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.

At Work in Syria, Times Correspondent Dies
Rick Gladstone, The New York Times | At Work in Syria, Times Correspondent Dies | February 17, 2012

Anthony Shadid, a gifted foreign correspondent whose graceful dispatches for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The Associated Press covered nearly two decades of Middle East conflict and turmoil, died, apparently of an asthma attack, on Thursday while on a reporting assignment in Syria. Tyler Hicks, a Times photographer who was with Mr. Shadid, carried his body across the border to Turkey....

Bonding With Horses
Forrest Wickman, Slate | Bonding With Horses | February 16, 2012

Two horses that stumbled while filming racing sequences for the first and seventh episodes of HBO’s Luck were deemed inoperable and euthanized. Dead and dying horses are often said to be “sent to the glue factory.” Why are horses good for making glue?...

Tiniest Chameleon, Brookesia Micra, Discovered On Madagascar Island
Andrea Mustain on OurAmazingPlanet via Huffington Post | Tiniest Chameleon, Brookesia Micra, Discovered On Madagascar Island | February 16, 2012

A species of chameleon small enough to easily perch on a match head has been discovered on a tiny island off Madagascar, a group of scientists has announced.

In addition to the discovery of Brookesia micra, now the tiniest chameleon ever discovered, the researchers also announced the discovery of three additional tiny chameleon species...

Obama's White Whale
Sasha Issenberg, Slate | Obama's White Whale | February 15, 2012

How the campaign's top-secret project Narwhal could change this race, and many to come...

Nothing But Net -- And Hotter Than Tiger Balm
Mark McDonald, The International Herald Tribune | Nothing But Net -- And Hotter Than Tiger Balm | February 15, 2012

We’re thinking that a diktat will soon come around from the schoolmarms and ayatollahs of All Things Hip, declaring that “Linsanity” is already passé, overdone, uncool.

For now, though, we’re staying with it, especially because the remarkable Jeremy Lin won a game for the New York Knicks on Tuesday night, draining a three-pointer just before the buzzer. Nothing but net. Hotter than Tiger Balm...

Walter Isaacson's 'Steve Jobs'
John Gruber, Daring Fireball | Walter Isaacson's 'Steve Jobs' | February 15, 2012

What is Apple at heart: a software company, or hardware company?

This is a perennial question. The truth, of course, is that Apple is neither. Apple is an experience company. That they create both hardware and software is part of creating the entire product experience...

Huichol 'Cosmic Portal' Peyote Ceremonies Threatened by Silver Mine
William Booth, The Washington Post | Huichol 'Cosmic Portal' Peyote Ceremonies Threatened by Silver Mine | February 14, 2012

For the Huichol Indians, the desert mountains here are sacred, a cosmic portal with major mojo, where shamans collect the peyote that fuels the waking dreams that hold the universe together.

For a Canadian mining company, these same hills look like a billion dollars worth of buried silver

.In a stark collision of cultures, the famously mystical Huichol are trying to stop a $100 million, 15-year mining project from starting this year...

Can Donald Trump Save Scotland?
Alex Massie, Daily Beast | Can Donald Trump Save Scotland? | February 14, 2012

Connoisseurs of low farce and political absurdity have reason to be disappointed with Donald Trump. The real estate mogul's flirtation with running for the Republican Party's presidential nomination was a grand, if also ridiculous, entertainment that ended with an unbecoming and uncharacteristic whimper. If Herman Cain could, for a while, be thought a quarter-credible candidate, why could The Donald not strut upon the national stage as the star of his own bouffant opera buffa? Perhaps even Mr. Trump appreciated that saving the United States from itself was too big a task even for the Lion of Park Avenue. Or it may be that Trump was saving himself for a different, possibly more modest task: saving Scotland...

Apple Asks Outside Group to Inspect Factories
Charles Duhigg and Nick Wingfield, The New York Times | Apple Asks Outside Group to Inspect Factories | February 14, 2012

Responding to a growing outcry over conditions at its overseas factories, Apple said Monday that an outside organization had begun to audit working conditions at the plants where the bulk of iPhones, iPads and other Apple products are built, and that the group would make its finding public...

Al Qaeda's Zawahiri Calls For War To Oust Syria's Assad
Elizabeth A. Kennedy, The Christian Science Monitor | Al Qaeda's Zawahiri Calls For War To Oust Syria's Assad | February 13, 2012


Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called for the ouster of Syria's "pernicious, cancerous regime," raising fears that Islamist militants will try to exploit an uprising against President Bashar Assad that began with peaceful calls for democratic change but is morphing into a bloody, armed insurgency. The regime has long blamed terrorists for the 11-month-old revolt, and Zawahiri's endorsement creates new difficulties for the US, its Western allies and Arab states trying to figure out a way to help force Assad from power...