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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.

UC-Berkeley And Other 'Public Ivies' In Fiscal Peril
Daniel de Vise, The Washington Post | UC-Berkeley and Other 'Public Ivies' In Fiscal Perils | December 27, 2011

Across the nation, a historic collapse in state funding for higher education threatens to diminish the stature of premier public universities and erode their mission as engines of upward social mobility.

At the University of Virginia, state support has dwindled in two decades from 26 percent of the operating budget to 7 percent. At the University of Michigan, it has declined from 48 percent to 17 percent...

Navigating Love And Autism
Amy Harmon, The New York Times | Navigating Love and Autism | December 27, 2011

The first night they slept entwined on his futon, Jack Robison, 19, who had since childhood thought of himself as “not like the other humans,” regarded Kirsten Lindsmith with undisguised tenderness. She was the only girl to have ever asked questions about his obsessive interests — chemistry, libertarian politics, the small drone aircraft he was building in his kitchen — as though she actually cared to hear his answer. To Jack, who has a form of autism called Asperger syndrome, her mind was uncannily like his. She was also, he thought, beautiful...

Ron Paul's House Record Marked By Bold Strokes, And Futility
David A. Fahrenthold, The Washington Post | Ron Paul's House Record Marked By Bold Strokes, And Futility | December 27, 2011

The passage of H.R. 2121, in fall 2009, unfolded without drama. It allowed for the sale of a customhouse in Galveston, Tex. The House debate took two minutes, and the vote took eight seconds. The ayes had it. But something historic was happening. On his 482nd try, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) had authored a bill that would become law...

Life And Letters
Roger Angell, The New Yorker | Life And Letters | December 26, 2011

Christmas has flown, and mail at home this week will produce shiny bargain-sale notices, some bills and invitations, an early thank-you note for a gift, and a late Christmas card or two, but perhaps not an actual letter. There’s nothing new about this, but a bit of sadness, a pang, has remained since the Postal Service announced, last month, that it will soon drop any promises of next-day delivery for first-class letters...

Vast Rally In Moscow Is A Challenge To Putin's Power
Ellen Barry and Michael Schwirtz, The New York Times | Vast Rally In Moscow Is A Challenge To Putin's Power | December 25, 2011

Tens of thousands of citizens converged in Moscow on Saturday for the second huge antigovernment demonstration in a month, an early victory for activists struggling to forge a burst of energy into a political force capable of challenging Vladimir V. Putin’s power...

Newt Gingrich's Bipolar Mother Kit Gingirch and His Difficult Childhood
Gail Sheehy, The Daily Beast | Newt Gingrich's Bipolar Mother Kit Gingrich and His Difficult Childhood | December 25, 2011

Gingrich's painful childhood was scarred by his mother's manic-depression -- and a distant, violent stepfather. The Daily Beast's Gail Sheehy draws upon dozens of interviews with family members to trace the former speaker's path, including his mother's assertion that she "almost didn't" survive his childhood and his stepfather's admission that he once "smashed [Newt] against the wall" for breaking curfew...

Christmas Craze Fills Chinese Malls, If Not Its Churches
Peter ford, The Christian Science Monitor | Christmas Craze Fills Chinese Malls, If Not Its Churches | December 23, 2011

And you thought Christmas was over-commercialized where YOU live.

There may be around 70 million Christians in China, but they are emphatically not the reason why you cannot walk down a street in Beijing at the moment without bumping into a Christmas tree, or having “Jingle Bells” blared at you from a storefront....

Kim Jong-il's Death Sends North Korean Media Into Overdrive
Tania Branigan, The Guardian | Kim Jong-il's Death Sends North Korea Media Into Overdrive | December 23, 2011

Don't treat propaganda as one big joke, say experts, as papers report ice sheets cracking and a bird grieving for Dear Leader...

Bankers Join Billionaires to Debunk 'Imbecile' Attack on Top 1%
Max Abelson, Bloomberg | Bankers Join Billionaires to Debunk 'Imbecile' Attack on Top 1% | December 23, 2011

Jamie Dimon, the highest-paid chief executive officer among the heads of the six biggest U.S. banks, turned a question at an investors’ conference in New York this month into an occasion to defend wealth.

“Acting like everyone who’s been successful is bad and because you’re rich you’re bad, I don’t understand it,” the JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO told an audience member who asked about hostility toward bankers. “Sometimes there’s a bad apple, yet we denigrate the whole.”...

Their War At Home
Associated Press | Their War At Home | December 21, 2011

Nearly nine years of war in Iraq have produced a growing cadre of world-class, homegrown Iraqi news photographers. Some started out with little technical knowledge but a strong desire to document their country's experience. Within months, they were producing work that became increasingly crucial to the world's understanding of Iraq. These are the stories of five of those photojournalists, with a sampling of their images...