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Welcome to the Overnight News Digest with a crew consisting of founder Magnifico, current leader Neon Vincent, regular editors jlms qkw, maggiejean, wader, Oke, rfall, and JML9999. Alumni editors include (but not limited to) palantir, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, ek hornbeck, ScottyUrb, Interceptor7 and BentLiberal. The guest editor is annetteboardman.

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Supporters of tighter restrictions on guns are deploying a new tactic: pressing companies such as Wyndham Worldwide Corp. (WYN) and Hertz Global Holdings Inc. (HTZ) to stop giving discounts to members of the National Rifle Association.

Organizations with ties to, an antiwar advocacy group that backed President Barack Obama’s re-election, want to shrink the NRA’s membership by eliminating an incentive to join -- cheaper hotel rooms and car rentals.

That would diminish the gun lobby’s clout as it tries to block congressional legislation in the aftermath of the December shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, the advocacy groups reason.
“The NRA takes those members and translates that into power in Washington,” said Kaytee Riek, who is managing the campaign for the New York-based group SumOfUs. “The companies leaving” the discount programs “will pressure the NRA.”



Florida Governor Rick Scott's plan to expand Medicaid coverage to cover about 1 million more poor people suffered a setback on Monday when the proposal failed to make it out of a key state legislative committee hearing.

On the eve of convening of the 2013 session, the House Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act rejected the expansion. A Senate counterpart committee postponed consideration of the issue, which is sure to be one of the biggest controversies of the session.

Scott, a Republican who bitterly fought President Barack Obama's national healthcare plan as a candidate and in his first two years as governor, stunned conservative supporters on February 20 when he endorsed a three-year expansion of Medicaid, provided the federal government picks up the full cost for the first three years as promised.


Calling them "three outstanding individuals" who will help him tackle some tough problems, President Obama on Monday morning nominated:

— Gina McCarthy, currently an assistant administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency, to lead that agency. She would succeed the departed Lisa Jackson.

— Ernest Moniz to be the next secretary of energy, replacing Steven Chu, who like Jackson decided not to stay for Obama's second term. Moniz is director of MIT's Energy Initiative and is a former undersecretary at the department.

— Sylvia Matthews Burwell, to head the Office of Management and Budget. She is president of the Walmart Foundation and served as deputy director at OMB in the late 1990s. She would replace Acting OMB Director Jeffrey Zients.

New York Times (subscription may be necessary)

The last time the nation’s tax code was overhauled, in 1986, Congress tried to end a big corporate giveaway.

But this valuable perk — the ability to finance a variety of business projects cheaply with bonds that are exempt from federal taxes — has not only endured, it has grown, in what amounts to a stealth subsidy for private enterprise.

A winery in North Carolina, a golf resort in Puerto Rico and a Corvette museum in Kentucky, as well as the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the offices of both the Goldman Sachs Group and Bank of America Tower in New York — all of these projects, and many more, have been built using the tax-exempt bonds that are more conventionally used by cities and states to pay for roads, bridges and schools.

LA Times

SACRAMENTO — "Too white, too right and too uptight," says a veteran political consultant. "That's why the Republican Party can't come back in California."

Strategist David Townsend is a Democrat, so that's the sort of comment you would expect from the likes of him.

But there were top Republicans at the party's state convention in Sacramento over the weekend making similar observations, in softer tones and absent the negativity. They realize that to survive, the California GOP must broaden its ethnic and ideological bases and be less rigid on social issues.

Karl Rove, former President George W. Bush's chief strategist, told a luncheon of about 500 delegates Saturday that the GOP needs to reflect the diversity of America. "If we do, we'll succeed."


In what appears to be his most in depth public comments regarding 2016, Jeb Bush says he's not ruling out a run for president.

And the former two-term Florida governor says he doesn't support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S

The comments come as Bush releases a new book on the issue of illegal immigration. He heads to two events over the next two weeks considered early cattle calls for Republican White House hopefuls.


A blizzard roared into North Dakota on Monday and was expected to dump up to a foot of snow in neighboring Minnesota before moving east over the mid-Atlantic states, where it could bury the Washington area with its biggest snowfall of the winter, the National Weather Service said.

