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.

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...

British Panel Finds Murdoch Unfit To Lead Media Empire
Alan Cowell and John F. Burns, The New York Times | British Panel Find sMurdoch Unfit To Lead Media Empire | May 1, 2012

In a startlingly damning report after months of investigation into the hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers, a parliamentary panel here concluded on Tuesday that he was “not a fit person” to run a huge international company, amplifying a public outcry against him, but threatening further bruising divisions within the political establishment.

The conclusion about the world’s most influential media tycoon went much further in lambasting Mr. Murdoch than had been expected from Parliament’s select committee on culture, media and sport...

Bin Laden's Last Stand: In Final Months, Terrorist Leader Worried About HIs Legacy

A few months before Osama bin Laden’s death, Web sites linked to al-Qaeda ran excited commentary about a proposed new killing machine dubbed the “human lawn mower.” The idea was to attach rotating blades to the front of a pickup truck and drive the contraption into crowds.

While some jihadists admired the idea, one graying veteran of the terrorist movement took a stand against it. That was bin Laden himself, by then living out his twilight years in a Pakistani villa with ample time to think about his legacy. The man who famously ordered jetliners flown into skyscrapers drew the line at cutting down humans like weeds...