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Welcome to the Overnight News Digest (OND) for Tuesday, April 23, 2013.

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 near 12:00AM Eastern Time.

Creation and early water-bearing of the OND concept came from our very own Magnifico - proper respect is due.

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This diary is named for its "Hump Point" video: Still Alive by GLaDOS

News below Aunt Flossie's hairdo . . .

Please feel free to browse and add your own links, content or thoughts in the Comments section.

Any timestamps shown are relative to each publication.

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Top News
Children Routinely Injured or Killed by Guns, U.S. Study Shows

By (ScienceDaily)
While gun control issues usually surface after major incidents like the fatal shooting of 20 elementary school students in Newtown, Connecticut, a new U.S. study shows that children are routinely killed or injured by firearms.

. . .

Sauaia, an associate professor of public health, medicine and surgery, studied child trauma admissions from 2000-2008 at Children's Hospital Colorado and Denver Health Medical Center. She found those who had been shot suffered significantly more severe wounds than children hurt with other objects and that the severity of the firearm injuries in increasing

At the same time, 50 percent of shooting victims required intensive care. And 13 percent died compared to 1.7 percent of children hurt in non-firearm incidents. The majority of those shot were adolescent males whose injuries were often self-inflicted.

. . .

"When we examined the data we found that 7 percent of the injuries to children were related to violence and of those 38 percent were related to guns," she said. "If the injury was gun related, the odds of dying were 10 times greater than from any other kind of injury."

Brazil fines McDonald's for $1.6 million for pushing Happy Meals on children

By Jill Langlois
Brazil's consumer protection agency, Procon, has fined McDonald's for pushing Happy Meals on children through targeted advertising and toys.

"This is not an isolated case," said Procon's top lawyer in São Paulo, Renan Ferraciolli. "There's no need to appeal as they do to children without the maturity or the rationality to enter the market as consumers."

. . .

The fine is the latest in a string of tactics by Brazilian regulators that are cracking down on big companies for what are seen as consumer abuses. Brazilian banks, phone companies and private health plans have been penalized in recent months.

Pediatricians in the United States have also come together against advertising unhealthy foods to children, but legal measures have yet to make much of a mark. Last year, a judge threw out a lawsuit against Happy Meal marketing in the US.

Senate Votes in Favor of Internet Sales Tax Bill

By Tiffany Kaiser
. . .

The legislation -- known as the Marketplace Fairness Act -- scored a big victory in a procedural vote of 74-20 Monday night. It even won backing from U.S. President Barack Obama.

The Marketplace Fairness Act allows states to force out-of-state retailers to collect online sales taxes. Currently, states can only require merchants within their borders to collect sales taxes.

. . .

Many states are in favor of the Marketplace Fairness Act because the money from sales tax collection could help with financial deficits. For instance, the California Board of Equalization said it made $96.4 million in sales tax on internet commerce from September-December 2012, which is the first full quarter that the state started collecting.

Brick-and-mortar stores are also happy with the legislation, since stores like Wal-Mart and Best Buy have complained about the unfair advantage online retailers like Amazon have when it comes to the lack of sales tax collection in certain states.

Study: China Beats U.S. for the First Time in Clean Energy

By Jason Mick
. . .

The U.S was clean energy's "biggest loser", according to the Pew report, with American clean energy investment (which excludes research and development spending) falling to $35.6B USD in 2012 -- a 37 percent plunge.  That fall helped trigger an 11 percent decline in global spending, which dipped to $269B USD in 2012.

Meanwhile in China the opposite was happening.  Owing to the strong growth, Asia's clean energy sector grew 16 percent as the global market contracted.  Buoyed by China, clean energy investment in the sector soared to $101B USD last year -- 42 percent of the global total.

. . .

Aside from China, developing nations also showed strong growth.  Nations outside the pack of the world's twenty richest nations -- the so-called Group of 20, or G-20 -- saw roughly $20B USD in green energy spending, a 50 percent rise.  Solar and other technologies are increasingly being considered to provide low-cost power in remote regions.

