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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.

Please feel free to share your articles and stories in the comments.

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AlJazeera
 

Committee says it has no "conclusive" proof either side used chemical weapons, after claim that rebels used sarin gas.

A UN team of investigators into rights abuses in Syria has stressed there is no conclusive proof of either side in the conflict using chemical weapons, despite a team member's claims to the contrary.

"The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic wishes to clarify that it has not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties to the conflict," the commission said in a statement on Monday.

Earlier, Carla del Ponte, a former war crimes prosecutor and a member of the commission, had told Swiss public broadcaster RSI that "according to the testimonies we have gathered, the rebels have used chemical weapons, making use of sarin gas".

She acknowledged there was "still not irrefutable proof, [but] very strong suspicions, concrete suspicions that sarin gas has been used... by opponents, by rebels, not by government authorities.

NPR
 

Update at 1:55 p.m. ET: White House Is "Highly Skeptical":

At the White House this afternoon, spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. is "highly skeptical" of the comments made over the weekend by international prosecutor Carla del Ponte, who said there are "strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof" that rebels in Syria have used sarin gas.

We've been covering del Ponte's comments, and the reaction to them, through the day. Scroll down to see an earlier update and our original post.

Reuters
 

(Reuters) - Israel played down weekend air strikes reported to have killed dozens of Syrian soldiers close to Damascus, saying they were not aimed at influencing its neighbor's civil war but only at stopping Iranian missiles reaching Lebanese Hezbollah militants.

Oil prices spiked above $105 a barrel, their highest in nearly a month, on Monday as the air strikes on Friday and Sunday prompted fears of a wider spillover of the two-year old conflict in Syria that could affect Middle East oil exports.

"There are no winds of war," Yair Golan, the general commanding Israeli forces on the Syrian and Lebanese fronts, told reporters while out jogging with troops.

"Do you see tension? There is no tension. Do I look tense to you?" he said, according to the Maariv NRG news website.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came under veiled criticism in Beijing, where he began a scheduled visit in an apparent sign of confidence Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would not retaliate. China urged restraint without mentioning Israel by name.

Reuters
 

(Reuters) - Russia and China expressed alarm on Monday over the regional repercussions of two Israeli air raids on Syria, while Israel played down strikes which its officials said targeted Iranian missiles bound for Lebanese Hezbollah militants.

Oil prices spiked above $105 a barrel, their highest in nearly a month, on Monday morning as the air strikes on Friday and Sunday prompted fears of a wider spillover of Syria's two-year-old civil war that could affect Middle East oil exports.

Israel, whose prime minister visited China on Monday in a sign of business-as-usual, sought to persuade Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday that the air strikes did not aim to weaken him and dismissed the prospects of an escalation.

"There are no winds of war," Yair Golan, the general commanding Israeli forces on the Syrian and Lebanese fronts, told reporters while out jogging with troops.

"Do you see tension? There is no tension. Do I look tense to you?" he said, according to the Maariv NRG news website.

 

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US NEWS

Salon
 

Officials raided a Minnesota home full of Molotov cocktails and suspected pipe bombs

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The FBI believes “a terror attack was disrupted” when authorities arrested a man after they converged on a mobile home in western Minnesota that contained Molotov cocktails, suspected pipe bombs and firearms, the agency said Monday.

Buford Rogers, 24, was arrested Friday and charged with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He remains in federal custody it is not immediately clear if he has an attorney.

In a news release Monday, the FBI said it believes “the lives of several local residents were potentially saved” by the search and arrest. The agency said the terror plot was discovered through analysis of intelligence gathered by local, state and federal authorities. The statement doesn’t offer further details about the extent or manner of the alleged plot.

“Cooperation between the FBI and its federal, state, and local partners enabled law enforcement to prevent a potential tragedy in Montevideo,” Christopher Warrener, the special agent in charge of the FBI office in Minneapolis, said in Monday’s release.

