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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.

Delineating The Perfect Swim Stroke
Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times | Delineating The Perfect Swim Stroke | July 5, 2012

Should a swimmer’s arms serve as paddles or propellers? That question, abstruse as it might seem, underlies a long-running controversy in swimming about the best, most efficient technique for the freestyle and the backstroke. It also prompted a new study from a group of scientists at Johns Hopkins University that, in seemingly answering the question, is likely to provoke even more debate...

Where The Money Lives
Nicholas Shaxson | Where The Money Lives | July 3, 2012

For all Mitt Romney's touting of his business record, when it comes to his own money the Republican nominee is remarkably shy about disclosing numbers and investments. Nicholas Shaxson delves into the murky world of offshore finance, revealing loopholes that allow the very wealthy to skirt tax laws, and investigating just how much of Romney's fortunre (with $30 million in Bain Capital funds in the Cayman Islands alone?) looks pretty strange for a presidential candidate...

 

Report Describes Brutal Torture In Syria
Ivan Watson, CNN | Report Describes Brutal Torture In Syria | July 3, 2012

"Basat al reeh." "Dulab." "Falaqa." They are Arabic names for torture techniques that send chills through the hearts of Syrians, particularly the untold thousands who are believed to have been detained during the uprising of the last 15 months.

"We suffered torture all the time," said Tariq, an opposition activist from the port city of Latakia who spent 40 days in solitary confinement in spring 2011.

He told CNN he endured "dulab," in which torturers force the prisoner's legs and head into a car tire before beating them, and "basat al reeh," in which the prisoner is tied to a board and beaten...

Pakistan Opens NATO Supply Line As Clinton Apologizes
Eric Schmitt, The New York Times | Pakistan Opens NATO Supply Line As Clinton Apologizes | July 3, 2012

Pakistan told the United States it was reopening NATO’s supply routes into neighboring Afghanistan after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she was sorry for the deaths of Pakistani soldiers in American airstrikes in November, the State Department said Tuesday. The agreement ends a bitter seven-month stalemate between the two countries that has threatened to jeopardize counterterrorism cooperation and complicated the American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan...

Women In Combat: US Military On Verge Of Making It Official
Anna Mulrine, The Christian Science Monitor | Women In Combat: US Military On Verge Of Making It Official | July 2, 2012

...it was Capt. Allison Black's voice that special operators on the ground heard as they fought. Afghan soldiers overheard the chatter, too. On a mission over the northern Afghanistan city of Kunduz in 2001, one particularly fierce warlord, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, "found it amazing" that a woman was directing fire on the Taliban forces, says Black. "He thought it was so hilarious. He asked, 'Is that a woman?' "

When SOF fighters confirmed it was, Dostum, she says, was incredulous – and impressed: "America is so determined to kill the Taliban that they send women," he said.

Then, as Black called in another round of fire, Dostum dialed enemy fighters by phone, so they, too, could hear her voice on his walkie-talkie: "He really berated them, saying 'You're so pathetic, American women are killing you. You need to surrender now,' " Black says...

Chasing Prefontaine: The Run For A Record
Chelsea J. Carter, CNN | Chasing Prefontaine: The Run For A Record | July 2, 2012

The buzz began hours before the start of the race at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials: Would one of the most-elusive records in long distance running set by a legend long dead finally fall?

It's a question that has been asked at nearly every Olympic track trials since the brash Steve Prefontaine set the meet record for men's 5,000 meters in 1972.

Sure, there have been runners since who have been more than capable of breaking the record. They just always came up short when it counted...

Proof Of 'God Particle' Found
Seth Borenstein, The Associated Press | Proof Of 'God Particle' Found | July 2, 2012

Scientists working at the world's biggest atom smasher plan to announce Wednesday that they have gathered enough evidence to show that the long-sought "God particle" answering fundamental questions about the universe almost certainly does exist

But after decades of work and billions of dollars spent, researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, aren't quite ready to say they've "discovered" the particle...

Drawing In The Dark
Campbell Robertson, Slate | Drawing In The Dark | July 1, 2012

Why cartoonist Joe Sacco is one of the best war correspondents in the world...

Open Letter From A Millennial: Quit Telling Us We're Not Special
Sierra, The Phoenix And Olive Branch | Open Letter From A Millennial: Quit Telling Us We're Not Special | July 1, 2012

Quit telling us we're not special. Believe us, we bloody well know.

Earlier this month, Wellesley high school teacher David McCullough, Jr., delivered what was perhaps the world’s first commencement dirge to a crowd of teenagers on the first day of distinction many of them have ever experienced. Graduation from high school, he informed them, is a shiny induction to the hordes of mediocrity. McCullough even took it upon himself to remind the youth of their eventual funerals. (You know it’s a problematic speech when Rush Limbaugh loves it.) What parting words did the teacher have for those who survived his twelve-minute lesson on nihilism? The paradoxical exhortation to go forth and live extraordinary lives! Because, apparently, we can?...

Nine Best Reads On Obamacare Ruling
Alex Klein, The Daily Beast | Nine Best Reads On Obamacare Fuling | June 30, 2012

The verdicts came in quickly from advocates and opponents of the Affordable Care Act. Here's a look at the most astute commentaries about the Supreme Court's decision...