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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.

With a Flip of the Knob, He Heard the Future
Amy Wallace, The New York Times | With a Flip of a Knob, He Heard the Future | August 9, 2011

Del Casher has done a lot of impressive things with his guitar over the last 50 years. He has performed with Gene Autry, Lawrence Welk, and Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. He’s appeared, strumming, in movies with Elvis Presley and Jerry Lewis. He’s been a featured player on dozens of film and TV soundtracks. But there is one accomplishment that Mr. Casher, now 73, wishes more people knew about: his role in the invention of the wah-wah pedal...

Origins of the Debt Showdown
The Washington Post | Origins of the Debt Showdown | August 9, 2011

In mid-January, newly installed as the GOP House majority leader, Virginia’s Eric Cantor rose to the podium inside a spacious hotel ballroom to deliver a message to his troops, including the 87 newcomers who had given the party control of the House....

A Timeline of Events
Steve Benen, The Washington Monthly | A Timeline of Events | August 8, 2011

Let's take a stroll down memory lane, shall we?...

How I Learned the Secret Rule of Grief
Sheila M. Trask, Salon | How I Learned the Secret Rule of Grief | August 8, 2011

After I lost my family, I refused to believe how long it would take to heal. Now I see the wisdom in that number...

Plenty of Good Seats Still Available: The Collapse of the Sports Ticket Bubble

A few months ago, it seemed like Major League Baseball was in the throes of a ticket apocalypse. Through the first two weeks of the season, six teams had set all-time single-game lows at their current homes. The surprising Cleveland Indians led the American League Central in the standings, but remained in the cellar at the turnstiles. The New York Yankees, whose ultrapricey new stadium has been beset by empty seats since it opened in 2009, hosted record-low crowds for four games in a row. It was as if fans, having quietly absorbed more than a decade of price hikes and the advent of $9 beers, had spontaneously decided to go on strike...

Cat Fight at U.S. Embassy in Kabul
Joshua Partlow, The Washington Post | Cat Fight at U.S. Embassy in Kabul | August 4, 2011

Veteran diplomat Ryan C. Crocker can handle Islamist insurgencies, hostile heads of state and management of some of the world’s largest embassies. But what’s he going to do about the cats?...

UN Council Condemns Use of Force by Syria
Al Jazeera | UN Council Condemns Use of Force by Syria | August 4, 2011

UN Security Council envoys have issued a statement condemning human rights violations and use of force against civilians by the Syrian government, amid a tank attack on Hama, a city of 800,000 residents...

Mubarak Spectacle Captivates the Middle East
Rick Gladstone | Mubarak Spectacle Captivates the Middle East | August 4, 2011

Hosni Mubarak’s televised trial transformed Egypt and much of the Middle East into a vast living room on Wednesday, with millions of viewers, from the shops of Amman and Jerusalem to the hovels of impoverished Yemen, mesmerized by the live broadcasts of a once-unthinkable spectacle beamed from a Cairo court...

Getting Bin Laden: What Happened That Night in Abbottabad
Nicholas Schmidle, The New Yorker | Getting Bin Laden: What Happened That Night in Abbottabad | August 1, 2011

Shortly after eleven o'clock on the night of May 1st, two MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters lifted off from Jalalabad Air Field, in eastern Afghanistan, and embarked on a covert mission into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden....

Media Blackout in China After Wreck
Sharon LaFraniere, The New York Times | Media Blackout in China After Wreck | August 1, 2011

After days of growing public fury over last month’s high-speed train crash and the government’s reaction, Chinese authorities have enacted a virtual news blackout on the disaster except for positive stories or information officially released by the government...