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.

Smoked Fish Surrealism: Ben Katchor's Comics of NYC Neurotics
Jake Siegel, The Daily Beast | Smoked Fish Surrealism: Ben Katchor's Comics of NYC Neurotics | March 19, 2013

Like all New Yorkers, Ben Katchor is obsessed with real estate. The characters of his imagined Gotham don’t pine for spacious lofts in SoHo or the grandeur of The Dakota; their mania is for obscure but resonant architectural detail—doorknobs, tissue dispensers, and cornices rule their minds. The distortion—bending familiar scenes away from the expected totems of modern living and toward seemingly trivial details—gives us a satire that illuminates as much as it skewers. At his best, Katchor creates a lucid derangement of the ordinary, revealing the power of all the cluttering artifacts that surround us but go unnoticed. His new collection of comic strips, Hand-Drying In America, is a dark, funny, and compelling experience, as engrossing to view as it is to read...

Bloomberg Proposal Would Require NYC Retail Stores To Keep Tobacco Products Out Of Sight

A new proposal would require New York City retailers to keep tobacco products out of sight under a first-in-the-nation proposal aimed at reducing the youth smoking rate, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday.

The legislation would require stores to keep tobacco products in cabinets, drawers, under the counter, behind a curtain or in other concealed spots. They could only be visible when an adult is making a purchase or during restocking...

Steubenville Rape Trial Forces Depressed Ohio Town To Look Inward For Answers

In Steubenville, a small, struggling former steel town on the bank of the Ohio River, the last five days of an excruciating rape trial and the months leading up to it have been racked with angst and division.

But at issue for many residents was not the specifics of the case alone: whether two stars of the town's much-loved high school football team raped a drunken teenage girl during a night of wild parties.

It was also whether the town itself was being seen to be on trial. Some of the reporting had seemed to suggest something rotten in Steubenville, with stories of other teenagers sharing lurid pictures of the incident, and whispers – quickly denied – of a wider cover-up in the town.

It's the biggest story to bring the spotlight to Steubenville since the huge steel mill was finally closed after a long decline in 2005...

Turmoil In Cyprus Over A Bailout Rattles Europe
Liz Alderman and Landon Thomas, Jr., The New York Times | Turmoil In Cyprus Over A Bailout Rattles Europe | March 18, 2013

Europe’s surprising decision early Saturday to force bank depositors in Cyprus to share in the cost of the latest euro zone bailout set off increasing outrage and turmoil in Cyprus on Sunday and fueled fears that the trouble will spread to countries like Spain and Italy.

Facing eroding support, the new president, Nicos Anastasiades, asked Parliament to postpone until Monday an emergency vote on a measure to approve the bailout terms, amid doubt that it would pass. The euro fell sharply against major currencies ahead of the action, as investors around the world absorbed the implications of Europe’s move...

Serenity Of A War Strategist
Alessandra Stanley, The New York Times | Serenity Of A War Strategist | March 15, 2013

Dick Cheney was often referred to as the Darth Vader of the Bush administration.

There are moments in “The World According to Dick Cheney” when this former vice president comes off more as Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper in “Rebecca.”

Both guided young, inexperienced protégés to the brink with unflappable certitude, self-assurance and an unsettling monotone. They were so persistent and persuasive that it was almost a shock when it turned out that each had an idée fixe that could burn down the house, or, in Mr. Cheney’s case, whole countries.

That’s not the overt message of this documentary, which will be broadcast Friday on Showtime...

Physicist May Have Evidence Universe Is A Computer Simulation
Michael Rundle, The Huffington Post | Physicist May Have Evidence Universe Is A Computer Simulation | March 14, 2013

Physicists say they may have evidence that the universe is a computer simulation.

How? They made a computer simulation of the universe. And it looks sort of like us.

A long-proposed thought experiment, put forward by both philosophers and popular culture, points out that any civilisation of sufficient size and intelligence would eventually create a simulation universe if such a thing were possible...

The Professor, The Bikini Model And The Suitcase Full Of Trouble
Maxine Swann, The New York Times Magazine | The Professor, The Bikini Model And The Suitcase Full Of Trouble | March 11, 2013

In November 2011, Paul Frampton, a theoretical particle physicist, met Denise Milani, a Czech bikini model, on the online dating site Mate1.com. She was gorgeous — dark-haired and dark-eyed, with a supposedly natural DDD breast size. In some photos, she looked tauntingly steamy; in others, she offered a warm smile. Soon, Frampton and Milani were chatting online nearly every day. Frampton would return home from campus — he’d been a professor in the physics and astronomy department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for 30 years — and his computer would buzz. “Are you there, honey?” They’d chat on Yahoo Messenger for a while, and then he’d go into the other room to take care of something. A half-hour later, there was the familiar buzz. It was always Milani. “What are you doing now?”...

Brussels In Bloom
The Week | Brussels In Bloom | March 11, 2013

The annual Carpet of Flowers in the Grand-Place, Brussels. Close to a million begonia flowers were used to create the 300 square metres carpet this week. The pattern is based on a medieval carpet design...

In Andaman Islands, Indian Court Allows Return Of A 'Human Safari'
Jonathan Mazower,The Daily Beast | In Andaman Islands, Indian Court Allows Return Of A 'Human Safari' | March 10, 2013

A fiercely contested legal battle that could determine the fate of an endangered tribe ended this week in India’s supreme court. Three judges ordered that the main highway through the Andaman Islands, an archipelago in the Bay of Bengal that’s home to some 350,000 Indian settlers and a few hundred indigenous tribespeople, should re-open to tourist traffic.

In January, the court had issued an interim order banning tourists from the road, after hearing disturbing accounts of expeditions that tribal-rights organization Survival International labeled “human safaris.” Traffic along the road promptly dropped by two-thirds, raising hopes that the Jarawa people could once again live in peace, without the daily intrusion of hundreds of tourists...

'Prepare For All-Out War': Kim Jong Un Vows To Attack South Korea As He Cancels Peace Pact In Revenge For Tough UN Sanctions

Note: Numerous photographs and videos are included in this article.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un today told his troops to be ready for 'all-out war' and instructed them to 'make the first gunfire' if tensions with South Korea boil over.

He also promised a 'great advance' over the border between the two nations, shortly after the North announced that it had abandoned its peace treaty with the South.

The pariah state has launched a new round of warlike rhetoric in anger over tough new sanctions imposed on it.

The UN Security council voted to impose the fresh round of sanctions targeting North Korea's economy and leadership in the wake of the country's third nuclear test...