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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.

Reports Say Loyalists Are Fleeing From Libya to Niger
Anne Barnard, Adam Nossiter and Alan Cowell, The New York Times | Reports Say Loyalists Are Fleeing From Libya to Niger | September 6, 2011

As rebel negotiators pressed loyalists in the desert town of Bani Walid to surrender peacefully, a convoy of Libyan Army vehicles was reported on Tuesday to have crossed the country’s southern border into Niger in what could represent a shift in the balance of power after six months of conflict...

Can Japan Recover?: The New Fear of Food
Daisann McLane | Can Japan Recover?: The New Fear of Food | September 5, 2011

Food in Japan is entwined, inextricably, with place. So what happens when the place gets contaminated? The city of Tokyo survived the earthquake and missed the tsunami, and its background radiation level is safe—in fact it's even lower than Hong Kong's. But the Fukushima radiation, like a malevolent genie in a bottle, had slipped out and insinuated itself into Japan's cultural pride and lifeblood. It had gotten into the rice and even the tea leaves. Low levels, to be sure, but what, exactly, are safe levels?...

Libya's Powerful Islamist Leader
Babak Dehghanpisheh, The Daily Beast | Libya's Powerful Islamist Leader | September 4, 2011

Even some Libyans are worried by Abdel Hakim Belhaj. It’s not that his revolutionary credentials are anything less than impeccable. When victorious rebel forces blasted through the gates at Muammar Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli, the 45-year-old commander who led the charge was none other than Belhaj. As a battle-hardened veteran, he had organized and trained many of those rebel fighters in Libya’s western mountains. And now the rebels’ National Transitional Council (NTC) has accepted him as head of the newly created Tripoli Military Council, with control of some 8,000 troops, the biggest fighting force in Libya.

Click here to find out more!The trouble is that Belhaj’s record as a Gaddafi adversary just might be too impressive. Belhaj is a founding member and former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), which is listed by both the U.S. State Department and the British Home Office as an international terrorist organization...
Top Secret America: A Look at the Military's Joint Special Operations Command
Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, The Washington Post | Top Secret America: A look at the Military's Joint Special Operations Command | September 4, 2011

The CIA’s armed drones and paramilitary forces have killed dozens of al-Qaeda leaders and thousands of its foot soldiers. But there is another mysterious organization that has killed even more of America’s enemies in the decade since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks....

Soldier, Thinker, Hunter, Spy: Drawing a Bead on Al Qaeda
Elisabeth Bumiller, The New York Times | Soldier, Thinker, Hunter, Spy: Drawing a Bead on Al Qaeda | September 4, 2011

Every day, Michael G. Vickers gets an update on how many in Al Qaeda’s senior leadership the United States has removed from the battlefield, and lately there has been much to report. Al Qaeda’s No. 2 died in a C.I.A. drone strike late last month, another senior commander was taken out in June, and the Navy Seals made history when they dispatched Osama bin Laden in May. “I just want to kill those guys,” Mr. Vickers likes to say in meetings at the Pentagon, with a grin...

Putting the "Men" Into "Menstruation"
Blake Gopnik, The Daily Beast | Putting the "Men" Into "Menstruation" | September 2, 2011

A machine that makes guys cramp and bleed is part of a feminist cutting edge...

U.S. Is Set to Sue a Dozen Big Banks Over Mortgages
Nelson D. Schwartz, The New York Times | U.S. Is Set to Sue a Dozen Big Banks Over Mortgages | September 2, 2011

The federal agency that oversees the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is set to file suits against more than a dozen big banks, accusing them of misrepresenting the quality of mortgage securities they assembled and sold at the height of the housing bubble, and seeking billions of dollars in compensation...

Gibson Guitar Wails on Federal Raid Over Wood
James R. Hagerty and Kris Maher, The Wall Street Journal | Gibson Guitar Wails on Federal Raid Over Wood | September 2, 2011

Gibson Guitar Corp., a big user of ebony and other scarce woods, for years has allied itself with Greenpeace and other environmental groups to show it was serious about preserving forests.

That didn't stop the Nashville-based company, whose guitars are used by such musicians as B.B. King and Angus Young of AC/DC, from running afoul of U.S. authorities over allegedly illegal imports of wood. Though no charges have been filed, Gibson factories have been raided twice, most recently last week, by federal agents who say ebony exported from India to Gibson was "fraudulently" labeled to conceal a contravention of Indian export law...

NATO Keeps War Footing in LIbya Until Gaddafi Regime Smashed
Julian Borger, The Guardian | NATO Keeps War Footing in Libya Until Gaddafi Regime Smashed | September 1, 2011

 

Nato will remain on a war footing in the skies over Libya until the last remnants of the Gaddafi regime have been defeated, European diplomats have said.

World leaders are converging on Paris on Thursday for a Friends of Libya summit intended to acclaim the National Transitional Council (NTC) as the country's new interim government, and mark a pivot point in the international community's efforts in Libya from war to reconstruction...

End of House Page Program is Bittersweet for Some Lawmakers
Felicia Sonmez, The Washington Post | End of House Page Proram is Bittersweet for Some Lawmakers | September 1, 2011

A rare example of bipartisan agreement over cost-cutting is about to leave many members of Congress with a conundrum: Who will fill their water glasses, raise flags over the Capitol building and ring the bells that notify them that it’s time to vote?...