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.

City Of The Lost
David Remnick | City of the Lost | August 27, 2013

In the world's second-largest refugee camp, Syrians find that it's not easy to flee the war.

Early on a summer morning in the Jordanian desert, driving along an empty road toward the Syrian border. A skeletal hound limps by the roadside. An old man selling melons and coffee slumps on a crate and watches the dog. It’s in the nineties already, and dust is everywhere. A gust picks up, and your lips are filmed with a gritty scum. After a few miles, signs start appearing for the crossings into Syria. In the villages here at night, you can sometimes hear the sounds of artillery fire thudding across the frontier...

In March On Washington, White Activists Were Largely Overlooked But Strategically Essential

Eric Kulberg was an 18-year-old intern in the summer of 1963 when he asked his boss for the day off so he could attend the March on Washington.

“What are you, a n----- lover or something?” Kulberg’s superior at the Department of Interior asked.

“Uh-huh. I guess so,” Kulberg blurted out.

The exchange between Kulberg and his boss, who was also white, didn’t sway the young man’s resolve to march. After the boss told him, “Go ahead — you’ll have a job when you get back,” Kulberg took his Argus C3 camera and Kodachrome film to the roof of the Interior building to take photographs of the buses rolling in. Then he joined the crowd walking around the Tidal Basin toward the Lincoln Memorial, one of between 75,000 and 95,000 white people who joined the swelling, predominantly black crowd...

Times Site Is Disrupted In Attack By Hackers
Christine Haughney and Nicole Perlroth, The New York Times | Times Site Is Disrupted In Attack By Hackers | August 27, 2013

The New York Times Web site was unavailable to readers on Tuesday afternoon after an online attack on the company’s domain name registrar. The attack also forced employees of The Times to take care in sending e-mails.

The hacking was just the latest of a major media organization, with The Financial Times and The Washington Post also having their operations disrupted within the last few months. It was also the second time this month that the Web site of The New York Times was unavailable for several hours...

Portraits Of Albanian Women Who Have Lived Their Lives As Men
Michael Zhang, PetaPixel | Portraits Of Albanian Women Who Have Lived Their Lives As Men | August 26, 2013

For her project Sworn Virgins of Albania, photographer Jill Peters visited to the mountain villages of northern Albania to capture portraits of “burneshas,” or females who have lived their lives as men for reasons related to their culture and society.

Many of the women assumed their male identities from an early age as a way to avoid the old codes that governed the tribal clans, which stated that women were the property of their husbands...

The Business Nine Women Kept A Secret For Three Decades
Lori Weiss, The Huffington Post | The Business Nine Women Kept A Secret For Three Decades | August 26, 2013

Somewhere in West Tennessee, not far from Graceland, nine women -- or "The 9 Nanas," as they prefer to be called -- gather in the darkness of night. At 4am they begin their daily routine -- a ritual that no one, not even their husbands, knew about for 30 years. They have one mission and one mission only: to create happiness. And it all begins with baked goods...

As Egyptians Ignore Curfew, Talk Of A U.S.-Brotherhood Conspiracy
Rod Nordland, The New York Times | As Egyptians Ignore Curfew, Talk Of A U.S.-Brotherhood Conspiracy | August 26, 2013

The sounds made lately by curfew violators here are mostly not shouts or gunshots, but the clacking of dice on wooden backgammon boards, the clicking of dominoes on cafe tables crowded with hookahs and grumbling fueled by years of upheaval.

When the conversation turns to politics, the predominant topic is a surprise to American ears: the conspiracy between the United States and the Muslim Brotherhood to destroy Egypt.

However crackpot that view may sound, it is widespread among supporters of the military, which ousted the Muslim Brotherhood’s elected president, Mohamed Morsi, last month...

An Overlooked Dream, Now Remembered
Robert G. Kaiser, The Washington Post Opinion | An Overlooked Dream, Now Remembered | August 24, 2013

The city of Washington had been on edge for days. Fearing a riot, mayhem or lord knows what, many left town to avoid the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The organizers predicted a crowd of more than 100,000 protesting Negroes, as we called black people then. Just the idea of such a horde seemed to scare the white residents of what was still a southern town....

The Pentagon As Silicon Valley's Incubator
Somini Sengupta, The New York Times | The Pentagon As Silicon Valley's Incubator | August 23, 2013

In the ranks of technology incubator programs, there is AngelPad here in San Francisco and Y Combinator about 40 miles south in Mountain View. And then there is the Pentagon.

In the last year, former Department of Defense and intelligence agency operatives have headed to Silicon Valley to create technology start-ups specializing in tools aimed at thwarting online threats. Frequent reports of cyberattacks have expanded the demand for security tools, in both the public and private sectors, and venture capital money has followed. In 2012, more than $1 billion in venture financing poured into security start-ups, more than double the amount in 2010, according to the National Venture Capital Association...

Kentucky Health Workers Pitch Obamacare At State Fair Alongside Corn Dogs, Fried Kool-Aid

A middle-aged man in a red golf shirt shuffles up to a small folding table with gold trim, in a booth adorned with a flotilla of helium balloons, where government workers at the Kentucky State Fair are hawking the virtues of Kynect, the state’s health benefit exchange established by Obamacare.

The man is impressed. "This beats Obamacare I hope," he mutters to one of the workers.

“Do I burst his bubble?” wonders Reina Diaz-Dempsey, overseeing the operation. She doesn't. If he signs up, it's a win-win, whether he knows he's been ensnared by Obamacare or not...

The God of 'SNL' Will See You Now
Dave Itzkoff, The New York Times | The God of 'SNL' Will See You Now | August 22, 2013

For nearly 40 years, “Saturday Night Live” has been a reliable engine for generating new comedic talent, and a springboard for stars like Dana Carvey, Will Ferrell, Jimmy Fallon and Kristen Wiig.

Though new cast members come from many different avenues, there’s ultimately only one way to get on this NBC late-night franchise: impress Lorne Michaels, the “SNL” creator and executive producer who has run the show for 33 of its 38 seasons and is known for his cryptic, sphinxlike presence over the show.

This year he and his team have their work cut out for them as they try to replace the veteran “SNL” players Bill Hader, Fred Armisen and Jason Sudeikis and prepare for the departure of Seth Meyers early next year. These losses will test a tradition that has evolved through decades...