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.

Libyan Rebels Retreat Further
C.J. Chivers and David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times | Libyan Rebels Retreat Further | March 30, 2011

The momentum of ground combat appeared to tilt in favor of forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi on Wednesday, as rebels seeking to oust him embarked on a large-scale withdrawal from the coastal oil town of Brega — the latest in a string of apparent setbacks...

Living Legend Tries to Make a Living
Ben Sisario, The New York Times | Clyde Stubblefield, Living Legend | March 30, 2011

Aside from musicians, record collectors and D.J.’s, the name Clyde Stubblefield does not make many ears perk up. But no matter who you are, you probably know his drumming...

Carnage 'Beyond Imagination' In Misrata, Says Witness

Libyan forces pounded parts of Misrata on Tuesday, with tanks firing mortar shells and troops using heavy artillery in an effort to retake control of the city, a witness told CNN. Coalition planes circled overhead but did not strike the tanks, he said. As representatives of numerous countries met in London to decide the next steps in the Libya effort, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi showed no sign of letting up his effort to crush the rebellion that seeks an end to his nearly 42 years in power...

Government Shutdown Grows Likelier
Carol E. Lee and Janet Hook, The Wall Street Journal | Government Shutdown Grows Likelier | March 29, 2011

Talks between congressional leaders and the White House on a deal to fund the government for the rest of the year appear to have slowed, with Democrats and Republicans loudly bickering over the fate of their negotiations. Failure to reach a deal by April 8, a milestone that appears increasingly difficult to achieve, would result in a government shutdown. In the absence of any visible signs of progress on negotiations, Democrats and Republicans on Monday ratcheted up criticism of each other...

Kan: Japan On "Maximum Alert" Over Nuke Crisis
Yuri Kageyama and Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press | Kan: Japan On "Maximum Alert' Over Nuke Crisis | March 29, 2011

Japan's prime minister insisted Tuesday that the country was on "maximum alert" to bring its nuclear crisis under control, but the spread of radiation raised concerns about the ability of experts to stabilize the crippled reactor complex. Prime Minister Naoto Kan told parliament that Japan was grappling with its worst problems since World War II...

Libya Crisis: Live Updates
The Guardian, UK | Libya Crisis: Live Updates | March 29, 2011

Page refreshes every minute...

Japan Fears Nuclear Reactor Is Leaking Contaminated Water
Hiroko Tabuchi and Ken Belson, The New York Times | Japan Fears Nuclear Reactor Is Leaking Contaminated Water | March 28, 2011

Highly contaminated water is escaping a damaged reactor at the crippled nuclear power plant in Japan and could soon leak into the ocean, the country’s nuclear regulator warned on Monday. The discovery raises the danger of further radiation leaks at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and is a further setback to efforts to contain the nuclear crisis as workers find themselves in increasingly hazardous conditions...

Why Do We Keep Falling For O'Keefe's Smear Jobs?
Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery, Mother Jones | Why Do We Keep Falling For O'Keefe's Smear Jobs? | March 28, 2011

To the list of journalism's greatest disgraces, let us now add James O'Keefe. O'Keefe calls himself an investigative reporter, though as far as we can tell the only group of journalists he has anything in common with are habitual fabricators like Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, and Janet Cooke. But that's not the scandal we're talking about. The real scandal is that—even though by the time he posted a "sting" of a top NPR fundraiser, O'Keefe was notorious for creating deceptive video smear jobs (ACORN? Hello?)—the media repeated the allegations uncritically. Let's review....

How Gandhi Became Gandhi
Geoffrey C. Ward, New York Times Book Review | How Gandhi Became Gandhi | March 27, 2011

Some years ago, the British writer Patrick French visited the Sabarmati ashram on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in the Indian state of Gujarat, the site from which Mahatma Gandhi led his salt march to the sea in 1930. French was so appalled by the noisome state of the latrines that he asked the ashram secretary whose job it was to clean them. A sweeper woman stopped by for an hour a day, the functionary explained, but afterward things inevitably became filthy again.

But wasn’t it a central tenet of the Mahatma’s teachings that his followers clean up after themselves? “We all clean the toilets together, on Gandhiji’s birthday,” the secretary answered, “as a symbol to show that we understand his message.”...

In London, 250,000 March Against Austerity Plan
Ainsley Thomson and Serena Ruffoni, The Wall Street Journal | In London, 250,000 March Against Austerity Plan | March 27, 2011

Hundreds of thousands of Britons marched through central London on Saturday to protest spending cuts in the largest demonstration of public anger since the government began its aggressive austerity program. The predominantly peaceful union-organized rally was marked by isolated instances of violence when groups attacked shops on Oxford Street, the capital's busiest shopping street, leading to clashes with the police...