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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.

Call Me, Mitt
Peter J. Boyer, The Daily Beast | Chris Christie: Call Me, Mitt | June 18, 2012

Did the Jersey governor blow his White House chances? He talks to Peter J. Boyer about why he passed on running -- and how Romney could talk him into being his running mate...

Sally Quinn Announces The End Of Power In Washington
Sally Quinn, The Washington Post | Sally Quinn Announces The End Of Power In Washington | June 18, 2012

In April, at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, my husband, Ben Bradlee, and I found ourselves sandwiched between the Kardashians and Newt and Callista Gingrich. Heavily made up and smiling for the cameras, the reality TV family and the political couple were swarmed over by the paparazzi, who were screaming and shouting the celebrities’ names to make them look toward the cameras for that million-dollar photograph.

I was shoved up against Callista’s hair and nearly broke my nose. It was scary. I felt as if I had been caught in a crowded theater and someone had yelled fire. Ben and I (he spouting expletives all the way), grabbed onto each other and managed to escape to the equally crowded hallway where desperate celebrity guests were heading toward the ballroom, murmuring to us as they passed, “Get me out of here.”

It was telling that Vanity Fair had bought more tables at the dinner than most of the Washington news organizations...

Plague Confirmed In Oregon Man Bitten By Stray Cat
Associated Press | Plague Confirmed In Oregon Man Bitten By Stray Cat | June 15, 2012

Health officials have confirmed that an Oregon man has the plague after he was bitten while trying to take a dead rodent from the mouth of a stray cat.

The unidentified man, who is in his 50s, remained in critical condition Friday at a Bend hospital. His illness marks the fifth case of plague in Oregon since 1995...

In Good Health? Thank Your 100 Trillion Bacteria
Gina Kolata, The New York Times | In Good Health? Thank Your 100 Trillion Bacteria | June 15, 2012

In a new five-year federal endeavor, the Human Microbiome Project, which has been compared to the Human Genome Project, 200 scientists at 80 institutions sequenced the genetic material of bacteria taken from nearly 250 healthy people. They discovered more strains than they had ever imagined — as many as a thousand bacterial strains on each person...

40 Years After Watergate, Nixon Was Far Worse Than We Thought
Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, The Washington Post | 40 Years After Watergate, Nixon Was Far Worse Than We Thought | June 14, 2012

As Sen. Sam Ervin completed his 20-year Senate career in 1974 and issued his final report as chairman of the Senate Watergate committee, he posed the question: “What was Watergate?”

Countless answers have been offered in the 40 years since June 17, 1972, when a team of burglars wearing business suits and rubber gloves was arrested at 2:30 a.m. at the headquarters of the Democratic Party in the Watergate office building in Washington. Four days afterward, the Nixon White House offered its answer: “Certain elements may try to stretch this beyond what it was,” press secretary Ronald Ziegler scoffed, dismissing the incident as a “third-rate burglary.”

History proved that it was anything but...

Stories That Will Plain Curl Your Eyelashes: A Love Letter To The Moth

I can trace it back to the beginning for you, trace my Moth addiction to its start. For the uninitiated, the Moth is an organization devoted to the craft of storytelling. It’s real people telling true stories, “live and without notes.” They convene frequent shows in New York (though they now tour the country regularly), they have a weekly podcast that’s been downloaded many millions of times, and a radio show, now in its sixth season, that airs on some two hundred and fifty public-radio stations nationwide. They’ve been around since 1997, but I hadn’t heard of them until 2008, when I was in Perth, Australia, for a literary festival. That’s where I got hooked...

Battling To Preserve Arabic From English's Onslaught
D.D. Guttenplan, The New York Times | Battling To Preserve Arabic From English's Onslaught | June 14, 2012

At Northwestern University in Qatar the administration recently came up against a surprising problem: How to improve students’ Arabic. The overseas campus of the renowned university in Evanston, Illinois, attracts students from 30 countries for its programs in communications and journalism, popular majors in the hometown of Al Jazeera, the satellite broadcasting network. Although courses are given in English, about 60 percent of students speak some form of Arabic. “But most of them don’t speak Arabic well enough to appear on Al Jazeera,” said Everette E. Dennis, the school’s dean...

The Second Term: What Would Obama Do If Re-Elected?
Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker | The Second Term: What Would Obama Do If Re-Elected | June 11, 2012

In November, 1984, President Ronald Reagan was reëlected in a landslide victory over Walter Mondale, taking forty-nine states and fifty-nine per cent of the popular vote. The Reagan revolution was powerfully reaffirmed. Soon after, Donald Regan, the new chief of staff, sent word to a small group of trusted friends and Administration officials seeking advice on how Reagan should approach his last four years in office. It was an unusual moment in the history of the Presidency, and the experience of recent incumbents offered no guidance. No President since Dwight D. Eisenhower had served two full terms. John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Lyndon Johnson, overwhelmed by the war in Vietnam, had declined to run for reëlection in 1968. Richard Nixon resigned less than seventeen months into his second term. Gerald Ford (who was never elected) and Jimmy Carter were defeated. By the nineteen-eighties, it had become popular to talk about the crisis of the Presidency; a bipartisan group of Washington leaders, with Carter’s support, launched the National Committee for a Single Six-Year Presidential Term...

Tony Awards 2012
Peter Marks, The Washington Post | Tony Awards 2012 | June 10, 2012

The Kennedy Center fell just short of achieving Tony glory Sunday night as its acclaimed production of “Follies,” considered by some the best musical revival of the Broadway season, lost in the category to a revised version of George and Ira Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess.”

Still, in its third incarnation on Broadway, the 1970 musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman did receive one Tony, for Gregg Barnes’s costume design. The $7.3 million show, directed by Signature Theatre’s Eric Schaeffer, received a total of eight nominations and had a 152-performance run on Broadway after its engagement last spring in the center’s Eisenhower Theater...

Ray Bradbury: Paris Review Interview
Sam Weller, The Paris Review | Ray Bradbury: Paris Review Interview | June 10, 2012

Ray Bradbury has a vacation house in Palm Springs, California, in the desert at the base of the Santa Rosa mountains. It’s a Rat Pack–era affair, with a chrome-and-turquoise kitchen and a small swimming pool in back. A few years ago, Bradbury let me look through some files stored in his garage as part of my research for a biography. Inside a tiny storage closet I found a compact filing cabinet covered in dust and fallen ceiling plaster, which contained, amid a flurry of tear sheets and yellowing book contracts, a folder marked paris review. In the folder was the manuscript of a remarkable unpublished interview that this magazine had conducted with the author in the late 1970s...