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Welcome to the Overnight News Digest (OND) for Tuesday, November 06, 2012.

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.


This diary is named for its "Hump Point" video: Going Up the Country by Canned Heat

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.


Top News
Democrats keep Senate; House will stay GOP-led

By William Douglas
Democrats retained control of the Senate on Tuesday while Republicans will continue to rule the House of Representatives, after congressional elections that featured several high-profile races.

. . .

On the Senate side, Republican dreams of picking up four seats and becoming the majority party in that chamber seemed dashed as incumbent Democrats racked up early wins. Democrats held on to six seats early as Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida, Joe Manchin of West Virginia – a coal country lawmaker who often broke with President Barack Obama on environmental and regulatory issues – Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Thomas Carper of Delaware and Benjamin Cardin of Maryland won easily.

. . .

While control of the House didn’t change, the chamber won’t be the same after Tuesday. The combination of open seats and incumbent losses will bring in another huge freshman class, perhaps larger than the 93-member contingent in 2010. The House also might be more politically polarized next year with the exodus of some of its dwindling collection of moderates in both parties.

.. .

The Blue Dogs were once a powerful 54-member moderate force in the House. But their membership was halved after losses to Republican candidates in the 2010 elections. Blue Dog membership is expected to be down to the teens after Tuesday’s results.

GMO labeling or no, a movement comes of age

By Twilight Greenaway
If Proposition 37, California’s GMO labeling measure, gets voted down today, it will be unfortunate and frustrating for many. But it won’t happen for lack of a movement.

Last month, in a much-quoted New York Times Magazine article, Michael Pollan framed this state-level ballot initiative as an important test with national implications. If we can translate the growing consumer awareness about the value of organic and local food into a movement with real political will, he argued, then surely this ballot initiative was a reason to pull out the stops and push this burgeoning movement to its limit.

. . .

Meanwhile, the corporations funding the No on 37 campaign — mainly pesticide companies such as Monsanto and Dow and processed food and beverage makers like PepsiCo — have funneled $45 million, or five times what the Yes on 37 campaign has had to spend, into television ads and mailers. Their relentless message? That labeling would raise food prices and cause farmers to suffer. (Prop 37 opponents’ latest tactic is especially suspect: They’re distributing voting guides from faux-green and faux-Democrat groups that place a “no on 37” vote on a roster of otherwise progressive choices.)

In other words, the opponents have poured enough cash into the fight to turn even many educated, left-leaning, farmers-market-shopping voters against the ballot measure. So the real question is: Could any real grassroots movement (and no, the Tea Party doesn’t count) possibly beat those kinds of odds?

In America, prostate cancer patients suffer when profit comes first

By Xeni Jardin
It's a familiar story line in America: the type of medical care people receive suffers because doctors are pressured to put profit before patients. . . many prostate cancer patients may not be receiving the optimal course of treatment for their disease, because care providers can bill more for certain forms of treatment. . . Max Calderon . . . was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010. His urologist recommended radiation therapy at a clinic in Salinas, CA. Calderon was 77 years old, lab tests suggested that his cancer had metastasized, and he was not the ideal candidate profile for the specific kind of treatment he was going to receive.
His urologist, Amir Saffarian, didn’t mention alternatives, Calderon said. So he made 47 trips to the clinic, 28 miles from his home, where medical technicians fired radiation beams at his prostate. Calderon said he never saw Saffarian there -- even though the urologist billed Medicare and Medicaid $30,000 for the treatment, his records show.

. . .

Voting expert tells The Awl: There are reasons to be concerned about voting machines, but vast conspiracies aren't one of them

By Maggie Koerth-Baker
Tagg Romney doesn't own Ohio's voting machines. And Joseph Lorenzo Hall, senior staff technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology in D.C., says that a lot of the fears the public has about electronic voting are equally unfounded. The biggest thing to worry about, he tells The Awl's Maria Bustillos, is that we're so busy sending around email forwards about ostensible vast conspiracies that we're not paying enough attention to the very real security and tech problems that do exist in the voting system.
. . .

