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.

Vermont Battles Floods in Irene's Aftermath
Dave Gram, Burlington Free Press | Vermont Battles Floods in Irene's Aftermath | August 29, 2011

Vermont towns battled floods of historic proportions, utility crews struggled to restore power to 5 million people along the East Coast, and big-city commuters coped with transit-system disruptions Monday as the rainy remnants of Hurricane Irene finally spun into Canada....

Europe's Big Mistake
James Surowiecki, The New Yorker | Europe's Big Mistake | August 29, 2011

One might have thought that the E.C.B. would learn from the experience. No such luck...

Hurricane Prep: Are you smarter than a storm tracker?
Jacob Turcotte, The Christian Science Monitor | Hurricane Prep: Are you smarter than a storm tracker? | August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene is one of the biggest hurricanes to hit the U.S. East Coast in years. But how much do you know about these powerful storms?...

A Body Blow Against Al-Qaeda
David Ignatius, Washington Post Opinion | A Body Blow Against Al-Qaeda | August 28, 2011

The death of Atiyah Abd al-Rahman in an Aug. 22 drone attack in Pakistan may appear to be just another in the revolving-door fatalities among al-Qaeda’s operations chiefs. But it was a crucial blow to the core group that once surrounded Osama bin Laden...

Global Warming's Heavy Cost
Bill McKibben, The Daily Beast | Global Warming's Heavy Cost | August 28, 2011

Irene’s got a middle name, and it’s Global Warming.

As she roars up the Eastern Seaboard, everyone is doing what they should—boarding windows, preparing rescue plans, stocking up on batteries. But a lot of people are also wondering: what’s a “tropical” storm doing heading for the snow belt?...

Grim Evidence of Fighting's Toll Becomes Clearer in Libya
Anthony Shadid and Kareem Fahim, The New York Times | Grim Evidence of Fighting's Toll Becomes Clearer in Libya | August 27, 2011

As the fighting died down in Tripoli on Friday, the scope and savagery of the violence during the nearly weeklong battle for control of the capital began to come into sharper focus...

Jeremy Singer-Vine, Slate Explainer | CEO, COO, CFO, WTF | August 27, 2011

When did we start naming corporate honchos with three letters?...

Inside the Gaddafis' Lair
Babak Dehghanpisheh, The Daily Beast | Inside the Gaddafis' Lair | August 27, 2011

Babak Dehghanpisheh visited a Gaddafi family home this morning and discovered a secret palace hidden behind an ordinary facade. Read about the garden labyrinth, 40-foot-deep bunker, hot tub, waterfall, Playboy magazine collection, yachting brochures and an empty box of Coronas...

What's the Deal With the New Libyan Flag?
Eoin O'Carroll, The Christian Science Monitor | What's the Deal With the New Libyan Flag? | August 25, 2011

Until recently, the flag of Libya held a special place in the hearts of vexillophiles as The World's Most Boring Flag. That's because it was nothing but a green rectangle, with no markings of any kind. But starting in February, a new flag – red, black, and green with a white star and crescent in the center – has been hoisted at Libyan embassies around the world, from Switzerland to Bangladesh. It is the same flag being flown by the jubilant rebels themselves as they descend on Tripoli. So what's the deal with this new flag? Is there a Libyan Betsy Ross among the rebels? Where did it come from?...

Zoo Mystery: How Did Apes and Birds Know Quake Was Coming?
Joel Achenbach, The Washington Post | Zoo Mystery: How Did Apes and Birds Know Quake Was Coming? | August 25, 2011

Her name is Iris, and with her straight, elegant, red-orange hair she is beyond dispute the prettiest orangutan at the National Zoo. She’s calm, quiet, unflappable. “Iris lives the life of a queen,” says great-ape keeper Amanda Bania.

On Tuesday afternoon, the queen lost her cool.

It happened a little before 2 p.m. Primate keeper K.C. Braesch was standing just a few feet away when Iris emitted a loud, guttural cry, known to scientists as belch-vocalizing. Iris then scrambled to the top of her enclosure...