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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.

Fighting the Taliban One Irrigation Project at a Time
Maura O'Connor, Slate | Fighting the Taliban One Irrigation Project at a Time | June 2, 2011

When Chris Corsten describes his job, he starts from space and zooms into the eastern hemisphere of the world, down into Central Asia, and then into Afghanistan, using Google Earth. In one of the country's rural districts, nestled in mountains and riverbeds, are hundreds of colored dots representing construction sites. If Corsten moves his cursor over one of these dots, a geo-tagged photograph showing Afghan men building walls or mixing cement appears. If he displays all the construction sites he's managed in Afghanistan, there are thousands of colored dots spread across the country...

Ambitious Plan for China's Water Crisis Spurs Concern
Edward Wong, The New York Times | Ambitious Plan for China's Water Crisis Spurs Concern | June 2, 2011

North China is dying. A chronic drought is ravaging farmland. The Gobi Desert is inching south. The Yellow River, the so-called birthplace of Chinese civilization, is so polluted it can no longer supply drinking water. The rapid growth of megacities — 22 million people in Beijing and 12 million in Tianjin alone — has drained underground aquifers that took millenniums to fill. Not atypically, the Chinese government has a grand and expensive solution: Divert at least six trillion gallons of water each year hundreds of miles from the other great Chinese river, the Yangtze, to slake the thirst of the north China plain and its 440 million people...

Tank Turned Into Treadmill Adds Theatre to U.S. Venice Biennale Entry
Charlotte Higgins, The Guardian | Tank Turned Into Treadmill Adds Theatre to U.S. Venice Biennale Entry | June 2, 2011

The Venice Biennale – aside from being the single most significant international gathering for the visual arts – is a theatrical event. With 89 national exhibitions competing for attention, spectacle is part of the point. This year, the spectacle that is wowing the crowds is the huge upturned tank outside the American pavilion in the Giardini di Castello, which has been "repurposed" into a treadmill...

Al-Qaeda's Young Extremists
The Huffington Post | Al-Qaeda's Young Extremists | June 2, 2011

Even before Osama bin Laden's death a month ago, a young generation of would-be terrorists had turned away from the al-Qaida leader toward a new breed of brash, charismatic ideologues...

Who Killed Saleem Shahzad?
Ron Moreau, The Daily Beast | Who Killed Saleem Shahzad | June 1, 2011

Courageous Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad, who had scored major scoops on al Qaeda and the Taliban, was abducted and brutally murdered this week. Was the ISI, the country's shady intelligence agency, to blame?...

WikiSecrets:The Inside Story...
PBS Frontline | WikiSecrets | May 31, 2011

The inside story of Bradley Manning, Julian Asange and the largest intelligence breach in U.S. history...

How Roger Ailes Built the Fox News Fear Factory
Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone | How Roger Ailes Built the Fox News Fear Factory | May 31, 2011

The onetime Nixon operative has created the most profitable propaganda machine in history. Inside America's Unfair and Imbalanced Network...

Cyber Combat: Act of War
Siobhan Gorman and Julian E. Barnes, The Wall Street Journal | Cyber Combat: Act of War | May 31, 2011

The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force...

Memorial Day 2011: Let Us Especially Remember...
Dorian de Wind, Retired U.S. Air Force Officer, HuffingtonPost Impact | Memorial Day 2011: Let Us Especially Remember... | May 30, 2011

Last Memorial Day our nation was in the midst of a bitter debate over the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell" (DADT)...

Tree of Life: The Most Complicated Movie Ever
Chris Lee, The Daily Beast | Tree of LIfe: The Most Complicated Movie Ever | May 30, 2011

The Terrence Malick film Tree of Life tackles everything from the creation of the universe to family life -- making it took years, millions of dollars, and Hubble telescope imagery...