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.

On Eve of Redefining Malcolm X, Biographer Dies
Larry Rohter, The New York Times | On Eve of Redefining Malcom X, Biographer Dies | April 3, 2011

For two decades, the Columbia University professor Manning Marable focused on the task he considered his life’s work: redefining the legacy of Malcolm X. Last fall he completed “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention,” a 594-page biography described by the few scholars who have seen it as full of new and startling information and insights. The book is scheduled to be published on Monday, and Mr. Marable had been looking forward to leading a vigorous public discussion of his ideas. But on Friday Mr. Marable, 60, died in a hospital in New York as a result of medical problems he thought he had overcome. Officials at Viking, which is publishing the book, said he was able to look at it before he died.,,

2,000-Year-Old Coral Found Living Near Gulf Oil Spill Site
Cain Burdeau, The Huffington Post | 2,000-Year-Old Coral Found Living Near Gulf Oil Spill Site | April 2, 2011

Federal scientists say they have dated coral living near the site of the busted BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico at 2,000 years old. The U.S. Geological Survey said Wednesday it had determined the age of the black coral in the Gulf for the first time. Scientists had been studying the ancient slow-growing corals before BP's well blew out...

Reacto Pit Found Leaking Radioactive Water Into Sea
Ken Belson and Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times | Reactor Pit Found Leaking Radioactive Water Into Sea | April 2, 2011

Highly radioactive water is leaking directly into the sea from a damaged pit near a crippled reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, safety officials said Saturday, the latest setback in the increasingly messy bid to regain control of the reactors...

Drop in Unemployment Doesn't Mesh With Republicans' Script
James Oliphant, The Los Angeles Times | Drop in Unemployment Doesn't Mesh With Republicans' Script | April 1, 2011

The news that unemployment dropped again amid signs that the economy is gaining steam arrives at a perilous moment for the GOP, which has fashioned much of its political message around the argument that President Obama's policies suppress job growth. According to the Labor Department, the jobless rate has dropped a full percentage point — to 8.8% — since November 2010, coincidentally when the GOP made its major gains in Congress and seized control of the House...

A Look at the Libyan Rebels
a Slate slide show | A Look at the Libyan Rebels | April 1, 2011

As Daniel Byman wrote elsewhere in Slate, "At present, the Libyan rebels are essentially civilians with guns." As we approach the third week of the Western intervention in Libya, we still know very little about the insurgents—except that they hate Col. Muammar Qaddafi, and they're willing to die to bring down his regime. Still, thanks to the brave photographers who have been sending images from Libya, we do know what some of the rebels look like...

Afghan Mob Kills 10 United Nations Workers
Rod Nordland, The New York Times | Afghan Mob Kills 10 United Nations Workers | April 1, 2011

Thousands of demonstrators angered over the burning of a Koran in Florida mobbed offices of the United Nations in northern Afghanistan on Friday, overrunning the compound and killing at least seven foreign staff workers, according to an Afghan officials...

C.I.A. Agents in Libya Aid Airstrikes and Meet Rebels
Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, The New York Times | C.I.A. Agents in Libya Aid Airstrikes and Meet Rebels | March 31, 2011

The Central Intelligence Agency has inserted clandestine operatives into Libya to gather intelligence for military airstrikes and to contact and vet the beleaguered rebels battling Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces, according to American officials. While President Obama has insisted that no American military ground troops participate in the Libyan campaign, small groups of C.I.A. operatives have been working in Libya for several weeks as part of a shadow force of Westerners that the Obama administration hopes can help bleed Colonel Qaddafi’s military, the officials said...

D.C.'s Leading Export: Partisan War
Molly Ball, Politico | D.C.'s Leading Export: Partisan War | March 31, 2011

Camped-out protesters, an incendiary judicial battle, wall-to-wall attack ads: the scorched-earth politics that resulted from Gov. Scott Walker’s recent effort to limit collective bargaining rights have made it seem as if Washington had come to Wisconsin.It’s not an isolated incident. In capital after state capital, Washington’s toxic culture is seeping in, suffocating local tradition and replacing it with the Beltway’s unique contribution to American politics—the practice of permanent, total war...


Musa Kusa Defects: How He Used Bush, Blair and Berlusconi
Christopher Dickey, The Daily Beast | Musa Kusa Defects: How He Used Bush, Blair and Berlusconi | March 31, 2011

Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa arrived in London Wednesday night, the most senior member of Gaddafi's government to defect, reportedly because of Gaddafi's attacks on civilians. Now, British officials are urging other top-level Gaddafi ministers to follow his lead. Christopher Dickey looks at how Kusa used George W. Bush, Tony Blai and Silvio Berlusconi to give the Gaddafi regime an image makeover...

Microsoft's Odd Couple
Paul Allen, in Vanity Fair | Microsoft's Odd Couple | March 30, 2011

Adapted from the forthcoming memoir Idea Man, by Paul Allen....