The Guardian
 

The uncle of the suspected Boston marathon bomber who was killed in a firefight with police has visited a funeral home in Worcester, Massachusetts, to wash Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body and administer burial rites.

Ruslan Tsarni attended the Graham Putnum & Mahoney Funeral Parlors on Sunday, with three other men, to carry out the rituals which are required under Muslim tradition to be performed as quickly as possible after death. But the fate of the corpse of Tsarnaev, who was 26 when he died at the culmination of a massive police hunt for the suspected bombers, remains unknown and the subject of some controversy.

Peter Stefan, the funeral home director, has been holding the body under refrigeration with a police detail posted outside the building, as protesters picketed through the weekend. "Throw him off a boat like Osama bin Laden!" one man shouted, according to Associated Press. Another protester carried a sign saying: "Bury the garbage in the landfill".

The Guardian
 

Investigators have ruled out arson as the cause of a huge southern California wildfire that was 75% contained Sunday after burning through coastal mountains and threatening thousands of homes.

Cool, moist air significantly reduced fire activity and helped firefighters build containment lines around the 44-square-mile fire at the western end of the Santa Monica mountains.

Officials expected full containment late Monday.

Investigators said the cause of the fire was not considered suspicious. Instead, they believed it was started by a small, "undetermined roadside ignition of grass and debris" on the edge of US 101 near Thousand Oaks, said Tom Piranio, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The area near an uphill incline is considered a collection point for fuel and ignition sources, and it's possible a piece of debris fell into the tinder-dry brush early Thursday and sparked the fire, Piranio said.

Reuters
 

(Reuters) - Prosecutors have agreed to the release of a teenager accused of lying to FBI agents in the Boston Marathon bombing investigation while he awaits trial, according to a court filing on Monday.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers for Robel Phillipos plan to ask U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler to grant the 19-year-old a pretrial release under strict conditions. The court has not yet ruled on the joint motion. Phillipos was expected to appear at 2 p.m. (1800 GMT) hearing Monday in Boston.

Defense lawyers and prosecutors "conferred extensively" and agreed the court could have Phillipos ordered to home confinement at the residence of a third-party custodian, the court filing said. He would wear an electronic bracelet with GPS monitoring and post a $100,000 bond to ensure his appearance in future court proceedings.

Phillipos, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, is accused of making false statements to FBI agents investigating the April 15th attack that killed three people and injured 264 near the marathon's finish line.

Bloomberg
 

Dentral Smith had to say no when her granddaughter asked for a treat on the way home from school. The government’s cut in unemployment payments leaves her with less spending money.

“It was a setback,” said Smith, a 45-year-old Philadelphian who has been out of work since November. “My granddaughter, she said ‘Nanna, you’ve got your wallet.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, there’s nothing in it.’”

Federally funded benefits paid to the long-term unemployed were lowered by 10.7 percent starting March 31 as part of reductions to planned government spending called sequestration. Benefit cuts will affect about 1.8 million workers, based on Labor Department data, and add to the drag on consumer spending from a payroll tax increase that took effect in January.

The gun was assembled from separate printed components made from ABS plastic - only the firing pin was made from metal
BBC
 
The world's first gun made with 3D printer technology has been successfully fired in the US.

The controversial group which created the firearm, Defense Distributed, plans to make the blueprints available online.

The group has spent a year trying to create the firearm, which was successfully tested on Saturday at a firing range south of Austin, Texas.

Anti-gun campaigners have criticised the project.

Europe's law enforcement agency said it was monitoring developments.

Victoria Baines, from Europol's cybercrime centre, said that at present criminals were more likely to pursue traditional routes to obtain firearms.

She added, however: "But as time goes on and as this technology becomes more user friendly and more cost effective, it is possible that some of these risks will emerge."

Sun Sentinel
 

Oakland Park—
The Broward Sheriff's Office Monday identified Angela Divin, 6, as the child who was shot by her older brother this weekend.

According to the agency, Angela was shot by her 13-year-old brother shortly before 7 p.m. Saturday inside their residence along the 5900 block of Northeast Second Terrace.

