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.
There had been a Washington Post story in this space, but I removed it. This is why:
“The @washingtonpost guild is striking Thursday & asks people to not engage w/ any WaPo content:“On Dec. 7, we ask you to respect our walkout by not crossing the picket line: For 24 hours, please do not engage with any Post content." print + online news stories, podcasts, etc.”
It's the issue at the core of COP28: will this year's U.N. climate talks, held in major oil producer the United Arab Emirates, produce the first global agreement to phase out fossil fuel use?
Burning fossil fuels for energy is by far the biggest cause of climate change. It is also the engine of modern life - even with the growth of renewables, fossil fuels produce around 80% of the world's energy.
...Opposition to a full fossil fuel phase out, diplomats told Reuters, is led by Russia, Saudi Arabia and China, which is the world's biggest carbon emitter.
...Overall, European nations say the COP deal must clearly ask countries to cut their fossil fuel use enough to stop global warming exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) and unleashing far more severe impacts.
"That is what 1.5C means. You can't keep burning fossil fuels," Irish Climate Minister Eamon Ryan told Reuters.
"There will be a small amount, abated, in hard-to-reach sectors... but that can't be a get-out-of-jail card for international fossil fuel companies."
As the United Nations’ annual climate summit COP28 continues, controversial comments by Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, the head of the conference, are roiling the event and raising questions about how substantive any new fossil fuel agreement emerging from the gathering will be.
In a meeting one week before the conference, Jaber — who is the United Arab Emirates minister of industry and advanced technology as well as the chairman of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company — told a panel he believed there was no science to suggest eliminating fossil fuels would help keep global temperature increases below the key threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“There is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says that the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5C,” Jaber said during a late November climate panel hosted by the climate nonprofit She Changes Climate as first reported by the Guardian. Additionally, he seemed to push back against a fossil fuel phase-out entirely: “Please help me, show me the roadmap for a phase-out of fossil fuel that will allow for sustainable socioeconomic development, unless you want to take the world back into caves.” (He did later call a phase-out “inevitable” and “essential.”)
...Jaber’s remarks raise questions about how strong the fossil fuels agreement coming out of the summit will be and where exactly he stands on the issue given his remarks at the She Changes Climate event, which seemed critical of a phase-out. “I have said over and over that the phase-down and the phase-out of fossil fuel is inevitable. In fact, it is essential ... it needs to be orderly, fair, just, and responsible,” Jaber said at his Monday press conference.
Loaded headline much?
...The race to become Caddo Parish sheriff was closely fought between Democrat Henry Whitehorn and Republican John Nickelson. In November, a recount was ordered after Whitehorn won by just one vote in an election that saw over 43,000 ballots cast. The recount found three additional votes for each candidate and Whitehorn was declared the winner.
...Nickelson filed a lawsuit and retired Louisiana Supreme Court Justice E. Joseph Bleich declared the result void on Tuesday. Nickelson's suit said the count was done too quickly and could not be accurate, while ballots cast by people twice through mail-in and in-person ballots were discovered, NBC affiliate KTAL reported. Bleich was assigned to the case after four judges recused themselves due to their friendships with Nickelson.
...Whitehorn questioned the ruling, saying, "The rules of the game are different depending on who the players are." He continued: "I won the sheriff's race, not once, but twice. My opponent conveniently chose to question the integrity of the election only after he lost, not once, but twice. In elections, you should not be given a redo simply because you are unhappy with the results."
...From the beginning, the negotiations were asymmetric. Republicans say border policy changes are the price for Democrats’ getting Ukraine funding. But Democrats believe it’s misleading to argue that Democrats are getting Ukraine funding in exchange for border policies, those lawmakers argue, since Republicans also support aid for Kyiv.
...What’s more, Democrats are sick of answering for Republicans’ line in the sand. This week, GOP senators essentially indicated there’s little room to negotiate other than for Democrats to swallow most of their proposed border policies, which fall short of the House GOP’s hardline bill but still go much further than most Democrats are comfortable.
That’s led to a wave of anger over where things stand.
...“If they want money for Ukraine and Israel, they’re not going to get it unless they close the border. For them, keeping an open border is more important than the security of Europe or the Middle East. Which is astonishing to me,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said of Democrats.