Blowing snow and drifts up to 3 feet left parts of northeast Montana and the northwest North Dakota oil region with visibility at a quarter of mile under blizzard conditions that were expected to last into Monday afternoon, the weather service said.

Grand Forks, on the eastern border with Minnesota, reported 6 inches of snow on Monday morning and was expecting about 10 inches overall.


President Barack Obama has chosen a veteran Secret Service official who oversaw criminal investigations to head the agency, which last year became embroiled in a prostitution scandal in Colombia, a government source said.

In the next few days, Obama will appoint David O'Connor, a former assistant director of investigations who retired last year, as director of the agency that protects the president and other top officials.

The White House had no comment and the Department of Homeland Security would not confirm that he was to be appointed.

O'Connor will replace Mark Sullivan, who retired last month after almost three decades with the agency. The post of Secret Service director does not require Senate confirmation.


John and Yoko
In 2000, a New York-based architect named Cass Calder Smith was helping his father move into a new apartment, when he discovered a tremendous inventory of interview tapes — hundreds of hours of conversations with the biggest rock legends. His journalist father, Howard Smith, had enviable gigs as both a New York City radio personality (for WABC, later WPLJ) and a star columnist at the Village Voice during its heyday, in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, when every revolution — sexual, anti-war, civil rights, gay liberation— was not only at its height, but converging. Unflappable, immensely knowledgeable, and sharp-witted, he earned the confidence of his subjects — people like Mick Jagger, Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda (freshly returned from Cannes, after the premiere of “Easy Rider”), Frank Zappa, Eric Clapton, Lou Reed, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and Jerry Garcia (though Howard admits to John Lennon in an interview that he’s not a fan of the Dead) — who spoke with him, on repeat occasions, often at a crucial juncture in history, or in their lives, and opened up at length and with rare candor. These original reels from the interviews, which were conducted for Howard Smith’s column and radio show, were packed away in boxes, untouched for 40 years, in the back of his West Village loft. Howard Smith, now 76, and fighting cancer,  confessed to Ben Sisario in the New York Times in November that he’d kept them around, half-hoping to use them for his memoirs, thinking they would be “a good memory jogger. Things were happening every day that were just incredible.”



HSBC paid 204 of its staff more than £1m in 2012, a year when Britain's biggest bank made profits of $20.6bn (£13.7bn) despite being fined £1.2bn by the US authorities for helping Mexican drug barons launder money through the financial system.

At the start of a week in which Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland are both expected to disclose the pay of their highest earners for the first time, HSBC disclosed that 78 of those who took home more than £1m were based in the loss-making UK operations.

Unite described the scale of the pay as an "outrage" given that some of its members at HSBC take home £14,000 a year and are facing changes to their pension schemes and holiday.

The bank paid $200m of corporation tax in the UK on the profits, which were lower than the City expected, causing the shares to fall xxx to xxxp.

The bank's pre-tax profits for 2012 were $20.6bn, down 6% on 2011 and included $5.2bn caused by accounting rules requiring the bank to take account of the cost of buying back its own debt. HSBC is lobbying for these rules to be changed after they caused a $9bn swing on the previous year and it stressed its profits on an underlying basis were up 18% at $16.4bn.


Violence has flared on election day in Kenya, with at least 13 people killed in co-ordinated attacks on the coast.

A group of 200 Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) secessionists armed with guns, machetes and bows and arrows set a trap for police before dawn, killing five officers, the Kenyan police inspector general, David Kimaiyo, said. One attacker also died.

A second attack by secessionists in nearby Kilifi killed one police officer and five attackers, Kimaiyo said.

A Kilifi police official, Clemence Wangai, said seven people had died in that assault, including an election official.

The separatist group denied any responsibility for the attacks, however. "We are not responsible for any attacks anywhere in this region," the MRC spokesman Mohammed Rashid Mraja told the Reuters news agency, adding that the group only sought change through peaceful means.


