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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.

Quadrantid Meteor Shower Won't Have To Compete With Moonlight
Denise Chow, The Christian Science Monitor | Quadrantid Meteor Shower Won't Have To Compete With Moonlight | January 3, 2012

Quadrantid meteor shower peak could hit as many as 100 meteors per hour, says NASA. The Quadrantid meteor shower will peak at 2 a.m. on Jan. 4...

China's President Pushes Back Against Western Culture
Edward Wong, The New York Times | China's President Pushes Back Against Western Culture | January 3, 2012

President Hu Jintao of China has said that the West is trying to dominate China by spreading its culture and ideology and that China must strengthen its cultural production to defend against the assault, according to an essay in a Communist Party policy magazine published this week...

A User's Guide to the Iowa Air Wars
Judith Grey, The Daily Beast | A User's Guide to the Iowa Air Wars | January 3, 2012

The anti-Gingrich barrage took its toll. Rick Perry's wife can't save him. And Rick Santorum proves the ground game still matters. Judith Grey on the ads shaping Iowa's outcome...

Longform's Top 10 Stories of 2011
longform.org -- via Slate | Longform's Top 10 Stories of 2011 | December 31, 2011

This week we've been sharing our favorite articles of the year on slate. This is the final installment, our overall top 10 stories of the year. For our full list -- including the top 10 articles about sports, pollitics, tech, and more -- check out Longform's Best of 2011.

Newt Gingrich's Glory Days
Matt Bai, The New York Times | Newt Gingrich's Glory Days | December 31, 2011

It was just after dawn in Coralville, Iowa, the week before Christmas, and I asked the young waitress at the hotel restaurant if she would kindly direct Newt Gingrich to my table when he arrived. She looked uncertain.

“Would you recognize Newt Gingrich?” I asked her.

“I think my manager probably would,” she said...

The Big Lie: Wall Street Has Destroyed The Wonder That Was America
Michael Thomas, Newsweek | The Big Lie: Wall Street Has Destroyed The Wonder That Was America | December 30, 2011

Imagine a vast field on which a terrible battle has recently been fought, the bare ground cratered by fusillade after fusillade of heavy artillery, trees reduced to blackened stumps, wisps of toxic gas hanging in the gray, and corpses everywhere.

A terrible scene, made worse by the sound of distant laughter, because somehow, on the heights commanding the dead zone, the officers’ club has made it through intact. From its balconies flutter bunting, and across the blasted landscape there comes a chorus of hearty male voices in counterpoint to the wheedling of cadres of wheel-greasers, the click of betting chips, the orotund declamations of a visiting congressional delegation: in sum, the celebratory hullabaloo of a class of people that has sent entire nations off to perish but whose only concern right now is whether the ’11 is ready to drink and who’ll see to tipping the servants...

Philadelphia Pepper Pot: The Soup That Won The American Revolution
Oliver Thring, The Guardian | Philadelphia Pepper Pot: The Soup That won The American Revolution | December 30, 2011

It's the 234th birthday of this inventive dish that, as legend has it, revitalized George Washington's troops to help them win the war...

The Christmas War On Atheism: What's the Religious Right Whining About When It's Really Non-Believers Who Are Under Attack?
Alex DiBranco, AlterNet | The Christmas War On Atheism | December 28, 2011

 

 
 
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It’s that time of year when, if you tune into Fox News or right-wing talk radio, you’re sure to hear the phrase “war on Christmas” repeated ad infinitum. Perhaps you’ve also seen Rick Perry’s new war on Christmas ad, which gives the added gift of rabid homophobia, while absurdly accusing President Barack Obama of leading a war on religion. But in reality, this year, like most years, it's right-wing Christians who are waging a war on the right of non-believers to avoid having religion shoved down their throats...

UnderObama, An Emerging Global Apparatus For Drone Killing
Greg Miller, The Washington Post | Under Obama, An Emerging Global Apparatus For Drone Killing | December 28, 2011

The Obama administration’s counterterrorism accomplishments are most apparent in what it has been able to dismantle, including CIA prisons and entire tiers of al-Qaeda’s leadership. But what the administration has assembled, hidden from public view, may be equally consequential.

In the space of three years, the administration has built an extensive apparatus for using drones to carry out targeted killings of suspected terrorists and stealth surveillance of other adversaries...

Turtles Show Way To Prosperity
Vincent M. Mallozzi, The New York Times | Turtles Show Way To Prosperity | December 28, 2011

The turtles in a large aquarium in a Midtown window often bring passers-by to a halt, even those used to seeing the unexpected.

“Everyone who passes this store wants to know about the turtles,” said Johnny Lu, whose business specializes in the manufacture and sale of coral and pearl jewelry. “I tell them that my family owes everything we have to the turtles.”...