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.

On Small Farms, Hoof Power Returns
Tess Taylor, The New York Times | On Small Farms, Hoof Power Returns | May 4, 2011

ON a sunny Sunday just before the vernal equinox, Rich Ciotola set out to clear a pasture strewn with fallen wood. The just-thawed field was spongy, with grass sprouting under tangled branches. Late March and early April are farm-prep time here in the Berkshires, time to gear up for the growing season. But while many farms were oiling and gassing up tractors, Mr. Ciotola was setting out to prepare a pasture using a tool so old it seems almost revolutionary: a team of oxen...

Pakistan Pushes Back Against U.S. Criticism on Bin Laden
Jane Perlez and David Rohde, The New York Times | Pakistan Pushes Back Against U.S. Criticism on Bin Laden | May 3, 2011

Toughening its stand, the Pakistani government lashed out at the United States on Tuesday for the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, saying that the United States had made “an unauthorized unilateral action” that would be not be tolerated in the future...

Bin Laden Discovered "Hiding in Plain Sight"
Greg Miller and Joby Warrick, The Washington Post | Bin Laden Discovered "Hiding in Plain Sight" | May 3, 2011

Half an hour had passed on the ground, but the American commandos raiding Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani hideaway had yet to find their long-sought target. Two of bin Laden’s protectors were already dead, shot by the Navy SEALs carrying out the raid, and one of the U.S. helicopters sat crippled in the courtyard. Pakistan’s military, which had been kept in the dark about the operation, was scrambling to respond to reports of explosions and gunfire at the one-acre compound...

The GOP's Stealth Plan to Redefine Rape
Nick Baumann, Mother Jones | The GOP's Stealth Plan to Redefine Rape | May 3, 2011

Republicans pulled controversial "forcible rape" language from a pending bill, but they're trying a backdoor maneuver to ensure the legislation achieves the same effect...

When Did We Start chanting "U-S-A"?
Brian Palmer | When Did We Start Chanting "U-S-A"? | May 3, 2011

Spectators at a Phillies-Mets baseball game broke into chants of "U-S-A, U-S-A" as news of Osama Bin Laden's death made its way through the crowd on Sunday night. When did Americans start yelling the name of their country over and over again to express joy or patriotic pride?...

The Secret Team That Killed bin Laden
Marc Ambinder, The National Journal | The Secret Team That Killed bin Laden | May 2, 2011


From Ghazi Air Base in Pakistan, the modified MH-60 helicopters made their way to the garrison suburb of Abbottabad, about 70 miles from the center of Islamabad. Aboard were Navy SEALs, flown across the border from Afghanistan, along with tactical signals, intelligence collectors, and navigators using highly classified hyperspectral imagers...

The Most Wanted Face of Terrorism
Kate Zernike and Michael T. Kaufman, The New York Times | The Most Wanted Face of Terrorism | May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden, who was killed in Pakistan on Sunday, was a son of the Saudi elite whose radical, violent campaign to recreate a seventh-century Muslim empire redefined the threat of terrorism for the 21st century...

Military Blogging Goes Mainstream
James Dao, The New York Times | Military Blogging Goes Mainstream | May 2, 2011

A long, long time ago — in the year 2003, to be exact — when Facebook was a gleam in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye and twittering was still for birds, blogging was the now thing. For troops heading to war, it was a revelation. Through personal blogs, they could send letters home to friends and relatives in a single dispatch. They could mock commanding officers in ribald, and anonymous, prose. They could describe combat with the immediacy of Ernie Pyle, without the filter of actual editors. Many discovered, to their shock and glee, that thousands of strangers were reading their posts...

Osama Bin Laden Is Dead
Helene Cooper, The New York Times | Osama Bin Laden Is Dead | May 2, 2011

President Obama announced late Sunday that Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, was killed in a firefight during an operation he ordered Sunday inside Pakistan, ending a 10-year manhunt for the world’s most wanted terrorist. American officials were in possession of his body, he said...

The Consequentialist
Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker | The Consequentialist | April 30, 2011

How the Arab Spring remade Obama's foreign policy...