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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.

The Case For Doing Nothing In Iraq
Barry R. Posen, Politico | The Case For Doing Nothing In Iraq | June 17, 2014

The same people who got us into this mess want America to "do something." Ignore them.

Here we go again. Whenever there’s a crisis anywhere in the world, you can count on America’s pundit class to demand action—usually of the military variety. Don’t just stand there, bomb something! After more than two decades of unchallenged American hegemony, Washington keyboards seem almost programmed to call for intervention halfway around the globe...

Gertrude Of Arabia, The Woman Who Invented Iraq
Clive Irving, The Daily Beast | The Woman Who Invented Iraq | June 17, 2014

The story of the British intelligence agent who rigged an election, installed a king loyal to the British, drew new borders -- and gave us today's ungovernable country...

It was a hundred years ago, a few months before the outbreak of World War I...

Stephen Colbert Has A New Way To 'Really Show Amazon'
Molly Driscoll, The Christian Science Monitor | Showing Amazon | June 16, 2014

When Colbert asked viewers to pre-order Hachette author Edan Lepucki's upcoming novel California,  the book shot to the top of independent bookstore Powell's sales list. Now Colbert asks fans to help him get the book on the New York Times bestseller list...

Under An ISIS Flag, The Sons Of Mosul Are Rallying
Andrew Slater, The Daily Beast | Life In Mosul | June 16, 2014

As life returns to an uneasy version of normal in Mosul, the response from local residents to the city’s capture by ISIS, a radical Islamist group, has been surprisingly positive. Multiple Sunni residents inside Mosul who spoke with The Daily Beast by phone reported being glad to be rid of the predominantly Shia government security forces, and so far pleased with life under the ISIS occupation. That may change soon if ISIS begins to rule with the brutality they have displayed in Syria, but by keeping the residents of Mosul happy for now ISIS is buying time to increase its power and local support, which will make things even harder for the Baghdad government if it tries to take the city back...

I Am Someone, Look At Me
Karl Ove Knausgaard, The New York Times Book Review | Look At Me | June 16, 2014

You are not to think you are anything special.
You are not to think you are as good as we are.
You are not to convince yourself that you are better than we are.
You are not to think you are more important than we are.
You are not to think you are good at anything.
You are not to think anyone cares about you.

These are six of the 10 commandments that make up the Law of Jante, a concept created by the Danish-Norwegian writer Aksel Sandemose in his 1933 novel, A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks...

In Extremists' Iraq Rise, America's Legacy
Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker | America's Iraq Legacy | June 12, 2014

First Falluja, then Mosul, and now the oil-refinery town of Bayji. The rapid advance of Al Qaeda-inspired militants across the Sunni heartland of northern and western Iraq has been stunning and relentless—and utterly predictable. Here’s a forecast: the bad news is just beginning...

How ISIS Leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Became The World's Most Powerful Jihadi Leader
Terrence McCoy, The Washington Post | Al-Baghdadi | June 11, 2014

For all his power and new-found notoriety, there are only two authenticated photos of a man now called the world’s “most powerful jihadi leader.” One shows a serious man with an olive complexion and rounded countenance. The other, released by the Iraqi government last January, depicts an unsmiling bearded figure in a black suit. The image is cracked and blurry, as though someone had taken a picture of a picture...

Silicon Valley Tries To Remake The Idea Machine
Claire Cain Miller, The New York Times Magazine | The Idea Machine | June 10, 2014

Like any supersecret lab that’s supposedly trying to invent the future, Google X looks rather nondescript from the street. Besides the occasional hot pink driverless car parked out front, the facility is an archipelago of unmarked, low-slung, redbrick buildings, more Sunset Park than Silicon Valley. Inside, however, whiteboards offer clues about what exactly the future — at least as Google sees it — might look like. And while some diagrams — including one with parts labeled “snooze” and “set time” — suggest more mundane inventions, others, like one outlining a “space elevator,” seem a bit more ambitious...

This Story Just Won't Write
Calvin Trillin, The New Yorker | A History Of Time Magazine | June 10, 2014

For a long time now, of course, newsmagazines have borne little resemblance to the sort of publication that was invented at Time in 1923 and loosely replicated at Newsweek ten years later — a magazine designed to present the week’s news succinctly to “busy men” who were too involved in their important endeavors to spend time wading through a lot of newspapers. Starting as strictly a rewrite operation, Time eventually had reporters and stringers around the world...

The Documentaries That Help Explain Bergdahl
David Denby, The New Yorker | 'Restropo' And Bergdahl | June 9, 2014

Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, whose behavior has enraged and mystified so many people, was serving, in 2009, at Outpost Mest Malak, in Paktika Province, in eastern Afghanistan. In recent days, many soldiers in Bergdahl’s platoon have offered a fragmentary impression of what Bergdahl was like. What they haven’t conveyed—what they may not want to convey—is the reality of living and fighting for months at a remote outpost surrounded by hostile members of the Taliban.

But such an account exists—an extraordinarily visceral and intimate record of something very close to Bergdahl’s experience...