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.

How Cotton Balls Are Helping Darwin's Finches Fight Parasites
Sudeshna Chowdhury, The Christian Science Monitor | Helping Finches | May 15, 2014

Though famous for their ability to adapt, Darwin's finches – the roughly fourteen species of bird found on Ecuador's Galápagos Islands – cannot always cope with every threat, at least not without some help from humans. One of these threats, the nest fly Philornis downsi, is thought to be greatly contributing to the finches' decline. The adult parasites (which look like houseflies) lay their eggs in the nests of the finches, whose varied bill shapes helped inspire Darwin's theory of evolution. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the nestlings by sucking their blood...

Militiamen And Oath Keepers Drew Weapons, Threatened To Kill Each Other
David Neiwert, Southern Poverty Law Center | Weapons Drawn At Bundy's | May 15, 2014

The right-wing media tried to sell Americans on the idea that the antigovernment “Patriots”and militiamen who gathered to block the roundup of Cliven Bundy’s illegally grazing cattle in Nevada were well-meaning lovers of liberty. However, Bundy’s most ardent defenders have revealed themselves to be a volatile collection of hotheaded, paranoid men (and a few women) with big egos and even bigger guns.

The situation at the ranch, where armed militiamen and “Patriots” are camped out, has deteriorated so badly that competing factions apparently drew weapons on one another during heated arguments...

Cancer And Death By Radiation? Not From Fukushima
Jamnes Conca, Forbes | Fukushima Update | May 14, 2014

It's always amazing when a United Nations report that has global ramifications comes out with little fanfare. The latest one states that no on will get cancer or die from radiation released from Fukushima, but the fear and overreaction is harming people...

Silver Is The New Gold
Jon Nathanson, Slate | Sil Val & Boomers | May 14, 2014

Silicon Valley is finally taking notice of a $750 billion market: baby boomers.

Why Are You So Fearful, O Ye Of Little Faith?
Emily Bazelon, Slate | No Place To Hide | May 13, 2014

In the journalist Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden found a perfect match. I don't mean to slight the contributions of Laura Poltras and Barton Gellman, the other two journalists who first dug into Snowden's amazing and unprecedented trove of National Security Agency documents. Poltras was the one who realized Snowden was for real, and Gellman brought experience to the party. But Greenwald is the fighter -- the one you want in your corner when the world comes after you...

Red Wine's "Magic Ingredient" Resveratrol Has No Health Benefits
Joseph Stromberg, Vox Conversations | Resveratrol Nixed | May 12, 2014

For years, a hype machine has been pushing the chemical resveratrol, which is in red wine. Initially, resveratrol was identified as a possible explanation for the "French paradox" -- the surprising fact that, despite consuming high amounts of saturated fat, French people have much lower rates of heart disease than Americans. Soon, resveratrol was being hailed as a magic bullet against heart disease, cancer and aging...

The New York Post Dropped Its Comics Section - Who Noticed?
Heidi MacDonald, The Beat | Comics Page Dropped | May 12, 2014

Media watchdgo Jim Romanesko was the first to catch that the New York Post had dropped its comics section. The section was wizened with age and neglect -- only seven meagre strips -- but evidently the Post dropped the page and hoped no one would notice. One who did was King Features editor Brendan Burford...

Poachers Take Chunks From California Redwoods, Put Majestic Trees At Risk
Jack Hannah, CNN | Poaching The Redwoods | May 9, 2014

Tree poaching conjures up the lawless Amazon jungle, but America's magnificent redwood forests now face a piecemeal but steady assault by poachers too, California officials say. Thieves are cutting massive chunks from the base of the champion trees, which are the tallest on Earth and are up to 2,000 years old...

The Elf Whisperer Of Iceland
Kevin Fallon, The Daily Beast | The Elf Whisperer | May 9, 2014

From the wild weather to the harsh landscape, Iceland has its fair share of mystifying phenomena. But none is more fascinating than the elves. They're real. And this woman will save them...

'Boko Haram' Doesn't Really Mean 'Western Education Is A Sin'
Dan Murphy, Security Watch | Understanding Boko | May 8, 2014

Boko Haram gets lost in translation. Oh, and the word 'boko' isn't derived from the word 'book.'...