The Overnight News Digest is nightly series dedicated to chronicling the day's news of import or interest. Everyone is welcome to add their own news items in the comments. Tonight's OND showcases news from around the world.
- Bloomberg - World breaks temperature record for June after hottest May
The average temperature of Earth’s surface last month exceeded all Junes before it, since record keeping began in 1880, according to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
That may sound familiar, because it’s the same language used to describe the month of May, which was the hottest month of May ever recorded.The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces in June was 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit (0.72 degrees Celsius) above the 20th century average. In daily weather, 1.3 degrees is hardly noticeable -- on a planetary scale for the month, it’s extreme.
- Guardian - Government agents 'directly involved' in most high-profile US terror plots
Nearly all of the highest-profile domestic terrorism plots in the United States since 9/11 featured the "direct involvement" of government agents or informants, a new report says.
Some of the controversial "sting" operations "were proposed or led by informants", bordering on entrapment by law enforcement. Yet the courtroom obstacles to proving entrapment are significant, one of the reasons the stings persist.
The lengthy report, released on Monday by Human Rights Watch, raises questions about the US criminal justice system's ability to respect civil rights and due process in post-9/11 terrorism cases. It portrays a system that features not just the sting operations but secret evidence, anonymous juries, extensive pretrial detentions and convictions significantly removed from actual plots."In some cases the FBI may have created terrorists out of law-abiding individuals by suggesting the idea of taking terrorist action or encouraging the target to act," the report alleges.
- Seattle Times - Okanogan County fire now largest in Washington state history
With thunderstorms in the forecast, Wednesday will be a key day for crews fighting Washington wildfires, including one that has become the largest in state history.
The Carlton Complex fire in Okanogan County, which accounts for roughly three-quarters of the acreage burning in Washington, grew by about 5,000 acres Sunday to 243,000 acres.That moved it past the 1902 Yacolt Burn in Southwest Washington, which, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, destroyed nearly 239,000 acres.
- NYT - Ukrainian Military and Rebel Fighters Clash in Donetsk
A thick plume of dark smoke could be seen rising into the bright blue afternoon sky here on Monday. One man, a passenger in a blue car that was stopped at a red light, said two people in his building were killed in the day’s fighting. He said he ran out of his house in nothing but his slippers.
A woman in the Kuibysheva neighborhood, which was hit Monday morning, was killed as she walked through a courtyard near a small playground. Two men were found dead nearby. A grocery discount card was on the ground near the bloody outline where the woman’s body had been.
“They are trying to push the D.N.R. back, but they end up hitting us,” said Yevgeny Zhitnikov, a 17-year-old resident of Donetsk, using an abbreviation for the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. “Victory is more important to them than human life.”
- WaPo - Malaysia reaches deal with separatists to turn over MH17 black boxes
Malaysia announced Monday that pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have agreed to hand over the black boxes from a downed Malaysian airliner, send the remains of victims by train to Kharkiv and give international investigators safe access to the crash site.
In a late-night speech in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, Prime Minister Najib Razak said two black boxes from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 would be handed over Monday night to a Malaysian team in Donetsk.Najib disclosed that Malaysian officials “have been working behind the scenes to establish contact with those in charge of the MH17 crash site.” He did not mention that members of the same separatist group have been accused of using a Russian-supplied antiaircraft missile to shoot down the airliner Thursday as it cruised over eastern Ukraine at 33,000 feet.
- Spiegel - Sanctions on Russia Hit German Economy Hard
For months, the European Union in particular had been reluctant to enact effective penalties against Moscow. Last Wednesday, though, the 28 EU heads of state and government cleared a psychological hurdle: For the first time, they opted go beyond sanctions targeting individual political leaders in Moscow, adding prohibitions against doing business with specific Russian companies that contribute to the destabilization of the situation in Ukraine. A concrete list is to be presented by the end of the month. European development banks have also been banned from providing loans to Russian companies...
