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.

Mission Control, Built for cities

Not far from Copacabana Beach here is a control room that looks straight out of NASA. City employees in white jumpsuits work quietly in front of a giant wall of screens — a sort of virtual Rio, rendered in real time. Video streams in from subway stations and major intersections. A sophisticated weather program predicts rainfall across the city. A map glows with the locations of car accidents, power failures and other problems. The order and precision seem out of place in this easygoing Brazilian city, which on this February day was preparing for the controlled chaos that is Carnaval. But what is happening here reflects a bold and potentially lucrative experiment that could shape the future of cities around the world...

Israelis Feel Obama-Netanyahu Summit Will Decide on Iran
Isaac Herzog, The Daily Beast | Israelis Feel Obama-Netanyahu Summit Will Decide on Iran | March 4, 2012

Monday's summit in Washington between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu will decide whether an attack will be launched -- or at least that's how most Israelis feel, says Knesset member Isaac Herzog...

Bullfighter's Return Stuns A Hardened Sport
Raphael Minder, The New York Times | Bullfighter's Return Stuns A Hardened Sport | March 2, 2012

Five months after surviving a horrifying goring, Juan José Padilla, one of Spain’s leading bullfighters, wears a patch over his left eye and cannot chew any food, even after a series of surgeries to reconstruct part of his face. But his recovery is startling for a man who was last seen in images shown around the world stumbling out of a bullring, holding his bloodied face and screaming, “I can’t see!” as his shocked fans looked on...

Man Walks All Day To Create Spectacular Snow Patterns
Katie Hosmer, My Modern Met | Man Walks All Day To Create Spectacular Snow Patterns | March 2, 2012

Artist Simon Beck must really love the cold weather. Along the frozen lakes of Savoie, France, he spends days plodding through the snow in raquettes (snowshoes), creating these sensational patterns of snow art. Working for 5-9 hours a day, each final piece is typically the size of three soccer fields! The geometric forms range in mathematical patterns and shapes that create stunning, sometimes 3D, designs when viewed from higher levels...

The Monkees: Why I'm A Believer In Their Perfect Pop
Bob Stanley, The Guardian | The Monkees: Why I'm A Believer In Their Perfect Pop | March 2, 2012

The death of Davy Jones should give us pause to remember that the Monkees were one of the great groups of the 1960s...

Andrew Breitbart, Conservative Blogger, Dies at 43
Brian Stelter and Michael D. Shear, The New York Times | Andrew Breitbart, Conservative Blogger, Dies at 43 | March 1, 2012

Andrew Breitbart, a conservative blogger and activist who became well known for publishing undercover videos and revealing photographs aimed at liberals and Democrats, died Thursday. He was 43. Among Mr. Breitbart’s targets was a New York congressman, Anthony Weiner, who ultimately resigned over explicit photographs he sent to women via Twitter and Facebook that were published on Mr. Breitbart’s Web site...

Syrian Rebels Retreat From Bab Amr In Face Of Army Onslaught
Liz Sly, The Washington Post | Rebels Retreat From Bab Amr In Face Of Army Onslaught | March 1, 2012

The Free Syrian Army announced Thursday that it was retreating from the shattered Bab Amr neighborhood in the Syrian city of Homs, citing concerns for the welfare of civilians and the inability to withstand an escalating offensive by better-armed government troops.

The rebels’ decision came a day after Syria’s army launched a fresh push to retake Bab Amr, which had become a powerful symbol of resistance to the regime led by President Bashar al-Assad. The district has been under siege by government troops, bombarded on a daily basis for nearly four weeks...

Silicon Valley Homeless Feel The Grip Of Recession's Long Reach
Peter S. Goodman, The Huffington Post | Silicon Velley Homeless Feel The Grip Of Recession's Long Reach | March 1, 2012

The first time Michele arrived at the Maple Street homeless shelter three years ago, she was still driving her BMW 325xi, the final remnant of her Silicon Valley affluence.

Her paper wealth of more than $2 million had evaporated a decade earlier, she says, via a stock options fiasco. She had used the options to buy stock in her high-flying software startup, netting a seven-figure profit by the government's reckoning, but then held the shares until they were nearly worthless. That left her with no cash and a $200,000 tax bill. She had sold nearly everything to cover it: her house, her remaining stocks, her art collection...

A New Look at Music Therapy
Spencer Michels, NPR | A New Look at Music Therapy | February 28, 2012

The interesting thing about music therapy is that nobody I could find understands how it works on the brain -- just that it does. The subject is newsworthy right now because former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was badly injured in a Tucson, Ariz., shooting a year ago, apparently recovered her speech though music...

Rick Santorum, Meet Hamza Kashgari
George Packer, The New Yorker | Rick Santorum, Meet Hamza Kashgari | February 28, 2012

President Kennedy’s 1960 speech on religious freedom makes Rick Santorum “throw up.” “What kind of country do we live in that says only people of nonfaith can come into the public square and make their case?” Santorum says. It’s a central part of his campaign strategy to distort such things as a Kennedy speech, or an Obama speech, to whip up outrage at the supposed war on religious people in America. Here’s what Kennedy said:...