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.

George McGovern, Former U.S. Presidential Candidate, Dies At 90
Associated Press, The Guardian | George McGovern, Former U.S. Presidential Candidate, Dies At 90 | October 22, 2012

A decorated bomber pilot in the second world war, McGovern said he learned to hate war by waging it. In his disastrous race against Nixon, he promised to end the conflict in Vietnam and cut defence spending by billions of dollars. He helped create the Food for Peace programme and spent much of his career believing the United States should be more accommodating to the former Soviet Union.

Never a showman, he made his case with a style as plain as the prairies where he grew up, often sounding more like the Methodist minister he had once studied to be than a longtime US senator and three-time candidate for president.

McGovern never shied from the word "liberal", even as other Democrats blanched at the label and Republicans used it as an insult. "I am a liberal and always have been," McGovern said in 2001. "Just not the wild-eyed character the Republicans made me out to be."...

The Voter-Fraud Myth
Jane Mayer | The Voter-Fraud Myth | October 22, 2012

Teresa Sharp is fifty-three years old and has lived in a modest single-family house on Millsdale Street, in a suburb of Cincinnati, for nearly thirty-three years. A lifelong Democrat, she has voted in every Presidential election since she turned eighteen. So she was agitated when an official summons from the Hamilton County Board of Elections arrived in the mail last month. Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati, is one of the most populous regions of the most fiercely contested state in the 2012 election. No Republican candidate has ever won the Presidency without carrying Ohio, and recent polls show Barack Obama and Mitt Romney almost even in the state. Every vote may matter, including those cast by the seven members of the Sharp family—Teresa, her husband, four grown children, and an elderly aunt—living in the Millsdale Street house.

The letter, which cited arcane legal statutes and was printed on government letterhead, was dated September 4th. “You are hereby notified that your right to vote has been challenged by a qualified elector,” it said...

Tribal Spokeswoman Says Former American Indian Movement Activist Russell Means Dies At 72

Means, a Wanblee native who grew up in the San Francisco area, announced in August 2011 that he had developed inoperable throat cancer. He told The Associated Press he was forgoing mainstream medical treatments in favor of traditional American Indian remedies and alternative treatments away from his home on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Means was an early leader of AIM and led its armed occupation of the South Dakota town of Wounded Knee, a 71-day siege that included several gunbattles with federal officers. He was often embroiled in controversy, partly because of AIM’s alleged involvement in the 1975 slaying of Annie Mae Aquash. But Means was also known for his role in the movie “The Last of the Mohicans” and had run unsuccessfully for the Libertarian nomination for president in 1988...

A Turn Of The Page For Newsweek
Tina Brown and Baba Shetty, The Daily Beast | A Turn Of The Page For Newsweek | October 18, 2012

We are announcing this morning an important development at Newsweek and The Daily Beast. Newsweek will transition to an all-digital format in early 2013. As part of this transition, the last print edition in the United States will be our Dec. 31 issue.

Meanwhile, Newsweek will expand its rapidly growing tablet and online presence, as well as its successful global partnerships and events business.

Newsweek Global, as the all-digital publication will be named, will be a single, worldwide edition targeted for a highly mobile, opinion-leading audience who want to learn about world events in a sophisticated context...

Romney's First Step Into Political Arena, vs. Ted Kennedy In 1994, Was A Cautious One
Jason Horowitz, The Washington Post | Romney's First Step Into Political Arena, vs. Ted Kennedy In 1994, Was A Cautious One | October 18, 2012

It was well past midnight and Mitt Romney wanted to talk. The political scion had traveled from Boston to Washington for an event at which he hoped to meet then-President Ronald Reagan, but a sudden cancellation relegated his tuxedo to his Marriott hotel room. With the White House just down the block, Romney confided to a Bain and Co. colleague the trajectory sketched out for him by his father.

“Dad says, first you go into business and you make a lot of money, you give the church half of it, and then you go into public service,” Romney said, according to his Bain colleague and Marriott roommate Patrick Graham. “And then you become president of the United States.”...

On Hilary Mantel's Booker Win
Larissa MacFarquhar, The New Yorker | On Hilary Mantel's Booker Win | October 18, 2012

Yesterday evening, Hilary Mantel won the Man Booker Prize for “Bring Up the Bodies,” a historical novel about Thomas Cromwell, a top advisor to Henry VIII. This was proof that the Booker juries judge books on their merits alone, because Mantel won the same prize for “Wolf Hall,” the first book in her Cromwell trilogy, in 2009. She is only the third writer and the first British writer to win the prize twice, and, because she is one of the finest writers of English sentences alive, she richly deserves it. But that is not the only reason she does...

Binders Full of Women
fumblr | Binders Full Of Women | October 17, 2012

Mitt Romney: "I went to a number of women's groups and said, 'Can you help us find folks,' and they brought us whole binders full of women."...

Levon Helm's Midnight Rambles
Jamie Malanowski, The New Yorker | Levon Helm's Midnight Rambles | October 17, 2012

Leave it to Lucinda Williams, whose astringent lyrics have proven her capable of leaving no romantic notion unexamined, to ask the question of the hour. Sitting backstage at the Izod Center, in East Rutherford, before doing her turn at “Love for Levon,” the all-star tribute concert for Levon Helm, who died last April at seventy-one, Williams confessed to some confusion about the honoree. Helm was most famous for singing and playing drums in the Band, whose golden era ended in 1976. “Everybody is asking why he was important, and I don’t know what to say, because I never thought of most of these songs as Levon’s music—they were the Band’s. Did they do all this after Rick Danko died?”

The answer, obviously, is that there was no such reaction in 1999, after Danko, the Band’s bassist and singer, died in his sleep, at the age of fifty-six. Why, then, the outpouring of feeling for Helm?...

Thousands Mourn Former King Sihanouk In Cambodian Capital
Thomas Fuller, The New York Times | Thousands Mourn Former King Sihanouk In Cambodian Capital | October 17, 2012

Tens of thousands of mourners packed the roadsides of here in Phnom Penh on Wednesday to witness the final return of Norodom Sihanouk, the former Cambodian king who was a pivotal figure through much of the country’s troubled recent history.

The body of King Sihanouk, who died on Monday in China, arrived from Beijing on Wednesday aboard an Air China jumbo jet and was driven through the streets of Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, under a scorching tropical sun.

“He was the father, and we are the children,” said Pich Ravy, a vegetable seller who traveled to the Royal Palace, where King Sihanouk’s body will lie in state for the next three months. “He was one of Cambodia’s greatest kings.”...

Understanding Owls
David Sedaris, The New Yorker | Understanding Owls | October 16, 2012

Does there come a day in every man’s life when he looks around and says to himself, “I’ve got to weed out some of these owls”? I can’t be alone in this, can I? And, of course, you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Therefore you keep the crocheted owl given to you by your second-youngest sister and accidentally on purpose drop the mug that reads “Owl Love You Always” and was sent by someone who clearly never knew you to begin with. I mean, mugs with words on them! Owl cocktail napkins stay, because everyone needs napkins. Ditto the owl candle. Owl trivet: take to the charity shop along with the spool-size Japanese owl that blinks his eyes and softly hoots when you plug him into your computer...