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.

The Nenets Of Siberia Ensure The Annual Reindeer Migration
Sebastiao Salgado, The Washington Post | The Nenets Of Siberia Ensure The Annual Reindeer Migration | December 23, 2012

Using their skills as hunters and fishermen, the indigenous people of northern Russia preserve the tradition of herding reindeer across the forbidding Arctic...

(Photographs by Sebastiao Salgado.)

U.S. Shooting Deaths Since Sandy Hook Top 100
Jason Cherkis, The Huffington Post | U.S. Shooting Deaths Since Sandy Hook Top 100 | December 23, 2012

In the week following the Sandy Hook massacre, a body was found inside a vacant house, at a car wash, in a bodega. They were discovered on a bike trail, in a backyard, inside the front office of a motel, in an idling Chevy pickup. They were the 67th murder in their city and the 88th and the 124th.

All had one thing in common: the murder weapon. All died from gunshots. Shots to the head. Multiples to the chest. And so on.

This week, as mourners gathered in Newtown, Conn., to bury Sandy Hook Elementary's dead, and a nation renewed its debate over guns, the shootings did not stop. The Huffington Post spent the week tracking gun-related homicides and accidents throughout the U.S., logging more than 100 from Google and Nexis searches. This is by no means a definitive tally. In 2010, there were more than twice that many homicides alone in an average week...

What's With The Chinese Mayan-Doomsbury Cult?
Evan Osnos, The New Yorker | What's With The Chinese Mayan-Doomsbury Cult? | December 21, 2012

China has rounded up five hundred or so members of a fringe Christian group known as the Church of the Almighty God, which contends that the world will end on Friday. It had been distributing pamphlets and sending out cell-phone messages around the country warning, as one pamphlet put it: “December 21st is approaching, and on that day half of the world’s good people will die, and all evil people will die out—only if you join the Almighty God movement can you avoid death and be saved.” The group also predicts that “the sun will not shine and electricity will not work for three days,” according to the state press...

Leonard Cohen Rocks Madison Square Garden
Margie Goldsmith, The Huffington Post | Leonard Cohen Rocks Madison Square Garden | December 21, 2012

Last night, 20,000 of us in the audience sat mesmerized, collectively holding our breath as Leonard Cohen, performing his Old Ideas World Tour 2012, sang "Bird on the Wire" at Madison Square Garden. Except for Cohen's low gravely voice, the Garden was so silent you could have heard a finger slide across an iPhone. He was the preacher, the stage was his altar and the venue was his cathedral. The backdrop was a wall of silk curtains which rose from the floor to the rafters and changed colors with each song. The sound system was so perfect you could hear each syllable and chord from everywhere in the Garden.

Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free...

Witnessing Grief And Compassion In Newtown
Jeff Benedict | Witnessing Grief And Compassion In Newtown | December 21, 2012

Dave Checketts is not a professionally trained clergyman. The former chairman of Madison Square Garden and the New York Knicks is currently CEO of Legends Hospitality, the concessions and merchandise company he jointly owns with the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys.

But he's also a lay minister for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with oversight of 10 Mormon congregations in Fairfield County, Conn., including the one in Newtown.

On Friday morning, Checketts had left his New Canaan, Conn., home and headed to his Park Avenue office to prepare for a weekend business trip to Dallas for Sunday's Cowboys-Steelers game. He and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones planned to host a group of new investors. But late morning he got an email about a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. From his laptop, he accessed the church records for Mormon families in Newtown. Five of them had children that attended the school...

1.2 Million Years Of Porn Watched Since 2006 On Just Two Sites: Report
Weird News, Huffington Post | 1.2 Million Years Of Porn Watched Since 2006 On Just Two Sites: Report | December 20, 2012

With all the porn watching humanity has been doing, it's a wonder we ever do anything else.

The search engine PornWatchers.com (warning: if you go there, you will see porn) released a report that claims people have watched 1.2 million years worth of porn since 2006 — and that's based on data from just two porn sites...

The Best Astronomy Images Of 2012
Phil Plait, Slate | The Best Astronomy Images of 2012 | December 20, 2012

The Universe is beautiful.

Which is interesting. It doesn’t have to be; it could be all colorless and weird and lumpy. Instead, it’s bursting with color, sculpted by vast forces, molded into fantastic shapes that please our eyes and delight our brains—especially once we understand what we’re seeing.

Every December I pick my favorite images from the previous year to display, a task that is extraordinarily difficult. I always wind up with a list of about 60 or 70, and I have to cull it down mercilessly. Such is the case this year again, and I could pare it only to 21, a score and more of gorgeousness for you to soak in. I choose the pictures not just for their beauty but also because they are interesting, and different—ones that stand out from the crowd somehow. I usually put them in order with my favorite one last, but this year I just can’t. I’ll let you know my favorite when you get to it—I expect you’ll agree—but other than that it’s just a dead tie...

The World's Worst War
Jeffrey Gettleman, The New York Times | The World's Worst War | December 20, 2012

Last month, as I was driving down a backbreaking road between Goma, a provincial capital in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kibumba, a little market town about 20 miles away, I came upon the body of a Congolese soldier. He was on his back, half hidden in the bushes, his legs crumpled beneath him, his fly-covered face looking up at the sun. The strangest thing was, four years ago, almost to the day, I saw a corpse of a Congolese soldier in that exact same spot. He had been killed and left to rot just as his comrade would be four years later, in the vain attempt to stop a rebel force from marching down the road from Kibumba to Goma. The circumstances were nearly identical: a group of Tutsi-led rebels, widely believed to be backed by Rwanda, eviscerating a feckless, alcoholic government army that didn’t even bother to scoop up its dead...

Readers Weigh In After Newtown: Why Own A Gun?
Matthew DeLuca, The Daily Beast | Readers Weigh In After Newtown: Why Own A Gun? | December 19, 2012

In the wake of a horrific school shooting in Newtown, Conn., lawmakers and activists have come forward to demand a serious discussion about gun control in America. The National Rifle Association has been silent, while the president has said we have an “obligation” to try to prevent another massacre at the hands of a crazed gunman.

But who actually owns guns in America—and why? Surely, they can’t all be Adam Lanzas.

To find out, we asked our readers a simple question: Why do you own a gun? And if you don’t own a gun, why not?...
So You Think You Know The Second Amendment?
Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker | So You Think You Know The Second Amendment? | December 18, 2012

Does the Second Amendment prevent Congress from passing gun-control laws? The question, which is suddenly pressing, in light of the reaction to the school massacre in Newtown, is rooted in politics as much as law.

For more than a hundred years, the answer was clear, even if the words of the amendment itself were not. The text of the amendment is divided into two clauses and is, as a whole, ungrammatical: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The courts had found that the first part, the “militia clause,” trumped the second part, the “bear arms” clause. In other words, according to the Supreme Court, and the lower courts as well, the amendment conferred on state militias a right to bear arms—but did not give individuals a right to own or carry a weapon...