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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.

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...

Last Convoy of American Troops Leaves Iraq
Tim Arango and Michael S. Schmidt, The New York Times | Last Convoy of American Troops Leaves Iraq | December 19, 2011

The last convoy of American troops drove into Kuwait on Sunday morning, punctuating the end of the nearly nine-year war in Iraq...

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...