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.

Note to Christo: Don't Start Hanging the Fabric Yet
Kirk Johnson, The New York Times | Note to Christo: Don't Start Hanging the Fabric Yet | February 2, 2012

The shouting isn't over for "Over the River." The $50 million project by the artist Christo, who hopes to drape nearly six miles of the Arkansas River here in southern Colorado with suspended bank-to-bank fabric, received approval from federal land managers late last year. But on Wednesday, a new battlefield emerged in law and local politics: in Denver, opponents filed a federal lawsuit aiming to block construction, which Christo had hoped to begin this summer...

Beware the Facebook Hype: Investors Encourage Company's Insane IPO
Dan Lyons, The Daily Beast | Beware the Facebook Hype: Investors Encourage Company's Insane IPO | February 2, 2012

Facebook is expected to announce its IPO registration Wednesday, and is rumored to be seeking a valuation of $100 billion. That’s more than half of Google’s market value, which stands at $188 billion. But Facebook brings in only one 10th the revenues that Google does. So how can it possibly be worth half as much as Google?...

The Last Don: Remembering the Conductor of "Soul Train"
Ben Greenman, The New Yorker | The Last Don: Remembering the Conductor of "Soul Train" | February 2, 2012

Don Cornelius, who died earlier today, apparently by suicide (early reports say “self-inflicted gunshot wound”), was one of the giants of American music, though he never played a note. As a Chicago-radio newsman and d.j. in the sixties, Cornelius maintained a sideline in concert promotion, and when he was offered an opportunity to bring his soul-music package tours (or, if you’d prefer, soul trains) to television, he jumped at it...

State For Sale
Jane Mayer, The New Yorker | State For sale | January 30, 2012

A conservative multimillionaire has taken control in North Carolina, one of 2012's top battlegrounds...

Out of Afghanistan: Incredible Stories of the boys Who Walked To Europe
Caroline Brothers, The Guardian | Out of Afghanistan: Incredible Stories of the Boys Who Walked to Europe | January 30, 2012

Behind the security bars of a spartan, white-tiled room, 25 youths are arranging bedrolls on the floor. The workers on the Salvation Army nightshift, who watch over these lone foreign teenagers in a shelter in a gritty corner of Paris, are distributing sheets and sleeping bags; there are a couple of boys from Mali and a contingent of Bangladeshis; the rest have travelled overland, by every conceivable method, from Afghanistan...

The Bookstore's Last Stand
Julie Bosman, The New York Times | The Bookstore's Last Stand | January 30, 2012

In March 2009, an eternity ago in Silicon Valley, a small team of engineers here was in a big hurry to rethink the future of books. Not the paper-and-ink books that have been around since the days of Gutenberg, the ones that the doomsayers proclaim — with glee or dread — will go the way of vinyl records. No, the engineers were instead fixated on the forces that are upending the way books are published, sold, bought and read: e-books and e-readers. Working in secret, behind an unmarked door in a former bread bakery, they rushed to build a device...

Blue Marble 2012: NASA Releases High Definition Image Of Earth
Huffington Post Science | Blue Marble 2012: NASA Releases High Definition Image Of Earth | January 27, 2012

NASA on Wednesday released "Blue Marble 2012," a view of the home planet that the agency calls the "most amazing high definition image of Earth."...

Dirty Money
Matthew Yglesias, Slate | Dirty Money | January 27, 2012

The astonishing new data showing that simply eliminating inefficient fossil fuel subsidies could achieve half the world's carbon reduction goals...

Kim Jong-nam Claims North Korea Reformist Mantle
Takashi Yokota, The Daily Beast | Kim Jong-nam Claims North Korea Reformist Mantle | January 26, 2012

It’s been a month since North Korea’s Kim Jong-il met his maker, but the outside world has yet to hear whether Kim Jong-un, his young successor, has any plans to chart a different future for the impoverished nuclear state.

But according to a new book that hit shelves in Japan last week, the new ruler’s half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, has an idea—one that has kept him from returning to Pyongyang. In My Father, Kim Jong-il, and I, author Yoji Gomi, a reporter at Tokyo Shimbun newspaper, reveals three interviews and 150 email exchanges he’s had with Kim Jong-nam—many of them critical of the policies adopted by his father’s regime. In those correspondences, Kim Jong-nam spoke of his conviction that reform is the only way forward for North Korea, and questions whether his half-brother can better the lives of his countrymen...

Bill Gates: 'Have to raise Taxes'
MJ Lee, Politico | Bill Gates: "Have to raise taxes" | January 26, 2012

Bill Gates said Thursday that the county’s has got to hike taxes and the wealthy should shoulder a greater burden of the increase, while he rejected any close correlation between job creation and the level of taxes...