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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.

Chestnuts Worthy of Song
Michael Tortorello, The New York Times | Chestnuts Worthy of Song | November 29, 2011

Nat King Cole owes an apology to the nation. With “The Christmas Song,” in 1946, Mr. Cole conjured the sentimental image of “chestnuts roasting on an open fire.”...

Inside the Attack on the First Amendment
Peter Van Buren, Salon | Inside the Attack on the First Amendment | November 29, 2011

Here’s the First Amendment, in full: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Those beautiful words, almost haiku-like, are the sparse poetry of the American democratic experiment...

Egypt on the Edge
Wendell Steavenson, The New Yorker | Egypt on the Edge | November 27, 2011

It was Friday today, and Tahrir Square was packed. It was in a mix of every mood I have seen it in over the past ten months: politically focussed, “The people want to topple the Marshal!”; carnival-like, with face painters and food stalls; determined, with tents and supplies and field hospitals; organized, with volunteers checking bags and I.D.s at the entrances; thuggish, with plenty of knots of young kids from poor neighborhoods; and creative: a new sign had been erected for Mohamed Mahmoud Street, renaming it, “The Street of the Eyes of Freedom”—a reference to the many who had lost their eyesight from police birdshot...

Newt Gingrich Inc.: How the GOP Hopeful Went From Political Flameout to Fortune
Karen Tumulty and Dan Eggen, The Washington Post | Newt Gingrich Inc.: How the GOP Hopeful Went From Political Flameout to Fortune | November 27, 2011

Anyone who doesn’t believe in an afterlife must not live in Washington. Rarely, however, has reincarnation been so lucrative as it has for the man who now tops some polls for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich transfigured himself from a political flameout into a thriving business conglomerate. The power of the Gingrich brand fueled a for-profit collection of enterprises that generated close to $100 million in revenue over the past decade...

Can the Bulldog Be Saved?
Benoit Denizet-Lewis, The New York Times | Can the Bulldog Be Saved? | November 27, 2011

In the first half of Georgia’s football game against South Carolina in 2009, Uga VII, who had been dozing on a bag of ice in his air-conditioned sideline doghouse, was cajoled onto the field to pose for pictures with some cheerleaders and Gov. Sonny Perdue. Uga (pronounced UGH-uh) wore his trademark red Georgia jersey and spiked red leather collar, and he looked bored as an ESPN cameraman shoved a camera in his wrinkly, smooshed bulldog face...

Thanksgiving Fiction: What if turkeys had defeated the Pilgrims?
Eleanor Henderson, Salon | Thanksgiving Fiction: What if turkeys had defeated the Pilgrims? | November 25, 2011

Our Thanksgiving pageants would sure be different! In "100 Dead Pilgrims," an acclaimed nov elist imagines the scene...

An English Thanksgiving, 1942
Thomas Fleming, The Wall Street Journal Opinion | An English Thanksgiving, 1942 | November 24, 2011

With Americans in uniform serving all over the world today, the idea of them celebrating Thanksgiving abroad does not strike anyone as unusual. With Americans locked in a world war in 1942, it certainly was....

The Era of Small and Many
Bill McKibben, Orion Magazine | The Era of Small and Many | November 24, 2011

Earlier this year, my state’s governor asked if I’d give an after-lunch speech to some of his cabinet and other top officials who were in the middle of a retreat. It’s a useful discipline for writers and theorists to have to summarize books in half an hour, and to compete with excellent local ice cream. No use telling these guys how the world should be at some distant future moment when they’ll no longer be in office—instead, can you isolate themes broad enough to be of use to people working on subjects from food to energy to health care to banking to culture, and yet specific enough to help them choose among the options that politics daily throws up? Can you figure out a principle that might undergird a hundred different policies?...

My Life as a White Supremicist
R.M. Schneiderman, Newsweek | My Life as a White Supremacist | November 23, 2011

An FBImole speaks for the first time about life in the seedy world of right-wing terror...

Egypt's Women Warriors Lead Protests in Tahrir Square

Women are on the front lines of Egypt's latest protests, which are raging into their fifth day. The video below shows one radical girl as she marches and chants her way to security forces -- and gets gassed...