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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.

Invasion of the Boozy Brides: A Hen Night Is No Longer an Innocent Rite of Passage... It's Now Very Different
Penny Marshall, DailyMail | Invasion of the Boozy Brides | June 6, 2011

When Lucy gets married next week, she wants to walk down the aisle with flowers in her hair. 'I want to be a beautiful bride, a real lady,' she slurs. 'Just like Kate Middleton.' But there is nothing ladylike about Lucy tonight. Dressed as a French maid and waving a flashing plastic sex toy at me, she is reeling drunk. Instead of flowers in her hair, the young bride-to-be has tied condoms to her locks. 'I feel like a princess!' she says, before stumbling and falling flat on her face on a pavement already sticky with spilt booze...

U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Pays High Price For Afghan Surge Year
Kristin M. Hall, Huffington Post | U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Pays High Price For Afghan Surge Year | June 6, 2011

The soldiers of the Army's famed 101st Airborne Division deployed to Afghanistan confident their counterinsurgency expertise would once again turn a surge strategy into a success but are headed home uncertain of lasting changes on the battlefield. As the division's 24,000 soldiers return to Fort Campbell from their one-year deployment, doubts remain in the military that security in Afghanistan can last without a significant U.S. military presence for years. The division brought effective counterinsurgency lessons from Iraq, but is still waiting to see whether those strategies can take hold in Afghanistan...

AIDS at 30: Strides in Care, Focus on Prevention
Erin Allday, San Francisco Chronicle | AIDS at 30: Strides in Care, Focus on Prevention | June 6, 2011

When Michael Siever was diagnosed with HIV nearly 20 years ago, he assumed it was a death sentence. He never thought he'd make it to 2000. He certainly never thought that in 2011 - approaching the 30th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic - that he'd be a relatively healthy 61-year-old man, sitting in an auditorium listening to people talk enthusiastically about how there would be a cure for AIDS someday...

Conservative Women Enthusiastic About Bachmann, Palin
Sandhya Somashekhar, The Washington Post | Conservative Women Enthusiastic About Bachmann, Palin | June 6, 2011

They don’t like identity politics and aren’t crazy about the word “feminist.” But a lot of conservative women here can’t help but rejoice that they may have a couple of tough-talking, tea-drinking mothers to choose from in the Republican primary...

Efforts to Ban Circumcision Gain Traction in California
Jennifer Medina, The New York Times | Efforts to Ban Circumcision Gain Traction in California | June 5, 2011

When a group of activists proposed banning circumcision in San Francisco last fall, many people simply brushed them aside. Even in that liberal seaside city, it seemed implausible that thousands of people would support an effort to outlaw an ancient ritual that Jews and Muslims believe fulfills a commandment issued by God...

With Yoga and Fasting, Graft Fighters Shake India
Jim Yardley, The New York Times | With Yoga and Fasting, Graft Fighters Shake India | June 3, 2011

For more than 40 years, reformers and other agitators have tried in vain to cleanse India of corruption. They have staged demonstrations, candlelight vigils and protest marches for naught. In Parliament, efforts to create an independent anticorruption agency began in 1968. It still does not exist. Given this legacy of failure, an unexpected development is now stirring up the world’s largest and most raucous democracy: the agitators are on a hot streak. Government ministers are frantically trying to persuade one of India’s most popular gurus to call off a nationwide yoga rally against corruption — yes, a yoga protest — and a mass hunger strike, scheduled to begin Saturday. Already, the government has capitulated to the demands of another hunger-striking anticorruption crusader...

Gaga's Oprah Moment
Ramin Setoodeh, The Daily Beast | Gaga's Oprah Moment | June 2, 2011

The lady's hotter than ever, but not because of her music: She's become an evangelist of self-acceptance, preaching to an audience of outcasts...

Fighting the Taliban One Irrigation Project at a Time
Maura O'Connor, Slate | Fighting the Taliban One Irrigation Project at a Time | June 2, 2011

When Chris Corsten describes his job, he starts from space and zooms into the eastern hemisphere of the world, down into Central Asia, and then into Afghanistan, using Google Earth. In one of the country's rural districts, nestled in mountains and riverbeds, are hundreds of colored dots representing construction sites. If Corsten moves his cursor over one of these dots, a geo-tagged photograph showing Afghan men building walls or mixing cement appears. If he displays all the construction sites he's managed in Afghanistan, there are thousands of colored dots spread across the country...

Ambitious Plan for China's Water Crisis Spurs Concern
Edward Wong, The New York Times | Ambitious Plan for China's Water Crisis Spurs Concern | June 2, 2011

North China is dying. A chronic drought is ravaging farmland. The Gobi Desert is inching south. The Yellow River, the so-called birthplace of Chinese civilization, is so polluted it can no longer supply drinking water. The rapid growth of megacities — 22 million people in Beijing and 12 million in Tianjin alone — has drained underground aquifers that took millenniums to fill. Not atypically, the Chinese government has a grand and expensive solution: Divert at least six trillion gallons of water each year hundreds of miles from the other great Chinese river, the Yangtze, to slake the thirst of the north China plain and its 440 million people...

Tank Turned Into Treadmill Adds Theatre to U.S. Venice Biennale Entry
Charlotte Higgins, The Guardian | Tank Turned Into Treadmill Adds Theatre to U.S. Venice Biennale Entry | June 2, 2011

The Venice Biennale – aside from being the single most significant international gathering for the visual arts – is a theatrical event. With 89 national exhibitions competing for attention, spectacle is part of the point. This year, the spectacle that is wowing the crowds is the huge upturned tank outside the American pavilion in the Giardini di Castello, which has been "repurposed" into a treadmill...