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.

England's Batting Falls Flat Again And India Win Test By Nine Wickets
Mike Selvey, The Guardian | England's Batting Falls Flat Again And India Win Test By Nine Wickets | November 19, 2012

India won the first Test by nine wickets and in grandstanding style an hour into the afternoon session on the final day, an outcome that had appeared inevitable ever since MS Dhoni enforced the follow-on on the third day with a lead of 330 and a deteriorating pitch to utilise.

Thanks almost entirely to the monumental effort of Alastair Cook and the belligerence and skill of Matt Prior, England managed to run India closer than they might have expected and, at the end of the fourth day, with that pair still at the crease, there was still the faintest sniff of salvaging something from the wreckage...

In Conversation: Tina Brown
Michael Kinsley, New York | In Conversation: Tina Brown | November 19, 2012

Days after the election and a month before she'll retire the print edition of Newsweek, the pioneering editor talks with Michael Kinsley about the future for newsweeklies, American Anglophilia, and personally presiding over the end of the twentieth century...

Mumbai On Edge With Shiv Shena Founder Bal Thackery Ill
Dilip D'Souza, The Daily Beast | Mumbai On Edge With Shiv Sena Founder Bal Thackeray Ill | November 16, 2012

As Bal Thackery, the founder of one of India's most violent and aggressive political groups, lies on his death bed, Mumbai is silent in fear of what's to come from the grief over his passing. Dilip D'Souza on how one man came to rule a great city - and why their agenda rings hollow.

In August 2001, a politician in Thane, the sprawling city northeast of Mumbai, died in the Singhania hospital there. His name was Anand Dighe. He must have been some kind of popular in Thane, because when the city got news of his death, a crowd of his supporters “spontaneously” expressed their “grief.”

What form did this expression take?

Well, they looted and burned a garment store nearby. They siphoned out the fuel from several parked ambulances, then overturned them and set them on fire, along with 30 cars and three buses. They beat up several journalists, though two particularly intrepid ones escaped the thrashing by feigning death. (This is true). As if all this wasn’t nauseating enough, they attacked the hospital and went after its nurses. No, it’s worse still. They went after its patients. One, suffering from renal failure, had been in the ICU bed next to Dighe. He had to rouse himself and run for his life through the hospital, hiding with the terrified nurses behind locked doors. “I had given up hope,” his son told the press later. “I thought I would lose my father.”...

China's New Chief
Evan Osnos, The New Yorker | China's New Chief | November 16, 2012

The Great Hall of the People, which stretches the length of three football fields beside Tiananmen Square, was built, at Chairman Mao’s command, by the hands of volunteers. In recent years, it has lost quite a bit of its sacred populist sheen, because it has to pay for its own upkeep by renting itself out to paying customers. “Riverdance” had a run there, as did “Cats,” and it hosts a steady stampede of conventioneers, such as the two thousand restaurant managers from K.F.C. who came to talk chicken.

On Thursday, however, the Great Hall of the People returned to its full orthodox splendor, if only for a few hours, for a peculiar ritual to mark the arrival of the new Standing Committee of the Politburo, the group of seven men who will lead the People’s Republic for the next ten years...

Richard III Skeleton? Mutilated Bones Unearthed In England May Belong To Medieval King
Stephanie Pappas, The Huffington Post | Richard III Skeleton? Mutilated Bones Unearthed In England May Belong To Medieval King | November 16, 2012

A mutilated skeleton unearthed from a medieval church in Leicester is undergoing testing to determine if it belongs to Richard III, an unlucky king of England who died in battle in 1485.

Archaeologists unearthed the skeleton in the choir of Grefriars, a medieval church that had been buried under a parking lot. Though the church had been lost, historical records suggest that Richard III was buried there after his death at the Battle of Bosworth Field, during the War of the Roses, an English civil war.

If the body is Richard's, archaeologists hope the find will shed light on a person known best through William Shakespeare's fictionalized account in the play "Richard III."...

Once Again, Barack Obama vs. John McCain
Reid J. Epstein, Politico | Once Again, Barack Obama vs. John McCain | November 15, 2012

President Barack Obama just finished his second presidential campaign — but he’s not finished lashing out at his opponent from his first.

Obama’s irritation at his 2008 rival, Arizona Sen. John McCain, flared Wednesday during the president’s first news conference since winning reelection. It was a startling moment in an otherwise unremarkable appearance — and hinted at lingering tensions with McCain.

At the heart of Obama’s outburst are Republican claims that United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice covered up the genesis of the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans. Rice has become the symbol of Republican anger over the administration’s handling of the incident — at a particularly uncomfortable moment for both Obama and Rice, who is in contention to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state...

The Millions Of Reasons Nancy Pelosi Decided To Stay
Melinda Henneberger, The Washington Post | The Millions Of Reasons Nancy Pelosi Decided To Stay | November 15, 2012

One of the first questions Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi took from reporters after announcing her intention to stay on in that job was whether, at age 72, it wasn’t time for her to step aside and make room for younger leaders.

She smiled at the questioner, Luke Russert, as the female lawmakers on stage with her grumbled and booed. “You’ve always asked that question,” she said, “except of Mitch McConnell,” the Republican Senate Minority Leader, who is 70. “Discrimination!” called New York’s Carolyn Maloney. “Discrimination! Age discrimination!”

“Let’s for a moment,” Pelosi told Russert, treat the question as worthy of consideration. “Although it’s quite offensive,” she added, extra sweetly. “But you don’t realize it, I guess. Everything that I have done in my almost decade now of leadership is to elect younger and newer people to the Congress…It was very important for me to elect young women” — especially as she herself didn’t even enter the political arena until the youngest of her five children was almost ready for college. And shouldn’t he maybe spot her the 14 years she spent as a stay-at-home mom?...

And, Voila, Something That Will Finally Stop Your Crazy Uncle From Sending You More Cracked Forwards

As you have probably heard by now, word has it that our radical Muslim president is doing all sorts of terrible things to our country! He's gotten rid of our National Christmas Tree, abolished the National Day of Prayer, and put the family's dog, Bo, on his own airplane all to himself.

No? Then you must not have some distant (or close!) relation who loves to forward, forward, forward, all the live-long day. But for the rest of us, whose inboxes' factual sanctity is under constant assault, there's LazyTruth, a new tool from Matt Stempeck and his team at MIT's Media Lab...

Five Fiscal Cliff Scenarios
Carrie Budoff Brown and Jake Sherman, Politico | Five Fiscal Cliff Scenarios | November 12, 2012

President Barack Obama and congressional Republican leaders are finally prepared to open negotiations this week on the fiscal cliff — an all-important legislative riddle with no easy answers.

Democrats want to increase tax rates; Republicans say no way. Republicans seek major changes to entitlement programs; Democrats are divided. Republicans want to nullify a package of automatic spending cuts; Democrats won’t go for it without major concessions.

The policy differences are endless, but the scenarios for how it could play out are fairly limited. Here are five ways Congress may navigate the labyrinth...

How Big Pork Screws Small Towns
Tom Philpott, Mother Jones | How Big Pork Screws Small Towns | November 12, 2012

I've argued often that the food system functions like an economic sieve, draining away wealth. Imagine, say, a suburb served by a handful of fast-food chains plus a supermarket or Walmart or two. Profits from residents' food dollars go to distant shareholders; what's left behind are essentially low-skill, low-wage clerical jobs and mountains of generally low-quality, health-ruining food.

But the food system's secret scandal is that it's economically extractive in farming communities areas, too—and especially in the places where industrial agriculture is most established and intensive...