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.

Herzog Finds His Inner Cave Man
Manohla Dargis, The New York Times | Herzon Finds His Inner Cave Man | April 29, 2011

What a gift Werner Herzog offers with “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” an inside look at the astonishing Cave of Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc — and in 3-D too. In southern France, about 400 miles from Paris, the limestone cave contains a wealth of early paintings, perhaps from as long ago as 32,000 years...

My Father, The Hero
Amina A., A Gay Girl in Damascus | My Father, The Hero | April 28, 2011

We had a visit from the security services: it was late at night, in the wee small hours. Everyone was fast asleep. I woke when I heard the clamor and immediately guessed what had happened....

The Birthers Who Still Don't Believe
John Avlon, The Daily Beast | The Birthers Who Still Don't Believe | April 28, 2011

...History will be more unforgiving and see the birther conspiracy more clearly than we have in our contemporary debates. It will be hard to miss the fact that so much time and energy was spent trying to prove the illegitimacy and un-American-ness of our first black president. It will seem shameful. And it is.

The Stakes Are Real in the Yukon as a Modern Gold Rush Is On
Chip Cummins, The Wall Street Journal | The Stakes Are Real in the Yukon as a Modern Gold Rush Is On | April 28, 2011

Denis Jacob has been staking claims for gold-company clients since 1975. But he's never seen a frenzy quite like the one playing out in the Yukon—Canada's western-most territory and the site, more than 100 years ago, of one of history's greatest gold rushes. Mr. Jacob is part of a small, secretive band of "stakers," who hike miles at a time across the territory's mountains and forests, hammering wooden stakes into the ground. For years, they've quietly marked off and registered land for mining companies, who then have the right to explore for riches underneath. As gold prices have soared—setting a new record Wednesday of $1,516.70 an ounce—stakers have done what they typically don't: They've worked straight through the harrowing Yukon winter. Some recent discoveries of gold here have stoked activity. "As soon as gold went up, bang, everything changed," says Mr. Jacob, 60 years old. "Staking has become wild, quite wild."...

Fatah and Hamas Announce Outline of Deal
Ethan Bronner and Isabel Kershner, The New York Times | Fatah and Hamas Announce Outline of Deal | April 28, 2011

The two main Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, announced Wednesday that they were putting aside years of bitter rivalry to create an interim unity government and hold elections within a year, a surprise move that promised to reshape the diplomatic landscape of the Middle East. The deal, brokered in secret talks by the caretaker Egyptian government, was announced at a news conference in Cairo where the two negotiators referred to each side as brothers and declared a new chapter in the Palestinian struggle for independence...

Hollywood Confronts the Last Taboo
Chris Lee, The Daily Beast | Hollywood Confronts the Last Taboo | April 27, 2011

From HBO's Game of Thrones to the recently released Your Highness, the male appendage is taking the spotlight on screen. In this week's Newsweek, Chris Lee looks at why so many acgtors are dropping their pants. Plus, see 12 clips of stars dropping trou...

Friendster to Erase Early Posts and Old Photos
Jenna Wortham, The New York Times | Friendster to Erase Early Posts and Old Photos | April 27, 2011

Long before there was a Facebook, or even a MySpace, there was Friendster, a Web site that gave many people their first taste of the socially networked world to come. Friendster, which started in 2003, has long been eclipsed by younger, more nimble rivals, turning into something of a ghost town. But on Tuesday, its current owners told users of plans to change its business strategy — and to wipe out the site’s trove of digital memories, including ancient dorm-room photos, late-night blog entries and heartfelt friend endorsements, known as “testimonials.”...

Culture of Complicity Tied to Stricken Nuclear Plant
Norimitsu Onishi and Ken Belson, The New York Times | http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/27/world/asia/27collusion.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha2 | April 27, 2011

Given the fierce insularity of Japan’s nuclear industry, it was perhaps fitting that an outsider exposed the most serious safety cover-up in the history of Japanese nuclear power. It took place at Fukushima Daiichi, the plant that Japan has been struggling to get under control since last month’s earthquake and tsunami. In 2000, Kei Sugaoka, a Japanese-American nuclear inspector who had done work for General Electric at Daiichi, told Japan’s main nuclear regulator about a cracked steam dryer that he believed was being concealed. If exposed, the revelations could have forced the operator, Tokyo Electric Power, to do what utilities least want to do: undertake costly repairs...


What's Left of the Left: Paul Krugman's Lonely Crusade
Benjamin Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine | What's Left of the Left: Paul Krugman's Lonely Crusade | April 26, 2011

...For the first two years of the Obama administration, Krugman has been building, in his columns and on his blog, not just a critique of this presidency but something grander and more expansively detailed, something closer to an alternate architecture for what Obamaism might be. The project has remade Krugman’s public image, as if he had spent years becoming a chemically isolate form of himself—first a moderate, then an anti-Bush partisan, and now the leading exponent of a kind of liberal purism against which the compromises of the White House might be judged...

In Dossier, Portrait of Push for Post-9/11 Attacks
Scott Shane and Banjamin Weiser, The New York Times | In Dossier, Portrait of Push for Post-9/11 Attacks | April 26, 2011

He peers out from the photo in the classified file through heavy-framed spectacles, an owlish face with a graying beard and a half-smile. Saifullah Paracha, a successful businessman and for years a New York travel agent, appears to be the oldest of the 172 prisoners still held at the Guantánamo Bay prison. His dossier is among the most chilling...