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.

Downsizing The War: Layoffs And Yardsales In Afghanistan
Nick Willard, The Daily Beast | Downsizing The War In Afghanistan | August 1, 2014

The signs of a dying war are everywhere in Afghanistan. An officer serving there reports on the layoffs and yard sales that mark the strange last days of American's longest war.

On July 8, a suicide bomber killed four Czech soldiers, two Afghan security forces, and at least 12 civilians a few miles outside Bagram Airfield. The bombing left another Czech soldier and eight others wounded. The U.N. reported that at least 10 of those killed, and six of the wounded, were children. The base called for blood donors, and the line of volunteers wrapped around the building within minutes...

Research Plan On Bear Bile Medicine Is Hailed By Animal Activists
Shaojie Huang, The New York Times | Synthetic Bear Bile | August 1, 2014

China’s leading producer of bear bile pharmaceuticals says it is searching for synthetic alternatives, a move hailed by animal welfare advocates.

Bear bile, an ingredient prized in traditional Chinese medicine, is harvested from caged live bears through tubes inserted into their gall bladders, a practice animals welfare activists decry as cruel. About 10,000 bears are kept in bile farms in China...

The Abortion Ministry Of Dr. Willie Parker
John H. Richardson, Esquire Magazine | Abortion Ministry | July 31, 2014

In Mississippi, there is only one clinic where a woman can go if she needs an abortion. The state is trying to close it down. At that clinic. there is a doctor who tends to the needs of these women, and he has to fly in from out of state to do it. There is no shutting him down...

Positively Un-American Tax Dodges
Allan Sloan, Fortune Magazine | Un-American Tax Dodges | July 31, 2014

Bigtime companies are moving their "headquarters" overseas to dodge billions in taxes... That means the rest of us pay their share.



Second-Chance Med School
Amenmona Hartocollis, The New York Times | Second Chance Med School | July 31, 2014

Sitting around an outdoor table at the Red Crab, a restaurant on the tropical island of Grenada festooned with palm trees and fiery bougainvillea, a dozen aspiring doctors bashfully conceded that they had been, at best, near misses when it came to getting into medical school in the United States.

Many of them had not earned A’s in college physics and organic chemistry. Many had tried other careers first — among them were a talent scout, a ballerina, a pianist and an engineer. And some had come tantalizingly close to the prize...

An Exclusive First Look At The Other-Worldly Art Of Burning Man 2014
Carly Schwartz, The Huffington Post | Burning Man Preview | July 30, 2014

One of the very best things about Burning Man, the week-long, post-apocalyptic celebration of creative expression that pops up in the Nevada desert each August, is the awe-inspiring collection of art on display...The Huffington Post was lucky enough to preview a handful of the projects that will be on hand at this year's event, which kicks off in mere weeks and is built around the theme "caravansary"...

"Get On Up": How The Godfather Of Soul Set Us Free
Andrew O'Hehir, Salon | Review: "Get On Up" | July 30, 2014

If George Clinton, some years later, would salute “One Nation Under a Groove,” he would have enthusiastically agreed that James Brown was that nation’s George Washington. Like the Father of Our Country, James Brown conceived and executed a revolution with far-reaching effects, although it was not the revolution’s leading theoretician. If Washington set us free from Mother England, in the conviction that better things would follow, James Brown set your ass free from that chair, and opened your mind in the process...

California Farms Are Sucking Up Enough Groundwater To Put Rhode Island 17 Feet Under
Julia Lurie, Mother Jones | CA Drought Report | July 29, 2014

California, the producer of nearly half of the nation's fruits, veggies, and nuts, plus export crops—four-fifths of the world's almonds, for example—is entering its third driest year on record...Here are four key takeaways...

New York City In The New Yorker
Joshua Rothman and Erin Overbey | Five NYC Stories | July 28, 2014

Last week, we announced that, for the rest of the summer and into the fall, we’d be assembling collections of favorite New Yorker stories. Today we’re releasing the second collection, of five stories about New York City, from the archive...

Vertical Farms Offer A Bright Future For Hungry Cities
Tim Heath and Yiming Shao, The Conversation | Vertical Farms | July 28, 2014

It has been suggested that a 30 storey 27,800,000 m2 vertical farm could be achieved within one New York City block. That farm could feed 50,000 people, providing 2,000 calories for every person each day. With results like that as a prospect, it’s easy to see why enthusiasts see vertical farms as the future...