Joseph Lorenzo Hall: It's a very complex area and unfortunately one that lends itself to dearths of information and poor intuition… which is how Bello and Fitrakis get way out into left field. Extending email/fax voting to displaced NJ voters is making us very nervous… What I think we expect to see a lot of—and it's not as sexy as conspiracy theory—is the aging of this machinery, as much of it is 10- to 15-year-old computer equipment. Another not-so-sexy source of problems will be from newer online voter registration systems, an electronic version of pollbooks. We may see strange reports of people not being registered or being marked down as already voted. Much of that will seem to some like fraud, but it is more likely poorly checked voter registration rolls. People don't like having to cast provisional ballots, but they need to understand that if you're registered and at the right location, the ballot will count.

Assad could be offered safe passage if he leaves Syria, British PM

By Alexander Besant
The British Prime Minister said in a recent interview that safe passage for Syria's president may be provided if he agrees to leave the country.

"I am certainly not offering him an exit plan to Britain, but if he wants to leave, he could leave, that could be arranged," Cameron told Al Arabiya television during his visit in Abu Dhabi.

. . .

The British ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant, said that the UN Security Council had not discussed the possibility of giving Assad immunity and allowing him passage.

. . .

It has been estimated that about 35,000 people have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the uprising that began in March of last year.

News Corp profits up threefold on NDS sale

By (BBC)
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp has reported a sharp rise in profits thanks to a one-off asset sale and strong revenue growth at its cable networks division.

. . .

He said the company managed to grow revenue despite being hit by a stronger dollar. He also said he would provide further details later this year of the company's proposed split of its entertainment and publishing businesses. Mr Murdoch will chair both divisions.

. . .

However, operating income at the publishing division almost halved, to $57m from $110m, largely due to a fall in advertising revenue.

The fall would have been greater had it not been for the contribution of the division's UK business, which benefited from the launch of the Sunday Sun.

Nigeria floods displace two million, kill 363

By (BBC)
More than two million Nigerians have been forced from their homes by this year's floods, officials say.

The National Emergency Management Agency (Nema) says the heavy rains killed 363 people since July.

The worst floods in five decades have affected many areas of the country - especially near the River Niger.

Israel to counter Palestinian attempt at UN

By (Al Jazeera)
Israel is preparing to counter a Palestinian bid for enhanced United Nations status later this month, the AFP news agency has reported.

"Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman convened Israel's 27 ambassadors in Europe for an urgent meeting this week in Vienna," to discuss the Palestinian bid, foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP on Tuesday.

"The ambassadors will seek to define a diplomatic course with the Europeans intended to counter this initiative and to this end Lieberman will go to Vienna," he added.

Meanwhile, the Middle East monitor, citing Israeli sources, reported that Lieberman had also asked EU officials to fix a definite time for elections in the occupied territories in order to replace Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, who was described as "an obstacle to peace."

USA Politics, Economy, Major Events
N.C. elects 1st GOP governor in 24 years

By (UPI)
Pat McCrory, a former Charlotte, N.C., mayor, became the first Republican in 24 years to be elected governor of North Carolina, ABC News reported.

McCrory defeated Democrat Walter Dalton, the state's lieutenant governor, marking the first time a Republican has been elected governor there since 1988, the U.S. network reported Tuesday night.

. . .

The Raleigh News & Observer noted Republicans had taken the statehouse two years ago and with McCrory's victory will gain full control of lawmaking in the state for the first time since the 1880s.

Military lawyer cites civilian decision to seek dismissal of Guantánamo 9/11 tribunal

By Carol Rosenberg
A Pentagon defense attorney is invoking a recent civilian court decision in a bid to get the military’s Sept. 11 death-penalty case dismissed at Guantánamo.

 Navy Cmdr. Walter Ruiz filed the challenge Friday on behalf of Mustafa al Hawsawi, 44, who is accused of helping some of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers with financial and travel arrangements to the United States. He faces a military tribunal along with the accused 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, 47, and three other alleged plotters.

The filing, still under seal at the Pentagon’s war court, is the first known challenge to the military commissions system since a civilian court on Oct. 16 tossed out the 2008 conviction of Osama bin Laden’s driver in a ruling that disqualified material support for terrorism as a retroactive war crime.

. . .

In February, Khan pleaded guilty to providing material support for terrorism and other war crimes, admitting he helped moved al Qaida money that was ultimately used in a bombing, in exchange for the possibility of eventual release from Guantánamo for his testimony at the war crimes tribunal.

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:
. . .

This was written by Alan Wilson, who was Canned Heat's vocalist, guitarist and primary songwriter. Wilson committed suicide on September 3, 1970, becoming one of the first 27-year-old Rock casualties, a group that would soon include Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison.

. . .