The former head of the Catholic church in England and Wales has rejected the idea of significant reforms in the wake of Cardinal Keith O'Brien's confession of sexual misconduct – actions for which O'Brien is expected to face a Vatican inquiry despite his resignation.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, who stepped down as Archbishop of Westminster in 2009, insisted that issues such as O'Brien's behaviour and the abuse of children by other Catholic clergy was due to the weakness of individuals rather than any structural or institutional failings by the church.

Asked in an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today's programme if O'Brien's apparent hypocrisy – he was a strong opponent of gay rights before being accused of by three serving priests and a former priest of "inappropriate acts" towards them – showed the need for significant changes in the church, involving women as well as men, O'Connor replied: "That's very strong words. The church is composed of saints and sinners and every time things have gone wrong in the church … there's always been a reform, and that's been carried out by men and by women."

Spiegel Online

For years, Europe's young have grown increasingly furious as the euro crisis has robbed them of a future. The emergence of Beppe Grillo's party in Italy is one of the results -- and is just the latest indication that disgust towards European politics is widespread.

Only a few weeks ago, they hardly would have thought it was possible. But now here they are; their first public appearance following their surprise success in the Italian general election. In a hotel in Rome, not far from the Piazza San Giovanni, eight of the 162 newly elected parliamentary representatives of Movimento 5 Stelle (the Five Star Movement, or M5S) are squinting into the spotlights and speaking softly -- and what they are saying actually sounds reasonable.

Spiegel Online

The global war on drugs has cost billions and taken countless lives -- but achieved little. The scant results finally have politicians and experts joining calls for legalization. Following the journey of cocaine from a farm in Colombia to a user in Berlin sheds light on why.

"Pablo Escobar said to me: 'One shot to the head isn't enough. It has to be two shots, just above the eyes.'"

Jhon Velásquez, nicknamed "Popeye," is sitting on a white plastic chair in the prison yard. "You can survive one shot, but never two. I cut up the bodies and threw them in the river. Or I just left them there. I often drove through Medellín, where I kidnapped and raped women. Then I shot them and threw them in the trash."



Samsung has posted a video teasing the upcoming Unpacked event in New York City where the smartphone giant is expected to unveil its Galaxy S4 phone.
The video introduces viewers to Jeremy, a boy who Samsung says will be the "secret messenger" for its Unpacked event. In the video, Jeremy is allowed to look inside a box that ostensibly houses the Galaxy S4, and runs home with it. At the end of the video, Jeremy sits down at a desk in his room and the video ends with a "to be continued."

Samsung sent out invitations for its Unpacked event last month. The event, which will showcase the next Galaxy S device, has the tagline, "Be Ready 4 the Next Galaxy." It'll be held on March 14 in New York City.

Apple Iwatch
Apple's rumored iWatch may get its unveiling sooner than later.
The company is seeking to introduce the device as soon as this year, according to Bloomberg. The wire service previously reported that Apple had roughly 100 people working on the project.

CNET contacted Apple for comment, and we'll update the story when the company responds.

The iWatch may end up being more profitable than Apple's other rumored new business, the television. While the television business is saddled with low margins, a long replacement cycle, and high costs, the watch business boasts higher margins and growth.


It is finally happening. Smartphones are finally overtaking feature phones in worldwide sales, thanks to falling prices on smartphones and 4G networks, according to research firm IDC.

For years, analysts have been predicting that smartphones would one day supplant basic feature phones in terms of worldwide sales, and that day is expected to finally come in 2013. According to the report, IDC estimates that manufacturers will ship 918.6 million smartphones in 2013, which is about 50.1 percent of the industry's total shipments. This number is expected to grow to 1.5 billion in smartphone shipments by the end of 2017, which will be represent about two-thirds of the total cell phone shipments, according to IDC.

USA Today

The founder of Microsoft's remains the second-richest person in the world.

According to Forbes' latest list of the world's top billionaires, Bill Gates was worth $67 billion in 2013, second only to Mexico's Carlos Slim and his $73 billion.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was the only other tech name in the top five, worth $43 billion.

Several notable tech leaders appeared on the Forbes' billionaires list. CEO Jeff Bezos finished at 19th on the list with $25.2 billion, followed by Google co-founders Larry Page ($23 billion) and Sergey Brin ($22.8 billion) at 20th and 21st, respectively.

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