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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.

Spamazon
Laura Miller, Salon | Spamazon | June 21, 2011

Exactly one year ago, I wrote of my fear that, in the current self-publishing boom, "slush fatigue" -- a form of existential nausea, once suffered only by a few entry-level staffers in the book business, brought on by overexposure to terrible manuscripts -- could infect the general public. How innocent those days seem now! As if slush weren't bad enough, readers looking for a good ebook must now also wade through the same maddening stuff that's been clogging up their email inboxes for decades: spam...

You Are Followers of the Juche Philosophy, So I Can Put My Trust in You

Reading North Korea's comic book propaganda...

Government Selects Graphic Photos to Deter Smokers
Duff Wilson, The New York Times | Government Selects Graphic Photos to Deter Smokers | June 21, 2011

Federal health officials on Tuesday released their final selection of nine graphic warning labels to cover the top half of cigarette packages beginning next year, in the first major change to those warnings in more than a quarter century, over the opposition of tobacco manufacturers...

Spongebob, the Mushroom, Discovered in Borneo
David Perlman, San Francisco Chronicle | Spongebob, the Mushroom, Discovered in Borneo | June 20, 2011

You can find all the porcini you want in your supermarket, but don't go looking for the mushroom's distant cousin, Spongiforma squarepantsii, because the newly discovered species can only be found in the rain forest of Borneo -- so far...

Fewer Hands in the Fields
Richard Fausset, Los Angeles Times | Fewer Hands in the Fields | June 20, 2011

Labor contractor Don Pedtro -- like farmers across Georgia -- is worried that the state's tough new immigration law is scaring away an illegal immigrant workforce...

Aung San Suu Kyi Tells of Burma's Struggle For Freedom and Its Cost
Simon Tisdall, The Guardian | Aung San Suu Kyi Tells of Burma's Struggle for Freedom and Its Cost | June 20, 2011

Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese democracy leader and Nobel peace prize winner, has issued a passionate manifesto for freedom in an unprecedented international broadcast describing the continuing 21-year-long struggle against Burma's military junta and the inspirational impact of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions...

Qaeda Woes Fuel Talk of Speeding Afghan Pullback
Mark Landler and Helene Cooper, The New York Times | Qaeda Woes Fuel Talk of Speeding Afghan Pullback | June 19, 2011

As the Obama administration nears a crucial decision on how rapidly to withdraw combat forces from Afghanistan, high-ranking officials say that Al Qaeda’s original network in the region has been crippled, providing a rationale for an accelerated reduction of troops...

The Secret $100,000 College Club No One Should Join
Blaire Briody, The Fiscal Times | The Secret $100,000 College Club No One Should Join | June 18, 2011

Six months after receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree at the private digital arts college in California, 22-year-old Will Christiansen received his first student loan bill. The minimum monthly payment was $1,200.  Making just $45,000 per year as a graphic designer at an advertising company in New York City — and taking home about $2,800 a month after taxes — he panicked. “There was no way I could make a $1,200 payment and still pay rent,” he says. “I would simply have to defer until I found a better job.”...

Recycling Hotel Soap to Save Lives
Ebonne Ruffins, CNN | Recycling Hotel Soap to Save Lives | June 18, 2011

That bar of soap you used once or twice during your last hotel stay might now be helping poor children fight disease.

Derreck Kayongo and his Atlanta-based Global Soap Project collect used hotel soap from across the United States. Instead of ending up in landfills, the soaps are cleaned and reprocessed for shipment to impoverished nations such as Haiti, Uganda, Kenya and Swaziland...

Extra Vitamins? A Great Idea, Except in Denmark
John Tagliabue, The New York Times | Extra Vitamins? A Great Idea, Except in Denmark | June 18, 2011

For the last seven years, Marianne Orum has owned a narrow store in a charming street in the heart of this Danish capital. A sign advertises “British and South African Food and Drink.” The shelves are lined with products familiar to most Americans, like Betty Crocker Pancake Mix, but also more exotic items...