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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.

Bill Clinton: Someone We Can All Agree On
Charles P. Pierce and Mark Warren, Esquire | Bill Clinton: Someone We Can All Agree On | January 20, 2012

Even his staunchest enemies now regard his presidency as the good old days. He has become the rare consensus figure in a country that has lost all sense of consensus. So we talked to him about where it went, and how we might get it back...

SOPA And PIPA Dead -- For Now
Jennifer Martinez, Politico | SOPA And PIPA Dead -- For Now | January 20, 2012

House and Senate leaders abandoned plans to move on SOPA and PIPA on Friday — the surest sign yet that a wave of online protests have killed the controversial anti-piracy legislation for now and maybe forever...

Paul Begala to Rick Perry: Adios, Mofo
Paul Begala, The Daily Beast | Paul Begala to Rick Perry: Adios, Mofo | January 19, 2012

Let us not allow Rick Perry to exit stage right—far right—without a final word or two. What can be said about a man who burst onto the national scene by toying with secession, as if 600,000 dead in the Civil War weren't enough? Rick Perry appealed to the darkest angels of our nature...

Five Myths About The Keystone XL Pipeline
Michael Levi, The Washington Post | Five Myths About the Keystone XL Pipeline | January 19, 2012

After months of intense debates and protests, the Obama administration has finally decided the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline project: It’s not going to happen anytime soon.

The proposed pipeline would have moved about 700,000 barrels of oil-like bitumen from the Alberta oil sands to Texas refineries each day, and oil companies and their allies lobbied hard for it — including with an ad blitz that ran during Republican presidential debates. But, in a victory for environmental activists and parts of the president’s base, the State Department has rejected the permit for its construction (though it has left the door open for its backers to reapply)...

How Obama's Long Game Will Outsmart His Critics
Andrew Sullivan, Newsweek | How Obama's Long Game Will Outsmart His Critics | January 18, 2012

The right calls him a socialist, the left says he sucks up to Wall Street, and independents think he's a wimp. Andrew Sullivan on how the president may just end up outsmarting them all...

Protest on Web Uses Shutdown to Take On Two Piracy Bills
Jenna Wortham, The New York Times | Protest on Web Uses Shutdown to Take On Two Piracy Bills | January 18, 2012

With a Web-wide protest on Wednesday that includes a 24-hour shutdown of the English-language Wikipedia, the legislative battle over two Internet piracy bills has reached an extraordinary moment — a political coming of age for a relatively young and disorganized industry that has largely steered clear of lobbying and other political games in Washington.

Danger! Nuclear Waste! Keep Out - Forever!
Edan Corkill, Japan Times | Danger! Nuclear Waste! Keep Out - Forever! | January 18, 2012

What if we needed to leave a message for people 100,000 years from now? What if there was some terrible danger from which we wanted to protect people in the year 102,012? Could we do it?

These are questions that have been much mulled in recent decades in sectors of the nuclear power industry — an industry which, at its current level of development in the United States, Britain, France, Finland, Japan and elsewhere, produces waste that will remain dangerous for at least that long...

For the Washington Area, No Snow In Sight in a Winterless Winter
Joel Achenbach, The Washington Post | For the Washington Area, No Snow in Sight in a Winterless Winter | January 18, 2012

This has been a winterless winter, a season that can’t make it past lunchtime without busting out in a springtime melody. Every time cold weather shows up, it catches a flight back north the next day. Snow this year is a thing of myth and legend.

Tuesday has been typical of Winter 2012 here: Chilly and damp in the morning, but Frisbee weather by mid-afternoon. The calendar insists, implausibly, that it is Jan. 17...

"Why Write Novels at All?"
Garth Risk Hallberg, The New York Times Magazine | "Why Write Novels at All?" | January 17, 2012

Last year, I found myself mildly obsessed with a cache of YouTube clips, featuring the novelists Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Franzen, Zadie Smith, David Foster Wallace and Nathan Englander at a 2006 literary conference in Italy called Le Conversazioni. Part of what interested me, in a gate-crashing kind of way, was the backdrop: midsummer on the Isle of Capri, with flora aflame and a sky the color of Chablis. Another part, inevitably, was watching Wallace with the knowledge that he would kill himself two years later. Mostly what I kept coming back to, though, was how lighthearted, how loose — how young — these writers seemed here...

The "What Do You Know About MLK" Quiz
Matthew Green | The "What Do You Know About MLK" Quiz | January 17, 2012

1: In the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision, the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional to...