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.

The Rise And Fall Of The Goddess Of Democracy
Chris Buckley, The New York Times | Goddess Of Democracy | June 1, 2014

A 33-foot-high statue became a mute yet powerful actor in the final drama on Tiananmen Square in 1989, reinvigorating the student protests and infuriating Communist Party leaders who crushed the demonstrations, and the statue, five days after its birth...

How The Amazon-Hachette Fight Could Shape The Future Of Ideas
Jeremy Greenfield, The Atlantic | The Future Of Ideas | May 30, 2014

While the bookseller and publisher are battling over mundane business specifics, the state of publishing hangs in the balance...

Over the past several months, what started as a quiet trade dispute has intensified and become public as the largest bookseller in the world, Amazon, and one of the biggest publishers, Hachette, battle over their next contract...

As Publishers Fight Amazon, Books Vanish
David Streitfeld and Melissa Eddy, The New York Times | Amazon Backlash | May 29, 2014

Seeking ever-higher payments from publishers to bolster its anemic bottom line, Amazon is holding books and authors hostage on two continents by delaying shipments and raising prices. The literary community is fearful and outraged — and practically begging for government intervention.

“How is this not extortion? You know, the thing that is illegal when the Mafia does it,” asked Dennis Loy Johnson of Melville House, echoing remarks being made across social media...

10 Things You Didn't Know About Maya Angelou's Incredible Life
Amanda Scherker, The Huffington post | Angelou's Incredible Life | May 29, 2014

You already know that Dr. Maya Angelou's life was too rich and vibrant to be summarized -- indeed, her vast wealth of experiences filled seven iconic memoirs. But her journey was more fascinating than you could ever imagine. Here are just a few of the moments that made up her life...

Maya Angelou Quotes
The Guardian | Maya Angelou Quotes | May 28, 2014

With the death of Maya Angelou, we lose the immense wisdom of the celebrated African American author, poet and civil activist. These quotes say a lot about who she was and what she stood for...

"Nothing will work unless you do."

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."


Texas VA Run Like A 'Crime Syndicate,' Says Whistleblower
Jacob Siegel, The Daily Beast | VA Scandal Grows | May 28, 2014

Emails and VA memos obtained exclusively by The Daily Beast provide what is among the most comprehensive accounts yet of how high-level VA hospital employees conspired to game the system. It shows not only how they manipulated hospital wait lists but why — to cover up the weeks and months veterans spent waiting for needed medical care. If those lag times had been revealed, it would have threatened the executives’ bonus pay...

Finns Beat U.S. With Low-Tech Take On School
Caitlin Emma, Politico | Low-Tech Teaching | May 28, 2014

At the start of morning assembly in the state-of-the-art Viikki School here, students’ smartphones disappear. In math class, the teacher shuts off the Smartboard and begins drafting perfect circles on a chalkboard. The students — some of the highest-achieving in the world — cut up graphing paper while solving equations using their clunky plastic calculators...

Obama Is Betting His Whole Afghan Plan On These Commandos
Kimberly Dozier, The Daily Beast | Special Ops Forces | May 28, 2014

No matter how many troops President Obama keeps in Afghanistan, or how fast they leave, it’ll be the Afghan forces that keep the country together—and its special operations troops that provide the teeth. These troops have learned to perform the hard way: under fire by insurgents—and sometimes by their own government—for working alongside the Americans. Those combined stresses have ironically forced the elite forces to become more independent faster....

The Nerds Who Won WWII
Marc Wortman, The Daily Beast | The Nerds Who Won World War II | May 26, 2014

In 1943 the war looked unwinnable for the Allies. Marc Wortman on historian Paul Kennedy's story of how unsung innovators turned the tide...

Understanding Barnaby
R.C. Harvey, The Comics Journal | Understanding Barnaby | May 25, 2014

Crockett Johnson’s Barnaby, like Krazy Kat, appealed to a smaller audience than most comic strips.  Comics historian Ron Goulart says it appeared in only 52 newspapers in the U.S. at its height. But the strip’s readers were an appreciative elite.  Barnaby hove into public view a scant two years before the demise of the intelligentsia’s first love, Krazy Kat.  Beginning April 20, 1942, the strip lasted into the early fifties. It was revived on September 12, 1960 and ran until April 14, 1962, but many of the stories were retooled from the first run of the strip, which ended February 2, 1952. By that time, both Pogo andPeanuts were on the scene.

The brief decade of Barnaby’s first run was brilliant. Among its passionate fans was Dorothy Parker...