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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 GOP's Fiscal Time Bomb
Howard Kurtz, The Daily Beast | The GOP's Fiscal Time bomb | December 3, 2010

Call it the revenge of George W. Bush: The GOP temporary tax cut has exploded nine years later, forcing Democrats to duck and cover. Howard Kurtz talks to the Bush aides behind the plot. George W. Bush set the trap just over nine years ago, and the Democrats are still trying to extricate themselves..

Once An Editor, Now The Subject
Celia McGee, The New York Times | Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis As Book Editor | December 3, 2010

IT doesn’t really matter whether Serendipity, the restaurant on East 60th Street in Manhattan, was already serving footlong hot dogs in 1975, or its frozen hot chocolate. Neither Nan Talese nor Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis would have ordered them anyway. “I don’t think I noticed what either of us had,” Ms. Talese, the longtime editor, said there recently — the first time she had returned since that long-ago meeting. “We were there to talk about books.”...

NASA Discovers New Life
Nicholas Graham, The Huffington Post | NASA Discovers New Life | December 2, 2010

NASA is holding a press conference today at 2pm to announce a major finding in their research in astrobiology, and speculation is high the agency said the finding "will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life." The news has leaked now, and while the discovery is not extraterrestrial life, NASA has indeed uncovered an entirely new form of life that "doesn't share the biological building blocks of anything currently living" on Earth...

Loss of Jobless Benefits Could Be Serious Blow to U.S. Economy
Don Lee, Los Angeles Times | Loss of Jobless Benefits | December 1, 2010

With 2 million jobless workers set to lose unemployment benefits this month, the kind of extension that Congress routinely approved in the past has fallen victim to partisan deadlock — and the consequences could be serious for the U.S. economy...

WikiLeaks US Embassy Cables: Live Updates
Hanukkah, Rekindled
Howard Jacobson, NYT Op Ed | Hanukkah, Rekindled | December 1, 2010

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Tonight, Hanukah begins. The word – Hanukkah – is lovely, but what’s the festival itself for? What does it do?

Bomb Kills Iranian Nuclear Scientist
William Yong and Alan Cowell, The New York Times | Bomb Kills Iranian Nuclear Scientist | November 29, 2010

Unidentified assailants riding motorcycles launched bomb attacks early on Monday against two Iranian nuclear physicists here, killing one of them and prompting accusations by Iran that the United States and Israel were behind the episode.

At a news conference here, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that “undoubtedly the hand of the Zionist regime and Western governments is involved” in the killing but did not identify those governments by name. The killing led Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, to warn the West and its allies not to “play with fire.” Both Mr. Salehi and Mr. Ahmadinejad vowed that Tehran would not be deterred from expanding its nuclear project...

Foreign Governments Blast Wikileaks Revleations While Denying Their Importance
Debbi Wilgoren and Leila Fadel, The Washington Post | Foreign Governments Blast Wikileaks | November 29, 2010

Foreign governments reacted with a mixture of denials and dismissiveness Monday to the massive leaking of U.S. diplomatic cables, questioning the decision to make the material public but at the same time insisting, for the most part, that the revelations were either untrue or unlikely to impact world events...

Scientists Look to Redwoods For Answers on Warming
Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle | Scientists Look To Redwoods | November 29, 2010
Stephen Sillett swung from a rope in the second-tallest redwood tree in Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve in Mendocino County and shouted measurements to his colleagues on the ground. The professor of forest ecology at Humboldt State University has been clambering around a lot lately on the 365-foot-tall giant, which is believed to be well over 1,000 years old. He can tell you the number of branches, 403, and estimate the number of leaves, 514 million...
Alaska Native Status Gave Tiny, Inexperienced Firm a $250 Million Army Contract
Robert O'Harrow, Jr., The Washington Post | $250 Million Army Contract | November 26, 2010

In summer 2008, the U.S. military had a major problem. More than 2,400 service members had reported being sexually assaulted the previous year, and the number was rising. Congress wanted immediate action. The Army responded by reaching out to a tiny firm in Delaware. It was an unlikely choice for such a sensitive task. The year before, United Solutions and Services, known as US2, had just three employees and several small contracts for janitorial services and other work. It was based in a four-bedroom colonial, where the founder worked out of his living room...