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"The Nuclear Energy Institute and the National Mining Association said they sued the U.S. to reverse a ban on new uranium mining on federal land around the Grand Canyon in Arizona." (see story below)

-- Bloomberg (external link)



Welcome to the Overnight News Digest


     (graphic by palantir)

The OND is published each night around midnight, Eastern Time.

The originator of OND was Magnifico.

Current Contributors are ScottyUrb, Bentliberal, wader, Oke, rfall, JML9999 and NeonVincent who also serves as chief cat herder.

California water project won't be decided at poll:  Thirty years ago, Californians soundly rejected a proposal to build a canal to move water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and deliver it to Central Valley farmers, Southern California residents and some Bay Area cities.

The projected costs and threats of environmental damage resulted in an overwhelming defeat at the hands of voters statewide.

Now, planning for the construction of a similar canal is under way, and a final design could be selected by the end of the year.

The designs under consideration are smaller than the last proposal, but the biggest difference between now and 30 years ago is that this time around, voters w

- Wyatt Buchanan, sfgate.com



Birth control issue rankles women of both parties: "It's a losing proposition," Gail Neira, head of the San Francisco Republican Bay Area Alliance, said as she roamed the state GOP convention in Burlingame over the weekend.

Especially, she said, when it appears most of the talk is coming from male presidential candidates and officeholders.

"I resent my moral life and health being dictated to by a man, and I don't care who he is," Neira said. "Are they giving up Viagra and vasectomies?"

Two California Republicans are central figures in the controversy - Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista (San Diego County), a prominent speaker at the convention, and Rep. Dan Lungren of Gold River (Sacramento County), who also attended the gathering.

Both have been targeted by Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and women's groups as Republicans trying to "censor" women on birth control.

- Carla Marinucci & Joe Garofoli, sfgate.com



Massachusetts General researchers discover stem cell that makes eggs: Massachusetts General Hospital researchers reported today they have discovered a rare stem cell in women's ovaries that they hope one day might be used to make eggs, a claim already generating vigorous debate among scientists familiar with the research.

For decades, it has been thought that women are born with a finite supply of eggs, limiting their reproductive years. Doctors have sought ways of extending the fertility of women, especially as many wait later in life to begin having children.

The research, led by Jonathan Tilly of Mass. General and appearing in the journal Nature Medicine, opens the door to the possibility of taking tissue from a woman's ovaries, harvesting stem cells from that tissue, and then creating eggs.

But scientists not involved with the Mass. General research said such an approach -- if it is even possible -- sits far in the future and will require considerably more work. Several scientists said Tilly, who co-founded a company focused on developing novel infertility treatments, had not yet made a convincing case that the stem cells he discovered can yield viable eggs, a critical first step.

Carolyn Y. Johnson, Globe Staff (boston.com)



Partial Keystone pipeline welcomed by White House:  The White House says it welcomes a move by TransCanada to build the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Oklahoma-Gulf Coast route does not need presidential approval and would avoid Nebraska, where there are environmental concerns.
....
President Barack Obama rejected the full pipeline after being given a 60-day deadline on the project by Congressional Republicans.

The partial route would aim to alleviate a bottleneck in Cushing, Oklahoma, a major oil storage hub.

- BBC
- also see this diary



Wikileaks publishes confidential emails from US-based security think tank Stratfor:  Whistleblowing website Wikileaks has begun publishing the first of more than five million confidential emails from US-based security think tank Stratfor.

The group said the documents would reveal Stratfor's "web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods".

Stratfor's computers were hacked by the activist group Anonymous in December.
...
The first set of emails include messages suggesting US firm Dow Chemical had Stratfor monitor groups that campaigned for victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy in India.

- BBC



AP source: Israel won't warn US before Iran strike: Israeli officials say they won't warn the U.S. if they decide to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, according to one U.S. intelligence official familiar with the discussions. The pronouncement, delivered in a series of private, top-level conversations, sets a tense tone ahead of meetings in the coming days at the White House and Capitol Hill.

Israeli officials said that if they eventually decide a strike is necessary, they would keep the Americans in the dark to decrease the likelihood that the U.S. would be held responsible for failing to stop Israel's potential attack. The U.S. has been working with the Israelis for months to persuade them that an attack would be only a temporary setback to Iran's nuclear program.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak delivered the message to a series of top-level U.S. visitors to the country, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the White House national security adviser and the director of national intelligence, and top U.S. lawmakers, all trying to close the trust gap between Israel and the U.S. over how to deal with Iran's nuclear ambitions.

- AP via sfgate.com



Japan Weighed Evacuating Tokyo in Nuclear Crisis:  In the darkest moments of last year's nuclear accident, Japanese leaders did not know the actual extent of damage at the plant and secretly considered the possibility of evacuating Tokyo, even as they tried to play down the risks in public, an independent investigation into the accident disclosed on Monday.