International
Unemployment among UK women rising to 25-year high, survey finds

By Amelia Hill
Almost 1.5 million women could be unemployed by 2018 if the government's current plans for job growth continue as planned, according to a new survey.

Women's unemployment is rising to a 25-year-high, while men's is decreasing, with 60% of new private-sector jobs since the first quarter of 2010 going to men.

. . .

The report found that women have not only already borne the brunt of cuts to the public-sector workforce but that, with 75% of the cuts yet to be felt, the future is even bleaker.

Rockets from Syria land in Lebanon as clerics declare jihad against Assad

By Alexander Besant
. . .

Rocket attacks by rebels have fallen deeper and deeper into the country, including the town of Hermel, a Hezbollah stronghold.

The Syrian conflict has long threatened to spill into Lebanon with the latter divided between supporters and opponents of Assad.

. . .

The conflict in Syria is in its third year, with rebels occupying cities in the north and the Syrian regime still in control of the coastline and the capital, Damascus.

Burma political prisoners 'freed' after EU sanctions move

By (BBC)
. . .

Correspondents say that the latest amnesty could also be linked to the onset of the Burmese new year.

In a separate development, the government has announced an expansion in the teaching of ethnic languages.

. . .

There are more than 100 different languages spoken in Burma by a wide variety of ethnic groups including the Shan, Kachin, Rakhine and Kayin.

. . .

Burma has freed hundreds of political detainees since President Thein Sein took power in March 2011. Up until then it barely acknowledged their existence.

HIV spread in England 'can be halted within generation'

By (BBC)
. . .

The new It Starts With Me campaign, created by the Terrence Higgins Trust, urges people in high-risk groups to get tested for HIV at least every 12 months, and more frequently if they have symptoms or have put themselves at risk by having unprotected sex, for example.
Effective treatment

Sir Nick Partridge, chief executive at the trust, said: "While a cure or vaccine for HIV remains stubbornly out of reach, what many people don't realise is that medical advances mean it is now within our grasp to stop the virus in its tracks.

. . .

He said that to succeed people need to understand that HIV is just as relevant an issue today as it was in 1982.

USA Politics, Economy, Major Events
Accused bomber says U.S. wars fed the brothers’ radicalism

By Greg Gordon
The surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect told FBI agents from his hospital bed that he and his brother were driven to the attack by jihadist radicalism sparked by the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in which thousands of Muslims have died, a federal law enforcement official familiar with the inquiry said Tuesday.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who lay in a Boston hospital with multiple gunshot wounds, also said that he and his older brother, Tamerlan, learned how to make the pressure cooker bombs used in the attack from an al Qaida website, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the investigation are sensitive.

. . .

No evidence has surfaced so far that the two Chechen brothers were influenced by a foreign terrorist organization to carry out the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil since the suicide hijackings that toppled the World Trade Center, hit the Pentagon and crashed in a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001.

US women shot by LAPD in Dorner manhunt get $4m payout

By (BBC)
Margie Carranza and her mother Emma Hernandez were delivering newspapers early on 7 February when officers fired about 100 bullets into their car.

Ms Hernandez was shot in the back and Ms Carranza sustained minor injuries.

. . .

Glen Jonas, the lawyer representing the women, said his clients would accept the payment after the end of the current fiscal year on 30 June, to help ease the city's financial troubles.

Welcome to the "Hump Point" of this OND.

News can be sobering and engrossing - at this point in the diary, an offering of brief escapism:

Random notes related to this video:
. . .
So Jonathan Coulton, successful singers-songwriter that he is and Contributing Troubadour to Popular Science, did not have much competition when he set about writing a ditty that can now arguably claim the title greatest song of video game history (can we all agree it’s at least in the top five?).

. . .

