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.

Ray Kurzweil: This Is Your Future
Ray Kurzweil, CNN | This Is Your Future | December 11, 2013

Ray Kurzweil is one of the world's leading inventors, thinkers, and futurists, with a 30-year track record of accurate predictions. Called "the restless genius" by The Wall Street Journal and "the ultimate thinking machine" by Forbes magazine, Kurzweil was selected as one of the top entrepreneurs by Inc. magazine, which described him as the "rightful heir to Thomas Edison." Ray has written five national best-selling books. He is Director of Engineering at Google. Below are five ways he predicts our lives will change....

Key Military Sexual Assault Reforms Dropped From Defense Bill
Laura Bassett, The Huffington Post | Key Military Sexual Assault Reforms Dropped From Defense Bill | December 10, 2013

House and Senate leaders pre-negotiated a defense authorization bill on Monday that doesn't include Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's (D-N.Y.) controversial amendment to remove military sexual assault cases from the chain of command.

The bill that will move forward does work to address the problem of military sexual assault, but several victim advocacy groups had considered Gillibrand's amendment to be the most essential proposed reform. Military sexual assault victims have said they are afraid to report their assaults because they don't trust the chain of command to handle their cases effectively. The Pentagon estimates that out of the 26,000 incidences of unwanted sexual contact that occurred in the military in 2012, only 3,000 were reported, and only 300 led to prosecutions...

Jerry Dammers: How I Made 'Free Nelson Mandela'
Jerry Dammers, The Guardian | Jerry Dammers: How I Made 'Free Nelson Mandela' | December 10, 2013

Jerry Dammers on how a kid from Coventry who had never heard of Nelson Mandela ended up writing a global hit that became the anti-apartheid anthem...

Myrtilla Miner: Teaching 'Colored Girls' To Teach
Denise Oliver Velez, Daily Kos | Myrtilla Miner: Teaching 'Colored Girls' To Teach | December 9, 2013

Far too many of the women who made a difference in our entwined histories—white and black—are forgotten or overlooked. One such woman was Myrtilla Miner....

Quips Follow Denver Post's Naming Of Marijuana Editor, But Its Intent Is Serious
Christine Haughney, The New York Times | Quips Follow Denver Post's Naming Of Marijuana Editor, But Its Intent Is Serious | December 9, 2013

Newspaper editors typically operate behind the scenes, overseeing reporters inside the newsroom and outside the spotlight.

But since Ricardo Baca was named the marijuana editor of The Denver Post last month, he has been celebrated across the globe. He has appeared on CNN and “The Colbert Report.” Long-lost high school acquaintances have surfaced, with one inviting him to his friend’s basement for a smoke. Emails have flooded in from freelancers and readers, offering up their expertise on the subject matter...

Christo Brand, Nelson Mandela's Jailer, Mourns His Death
Andrew Meldrum and Fazlur Phillips, The Huffington Post | Christo Brand, Nelson Mandela's Jailer, Mourns His Death | December 9, 2013

He was with Nelson Mandela during all those years the anti-apartheid icon was imprisoned on Robben Island. And, like millions around the world, he has been hit hard by Mandela's death.

Yet this South African was not one of Mandela's fellow prisoners. Christo Brand was his jailer.

The two men — the black political prisoner and the white Afrikaans warden — forged an unlikely but enduring friendship....

Nelson Mandela Saved My Life
Kennedy Odede, CNN | Nelson Mandela Saved My Life | December 6, 2013

I had many conversations with Nelson Mandela, although I had not met him.

In my family's tiny shack in Nairobi's Kibera slum, my one-way exchanges with the great man kept me going. Mandela survived 27 years of prison; maybe I would make it out, too.

Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994, when I was 10 years old. In Kibera, people celebrated and talk circulated the streets about this man, but I didn't see how his story connected to mine until much later. I was struggling too hard simply to survive...

Bono Honors The Man Who Could Not Cry
Bono, Time Magazine | Bono Honors The Man Who Could Not Cry | December 6, 2013

As an activist I have pretty much been doing what Nelson Mandela tells me since I was a teenager. He has been a forceful presence in my life going back to 1979, when U2 made its first anti-apartheid effort. And he’s been a big part of the Irish consciousness even longer than that. Irish people related all too easily to the subjugation of ethnic majorities. From our point of view, the question as to how bloody South Africa would have to get on its long road to freedom was not abstract...

Don't Sanitize Nelson Mandela: He's Honored Now, But Was Hated Then
Peter Beinart, The Daily Beast | Don't Sanitize Nelson Mandela: He's Honored Now, But Was Hated Then | December 6, 2013

Now that he’s dead, and can cause no more trouble, Nelson Mandela is being mourned across the ideological spectrum as a saint. But not long ago, in Washington’s highest circles, he was considered an enemy of the United States. Unless we remember why, we won’t truly honor his legacy.

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan placed Mandela’s African National Congress on America’s official list of “terrorist” groups. In 1985, then-Congressman Dick Cheney voted against a resolution urging that he be released from jail...

When I Met Mandela
Magogodi Makhene, Salon | When I Met Mandela | December 5, 2013

I was a child. He was an old man. But he held the promise of an unborn nation...