heiress, a judge and a job: France's Sarkozy goes on trial for corruption
PARIS (Reuters) - Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy goes on trial on Monday accused of trying to bribe a judge and of influence-peddling, one of several criminal investigations that threaten to cast an ignominious pall over his decades-long political career.
Prosecutors allege Sarkozy offered to secure a plum job in Monaco for judge Gilbert Azibert in return for confidential information about an inquiry into claims that Sarkozy had accepted illegal payments from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his 2007 presidential campaign.
Sarkozy, who led France from 2007-2012 and has remained influential among conservatives, has denied any wrongdoing in all the investigations against him and fought vigorously to have the cases dismissed.
Investigators had from 2013 been wiretapping conversations between Sarkozy and his lawyer Thierry Herzog as they delved into allegations of Libyan financing in Sarkozy’s 2007 campaign.
As they did, they learned that Sarkozy and his lawyer were communicating using mobile phones registered under false names. Sarkozy’s phone was registered to a Paul Bismuth.
German democracy under 'open attack,' says SPD chief
Saskia Esken, Social Democratic Party co-leader, on Monday renewed calls from her SPD that the federal parliament adopt a law promoting democracy to help foil what she said was a far-right in Germany intent on eroding society.
"We are currently experiencing how right-wing extremists openly attack our democracy," said Esken, accusing Merkel's conservatives of blocking a democracy bill long sought in the Cabinet by Family Affairs Minister Franziska Giffey and Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht, both members of the SPD.
That obstruction was "not only incomprehensible but dangerous," Esken told the Berlin-based newspaper TAZ, ahead of a Cabinet committee meeting on Wednesday. The committee, formed after last February's Hanau terror killings, aims to draft anti-racism measures for Germany.
"We must confront the enemies of democracy with determination," said Esken.
New York Times
Now the U.S. Has Lots of Ventilators, but Too Few Specialists to Operate Them
As record numbers of coronavirus cases overwhelm hospitals across the United States, there is something strikingly different from the surge that inundated cities in the spring: No one is clamoring for ventilators.
The sophisticated breathing machines, used to sustain the most critically ill patients, are far more plentiful than they were eight months ago, when New York, New Jersey and other hard-hit states were desperate to obtain more of the devices, and hospitals were reviewing triage protocols for rationing care. Now, many hot spots face a different problem: They have enough ventilators, but not nearly enough respiratory therapists, pulmonologists and critical care doctors who have the training to operate the machines and provide round-the-clock care for patients who cannot breathe on their own.
Since the spring, American medical device makers have radically ramped up the country’s ventilator capacity by producing more than 200,000 critical care ventilators, with 155,000 of them going to the Strategic National Stockpile.
‘Backward in time’: Israeli scientists claim to reverse ageing
Israeli scientists say they have managed to not only successfully stop the biological ageing process but to reverse it, using only oxygen.
The study, a collaboration between Tel Aviv University and the Shamir Medical Center, administered high-pressure oxygen in a pressurised chamber and said it reversed two processes relating to ageing and illness.
Using hyperbaric oxygen treatments (HBOT) on ageing healthy adults, the researchers found the shortening of telomeres (chromosome ends) and the accumulation of old and malfunctioning cells in the body could be reversed.
That is, the adults’ blood cells actually grow younger as the treatments progress.
Some 35 adults over the age of 64 took part in the study and were given HBOT for 90 minutes a day, five times a week for three months.
Shai Efrati, a professor at Tel Aviv University who runs the Aviv Clinics in Florida, told The Jerusalem Post the study indicates that the cellular basis for the ageing process can be reversed.
“Today telomere shortening is considered the ‘Holy Grail’ of the biology of ageing,” he said.
“Researchers around the world are trying to develop pharmacological and environmental interventions that enable telomere elongation. Our HBOT protocol was able to achieve this, proving that the ageing process can in fact be reversed at the basic cellular-molecular level.”
The study, Efrati said, “gives hope and opens the door for a lot of young scientists to target ageing as a reversible disease”.