At the time Swift approached him, Coulton hadn’t been playing games much -- his days of enjoying "Halo" and Valve's "Half-Life" had been displaced by the additions into his life of a wife, a daughter and a Mac. (Not that he doesn't bump into games. More recently, fans of his who work at Harmonix let him into their studio so he could sample "Rock Band.") When Swift mentioned she worked for Valve, the "Half-Life" people, at the Seattle gig, Coulton was intrigued and ready to get his mind back on gaming. But with songs not being a huge part of games, it wasn't clear exactly how involved he could be, Valve project or not.

. . .

Back in his New York studio, Coulton wrote "Still Alive." Without spoiling things, the song conveys the closing thoughts of a major character in "Portal," a character whose voice Coulton recognized as the subject of a lot of his non-game work: a "kind of monstrous, passive, aggressive misunderstood personality."

. . . "I would probably have to play it in a different key," he said, which would make sense to anyone who has heard it. "To me that's the power of the character, that she gradually reveals herself to be almost painfully human as the game goes on, which is why you become really emotionally involved in the story. If I were to perform it I wouldn't worry too much about it sounding like a computer because I wrote it to sound like a human."

Back to what's happening:
Environment and Greening
The benefits of alternative farming methods

By Abigail Conrad
Small-scale farmers produce food for 70% of the global population. Yet, they are some of the world's poorest and most food insecure people. Alternatives to conventional farming should be embraced to improve subsistence farmers' yields and to ensure adequate food production for the growing global population. The stark reality, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute, is that the world needs to produce more food with fewer resources.

. . .

Permaculture programmes are more multifunctional than typical agricultural development programs. This is important given the growing call for "triple-win solutions" for agriculture, health, and environmental sustainability. For example, Partners in Health ran a model permaculture farmer programme in Malawi which helped HIV/Aids patients get the additional caloric and micronutrient intake that they need. Elsewhere, in Malawi and South Africa, permaculture is used "as a sustainable, non-donor dependent tool for improving the health, food and nutrition security, and livelihoods," of orphans and vulnerable children, according to a recent USAid report. Indonesia, Oxfam funded a permaculture school that taught ex-combatants and tsunami survivors how to improve their food security and livelihoods, while protecting the environment.

. . .

First, the small-scale, grassroots nature of permaculture, while part of its strength, has contributed to its slow dissemination and minimal visibility.

Second, permaculture is a design system, rather than an easily replicated model, which makes it more difficult to teach and adopt than a typical agriculture project. Further, permaculture challenges how governments and NGOs usually teach people to farm. Indigenous farming knowledge, like that used in permaculture, has been devalued and eroded with the imposition of monocropping and green revolution technologies.

The smart money is on renewable energy

By Tim McDonnell
Fossil fuel cheerleaders take note: Renewable energy ain’t going nowhere — and it may prove to be the better bet in the long run.

By 2030, renewables will account for 70 percent of new power supply worldwide, according to projections released Monday from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Bloomberg analysts examined gas prices, carbon prices, the dwindling price of green energy technology, and overall energy demand (which, in the U.S. at least, is on a massive decline), and found solar and wind beating fossil fuels like coal and natural gas by 2030.

. . .

Signs of this transformation are already appearing: Solar power workers now outnumber coal miners nationwide, wind power was the United States’ leading source of new power in 2012, and financial analysts warn that fossil fuel investments are poised to become a very bad bet.

But that doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods yet: Fossil fuels have such a historic grip on the power market that even this projected massive growth isn’t enough to tip the scales fully towards sustainability. By 2030, non-renewable sources will still account for half of the world’s total power supply, according to the analysis.

Science and Health
People Care About Source of Money, Attach Less Value to 'Tainted' Wealth

By (ScienceDaily)
It's no accident that money obtained through dishonest or illegal means is called "dirty money." A new study from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that when people perceive money as morally tainted, they also view it as having less value and purchasing power.

. . .

"Our work suggests morality is an important force shaping economic decision-making," said Jennifer Stellar, a doctoral student in psychology and lead author of the study. "Though we often think $50 is $50, these results demonstrate that when money takes on negative moral associations, its value is diminished."

. . .

The results suggest individuals believe that acquiring morally tainted money threatens their own moral character. But by removing those fears and making participants feel certain in their moral high ground, the researchers are able to diminish the threat of accepting morally tainted money, Willer said.

