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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.

Beating The Fact-Checkers
David Corn, Mother Jones | Beating The Fact-Checkers | September 14, 2012

...A politician mangling the truth is hardly news. Yet what was notable about this moment was that the candidate felt no compunction about appearing before more than 1,500 journalists and repeating whoppers that their own colleagues had so roundly debunked. Nor was Romney challenged about any of these untruths when it came time to ask questions. He was able to peddle a string of officially determined falsehoods before a crowd of newspaper editors—repeat: a crowd of newspaper editors—and face absolutely no consequences. The uncomfortable question for the press: With the news cycle overwhelmed by the headline-of-the-nanosecond, and with politicians ignoring or openly challenging the truth cops, how much does the much-heralded political fact-checking industry really matter?...

To The Bat Cave! U.S. Conservationists Hope Bunker Can Halt Deadly Fungus
Suzanne Goldberg, The Guardian | To The Bat Cave! U.S. Conservationists Hope Bunker Can Halt Deadly Fungus | September 14, 2012

White-nose syndrome has killed millions of North American bats. Now an artificial cave built for their hibernation may save them...

What Was Really Behind The Benghazi Attack?
Hisham Matar, The New Yorker | What Was Really Behind The Benghazi Attack? | September 13, 2012

Were the attacks on the United States Consulate in Benghazi, which killed the American Ambassador and three other diplomats, motivated by the film that the assailants, and many news networks, claim was their motive? Was it really religious outrage that made a few young men lose their heads and commit murder? Have any of the men who attacked the consulate actually seen the film? I do not know one Libyan who has, despite being in close contact with friends and relatives in Benghazi. And the attack was not preceded by vocal outrage toward the film. Libyan Internet sites and Facebook pages were not suddenly busy with chatter about it...

GoDaddy's Service Disruption: How Anonymous Hacked The Media
Cole Stryker, The Daily Beast | GoDaddy's Service Disruption: How Anonymous Hacked The Media | September 13, 2012

Twitter user Own3r's claim that he'd hacked GoDaddy turned out to be false, but the media's jumping on the story shows how little they understand Anonymnous -- and how they value speed over accuracy...

Mexican Drug Boss El Coss Captured By Authorities
The Guardian | Mexican Drug Boss El Coss Captured By Authorities | September 13, 2012

The Mexican navy says it has captured one of Mexico's most wanted drug bosses, the head of the Gulf cartel, in what would mark a major victory in President Felipe Calderón's crackdown on organised crime.

The capture of Jorge Costilla, alias El Coss, is a boost for the military battle against drug trafficking, but it could open a power vacuum and intensify a struggle south of the Texas border in north-east Mexico, a region that has seen some of the most horrific violence in the country's six-year war among law-enforcement and rival gangs...

What We Know About The Obscure Film That Sparked The Deadly Riots In Libya

...Not a whole lot more is known about his film, Innocence of Muslims, which appears to have been screened only once, to a near empty theater in Hollywood earlier this year. Judging by the 13-minute trailer posted to YouTube in July, the film is supposed to be a "satirical" portrayal of the life of Muhammad. In addition to its criminally low production values, the film also takes care to portray Muhammad as a pedophile-appeasing, bumbling spreader of false doctrine. The offensive Muhammad narrative is interspersed with scenes of bearded men in generic Middle Eastern streets raiding missionary hospitals and threatening and killing young Christian women...

Where Cows Are Happy And Food Is Healthy
Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times Op Ed | Where Cows Are Happy And Food Is Healthy | September 12, 2012

Food can be depressing. If it’s tasty, it’s carcinogenic. If it’s cheap, animals were tortured.

But this, miraculously, is a happy column about food! It’s about a farmer who names all his 230 milk cows, along with his 200 heifers and calves, and loves them like children.

Let me introduce Bob Bansen, a high school buddy of mine who is a third-generation dairyman raising Jersey cows on lovely green pastures here in Oregon beside the Yamhill River...

The Deafness Before The Storm
Kurt Eichenwald, International Herald Tribune Opinion | The Deafness Before The Storm | September 11, 2012

It was perhaps the most famous presidential briefing in history.

On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified review of the threats posed by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, Al Qaeda. That morning’s “presidential daily brief” — the top-secret document prepared by America’s intelligence agencies — featured the now-infamous heading: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” A few weeks later, on 9/11, Al Qaeda accomplished that goal.

On April 10, 2004, the Bush White House declassified that daily brief — and only that daily brief in response to pressure from the 9/11 Commission, which was investigating the events leading to the attack. Administration officials dismissed the document’s significance, saying that, despite the jaw-dropping headline, it was only an assessment of Al Qaeda’s history, not a warning of the impending attack. While some critics considered that claim absurd, a close reading of the brief showed that the argument had some validity.

That is, unless it was read in conjunction with the daily briefs preceding Aug. 6, the ones the Bush administration would not release. While those documents are still not public, I have read excerpts from many of them..

The Disappeared: How The Fatwa Changed A Writer's Life
Salman Rushdie, The New Yorker | The Disappeared: How The Fatwa Changed A Writer's Life | September 10, 2012

Afterward, when the world was exploding around him, he felt annoyed with himself for having forgotten the name of the BBC reporter who told him that his old life was over and a new, darker existence was about to begin. She called him at home, on his private line, without explaining how she got the number. “How does it feel,” she asked him, “to know that you have just been sentenced to death by Ayatollah Khomeini?” It was a sunny Tuesday in London, but the question shut out the light. This is what he said, without really knowing what he was saying: “It doesn’t feel good.” This is what he thought: I’m a dead man. He wondered how many days he had left, and guessed that the answer was probably a single-digit number. He hung up the telephone and ran down the stairs from his workroom, at the top of the narrow Islington row house where he lived. The living-room windows had wooden shutters and, absurdly, he closed and barred them. Then he locked the front door...

Why I Left The GOP
Jeremiah Goulka, Salon | Why I Left The GOP | September 10, 2012

I used to be a serious Republican, moderate and business-oriented, who planned for a public-service career in Republican politics.  But I am a Republican no longer.

There’s an old joke we Republicans used to tell that goes something like this: “If you’re young and not a Democrat, you’re heartless. If you grow up and you’re not a Republican, you’re stupid.” These days, my old friends and associates no doubt consider me the butt of that joke. But I look on my “stupidity” somewhat differently.  After all, my real education only began when I was 30 years old...