While privately many Democrats are skeptical the border negotiations will succeed, they feel compelled to try. After all, one of Biden’s top priorities rests on this deal with Republicans. If they actually got an agreement though, Johnson would need Democratic votes to pass it given the sheer number of Ukraine skeptics in the House GOP.
Rishi Sunak’s government was plunged into further crisis when the immigration minister quit just hours after the prime minister tabled a bill to save his Rwanda deportation policy.
Robert Jenrick stood down after it was revealed that the legislation did not allow the government to override the international laws that have stopped the government sending asylum seekers to central Africa.
In a statement published on X, the MP for Newark said Sunak’s bill was “a triumph of hope over experience” and will mean that the policy will be challenged again in the courts.
...It comes just weeks after the former home secretary Suella Braverman resigned and accused Sunak of “wishful thinking” to “avoid having to make hard choices” on immigration.
Jenrick, seen until recently as a close political ally of Sunak’s, wrote: “I am unable to take the currently proposed legislation through the Commons as I do not believe it provides us with the best possible chance of success.
Via a law announced Tuesday, Venezuela will create a new province or state in the disputed territory, having already appointed a single provisional authority: Major-General Alexis Rodríguez Cabello
Two days after the referendum on Essequibo, a territory disputed between Venezuela and Guyana, the government of Nicolás Maduro is moving forward to try to enforce what was approved Sunday in a vote that registered almost no participation in the streets but which Chavismo hailed as a victory with 10.4 million voters, reawakening a crisis of credibility in the country’s electoral authorities. In a television appearance Tuesday, Maduro presented a new official map of Venezuela with Essequibo incorporated, without the disputed delimitation, during a Council of State in which he announced a series of measures and upcoming legislation to cement Caracas’ possession of the territory and its resources. Earlier, Maduro had sent a military contingent to Puerto Barima on the Venezuelan Atlantic border, close to the limits of the area under claim.
...Maduro has instructed the state oil company PDVSA to draw up a map of exploration and exploitation of the resources in Essequibo and ordered the National Assembly to draft a law prohibiting oil concessions granted by Guyana in the territorial sea to be delimited. The U.S. company Exxon Mobile has a maritime platform in the area. “We are giving three months to the companies that are exploiting resources there without Venezuelan permission to comply with the law,” he said. The Venezuelan president also asked the National Assembly to create environmental protection areas and national parks in the territory.
...“The international community has a great responsibility to ensure that peace prevails. Many countries are supporting Guyana in a peaceful resolution that must come out of the ICJ process,” the Guyanese president said. “We are working with our partners in the U.S. Departments of State and Defense to ensure that Guyana is not caught off guard and is prepared, and also to act as a country that respects the rule of law and international order.”
...“We are following the situation with concern, but I don’t think it’s going to come to that [an armed confrontation],” Ambassador Gisela Padovan, secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Reuters Tuesday, adding that she trusted Brazilian diplomacy and that of the rest of the neighboring countries will manage to “deflate the process.”
Even this very conservative Court appears reluctant to blow up the federal government’s power to tax rich people.
The Supreme Court spent much of Tuesday morning beating up Andrew Grossman, a lawyer asking the justices to revive a long-defunct limit on Congress’s ability to levy taxes.
The case Grossman was arguing, Moore v. United States, is widely viewed as a preemptive strike on wealth taxes — that is, taxes that target the stockpiled wealth of very rich people and that don’t simply tax the income rich people earn off of their wealth.
...Only Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch appeared to have any sympathy at all for Grossman’s attacks on Congress’s power to tax investors. And, while both men threw a barrage of hostile questions at Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, Alito and Gorsuch’s colleagues seemed uninterested in humoring them.
At one point, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a Republican, interrupted Alito to ask Prelogar a softball question — a clear sign that Kavanaugh was unpersuaded by Alito’s arguments. At another point, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, another Republican appointee, cut off a similar line of questions by Gorsuch.
And Clarence Thomas has no sense of irony…
The Supreme Court dismissed as moot Tuesday a case about whether disability rights activists have legal grounds to sue hotels they have no intention of visiting, after the activist in question dropped pending lawsuits and said she had stopped making such claims.
...Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote the court’s short opinion noting the lack of resolution. Justice Clarence Thomas said he would have answered the question, and he found that activist Deborah Laufer lacked legal standing to bring the lawsuits.
