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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.

Five Ways of Looking at the Legend of Derek Jeter
Sam Anders, The New York Times Magazine | Five Ways of Looking at the Legend of Derek Jeter | April 7, 2011

Recent fieldwork in upstate New York has uncovered an ancient creation myth that should be of interest to baseball fans. Ethnologists translate it, literally, as follows: In the beginning, the entire world was only a spherical nugget of cork and rubber. One day as it bounced around the formless void, this nugget was discovered by the Great Spirit World-Father, who performed upon it a magic incantation. He plucked his longest beard hair and wound it tightly around the nugget, many times, until it formed a fist-size ball. This beard-ball he wrapped with the strongest and most precious material in the cosmos: the dried palm-calluses of his own Father, which he pulled taut and stitched closed with the strong red cord of his own umbilicus. This was the mystic Fatherball, sacred orb of the patriarchy...

As Dinosaurs Waned and Mammals Rose, the Lowly Louse Kept Pace
Nicholas Wade, The New York Times | As Dinosaurs Waned and Mammals Rose, the Lowly Louse Kept Pace | April 6, 2011

Biologists have found a new way to peer back 130 million years in time, illuminating the catastrophic period in which the dinosaurs perished and birds and mammals arose. The new approach rests on reconstructing the family tree of lice. Vincent S. Smith, a louse taxonomist at the Natural History Museum in London, has found that the tree stretches so far back in time that the host of the first louse would have been a dinosaur, probably one of the theropod dinosaurs that were the ancestors of birds...

Libya's Rebels: NATO Isn't Doing Enough For Us
Tom A. Peter, The Christian Science Monitor | Libya's Rebels: NATO Isn't Doing Enough For Us | April 6, 2011

Libyan rebels retreating from their positions outside the oil town of Brega and facing heavy fighting elsewhere in the country have accused NATO forces of not providing enough air support and failing to protect civilians. The complaint comes as international players involved in Libya increase their efforts to resolve the situation through diplomatic means. Many rebels say the coalition's shift to negotiations has led to a decline in NATO’s military campaign, a move that rebels say is costing lives...

Sharia, USA: The Conservative Panic About Muslim Laws In Oklahoma

Sally Kern's office in the Oklahoma state house is busy, with more trinkets than a cheer coach's trophy room. Here's an award from Americans United for Life. Here's a photo of George W. Bush throwing out the first ball at the 2002 World Series. Here's Theodore Roosevelt, hand on his hip, standing in front of a globe. "I've put that photo of Roosevelt there because of the inscription," says Kern. She reads it: "We can have no 50/50 allegiance in this country. Either a man is an American, and nothing else, or he is not an American at all."...

France In Talks On Surrender Of Ivory Socast Strongman
Adam Nossiter and J. David Goodman, The New York Times | France In Talks On Surrender Of Ivory Coast Strongman | April 5, 2011

The French government said Tuesday that it was negotiating the surrender of Ivory Coast’s strongman, Laurent Gbagbo, a day after the United Nations and France struck targets at his residence, his offices and two of his military bases in a significant escalation of the international intervention into the political crisis engulfing the nation...

At 84, A City's Last Geisha Defies Time
Norimitsu Onishi, The New York Times | At 84, A City's Last Geisha Defies Time | April 5, 2011

The requests to see her perform had dwindled over the years. But when the earthquake struck at 2:46 p.m. on March 11, this city’s last geisha was, fittingly, at home getting ready to sing that night at Kamaishi’s 117-year-old ryotei, an exclusive restaurant featuring fine food and entertainment where she began working as a 14-year-old seven decades ago...

Reporters In Tripoli Find It's A Big Brother World
Liz Sly, The Washington Post | Reporters in Tripoli Find It's a Big Brother World | April 4, 2011

The loudspeakers in every journalist’s hotel room burst into life with a “ding-dong” presaging the announcement of a news conference, or perhaps a bus trip to the scene of an airstrike or a school where children erupt with chants of support for Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi...

Ai Weiwei: France and Germany Lead Calls for Chinese Artist's Release
Tania Branigan, The Guardian | Ai Weiwei: France and Germany Lead Calls for Chinese Artist's Release | April 4, 2011

France and Germany are leading calls for the release of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who remains missing more than 36 hours after his detention...

2 Qaddafi Sons Are Said to Offer Plan to Push Father Out
David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times | 2 Qaddafi Sons Are Said to Offer Plan to Push Father Out | April 4, 2011

At least two sons of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi are proposing a resolution to the Libyan conflict that would entail pushing their father aside to make way for a transition to a constitutional democracy under the direction of his son Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, a diplomat and a Libyan official briefed on the plan said Sunday...

'Sacred' Turtle Captured In Vietnam's Hoan Kiem Lake

An ailing giant turtle considered sacred by many Vietnamese was captured in a lake in central Hanoi on Sunday by rescuers who hope to give it medical attention...