Canned Heat played this at day 2 of the Woodstock Festival, which was a big moment for the band. The song was kind of an anthem for the festival, as "Going Up the Country" described the pilgrimage to Yasgur's farm in upstate New York where the event took place. The band didn't put much effort into practicing for their appearance, and their 10 song set was uneven - their co-founder Bob Hite said in a 1974 Sounds interview, "We've always just fallen into something within a couple of days and then just gone out on the road and played. Sometimes it's shown it and sometimes it's been incredible. The Woodstock performance which although there were a couple of tunes which weren't too good, ‘Going Up The Country’ was one of them."

Back to what's happening:
Environment and Greening
Researchers warn of a world going acidic

By (UPI)
While world attention is focused on climate change and extreme weather, U.S. researchers say another global change underway must be addressed: acidification.

The combustion of fossil fuels, smelting of ores, mining of coal and metal ores and the application of nitrogen fertilizer to soils are all driving down the pH of the Earth's air, water and the soil at rates faster than Earth's natural systems can buffer, posing threats to both land and sea life, they said.

. . .

Normally, acids in the environment are buffered by alkaline compounds released by the weathering of minerals in rocks, but the rate of acidification by human activities has outstripped the weathering rate and buffering capacity of the planet, Herman said.

Sellafield audit shows safety costs spiralling

By Rajeev Syal and Fiona Harvey
The projected cost of safely storing radioactive material at Britain's largest nuclear site in Sellafield has increased by more than £900m in 10 months, the National Audit Office says in a report released on Wednesday.

Plans to replace the ageing nuclear waste facilities in Cumbria have suffered severe delays, auditors said. Twelve out of 14 of the major projects launched last year to build facilities to store material safely are over budget, they have concluded.

. . .

For more than 50 years operators failed to plan how to dispose of the radioactive waste and some of the older facilities have "deteriorated so much that their contents pose significant risks to people and the environment", the report said. The highest risks are posed by ponds and silos built during the 1950s and 1960s to store fuel for early reprocessing operations and radioactive waste, according to the report.

.  ..

A spokesman for the authority said that the report has provided a useful external check on their progress. "The NAO has recognised the progress made by the NDA in developing a plan to tackle this hazardous legacy," he said.

Science and Health
Leisure-Time Physical Activity Extends Life Expectancy as Much as 4.5 Years

By (ScienceDaily)
Leisure-time physical activity is associated with longer life expectancy, even at relatively low levels of activity and regardless of body weight, according to a study by a team of researchers led by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health. The study, which found that people who engaged in leisure-time physical activity had life expectancy gains of as much as 4.5 years, appeared Nov. 6, 2012, in PLoS Medicine.

. . .

"Our findings highlight the important contribution that leisure-time physical activity in adulthood can make to longevity," said study author Steven Moore, Ph.D., of NCI's Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, and lead author of the study. "Regular exercise extended the lives in every group that we examined in our study -- normal weight, overweight, or obese."

The researchers found that the association between physical activity and life expectancy was similar between men and women, and blacks gained more years of life expectancy than whites. The relationship between life expectancy and physical activity was stronger among those with a history of cancer or heart disease than among people with no history of cancer or heart disease.

Humans, Chimpanzees and Monkeys Share DNA but Not Gene Regulatory Mechanisms

By (ScienceDaily)
Humans share over 90% of their DNA with their primate cousins. The expression or activity patterns of genes differ across species in ways that help explain each species' distinct biology and behavior.

. . .

Dr. Gilad reported that up to 40% of the differences in the expression or activity patterns of genes between humans, chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys can be explained by regulatory mechanisms that determine whether and how a gene's recipe for a protein is transcribed to the RNA molecule that carries the recipe instructions to the sites in cells where proteins are manufactured.

. . .

In all three species, Dr. Gilad's lab found that transcription factor binding and histone modifications were identical in over 67% of regulatory elements in DNA segments that are regarded as promoter regions.

Every hour of TV viewing reduces lifespan

By (UPI)
Every hour of television watched after the age of 25 reduced the viewer's life expectancy by nearly 22 minutes, researchers in Australia found.

. . .

The survey also asked how many hours per day a study participant watched in the previous week.

The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found compared with people who watched no TV, those who spent a lifetime average of 6 hours a day watching TV could expect to live 4.8 years less.

Berries are making birds drunk say British vets

By Alexander Besant
. . .

