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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.

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...

Egyptian Military Police Beating a Female Protester Produces Fury and an Apology
Sarah A. Topol, The Daily Beast | Egyptian Military Police Beating a Female Protester Produces Fury and an Apology | December 21, 2011

The video image of military police savagely beating a female protester has reignited national debate, galvanized the country's stalled women's movement, and forced an apology from the country's ruling generals...

Are You Inhaling Secondhand Coke?
Elizabeth Norton, Science | Are You Inhaling Secondhand Coke? | December 21, 2011

We've all seen those color-coded air-quality charts on the news—warnings about smog, ozone, and pollen. Now it may be time to add a new alert to the list: illegal drugs. Researchers have found that regions with greater cocaine and marijuana use have higher levels of these drugs in the surrounding atmosphere..

Hitchens And Iraq
George Packer, The New Yorker Comment | Hitchens And Iraq | December 20, 2011

Christopher Hitchens and the Iraq War ended on the same day, December 15, 2011—a historical coincidence that only he might have known what to do with. In the trajectory of his career as brilliant talker and polemicist, man of letters, self-dramatizing personality, and traveller to bad places, Iraq was the turning point. Until then, his work fit roughly within the conventions of the left. Given the deadliness of much left-wing writing in the age of Reagan, Hitchens achieved the rare feat of being dazzling while sticking fairly closely to political orthodoxy...

The Fog of War Continues Over Iraq
Joe Scarborough, Politico Opinion | The For of War Continues Over Iraq | December 20, 2011

Like 75 percent of Americans and most of Congress, I supported the war with Iraq. Much of that support was the result of selected intelligence from the Bush administration. The White House suffered a systemic breakdown, with a vice president and secretary of defense more focused on justifying a war than showing the type of caution our troops deserve before being sent to fight in a foreign land...

Behind North Korea's Tears
Bradley K. Martin, Globalpost | Behind North Korea's Tears | December 20, 2011

Culture, coercion and fear for the future explain the extreme displays of grief over Kim Jong Il's death...