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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.

I Was A Liberal Mole At Fox News: From Bill O'Reilly To Roger Ailes, Here's All The Inside Dope

Excerpted from An Atheist in the FOXhold: A Liberal's Eight-Year Odyssey Inside the Heart of the Right-Wing Media :

People would often ask me about how Fox pushes a message.

And I would always tell them the message isn’t so much pushed as it is pulled, gravitationally, with Roger Ailes as the sun at the center of the solar system; his vice presidents were the forces of gravity that kept the planet-size anchors and executive producers in a tight orbit; then all the lesser producers and PAs were moons and satellites and debris of varying sizes.

An organizational flow chart at Fox would be tough to draw up, as title alone was not the ultimate signifier of status. Sometimes the anchors outranked their executive producers, as was the case with “The O’Reilly Factor.”...

Survivorship Bias
David McRaney, You Are Not So Smart (via The Dish) | Survivorship Bias | May 28, 2013

In New York City, in an apartment a few streets away from the center of Harlem, above trees reaching out over sidewalks and dogs pulling at leashes and conversations cut short to avoid parking tickets, a group of professional thinkers once gathered and completed equations that would both snuff and spare several hundred thousand human lives.

People walking by the apartment at the time had no idea that four stories above them some of the most important work in applied mathematics was tilting the scales of a global conflict as secret agents of the United States armed forces, arithmetical soldiers, engaged in statistical combat...

Searching For Bill Watterson
Liv Combre, Salon | Searching For Bill Watterson | May 28, 2013

The creator of "Calvin and Hobbes" is notoriously reclusive. Does he owe it to his fans to stay in the spotlight?

Some say that the “recluse” is an endangered species, but to my knowledge, there’s still one artist who is keeping the idea of the private public figure alive: Bill Watterson, writer and illustrator of the beloved comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes.”...

John McCain Slips Across Border Into Syria, Meets With Rebels

The leaders of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army told the senator they want the U.S. to provide arms, a no-fly zone, and strikes on Hezbollah.

Sen. John McCain Monday became the highest-ranking U.S. official to enter Syria since the bloody civil war there began more than two years ago, The Daily Beast has learned.

McCain, one of the fiercest critics of the Obama administration’s Syria policy, made the unannounced visit across the Turkey-Syria border with Gen. Salem Idris, the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army. He stayed in the country for several hours before returning to Turkey...

Native American Veterans Lobby For Memorial On National Mall

The Navajo Code Talkers are legendary. Then there was Cpl. Ira Hamilton Hayes, the Pima Indian who became a symbol of courage and patriotism when he and his fellow Marines raised the flag over Iwo Jima in 1945.

Before World War II and in the decades since, tens of thousands of American Indians have enlisted in the Armed Forces to serve their country at a rate much greater than any other ethnicity.

Yet, among all the monuments and statues along the National Mall in Washington, D.C., not one stands in recognition.

A grassroots effort is brewing among tribes across the country to change that, while Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii has introduced legislation that would clear the way for the National Museum of the American Indian to begin raising private funds for a memorial...

The Maker Kids Are Alright
Andrew Leonard, Salon | The Maker Kids Are Alright | May 23, 2013

I want my electric-powered cupcake car and I want it now. A trip to the Maker Faire...

You don’t see bicycle-powered cardboard rhinos every day. But when you nearly stumble into one at a Maker Faire, you don’t even blink. After just a few hours spent navigating one’s way though twirling electric-powered cupcake cars and dashing steam-punk-attired ladies and gentlemen, you become well-trained to expect the incongruous and delightfully absurd. And you start thinking, hmm … I’ve got a lot of cardboard in my basement … what completely bonkers thing can I do with?...

New Light Shed On US Government's Extraordinary Rendition Programme
Ian Cobain and James Ball, The Guardian | New Light Shed On US Government's Extraordinary Rendition Programme | May 22, 2013

A groundbreaking research project has mapped the US government's global kidnap and secret detention programme, shedding unprecedented light on one of the most controversial secret operations of recent years.

The interactive online project – by two British universities and a legal charity – has uncovered new details of the way in which the so-called extraordinary rendition programme operated for years in the wake of the September 11 attacks, and the techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to avoid detection in the face of growing public concern...

Penn Jillette's Secrets Of 'Celebrity Apprentice': Donald Trump Is A Whackjob!

A 'Celebrity Apprentice' tell-all, as Trump Googles himself, rages at critics and insists he's a good businessman...

Ray Manzarek, Doors Keyboardist, Dead At 74
Andy Greene, Rolling Stone | Ray Manzarek, Doors Keyboardist, Dead At 74 | May 21, 2013

Doors co-founder and keyboardist Ray Manzarek died today in Rosenheim, Germany, after a long battle with bile duct cancer. He was 74. 

"I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today," Doors guitarist Robby Krieger said in a statement.  "I'm just glad to have been able to have played Doors songs with him for the last decade. Ray was a huge part of my life and I will always miss him." ...

The Weirdest Sentence In The U.S. Constitution
Hendrik Hertzberg | The Weirdest Sentence In The U.S. Constitution | May 21, 2013

...Is it, he asked, “safe to say that the Constitution’s most important quirks and biases—the electoral college, acreage trumping population in political representation—are now practically irrevocable?” Most of the big ones are, I replied:

In particular, we’re stuck with the political inequalities built into the U.S. Senate, which have grown more grotesque with time. In 1789, the population ratio between the most and least populous state was 11 to one. Now it’s 66 to one. James Madison and Alexander Hamilton absolutely hated the idea that each state should be entitled to the same number of senators regardless of size. Hamilton was withering on the topic. “As states are a collection of individual men,” he harangued his fellow-delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, “which ought we to respect most, the rights of the people composing them, or of the artificial beings resulting from the composition? Nothing could be more preposterous or absurd than to sacrifice the former to the latter.”...