Laufer, a Florida woman with multiple sclerosis, filed more than 600 lawsuits against hotels she researched online. She accused the hotels of violating the Americans With Disabilities Act by failing to include accessibility information on their reservation websites.
...Thomas, writing only for himself, said the court should have decided the merits of the case and ruled against Laufer. “Without a violation of her own rights, Laufer lacks standing to sue hotels under the ADA,” he wrote. “Ensuring and monitoring compliance with the law is a function of a Government official, not a private person who does not assert a violation of her own rights.”
Despite some recent financial setbacks, U.S. offshore windpower has hit a milestone. An 800-foot tall turbine is now sending electricity onto the grid from a commercial-scale offshore wind farm on pace to be the country’s first.
The moment is years in the making and at the same time a modest advance in what experts say needs to be a major buildout of this type of clean electricity to address climate change.
...So far, two of the 11-megawatt turbines are up. The second is undergoing testing, then it can begin producing power too. When the other ten are spinning and South Fork opens by early next year, it will be able to generate 132 megawatts of offshore wind energy to power more than 70,000 homes.
Elon Musk may have a plan to save X, and it doesn't involve advertising, free speech, or financial services.
...X.ai Corp. yesterday disclosed in an SEC filing that it's raising up to $1 billion in equity funding, with nearly $135 million already banked. No investors were listed.
- It's unclear if X.ai sits under the same corporate umbrella (X Holdings Corp.) as does X Corp. (nee Twitter), and an X Corp. spokesman said he "can't share anything" in that regard.
Caveats: To be clear, that's a very optimistic bull case. X.ai is staring up a steep hill, even if it gets to ride ChatGPT's coattails.
- It's also expensive. Musk may have access to some excess cloud computing space via his vast business empire, but he'd still need billions of dollars to compete with all the Azure and AWS credits that OpenAI and Anthropic have received in exchange for equity.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr seems to have been a little closer to notorious pedophile Jeffrey Epstein than previously admitted.
During an interview with Fox News’s Jesse Waters, the presidential candidate admitted that he had been on Epstein’s so-called Lolita Express jet not just once but twice.
...“My wife had some kind of relationship with Ghislaine Maxwell and they offered us a ride to Palm Beach,” Kennedy said.
...Maxwell was once a guest at the wedding between disgraced former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Kerry Kennedy at which Maxwell boasted about sleeping with John F. Kennedy Jr., reported the New York Post.
It's not COVID or the flu. If you've been sick for a few weeks and have tested negative for everything, here's what's going on.
’Tis the season of respiratory illnesses. As we spend more time indoors and gather with friends and family to celebrate the holidays, cases of flu, COVID and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are steadily increasing around the country.
There’s also been an uptick in anecdotal reports of a brutal, long-lasting cough going around. As one TikTok user put it: everyone seems to have “a hacking cough that’s been going on for weeks.”
...O’Mahony suspects the sickness is “caused by the regular viruses that cause colds like rhinovirus, non-COVID coronaviruses or adenoviruses.”
The reason we don’t know exactly what’s causing it is because primary care doctors and urgent care clinics don’t routinely test for these other viruses unless someone is hospitalized with severe symptoms, according to Dr. Theodore Strange, an internal medicine physician with Northwell Health. He also thinks an adenovirus or rhinovirus may be the culprit.
A lot of words in that headline we weren’t expecting either.
...If you’re thinking, “Well that’s not where shrimp live,” you’d normally be right, and the discovery of these typically water-dwelling crustaceans so high up was a surprise for the scientists, too.
“We were quite shocked to discover this shrimp in the heart of the forest, because it is a remarkable departure from the typical seaside habitat for these animals,” said lead entomologist for the expedition Dr Leonidas-Romanos Davranoglou (a Leverhulme Trust Postdoctoral Fellow at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History), in a statement.
“We believe that the high level of rainfall in the Cyclops Mountains means the humidity is great enough for these creatures to live entirely on land.”
Your standard shrimp breathes using gills to extract oxygen from water and depending on the species will either live in marine or freshwater environments. To be thriving so far inland must mean this new genus has adapted a way to breathe without being fully submerged in water, as Davranoglou says, perhaps aided by rainfall or humidity.
What’s on your nature bucket list tonight? Tell us all about it in the comments...