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.

My Guilty Obsession With Swastikas
Steven Heller, Salon | My Guilty Obsession With Swastikas | July 21, 2011

When I was 8 years old a friend gave me a Nazi flag that his father had brought back from the war as a souvenir. Despite my parents' warnings not to upset my grandmother, whose family (I much later learned) perished in Auschwitz, I would often streak through the apartment in her presence wearing the flag as a kind of Superman cape. At the time, I knew nothing about the Holocaust except that Jews were not beloved in Germany, but since religious taunting was common in my Manhattan public school, this fact had little consequence. I was also addicted to watching movies on TV about World War II and, as a wannabe artist, drew more pictures of Nazis than Americans because their uniforms were better...

Bipartisan Plan for Budget Deal Buoys President
Jackie Calmes and Jennifer Steinhauer, The New York Times | Bipartisan Plan for Budget Deal Buoys President | July 20, 2011
Top Right
David Plotz, Slate | Top Right | July 19, 2011

Slate's list of the 25 Americans who combine inventiveness and practicality: our best real-world problem-solvers...

Scary Maps of the New Climate Normal

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just updated its Climate Normals for the United States. Per agreement of the World Meteorological Organization, "normals" are calculated per decade, rather than per year. NOAA's latest update is crunched from weather data compiled from 1981 to 2010. The new annual normal temperatures for the US strongly reflect a warming world...

Old Dominion U. Professor Is Trying To Save Internet History
Daniel de Vise, The Washington Post | Old Dominion U. Professor Is Trying To Save Internet History | July 19, 2011


Old Dominion U. professor is trying to save Internet history

What if you woke up tomorrow and all of your painstakingly edited YouTube videos were gone, your 4,000-entry Twitter feed erased and your lovingly tended Facebook page deleted? Michael Nelson, a computer science professor at Old Dominion University in Virginia, is thinking those terrible thoughts. His research team has spent the past couple of years studying how much of the Internet is being saved — what portion of the vast sea of online ephemera is preserved in some permanent archive...

Carmageddon in LA: City Avoids Traffic Chaos Despite Closure of Freeway

It was supposed to be the world's biggest traffic jam, the weekend that bumper-to-bumper gridlock would finally eat up Los Angeles.

In the end, though, what was called Carmageddon looked less like a Hollywood disaster movie and more like the Rapture, the moment of resurrection when Christian believers are "caught up" to heaven, leaving empty space and eerie silence for sinners left behind...

In Egypt, U.S. Government Seeks a Few Good Democrats
Mary Beth Sheridan, The Washington Post | U.S. Government Seeks a Few good Democrats | July 18, 2011

The United States was giving away $65 million in grants to build democracy, and Marwan Youness wanted in. But as the portly engineer scrolled through the application on a warm Cairo night, he began to worry.

“Oh, my God, there are a lot of things they need,” Youness told his business partner, Sherif Hossny, who was perched on the edge of his desk. Youness, 38, dragged on his cigarette, leaned toward the laptop and ran through the six pages of questions...

An Arrest and Scotland Yard Resignation Roil Britain
Sarah Lyall and Don Van Natta, Jr., The New York Times | An Arrest and Scotland Yard Resignation Roil Britain | July 18, 2011

Britain’s top police official resigned on Sunday, the latest casualty of the phone-hacking scandal engulfing British public life, just hours after Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s News International, was arrested on suspicion of illegally intercepting phone calls and bribing the police...

Two Studies Show Pills Can Prevent H.I.V. Infection
Donald G. McNeil, Jr., The New York Times | Two Studies show Pills Can Prevent H.I.V. Infection | July 14, 2011

Two new studies released on Wednesday add to the growing body of evidence that taking a daily pill containing one or two AIDS drugs can keep an uninfected person from catching the fatal human immunodeficiency virus. The studies were the first to show protection in heterosexuals; the only earlier one with similarly encouraging results involved gay men...

Amazon Takes On California
Matt Richtel and Verne G. Kopytoff, The New York Times | Amazon Takes On California | July 14, 2011

Amazon, the world’s largest online merchant, has an ambitious and far-reaching new agenda: it wants to rewrite tax policy for the Internet era. Amazon said this week that it would push a voter initiative in California that could eliminate sales tax for virtual sellers with only a modest physical presence in the state. Its move instantly escalated the company’s long-running battle with many states over collecting sales tax...