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.

How Many Stephen Colberts Are There?
Charles McGrath, The New York Times | How Many Stephen Colberts Are There? | January 5, 2012

There used to be just two Stephen Colberts, and they were hard enough to distinguish. The main difference was that one thought the other was an idiot. The idiot Colbert was the one who made a nice paycheck by appearing four times a week on “The Colbert Report” (pronounced in the French fashion, with both t’s silent), the extremely popular fake news show on Comedy Central. The other Colbert, the non-idiot, was the 47-year-old South Carolinian, a practicing Catholic, who lives with his wife and three children in suburban Montclair, N.J., where, according to one of his neighbors, he is “extremely normal.” One of the pleasures of attending a live taping of “The Colbert Report” is watching this Colbert transform himself into a Republican superhero...

Japan's Tsunami Has Dealt Lasting Blow To Family Farms
John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times | Japan's Tsunami Has Dealt Lasting Blow To Family Farms | January 5, 2012

The fallout from the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns, coupled with the possibility that Japan will join the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade pact, may forever alter a 2,500-year-old tradition...

Steve Jobs Doll Craze Crashes Manufacturer's Web Site
Maura Judkis, The Washington Post | Steve Jobs Doll Crazy Crashes Manufacturer's Web Site | January 4, 2012

For Apple fans worldwide, Steve Jobs was a superhero. Now, he’s been given a tribute usually accorded to superheroes: An action figure has been made in his likeness. The doll, which was created by Chinese company In Icons, will be released in February, but can be pre-ordered now. Of course, you’ll have to wait a bit until the Web site comes back up. It seems rabid Jobs fans have overwhelmed the company with visits...

Iowa Caucuses: 7 Takeaways
Maggie Haberman, Politico | Iowa Caucuses: 7 Takeaways | January 4, 2012

After months of predictions of a boring race and polls showing Mitt Romney leading, the final race was confusing — and uncalled — down to the wire. The muddled result has a series of effects going forward. Below are POLITICO's seven takeaways from the Iowa caucuses...

Iran Warns U.S. Aircraft Carrier Not to Return to Gulf
J. David Goodman, The New York Times | Iran Warns U.S. Aircraft Carrier Not to Return to the Gulf | January 4, 2012

Iran’s military sharpened its tone toward the United States on Tuesday with a blunt warning that an American aircraft carrier that left the Persian Gulf through the strategic Strait of Hormuz last week should not return. The warning, by Iran’s military chief, was the latest and most aggressive volley in a nearly daily exchange of barbed statements between Iran and the United States...

Quadrantid Meteor Shower Won't Have To Compete With Moonlight
Denise Chow, The Christian Science Monitor | Quadrantid Meteor Shower Won't Have To Compete With Moonlight | January 3, 2012

Quadrantid meteor shower peak could hit as many as 100 meteors per hour, says NASA. The Quadrantid meteor shower will peak at 2 a.m. on Jan. 4...

China's President Pushes Back Against Western Culture
Edward Wong, The New York Times | China's President Pushes Back Against Western Culture | January 3, 2012

President Hu Jintao of China has said that the West is trying to dominate China by spreading its culture and ideology and that China must strengthen its cultural production to defend against the assault, according to an essay in a Communist Party policy magazine published this week...

A User's Guide to the Iowa Air Wars
Judith Grey, The Daily Beast | A User's Guide to the Iowa Air Wars | January 3, 2012

The anti-Gingrich barrage took its toll. Rick Perry's wife can't save him. And Rick Santorum proves the ground game still matters. Judith Grey on the ads shaping Iowa's outcome...

Longform's Top 10 Stories of 2011
longform.org -- via Slate | Longform's Top 10 Stories of 2011 | December 31, 2011

This week we've been sharing our favorite articles of the year on slate. This is the final installment, our overall top 10 stories of the year. For our full list -- including the top 10 articles about sports, pollitics, tech, and more -- check out Longform's Best of 2011.

Newt Gingrich's Glory Days
Matt Bai, The New York Times | Newt Gingrich's Glory Days | December 31, 2011

It was just after dawn in Coralville, Iowa, the week before Christmas, and I asked the young waitress at the hotel restaurant if she would kindly direct Newt Gingrich to my table when he arrived. She looked uncertain.

“Would you recognize Newt Gingrich?” I asked her.

“I think my manager probably would,” she said...