The name of the older sibling was not released.

It was late Saturday afternoon when Justin Latourrette noticed that the two young children of his new neighbors were out in the driveway washing a family car.

"I thought it was strange," said Latourrette, 29. "They didn't seem to have any supervision."

What happened about an hour later was even stranger: "A loud boom," said Latourrette; police confirmed it was a gunshot.

"The siblings had been home alone when the teen found the handgun," Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Dani Moschella said in a news release.

Salon
 

Air Force Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski was arrested and charged with sexual battery in Virginia over the weekend

Chief of the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response branch at the Pentagon Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski was arrested and charged with sexual battery in Virginia over the weekend.

Krusinski is accused of drunkenly fondling a woman in a parking lot, according to Arlington County police.

As reported by local news site ARLnow:

“A drunken male subject approached a female victim in a parking lot and grabbed her breasts and buttocks,” according to a Arlington County Police Department crime report. “The victim fought the suspect off as he attempted to touch her again and alerted police.”

“Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with sexual battery,” police said. “He was held on a $5,000 unsecured bond.”

An Air Force spokeswoman confirmed Jeffrey’s rank, job title and the fact that he works at the Pentagon to ARLnow.com, but had no further comment.

The victim did not know Krusinski, according to the police report.

BBC
 

Two US women who disappeared as teenagers about a decade ago have been found alive in the state of Ohio, police say.

Amanda Berry disappeared aged 16 in 2003, while Gina DeJesus went missing at the age of 14 a year later.

The women were found in a house in the city of Cleveland, along with a third woman, Michele Knight, who also vanished years ago, police confirmed.

WORLD NEWS

  • Bangladesh protest violence leaves more than 30 people dead

    The Guardian
     

    More than 30 people have died in fierce clashes between police and Islamist protesters in the Bangladesh capital, Dhaka, compounding the chaos in a country struggling to come to terms with a building collapse that killed more 650 people last month.

    A large rally, organised by the Hefazat-e-Islam, a pressure group consisting of teachers and students of religious schools, descended into violence on Sunday evening when Islamist protesters clashed with police and ruling Awami League activists. Several hundred shops and vehicles were burnt during pitched battles that raged into the night.

    The Islamists were demonstrating in favour of an anti-blasphemy law and demanding punishment for "atheist" bloggers who they say have insulted Islam and its prophet.

    Many continued to clash with police on Monday in the Narayanganj suburb of Dhaka and in the Chittagong district in the south-east, with at least 15 protesters and 3 police officers confirmed dead by police sources.

  • Subject of Envy: Britain Discovers Germany as a Model

    Spiegel Online
     

    Britain, which has yet to recover from the 2008 financial crash, is peering enviously at Germany's economic structure with its focus on engineering, its medium-sized firms, apprenticeships, regional banks and long-term business approach. The opposition Labour Party, but also the Conservative-led government, are starting to embrace German ideas.

    "Why can't we more like Germany?" center-left British weekly New Statesman asks on the cover of its latest issue. The cover image shows Chancellor Angela Merkel alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger, one of Bayern Munich's star players -- as role models in politics and football. Britain can prosper, the magazine suggests, if it understands Germany's success.

    The author of the article, German-born Philip Oltermann, writes that British politicians and business people have the habit of talking about the "German model" every 20 years. That time has come again. The fact that two German teams, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, have reached the Champions League final which will be played in London's Wembley stadium on May 25 appears to have confirmed what a lot of people in Britain have been murmuring for months. The Germans are somehow getting it right.

  • Thousands gather for Russia opposition rally

    AlJazeera
     

    Protesters mark one year since demonstration ahead of Putin's inauguration ended in violence and mass arrests.

    Thousands of Russians have taken to the streets of Moscow to mark one year since a major opposition protest ended in mass arrests.

    Police said about 6,000 protesters were present at the start of Monday's rally, Al Jazeera's David Chater, reporting from Moscow, estimated the crowd at 20,000. Only up to 30,000 people were allowed by the government to protest.

