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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.

Eulogy For My Drinking Duck
Gene Weingarten, The Washington Post | Eulogy For My Drinking Duck | June 30, 2012

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my Drinking Duck, a $5 novelty item purchased on eBay. He arrived from China on March 20, and I set him in motion on March 24 by pushing his head down into a glass of water and letting go. He took it from there.

He was a serious little fellow who had one job to do, which he did to the very best of his ability, which is all we can ask of anyone...

Morsi Is Sworn In, Marking A New Stage In Egypt Struggle
David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times | Morsi Sworn In, Marking A New Stage In Egypt Struggle | June 30, 2012

Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was formally sworn in on Saturday as the first democratically elected president of Egypt, marking a new stage in an ever murkier struggle to define the future of the nation after six decades of military-backed autocracy.

Proclaiming “a new Egypt, the second republic,” Mr. Morsi declared, “Today the Egyptian people have established a new life, with real freedom and real democracy.”...

The Truth About the Fast and Furious Scandal
Katherine Eban, Fortune | The Truth About the Fast and Furious Scandal | June 27, 2012

A Fortune investigation reveals that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. How the world came to believe just the opposite is a tale of rivalry, murder, and political bloodlust...

 

That's Just Nino: Scalia's Arizona Dissent
Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker | That's Just Nino: Scalia's Arizona Dissent | June 27, 2012

The last days of a Supreme Court term rarely show off the Justices to great advantage. Like other mortals, they have put off doing their hardest work, so only the most controversial cases remain. They are tired. They are frustrated. By a vote of 6-3, they need haircuts. (Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan appear recently barbered; Stephen Breyer is bald.) But none of the usual end-of-year excuses explain the behavior in court yesterday of Antonin Scalia...

Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery Talk Dark Money With Bill Moyers
Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery, Mother Jones | Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery Talk Dark Money With Bill Moyers | June 27, 2012

Bill Moyers invited us to come on his show this week to chat about dark money, the undisclosed, often untraceable political spending made possible by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. In a wide-ranging (and incredibly gracious) interview, he asked us about everything from the latest super-PAC machinations to the nexus between political money and income inequality. Watch...

Nora Ephron, Wry Woman Of Letters, Is Dead At 71
Charles McGrath, The New York Times | Nora Ephron, Wry Woman Of Letters, Dead At 71 | June 26, 2012

Nora Ephron, an essayist and humorist in the Dorothy Parker mold (only smarter and funnier, some said) who became one of her era’s most successful screenwriters and filmmakers, making romantic comedy hits like “Sleepless in Seattle” and “When Harry Met Sally,” died Tuesday night in Manhattan. She was 71...

Pentagon Dilemma: More Privacy In Barracks Linked To More Sexual Assault
Anna Mulrine, The Christian Science Monitor | Pentagon Dilemma: More Privacy In Barracks Linked To More Sexual Assault | June 26, 2012

US military barracks have come a long way from the Beetle Bailey cartoon days, when troops slept in rows of metal bunks and awoke with "Reveille." Today’s new soldiers are inheritors of living quarters that more closely resemble condominiums.

But there are more lax regulations in the barracks that have come with compassion for troops who have been fighting wars for a decade – and with it, growing concern that the privacy afforded in these living quarters may need to be reevaluated in the wake of growing instances of sexual assault, senior military officials say...

Letter From China: Got A Degree And An Idea? Go To China
Evan Osnos, The New Yorker | Letter From China: Got A Degree And An Idea? Go To China | June 26, 2012

...In China, immigration poses new questions, and the philosophical and practical pressures are very different. For centuries, it was not an issue: beset by poverty and upheaval, the Chinese were the ones headed abroad, and hardly anyone was showing up looking for shelter. Now that the tables have turned, the legal infrastructure is lacking. As recently as the mid-eighties, foreigners registered in Beijing were not permitted to leave a radius of twenty kilometers from Tiananmen Square, without permission, according to China Daily...

As Rebels Attack Elite Guards, Assad Talks of 'State of War'
Rod Nordland, The New York Times | As Rebels Attack Elite Guards, Assad Talks of 'State of War' | June 26, 2012

A surprise assault by lightly armed Syrian insurgents on a military base housing the elite Republican Guard in Damascus, just a few miles from the Presidental Palace, elicited a furious military response on Tuesday, with government forces shelling surrounding neighborhoods in an escalation that brought combat in the Syrian conflict close to the heart of the capital. Anti-government activists estimated at least 33 people were killed in the artillery barrages of the Damascus suburb of Qudssaya aimed at the Free Syrian Army insurgents, less than three miles northwest of President Bashar al-Assad’s official residence, and on Barzeh in northern Damascus, about three miles northeast...

A Photo Finish Too Close To Call, Even By Camera
Sam Borden, The New York Times | A Photo Finish Too Close To Call, Even By Camera | June 25, 2012

It was track’s version of Bush v. Gore. Potential fame and fortune were on the line for the winner, if those in charge could only figure out who had won. In this case, hanging chads were not the issue. Rather, it was a photograph — or thousands of them, taken within a second — that somehow failed to reveal who had finished in third place and earned a spot on the United States Olympic track and field team for this summer’s London Games...