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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.

Saks Fifth Ave. Shopper Finds Prison Laborer's Secret Cry For 'HELP' Inside Shopping Bag
Serena Solomon, Huffington Post | A Cry For Help | May 1, 2014

Stephanie Wilson was reaching for a receipt inside a paper shopping bag from Saks Fifth Avenue when she found a letter pleading, "HELP HELP HELP."

The message, written in blue ink on white lined paper, appeared to be a desperate cry from a man who said he made the bag while being unfairly held in a Chinese prison factory more than 7,000 miles away...

The Rise Of The Malibu Movie Colony
Michele Wilens, The Daily Beast | Malibu Tales | April 30, 2014

Welcome to Malibu Colony, a one-mile stretch of beachfront property that has been witness to the shenanigans of the stars for over 80 years. And oh the tales these homes could tell...

Grateful For Bob Weir
Alec Wilkinson, The New Yorker | The Other One | April 30, 2014

I went to the Tribeca Film Festival to see “The Other One: The Long, Strange Trip of Bob Weir,” because I have always liked Bob Weir, the second guitarist of the Grateful Dead. Usually you would call such a musician a rhythm guitarist, but Weir isn’t anything like a garden-variety rhythm guitarist. To the initial exasperation of his bandmates, who wanted someone to keep time more diligently, he developed one of the most unusual styles in rock and roll, built on lyric asides and cunning contrapuntal remarks that suggest a line of melody travelling through the map of the chord changes...

Why Fear Boko Haram
Eliza Griswold, Slate | Why Fear Boko Haram | April 29, 2014

The Nigerian militant group abducted 234 teenage girls two weeks ago. That's just the beginning...

Warning: This Column Will Offend You
Michael Moynihan, The Daily Beast | Warning: This Column Will Offend You | April 29, 2014

Should students be warned that reading The Great Gatsby might "trigger" a past trauma? The campus censors think so. But they are only protecting your feelings...

A Journalist And A Scientist Break Ground In The G.M.O. Debate
Amanda Little, The New Yorker | G.M.O. Debate | April 28, 2014

There was a trace of mischief in Michael Pollan’s smile as he took the stage of Wheeler Hall at the University of California, Berkeley, last week to introduce a lecture for a course that he co-teaches, with the activist Raj Patel, called Edible Education 101. The auditorium was crammed with seven hundred students, most looking as you might expect young Berkeley food activists to look: wholesome and bright-eyed, visibly eager to help make the global food system “more equitable, healthful and sustainable,” as the course mission states. This group constituted a kind of monoculture, and Pollan was about to introduce an invasive species...

America's Real Criminal Element: Lead
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones | Lead And Crime | April 25, 2014

...Political scientist John DiIulio warned that the echo of the baby boom would soon produce a demographic bulge of millions of young males that he famously dubbed "juvenile super-predators." Other criminologists nodded along. But even though the demographic bulge came right on schedule, crime continued to drop. And drop. And drop. By 2010, violent crime rates in New York City had plunged 75 percent from their peak in the early '90s...

Goodbye, Net Neutrality; Hello, Net Discrimination
Tim Wu, The New Yorker | Net-Discrimination Rule | April 25, 2014

In 2007, at a public forum at Coe College, in Iowa, Presidential candidate Barack Obama was asked about net neutrality. Specifically, “Would you make it a priority in your first year of office to reinstate net neutrality as the law of the land? And would you pledge to only appoint F.C.C. commissioners that support open Internet principles like net neutrality?”

“The answer is yes,” Obama replied. “I am a strong supporter of net neutrality.”...

Climbers Leave Everest Amid Regrets And Tensions Among Sherpas
Bhadra Sharma and Ellen Barry, The New York Times | Mourning In Nepal | April 25, 2014

Climbers who had hoped to reach the summit of Mount Everest have instead begun the long journey home: a teenager with epilepsy who wanted to inspire others like himself; a banker who quit his job, sold his apartment and used up most of his savings to pay for the trip; a builder from California who was carrying the ashes of his younger brother...

Jihadists Now Control Secretive U.S. Base In Libya
Eli Lake, The Daily Beast | Tale Of Tantoush | April 23, 2014

A camp on the Libyan coastline meant to train terror-hunters has instead become a safe haven for terrorists and al Qaeda...