An incident involving over a dozen dead birds last year in the UK was found to be caused by alcohol rather than avian flu as previously suspected.

Autopsies of the birds showed that they had been eating rotten rowan - a kind of shiny berry that grows in bushes.

. . .

The one bird found alive was so intoxicated that it could barely walk and leaned on walls for support.

Microsoft Just Scored 12 Million Wi-Fi Hotspots for Windows Phone

By  Kyle Wagner
Microsoft just hammered out a deal to get Windows Phones access to 12 million Wi-Fi hotspots from its new partner Devicescape.

WP8 users can access the hotspots by using Data Sense, the new feature that helps limit your network usage (and thereby helps keep you under your data cap). You'll be launched into a Bing map, with locations of nearby hotspots. Windows Phone's Local Scout will also chime in with locations of nearby hotspots when you use the service. . .

Devicescape has deals with some regional US carriers, but this is the first broad platform to be supported. . .

Wisconsin Judge Kicks Apple v. Google Out of Federal Court for a Third Time

By Jason Mick
They say the third time's the charm, but that certainly did not hold true regarding Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) dreams of banning Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Motorola Mobility unit's products and forcing the rival firm into compulsory licensing at rates of fractions of pennies on the dollar.  A federal court kicked out the suit/countersuit between the warring duo a third time, raising questions of whether both companies are wasting taxpayer time and court resources with their smartphone patent war.

. . .

 Just hours before a trial would have begun, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin under the jurisdiction of Judge Barbara Crabb threw out the case, arguing that Apple essentially was wasting the court's time.

 . . .

 With its filing, Apple essentially was telling the federal judge that it wanted to take up her time evaluating the licensing rates, but it would only accept her guidance if it liked what she ruled.  Judge Crabb responded by telling Apple's lawyers that it was not a valid use of court resources to merely act in a non-binding advisory capacity to private corporations' licensing discussions.  If Apple wanted to bring matters to court, it would be the court that had the final say in the ruling, not the other way around.

French gays' 'marry and adopt children' bill considered

By (BBC)
Plans to legalise same-sex marriage and allow gay couples to adopt are to be discussed at a meeting of the French Socialist government.

France already allows civil unions between same-sex couples, but it was a campaign pledge of President Francois Hollande to extend their rights.

. . .

More than 1,000 mayors have signed a petition against the proposed changes, there have been protests in 75 towns and cities, and one opposition politician has even suggested that legalising gay marriage could lead to polygamy, says the BBC's Maddy Savage in Paris.

Over the weekend, the head of the French Council of Bishops described gay marriage as "the ultimate deceit".

Why India loves a good electrician

By Anu Anand
Many Indians seem to be proud of their ability to deal with inefficiency - but how long can a country that projects itself as a global powerhouse continue to put up with a situation where anything that can go wrong, usually does?

. . .

I have lost count of how many electrical sockets have melted. For the past month, strange electrical fluctuations in our sitting room have turned it into a discotheque. We have even had light bulbs explode above our heads.

. . .

I know, I know - India is an emerging power and a poor one at that. A few dodgy party balloons or stray dogs do not matter. But chronic inefficiency has a profound social and economic effect.

. . .

One internet entrepreneur described how his business survived a difficult start-up and predatory monopolies, only to fail when raw sewage began seeping into his offices. Rather than being compensated, he was sued for being late with the rent.

An American who manufactures luxury furniture said an £11,000 ($17,000) fine appeared one day because he denied free furniture to a tax official.

Gift cards: Why are they so popular?

By Andrew McFarlane & Vanessa Barford
They restrict your choice, can expire without you noticing and - as customers of UK electrical retailer Comet are finding out - can be worthless once a company hits financial trouble. So why are gift cards still on so many people's Christmas shopping lists?

. . .

Even so, in the current retail environment, Lewis views buying gift cards as "quite a risk". He adds that many people are caught out by cards expiring after a year or two.

. . .

"A gift represents both you as a person and also what you think the person you're giving to is like. People don't want to be seen as giving the wrong thing; as misinterpreting someone's personality.

"People won't give cash because it can be seen as an insult; like you can't be bothered. Even if a card isn't a great effort, it still seems like you've made an effort of some kind."

Meteor Blades is known to offer an enlightening Evening Open Diary - you might consider checking that out tonight if you haven't already.

Originally posted to Overnight News Digest on Tue Nov 06, 2012 at 08:59 PM PST.

Also republished by DKOMA.

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