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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.

In Poppy War, Taliban Aim to Protect a Cash Crop
Taimoor Shah and Alissa J. Rubin | In Poppy War, Taliban Aim to Protect a Cash Crop | April 12, 2012

So focused are the Taliban on securing this year’s opium poppy crop — and the support of the farmers tending it — that in the early days of their spring offensive in the south, they are targeting not only the officials trying to eradicate the plants, but also the tractors they use...

Matt Groening Reveals the Location of the Real Springfield
Claudia De La Roca, Smithsonian Magazine | Matt Groening Reveals the Location of the Real Springfield | April 11, 2012

Twenty-five years after The Simpsons made their TV debut, the show's creator talks about Homer's odyssey -- and his own...

Announcing Our Newest Hire: A Current Fox News Channel Employee

I always intended to keep my mouth shut. The plan was simple: get hired, keep my head down and my views to myself, work for a few months, build my resume, then eventually hop to a new job that didn't make me cringe every morning when I looked in the mirror.

That was years ago. My cringe muscles have turned into crow's feet. The ten resumes a month I was sending out dwindled into five, then two, then one, then zero. No one wants me. I'm blacklisted.

I work at Fox News Channel...

Obama's JOBS Act Couldn't Suck Worse
Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone | Obama's JOBS Act Couldn't Suck Worse | April 11, 2012

Boy, do I feel like an idiot. I've been out there on radio and TV in the last few months saying that I thought there was a chance Barack Obama was listening to the popular anger against Wall Street that drove the Occupy movement, that decisions like putting a for-real law enforcement guy like New York AG Eric Schneiderman in charge of a mortgage fraud task force meant he was at least willing to pay lip service to public outrage against the banks.

Then the JOBS Act happened...

Bush Aide Blasts Torture
Jordan Michael Smith, Salon | Bush Aide Blasts Torture | April 10, 2012

The Bush administration hasn’t heard the last from Philip Zelikow. After the rediscovery last week of his long lost 2006 anti-torture memo, Zelikow, a former State Department official, has written arguably the most damning article yet about U.S. government’s interrogation policies from 2001 to 2009. The article, called “Codes of Conduct for a Twilight War,” will be released in a forthcoming issue of the Houston Law Journal, and was obtained exclusively by Salon. Says Zelikow in an email: “I’m not aware of other accounts that combine historical, policy and legal approaches to” the subject of the Bush administration’s interrogation methods...

Cruisin' Together: A Classicist and His Father Retrace the Steps of Odysseus
Daniel Mendelsohn, Travel & Leisure, via Slate | Cruisin' Together: A Classicist and His Father Retrace the Steps of Odysseus | April 10, 2012

In the end, we never got to Ithaca—never followed “in the wake of Odysseus,” as the brochure for the cruise had promised; at least, not all the way to this most famous of literary destinations, Ithaca (Itháki in modern Greek), the small and rocky island of which Homer sings, and where Odysseus had his famously gratifying homecoming. We saw much that he had seen: Troy, where his war ended and his wanderings began; Malta, where he was imprisoned by the nymph Calypso for seven years; Sicily, where his sailors were devoured by Scylla; the Neapolitan coast, which the ancients believed was close to the entrance to the underworld. But Ithaca turned out to be unattainable. For the hero of legend, that island was the culminating adventure; for us, on our Mediterranean cruise, there were just the inconveniences of modern politics—in this case, a strike that forced us to make a mad nighttime dash for Athens to catch our flights home...

Shard Hacking: Group Sneak to Top of Europe's Tallest Building
Press Association, The Guardian | Shard Hacking: Group Snea to Top of Europe's Tallest Building | April 9, 2012

Pictures apparently showing a group of urban thrillseekers posing at the top of the unfinished Shard, Europe's tallest building, have appeared online.

The night-time images, said to be from the summit of the 310-metre (1016ft) Shard in central London, were posted on Place Hacking, the blog of the US student Bradley L Garrett, who said they were taken after he slipped past a lone security guard with two friends.

Garrett said he and the group had climbed the tower "half a dozen" times and could do so again tomorrow in spite of increased security...

Sweet And Unusual
Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker | Sweet and Unusual | April 9, 2012

"This year's Biennial enchants -- albeit darkly, in some cases," writes Peter Schjeldahl, in his review of the 2012 Whitney Biennial. In this audio slide show, Schjeldahl describes the exhibition and analyzes a selection of its works, including one of his favorites, a series of paintings by Nicole Eisenmann...

Jump, Twirl, Paint, Act!
Sarah Lyall, The New York Times | Jump, Twirl, Paint, Act! | April 9, 2012

Seventy Shakespeare productions from companies around the world, performed in 30 theaters all over Britain. A 33-foot-high puppet of Lady Godiva (wearing undergarments by the fashion designer Zandra Rhodes) moving through the streets of Coventry and into London, powered by 50 people on bicycles. Music from everywhere performed free in choice spots up and down the Thames...

Sunny Days Are Here Again -- But Is That Good?
NPR Staff, National Public Radio | Sunny Days Are Here Again -- But Is That Good? | April 8, 2012

Across the country, more than 7,700 daily temperature records were broken last month, on the heels of the fourth warmest winter on record.

While it might be time to lie on a blanket in the park, climate scientists are worried. They say all these sunny days are actually an extreme weather event, one with local and global implications.

In Iowa, March was so hot — a record-breaking 84 degrees — that some crops there, like oats, are now running way ahead of schedule.

Joe Prusacki, a statistician with the Department of Agriculture, says this time of year Iowa usually has just 7 percent of its oats planted.

"Right now, they're at 58 percent planted," Prusacki says...