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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.

Gentryifing The Dharma: How The 1 Percent Is Hijacking Mindfulness
Joshua Eaton, Salon | Hijacking Mindfulness | March 6, 2014

As big corporations embrace meditation, some Buddhists fear their religion's being co-opted by elites...

The Dalai Lama's Ski Trip
Douglas Preston, Slate | The Dalai Lama's Ski Trip | March 5, 2014

The Dalai Lama arrived in Santa Fe on April 1, 1991. I was by his side every day from 6 a.m. until late in the evening. Traveling with him was an adventure. He was cheerful and full of enthusiasm—making quips, laughing, asking questions, rubbing his shaved head, and joking about his bad English. He did in fact stop and talk to anyone, no matter how many people were trying to rush him to his next appointment. When he spoke to you, it was as if he shut out the rest of the world to focus his entire sympathy, attention, care, and interest on you...

A Letter From Ray Jasper, Who Is About To Be Executed
Ray Jasper, Gawker | Letter From Ray Jasper | March 4, 2014

Texas death row inmate Ray Jasper is scheduled to be put to death on March 19. He has written us a letter that, he acknowledges, "could be my final statement on earth." It is well worth your time...

The Last Casualties: As A Long War Ends, Risks Still Prove Real
Ernesto Londono, The Washington post | Report From Bagram | March 4, 2014

There are currently roughly 33,700 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of more than 100,000 in the spring of 2011. Those who have been wounded here have had a better chance at survival than in any previous U.S. war — a result of stunning achievements in battlefield care...

LSD, Reconsidered For Therapy
Benedict Carey, The New York Times | LSD Recosidered | March 4, 2014

He heard about the drug trial from a friend in Switzerland and decided it was worth volunteering, even if it meant long, painful train journeys from his native Austria and the real possibility of a mental meltdown. He didn’t have much time, after all, and traditional medicine had done nothing to relieve his degenerative spine condition.

“I’d never taken the drug before, so I was feeling — well, I think the proper word for it, in English, is dread,” said Peter, 50, an Austrian social worker...

Putin Goes To War
David Remnick, The New Yorker | Putin Goes To War | March 3, 2014

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President and autocrat, had a plan for the winter of 2014: to reassert his country’s power a generation after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He thought that he would achieve this by building an Olympic wonderland on the Black Sea for fifty-one billion dollars and putting on a dazzling television show. It turns out that he will finish the season in a more ruthless fashion, by invading a peninsula on the Black Sea and putting on quite a different show—a demonstration war that could splinter a sovereign country and turn very bloody, very quickly...

War Death Toll For Afghan Security Forces Is Over 13,000
Rob Nordland, The New York Times | Afghan Death Toll | March 3, 2014

More than 13,000 Afghan soldiers and police officers have been killed during the war here, far more than previously known, according to Afghan government statistics. Most of those losses occurred during the past three years as Afghan forces took over a growing share of the responsibility for security in the country, culminating in full Afghan authority last spring...

'I'm Going To Prison For Working At A Pot Shop That Was Legal In My State'
Robert Duncan, The Huffington Post | Pot Shop To Prison | March 3, 2014

Robert Duncan moved from Los Angeles to Northern California in 2010 to manage marijuana growing operations for a collective of medical marijuana dispensaries. Although California voters legalized medical cannabis more than 17 years ago, the plant remains illegal under federal law, and the Obama administration launched a renewed crackdown on marijuana in California in 2011. That October, Duncan’s grow house was raided. A few months later, U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner indicted him and others involved in the dispensary business on the grounds that it had grown too large. Despite California’s struggle with prison overcrowding, and despite new federal guidelines that say size should no longer be considered in prosecution decisions, Duncan, 31, was sentenced to two years in prison. He is scheduled to report to Mendota Federal Correctional Institution near Fresno, Calif., on Monday afternoon. HuffPost Live will go with him.

Oscars 2014: Why Are Special Effects Wizards Planning To Protest At The Ceremony?
Lily Rothman, Time Magazine | Life After Pi | March 1, 2014

If you catch a glimpse of something not quite normal on the red carpet outside Sunday’s Oscar ceremony, here’s what you’re likely to be looking at: the March in March, a protest by members of Hollywood’s visual effects industry.

That’s because — even though a hefty portion of today’s movies rely on the on-screen magic they can make — America’s effects industry is in big trouble...

The Realist: Obama's A Cold Warrior Indeed
Fred Kaplan, Politico | The Realist | February 28, 2014

In a little-noticed passage in Robert Gates’s new memoir, the former defense secretary recounts a trip he took to Azerbaijan in the spring of 2010. His mission was to hand the reigning dictator, Ilham Aliyev, a note from President Barack Obama, hailing the importance of the two countries’ relations. Aliyev had been grousing about the U.S. military using his land as a stopover along the supply route to Afghanistan. Just “showing up” brought him back in line, Gates writes, adding, approvingly, “Neither the letter nor I mentioned human rights.”

More than five years into Obama’s presidency, the single word that best sums up his foreign policy is “realist”—in some cases, as one former adviser told me, “hard-nosed,” even “cold” realist...