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 now moi, 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. Please feel free to share your articles and stories in the comments.
I wish I could start with cheerful news, but no such luck. We begin with this from NPR (Associated Press):
Polar bears in Canada's Western Hudson Bay — on the southern edge of the Arctic — are continuing to die in high numbers, a new government survey of the land carnivore has found. Females and bear cubs are having an especially hard time.
Researchers surveyed Western Hudson Bay — home to Churchill, the town called "the Polar Bear Capital of the World," — by air in 2021 and estimated there were 618 bears, compared to the 842 in 2016, when they were last surveyed.
More seasonal news, from the UK, courtesy of the BBC:
King Charles III has arrived at Sandringham where he will spend his first Christmas as monarch.
It will be the first year the King has hosted the Royal Family's traditional gathering at the Norfolk estate since the death of his mother.
Queen Elizabeth II hosted 32 Christmases at Sandringham House.
Also from the BBC:
King Charles is set to include a tribute to his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, in his first Christmas message as monarch.
An image of Charles delivering his speech, which is due to be broadcast on Christmas Day at 15:00 GMT, shows the King in St George's Chapel, Windsor.
In her final Christmas message, the late Queen spoke of "passing the baton" to the next generation.
And her son's first Christmas Day message will remember her legacy.
From The Guardian:
Rishi Sunak has said “lots of people” were concerned about Scotland’s gender recognition reform bill and that the UK government was right to consider the case for blocking it. The Scottish government hailed what it called “a historic day for equality” after a vote on Thursday afternoon in which MSPs overwhelmingly backed plans to make it easier and less intrusive for individuals to legally change their gender.
From CBS News:
U.K. officials have warned travelers that there could be disruptions and delays as the Border Force stages a strike. Mail and highway workers are also walking off the job amid a wave of labor actions. Helena Humphrey joined Elaine Quijano on "CBS News Mornings" to discuss the strikes.
From The Guardian:
GMB says it would ballot members on even a below-inflation deal, as nurses announce two more days of action
The head of a leading public sector union has urged ministers to make a pay offer to striking workers, insisting it does not necessarily have to beat inflation.
Speaking hours after the GMB announced it would postpone till 11 January an ambulance workers’ strike planned for 28 December, the union’s national secretary, Rachel Harrison, told the Guardian an additional pay offer would be taken to members even if it was less than inflation.
The development potentially signals a route forward amid a growing wave of stoppages and what has seemed an intractable row over pay.
From the New York Times:
A Glasgow restaurateur, he was part of the rise of the British curry house — and played an essential part in its story.
By Tejal Rao and Isabella Kwai
Ali Ahmed Aslam, the restaurateur who was often credited with the invention of chicken tikka masala, died on Monday in Glasgow. He was 77.
His son Asif Ali said his death, at a hospital, was caused by septic shock and organ failure after a prolonged illness.
Much like Cartesian geometry, chicken tikka masala was most likely not one person’s invention, but rather a case of simultaneous discovery — a delicious inevitability in so many restaurant kitchens, advanced by shifting forces of immigration and taste in postwar Britain.
From France 24:
A 69-year-old gunman opened fire at a Kurdish cultural centre and a hairdressing salon in Paris on Friday (December 23), killing three people and injuring three others, witnesses and prosecutors said.
Charles Sobhraj, the infamous French serial killer who inspired the award-nominated TV series “The Serpent,” walked free from a Nepali prison Friday.
“Sobhraj has been released from the jail. He has been handed over to the immigration department. The officials at the immigration department informed us that he would be deported to France soon, as early as today,” Ishwari Prasad Pandey, an official at Nepal Central prison told CNN.
Sobhraj, aged 78, had been serving a life sentence in Nepal for killing two tourists in 1975, but many of his alleged murders remain unsolved.
A few Africa stories, then we will go back to Europe with stories from Russia and Ukraine. We begin our Africa sojourn with this, from Africa News:
The hand over of a strategic position by the M23 rebels follows a meeting between Congolese and Rwandan officials in Luanda in late November
From ABC News:
The two were newly charged with aggravated child trafficking.
An American couple living in Uganda accused of torturing their 10-year-old foster child could face the death penalty if convicted of their latest charge, prosecutors said.
Nicholas Spencer and Mackenzie Leigh Mathias Spencer, both 32, were arrested and charged earlier this month with aggravated torture, which carries a life sentence if convicted, for alleged abuse spanning two years.
From NPR’s Goats and Soda:
At the Daniyle camp on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia, hundreds of people who've fled from drought-stricken areas of Somalia are now crammed into a dusty lot. They've erected makeshift shelters out of sticks covered with tarps, burlap bags and bits of plastic sheeting. The ground is dry and powdery. Puffs of dust rise around each footfall.
Khadijo Noor Ali arrived at the Daniyle camp two months ago with 7 children in tow. Khadijo says they had to come after the crops in her village in the Lower Shabelle region failed for the fourth season in a row.
Beginning our Russian news (there are several items) with Deutsche Welle:
Ben KnightDecember 22, 2022
An employee of the German intelligence agency the BND has been arrested after being suspected of sending classified information to Russia.
Federal prosecutors on Wednesday arrested an employee of Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND, on suspicion of treason after an internal BND investigation revealed that he had allegedly been leaking classified information to Russia.
Prosecutors said that the suspect was a German national named Carsten L., and that his home and workplace, and that of one other person, had been searched.
From Business Insider (via Yahoo! News):
Russian President Vladimir Putin has historically avoided using the internet because he's worried that people may spy on his activity, according to a new report.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced the frigate Admiral Gorshkov is to be armed with Zircon hypersonic missiles and will set out on combat patrol in January 2023, state news agency Tass has reported.
