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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.

Flight Assembled Architecture by Gramazio & Kohler and Raffaello d'Andrea

Flying robots will assemble a six-metre-high tower at the FRAC Center in New Orlans, France, next month. Created by Swiss architects Gramazio & Kohler and Raffaello D'Andrea, the mobile machines will lift, transport and assemble 1500 polystyrene foam bricks to build a 3.5 meter wide structure...

Gingrich Gave Push to Clients, Not Just Ideas
Mike McIntire and Jim Rutenberg, The New York Times | Gingrich Gave Push to Clients, Not Just Ideas | November 30, 2011

Newt Gingrich is adamant that he is not a lobbyist, but rather a visionary who traffics in ideas, not influence. But in the eight years since he started his health care consultancy, he has made millions of dollars while helping companies promote their services and gain access to state and federal officials...

Carrier IQ: Researcher Trevor Eckhart Outs Creepy, Hidden App Installed on Smartphones

A security researcher has posted a video detailing hidden software installed on smart phones that logs numerous details about users' activities.

In a 17-minute video posted Monday on YouTube, Trevor Eckhart shows how the software – known as Carrier IQ – logs every text message, Google search and phone number typed on a wide variety of smart phones - including HTC, Blackberry, Nokia and others - and reports them to the mobile phone carrier...

Burning Love
Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker | Burning Love | November 30, 2011

Americans have never met a hydrocarbon they didn’t like. Oil, natural gas, liquefied natural gas, tar-sands oil, coal-bed methane, and coal, which is, mostly, carbon—the country loves them all, not wisely, but too well. To the extent that the United States has an energy policy, it is perhaps best summed up as: if you’ve got it, burn it...

Naomi Wolf: Reception, Responses, Critics
Matt Seaton, Guardian UK | Naomi Wolf: Reception, Responses, Critics | November 29, 2011

Naomi Wolf's article about the police crackdown on Occupy went viral this weekend. Many 'liked' it; others, not so much...

Chestnuts Worthy of Song
Michael Tortorello, The New York Times | Chestnuts Worthy of Song | November 29, 2011

Nat King Cole owes an apology to the nation. With “The Christmas Song,” in 1946, Mr. Cole conjured the sentimental image of “chestnuts roasting on an open fire.”...

Inside the Attack on the First Amendment
Peter Van Buren, Salon | Inside the Attack on the First Amendment | November 29, 2011

Here’s the First Amendment, in full: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Those beautiful words, almost haiku-like, are the sparse poetry of the American democratic experiment...

Egypt on the Edge
Wendell Steavenson, The New Yorker | Egypt on the Edge | November 27, 2011

It was Friday today, and Tahrir Square was packed. It was in a mix of every mood I have seen it in over the past ten months: politically focussed, “The people want to topple the Marshal!”; carnival-like, with face painters and food stalls; determined, with tents and supplies and field hospitals; organized, with volunteers checking bags and I.D.s at the entrances; thuggish, with plenty of knots of young kids from poor neighborhoods; and creative: a new sign had been erected for Mohamed Mahmoud Street, renaming it, “The Street of the Eyes of Freedom”—a reference to the many who had lost their eyesight from police birdshot...

Newt Gingrich Inc.: How the GOP Hopeful Went From Political Flameout to Fortune
Karen Tumulty and Dan Eggen, The Washington Post | Newt Gingrich Inc.: How the GOP Hopeful Went From Political Flameout to Fortune | November 27, 2011

Anyone who doesn’t believe in an afterlife must not live in Washington. Rarely, however, has reincarnation been so lucrative as it has for the man who now tops some polls for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich transfigured himself from a political flameout into a thriving business conglomerate. The power of the Gingrich brand fueled a for-profit collection of enterprises that generated close to $100 million in revenue over the past decade...

Can the Bulldog Be Saved?
Benoit Denizet-Lewis, The New York Times | Can the Bulldog Be Saved? | November 27, 2011

In the first half of Georgia’s football game against South Carolina in 2009, Uga VII, who had been dozing on a bag of ice in his air-conditioned sideline doghouse, was cajoled onto the field to pose for pictures with some cheerleaders and Gov. Sonny Perdue. Uga (pronounced UGH-uh) wore his trademark red Georgia jersey and spiked red leather collar, and he looked bored as an ESPN cameraman shoved a camera in his wrinkly, smooshed bulldog face...