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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.

How 9/11's Sense of Purpose Gave Way to Partisan Divisions
Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post | How 9/11's Sense of Purpose Gave Way to Partisan Divisions | September 10, 2011

It seems almost impossible to imagine in today’s overheated, hyperpartisan environment. But there was a brief time in the weeks after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 , 2001, when congressional leaders of the two parties regarded one another not only as trustworthy allies but also as indispensable partners...

In Afghanistan, 'Unbelievable Force of Life'
The New York Times | In Afghanistan, 'Unbelievable Force of Life' | September 10, 2011

Nobody wanted to tell this story. Images from Afghanistan are always related to military action. But if you want to understand what went wrong in Afghanistan, you have to be a little more focused on the Afghan people. I wanted to show that life goes on every day — that people have hope and dreams like everywhere else...

Mideast's Changing View of America
Randall Lane, The Daily Beast | Mideast's Changing View of America | September 9, 2011

To understand America’s current standing in the Arab world 10 years after 9/11, it’s instructive to visit Obros, a coffeehouse-cum-nightclub in Beirut. The place is a tribute to Kennedy-era “American kitsch,” and its 35-year-old proprietor Joulan El Aschkar displays a sophisticated touch, from Pierre Cardin–period wallpaper to Mad Men–worthy vintage furniture and electronics to 100 gigabytes of forgotten '60s hits like B. J. Thomas’s “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” rotating with fully intended irony...

Divining Perry's Meaning on Galileo Remark
Henry Fountain, The New York Times | Divining Perry's Meaning on Galileo Remark | September 9, 2011

In one of the more curious moments in the Republican debate on Wednesday night, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas invoked 17th-century science in discussing his doubts about climate change. He cited the astronomer and mathematician Galileo Galilei — often called the father of modern science — in suggesting that the current thinking that climate change is a result of human activity could be overturned. “Galileo got outvoted for a spell,” he said...

Fossils Raise Questions About Human Ancestry
Ewen Callaway, Scientific American | Fossils Raise Questions About Human Ancestry | September 9, 2011

New descriptions of Australopithecus sediba fossils have added to debates about the species' place in the human lineage. Five papers published today in Science describe the skull, pelvis, hands and feet of the ancient hominin unearthed three years ago in South Africa.

The papers reveal a curious mix of traits, some found in apes and earlier Australopithecus fossils, and others thought to be unique to Homo erectus--the tall, thin-boned hominin that emerged around 2 million years ago in eastern Africa and colonized Europe and Asia--and its descendants, including modern humans...

The Shadow of Suspicion Falls in the Mall of America
G.W. Schulz, Daniel Zwerdling and Andrew Becker, Salon | The Shadow of Suspicion Falls in the Mall of America | September 7, 2011

On May 1, 2008, at 4:59 p.m., Brad Kleinerman entered the spooky world of homeland security.

As he shopped for a children's watch inside the sprawling Mall of America, two security guards approached and began questioning him. Although he was not accused of wrongdoing, the guards filed a confidential report about Kleinerman that was forwarded to local police. The reason: Guards thought he might pose a threat because he had been looking at them in a suspicious way...

The ACLU on Obama and Core Liberties
Glenn Greenwald, Salon | The ACLU on Obama and Core Liberties | September 7, 2011

The ACLU decided to use the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attack to comprehensively survey the severe erosion of civil liberties justified in the name of that event, an erosion that -- as it documents -- continues unabated, indeed often in accelerated form, under the Obama administration...

The Retribution Will Not Be Televised
William Saletan, Slate | The Retribution Will Not Be Televised | September 7, 2011

If you're looking for something big to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11, look again...

Subterranean Amazon River "Is Not a River"
Richard Black, BBC News | Subterranean Amazon River "Is Not a River" | September 7, 2011

A subterranean river said to be flowing beneath the Amazon region of Brazil is not a river in the conventional sense, even if its existence is confirmed.

The "river" has been widely reported, after a study on it was presented to a Brazilian science meeting last week...

"Thank You, America!"
Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times Op Ed | "Thank You, America!" | September 6, 2011

Americans are not often heroes in the Arab world, but as nonstop celebrations unfold here in the Libyan capital I keep running into ordinary people who learn where I’m from and then fervently repeat variants of the same phrase: “Thank you, America!”...