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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.

First Human Ancestor Looked Like A Squirrel
Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News | First Human Ancestor Looked Like A Squirrel | October 25, 2012

Newly discovered fossilized bones for the world's oldest and most primitive known primate, Purgatorius, reveal a tiny, agile animal that spent much of its time eating fruit and climbing trees, according to a study.

The fossils, described today in a presentation at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology's 72nd Annual Meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina, are the first known below-the-head bones for Purgatorius. Previously, only teeth revealed its existence...

Plan For Hunting Terrorists Signals U.S. Intends To Keep Adding Names To Kill Lists

Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the “disposition matrix.”

The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations. U.S. officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the “disposition” of suspects beyond the reach of American drones...

Nearly 30% Of Vets Treated By V.A. Have PTSD
Jamie Reno, The Daily Beast | Nearly 30% Of Vets Treated By V.A. have PTSD | October 23, 2012

he Department of Veterans Affairs has quietly released a new report on post-traumatic stress disorder, showing that since 9/11, nearly 30 percent of the 834,463 Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans treated at V.A. hospitals and clinics have been diagnosed with PTSD.

Veterans advocates say the new V.A. report is the most damning evidence yet of the profound impact multiple deployments have had on American service men and women since 9/11. Troops who’ve been deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan are more than three times as likely as soldiers with no previous deployments to screen positive for PTSD and major depression, according to a 2010 study published by the American Journal for Public Health...

Romney's Double Vision
Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker | Romney's Double Vision | October 23, 2012

The most remarkable thing about Monday’s foreign-policy debate in Boca Raton was how unremarkable Mitt Romney was. That’s a compliment. For an hour and a half, Romney played to the American middle, courted the mainstream. More or less agreeing with every substantive position of President Obama’s, Romney tried to find small differences that would make him appear more cool, more reasonable, and more Presidential than the President himself. Romney made no calls to invade this country or that one, no messianic invocations of America’s mission in the world. He came off as calm and pragmatic, even boring, and unbound by the straight-jacket of any ideology...

George McGovern, Former U.S. Presidential Candidate, Dies At 90
Associated Press, The Guardian | George McGovern, Former U.S. Presidential Candidate, Dies At 90 | October 22, 2012

A decorated bomber pilot in the second world war, McGovern said he learned to hate war by waging it. In his disastrous race against Nixon, he promised to end the conflict in Vietnam and cut defence spending by billions of dollars. He helped create the Food for Peace programme and spent much of his career believing the United States should be more accommodating to the former Soviet Union.

Never a showman, he made his case with a style as plain as the prairies where he grew up, often sounding more like the Methodist minister he had once studied to be than a longtime US senator and three-time candidate for president.

McGovern never shied from the word "liberal", even as other Democrats blanched at the label and Republicans used it as an insult. "I am a liberal and always have been," McGovern said in 2001. "Just not the wild-eyed character the Republicans made me out to be."...

The Voter-Fraud Myth
Jane Mayer | The Voter-Fraud Myth | October 22, 2012

Teresa Sharp is fifty-three years old and has lived in a modest single-family house on Millsdale Street, in a suburb of Cincinnati, for nearly thirty-three years. A lifelong Democrat, she has voted in every Presidential election since she turned eighteen. So she was agitated when an official summons from the Hamilton County Board of Elections arrived in the mail last month. Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati, is one of the most populous regions of the most fiercely contested state in the 2012 election. No Republican candidate has ever won the Presidency without carrying Ohio, and recent polls show Barack Obama and Mitt Romney almost even in the state. Every vote may matter, including those cast by the seven members of the Sharp family—Teresa, her husband, four grown children, and an elderly aunt—living in the Millsdale Street house.

The letter, which cited arcane legal statutes and was printed on government letterhead, was dated September 4th. “You are hereby notified that your right to vote has been challenged by a qualified elector,” it said...

Tribal Spokeswoman Says Former American Indian Movement Activist Russell Means Dies At 72

Means, a Wanblee native who grew up in the San Francisco area, announced in August 2011 that he had developed inoperable throat cancer. He told The Associated Press he was forgoing mainstream medical treatments in favor of traditional American Indian remedies and alternative treatments away from his home on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Means was an early leader of AIM and led its armed occupation of the South Dakota town of Wounded Knee, a 71-day siege that included several gunbattles with federal officers. He was often embroiled in controversy, partly because of AIM’s alleged involvement in the 1975 slaying of Annie Mae Aquash. But Means was also known for his role in the movie “The Last of the Mohicans” and had run unsuccessfully for the Libertarian nomination for president in 1988...

A Turn Of The Page For Newsweek
Tina Brown and Baba Shetty, The Daily Beast | A Turn Of The Page For Newsweek | October 18, 2012

We are announcing this morning an important development at Newsweek and The Daily Beast. Newsweek will transition to an all-digital format in early 2013. As part of this transition, the last print edition in the United States will be our Dec. 31 issue.

Meanwhile, Newsweek will expand its rapidly growing tablet and online presence, as well as its successful global partnerships and events business.

Newsweek Global, as the all-digital publication will be named, will be a single, worldwide edition targeted for a highly mobile, opinion-leading audience who want to learn about world events in a sophisticated context...

Romney's First Step Into Political Arena, vs. Ted Kennedy In 1994, Was A Cautious One
Jason Horowitz, The Washington Post | Romney's First Step Into Political Arena, vs. Ted Kennedy In 1994, Was A Cautious One | October 18, 2012

It was well past midnight and Mitt Romney wanted to talk. The political scion had traveled from Boston to Washington for an event at which he hoped to meet then-President Ronald Reagan, but a sudden cancellation relegated his tuxedo to his Marriott hotel room. With the White House just down the block, Romney confided to a Bain and Co. colleague the trajectory sketched out for him by his father.

“Dad says, first you go into business and you make a lot of money, you give the church half of it, and then you go into public service,” Romney said, according to his Bain colleague and Marriott roommate Patrick Graham. “And then you become president of the United States.”...

On Hilary Mantel's Booker Win
Larissa MacFarquhar, The New Yorker | On Hilary Mantel's Booker Win | October 18, 2012

Yesterday evening, Hilary Mantel won the Man Booker Prize for “Bring Up the Bodies,” a historical novel about Thomas Cromwell, a top advisor to Henry VIII. This was proof that the Booker juries judge books on their merits alone, because Mantel won the same prize for “Wolf Hall,” the first book in her Cromwell trilogy, in 2009. She is only the third writer and the first British writer to win the prize twice, and, because she is one of the finest writers of English sentences alive, she richly deserves it. But that is not the only reason she does...