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.

SEAL Book Depicts Osama Bin Laden Shot On Sight In Hallway, Contradicting Original Account

A firsthand account of the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden contradicts previous accounts by administration officials, raising questions as to whether the terror mastermind presented a clear threat when SEALs first fired upon him.

Bin Laden apparently was hit in the head when he looked out of his bedroom door into the top-floor hallway of his compound as SEALs rushed up a narrow stairwell in his direction, according to former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette, writing under the pseudonym Mark Owen in “No Easy Day.” The book is to be published next week by Penguin Group (USA)’s Dutton imprint...

Victims' Sons In Tough Fight For Redress After China Rail Crash
Andrew Jacobs, The New York Times | Victims' Sons In Tough Fight For Redress After China Rail Crash | August 29, 2012

Henry Cao has stark memories of the moment the high-speed train he was riding rear-ended another last summer in the eastern city of Wenzhou: the pleasantly hypnotic rocking that gave way to a jolt he likened to an earthquake, followed by blackness and the sensation of falling as the car plummeted 100 feet off a viaduct.

The crash killed 40 passengers, injured 191 and shook the nation’s confidence in its ambitious high-speed rail system...

More Syrian Refugees Flooding Into Jordan And Turkey
Kareem Fahim, The New York Times | Syrian Refugees Flooding Into Jourdan And Turkey | August 28, 2012

The United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday that the number of Syrian refugees fleeing to Jordan last week had more than doubled from the previous week, raising further fears of a growing exodus from Syria that threatens to overwhelm international relief efforts.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva, Melissa Fleming, the chief spokeswoman for the refugee agency, said that 10,200 Syrians had crossed into northern Jordan between Aug. 21 and Aug. 27, compared to 4,500 the week before. The refugees, she said, included an increasing number of unaccompanied children, among them orphans and children sent ahead by parents, sometimes without passports...

A Model For Conservation In China? The Tibetan Antelope
Christina Larson, The Christian Science Monitor | A Model For Conservation In China? The Tibetan Antelope | August 28, 2012

Out of all of China's endangered species, the giant panda might be the most recognizable to outsiders. But within China, one of the most iconic conservation battles has been the fight to save the Tibetan antelope, which in the 1980s and '90s was threatened by poachers seeking its silky underbelly wool.

While many conservation campaigns have floundered in China, efforts to protect the Tibetan antelope – which became a touchstone for the country's fledgling citizen environmental movement – have shown some success...

Hurricane Isaac: Live Updates
Tom McCarthy, The Guardian | Hurricane Isaac: Live Updates | August 28, 2012

-- Isaac is now a hurrican with winds over 74 mph

-- Louisiana and Mississippi face a significant risk of flooding

-- Isaac left at least 19 dead in Haiti on its way to the U.S...

Schmooze Or Lose
Jane Meyer, The New Yorker | Schmooze Or Lose | August 27, 2012

Obama doesn't like cozying up to billionaires. Could it cost him the election?

Togo Women Call Sex Strike To Force President's Resignation
Douglas Stanglin, USA Today | Togo Women Call Sex Strike To Force President's Resignation | August 27, 2012

Women in Togo have called a week-long sex strike to back their call for the resignation of the country's president, the Associated Press reports.

The ban is supported by an opposition coalition of political parties, civic groups and movements in the west African nation. The coalition wants President Faure Gnassingbe, whose family has held power for decades, to resign...

Do Party Conventions Matter Anymore?
The New York Time, Op Ed Page | Do Party Conventions Matter Anymore? | August 27, 2012

This week marks the start of the Republican national convention, followed next week by the Democratic convention. They are elaborate, heavily-scripted, expensive affairs -- this year, Congress has set aside $100 million for security and $18 million to each party for balloons, signs and other party material -- with little of the drama and excitement of years past.

Are political conventions still significant in the democratic process? Are they worth the cost?...

Made 'Giant Leap' As First Man To Step On Moon
John Noble Wilford, The New York Times | Made 'Giant Leap' As First Man To Step On Moon | August 26, 2012

Neil Armstrong, who made the “giant leap for mankind” as the first human to set foot on the moon, died on Saturday. He was 82.

His family said in a statement that the cause was “complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.” He had undergone heart bypass surgery this month in Cincinnati, near where he lived. His recovery had been going well, according to those who spoke with him after the surgery, and his death came as a surprise to many close to him, including his fellow Apollo astronauts. The family did not say where he died...

The Fracking Of Rachel Carson
Santra Steingreber, Orion | The Fracking Of Rachel Carson | August 26, 2012

Silent Spring's lost legacy, told in fifty parts...

10. The Environmental Protection Agency credits Silent Spring for its existence.

11. You can think of fracking as a hostage exchange program. A drill bit opens a hole a mile deep, turns sideways, and then, like a robotic mole, tunnels horizontally through the shale bedrock for another mile or more. The hole is lined with steel pipe and cement. To initiate the fracturing process, explosives are sent down it. Then, fresh water (millions of gallons per well) is injected under high pressure to further break up the shale and shoot acids, biocides, friction reducers, and sand grains deep into the cracks. Trapped for 400 million years, the gas is now free to flow through the propped-open fractures up to the surface, where it is condensed, compressed, and sent to market via a network of pipelines. The water remains behind...