The investigation by the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation, a new private policy organization, offers one of the most vivid accounts yet of how Japan teetered on the edge of an even larger nuclear crisis than the one that engulfed the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
...
An advance copy of the report describes how Japan's response was hindered at times by a debilitating breakdown in trust between the major actors: Mr. Kan; the Tokyo headquarters of the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power, known as Tepco; and the manager at the stricken plant. The conflicts produced confused flows of sometimes contradictory information in the early days of the crisis, the report said.

It describes frantic phone calls by the manager, Masao Yoshida, to top officials in the Kan government arguing that he could get the plant under control if he could keep his staff in place, while at the same time ignoring orders from Tepco's headquarters not to use sea water to cool the overheating reactors. By contrast, Mr. Funabashi said in an interview, Tepco's president, Masataka Shimizu, was making competing calls to the prime minister's office saying that the company should evacuate all of its staff, a step that could have been catastrophic.

- MARTIN FACKLER, nytimes.com



A U.S. Boon in Low-Cost Borrowing:  A combination of unusual and unsustainable forces has pushed the cost of borrowing as low as it has ever been, so low that many investors effectively are paying to lend money to the government.

Investors buying five-year federal debt are accepting such low interest rates that inflation is on pace to reduce the value of their investments by more than 1 percent each year. Yet demand for United States Treasuries remains much greater than the supply.

The glut of cheap money has allowed the government to keep its annual deficits much smaller than it had expected, holding down the growth of the federal debt.

The Treasury Department, seeking to milk the moment, may start issuing debt with negative interest rates, making investors pay for the privilege of lending money to the government.

But a wide range of experts agrees that the bubble will eventually pop.

- BINYAMIN APPELBAUM, nytimes.com



Kumeyaay Indians, University Scientists Spar Over Burial Remains: Beginning in the 1920s, 29 ancient burials have been uncovered on land currently owned by the University of California at San Diego in an area the Kumeyaay Indians call Skeleton Hill. It was commonplace for universities and museums to make remains of this nature part of their collections, either for exhibit or study until the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) was enacted in 1990. That law sets forth standards for repatriation of bones and other remains.

But most of the remains found in the last 80 years at the UCSD property have not been returned to the Kumeyaay, including the approximately 9,500 year old double burials found in 1976. And despite university scientists' claim that these ancient bones have been kept solely for study purposes, they have been shared with numerous institutions. When they were returned from the Smithsonian, they had not been packaged in a curatorial manner, and showed signs of being treated carelessly and disrespectfully.

The Kumeyaay, who have occupied the lush area for thousands of years, were forced into the back country by the Spanish in 1769. But not without resistance. They were the only so-called "Mission Indians" to rise violently in large numbers against the invaders. After the United States pried California out of Mexican hands, it confined the Kumeyaay to small reservations in the 1850s. The Kumeyaay lost control of the land where their ancestors were buried, including the La Jolla property

- navajo, FNN&V



Energy Department OKs $6.5 Million for Tribal Clean Energy Projects

(Photo by Randy Montoya, Sandia Labs)
Since 2002, the Department of Energy's Tribal Energy Program has provided $36 million to 159 tribal energy projects. The DOE has now added $6.5 million for 19 more projects.

In a press release, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said:

"As President Obama highlighted in the State of the Union, the administration is committed to building an American economy that lasts and leverages our nation's clean energy resources," said Secretary Chu. "The awards announced will help tribes across the country advance a sustainable energy future for their local communities, spur economic development, and advance innovative clean energy technologies."
- Meteor Blades

Read More at First Nations News & Views, Sundays on Daily Kos



Nuclear Energy Group Sues to End U.S. Uranium Mining Ban Near Grand Canyon:  The Nuclear Energy Institute and the National Mining Association said they sued the U.S. to reverse a ban on new uranium mining on federal land around the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

The two organizations, representing mining and nuclear power companies, today asked a federal court in Arizona to reverse a U.S. Interior Department ban, announced Jan. 9, on new hard-rock mining claims on about 1 million acres (405,000 hectares) of land, according to an e-mailed statement. The lawsuit couldn't be independently confirmed from court records.

Richard Myers, vice president for policy development with the nuclear power group, said in the statement that the proposed land withdrawal was designed to protect against circumstances that no longer exist. The land involved isn't within the Grand Canyon or the buffer zone protecting the national park, according to the statement.

- Edvard Pettersson , Bloomberg



U.S. Rule Set for Cameras at Cars's Rear:  
Photo: Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times

Federal regulators plan to announce this week that automakers will be required to put rearview cameras in all passenger vehicles by 2014 to help drivers see what is behind them. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which proposed the mandate in late 2010, is expected to send a final version of the rule to Congress on Wednesday.

Cars are filled with safety features that have been mandated by government regulators over the years, including air bags and the Liddy Light, the third brake light named for Elizabeth Dole, who made it standard as secretary of transportation in the 1980s.

But the rearview camera requirement is one of the biggest steps taken to protect people outside of a vehicle.

- NICK BUNKLEY, nytimes.com

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