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.

Poachers Take Chunks From California Redwoods, Put Majestic Trees At Risk
Jack Hannah, CNN | Poaching The Redwoods | May 9, 2014

Tree poaching conjures up the lawless Amazon jungle, but America's magnificent redwood forests now face a piecemeal but steady assault by poachers too, California officials say. Thieves are cutting massive chunks from the base of the champion trees, which are the tallest on Earth and are up to 2,000 years old...

The Elf Whisperer Of Iceland
Kevin Fallon, The Daily Beast | The Elf Whisperer | May 9, 2014

From the wild weather to the harsh landscape, Iceland has its fair share of mystifying phenomena. But none is more fascinating than the elves. They're real. And this woman will save them...

'Boko Haram' Doesn't Really Mean 'Western Education Is A Sin'
Dan Murphy, Security Watch | Understanding Boko | May 8, 2014

Boko Haram gets lost in translation. Oh, and the word 'boko' isn't derived from the word 'book.'...

Why Did Time.com Republish A Princeton Freshman's Screed About White Privilege?
Zach Schonfeld, Time | Fortgang's Piece | May 7, 2014

Meet Tal Fortgang, the unsuspecting Princeton student who has launched a thousand thinkpieces with a personal manifesto about refusing to atone for his privilege. You probably already have.

“I have checked my privilege,” Fortgang, a white, male freshman from Westchester, New York, wrote in campus conservative magazine The Princeton Tory. “And I apologize for nothing.”...

Ronald Reagan's Benghazi
Jane Mayer, The New Yorker | Reagan's Benghazi | May 6, 2014

Ever since militant jihadists killed four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador, in an attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in that remote Libyan town two years ago, House Republicans have kept up a drumbeat of insinuation. They have already devoted thirteen hearings, twenty-five thousand pages of documents, and fifty briefings to the topic, which have turned up nothing unexpected...

Benghazi And The Bombshell
Joe Hagan, New York Magazine | Lara Logan Profile | May 5, 2014

Eleven years ago, the 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan was sitting in the InterContinental hotel in Amman, Jordan, watching her career flash before her eyes. She was 31 years old, a rookie at CBS News, assigned to cover the biggest story on earth: the invasion of Iraq. But nothing was going as planned. With only days until the American invasion, Logan had been forced to leave Baghdad and was desperate to get back before the war began, but she and her crew, because of the dangers of the imminent “shock and awe” bombing campaign, were forbidden from going by the network. That’s when she heard about a convoy of French reporters making the trek to Baghdad...

They're Really Into Dylan, Maybe A Little Too Much
Marjan Osman Garland, The New York Times Book Review | The Dylanologists | May 4, 2014

Bob Dylan said it best, in a 2012 Rolling Stone interview timed to the release of his “Tempest ” album: “Why is it when people talk about me, they have to go crazy?” More than 50 years after he first started attracting fanatical followers, Mr. Dylan was facing down a more brutal and dangerous species of devotee than he had seen before. The fans had social media, and the scholars had computers; en masse, they could track every move he made and every word he wrote, said or sang. “Dylanologist,” once a derisive term for the self-styled expert who sifted through the Dylan family’s garbage cans, was now a word with wide colloquial meaning, if not yet a dictionary definition...

A Heinous Crime, Secret Histories, And A Sinn Fein Leader's Arrest
Katharine Q. Seelye, The New York Times | Secret Histories | May 3, 2014

For years, the researchers painstakingly recorded and transcribed oral histories from many of the leaders of the factions caught up in the Troubles in Northern Ireland. They pledged absolute secrecy to their subjects until after their deaths.

Carried out under the auspices of Boston College, which was founded in the mid-1800s to serve a growing population of Irish Catholic immigrants, the project aimed to provide a definitive history of a conflict with edges so sharp that people there still fear to speak openly of what they know...

Blood And Mud: A French Soldier's WWI Memoir Vividly Describes Trench Warfare
Marc Wortman, The Daily Beast | Poilu | May 1, 2014

Finally available in English, Poilu, a classic battlefield memoir by a World War I French infantryman, reveals as much as any book can about the ugly realities of war...

Hell Is An Understatement: A Report From The Bloody Crumbling Central Africa Republica
Graeme Wood, The New Republic | Hell On Earth | May 1, 2014

Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), has never been known for the reliability of its public utilities. Most trash is picked through by scavengers, and the remaining mango pits, scraps of plastic, and rusty bottlecaps pile up on dirt roads or get blown into fetid open sewers. But since December, along a desolate stretch of the Avenue de France, the Red Cross has operated an on-demand, white-gloved sanitation service that, within an hour of being called, will show up to collect human bodies, whether chopped up or left intact...