More green spaces: Better health, less stress, more money

By (UPI)
People who live in cities with more green space reported less mental distress, better health, higher life satisfaction and income, British researchers say.

. . .

"Living in an urban area with relatively high levels of green space compared to one with relatively low levels of green space was associated with a positive impact on well-being equivalent to roughly a third of the impact of being married vs. unmarried and a tenth of the impact of being employed vs. unemployed," White said in a statement.

. . .

Findings from previous research suggested a correlation between green space and well-being, but those studies weren't able to rule out the possibility that people with higher levels of well-being simply moved to greener areas, White said.

What Kind of Drugs Kill the Most People?

By Casey Chan
original
. . .

Popular Science compiled data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's WONDER database and made the chart above. That gigantic green region? That's all the deaths related to ODing on pharamaceuticals. That barely visible grey line (it's the thin topping on the chart)? All "other" drugs like marijuana, LSD, opium, mescaline and mushrooms. Hell, it's harder to OD on coke or heroin or drinking than it is to die from pharmaceuticals. Three quarter of the pharmaceutical deaths were from opioid analgesics (think Vicodin or OxyContin).

The data tracks the cause of death listed on the death certificate. In 2010, 80,000 Americans died because of drug and alcohol overdose.

Technology
Preventing Misinformation from Spreading through Social Media

By David Talbot
. . .

Researchers from the Masdar Institute of Technology and the Qatar Computer Research Institute plan to launch Verily, a platform that aims to verify social media information, in a beta version this summer. Verily aims to enlist people in collecting and analyzing evidence to confirm or debunk reports. As an incentive, it will award reputation points—or dings—to its contributors.

. . .

Research efforts have also shown how to effectively mobilize many people on social media for a common task. In a 2009 experiment, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency offered $40,000 to the first team that could identify the locations of 10 large red weather balloons lofted by DARPA at undisclosed locations across the United States. The winning team, from MIT, did it in less than nine hours using an incentive structure, fueled by cash rewards, to drum up viral participation on social media. Anyone who found a single balloon would get $2,000; someone who invited that person to join the hunt would get $1,000. A similar but harder challenge, in 2012, asked teams to find specific individuals within cities within 12 hours with only a single mugshot to work with. There again, a distributed cash reward system worked best.

. . .

Humanitarian agencies working in the region could promote participation, as could the press and Twitter. Voters’ reputation scores would increase or decrease over time; future votes from reliable people would get increased weight. And voters would be encouraged to bring others to the site; anyone brought in by someone with a good reputation would automatically start with a higher reputation themselves.

In many ways the platform is meant to resolve a design problem inherent in sites like Reddit, adds Patrick Meier, director of innovation at the Qatar Institute who is a co-creator of Verily and former director of crisis mapping at Ushahidi, the online incident reporting platform (see “Crisis Mapping Meets Check In”). “They don’t have the design to facilitate these kinds of workflows and collaboration,” he says. Verify could provide a rapid means to vet reports arising on sites like Reddit.

NASA sends smartphones into orbit in low-cost satellite test

By (UPI)
NASA says three smartphones are performing well after being launched into orbit in a low-budget, experimental satellite program using off-the-shelf components.

. . .

Running the Android operating system, the PhoneSats' mission is to take photos of Earth and send back periodic radio messages, to gauge what smartphones are capable of and if they could be the "brains" of future satellites, NASA officials said.

. . .

The mission will be a short one, with the PhoneSats burning up on re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere within the next two weeks, NASA said.

Facebook Shoots Down Giveaways of Assault Weapons

By Josh Harkinson
The months since the Newtown massacre have seen an explosion of gun and ammo giveaways on Facebook. For some gun enthusiasts, scoring a free AR-15 assault weapon has been as easy as clicking a "like" button on the Facebook page of a firearms marketer such as 556 Tactical, Pittsburgh Tactical, or AR15News.com. Since December, the number of gun and ammo giveaways on the social networking site has increased seven-fold, according to research by the media startup Vocativ . . .

