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 An Abandoned Walmart Became An Award-Winning Public Library
Daniel Lametti and Katy Waldman, Slate | How An Abandoned Walmart Became An Award-Winning Public Library | July 8, 2012

From 12-packs of paper towels to The Count of Monte Cristo: A deserted Walmart in McAllen, Texas is stocking a new kind of item on its shelves.

Minneapolis-based architects Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd. breathed fresh life into the warehouse, about as big as two and a half football fields, late last year, when they repurposed it as the country’s largest single-story public library. (Alas, it’s not America’s biggest public library, despite what you might have read. That honor goes to the Library of Congress.) When a Walmart retailer moved to a larger facility down the road, the city purchased the old building and created the McAllen Public Library...

Predators In The Ranks
The Washington Post Editorial Board | Predators In The Ranks | July 6, 2012

An investigation by the Air Force into sexual misconduct at its basic-training operations has identified 31 women who have been victimized. Just as troubling is that only one of the women came forward to report the abuse, a startling fact that reflects the pervasive mistrust in the military’s handling of sex crimes within its ranks. It has been two decades since the Tailhook scandal first focused attention on this issue; it’s clear that much more must be done to fix a system that has allowed the mistreatment of women who serve their country...

Invaluable Civilians On The Warfront
Ryan C. Crocker, The Washington Post Opinion | Invaluable Civilians On The Warfront | July 6, 2012

Ryan Crocker is the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan...

I do two things each week at our management meeting: Read aloud the names of colleagues, mostly military but occasionally civilian, who have given their lives in service of our country; and welcome those recently arrived to serve the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and other agencies. These volunteers leave homes, family and sometimes careers to work 16-plus hours a day, six to seven days a week, living in shipping containers. All are aware of the threats we face at the embassy and the more frequent indiscriminate fire against field positions.

For The Indian Father Of The 'God Particle,' A Long Journey From Dhaka
Samanth Subramanian, The New York Times | For The Indian Father Of The 'God Particle,' A Long Journey From Dhaka | July 6, 2012

In the word “boson,” as media reports have plentifully pointed out during the past two days, is contained the surname of Satyendra Nath Bose, the Calcutta physicist who first mathematically described the class of particles to which he gave his name. As was common with Indian scientists in the early 20th century, however, his work might easily have eluded international recognition. Like the mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujam, Mr. Bose was saved from obscurity by a generous and influential mentor in Europe. In Mr. Bose’s case, that mentor turned out to be one of the greatest physicists of them all: Albert Einstein...

WikiLeaks Has Data From 2.4 Million Syrian Emails
Associated Press, The Los Angeles Times | WikiLeaks Has Data From 2.4 Million Syrian Emails | July 5, 2012

The secret-spilling group WikiLeaks said Thursday it was in the process of publishing material from 2.4 million Syrian emails -- many of which it said came from official government accounts.

WikiLeaks' Sarah Harrison told journalists at London's Frontline Club that the emails reveal interactions between the Syrian government and Western companies, although she declined to go into much further detail.

Harrison quoted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as saying that "the material is embarrassing to Syria, but it is also embarrassing to Syria's external opponents."...

The Faces Of The Dead In Syria's Unrest
Babak Delighanpisheh, The Washington Post | Faces Of The Dead In Syria's Unrest | July 5, 2012

Day by day, the death count in Syria climbs as headlines mark dozens of men, women and children shot and stabbed in Houla, or entire families killed in Qubeir. But beyond the numbers, scant attention is paid to the individuals who have lost their lives in what officials with the United Nations have described as a civil war...

Delineating The Perfect Swim Stroke
Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times | Delineating The Perfect Swim Stroke | July 5, 2012

Should a swimmer’s arms serve as paddles or propellers? That question, abstruse as it might seem, underlies a long-running controversy in swimming about the best, most efficient technique for the freestyle and the backstroke. It also prompted a new study from a group of scientists at Johns Hopkins University that, in seemingly answering the question, is likely to provoke even more debate...

Where The Money Lives
Nicholas Shaxson | Where The Money Lives | July 3, 2012

For all Mitt Romney's touting of his business record, when it comes to his own money the Republican nominee is remarkably shy about disclosing numbers and investments. Nicholas Shaxson delves into the murky world of offshore finance, revealing loopholes that allow the very wealthy to skirt tax laws, and investigating just how much of Romney's fortunre (with $30 million in Bain Capital funds in the Cayman Islands alone?) looks pretty strange for a presidential candidate...


Report Describes Brutal Torture In Syria
Ivan Watson, CNN | Report Describes Brutal Torture In Syria | July 3, 2012

"Basat al reeh." "Dulab." "Falaqa." They are Arabic names for torture techniques that send chills through the hearts of Syrians, particularly the untold thousands who are believed to have been detained during the uprising of the last 15 months.

"We suffered torture all the time," said Tariq, an opposition activist from the port city of Latakia who spent 40 days in solitary confinement in spring 2011.

He told CNN he endured "dulab," in which torturers force the prisoner's legs and head into a car tire before beating them, and "basat al reeh," in which the prisoner is tied to a board and beaten...

Pakistan Opens NATO Supply Line As Clinton Apologizes
Eric Schmitt, The New York Times | Pakistan Opens NATO Supply Line As Clinton Apologizes | July 3, 2012

Pakistan told the United States it was reopening NATO’s supply routes into neighboring Afghanistan after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she was sorry for the deaths of Pakistani soldiers in American airstrikes in November, the State Department said Tuesday. The agreement ends a bitter seven-month stalemate between the two countries that has threatened to jeopardize counterterrorism cooperation and complicated the American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan...