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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.

Workers Strain to Retake Control After Blast and Fire at Japan Plant
Hiroku Tabuchi, David E. Sanger and Keith Bradsher, The New York Times | Workers Strain to Retake Control After Blast and Fire at Japan Plant | March 15, 2011

Japanese officials and safety workers struggled to reassert control over badly damaged nuclear reactors on Tuesday after the situation at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant appeared to verge toward catastrophe, with a huge spike in radiation levels after a new explosion and fire...

Quake Survivors Face a Landscape of Loss
Michael Wines, The New York Times | Quake Survivors Face a Landscape of Loss | March 15, 2011

Outside the public gymnasium here, on a hillock about a mile from the Pacific Ocean, survivors of the tsunami came and went all day on Monday, searching for the dead. Two hundred and sixteen sheets of printer paper were stuck on a wall, one for every body brought to the gymnasium so far, some with names, most bearing only physical descriptions. Hands anxiously clutched to mouths, people pored over them until, finding nothing, most turned away in relief. Syunsuke Doi, 22, did not. At noon, Mr. Doi heaved great sobs on the gymnasium’s concrete steps, head in hands...

Japanese Scramble to Avert Meltdowns as Nuclear Crisis Deepens After Quake
Hiroko Tabuchi and Matthew L. Wald, The New York Times | Japanese Scrabmel to Avert Meltdowns as Nuclear Crisis Deepens After Quake | March 13, 2011

Japanese officials struggled on Sunday to contain a widening nuclear crisis in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and tsunami, saying they presumed that partial meltdowns had occurred at two crippled reactors and that they were facing serious cooling problems at three more...

Japan: The 'Big One' Hit, But Not Where They Thought It Would
Joel Achenbach, The Washington Post | Japan: The 'Big One' Hit, But Not where they Thought It Would | March 11, 2011

This looks like the Big One for Japan - but it's in the wrong place, seismically and bureaucratically. Japanese geologists have long forecast a huge earthquake along a major fault line southwest of Tokyo, and have poured enormous resources into monitoring the faint traces of strain building in that portion of the Earth's crust. They've predicted the amount of property damage and the number of landslides. They've even given the conjectured event a name: the Tokai Earthquake...

Libyan Military Forces Sock Key Oil Port
CNN Wire Staff | Libyan Military Forces Sock Key Oil Port | March 11, 2011

The military forces of Moammar Gadhafi on Friday pounded Ras Lanuf, the key oil port once in the hands of rebel forces, and its leadership confidently vowed the retake all territory from the opposition. Pro-Gadhafi forces cranked up an intense and steady bombardment of the city, believed to be by rocket, artillery and tank fire. A refinery was hit and a storage tank is on fire. Huge plumes of thick, black smoke can be seen...

Rise of the Ethnoburbs
Timothy Egan, The New York Times Opinion Pages | Rise of the Ethnoburbs | March 11, 2011

Just east of the still-seething volcano that is Charlie Sheen a visitor finds The Great Mall of China, so-dubbed, 12 acres of new-century America in the midst of an ethnic makeover far more compelling than the Twitter bursts of a raging celebrity. Its formal name is San Gabriel Square, a crowd of restaurants, bubble tea shops and high-fashion footwear boutiques in a prosperous middle-aged suburb with a majority-Asian population. You can walk around for an afternoon, as I did, and hear nothing but Cantonese and Mandarin. But what stands out about the Great Mall, in this part of the West, is that it no longer stands out at all...

Live blogging: "Muslims in America" Hearings

Live blogging 'Muslims in America' hearings: The only Muslim in Congress breaks down in tears telling 9/11 Muslim firefighter story...

Hoard of Cash Lets Qaddafi Extend Fight Against Rebels
James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, The New York Times | Hoard of Cash Lets Qaddafi Extend Fight Against Rebels | March 10, 2011

The Libyan leader Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi has “tens of billions” in cash secretly hidden away in Tripoli, allowing him to prolong his fight against rebel forces despite an international freeze on many of the Libyan government’s assets, according to American and other intelligence officials...

A Glow in the Desert
Penelope Green, The New York Times | A Glow in the Desert | March 9, 2011

YOou won’t find directions to the Field Lab, a homestead two and a half miles off Highway 118, deep in the West Texas desert and 30 miles or so from the Mexican border, on MapQuest. But John Wells, who built the place and lives there all by himself, will meet you under a highway billboard in his white Toyota pickup and lead you in, accompanied by a cloud of tenacious Fizzle Flat dust. (He might even offer you dinner: a plate of red beans, rice and broccoli, and a tangy slice of homemade cheese, olive and beer bread, cooked all afternoon in his solar oven.)...

Libyan Rebels Set Back In Key City By Qaddafi Forces' Assault
Kareen Fahim and David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times | Libyan Rebels Set Back In Key City By Qaddafi Forces' Assault | March 8, 2011

Forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi seemed to be gathering momentum as they renewed their onslaught on both the eastern and western fronts on Tuesday, threatening the western city of Zawiyah and conducting airstrikes here in the east after taunting rebels with flyovers and bombing runs near this coastal city’s oil refinery...