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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.

Middle East Quiz
Jacob Turcotte | Middle East Quiz | April 23, 2011

Think you know the Middle East? Take our geography quiz...

Family Physician Can't Give Away Solo Practice
Gardiner Harris | Family Physician Can't Give Away Solo Practice | April 23, 2011

“So there we are, miles from shore, fishing since 11 o’clock at night, and we haven’t gotten one single bite until finally we gaff one that’s about this big.” Dr. Ronald Sroka held his hands about three feet apart, and John Mayer — fishing buddy and patient — smiled from the examination table. Dr. Sroka shook his head, glanced at a wall clock and quickly put his stethoscope to his ears.

“All right, deep breaths,” Dr. Sroka said. It was only 10 a.m., but Dr. Sroka was already behind schedule, with patients backed up in the waiting room like planes waiting to take off at La Guardia Airport. Too many stories; too little time.“Talking too much is the kind of thing that gets me behind,” Dr. Sroka said with a shrug. “But it’s the only part of the job I like.”...

Iraq Troop Talks Falter
Adam Entous and Julian E. Barnes, The Wall Street Journal | Iraq Troop Talks Falter | April 22, 2011

Senior U.S. and Iraqi military officials have been in negotiations about keeping some 10,000 American troops in Iraq beyond the scheduled withdrawal of all U.S. forces at year's end, according to officials familiar with the talks...

The Raj Trial and Wall Street's South Asian Elite
Gary Weiss, The Daily Beast | The Raj Trial and Wall Street's South Asian Elite | April 22, 2011

The trial of hedge-fund billionaire Raj Rajaratnam has riveted the financial world and shined a light on the phenomenal success and insularity of the Indians, Pakistanis, Bengalis, and Sri Lankans flooding the American financial sector...

Coming Home, as an Interpreter
First Lt. Holly Hernandez, The New York Times At War | Coming Home, as an Interpreter | April 22, 2011

It was 1 in the afternoon. I was looking through the mess hall in Bagram Airfield north of Kabul, scanning the faces to find Parween. I had met her a few days before as she commented on a book I was reading about Afghanistan; her first name was the same as that of the main character. The book was “Lipstick in Afghanistan” by Roberta Gately, a fictional account of an American nurse volunteering in Bamiyan Province after 9/11. Unlike the nurse in my book, Parween had grown up in Kabul in a highly educated family. Her father had attended Columbia University and worked as an ambassador for Afghanistan to Ethiopia. Now, she worked as a translator for American military forces in Afghanistan...

Shale Gas Fracking Q&A
Fiona Harvey, The Guardian UK | Shale Gas Fracking Q&A | April 21, 2011

Never mind the spin, what do we know for sure about the controversial process of fracking?...

Parting Glance: Chris Hondros
David W. Dunlap, James Estrin and Kerri Macdonald, The New York Times | Parting Glance: Chris Hondros | April 21, 2011

Conjure a combat photographer in your mind's eye -- fatigues, a whiskey flask and a fondness for rude pastimes. Now discard the cliche and conjure Chris Hondros of Getty Images insted. A tweed blazer with elbow patches. A taste for martinis. A love of Mahler. And a passion for chess...

Parting Glance: Tim Hetherington
David W. Dunlap, James Estrin and Kerri Macdonald, The New York Times | Parting Glance: Tim Hetherington | April 21, 2011

To call Tim Hetherington a great photographer would be a mistake. That's not now he saw it. "If you are interested in mass communication, then you have to stop thinking of yourself as a photographer," he told Michael Kamber in a revealing interview last year, as his documentary film "Restropo" was about to open. "We live in a post-photographic world."...

Syria Protests: Shocking Videos, Photos
Brian Ries, The Daily Beast | Syria Protests: Shocking Videos, Photos | April 19, 2011

Crowds surge, "martyrs" are carried from the protest field, and gunshots ring out through the night -- view videos from Syria's most recent protests as the country marches towards revolution...

Whales' Grandeur and Grace, Up Close
Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, The New York Times | Whales' Grandeur and Grace, Up Close | April 19, 2011

On a warm summer afternoon in 2005, Bryant Austin was snorkeling in the blue waters of the South Pacific by the islands of Tonga, looking through his camera at a humpback whale and her calf swimming less than 50 yards away. As he waited for the right moment, the playful calf swam right up to him, so close that he had to lower his camera. That’s when he felt a gentle tap on his shoulder. Turning around, Mr. Austin found himself looking straight into the eye of the mother whale...