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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.

Turning The Page: Reflections On Change
Serge Schmemann | Turning The Page: Reflections On Change | October 14, 2013

On Tuesday, The International Herald Tribune, the global edition of The New York Times, becomes The International New York Times.

The paper has changed names a number of times since its founding 126 years ago, but its mission has always remained the same: to provide a global perspective on events and ideas shaping the world. This is a look at its journey so far...

Today Is Columbus Day
The Oatmeal | Today Is Columbus Day | October 14, 2013

Today is Columbus Day in the United States of America. When asked to describe Christopher Columbus most people generally say two things...

Banksy Was Here: The Invisible Man Of Graffiti Art
Lauren Collins. The New Yorker | Banksy Was Here: The Invisible Man Of Graffiti Art | October 10, 2013

The British graffiti artist Banksy likes pizza, though his preference in toppings cannot be definitively ascertained. He has a gold tooth. He has a silver tooth. He has a silver earring. He’s an anarchist environmentalist who travels by chauffeured S.U.V. He was born in 1978, or 1974, in Bristol, England—no, Yate. The son of a butcher and a housewife, or a delivery driver and a hospital worker, he’s fat, he’s skinny, he’s an introverted workhorse, he’s a breeze-shooting exhibitionist given to drinking pint after pint of stout. For a while now, Banksy has lived in London: if not in Shoreditch, then in Hoxton. Joel Unangst, who had the nearly unprecedented experience of meeting Banksy last year, in Los Angeles, when the artist rented a warehouse from him for an exhibition, can confirm that Banksy often dresses in a T-shirt, shorts, and sneakers. When Unangst is asked what adorns the T-shirts, he will allow, before fretting that he has revealed too much already, that they are covered with smudges of white paint...

How The US Raid On Al-Shabaab In Somalia Went Wrong
Abdalle Ahmed, Spencer Ackerman, and David Smith, The Guardian | How The US Raid On Al-Shabaab In Somalia Went Wrong | October 9, 2013

Navy Seals launched a daring night-time raid in Barawe, but were forced to retreat an hour later without their target. Why?...

For Nobel, They Can Thank The 'God Particle'
Dennis Overbye, The New York Times | For Nobel, They Can Thank The 'God Particle' | October 9, 2013

The “God particle” became the prize particle on Tuesday.

Two theoretical physicists who suggested that an invisible ocean of energy suffusing space is responsible for the mass and diversity of the particles in the universe won the Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday morning. They are Peter W. Higgs, 84, of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and François Englert, 80, of the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium...

Focusing On Fruit Flies, Curiosity Takes Flights
James Gorman, The New York Times | Focusing On Fruit Flies, Curiosity Takes Flights | October 8, 2013

To hear Michael Dickinson tell it, there is nothing in the world quite as wonderful as a fruit fly.

And it’s not because the fly is one of the most important laboratory animals in the history of biology, often used as a simple model for human genetics or neuroscience.

“I don’t think they’re a simple model of anything,” he says. “If flies are a great model, they’re a great model for flies.

“These animals, you know, they’re not like us,” he says, warming to his subject...

With Little Fanfare, Afghanistan War Drags Into 13th Year
Heath Druzin, Stars and Stripes | With Little Fanfare, Afghanistan War Drags Into 13th Year | October 7, 2013

Monday marks 12 years since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, and for a conflict that’s been seemingly forgotten by most Americans who’ve grown weary of war, it seems fitting that the anniversary should be overshadowed by a domestic story: the federal government shutdown.

More than a decade since the U.S. launched Operation Enduring Freedom on Oct. 7, 2001, there are still 54,000 American troops in Afghanistan. That is more, by far, than at any time during the first seven years of the war, yet these days, they garner scant news coverage. Most recently, Syria’s civil war and the use of chemical weapons as well as the federal government shutdown have buried Afghanistan news, even as Americans continue to die — four were killed were killed within a week in so-called insider attacks just at the end of September.

“There is a bloody war happening, and no one is talking about it,” said Ahmad Majidyar, an Afghanistan expert at the American Enterprise Institute and a frequent adviser to the U.S. Army...

California's New Feudalism Benefits A Few At The Expense Of The Multitude
Joel Kotkin, The Daily Beast | California's New Feudalism Benefits A Few At The Expense Of The Multitude | October 7, 2013

California has been the source of much innovation, from agribusiness and oil to fashion and the digital world. Historically much richer than the rest of the country, it was also the birthplace, along with Levittown, of the mass-produced suburb, freeways, much of our modern entrepreneurial culture, and of course mass entertainment. For most of a century, for both better and worse, California has defined progress, not only for America but for the world.

As late as the 80s, California was democratic in a fundamental sense, a place for outsiders and, increasingly, immigrants—roughly 60 percent of the population was considered middle class. Now, instead of a land of opportunity, California has become increasingly feudal. According to recent census estimates,  the state suffers some of the highest levels of inequality in the country. By some estimates, the state’s level of inequality compares with that of such global models as  the Dominican Republic, Gambia, and the Republic of the Congo...

In Conversation: Antonin Scalia
Jennifer Senior, New York Magazine | In Conversation: Antonin Scalia | October 7, 2013

On September 26—a day that just happened to be the 27th anniversary of his swearing-in as associate justice—Antonin Scalia entered the Supreme Court’s enormous East Conference Room so casually that one might easily have missed him. He is smaller than his king-size persona suggests, and his manner more puckish than formal. Washingtonians may know Scalia as charming and disarming, but most outsiders tend to regard him as either a demigod on stilts or a menace to democracy, depending on which side of the aisle they sit...

Leave No Man Behind!
David Weigel, Slate | Leave No Man Behind! | October 4, 2013

Eugene Morgan is a veteran of World War II, a Marine, age 96—and for 20-odd minutes, he’s the most photographed man in downtown Washington. Morgan’s misfortune was to arrive in the city on the second day of the 2013 government shutdown. His trip, organized by his 50-year-old son Jeff, couldn’t really be rescheduled. So father and son showed up around 10 a.m. to visit the World War II Memorial.

They ran smack into a delegation from Congress. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Texas Rep. John Carter were at the monument site, talking to Honor Flight’s Jeff Miller about a minor act of civil disobedience. Since 2007, Honor Flight has organized free Washington trips for veterans who want to see the memorial before passing into the great unknown...