Facebook has allowed companies to give away guns as sweepstakes prizes since 2011. However, a Facebook spokesperson told Vocativ that the sweepstakes in question are technically ads, and therefore still violate a Facebook policy banning "the promotion and sale of weapons."

Twitter is becoming the first and quickest source of investment news

By Barry Ritholtz
. . .

This "Twitter effect" is now common. Seal Team Six killing Osama bin Laden broke on Twitter. The uprisings of the Arab spring were first covered via Twitter. So was the death of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. More and more, it seems the first word we get about major events comes from the microblogging service.

Consider this month's story of economics professors Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart. Their studies were the basis of much of the austerity movement in Europe and the US, based on their claim that debt-to-GDP ratios over 90% are linked to much slower economic growth. But an academic study by Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash and Robert Pollin of the University of Massachusetts debunked it – turns out the profs had it backward, and that slower growth leads to more debt. A blog post by Mike Konzcal explaining the significance of this spread, through economists, then to the Wall Street strategist community, all via Twitter.

. . .

One key factor is that Twitter is a meritocracy. In social media, people cannot build big followings organically unless what they are putting out to the world has value. The more valuable it is over time, the more followers you get. Twitter has become a group conversation of the type that used to take place on trading floors.

Google Joins PayPal-Backed Effort to Kill the Password

By Tom Simonite
. . .

The group, the FIDO Alliance, is working on technology that would give the device a person was using a role in authenticating them so that a password alone is not enough to unlock an account (see “PayPal, Lenovo Launch New Campaign to Kill the Password”). That approach can make it impossible to compromise accounts just by stealing passwords, as hackers did in order to break into Twitter this year and LinkedIn last year.

Logging into an account using the FIDO approach might involve the security chip in your PC or phone being checked, or a person being prompted to say a short phrase so the sound of their voice can be matched with a voiceprint on file.

. . .

The FIDO Alliance isn’t going to back any one replacement for passwords, but is working on technical standards that make it easy to support all kinds of replacements. That’s an important role if the ideas Google has about our password-free future are to take hold. Remembering many passwords is a challenge, but having a different USB or piece of jewellery for each online account would be worse.

Cultural
The changing face of the average Aussie

By Nick Bryant
. . . outsiders tend to think of "quintessential Aussies" - ruggedly individualist types with a bawdy sense of humour and a self-confidence bordering on the downright cocky.

. . .

No, the "average Australian" is evidently a 37-year-old woman, married with two children, who lives in a three-bedroom house in a suburb of one of Australia's capital cities. Its average Australian is a wholly different character from the imagined Australian.

. . .

The "average Aussie" is Catholic rather than Anglican, and one of the main reasons why is because of new arrivals from the Philippines and Vietnam. . .

Also noticeable is the strong growth of non-Christian groups, which again is explained mainly by immigration. Of the non-Christian religions . . .

. . .

"Twenty years ago it was the cultural elites who used to cringe at the stereotypical Paul Hogan, Steve Irwin and Shane Warne view of Australia. Now that's part of a much broader discussion. People are very aware of what the world imagines Australia to be, and what we really are. We want our national profile to reflect our lived experience."

Australians, she says, are becoming more resentful of tourism adverts that peddle in traditional stereotypes and typecast Australians. Tourism Australian does so because the cliches sell, and attempts to rebrand the country have not always been successful.

Mandela honoured by film installation in Times Square

By (BBC)
A film installation celebrating Nelson Mandela is taking over the electronic billboards in New York's Times Square.

. . .

Inspirational quotes will played across many of Times Square's screens this month to celebrate the anti-apartheid leader's 95th birthday in July.

. . .

The three-minute presentation will be shown every night just before midnight as part of a series of installations which have already featured Icelandic singer Bjork and British conceptual artist Tracy Emin.

. . .

Mr Mandela, who spent 27 years in jail for fighting white minority rule, was freed in 1990 and became South Africa's first democratically elected president in 1994.

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