The most recent US sanctions, warns Eckhard Cordes, head of the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, have placed an additional strain "on the general investment climate." Particularly, he adds, because European companies have to conform to the American penalties.By last Thursday, just a day after the US sanctions were announced, the German-Russian Foreign Trade Office in Moscow was besieged by phone calls from concerned German companies who do business with both the US and Russia. The German Chambers of Commerce and Industry estimate that up to a quarter of German companies that do business abroad could be affected. And the risks are significant, with large fines threatening those who violate the American sanctions, whether knowingly or not.
- Reuters - Nigeria's free-wheeling media fears crackdown over Boko Haram battle
Nigeria's press is traditionally free to write almost anything about anyone - whether it's true or not. But reporters fear a government sensitive to criticism is now cracking down, especially on coverage of the battle against Boko Haram.
After 15 years of democracy, journalists believe the state is trying to tame the vibrant, prolific media during its faltering campaign to stamp out the militant Islamist group.One Friday last month the army seized newspaper print-runs, halted distribution vans across the country and ransacked offices of newspaper distributors and agents, detaining staff for several hours, the Nigerian Press Organisation said.
- NPR - Facility Sets Up Extreme Precautions To Treat Ebola Patients
The worst Ebola outbreak ever recorded continues to spread in West Africa. And medical workers in Sierra Leone have responded by expanding an extraordinary field hospital. It opened less than a month ago, but it now has the largest Ebola isolation unit ever built, with 64 beds...
The basic design principle of the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center in Kailahun is keep the Ebola virus trapped in the middle of the compound. Patients who have ebola stay in large white tents inside that isolation zone. The medical staff go in and out to treat them...It's a tremendous undertaking because anyone who goes in - doctors, nurses, cleaners, construction repair men - have to wear protective suits that cover every inch of their bodies. The protective gear includes gloves, face masks and goggles.
- Economist - Fighting in Libya getting worse
Officially Libya is not at war, but for the thousands of residents of the capital, Tripoli, who fled their homes at the weekend it is starting to feel like it. Fighting spilled across Tripoli's western districts after a battle between rival militias on July 19th and 20th for control of Libya’s main airport left 47 dead, marking it as the most violent day since the end of the 2011 revolution that toppled Muammar Qaddafi.
Militias from Misrata, frustrated at their failure to capture the airport after a week of fighting with the Zintan militia that holds it, arrived with tanks to pound the perimeter. The Zintanis responded with shells and anti-aircraft fire. As the violence expanded, huge fires burned in the city's western districts. “A shell hit my neighbour’s house and a lot of people left,” says Seraj, a resident of the western suburb of Janzour. “We stayed inside, it was not safe on the streets.”When the smoke cleared, Zintanis remained in control of the airport, but it is now a shambles of wrecked buildings and burned-out aircraft. The transport ministry says 21 planes, valued at 1.9 billion dinar ($1.5 billion) have been damaged or destroyed.
- LAT Israeli shelling rocks Gaza; Palestinian toll tops 500
Gaza’s neighborhoods came under heavy shelling Monday as rockets continued to fly into Israel, and armed encounters between the sides claimed more lives ahead of U.S Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s expected arrival in the region...
More Palestinians were on the move Monday morning as Israel’s military dropped leaflets advising residents of two refugee camps around Khan Younis to evacuate. Fierce bombing continued overnight, killing at least 34 people, according to Palestinian reports.One airstrike killed 11 members of the Siyam family in Rafah; in Khan Younis, 16 members of the Abu Jami family died when their house was shelled, the Palestinian news agency Maan reported. In Shajaiya, emergency teams recovered more bodies from rubble left Sunday by an Israeli bombardment, pushing the Palestinian death toll in the two-week crisis above 500.
- BBC - Iran completes process of eliminating enriched uranium
Iran has turned all of its enriched uranium closest to the level needed to make nuclear arms into more harmless forms, the UN nuclear agency says.
The conversion of its stock of 20%-enriched uranium was part of a deal to curb Iran's nuclear programme. The US said last week it would unblock $2.8bn in frozen Iranian funds in return for Iran's compliance.A four-month extension to talks on Iran's nuclear ambitions was agreed on Friday between Iran and world powers.
