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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.

Tiny Tax on Financial Trades Gains Advocates
Steven Greenhouse and Graham Bowley, The New York Times | Tiny Tax on Financial Trades Gains Advocates | December 6, 2011

They call it the Robin Hood tax — a tiny levy on trades in the financial markets that would take money from the banks and give it to the world’s poor. And like the mythical hero of Sherwood Forest, it is beginning to capture the public’s imagination.

Driven by populist anger at bankers as well as government needs for more revenue, the idea of a tax on trades of stocks, bonds and other financial instruments has attracted an array of influential champions, including the leaders of France and Germany, the billionaire philanthropists Bill Gates and George Soros, the consumer activist Ralph Nader, Pope Benedict XVI and the archbishop of Canterbury...

Derek Boogaard: A Brain 'Going Bad'
John Branch, The New York Times | Derek Boogaard: A Brain 'Going Bad' | December 6, 2011

This article, the third of a three-part series, chronicles Derek Boogaard's descent, on and off the ice, and the posthumous determination by researchers that he had a degenerative brain condition believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head...

Lost Leonardo Da Vinci Battle Scene Sparks Row Between Art Historians
Tom Kington, The Guardian | Lost Leonardo Da Vinci Battle Scene Sparks Row Between Art Historians | December 6, 2011

A 35-year hunt to uncover a lost work by Leonardo Da Vinci is reaching a climax in Florence, while also facing an angry protest by more than 100 prominent art historians who deplore the destructive but speculative work possibly leading to the masterpiece's uncovery.

The row centres on a wall in Florence's Palazzo Vecchio on which is painted a 16th century fresco. But, according to researcher Maurizio Seracini, this wall conceals another wall on which Da Vinci bgan painting The Battle of Anghiari, a monumental battle scene that is considered by some his finest work...

Kepler 22-B: Earth-like Planet Confirmed
BBC News | Kepler 22-B: Earth-like Planet Confirmed | December 6, 2011

Astronomers have confirmed the existence of an Earth-like planet in the "habitable zone" around a star not unlike our own...

Record Jump in Carbon Emissions in 2010, Study Finds
Justin Gillis, The New York Times | Record Jump in Carbon Emissions in 2010, Study Finds | December 5, 2011

Global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning jumped by the largest amount on record last year, upending the notion that the brief decline during the recession might persist through the recovery...

Mohamed ElBaradei: Egypt Vote 'Decimated' Liberals
Sarah El Deeb and Marjorie Olster, The Huffington Post | Mohamed elBaradei: Egypt Vote 'Decimated' Liberals | December 5, 2011

Egypt's top reformist leader said Sunday the liberal youth behind the country's uprising have been "decimated" in parliamentary elections dominated by Islamists and expressed concern about the rise of hard-line religious elements advocating extremist ideas such as banning women from driving...

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...