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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.

What Iraqis Think of the American Withdrawal: Kurdish Region
Stephen Farrell and Baghdad Bureau, The New York Times | What Iraqis Think of the American Withdrawal: Kurdish Region | December 19, 2011

As American forces pulled out of Iraq, we asked Iraqis around the country three questions:

1. Will Iraq be better or worse off after American troops leave?
2. What did the Americans achieve in Iraq?
3. What have they personally lost or gained since the 2003 invasion?...

What Iraqis Think of the American Withdrawal: Kirkuk
Baghdad Bureau, The New York Times | What Iraqis Think of the American Withdrawal: Kirkuk | December 19, 2011

As American forces pulled out of Iraq, we asked Iraqis around the country three questions:

1. Will Iraq be better or worse off after American troops leave?
2. What did the Americans achieve in Iraq?
3. What have they personally lost or gained since the 2003 invasion?...

Census Shows 1 In 2 People Are Poor Or Low-Income
Hope Yen, Associated Press | Census Shows 1 In 2 People Are Poor Or Low-Income | December 16, 2011

Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

The latest census data depict a middle class that's shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government's safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families...

Iraq War Draws To A Quiet Close
Liz Sly and Craig Whitlock, The Washington Post | Iraq War Draws To A Quiet Close | December 16, 2011

The American war in Iraq came to an unspectacular end Thursday at a simple ceremony held on the edge of Baghdad’s international airport, not far from the highway along which U.S. troops first fought their way into the capital more than eight years ago...

Polemicist Who Slashed All, Freely, With Wit
William Grimes, The New York Times | Polemicist Who Slahsed All, Freely, With Wit | December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens, a slashing polemicist in the tradition of Thomas Paine and George Orwell who trained his sights on targets as various as Henry Kissinger, the British monarchy and Mother Teresa, wrote a best-seller attacking religious belief, and dismayed his former comrades on the left by enthusiastically supporting the American-led war in Iraq, died Thursday at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He was 62...

Why Do People Still Deny Climate Change?
Gene Lyons, Salon | Why Do People Still Deny Climate Change? | December 15, 2011

At the expense of being tedious, from a climatological perspective, 2011 was a real killer — both figuratively and literally. If not quite so hot as 2010, which tied 1998 for the warmest in recorded history, it’s likely to end up among the top 10, all occurring over the past 15 years according to the World Meteorological Organization...

At Iraq War's end, Wounds Are Still Fresh for Fallujah
Jack Healy, The New York Times | At Iraq War's End, Wounds Are Still Fresh For Fallujah | December 15, 2011

Once an inner ring of Iraq’s wartime inferno, Falluja is only too eager to say goodbye to nearly nine shattering years of raids, bombings and house-to-house urban combat. At least 200 American troops were killed in this city. Untold thousands of Iraqis died, civilians and insurgents who are mourned equally as martyrs...

Don't Support Your Local Bookseller
Farhad Manjoo, Slate | Don't Support Your Local Bookseller | December 15, 2011

Buying books on Amazon is better for authors, better for the economy, and better for you...

We're Already At War With Iran
Jordan Michael Smith, Salon | We're Already At War With Iran | December 14, 2011

Even as the United States winds down its war with Iraq, former vice-president Dick Cheney is calling for another war in the Middle East. On Tuesday he advised the Obama administration to launch a “quick air strike” against Iran after it captured a U.S. drone flying in its airspace. According to Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, “the Obama administration’s decision not to risk war by going in and destroying the drone reflects its desire to avoid catastrophic escalation. For Cheney, all-out war appears not to be a risk, but a desired outcome.”

Cheney need not worry—he will likely get his wish in time. The United States is already at war with Iran. A covert, low-level war, yes. But a war nonetheless...

The Attack on "All-American Muslim"
Amy Davidson | The Attack on "All-American Muslim" | December 14, 2011

Dearborn, Michigan, is the city in America with the highest proportion of Muslims. That is not a new development. Immigrants from the Middle East began arriving in the area generations ago, when jobs building cars were still a lure—which should give a sense of the community’s vintage. Some still work in the auto industry, including Angela Jaafar, who is a marketer, and is married to Mike, a deputy chief in the sheriff’s office. The Jaafars and their children form one of five Dearborn families featured on “All-American Muslim,” a reality show, on TLC, created by some of the same team behind “Real Housewives of New York.” The show has become the target of an ugly campaign by a group called the Florida Family Association, which calls it “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.”...