- Independent - Assad's forces fight Isis militants for control of Shaer gas field
Government forces launched a counter-attack to recapture a gas field seized by Islamic extremists in Syria, activists said yesterday, as the death toll from three days of fighting rose to more than 270.
The intense fighting in the Shaer field, in the desert region of Palmyra in the central province of Homs, has been among the deadliest between government forces and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) since the start of the Syrian civil war more than three years ago. Isis has seized a huge chunk of territory straddling the Iraq-Syria border, where it has declared a caliphate, or Islamic state. Its fighters have also captured much of Syria's oil-rich eastern province of Deir el-Zour.The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrian special forces attacked the Shaer field late on Friday, regaining parts of it. Homs-based activist Beibares Tellawi described the battles as "hit-and-run attacks".
- NYT - Concern and Support for Iraqi Christians Forced by Militants to Flee Mosul
On Saturday, to meet a deadline by the ISIS militants, most Christians in Mosul, a community almost as old as Christianity itself, left with little more than the clothes they were wearing.
Some went on foot, their cars having been confiscated; others rode bicycles or motor scooters. Few were able to take anything of value, as militants seized their money and jewelry. Some — just a few, and because they were not healthy enough to flee — submitted to demands that they convert to Islam to avoid being killed.“There are five Christian families who converted to Islam because they were threatened with death,” said Younadim Kanna, a Christian and a member of Iraq’s Parliament. “They did so just to stay alive.”
- AFP - Kuwait court upholds 10-year jail term for Twitter user
Kuwait’s top court on Monday upheld a 10-year jail sentence for a Shiite Twitter user for insulting the Prophet Mohammad and his wife and companions.
Hamad Al Naqi, 24, was also charged with insulting Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and spreading false news that undermined Kuwait’s image abroad, the verdict said. The court’s ruling is final and can only be commuted by the ruler.He has been in prison since his arrest in March 2012 for posting tweets deemed offensive to the Prophet Mohammad, his companions and Gulf leaders.
- Reuters - China will not fill U.S. void in Afghanistan: official
China does not seek to fill a void left in Afghanistan by the withdrawal of U.S. troops but will play a "huge" commercial role in helping rebuild the country, a newly appointed Chinese special envoy said on Monday...
Some Western officials have said China is likely to emerge as a strategic player in Afghanistan but Sun Yuxi, who was appointed special representative to the country on Friday, said China's involvement would remain largely commercial. "This idea about filling a void after the withdrawal of troops, I think it doesn't exist," Sun told reporters in Beijing before heading to Afghanistan on Tuesday for talks...
"Preserving Afghanistan's stability is not a matter of adding troops but of helping Afghanistan to quickly rebuild. We hope to see a rapid decrease in weaponry and a rapid increase in wealth."
- Nation (PK) - Pakistani forces should target militants without discrimination in Waziristan: US envoy
A Pakistan’s top security adviser today told the visiting U.S. regional envoy that the security forces were targeting all armed groups in the North Waziristan tribal region.
The comments came days after the U.S. commander of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, General Joseph Dunford, said he has reservations about the overall effectiveness of the army operations in North Waziristan.Dunford said Pakistani forces have had some success against the Pakistani Taliban and the IMU [Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan] in North Waziristan but that they certainly have not had the effect against the Haqqani Network and others that Washington would want to have seen.
- The Hindu - Pakistan decides to release 57 Indian fishing boats
The Pakistan government has decided to release 57 Indian fishing boats which were in its custody as a goodwill gesture, after the release of 150 Indian fishermen in May.
It is for the first time perhaps that the government has agreed to let go of such a large number of boats, according to activists working on the issue of fisherfolk and their release. A press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, said a nine-member Indian delegation had visited Karachi from July 18 to 20 in this regard to inspect the boats and discuss modalities for the release with officials of the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA). Among those who went was Veljibhai Masani, from Gujarat who has been lobbying for the cause of fishermen who are detained in Pakistani jails.Jatin Desai, an activist, said the issue was taken up in the past with the Pakistani authorities particularly after reports that some boats confiscated there were being auctioned.
- Hindustan Times - Dacoits demand 35 buckets of water a day from villages in Bundelkhand
The residents of about 28 villages in Bundelkhand region have been taking turns to take water to hiding places of dacoits who have warned of repercussions if each village fails to bring 35 buckets of water a day.
