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.

Supermoon Makes Photographers Go Crazy
Maev Kennedy, The Guardian | Supermoon Makes Photographers Go Crazy | May 7, 2012

With much of the UK swaddled in the traditional bank holiday blanket of rain and even snow clouds, it wasn't the greatest sky watching weekend. However, those fortunate enough to be under clear skies in many countries saw one of the natural world's most spectacular light shows: a supermoon, when the celestial body appears startlingly large and bright as its closest approach to Earth coincides with its fullest phase.

Amateur photographers were out in force across the world; in San Francisco, Ted Judah reported that he was one of 600 photographers jostling for the best view of the moon over the Golden Gate bridge...

Amid Protests, Putin Returns to Presidency in Russia
Ellen Barry, The New York Times | Amid Protests, Putin Returns to Presidency in Russia | May 7, 2012

Vladimir V. Putin reclaimed the Russian presidency under the gold vaulted ceiling of a Kremlin palace on Monday, as the police tried to stamp out a second day of opposition protests in the city, passing on orders to detain anyone wearing a white ribbon...

US Airstrike Kills Senior Al-Qaida Militant Wanted in 2000 Bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen

An airstrike Sunday killed a top al-Qaida leader on the FBI’s most wanted list for his role in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole warship, Yemeni officials said. The drone attack was carried out by the CIA, U.S. officials said.

Fahd al-Quso was hit by a missile as he stepped out of his vehicle, along with another al-Qaida operative in the southern Shabwa province, Yemeni military officials said. They were speaking on condition of anonymity in accordance with military regulations...

Goodbye To A Beastie Boy
Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon | Goodbye To A Beastie Boy | May 5, 2012

With the death of Adam Yauch, music loses a generational touchstone -- and an endlessly irreverent wit...

Can the United States Build a Foreign Army?
Owen West, Slate | Can the United States Build a Foreign Army? | May 5, 2012

This article is the first of three excerpts drawn from Owen West's book, The Snake Eaters: An Unlikely Band of Brothers and the Battle for the Soul of Iraq...

Young Italians Flock to Become Shepherds
Nick Squires, The Telegraph | Young Italians Flock to Become Shepherds | May 4, 2012

As Italy’s unemployment rate topped 10pc this week, it emerged that young people are flocking to become shepherds. Traditionally the preserve of older men, the profession has recently attracted 3,000 young Italians, according to agricultural body Coldiretti...

Tax Me, For F@%&'s Sake!
Stephen King, The Daily Beast | Tax Me, For F@%&'s Sake! | May 3, 2012

The iconic writer scolds the superrich (including himself -- and Mitt Romney) for not giving back, and warns of a Kingsian apocalyptic scenario if inequality is not addressed in America...

Letters From Abbottabad: Bin Ladin Sidelined?
Don Rassler, Gabriel Koehler-Derrick, Liam Collins, Muhammad al-Obaidi, Nelly Lahoud, Combating Terrorism Center | Letters From Abbottabad: Bin Ladin Sidelined? | May 4, 2012

This report is a study of 17 de-classified documents captured during the Abbottabad raid and released to the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC). They consist of electronic letters or draft letters, totaling 175 pages in the original Arabic and 197 pages in the English translation. The earliest is dated September 2006 and the latest April 2011.  These internal al-Qa`ida communications were authored by several  leaders, most prominently Usama bin Ladin...

Romney Team May Have Stirred Storm Over Gay Aide
Michael Barbaro, Helene Cooper and Ashley Parker, The New York Times | Romney Team May Have Stirred Storm Over Gay Aide | May 3, 2012

It was the biggest moment yet for Mitt Romney’s foreign policy team: a conference call last Thursday, dialed into by dozens of news outlets from around the globe, to dissect and denounce President’s Obama record on national security.

But Richard Grenell, the political strategist who helped organize the call and was specifically hired to oversee such communications, was conspicuously absent, or so everyone thought.

It turned out he was at home in Los Angeles, listening in, but stone silent and seething...


A Surprise Trip To Kabul By Obama Marks A Shift In Ties
Mark Landler, The New York Times | A Surprise Trip To Kabul By Obama Marks A Shift In Ties | May 1, 2012

President Obama landed here Tuesday, on a surprise visit, to sign a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan meant to mark the beginning of the end of a war that has lasted for more than a decade.

Mr. Obama, arriving after nightfall under a veil of secrecy at Bagram Air Base north of Kabul, flew by helicopter to the presidential palace, where he was to meet President Hamid Karzai before both leaders signed the pact. It is intended to be a road map for two nations lashed together by more of than a decade of war and groping for a new relationship after the departure of American troops, scheduled for the end of 2014...