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.

Discovered At 64, A Brooklyn Artist Takes His Place
Jim Dwyer, The New York Times | Discovered At 64, A Brooklyn Artist Takes His Place | June 7, 2013

Rafael Leonardo Black, hermit and artist in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, keeps all his tools in elbow’s reach in the studio where he lives. A coffee mug with nine No. 2 pencils, each razor-whetted to the sharpness of a spear. A single brand of tracing paper. Shelves of art books, surrealists mostly.

In a shoe box of clippings is a photograph of three beautiful women that he cut out of a Vogue magazine in 1968 and used for a drawing in 2005. The drawing was sold last month.

For more than three decades, Mr. Black, 64, has made a portal to the world in dense, miniature renderings of ancient myth and modern figures...

Photos: The Allied Invasion Of Normandy

The Allies stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944. Here American troops hiat the water from one of the landing craft. Soldiers on shore are lying flat under German machine gun fire...

As Vandals Deface U.S. Parks, Some Point To Online Show-Offs
Felicity Barringer, The New York Times | As Vandals Deface U.S. Parks, Some Point To Online Show-Offs | June 6, 2013

When Steve Bolyard checked out a report of black paint on some of the park’s majestic saguaros — cactuses whose towering bodies and upraised arms are as emblematic of the American West as red-rock buttes and skittering tumbleweeds — he did not expect to see ganglike calligraphy covering more of them than he could easily count.

“It was too much,” said Mr. Bolyard, a park ranger. The same sort of symbols one might see on a subway train were scattered along the spiny forest last month. Rangers eventually found at least 45 graffiti tags in the park, including 16 on the slow-growing and fragile saguaro, the paint obscuring part of the green skins where the plants store the chlorophyll to draw nourishment from the sun...

Life Is Sweet
Emma Roller, Slate | Life Is Sweet | June 5, 2013

Brian Noyes left a successful career in magazine publishing to start his own bakery.

In Virginia hunt country, 47 miles from Washington, D.C., you’ll find the town of Warrenton, population 9,735. On Main Street, across from the town library and next to the courthouse, there’s a small, refurbished filling station with a cherry-red pickup truck parked out front. This Norman Rockwell painting come to life is the work of Brian Noyes, 56, who, after more than 25 years in magazine publishing, decided to chuck it all in to start Red Truck Bakery.

Noyes helped launch local magazines in Tampa, Fla., Detroit, and Houston, then he moved to Washington, D.C., in 1984 to help the Washington Post redesign its Sunday magazine. He also served stints as art director at House & Garden, Preservation, and Smithsonian magazines. But no matter where he worked, Noyes says, he always brought in tarts and pies for his co-workers...

Pussy Riot Strikes Again
Marlow Stern, Newsweek | Pussy Riot Strikes Again | June 5, 2013

Freed from prison, a member of the feminist collective sets the record straight.

It was sloppy and lasted under a minute, but it sowed the seeds of discontent for future generations.

On February 21, 2012, five members of the Russian feminist punk-rock collective Pussy Riot staged a guerrilla performance in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, an Orthodox church in Moscow. Masked by their trademark multicolored balaclavas, the women mock-prayed, verbally swiped at Putin, and shouted epithets. The protest was cut short when security guards dragged the women offstage. A video of the performance, currently with more than 2.5 million views, was uploaded to YouTube with the title “Punk Prayer—Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!”...



Seven Misconceptions About Military Sexual Assault
Kayla Williams, The Daily Beast | Seven Misconceptions About Military Sexual Assault | June 4, 2013

Sexual assault in the military is nothing new, but it recently exploded into the public sphere with unsettling new survey results showing a sharp rise in reports by service members of sexual assault and unwanted sexual contact, a senior Air Force official in charge of their Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office arrested and charged with sexual battery, and a general overturning the rape conviction of a subordinate. Those stories, coming after the Department of Defense announced earlier this year that it was ending its ban on women in combat positions, have led to a wave of reportage and opinion writing that too often has been misguided or misinformed, further confusing the issues.

Here are seven of the biggest myths and misconceptions about sexual assault and women in the military...

Xi Jinping's Chinese Dream
Robert Lawrence Kuhn, The New York Times Op Ed | Xi Jinping's Chinese Dream | June 4, 2013

What to make of Xi Jinping, China’s new senior leader, who holds his first summit meeting this week with President Barack Obama? The hope is that Xi is a reformer who will guide China through domestic transformation and to responsible statecraft. The fear is that Xi is a nationalist, who has set China on an aggressive course of bullying its neighbors and confronting the United States.

The fear seems not unfounded...

Women In The Senate Confront The Military On Sex Assaults
Jennifer Steinhauer, The New York Times | Women In The Senate Confront The Military On Sex Assaults | June 3, 2013

Senator Claire McCaskill wandered down the dais at the Senate Armed Services Committee’s first hearing of the year and noticed a startling tableau: women to the left, women to the right.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a veteran Republican member of one of the Senate’s most testosterone-driven panels, was now flanked by them on both sides, including by two Republican colleagues, Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska.

“You’re toast, Graham,” cracked Ms. McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat.

Ms. McCaskill’s joke reflected the seven women now on the Armed Services Committee, a high, and the role that a record 20 female senators are playing on powerful committees...

Hungary: Towards The Abyss
Glenn Ellis, Aljazeera.com | Hungary: Towards The Abyss | June 3, 2013

Spring came late to Budapest. When I arrived at the beginning of April the Hungarian capital still glittered with snow, giving the grand palaces that line the River Danube the appearance of huge iced cakes just begging to be eaten. It is an entrancing sight that attracts tourists from all over the world – drawn not only to the fairy-tale architecture of this 'Paris of the East' but also its vibrant street life and rich cultural traditions. 

But appearances can be deceptive: like many central European cities, Budapest has endured a fair degree of turbulence over the last hundred years, and the uneasy memories of two world wars still linger amid its castles, monuments and cafes. Today, there are fears that some of the very worst aspects of that history have re-emerged; that elements of political extremism once consigned to the margins have now found their way back to the mainstream...

An Icon And A Symbol Of Two Nations' Anger
Martin Fackler, The New York Times | An Icon And A Symbol Of Two Nations' Anger | June 3, 2013

Over the centuries, this mountainous island in the strait separating Japan and Korea has seen some of the most violent episodes between those ancient Asian rivals, serving as a hide-out for pirates, a forward base for invaders and a desperate first line against attack. But in recent years that troubled history seemed hazily remote in Tsushima’s sleepy fishing hamlet of Kozuna, where villagers have gathered for generations in a tiny temple to pray before a statue of the Buddhist deity of compassion that is centuries old...