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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.

The Frequent Flyers Who Flew Too Much
Ken Bensinger, Los Angeles Times | The Frequent Flyers Who Flew Too Much | May 8, 2012

There are frequent fliers, and then there are people like Steven Rothstein and Jacques Vroom. Both men bought tickets that gave them unlimited first-class travel for life on American Airlines. It was almost like owning a fleet of private jets.

Passes in hand, Rothstein and Vroom flew for business. They flew for pleasure. They flew just because they liked being on planes. They bypassed long lines, booked backup itineraries in case the weather turned, and never worried about cancellation fees. Flight crews memorized their names and favorite meals...

The Maturation of the Billionaire Boy-Man
Henry Blodget, New York Magazine | The Maturation of the Billionaire Boy-Man | May 7, 2012

If all goes as planned, Facebook will finally pull the trigger later this month on its long-salivated-over IPO. The deal could value the company in the neighborhood of $100 billion, making founder and CEO Mark Elliot Zuckerberg’s own unusually large stake worth $25 billion. It is a huge sum, even in context. Zuckerberg’s impending fortune is more money than Wal-Mart’s 10,000-plus stores made last year. It’s more than Wall Street paid in bonuses to New Yorkers last year. And it has been amassed in only eight years by a 27-year-old who not long ago passed out business cards reading “I’m CEO, bitch.”...

Supermoon Makes Photographers Go Crazy
Maev Kennedy, The Guardian | Supermoon Makes Photographers Go Crazy | May 7, 2012

With much of the UK swaddled in the traditional bank holiday blanket of rain and even snow clouds, it wasn't the greatest sky watching weekend. However, those fortunate enough to be under clear skies in many countries saw one of the natural world's most spectacular light shows: a supermoon, when the celestial body appears startlingly large and bright as its closest approach to Earth coincides with its fullest phase.

Amateur photographers were out in force across the world; in San Francisco, Ted Judah reported that he was one of 600 photographers jostling for the best view of the moon over the Golden Gate bridge...

Amid Protests, Putin Returns to Presidency in Russia
Ellen Barry, The New York Times | Amid Protests, Putin Returns to Presidency in Russia | May 7, 2012

Vladimir V. Putin reclaimed the Russian presidency under the gold vaulted ceiling of a Kremlin palace on Monday, as the police tried to stamp out a second day of opposition protests in the city, passing on orders to detain anyone wearing a white ribbon...

US Airstrike Kills Senior Al-Qaida Militant Wanted in 2000 Bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen

An airstrike Sunday killed a top al-Qaida leader on the FBI’s most wanted list for his role in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole warship, Yemeni officials said. The drone attack was carried out by the CIA, U.S. officials said.

Fahd al-Quso was hit by a missile as he stepped out of his vehicle, along with another al-Qaida operative in the southern Shabwa province, Yemeni military officials said. They were speaking on condition of anonymity in accordance with military regulations...

Goodbye To A Beastie Boy
Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon | Goodbye To A Beastie Boy | May 5, 2012

With the death of Adam Yauch, music loses a generational touchstone -- and an endlessly irreverent wit...

Can the United States Build a Foreign Army?
Owen West, Slate | Can the United States Build a Foreign Army? | May 5, 2012

This article is the first of three excerpts drawn from Owen West's book, The Snake Eaters: An Unlikely Band of Brothers and the Battle for the Soul of Iraq...

Young Italians Flock to Become Shepherds
Nick Squires, The Telegraph | Young Italians Flock to Become Shepherds | May 4, 2012

As Italy’s unemployment rate topped 10pc this week, it emerged that young people are flocking to become shepherds. Traditionally the preserve of older men, the profession has recently attracted 3,000 young Italians, according to agricultural body Coldiretti...

Tax Me, For F@%&'s Sake!
Stephen King, The Daily Beast | Tax Me, For F@%&'s Sake! | May 3, 2012

The iconic writer scolds the superrich (including himself -- and Mitt Romney) for not giving back, and warns of a Kingsian apocalyptic scenario if inequality is not addressed in America...

Letters From Abbottabad: Bin Ladin Sidelined?
Don Rassler, Gabriel Koehler-Derrick, Liam Collins, Muhammad al-Obaidi, Nelly Lahoud, Combating Terrorism Center | Letters From Abbottabad: Bin Ladin Sidelined? | May 4, 2012

This report is a study of 17 de-classified documents captured during the Abbottabad raid and released to the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC). They consist of electronic letters or draft letters, totaling 175 pages in the original Arabic and 197 pages in the English translation. The earliest is dated September 2006 and the latest April 2011.  These internal al-Qa`ida communications were authored by several  leaders, most prominently Usama bin Ladin...