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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.

The 10 Best Books of 2011
The New York Times | The 10 Best Books of 2011 | December 10, 2011

Choosing our 10 Best Books of the Year was not an arbitrary process, but neither was it a scientific one. How could it be, when the editors here, like all readers, respond subjectively to any work of fiction or nonfiction? The one guideline for the 10 was that they had to have been reviewed in our pages sometime in the past 12 months...

Obama's Square Deal
E.J. Dionne, Jr., The Washington Post Opinion | Obama's New Square Deal | December 8, 2011

President Obama has decided that he is more likely to win if the election is about big things rather than small ones. He hopes to turn the 2012 campaign from a plebiscite about the current state of the economy into a referendum about the broader progressive tradition that made us a middle-class nation. For the second time, he intends to stake his fate on a battle for the future...

U.S. Base in Iraq a Funnel for Troops and Equipment Heading Out
David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times | U.S. Base in Iraq a Funnel for Troops and Equipment Heading Out | December 8, 2011

And then Moses spoke: "Let my people go."

Not that Moses. This would be David Moses. Captain, U.S. Army.

Moses' people — a rapidly shrinking U.S. military force — are pouring daily through this base in Iraq's southern desert on their way out of the country. It is Moses' mission to keep the floor of troops and equipment flowing south to Kuwait, retracing the route thousands of U.S. troops and their armor took when they entered Iraq more than eight years ago...

Inside the Geeky, Revolutionary World of "Minecraft"
Rob Spillman, Salon | Inside the Geeky, Revolutionary World of "Minecraft" | December 8, 2011

Can a video game change the world? At the "Minecraft" convention in Las Vegas, crazily costumed obsessives say yes...

Producer Miyahara Wants More J-Pop on The World Stage
Mark Jarnes, The Japan Times | Producer Miyahara Wants More J-Pop on the World Stage | December 7, 2011

Miyahara feels passionately about stimulating and rejuvenating the J-pop scene. "What we in Japan need to be is more assertive on the world stage," he says. "We have Toyota, we have Sony. We have sushi and tempura, and we even have anime. We don't really have music yet, and that's in my sights. We need to overcome these difficult times in the (Japanese) music industry right now."...

December 7, 1941: Pearl Harbor in Images
Callie Oettinger, Command Posts | December 7, 1941: Pearl Harbor in Images | December 7, 2011

Forty-one remarkable photographs of the attack and its immediate aftermath, with detailed captions...

Walter Lord, Day of Infamy, and an Inspired 12-Year-Old Writer
Eric Hammel, Command Posts | Walter Lord, Day of Infamy, and an Inspired 12-Year-Old Writer | December 7, 2011

I am a product of World War II, an early baby boomer. My father was wounded on Okinawa, and I was always aware of his status as a veteran of the war. The war certainly played a role in shaping me...

Tiny Tax on Financial Trades Gains Advocates
Steven Greenhouse and Graham Bowley, The New York Times | Tiny Tax on Financial Trades Gains Advocates | December 6, 2011

They call it the Robin Hood tax — a tiny levy on trades in the financial markets that would take money from the banks and give it to the world’s poor. And like the mythical hero of Sherwood Forest, it is beginning to capture the public’s imagination.

Driven by populist anger at bankers as well as government needs for more revenue, the idea of a tax on trades of stocks, bonds and other financial instruments has attracted an array of influential champions, including the leaders of France and Germany, the billionaire philanthropists Bill Gates and George Soros, the consumer activist Ralph Nader, Pope Benedict XVI and the archbishop of Canterbury...

Derek Boogaard: A Brain 'Going Bad'
John Branch, The New York Times | Derek Boogaard: A Brain 'Going Bad' | December 6, 2011

This article, the third of a three-part series, chronicles Derek Boogaard's descent, on and off the ice, and the posthumous determination by researchers that he had a degenerative brain condition believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head...

Lost Leonardo Da Vinci Battle Scene Sparks Row Between Art Historians
Tom Kington, The Guardian | Lost Leonardo Da Vinci Battle Scene Sparks Row Between Art Historians | December 6, 2011

A 35-year hunt to uncover a lost work by Leonardo Da Vinci is reaching a climax in Florence, while also facing an angry protest by more than 100 prominent art historians who deplore the destructive but speculative work possibly leading to the masterpiece's uncovery.

The row centres on a wall in Florence's Palazzo Vecchio on which is painted a 16th century fresco. But, according to researcher Maurizio Seracini, this wall conceals another wall on which Da Vinci bgan painting The Battle of Anghiari, a monumental battle scene that is considered by some his finest work...