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Daily Briefing

Deep buzz for the content-deprived

Every weekday, while you get showered and dressed, we pluck these dewy- fresh, breaking stories from the info-clogged byways of the datasphere. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and stoke up on everything you need to know, or at least enough to fake it.

Strategies For A Changing Planet: If All Else Fails...
Damon Tabor, Popular Science | Strategies For A Changing Planet: If All Else Fails... | July 12, 2012

It’s impossible to predict the exact speed and severity with which climate change will unfold, but one thing is clear: if we take no preventive action, eventually we’ll be tempted to take desperate action. And over the decades, as the effects of climate change grow increasingly severe, the amount of risk humankind is willing to bear will increase...

Freeh Report On Penn State's Handling Of Jerry Sandusky's Child Sex Abuse Reveals 'Total Disregard' For Victims

Former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno and the senior leadership at the university covered up incidents of child sexual abuse on the Penn State campus by a former assistant football coach, showing “total disregard for the safety and welfare of the victims,” a team of investigators concluded in findings released Thursday morning.

In a prepared statement that preceded the release of a 162-page report, former FBI director Louis Freeh, who along with his law firm conducted an independent review of the circumstances surrounding the scandal, blamed Paterno and university officials for “catastrophic failures” that were reinforced by a Board of Trustees that had failed to create an environment of accountability...

'Mantle' Site, Ancient 'New York City' Of Canada, Found On Lake Ontario Shore

oday New York City is the Big Apple of the Northeast but new research reveals that 500 years ago, at a time when Europeans were just beginning to visit the New World, a settlement on the north shore of Lake Ontario, in Canada, was the biggest, most complex, cosmopolitan place in the region.

Occupied between roughly A.D. 1500 and 1530, the so-called Mantle site was settled by the Wendat (Huron). Excavations at the site, between 2003 and 2005, have uncovered its 98 longhouses, a palisade of three rows (a fence made of heavy wooden stakes and used for defense) and about 200,000 artifacts. Dozens of examples of art have been unearthed showing haunting human faces and depictions of animals, with analysis ongoing...

Spoiled Rotten: Why Do Kids Rule The Roost?
Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker | Spoiled Rotten: Why Do Kids Rule The Roost? | July 11, 2012

In 2004, Carolina Izquierdo, an anthropologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, spent several months with the Matsigenka, a tribe of about twelve thousand people who live in the Peruvian Amazon. The Matsigenka hunt for monkeys and parrots, grow yucca and bananas, and build houses that they roof with the leaves of a particular kind of palm tree, known as a kapashi. At one point, Izquierdo decided to accompany a local family on a leaf-gathering expedition down the Urubamba River.

A member of another family, Yanira, asked if she could come along. Izquierdo and the others spent five days on the river. Although Yanira had no clear role in the group, she quickly found ways to make herself useful. Twice a day, she swept the sand off the sleeping mats, and she helped stack the kapashi leaves for transport back to the village. In the evening, she fished for crustaceans, which she cleaned, boiled, and served to the others. Calm and self-possessed, Yanira “asked for nothing,” Izquierdo later recalled. The girl’s behavior made a strong impression on the anthropologist because at the time of the trip Yanira was just six years old...

Truthinessology: The Stephen Colbert Effect Becomes An Obsession In Academia

Nation, our so-called universities are in big trouble, and not just because attending one of them leaves you with more debt than the Greek government. No, we’re talking about something even more unsettling: the academic world’s obsession with Stephen Colbert...

The Apostate: Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology
Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker | The Apostate: Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology | July 9, 2012

On August 19, 2009, Tommy Davis, the chief spokesperson for the Church of Scientology International, received a letter from the film director and screenwriter Paul Haggis. “For ten months now I have been writing to ask you to make a public statement denouncing the actions of the Church of Scientology of San Diego,” Haggis wrote. Before the 2008 elections, a staff member at Scientology’s San Diego church had signed its name to an online petition supporting Proposition 8, which asserted that the State of California should sanction marriage only “between a man and a woman.” The proposition passed. As Haggis saw it, the San Diego church’s “public sponsorship of Proposition 8, which succeeded in taking away the civil rights of gay and lesbian citizens of California—rights that were granted them by the Supreme Court of our state—is a stain on the integrity of our organization and a stain on us personally. Our public association with that hate-filled legislation shames us.” Haggis wrote, “Silence is consent, Tommy. I refuse to consent.” He concluded, “I hereby resign my membership in the Church of Scientology.”...

Is The Internet Driving Us Mad?
Tony DoKoupil | Is The Internet Driving Us Mad? | July 9, 2012

Tweets, texts, emails, posts. New research says the Internet can make us lonely and depressed -- and may even create more extreme forms of mental illness...

How An Abandoned Walmart Became An Award-Winning Public Library
Daniel Lametti and Katy Waldman, Slate | How An Abandoned Walmart Became An Award-Winning Public Library | July 8, 2012

From 12-packs of paper towels to The Count of Monte Cristo: A deserted Walmart in McAllen, Texas is stocking a new kind of item on its shelves.

Minneapolis-based architects Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd. breathed fresh life into the warehouse, about as big as two and a half football fields, late last year, when they repurposed it as the country’s largest single-story public library. (Alas, it’s not America’s biggest public library, despite what you might have read. That honor goes to the Library of Congress.) When a Walmart retailer moved to a larger facility down the road, the city purchased the old building and created the McAllen Public Library...

Predators In The Ranks
The Washington Post Editorial Board | Predators In The Ranks | July 6, 2012

An investigation by the Air Force into sexual misconduct at its basic-training operations has identified 31 women who have been victimized. Just as troubling is that only one of the women came forward to report the abuse, a startling fact that reflects the pervasive mistrust in the military’s handling of sex crimes within its ranks. It has been two decades since the Tailhook scandal first focused attention on this issue; it’s clear that much more must be done to fix a system that has allowed the mistreatment of women who serve their country...

Invaluable Civilians On The Warfront
Ryan C. Crocker, The Washington Post Opinion | Invaluable Civilians On The Warfront | July 6, 2012

Ryan Crocker is the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan...

I do two things each week at our management meeting: Read aloud the names of colleagues, mostly military but occasionally civilian, who have given their lives in service of our country; and welcome those recently arrived to serve the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and other agencies. These volunteers leave homes, family and sometimes careers to work 16-plus hours a day, six to seven days a week, living in shipping containers. All are aware of the threats we face at the embassy and the more frequent indiscriminate fire against field positions.