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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.

Hitchens And Iraq
George Packer, The New Yorker Comment | Hitchens And Iraq | December 20, 2011

Christopher Hitchens and the Iraq War ended on the same day, December 15, 2011—a historical coincidence that only he might have known what to do with. In the trajectory of his career as brilliant talker and polemicist, man of letters, self-dramatizing personality, and traveller to bad places, Iraq was the turning point. Until then, his work fit roughly within the conventions of the left. Given the deadliness of much left-wing writing in the age of Reagan, Hitchens achieved the rare feat of being dazzling while sticking fairly closely to political orthodoxy...

The Fog of War Continues Over Iraq
Joe Scarborough, Politico Opinion | The For of War Continues Over Iraq | December 20, 2011

Like 75 percent of Americans and most of Congress, I supported the war with Iraq. Much of that support was the result of selected intelligence from the Bush administration. The White House suffered a systemic breakdown, with a vice president and secretary of defense more focused on justifying a war than showing the type of caution our troops deserve before being sent to fight in a foreign land...

Behind North Korea's Tears
Bradley K. Martin, Globalpost | Behind North Korea's Tears | December 20, 2011

Culture, coercion and fear for the future explain the extreme displays of grief over Kim Jong Il's death...

Last Convoy of American Troops Leaves Iraq
Tim Arango and Michael S. Schmidt, The New York Times | Last Convoy of American Troops Leaves Iraq | December 19, 2011

The last convoy of American troops drove into Kuwait on Sunday morning, punctuating the end of the nearly nine-year war in Iraq...

What Iraqis Think of the American Withdrawal: Kurdish Region
Stephen Farrell and Baghdad Bureau, The New York Times | What Iraqis Think of the American Withdrawal: Kurdish Region | December 19, 2011

As American forces pulled out of Iraq, we asked Iraqis around the country three questions:

1. Will Iraq be better or worse off after American troops leave?
2. What did the Americans achieve in Iraq?
3. What have they personally lost or gained since the 2003 invasion?...

What Iraqis Think of the American Withdrawal: Kirkuk
Baghdad Bureau, The New York Times | What Iraqis Think of the American Withdrawal: Kirkuk | December 19, 2011

As American forces pulled out of Iraq, we asked Iraqis around the country three questions:

1. Will Iraq be better or worse off after American troops leave?
2. What did the Americans achieve in Iraq?
3. What have they personally lost or gained since the 2003 invasion?...

Census Shows 1 In 2 People Are Poor Or Low-Income
Hope Yen, Associated Press | Census Shows 1 In 2 People Are Poor Or Low-Income | December 16, 2011

Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

The latest census data depict a middle class that's shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government's safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families...

Iraq War Draws To A Quiet Close
Liz Sly and Craig Whitlock, The Washington Post | Iraq War Draws To A Quiet Close | December 16, 2011

The American war in Iraq came to an unspectacular end Thursday at a simple ceremony held on the edge of Baghdad’s international airport, not far from the highway along which U.S. troops first fought their way into the capital more than eight years ago...

Polemicist Who Slashed All, Freely, With Wit
William Grimes, The New York Times | Polemicist Who Slahsed All, Freely, With Wit | December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens, a slashing polemicist in the tradition of Thomas Paine and George Orwell who trained his sights on targets as various as Henry Kissinger, the British monarchy and Mother Teresa, wrote a best-seller attacking religious belief, and dismayed his former comrades on the left by enthusiastically supporting the American-led war in Iraq, died Thursday at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He was 62...

Why Do People Still Deny Climate Change?
Gene Lyons, Salon | Why Do People Still Deny Climate Change? | December 15, 2011

At the expense of being tedious, from a climatological perspective, 2011 was a real killer — both figuratively and literally. If not quite so hot as 2010, which tied 1998 for the warmest in recorded history, it’s likely to end up among the top 10, all occurring over the past 15 years according to the World Meteorological Organization...