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.

Record Water for a Mississippi River City
Campbell Robertson, The New York Times | Record Water for a Mississippi River City | May 16, 2011

Late Sunday morning, as the Mississippi River was rushing faster and higher past this town than it has in 183 years of record-keeping, Dontaye Buck was sitting perfectly still. He was staring at a calm puddle of water in which his house sat. A man standing beside Mr. Buck’s mailbox was casting a fishing line into a neighbor’s yard...

Morganza Spillway: Flooding Farmland to Save New Orleans
Mark Guarino, The Christian Science Monitor | Morganza Spillway: Flooding Farmland to Save New Orleans | May 16, 2011

One hour. That’s all it took for the farmland located beside the Morganza floodwall, untouched for 38 years, to turn into a great lake...

How Drudge Has Stayed on Top
David Carr, The New York Times | How Drudge Has Stayed on Top | May 16, 2011

For most big news Web sites, about 60 percent of the traffic is homegrown, people who come directly to the site by dint of a bookmark or typing in www.latimes.com or www.huffingtonpost.com. The other critical 40 percent comes by referrals, the links that are the source of drive-by traffic, new readers and heat-seekers on a particular story.

By far, most of the traffic from links comes from the sprawling hybrid of Google search and news, which provides about 30 percent of the visits to news sites, according to a report released last week by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, part of the Pew Research Center. And the second? Has to be Facebook, right? Nope. Then Twitter must be the next in line. Except it isn’t. Give up? It’s The Drudge Report,...

Marital Matters and the 2012 Election
Sheryl Gay Stolberg, The New York Times | Marital Matters and the 2012 Election | May 14, 2011

Cheri Daniels, whose aversion to politics appears to be the reason her husband, Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana, is dithering about running for president, had no shortage of stories during her much-hyped speech in Indianapolis last week. There was the one about her driving a dump truck, the one about how she attended a senior citizen’s prom, about how she took a prize for cow milking at the state fair. But the story Mrs. Daniels did not share is the one that politicos and pundits are dying to hear: the one about how she married her husband — twice...

The Century of Disasters
Joel Achenbach, Slate | The Century of Disasters | May 14, 2011

This will be the century of disasters. In the same way that the 20th century was the century of world wars, genocide, and grinding ideological conflict, the 21st will be the century of natural disasters and technological crises and unholy combinations of the two. It'll be the century when the things that we count on to go right will, for whatever reason, go wrong...

Japan's Distinctly Un-American Brand of Heroism
Marie Mutsuki Mockett, Salon | Japan's Distinctly Un-American Brand of Heroism | May 14, 2011

On a trip to Japan three weeks after the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant disaster, I repeatedly ran into the theme of "change." Young people in their 20s and 30s likened the Tohoku catastrophe to 9/11, after which Americans were enveloped by a sense of unity. "That feeling disappeared," I warned. "It won't disappear here," everyone insisted. "Japan is going to change."...

Armed With Stone-Tipped Arrows, Hunters Stalk Their Inner Cave Man
Justin Scheck, The Wall Street Journal | Armed With Stone-Tipped Arrows, Hunters Stalk Their Inner Cave Man | May 12, 2011

Late last month, Mike Huston crouched in a prickly pear patch. His blood-stained quiver—sewn from the hide of a deer he killed—was full of arrows fashioned from turkey feathers, wild plants and sharpened stones...

John Demjanjuk Convicted Over Nazi Camp Deaths
Andrew M. Jarach, Geir Moulson, The Huffington Post | John Demjanjuk Convicted Over Nazi Camp Deaths | May 12, 2011

Retired U.S. autoworker John Demjanjuk was convicted of thousands of counts of acting as an accessory to murder at a Nazi death camp and sentenced on Thursday to five years in prison, a groundbreaking verdict that closed one chapter in a decades-long legal battle...

The Dogs of War: Beloved Comrades in Afghanistan
Elisabeth Bumiller, The New York Times | Dogs of War: Beloved Comrades in Afghanistan | May 12, 2011

Marines were on a foot patrol last fall in the Taliban stronghold of Marja, Afghanistan, when they shot and killed a lethal threat: a local dog that made the mistake of attacking the Marines’ Labrador retriever.

Capt. Manuel Zepeda, the commander of Company F, Second Battalion, Sixth Marines, was unapologetic. If the Lab on the patrol had been hurt, the Marines would have lost their best weapon for detecting roadside bombs — and would have called for a medevac helicopter, just as they would for a human. An attack on the Lab was an attack on a fellow warrior. As Captain Zepeda put it that day, “We consider the dog another Marine.”...


Obama Mama:

When depicting their family origins for public consumption, American presidents tend to downplay the importance of Dad while idealizing Mom. Dwight D. Eisenhower described his mother, who was a pacifist and Jehovah's Witness, as "saintly." Richard Nixon called Hannah Milhous Nixon a "Quaker saint." Jimmy Carter wrote one of his many post-presidential books about his "remarkable mother," Miss Lillian, who went to India with the Peace Corps at the age of 68. George W. Bush identified with saber-toothed Barbara as a way of differentiating himself from the male parent he physically resembled...