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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.

Inside the Gaddafis' Lair
Babak Dehghanpisheh, The Daily Beast | Inside the Gaddafis' Lair | August 27, 2011

Babak Dehghanpisheh visited a Gaddafi family home this morning and discovered a secret palace hidden behind an ordinary facade. Read about the garden labyrinth, 40-foot-deep bunker, hot tub, waterfall, Playboy magazine collection, yachting brochures and an empty box of Coronas...

What's the Deal With the New Libyan Flag?
Eoin O'Carroll, The Christian Science Monitor | What's the Deal With the New Libyan Flag? | August 25, 2011

Until recently, the flag of Libya held a special place in the hearts of vexillophiles as The World's Most Boring Flag. That's because it was nothing but a green rectangle, with no markings of any kind. But starting in February, a new flag – red, black, and green with a white star and crescent in the center – has been hoisted at Libyan embassies around the world, from Switzerland to Bangladesh. It is the same flag being flown by the jubilant rebels themselves as they descend on Tripoli. So what's the deal with this new flag? Is there a Libyan Betsy Ross among the rebels? Where did it come from?...

Zoo Mystery: How Did Apes and Birds Know Quake Was Coming?
Joel Achenbach, The Washington Post | Zoo Mystery: How Did Apes and Birds Know Quake Was Coming? | August 25, 2011

Her name is Iris, and with her straight, elegant, red-orange hair she is beyond dispute the prettiest orangutan at the National Zoo. She’s calm, quiet, unflappable. “Iris lives the life of a queen,” says great-ape keeper Amanda Bania.

On Tuesday afternoon, the queen lost her cool.

It happened a little before 2 p.m. Primate keeper K.C. Braesch was standing just a few feet away when Iris emitted a loud, guttural cry, known to scientists as belch-vocalizing. Iris then scrambled to the top of her enclosure...

At Temple Mount, Glenn Beck Draws Crowd of Hundreds
Isabel Kershner, The New York Times | At Temple Mount, Glenn Beck Draws Crowd of Hundreds | August 25, 2011

Sounding more preacher than commentator, the American conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck held a rally on Wednesday by a hotly contested holy site here and proclaimed the beginning of a global movement to support Israel, putting its Muslim opponents on notice...

New Clashes Erupt Around Qaddafi Site
David D. Kirkpatrick, Kareen Fahim and Alan Cowell, The New York Times | New Clashes Erupt Arund Qaddafi Site | August 23, 2011

The crackle of gunfire and the rumble of explosions spread across Tripoli in renewed fighting on Tuesday, and Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi remained at large hours after his son Seif al-Islam made a surprise appearance at a hotel with foreign journalists, taunting the rebels who have invaded the city, claiming his father is safe and urging loyalist forces to resist...

How Ray Bradbury Became A Literary Icon
Adam Kirsch, Barnes & Noble Review via Salon | How Ray Bradbury Became A Literary Icon | August 23, 2011

These days, when it's common to see adults engrossed in Harry Potter on the subway, and the edgiest shows on HBO are about vampires and dragons, it's hard to believe there was once a time when sci-fi and fantasy fiction were confined to a cultural ghetto...

Print vs. Online
Jack Schafer, The New York Times | Print vs. Online | August 22, 2011

The ways in which old-fashioned newspapers still trump online newspapers...

The Republicans' New Voodoo Economics?
Greg Ip, The Washington Post Opinions | The Republicans' New Voodoo Economics? | August 22, 2011

When John McCain was running for the Republican presidential nomination nearly 12 years ago, he declared that Alan Greenspan was so critical to the economy that, if the then-Federal Reserve chairman died, he’d put sunglasses on the body, prop him up and hope no one noticed.

It’s safe to say that GOP opinions of the Fed have slipped a bit since....

Battle for Tripoli Updates
BBC | Battle for Tripoli Updates | August 21, 2011

Fierce fighting is reported around Col. Gaddafi's compound after rebels swept into Tripoli almost unopposed...

Joplin Tornado Volunteers Seek Out Owners of 27,000 Photos Found In Rubble
Sharon Cohen, The Huffington Post | Joplin Tornado Volunteers Seek Out Owners of 27,000 Photos Found In Rubble | August 21, 2011

White-gloved workers line the long tables, carefully sifting through photos of proms and weddings, baby's first day, proud soldiers in their uniforms. They gently clean off any dirt, dry rain-damaged pictures – and salvage a city's lost treasures. The history of Joplin, Mo., is slowly coming into focus here, one snapshot, one portrait at a time. A church room in this nearby town has been converted into collection central for more than 27,000 photos buried or blown away in the monster May tornado that left 160 dead and obliterated a third of Joplin...