The diktat issued by bandit chieftains on cellphones a month ago is being extended to more villages. Fearing backlash, the villagers travel several kilometres each day hauling their quota of water."People are having a harrowing time in meeting the demand," says Mayank Yadav, a social activist active in the villages affected by the diktat. "Water is scarce and supplying entails lot of trekking to places where bandits are putting up," he added.
- China Daily - RMB developing quickly as major world currency
The renminbi is on track to become the third-largest international currency behind the US dollar and the euro within five years as China accelerates its promotion of the yuan, said a Renmin University of China report released on Sunday.
Last year, RMB cross-border trade settlement amounted to 4.63 trillion yuan ($746 billion), up 57.5 percent from 2012. It accounted for 2.5 percent of cross-border trade settlement worldwide, the report said.By the end of the fourth quarter of 2013, direct investment settled in renminbi amounted to 533 billion yuan, 1.9 times the same period in 2012. The RMB is currently the fifth-most widely used currency internationally. The British pound is third and the Japanese yen fourth.
- China Daily - China urges U.S. not to abuse trade system
China's commerce minister urged the United States on Thursday not to abuse the global trade system by imposing duties on Chinese goods to protect its own economy, following a rebuke to Washington by the World Trade Organisation.
WTO judges said on Monday the United States broke its rules in imposing hefty duties on Chinese steel products, solar panels and a range of other goods that Washington argues enjoyed government subsidies. In comments carried on the Trade Ministry's website following the WTO ruling, Chinese Trade Minister Gao Hucheng said his country would not sit idly by while the United States harmed the rights of Chinese companies."The misuse by the United States of trade measures to help (their) economy seriously harmed the legal rights and interests of Chinese companies. Not only is the Chinese government seriously concerned, it will not sit by and look on," Gao said.
- IBT - Japan’s Mount Fuji in ‘Critical State’ to Erupt, Could Affect At Least 1.2M People
Japan's highest peak Mount Fuji has been placed by a team of researchers in a "critical state" to erupt, spurred by the pressure built underneath it by the 2011 magnitude-9 Tohoku-Oki earthquake.
If this happens, at least 1.2 million people will be affected in the prefectural governments of Shizuoka, Yamanashi and Kanagawa.However, the research team composed of scientists at the Institute of Earth Sciences in Grenoble, France, with their Japanese counterparts cannot categorically say yet when the eruption will take place or if it is imminent.
- Reuters- Likely loser in Indonesia presidential election says won't accept result yet
Prabowo Subianto, the Indonesian ex-general widely thought to have narrowly lost this month's bitterly contested presidential election will not accept the official result until allegations of cheating are investigated, one of his top aides said on Sunday.
The rejection is certain to raise concerns of a protracted wrangle that could undermine confidence in Southeast Asia's biggest economy, or even trigger violence that has so far been almost entirely absent from this election.By law, the Elections Commission (KPU) must announce the result by July 22.
- SMH - Climate models on the mark, Australian-led research finds
A common refrain by climate sceptics that surface temperatures have not warmed over the past 17 years, implying climate models predicting otherwise are unreliable, has been refuted by new research led by James Risbey, a senior CSIRO researcher.
Setting aside the fact the equal hottest years on record - 2005 and 2010 - fall well within the past 17 years, Dr Risbey and fellow researchers examined claims - including by some members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - that models overestimated global warming.In a study published in Nature Climate Change on Monday, the team found that models actually generate good estimates of recent and past trends provided they also took into account natural variability, particularly the key El Nino-La Nina phases in the Pacific.
- MercoPress - Ten hectic days await Argentina, and a possible second default in 12 years
Ten hectic days ahead for Argentina since come 30 July and no agreement has been reached at the New York court of Federal Judge Thomas Griesa, (full payment plus accrued interests to holdout speculative funds) the country would be forced to a second default in twelve years with all the political consequences for Cristina Fernandez and Mercosur.
