As your humble scribe, I welcome you all to another edition of Overnight News Digest.
I am most pleased to share this platform with jlms qkw, maggiejean, wader, rfall, JLM9999 and side pocket. Additionally, I wish to recognize our alumni editors palantir, Bentliberal, Oke, Interceptor7, and ScottyUrb along with annetteboardman as our guest editor.
Neon Vincent is our editor-in-chief.
Special thanks go to Magnifico for starting this venerable series.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoked 'a lot' of marijuana
Mr Ford, who leads Canada's largest city, became the fourth Canadian politician in a week to acknowledge using the drug.
In June Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau called for legalisation.
Reporters confronted Mr Ford on Wednesday after Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne acknowledged she had smoked marijuana 35 years ago, before entering politics.
"Oh yeah, I won't deny that," Mr Ford said with a laugh when asked if he had smoked marijuana. "I've smoked a lot of it."
Who Are Syria's Friends And Why Are They Supporting Assad?
While much of the world is lining up against Syria, the country is not entirely friendless, and it's hoping its allies can provide at least some cover in the confrontation over its apparent use of chemical weapons.
What are the motivations of Syria's friends and what are they likely to do in the face of seemingly imminent Western-led strikes on Syria?
Syria hosts a Russian naval base on the Mediterranean, and contracts for Russian weapons sales to Syria — those signed and those under discussion — total $5 billion.
China and Syria have close trade links, but that isn't the only reason Beijing opposes Western intervention.
Mayflower residents to Tim Griffin: "We need help" with oil-related illnesses
"We have all been sick," said Linda Lynch, whose home is some 300 yards from the rupture site. "I feel like we're all like dogs chasing our tails around here. And we are sick of it. ... We need help."
Griffin told her he'd call the governor and convey their wishes. "I'll do whatever," Griffin says. "I know [the governor] cares. And he has some resources with the department of health that my office does not have."
Residents' suggestions to Griffin included a mobile clinic where they could see a specialist in chemical exposure-related illnesses, and an independent community health assessment to determine how widely people in Mayflower were affected by the spill, in which 210,000 gallons of heavy crude burst out of ExxonMobil's Pegasus pipeline.
People from 22 houses in the path of the running oil were under mandatory evacuation after the spill. Meanwhile dozens and perhaps hundreds of other residents were likely exposed to known carcinogens that aerosolized and circulated in the air around the spill.
Turning Off The Spigot In Western Kansas Farmland
Across the high plains, many farmers depend on underground stores of water, and they worry about wells going dry. A new scientific study of western Kansas lays out a predicted timeline for those fears to become reality. But it also shows an alternative path for farming in Kansas: The moment of reckoning can be delayed, and the impact softened, if farmers start conserving water now.
Steward decided to come up with better estimates for how soon the aquifers will go dry, and how that will affect farmers. He got together with experts on growing corn and raising livestock. "We were trying to provide a little bit better glimpse into the future, so that people would have a better idea how to plan," he says.
According to their calculations, if Kansas farmers keep pumping water out of the High Plains aquifer as they have in the past, the amount of water they're able to extract will start to fall in just 10 years or so. They'll still be able to continue harvesting more corn for another generation, though, because technology — better irrigation systems and genetically improved corn — will let them use that water more efficiently.
A Plague of Pigs in Texas
About 50 miles east of Waco, Texas, a 70-acre field is cratered with holes up to five feet wide and three feet deep. The roots below a huge oak tree shading a creek have been dug out and exposed. Grass has been trampled into paths. Where the grass has been stripped, saplings crowd out the pecan trees that provide food for deer, opossums and other wildlife. A farmer wanting to cut his hay could barely run a tractor through here. There’s no mistaking what has happened—this field has gone to the hogs.
Wild hogs are among the most destructive invasive species in the United States today. Two million to six million of the animals are wreaking havoc in at least 39 states and four Canadian provinces; half are in Texas, where they do some $400 million in damages annually. They tear up recreational areas, occasionally even terrorizing tourists in state and national parks, and squeeze out other wildlife.
Texas allows hunters to kill wild hogs year-round without limits or capture them alive to take to slaughterhouses to be processed and sold to restaurants as exotic meat. Thousands more are shot from helicopters. The goal is not eradication, which few believe possible, but control.
Because of their susceptibility to parasites and infections, wild hogs are potential carriers of disease. Swine brucellosis and pseudorabies are the most problematic because of the ease with which they can be transmitted to domestic pigs and the threat they pose to the pork industry.
Saki Mafundikwa: Ingenuity and elegance in ancient African alphabets
From simple alphabets to secret symbolic languages, graphic designer Saki Mafundikwa celebrates the many forms of written communication across the continent of Africa. He highlights the history and legacy that are embodied in written words and symbols, and urges African designers to draw on these graphic forms for fresh inspiration. It's summed up in his favorite Ghanaian glyph, Sankofa, which means "return and get it" -- or "learn from the past."
"101 Things to Do Instead of Doing It"
The CEO of Christian Schools Australia told the Australian Associated Press in June that Caloundra Christian College in Queensland teaches a range of creative sexual health messages and offered the school's recent student pamphlet, "101 Things to Do Instead of Doing It," as evidence. Recommended substitutes: "Pretend you're six again," "Have a water fight," "Blow bubbles in the park," and "Have a burping contest."
Bill Moyers and Company: