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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.

Mountain Bull Dead: Iconic Kenyan Elephant Reportedly Killed by Poachers
Dominique Mosbergen, The Huffington Post | Mountain Bull, R.I.P. | May 21, 2014

Conservationists did everything they could to save Mountain Bull, the legendary Kenyan elephant...But in the end, it simply wasn't enough...

The Cost: What Stop And Frisk Does To A Young Man's Soul
Rilla Askew, The Daily Beast | Stop And Frisk | May 21, 2014

Every afternoon when Trey left school in his car, two white patrolmen would follow him in their cruiser, sometimes a few blocks, sometimes several miles, before turning on their patrol lights...

Remembering, As An Extreme Sport
Benedict Carey, The New York Times | Memory Athletes | May 20, 2014

The last match of the tournament had all the elements of a classic showdown, pitting style versus stealth, quickness versus deliberation, and the world's foremost card virtuoso against its premier numbers wizard...

Koch Vs. Koch: The Brutal Battle That Tore Apart America's Most Powerful Family
Daniel Schulman, Mother Jones | Koch Vs. Koch | May 20, 2014

Before the brothers went to war against Obama, they almost destroyed each other...

Warning: The Literary Canon Could Make Students Squirm
Jennifer Medina, The New York Times | Trigger Warnings | May 19, 2014

Should students about to read The Great Gatsby be forewarned about "a variety of scenes that reference gory, abusive and misogynistic violence," as one Rutgers student proposed? Would any book that addresses racism -- like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Things Fall Apart -- have to be preceded by a note of caution? Do sexual images from Greek mythlogy need to come with a view-beware label? Colleges across the country this spring have been wrestling with student requests for what are known as "trigger warnings"...

The Mastermind Behind 'International Masturbation Month'
Tracy Clark-Flory, Salon | Masturbation Month | May 19, 2014

In honor of Masturbation Month, Salon talks to the pioneer of self-pleasuring who coined this quirky holiday...

Fox News' Divisive Race Strategy: How O'Reilly, Hannity And Coulter Intentionally Tore America Apart
Matthew W. Hughey and Gregory S. Parks | Divisive Race Strategy | May 19, 2014

False claims go unchallenged, racial fears are stoked -- and political scientists discover it helps GOP at polls...

How Barbara Walters Changed Everything
Jack Mirkinson, The Huffington Post | On Barbara Walters | May 16, 2014

Barbara Walters, who is retiring after 50 years in television today, has had the kind of career that sends writers to their thesauruses, scrabbling around to find another synonym for "legendary" or "pioneering" or "iconic." The scope of her professional life is nearly impossible to sum up coherently. But let's try...

How Cotton Balls Are Helping Darwin's Finches Fight Parasites
Sudeshna Chowdhury, The Christian Science Monitor | Helping Finches | May 15, 2014

Though famous for their ability to adapt, Darwin's finches – the roughly fourteen species of bird found on Ecuador's Galápagos Islands – cannot always cope with every threat, at least not without some help from humans. One of these threats, the nest fly Philornis downsi, is thought to be greatly contributing to the finches' decline. The adult parasites (which look like houseflies) lay their eggs in the nests of the finches, whose varied bill shapes helped inspire Darwin's theory of evolution. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the nestlings by sucking their blood...

Militiamen And Oath Keepers Drew Weapons, Threatened To Kill Each Other
David Neiwert, Southern Poverty Law Center | Weapons Drawn At Bundy's | May 15, 2014

The right-wing media tried to sell Americans on the idea that the antigovernment “Patriots”and militiamen who gathered to block the roundup of Cliven Bundy’s illegally grazing cattle in Nevada were well-meaning lovers of liberty. However, Bundy’s most ardent defenders have revealed themselves to be a volatile collection of hotheaded, paranoid men (and a few women) with big egos and even bigger guns.

The situation at the ranch, where armed militiamen and “Patriots” are camped out, has deteriorated so badly that competing factions apparently drew weapons on one another during heated arguments...