As can be expected opinions are divided as to the outcome of the situation: some believe there will finally be an agreement with the speculative funds, others see no light at the end of the tunnel judging on the latest speeches from Cristina Fernandez and the holdouts, willing to talk but still demanding full payment, 1.3bn dollars plus interests.
- LAHT - Former Colombian Spy Chief Charged in 1989 Political Murder
A Colombian former intelligence chief has been charged in the 1989 assassination of presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan.
The Attorney General’s Office’s Delegate Unit before the Supreme Court filed the charges against retired Gen. Miguel Maza Marquez for the Aug. 18, 1989, murder in a public square in the town of Soacha, located on Bogota’s outskirts.An AG’s office statement said Maza Marquez was accused as alleged co-author of the crimes of criminal conspiracy and homicide in relation to the killing of Galan.
- Bloomberg - Brazil Analysts Cut 2014 GDP Call Below 1% for First Time
Brazil economists cut their 2014 growth forecast for the eighth consecutive week, as low confidence and above-target inflation curb demand in the world’s second-largest emerging market.
Brazil’s economy will expand 0.97 percent this year, compared with the previous week’s forecast of 1.05 percent, according to the July 18 central bank survey of about 100 analysts published today. That was the lowest estimate since the central bank started publishing the data.President Dilma Rousseff’s administration is trying to combat the fastest inflation in a year without further crimping demand as she campaigns for re-election in October. The central bank last week held the key rate unchanged for the second straight meeting after having lifted the Selic by 375 basis points in the year through April. Economic growth estimates have fallen as industrial sector sentiment in July dropped for the fourth straight month, while consumer confidence hovers near a five-year low.
- NPR - Migrant Heads Home To Mexico — And Joins Fight Against Cartel
In the western Mexican state of Michoacan, civilian militias have challenged a powerful drug cartel known as the Knights Templar. The vigilante uprising, which spurred the Mexican government to send soldiers and police to help counter the cartel, was fueled by migrants who returned to Mexico after years living north of the border.
Reny Pineda, who was raised in Los Angeles, is one of those migrants. When he returned to his homeland in Mexico, he found a new life fighting drug lords.
Today, Pineda's life revolves around the vast lemon groves that perfume the fertile lowlands of Michoacan. It's a region known as Tierra Caliente: the hot lands. At a farm near his home, about 20 miles from the town of Apatzingan, Pineda points out which lemons are best to pick. "This is what we do," he says. "This is our money right here."Pineda is 41, with dark curly hair and a soft, dimpled smile. He was born in Michoacan, but left Mexico as a young boy when his family headed north to California. He grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from high school there. He remembers those years as good ones, despite the challenges.
- Mother Jones - Northern Canada is On Fire, And It's Making Global Warming Worse
For the past few weeks, dry and warm weather have fueled large forest fires across Canada's remote Northwest Territories. The extent of those fires is well above average for the year to-date, and is in line with climate trends of more fires burning in the northern reaches of the globe.
Of the 186 wildfires in the Northwest Territories to-date this year, 156 of them are currently burning. That includes the Birch Creek Fire complex, which stretches over 250,000 acres. The amount of acres burned in the Northwest Territories is six times greater than the 25-year average to-date according to data from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center.Boreal forests like those in the Northwest Territories are burning at rates "unprecedented" in the past 10,000 years according to the authors of a study put out last year. The northern reaches of the globe are warming at twice the rate as areas closer to the equator, and those hotter conditions are contributing to more widespread burns.
- Globe and Mail - B.C. government offers Gitxsan First Nation signing bonus
The B.C. government has written directly to about 60 hereditary chiefs of the Gitxsan First Nation, outlining a multimillion-dollar gas-pipeline benefits deal.
In the letter, the government offers the Gitxsan about $12-million, plus a signing bonus of over $2-million, if it will allow two pipelines to cross territorial lands...It offers the First Nation a payment of $6.26-million for the Westcoast Connector and $5.81-million for the Prince Rupert gas line. It proposes an additional $2.4-million payment if a deal is signed by Sept. 30. The bonus declines to $1.81-million if the signing doesn’t take place until Dec. 31 and it drops to $1.2-million if it isn’t signed until March 31, 2015.