Defense minister Sergey Shoigu said delivery of these missiles to the Russian Navy has already begun. The frigate would be armed with these weapons before "embarking on a mission in the world ocean," he said.
From the Washington Post:
RIGA, Latvia — Despite heavy combat losses over ten months of brutal war, Russia now has more than double the number of troops poised to fight in Ukraine as it did when it invaded in February, including thousands of convicts released from prison and conscripts from a controversial mobilization drive this fall.
According to a new U.S. assessment, the Wagner mercenary group, which fights alongside regular Russian troops in Ukraine, in recent months recruited 40,000 prisoners from all over the country into its ranks. Together, with 300,000 new conscripts and 20,000 volunteers, Russia’s force is now more than double the 150,000 initially allocated to what President Vladimir Putin termed a “special military operation.”
From the BBC:
Russian authorities have started destroying the ruined theatre in Mariupol, according to an aide to the city's exiled Ukrainian mayor.
Petro Andryushchenko accused the occupying authorities of seeking to cover up the murder of hundreds of civilians when the building was bombed by Russian warplanes in March.
A screen was recently erected around the ruined theatre.
From Middle East Eye:
Israel's prime minister-designate, Benjamin Netanyahu, has agreed to a clause in the coalition deal that would extend Israeli control in the occupied West Bank. Israel's annexation of parts of the West Bank is illegal under international law.
From the Times of Israel:
Law enforcement says incident is terror, planned several days in advance, with assailant calling in the cops before attacking them
Three police officers were wounded after being rammed by a vehicle in a terror attack in Kafr Qasim, an Arab city east of Tel Aviv, during the pre-dawn hours of Friday morning, law enforcement officials said.
According to police, the assailant, Naim Badir, called police over to a parking area of a building, claiming there had been a violent incident, before pulling out a loaded makeshift submachine gun and attempting to open fire.
NEW DELHI, Dec 23 (Reuters) - India is planning to make a COVID-19 negative test report mandatory for passengers arriving from countries with a high number of cases, the country's health minister said during an interview with broadcaster NewsX on Friday.
"In the next one week, selected countries will be identified where the caseload is higher today," minister Mansukh Mandaviya said. "People from there who come to India will have to upload their (COVID-19) RT-PCR reports and only then come."
From ABC News:
A truck carrying Indian soldiers has skidded off a road into a gorge in the country's remote northeast, killing at least 16
GUWAHATI, India -- A truck carrying Indian soldiers skidded down a steep slope into a gorge in India’s remote northeast on Friday, killing at least 16, the army said.
Four other soldiers were injured in the accident in Chatten, 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Gangtok, the Sikkim state capital, it said.
China dropped its “zero-Covid” policy in early December, prompting the World Health Organization to warn on Wednesday that the world should be concerned about an accelerating wave of infections there.
“Zero Covid” had become untenable, given the contagiousness of the Omicron variant, as well as protests in late November that demonstrated growing anger about strict mitigation measures.
As COVID-19 spreads largely unchecked from Beijing to Shanghai, China is bracing for a second surge, jumpstarted by millions of people who are planning holiday travel from cities back to their rural villages, where the health care system is far patchier.
"I really don't think the village doctors, or even the township or county hospital, can handle the increased number of severe cases," says Huan Wang, a researcher at the Stanford Center on China's Economy and Institutions. "I think the rural villagers are just left on their own in a dark COVID winter."
From The Hill:
North Korea is denying it sold munitions to Russia after the United States and a Japanese media report said Pyongyang has completed at least two weapons deliveries to the Kremlin.
North Korea’s foreign ministry on Friday called the accusations “groundless,” and slammed the United States for “bringing bloodshed and destruction to Ukraine by providing it with various kinds of lethal weapons,” according to the North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency, as reported by Reuters.
From the Washington Post:
There are two ways to think about Japan’s announcement this month that it will surge defense spending by more than 50 percent in the next five years and acquire advanced missiles that can strike the Eurasian mainland. The first is that it’s a victory for the U.S.-led world order, because China’s military advantage in the Western Pacific will narrow. The darker version is that it’s a recognition of the failure of the U.S.-led order, which aimed to suppress military competition in East Asia after World War II.
Both the optimistic and pessimistic perspectives reflect important realities, and history will decide which was more apt. In the meantime, few Americans are as well-versed in Tokyo’s thinking as Michael J. Green, a Japanologist who was a top Asia hand on President George W. Bush’s National Security Council and currently leads the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney in Australia. His recent book, “Line of Advantage,” explains Japan’s China strategy to a Western audience. I interviewed him over Zoom to understand the implications of Japan’s geopolitical transformation.
From Reuters (via Yahoo! News):
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina's leftist President Alberto Fernandez has sparked a battle with the country's top court and something of a legal crisis after he said he would reject a ruling it made to give a larger proportion of state funds to the city of Buenos Aires.
The South American country has a system to regulate how state funds are distribute between the country's regions, including the capital city area, which is controlled by a conservative mayor and had been pushing for a larger slice.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — A grisly pre-Christmas killing of two young men and their uncle at an early 1900s house in Mexico City cast attention on the dark side of the capital’s booming real estate market, fed by a lack of legal documents and gangs that illegally seize properties.
Actor Andrés Tirado, his musician brother Jorge Tirado and an uncle whose name was not released were found dead Sunday, all with their throats slashed. Prosecutors said the apparent motive was an ownership dispute over the property.