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.

Democracy Wins in Tunisia
Rep. Jane Harman, The Daily Beast | Democracy Wins in Tunisia | October 29, 2011

From peaceful revolution to free elections in just nine months, the birthplace of the Arab Spring has achieved a stunning transition. Now we must embrace the victors and ensure strong roles for women, former representative Jane Harman says from Tunis...

Euro Bailout: An Animated Explanation
Tom Meltzer, The Guardian | Euro Bailout: An Animated Explanation | October 29, 2011

Are you confused about what the Euro bailout actually is? So were we! Tom Meltzer tries to explain with the help of his animated friends...

Obituary: Sir Hilary Synnott
The Telegraph | Obituary: Sir Hilary Synnott | October 29, 2011

In Bad Days in Basra (2008), his memoir of the six months he spent in Iraq, Synnott recorded, in devastating detail, the chaotic reality behind the Coalition Provisional Authority's attempts to establish civic governance; the dysfunctional relationship between the two occupying powers, Britain and America; and lack of planning and support from the government back home...

Madoff and his Models
Ron Chernow, The New Yorker | Madoff and his Models | October 28, 2011

In financial history, Ponzi schemes—the fraudulent enterprise of paying off old investors with money collected from new ones—are the most peculiar of crimes. Before they are detected, they seem exquisitely pleasing to perpetrators and victims alike. The fraud appears to be a bountiful gift that the confidence trickster, a generous soul and a financial wizard to boot, has bestowed upon a grateful world. Investors frequently revere the schemer, endowing him with magical properties. The schemer, in turn, may come to believe that his scheme isn’t altogether shady and that he will someday generate the sensational returns advertised. For the duration of a Ponzi scheme, it may seem like a victimless crime. Not surprisingly, when the impostor is exposed, the victims experience profound hurt and disillusionment, having trusted implicitly in the schemer against a chorus of naysayers...

The Reign of the One Percenters
Christopher Ketcham, Orion Magazine | The Reign of the One Percenters | October 28, 2011

Income inequality and the death of culture in New York City...

Libya's Sexual Revolution
Ellen Knickmeyer, Foreign Policy | Libya's Sexual Revolution | October 28, 2011

When it comes to love, Muammar al-Qaddafi's Libya was unlucky for unmarried 33-year-old truck driver Ahmed Nori Faqiar. His looks would have benefited if his parents could ever have sprung for a dentist. Lack of means forced him to live unhappily at his childhood home well into adulthood. Marriage, a home of his own, kids -- all are dreams that the wiry Libyan had long ago steeled himself to stop hoping for...

China Reins in Liberalization of Culture
Sharon Lafraniere, Michael Wines and Edward Wong | China Reins in Liberalization of Culture | October 27, 2011

Political censorship in this authoritarian state has long been heavy-handed. But for years, the Communist Party has tolerated a creeping liberalization in popular culture, tacitly allowing everything from popular knockoffs of “American Idol”-style talent shows to freewheeling microblogs that let media groups prosper and let people blow off steam. Now, the party appears to be saying "enough."...

Neil Gaiman, Gloria Steinem, and Other Writers Weigh in on Occupy Wall Street

Earlier this month, the writer Jeff Sharlet emailed novelist Salman Rushdie to suggest a petition for writers who support Occupy Wall Street. Rushdie loved the idea. So Sharlet enlisted the help of fellow journalist Kiera Feldman, plus the assistance of literary magazines n + 1 and Tin House. The website for Occupy Writers went live on October 13. At first a petition and list of signatories, the site soon began publishing: poems by Alice Walker, prose by Francine Prose, and more...

Lethal Virus From Salmon Farms Seen In Wild Sockeye
Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle | Lethal Virus From Salmon Farms Seen In Wild Sockeye | October 27, 2011

The discovery in British Columbia of an infectious virus that has devastated salmon farms on the East Coast, in Europe and Chile has alarmed conservationists, some of whom blame the aquaculture industry, but fishery scientists say it is too early to panic...

China Takes a Loss to Get Ahead in the Business of Fresh Water
Michael Wines, The New York Times | China Takes a Loss to Get Ahead in the Business of Fresh Water | October 26, 2011

Towering over the Bohai Sea shoreline on this city’s outskirts, the Beijiang Power and Desalination Plant is a 26-billion-renminbi technical marvel: an ultrahigh-temperature, coal-fired generator with state-of-the-art pollution controls, mated to advanced Israeli equipment that uses its leftover heat to distill seawater into fresh water.