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.

Obama's Quiet Gun Crackdown
Daniel Stone and John Solomon, The Daily Beast | Obama's Quiet Guns Crackdown | July 12, 2011


Just 48 hours before his premiere gun-fighting agency took a public flogging in Congress last month, Attorney General Eric Holder sent a memo that escaped much public notice but left federal prosecutors with an unmistakable message.

People who buy guns at U.S. shops with the intent of secretly transferring them to someone else–a tactic known as “straw buying” that is at the heart of Mexican border violence–should face new, stiffer prison sentences, Holder declared...

Grace Dent: 100 Thiings About Me and Twitter
Grace Dent, The Guardian | Grace Dent: 100 Things About Me and Twitter | July 8, 2011

When the writer joined the social network three years ago, she used it to share random thoughts about TV and life. Since then, she has become a Twitter addict. In an extract from her new book, she explains what she loves -- and hates -- about it...

In Japan, Baseball Brings Normalcy
Chico Harlan, The Washington Post | In Japan, Baseball Brings Normalcy | July 8, 2011

After his family recovered the bodies of his grandparents and moved into the cramped prefabricated home where they all sleep in the same room, Toshiki Onodera, 17, decided that the old goals should still matter. So Onodera started talking, once again, about baseball. He practiced normalcy, as if hoping to trick it to return. He posted his high school team’s spring practice schedule on the living room wall and said, “I can’t be sad for the rest of my life.”...

South Sudan, the Newest Nation, Is Full of Hope and Problems
Jeffrey Gettleman, The New York Times | South Sudan, the Newest Nation, Is Full of Hope and Problems | July 8, 2011

After five decades of guerrilla struggle and two million lives lost, the flags are flapping proudly here in this capital. The new national anthem is blasting all over town. People are toasting oversize bottles of White Bull beer (the local brew), and children are boogieing in the streets."Free at Last," reads a countdown clock...

Fox News Takes On Media Matters
Keach Hagey, Politico | Fox News Takes On Media Matters | July 7, 2011

For seven years Fox News has pushed back against the daily scrutiny and criticism leveled at it by Media Matters, the liberal watchdog group. But after David Brock, the group’s founder, said in March that his group’s new strategy amounted to a “war on Fox,” Fox ratcheted up its response...

Ham Radio Hangs On
Matthew Shaer, Christian Science Monitor | Ham Radio Hangs On | July 7, 2011

Every Saturday for the past couple of years, the members of the Tuscaloosa Amateur Radio Club have met here, in the back corner of the only Chick-fil-A in this low-slung Alabama river town. They meet to discuss politics and family and sports, but mostly they meet to discuss radio – the paddles, the repeaters, the boat anchors, the birds, and the brass pounders. Radio is their hobby, their love...

NASA Spacecraft Offers Detailed Views of Saturn's Great White Spot
Daniela Hernandze, Los Angeles Times | NASA Spacecraft Offers Detailed Views of Saturn's Great White Spot | July 7, 2011

The Great White Spot, which occurs about once every 30 Earth years, is a windy, towering cloud of ammonia and water spewing out super jolts of thunder and lightning. The storm is about 10,000 times stronger than those on Earth...

Obama Calls Lawamakers to White House in Effort to Break Debt Stalemate
Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post | Obama Calls Lawmakers to White House in Effort to Break Debt Stalemate | July 6, 2011

President Obama on Tuesday rejected calls for a short-term increase in the legal limit on government borrowing and summoned congressional leaders to the White House to restart negotiations over a long-term plan to restrain the deepening national debt...

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Philip Womack, The Telegraph | Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 | July 6, 2011

This is a film about the triumph of the weak...

What Does Newt Gingrich Know?
Andrew Ferguson, The New York Times Magazine | What Does Newt Gingrich Know? | July 6, 2011

When his top campaign staff abandoned him not long ago, Newt Gingrich didn’t seem terribly surprised. “Philosophically, I am very different from normal politicians,” he said. “We have big ideas.” The “we,” as Gingrich uses it here, is akin to the royal we — it’s what might be called the professorial we, employed when the intellectual and the ideas he generates merge to create an entity too large for a singular personal pronoun. “Over my years in public life,” he writes in his latest book about how to save America, “I have become known as an ‘ideas man.’ ” And we shouldn’t doubt it. As I write, a stack of books tilts Pisa-like on my desk, each volume written by Gingrich and various co-authors...