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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.

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Philip Womack, The Telegraph | Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 | July 6, 2011

This is a film about the triumph of the weak...

What Does Newt Gingrich Know?
Andrew Ferguson, The New York Times Magazine | What Does Newt Gingrich Know? | July 6, 2011

When his top campaign staff abandoned him not long ago, Newt Gingrich didn’t seem terribly surprised. “Philosophically, I am very different from normal politicians,” he said. “We have big ideas.” The “we,” as Gingrich uses it here, is akin to the royal we — it’s what might be called the professorial we, employed when the intellectual and the ideas he generates merge to create an entity too large for a singular personal pronoun. “Over my years in public life,” he writes in his latest book about how to save America, “I have become known as an ‘ideas man.’ ” And we shouldn’t doubt it. As I write, a stack of books tilts Pisa-like on my desk, each volume written by Gingrich and various co-authors...

Beneath a Temple in Southern India, a Treasure Trove of Staggering Riches
Vikas Bajaj, The New York Times | Beneath a Temple in Southern India, a Treasure Trove of Staggering Riches | July 5, 2011

A court-ordered search of vaults beneath a south Indian temple has unearthed gold, jewels and statues worth an estimated $22 billion, government officials said Monday. The treasure trove, at the 16th century Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, is widely believed to be the largest find of its kind in India, catching officials in the state of Kerala by surprise and forcing the government to send two dozen police officers to the previously unguarded shrine for round-the-clock security...

Osama Bin Laden's Hunter: CIA Analyst Examined
Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo, The Huffington Post | Osama Bin Laden's Hunter: CIA Analyst Examined | July 5, 2011

After Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden, the White House released a photo of President Barack Obama and his Cabinet inside the Situation Room, watching the daring raid unfold.

Hidden from view, standing just outside the frame of that now-famous photograph was a career CIA analyst. In the hunt for the world's most-wanted terrorist, there may have been no one more important. His job for nearly a decade was finding the al-Qaida leader...

How the Complete Meaning of July Fourth Is Slipping Away
Gordon S. Wood, The New Republic | How the Complete Meaning of July Fourth Is Slipping Away | July 5, 2011

At least one of the Founders thought that Independence Day would become important. When the Continental Congress voted for independence on July 2, 1776, John Adams, who more than any other single Founder was responsible for that vote, was ecstatic. America’s declaring of independence from Great Britain, he told his wife Abigail, marked “the most memorable Epocha in the History of America.” He hoped that the day would be “celebrated by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated,” he said, “as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one end of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”...

As Shuttle Era Ends, Dreams of Space Linger
Dennis Overbye, The New York Times | As Shuttle Era Ends, Dreams of Space Linger | July 5, 2011

By April 1981 it seemed that the space shuttle Columbia had been part of the Florida landscape forever. Gleaming white in the sun by day and the floodlights that bathed it all night, the cluster of rockets, space plane and giant egglike fuel tank looked like a craggy Matterhorn transposed to the humid coast...

Fall of the House of Busch
Susan Berfield, Bloomberg Businessweek | Fall of the House of Busch | July 3, 2011

It took four generations to build Anheuser-Beusch, one of the most celebrated companies in America. and only one for it to come apart...

Roger Ailes' Secret Nixon-Era Blueprint for Fox News
John Cook, Gawker | Roger Ailes' Secret Nixon-Era Blueprint for Fox News | July 3, 2011

Republican media strategist Roger Ailes launched Fox News Channel in 1996, ostensibly as a "fair and balanced" counterpoint to what he regarded as the liberal establishment media. But according to a remarkable document buried deep within the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, the intellectual forerunner for Fox News was a nakedly partisan 1970 plot by Ailes and other Nixon aides to circumvent the "prejudices of network news" and deliver "pro-administration" stories to heartland television viewers...

Managed Care Enters The Exam Room As Insurers Buy Doctors Groups
Christopher Weaver, Kaiser Health News / WaPo-Bloomberg | Managed Care Enters The Exam Room As Insurers Buy Doctors Groups | July 3, 2011

Even if UnitedHealth Group isn’t your insurance company, there’s a good chance it touches you in some way. The $100 billion behemoth sells technology to hospitals and other insurers, distributes drugs, manages clinical trials and offers continuing medical education, among other things, through the growing web of firms it owns.

Now, that touch could get a lot more personal. United health services wing is quietly gaining control of doctors who treat patients covered by United plans — buying medical groups and launching physician management companies, for example...

Forever Dirty: Zimbabwe and Its Diamonds
The Economist | Forever Dirty: Zimbabwe and Its Diamonds | July 2, 2011

Robert Mugabe is being favored once again, to the detriment of his people...