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.

As Shuttle Era Ends, Dreams of Space Linger
Dennis Overbye, The New York Times | As Shuttle Era Ends, Dreams of Space Linger | July 5, 2011

By April 1981 it seemed that the space shuttle Columbia had been part of the Florida landscape forever. Gleaming white in the sun by day and the floodlights that bathed it all night, the cluster of rockets, space plane and giant egglike fuel tank looked like a craggy Matterhorn transposed to the humid coast...

Fall of the House of Busch
Susan Berfield, Bloomberg Businessweek | Fall of the House of Busch | July 3, 2011

It took four generations to build Anheuser-Beusch, one of the most celebrated companies in America. and only one for it to come apart...

Roger Ailes' Secret Nixon-Era Blueprint for Fox News
John Cook, Gawker | Roger Ailes' Secret Nixon-Era Blueprint for Fox News | July 3, 2011

Republican media strategist Roger Ailes launched Fox News Channel in 1996, ostensibly as a "fair and balanced" counterpoint to what he regarded as the liberal establishment media. But according to a remarkable document buried deep within the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, the intellectual forerunner for Fox News was a nakedly partisan 1970 plot by Ailes and other Nixon aides to circumvent the "prejudices of network news" and deliver "pro-administration" stories to heartland television viewers...

Managed Care Enters The Exam Room As Insurers Buy Doctors Groups
Christopher Weaver, Kaiser Health News / WaPo-Bloomberg | Managed Care Enters The Exam Room As Insurers Buy Doctors Groups | July 3, 2011

Even if UnitedHealth Group isn’t your insurance company, there’s a good chance it touches you in some way. The $100 billion behemoth sells technology to hospitals and other insurers, distributes drugs, manages clinical trials and offers continuing medical education, among other things, through the growing web of firms it owns.

Now, that touch could get a lot more personal. United health services wing is quietly gaining control of doctors who treat patients covered by United plans — buying medical groups and launching physician management companies, for example...

Forever Dirty: Zimbabwe and Its Diamonds
The Economist | Forever Dirty: Zimbabwe and Its Diamonds | July 2, 2011

Robert Mugabe is being favored once again, to the detriment of his people...

One Simple Rule: Why Teens Are Fleeing Facebook
David Martin, Forbes | One Simple Rule: Why Teens Are Fleeing Facebook | July 1, 2011

It was reported earlier this week that for a second month in a row Facebook is losing users in the U.S., Britain and Canada.  The news has investors, advertisers and media companies all scratching their heads simply because it’s so unusual. We’ve all been following the meteoric rise of Facebook for just over seven years now, and the thought of it slowing down is a very difficult idea to digest...

A Safety Valve for Inmates, the Arts, Fades in California
Adam Nagourney, The New York Times | A Safety Valve for Inmates, the Arts, Fades in California | July 1, 2011

Fifteen men darted across the room, their faces slathered in greasepaint, reciting lines from “Tartuffe.” The stage, such as it was, was a low-ceilinged recreation room, and the cast was a troupe of felons who had just stepped in from the dusty yard of the California Rehabilitation Center. For four hours, they conducted workshops under the direction of the Actors’ Gang, an ensemble from Los Angeles, which goaded them into acting out emotions that could be put to use in the 17th-century Molière farce about, appropriately enough, a con man working a swindle...

The Border's Merry Pranksters
Bryan Curtis, The Daily Beast | The Border's Merry Pranksters | July 1, 2011

Four men get into a minivan. They drive to the border fence. Consider the wall compromised...

Koh Is My God Pilot
William Saletan, Slate | Koh Is My God Pilot | June 30, 2011

Can the president of the United States wage war without congressional approval, as long as he uses drones to do the killing? The Obama administration seems to think the answer is yes...

Unlikely Friendships
Monica Hesse, The Washington Post | Unlikely Friendships | June 30, 2011

For a period of time last weekend, the ninth-most-popular book on Amazon.com, out of all the thousands of books on Amazon.com, was the cutest widdle thing you ever saw, yes it was, because of all the itty-bitty facey-waces and the whisker-poos and especially the snuggle-muffin babies with their teeny feet.

The book is called “Unlikely Friendships.” It depicts 47 incidents of inter-species affection, such as the cover image, in which a wee little rhesus monkey gently rests his head on the back of a white dove...