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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.

Qaeda Woes Fuel Talk of Speeding Afghan Pullback
Mark Landler and Helene Cooper, The New York Times | Qaeda Woes Fuel Talk of Speeding Afghan Pullback | June 19, 2011

As the Obama administration nears a crucial decision on how rapidly to withdraw combat forces from Afghanistan, high-ranking officials say that Al Qaeda’s original network in the region has been crippled, providing a rationale for an accelerated reduction of troops...

The Secret $100,000 College Club No One Should Join
Blaire Briody, The Fiscal Times | The Secret $100,000 College Club No One Should Join | June 18, 2011

Six months after receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree at the private digital arts college in California, 22-year-old Will Christiansen received his first student loan bill. The minimum monthly payment was $1,200.  Making just $45,000 per year as a graphic designer at an advertising company in New York City — and taking home about $2,800 a month after taxes — he panicked. “There was no way I could make a $1,200 payment and still pay rent,” he says. “I would simply have to defer until I found a better job.”...

Recycling Hotel Soap to Save Lives
Ebonne Ruffins, CNN | Recycling Hotel Soap to Save Lives | June 18, 2011

That bar of soap you used once or twice during your last hotel stay might now be helping poor children fight disease.

Derreck Kayongo and his Atlanta-based Global Soap Project collect used hotel soap from across the United States. Instead of ending up in landfills, the soaps are cleaned and reprocessed for shipment to impoverished nations such as Haiti, Uganda, Kenya and Swaziland...

Extra Vitamins? A Great Idea, Except in Denmark
John Tagliabue, The New York Times | Extra Vitamins? A Great Idea, Except in Denmark | June 18, 2011

For the last seven years, Marianne Orum has owned a narrow store in a charming street in the heart of this Danish capital. A sign advertises “British and South African Food and Drink.” The shelves are lined with products familiar to most Americans, like Betty Crocker Pancake Mix, but also more exotic items...

Joe Biden: Schmoozer-in-Chief
Ben Smith, Politico | http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0611/57148.html | June 17, 2011

When a technical glitch allowed a radio reporter to overhear President Barack Obama’s words at a private fundraiser, an eager White House press corps was crestfallen to learn the disciplined president was saying exactly the same thing in private as he does in public.

Joe Biden … well, not so much...

Bin Laden's Replacement
Bruce Riedel, The Daily Beast | Bin Laden's Replacement | June 17, 2011

More than six weeks after bin Laden's death, Al Qaeda finally announces that his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is taking over. Bruce Riedel assesses the threat the terrorist group's new leader poses...

Saudi Women Protest Driving Ban
AP, The New York Times | Saudi Women Protest Driving Ban | June 17, 2011

Several Saudi women boldly got behind the wheel Friday, including one who managed a 45-minute trip through the nation's capital, seeking to ignite a road rebellion against the male-only driving rules in the ultraconservative kingdom...

Vancouver Riots 2011: Fires Rage As Canucks Lose Stanley Cup
Craig Kanalley, The Huffington Post | 2011: Fires Rage As Canucks Lose Stanley Cup | June 16, 2011

The worst nightmare for Vancouver is coming true.

Not only did the city's beloved Canucks lose in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final, it was shut out 4-0. Now a scene reminiscent of 1994 has emerged, when the city rioted under similar circumstances, with random fires, flipped cars, pole climbing, and riot police...

Pakistan Arrests C.I.A. Informants in Bin Laden Raid
Eric Schmitt and Mark Mazzetti, The New York Times | Pakistan Arrests C.I.A. Informants in Bin Laden Raid | June 15, 2011

Pakistan’s top military spy agency has arrested some of the Pakistani informants who fed information to the Central Intelligence Agency in the months leading up to the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, according to American officials...

Whimsical Works of Art, Found Sticking to the Sidewalk
Saray Lyall, The New York Times | Whimsical Works of Art, Found Sticking to the Sidewalk | June 14, 2011

When first exposed to the art of Ben Wilson, or to Mr. Wilson in the act of creating it, people tend to respond with some degree of puzzlement. “When I first saw one, I thought it was a fruit sticker,” said Matt Brasier, who was walking through this north London suburb the other day...