    "It looks like a very powerful protest and it looks like it's going to be full as much as the mayor of Moscow allows," Chater said.

    Our correspondent said opposition blogger Alexi Navalny, who is facing charges of embezzlement by the government, is expected to address crowd.

    "It's not the case yet that Putin has completely extinguished the spark of this protest," Chater said.  

    Hours before the protest began, a worker died after he was struck by acoustic equipment as he was helping to erect the stage for the event.

  • Neo-Nazi murders: Beate Zschaepe goes on trial in Germany

    BBC
     

    An alleged member of a German neo-Nazi cell has gone on trial in Munich in connection with a series of racially motivated murders.

    Beate Zschaepe, 38, is accused of being part of the National Socialist Underground (NSU), which killed 10 people, most of them of Turkish origin.

    She denies the murder charges. Critics say the police made serious errors.

    The judge later adjourned the trial for a week after the defence team accused the judge of bias.

    After entering court, Ms Zschaepe stood with folded arms and turned her back on the camera.

    Her lawyers lodged a legal complaint with the judge, accusing him of bias. They complained about being searched for possible weapons or other objects on arrival, while prosecutors and police were not. The judge ordered an adjournment until 14 May to consider the complaint.

    The NSU case sparked controversy as police wrongly blamed the Turkish mafia before discovering the far-right cell.

    The head of Germany's domestic intelligence service was eventually forced to resign over the scandal. It also emerged that intelligence files on far-right extremists were destroyed after the cell's activities came to light.

  • German police arrest 93-year-old 'Auschwitz guard'

    The Guardian
     

    A 93-year-old man who was deported from the US for lying about his Nazi past was arrested by German authorities on Monday on allegations he served as an Auschwitz death camp guard, Stuttgart prosecutors said.

    Hans Lipschis was taken into custody after authorities concluded there was "compelling evidence" he was involved in crimes at Auschwitz while posted there from 1941 to 1945, prosecutor Claudia Krauth said.

    Lipschis has acknowledged being assigned to an SS guard unit at Auschwitz but maintains he only served as a cook and was not involved in any war crimes.

  • Pakistan election violence forces candidates behind high walls

    Reuters
     

    (Reuters) - Mian Hussain is fighting for his political life from a deserted party headquarters, where two telephones sit silently beside him and the footsteps of a tea boy echo down the corridor.

    One of Pakistan's most high-profile anti-Taliban politicians, Hussain hasn't been to a single public event since campaigning for the May 11 election kicked off. A fiery orator who once electrified big rallies, he now makes short speeches by telephone to small huddles of supporters meeting in secret.

    For the spokesman of the Awami National Party (ANP), it's just too dangerous to go out.

    Since April, the Pakistani Taliban have killed more than 70 people in attacks targeting three major political parties, preventing many of their most prominent candidates from openly campaigning.

    Hussain worries the Taliban want to rig the elections in favor of parties that will take a softer line with their determination to stamp a radical brand of Islam on the country.

  • SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

  • Apple rockets toward top of Fortune 500
    Apple Store at night in Shanghai, China.
    CNET
     
    The iPhone and iPad maker is now in sixth place, jumping from its previous rank of 17 last year. And Facebook cracks the Fortune 500 for the first time.

    Apple has shot up to sixth place in the Fortune 500, Fortune announced today.

    The iPhone maker's strong showing in the Fortune 500 is a dramatic rise from its 17th-place ranking in 2012. In sixth place, Apple is the highest-ranking technology company in a list topped by Walmart. Major oil companies, including Exxon Mobil and Chevron, along with Berkshire Hathaway, separate Apple from the top spot.

  • Did Google flush $12.4 billion down the toilet with Motorola?

    CNET
     

    An EU warning to Motorola Mobility is just the latest defeat that has some wondering why Google bought the handset and TV set-top box maker.

    When Google said it would acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.4 billion, it was applauded as a bold move to shore up its patent position.
    A year and a half and several legal setbacks later, many are wondering when -- and if -- Google will ever see a payoff.

