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.

Does Fracking Cause Earthquakes?
Alyssa Battistoni, Mother Jones | Does Fracking Cause Earthquakes? | April 16, 2012

There are plenty of reasons to worry about fracking—groundwater contamination, methane leaks, that flaming tapwater thing. But can it really cause earthquakes? That's the question the US Geological Survey set out to answer after a spate of tremors in the Midwest—an area not usually known for earthquakes—alerted scientists to the possibility that some of them might be manmade...

Ai Weiwei on the Pen and the Gun
Mark McDonald, International Herald Tribune | Ai Weiwei on the Pen and the Gun | April 16, 2012

When we last looked in on Ai Weiwei, the feisty, plus-sized Chinese artist was suing the Beijing tax authorities over their charges against him. The Public Security folks had pulled the plug on Weiweicam, his project that was streaming live video feeds from inside his house to the Internet. And he has kept breaking the rules of his release from prison, blaming his lack of self-discipline, telling The Economist, “C’mon, I can’t even lose weight!”...

Earth Music: The Great Animal Orchestra, by Bernie Krause
Jeremy Denk, The New York Times Book Review | Earth Music: The Great Animal Orchestra, by Bernie Krause | April 13, 2012

Instead of visiting the zoo, spend some time in the native habitat of your local symphony orchestra. You will meet the badgering bass player, whose disparaging wisecracks you cannot quite hear; the flustered, quivering flutist who just wishes the oboist would play in tune (the feeling is mutual); and many other creatures, docile and gruff. Bernie Krause’s new book, “The Great Animal Orchestra,” is not about this beastly symphony; it is about the symphony of beasts that surrounds us, a vast orchestra in the process of being silenced, perhaps even more endangered than our human animal orchestras.

Sweden's New Gender-Neutral Pronoun: Hen
Mathalie Rothschild, Slate | Sweden's New Gender-Neutral Pronoun: Hen | April 12, 2012

By most people’s standards, Sweden is a paradise for liberated women. It has the highest proportion of working women in the world, and women earn about two-thirds of all degrees. Standard parental leave runs at 480 days, and 60 of those days are reserved exclusively for dads, causing some to credit the country with forging the way for a new kind of nurturing masculinity. In 2010, the World Economic Forum designated Sweden as the most gender-equal country in the world. But for many Swedes, gender equality is not enough. Many are pushing for the Nordic nation to be not simply gender-equal but gender-neutral...

The Great Oasis
Burkhard Bilger, The New Yorker | The Great Oasis | April 12, 2012

Can a wall of trees stop the Sahara from spreading?...

Georgian Billionaire Storms K Street
Anna Palmer, Politico | Georgian Billionaire Storms K Street | April 12, 2012

A Georgian billionaire has taken Washington by storm, hiring more than half a dozen lobbying and public relations firms over the past three months.

Bidzina Ivanishvili wants to become an official candidate in the country’s first prime minister race and he hopes that U.S. pressure for free and fair elections will help, since that could be a step toward Georgia’s long-held goal of being recognized by NATO...

In Poppy War, Taliban Aim to Protect a Cash Crop
Taimoor Shah and Alissa J. Rubin | In Poppy War, Taliban Aim to Protect a Cash Crop | April 12, 2012

So focused are the Taliban on securing this year’s opium poppy crop — and the support of the farmers tending it — that in the early days of their spring offensive in the south, they are targeting not only the officials trying to eradicate the plants, but also the tractors they use...

Matt Groening Reveals the Location of the Real Springfield
Claudia De La Roca, Smithsonian Magazine | Matt Groening Reveals the Location of the Real Springfield | April 11, 2012

Twenty-five years after The Simpsons made their TV debut, the show's creator talks about Homer's odyssey -- and his own...

Announcing Our Newest Hire: A Current Fox News Channel Employee

I always intended to keep my mouth shut. The plan was simple: get hired, keep my head down and my views to myself, work for a few months, build my resume, then eventually hop to a new job that didn't make me cringe every morning when I looked in the mirror.

That was years ago. My cringe muscles have turned into crow's feet. The ten resumes a month I was sending out dwindled into five, then two, then one, then zero. No one wants me. I'm blacklisted.

I work at Fox News Channel...

Obama's JOBS Act Couldn't Suck Worse
Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone | Obama's JOBS Act Couldn't Suck Worse | April 11, 2012

Boy, do I feel like an idiot. I've been out there on radio and TV in the last few months saying that I thought there was a chance Barack Obama was listening to the popular anger against Wall Street that drove the Occupy movement, that decisions like putting a for-real law enforcement guy like New York AG Eric Schneiderman in charge of a mortgage fraud task force meant he was at least willing to pay lip service to public outrage against the banks.

Then the JOBS Act happened...