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.

Obama's Debate Performance: How Twitter Has Done Us Wrong
Richard Just, The Daily Beast | Obama's Debate Performance: How Twitter Has Done Us Wrong | October 10, 2012

With all due respect to my colleagues in the media, I am pretty sure that most of them have, over the past week, collectively gone out of their minds. Let’s review the last seven days in American politics: At Wednesday’s debate, President Obama made no obvious gaffes, but he did look tired, stuttered occasionally, and generally failed to be as combative as his supporters would have liked. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, who has run one of the most reactionary campaigns in recent American history, presented himself as a centrist. He also got in a few good zingers and looked well rested.

None of this seemed all that dramatic while it was happening. But following the debate, many of my fellow journalists, liberal and conservative alike, reacted as if Obama had behaved on camera like Charlie Sheen—as if his performance, rather than being merely flawed, was somehow fundamentally appalling, even offensive. Over the past week, this storyline has completely taken over an election that was previously about two very different philosophies of government...

Pakistan: The Schoolgirl The Taliban Tried To Kill
Sami Yousafzai, The Daily Beast | Pakistan: The Schoolgirl The Taliban Tried To Kill | October 9, 2012

A courageously outspoken 14-year-old is fighting for her life in Pakistan tonight. Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head and the neck by unidentified gunmen on her way home from school today in Mingora, the largest city in the Swat Valley. The Pakistani Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack. Ihsanullah Ihsan, a spokesman for the militants’ umbrella group, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), told reporters in Peshawar that she was targeted for her anti-Taliban views. Two of her schoolmates were also injured in the attack...

One Eye On Our Allies: The Overdue Talk About Afghan Insider Attacks
Brandon Caro, The Daily Beast | One Eye On Our Allies: The Overdue Talk About Afghan Insider Attacks | October 9, 2012

When I close my eyes and think back to the year I spent in Afghanistan, the more sinister recollections have been somewhat sanitized, like an R-rated film edited for broadcast. The scenes are still there, but less poignant—they don’t get air the way they did when they were fresh in my mind. I don’t allow them to.

As the 2014 deadline to end America’s longest war approaches, the attacks on U.S. and NATO advisers at the hands of their Afghan protégés have become a new component in the conversation about what’s really going on there. But I’m surprised there hasn’t been more talk about so-called green-on-blue incidents or insider attacks already...

Inside The Campaign: The Romney Rebellion
Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei, Politico | Inside The Campaign: The Romney Rebellion | October 9, 2012


For months, Ann Romney and her eldest son, Tagg, were dutifully supportive of the political professionals running Mitt Romney’s campaign. All the while, their private frustration was mounting.

Shortly before the first debate, it finally boiled over.

What followed was a family intervention. The candidate’s family prevailed on Mitt Romney, and the campaign operation, to shake things up dramatically, according to campaign insiders. The family pushed for a new message, putting an emphasis on a softer and more moderate image for the GOP nominee — a “let Mitt be Mitt” approach they believed more accurately reflected the looser, generous and more approachable man they knew...

Stewart-O'Reilly Rumble: Short On Laughs, Big On Frustration (For Online Viewers)

The much-hyped mock debate between Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly billed as the Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium saw the two longtime frenemies face off before a packed auditorium at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Saturday night. The main audience for the event was supposed to be online but those who forked up $4.95 to stream the debate online, were often met with frustration as servers seemingly crashed from the demand. Many fans took to Twitter and Facebook to air their rage, many saying they had planned their Saturday night around the rumble. Even Roger Ebert was none too happy...

The Cacophony Of Money
International Herald Tribune Op Ed | The Cacophony Of Money | October 8, 2012

Two-thirds of the $50 million spent on Mitt Romney’s behalf in Ohio has come from outside “super PACs” and other so-called independent groups, and yet Mr. Romney has lagged behind in all of the major Ohio polls. Hundreds of millions in third-party spending from unlimited checks, much of it from undisclosed donors, has also failed to give Mr. Romney a clear lead in any of the other swing states.

If Mr. Romney loses the presidential race — which is far from a sure thing — does that mean the big check writers will declare the process a waste of money and stay out of politics the next time around? Don’t count on it...

The Mouse Faces Extinction As Computer Interaction Evolves
Ariana Eunjung Cha, The Washington Post | The Mouse Faces Extinction As Computer Interaction Evolves | October 8, 2012

Swipe, swipe, pinch-zoom. Fifth-grader Josephine Nguyen is researching the definition of an adverb on her iPad and her fingers are flying across the screen. Her 20 classmates are hunched over their own tablets doing the same.

Conspicuously absent from this modern scene of high-tech learning: a mouse.

Nguyen, who is 10, said she has used one before — once — but the clunky desktop computer/monitor/keyboard/mouse setup was too much for her.

“It was slow,” she recalled, “and there were too many pieces.”...

Russian Top Human-Rights Journalists Face Threats, Murder
Anna Nemtsova, The Daily Beast | Russian Top Human-Rights Journalists Face Threats, Murder | October 4, 2012

The country's top human-rights journalists are being threatened and killed in broad daylight in a brutal campaign of intimidation to stop them from reporting on torture and killings in the Caucasus -- and some think the government is to blame...

Factory Girls: Cultural Technology and the Making of K-Pop
John Seabrook. The New Yorker | Factory Girls: Cultural Technology And The Making Of K-Pop | October 4, 2012

It was five o’clock on a Sunday in May, two hours before showtime, but already thousands of K-pop fans had flooded the concrete playa outside the Honda Center, a large arena in Anaheim, California. Tonight’s performers were among the biggest pop groups in South Korea—SHINee, f(x), Super Junior, EXO, TVXQ!, and Girls’ Generation. In the United States, Korean pop music exists almost exclusively on YouTube, in videos like “Gangnam Style,” by Park Jae-sang, the rapper known as PSY, which recently went viral. The Honda Center show was a rare chance for K-pop fans to see the “idols,” as the performers are called, in the flesh.

K-pop is an East-West mash-up. The performers are mostly Korean, and their mesmerizing synchronized dance moves, accompanied by a complex telegraphy of winks and hand gestures, have an Asian flavor, but the music sounds Western: hip-hop verses, Euro-pop choruses, rapping, and dubstep breaks. K-pop has become a fixture of pop charts not only in Korea but throughout Asia, including Japan—the world’s second-biggest music market, after the U.S.—and Taiwan, Singapore, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia. South Korea, a country of less than fifty million, somehow figured out how to make pop hits for more than a billion and a half other Asians, contributing two billion dollars a year to Korea’s economy, according to the BBC...

Sioux Racing To Find Millions To Buy Sacred Land In Black Hills
Timothy Williams, The New York Times | Sioux Race To Find Millions To Buy Sacred Land In Black Hills | October 4, 2012

The Black Hills, the rolling range of mountains that rise out of the badlands of western South Dakota, are considered sacred to the Sioux, who for 150 years have fought on battlefields and in courtrooms for the return of the land.

And so the Great Sioux Nation exulted this summer when a long-sought parcel in the mountains called Pe’ Sla by the Lakota was put up for sale and a bid from the Sioux was accepted by the family that had controlled the land since 1876, the year that Gen. George Armstrong Custer died not far to the west at Little Bighorn.

But now, anxiety has replaced optimism as more than a half-dozen Sioux tribes, which include some of the nation’s poorest people, race to come up with the $9 million purchase price before the deadline next month...