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 Reckoning
Kenan Trebincevic, The New York Times | The Reckoning | December 4, 2011

After reading an article on Bosnia’s tourism boom, my brother, Eldin, and I decided it was time to face down our past. We reasoned that we were really doing this for our 72-year-old father, Senahid. If he didn’t see the country of his birth or his childhood friends soon, he never would. Yet within days I became obsessed with creating a to-do list for our trip: 1) Take a picture of the concentration camp my brother and father survived; 2) visit the cemetery where the karate coach who betrayed us was buried; 3) confront Petra, the neighbor who stole from my mother...

Hot on Trail of 'Just Right' Far-Off Planet
Dennis Overbye, | Hot on Trail of 'Just Right' Far-Off Planet | December 3, 2011

At least four times in the last few years, astronomers have announced they have found planets orbiting other stars in the sweet spot known as the habitable zone — not too hot, not too cold — where water and thus perhaps life are possible. In short, a so-called Goldilocks planet fit to be inhabited by the biochemical likes of us...

After Duty, Dogs Suffer Like Soldiers
James Dao, The New York Times | After Duty, Dogs Suffer Like Soldiers | December 2, 2011

The call came into the behavior specialists here from a doctor in Afghanistan. His patient had just been through a firefight and now was cowering under a cot, refusing to come out.

Apparently even the chew toys hadn’t worked.

Post-traumatic stress disorder, thought Dr. Walter F. Burghardt Jr., chief of behavioral medicine at the Daniel E. Holland Military Working Dog Hospital at Lackland Air Force Base. Specifically, canine PTSD...

A Secret Scandal
Eliot Spitzer, Slate | A Secret Scandal | December 2, 2011

The government and the big banks deceived the public about their $7 trillion secret loan program. They should be punished...

How Algorithms Shape Our World
Kevin Slavin, The Huffington Post | How Algorithms Shape Our World | December 1, 2011

In this special year-end collaboration, TED and The Huffington Post are excited to count down 18 great ideas of 2011, featuring the full TEDTalk with original blog posts that we think will shape 2012. Watch, engage and share these groundbreaking ideas as they are unveiled one-by-one, including never-seen-before TEDTalk premieres. Standby, the countdown is underway!...

Horse: Coming Soon to a Meat Case Near You?
Sarah LeTrent, Eatocracy | Horse: Coming Soon to a Meat Case Near You? | December 1, 2011

When President Barack Obama signed the spending bill into law on November 18, another piece of the legislation trotted in under the radar.

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2012, better known as the spending bill or H.R. 2112, allocated funding for several federal departments and agencies - including the U.S. Department of Agriculture - until September 2012...

Flight Assembled Architecture by Gramazio & Kohler and Raffaello d'Andrea

Flying robots will assemble a six-metre-high tower at the FRAC Center in New Orlans, France, next month. Created by Swiss architects Gramazio & Kohler and Raffaello D'Andrea, the mobile machines will lift, transport and assemble 1500 polystyrene foam bricks to build a 3.5 meter wide structure...

Gingrich Gave Push to Clients, Not Just Ideas
Mike McIntire and Jim Rutenberg, The New York Times | Gingrich Gave Push to Clients, Not Just Ideas | November 30, 2011

Newt Gingrich is adamant that he is not a lobbyist, but rather a visionary who traffics in ideas, not influence. But in the eight years since he started his health care consultancy, he has made millions of dollars while helping companies promote their services and gain access to state and federal officials...

Carrier IQ: Researcher Trevor Eckhart Outs Creepy, Hidden App Installed on Smartphones

A security researcher has posted a video detailing hidden software installed on smart phones that logs numerous details about users' activities.

In a 17-minute video posted Monday on YouTube, Trevor Eckhart shows how the software – known as Carrier IQ – logs every text message, Google search and phone number typed on a wide variety of smart phones - including HTC, Blackberry, Nokia and others - and reports them to the mobile phone carrier...

Burning Love
Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker | Burning Love | November 30, 2011

Americans have never met a hydrocarbon they didn’t like. Oil, natural gas, liquefied natural gas, tar-sands oil, coal-bed methane, and coal, which is, mostly, carbon—the country loves them all, not wisely, but too well. To the extent that the United States has an energy policy, it is perhaps best summed up as: if you’ve got it, burn it...