    The latest headache comes courtesy of the European Commission, which sent Motorola Mobility a formal list of complaints on Monday regarding how it uses its market position to seek and enforce a patent-related injunction against Apple.

  • Apple Misses IPhone Customers as Global Carriers Balk

    Bloomberg
     

    Apple Inc. (AAPL) is missing out on a chance to court as many as 2.8 billion new smartphone customers, many of them in Asia, as wireless-service providers balk at conditions imposed by the iPhone maker and drag their heels in signing on as partners.

    Apple has announced fewer than a dozen new wireless-service providers to sell the device since September 2011, leaving the total at about 240. Holdouts represent billions of would-be subscribers in countries such as China, Japan, India and Russia, said Horace Dediu, a market analyst who runs Asymco.com. Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), Apple’s biggest smartphone rival, sells devices through almost all of the world’s 800 carriers, Asymco said.

  • Parents' Saliva On Pacifiers Could Ward Off Baby's Allergies

    NPR
     

    That word "microbiome" — describing the collection of bacteria that live in and on our bodies — keeps popping up. This time, researchers say that children whose parents clean their pacifiers by sucking them might be less likely to develop allergic conditions because of how their parents' saliva changes their microbiomes.

    That's the word from a small study of 184 Swedish babies published in this week's issue of the journal Pediatrics. The researchers found that the 65 babies whose mother or father sucked on their pacifiers to cleanse them were significantly less likely to get eczema and asthma, two conditions caused by allergic reactions, than babies whose parents did not use the cleaning technique.

    "This is a really interesting and intriguing observation," says Elizabeth Matsui of the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, who was not involved in the research.

    The findings add credence to a growing body of evidence that suggests that exposure, or the lack of exposure, to microbes early in life can affect a child's health by influencing his or her microbiome.

  • The Lies You've Been Told About the Origin of the QWERTY Keyboard

    The Atlantic
     

    The first time I heard the lie, I was in fifth grade. Mr. Ward took me aside (or maybe he told the whole class, it was a long time ago) to tell me about the wonders of Dvorak, a different keyboard layout that was scientifically designed to be more efficient than the standard layout. That layout was called QWERTY, he explained, and it had been created to slow typists down. You see, in the olden days, mechanical typewriters could jammed if people hit the keys too quickly, so they had to put the common letters far apart from each other. The modern keyboard, I was told, was a holdover of the mechanical age.

    Since then, I've heard this story repeated a thousand times. So many times, I had assumed it was true. But Jimmy Stamp over at Smithsonian points to evidence released by Japanese researchers that, in fact, the story is bunk. The QWERTY keyboard did not spring fully formed from Christopher Sholes, the first person to file a typewriter patent with the layout. Rather, it formed over time as telegraph operators used the machines to transcribe Morse code. The layout changed often from the early alphabetical arrangement, before the final configuration came into being.

  • Billions of cicadas to invade US east coast after 17 years underground

    The Guardian
     

    Any day now, billions of cicadas with bulging red eyes will crawl out of the earth after 17 years underground and overrun the US east coast. They will arrive in such numbers that people from North Carolina to Connecticut will be outnumbered roughly 600 to one. Maybe more.

    But ominous as that sounds — along with scientists' horror-movie name for the infestation, Brood II — they're harmless. These insects won't hurt you or other animals. At worst, they might damage a few saplings or young shrubs. Mostly they will blanket certain pockets of the region, though lots of people won't ever see them.

    "It's not like these hordes of cicadas suck blood or zombify people," says May Berenbaum, a University of Illinois entomologist.

    They're looking for just one thing: sex. And they've been waiting quite a long time.

    Since 1996, this group of one-inch bugs, in wingless nymph form, has been a few feet underground, sucking on tree roots and biding their time. They will emerge only when the ground temperature reaches precisely 64F. After a few weeks up in the trees, they will die and their offspring will go underground, not to return until 2030.

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