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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.

In Bethlehem, Shepherds Watching Their Flocks By Night Are a Dying Breed
Ana Carbajosa, The Guardian | A Dying Breed | December 24, 2010

If an "angel of the Lord" were to appear in the sky over Bethlehem today, there would scarcely be any shepherds keeping watch over their flocks to witness the scene. Spending nights and days in the fields herding sheep has become an almost impossible task for the fast-diminishing community of shepherds in this biblical Palestinian town. Jewish settlements, Israeli army checkpoints, closed military zones and the West Bank separation barrier have reduced the grazing area to such an extent that a growing number of Bethlehem shephertds have been forced to give up their traditional livelihoods. "I miss the freedom of the wilderness. Everything is different now. We can barely move..."...

Obama Gamble Pays Off With Approval of Arms Pact
Peter Baker | Obama's Gamble Pays Off | December 23, 2010

The final approval of a new arms control treaty with Russia may have been a foregone conclusion by the time senators stepped onto the floor on Wednesday. But that was not the way it looked one afternoon last month when White House officials rushed to the Oval Office to tell President Obama that his treaty might be dead. The president and his team had built their entire strategy for obtaining approval of the treaty on winning over a single Republican senator deputized by his caucus to negotiate an accord — and that Republican, Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, had just shocked the White House by pulling the plug on a deal for the year...

CIA Launches Task Force To Assess Impact of U.S. Cables' Exposure by WikiLeaks
Greg Miller, The Washington Post | CIA Launches WikiLeaks Task Force | December 22, 2010

The CIA has launched a task force to assess the impact of the exposure of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables and military files by WikiLeaks. Officially, the panel is called the WikiLeaks Task Force. But at CIA headquarters, it's mainly known by its all-too-apt acronym: W.T.F. ...

John McCain's Lasting Anger
Shushannah Walshe, The Daily Beast | John McCain's Lasting Anger | December 22, 2010

Railing against Don't Ask Don't Tell, shooting down an immigration bill he once sponsored, pushing his own changes to START -- the tougher John McCain who emerged in the primaries may be here to stay...

THE YEAR IN CRAZY
Tom Tomorrow | The Year In Crazy | December 21, 2010

2010: An incomplete and subjective look at The Year in Crazy...

Obama F.C.C. Caves on Net Neturality -- Tuesday Betrayal Assured
Timothy Karr, Free Press and SavetheInternet.com | Obama F.C.C. Caves | December 21, 2010

Late Monday, a majority of the FCC's commissioners indicated that they're going to vote with Chairman Julius Genachowski for a toothless Net Neutrality rule. According to all reports, the rule, which will be voted on during tomorrow's FCC meeting, falls drastically short of earlier pledges by President Obama and the FCC Chairman to protect the free and open Internet. The rule is so riddled with loopholes that it's become clear that this FCC chairman crafted it with the sole purpose of winning the endorsement of AT&T and cable lobbyists, and not defending the interests of the tens of millions of Internet users..

F.C.C Is Set to Regulate Net Access
Brian Stelter, The New York Times | F.C.C. Is Set to Regulate Net Access | December 21, 2010

The Federal Communications Commission appears poised to pass a controversial set of rules that broadly create two classes of Internet access, one for fixed-line providers and the other for the wireless Net. The proposed rules of the online road would prevent fixed-line broadband providers like Comcast and Qwest from blocking access to sites and applications. The rules, however, would allow wireless companies more latitude in putting limits on access to services and applications...

Anti-Terror Police Arrest 12 in UK Raids
Adam Gabbatt, Vikram Dodd and Steven Morris, The Guardian | UK Anti-Terror Arrests | December 20, 2010

Counter-terrorism detectives today arrested 12 people amid fears of a Christmas bombing attack in the UK. The men, aged between 17 and 28, were held in Birmingham, Cardiff, London and Stoke-on-Trent on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism in the UK, police said...

GOP Digs In on Arms Treaty
Patrick O'Connor and Jonathan Weisman, The Wall Street Journal | GOP Digs In on Arms Treaty | December 20, 2010

The Senate debate over President Barack Obama's nuclear arms control treaty with Russia moves behind closed doors Monday for a briefing that could determine the fate of one of the president's year-end priorities. Prospects for ratifying the New Start treaty this year are in doubt after the Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, declared his opposition on Sunday. But several other GOP senators whose support would be needed for ratification have said they are still undecided...

This Bonus Season on Wall Street, Many See Zeros
Nelson D. Schwartz and Susanne Craig, The New York Times | The Zeros | December 20, 2010

Bonus season is fast approaching on Wall Street, but this year the talk does not center just on multimillion-dollar paydays. It's about a new club that no one wants to join: the Zeros. Drawn from a broad swath of back-office employees and middle-level traders, bankers and brokers, the Zeros, as they have come to be called, are facing a once-unthinkable prospect: an annual bonus of...nothing...