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.

Chris Christie's Big Problem
Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post Opinion | Chris Christie's Big Problem | September 30, 2011

Whether or not he lets himself be persuaded to run for president, Chris Christie needs to find some way to lose weight. Like everyone else, elected officials perform best when they are in optimal health. Christie obviously is not.

You could argue that this is none of my business, but I disagree. Christie’s problem with weight ceased being a private matter when he stepped into the public arena — and it’s not something you can fail to notice. Obesity is a national epidemic whose costs are measured not just in dollars and cents but also in lives. Christie’s weight is as legitimate an issue as the smoking habit that President Obama says he has finally kicked...

U.S.-Born Qaeda Leader Killed in Yemen
Laura Kasinoff, Mark Mazzetti and Alan Cowell, The New York Times | U.S.-Born Qaeda Leader Killed in Yemen | September 30, 2011

Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric who was a leading figure in Al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate and was considered its most dangerous English-speaking propagandist, was killed in an American drone strike that deliberately targeted his vehicle on Friday, officials in Washington and Yemen said. They said the strike also killed a radical American colleague traveling with Mr. Awlaki who edited Al Qaeda’s online jihadist magazine...

Portrait of Decline: Willem de Kooning at the MoMA
Ariella Budick, Financial Times | Portrait of Decline: Willem de Kooning at the MoMA | September 29, 2011

The Museum of Modern Art's generous, even prodigal De Kooning retrospective is the most ambitious show New York has seen in a long time – a lavish, knotty and definitive tribute to a tricky and alloyed genius. Not everything here is excellent and some isn't any good at all but the exhibition traverses the crests and gullies of his career with passionate thoroughness. It emboldens De Kooning's champions and fends off his attackers, who have been many and virulent. But what I came away with was the sense that both sides are right...

Earning a Living One Laugh at a Time
Lizzie Simon, The Wall Street Journal | Earning a Living One Laugh at a Time | September 29, 2011

Liam McEneaney is a Brooklyn-based stand-up comic and a writer with a spot on "the fax list," which, despite the outdated reference, is still a term used for those who submit jokes on spec to late-night comedy shows. He estimates that since 2008 he has submitted about 1,100 jokes. Of those he has sold one, to the Weekend Update segment on "Saturday Night Live," which pays $100 per joke...

Why I Miss the Monoculture
Toure | Why I Miss the Monoculture | September 29, 2011

We don't agree on anything the way we agreed about Prince, Nirvana and MJ -- and our cultural life is poorer for it...

This War Can Still Be Won
Fernando M. Lujan, The New York Times Op Ed | This War Can Still Be Won | September 28, 2011

Returning home after 14 months in Afghanistan, I’ve sensed a growing gloom over the American war effort there. Many of the policy wonks, politicos and academics I encounter here seem resigned to failure.

While sipping their Starbucks, a few mutter the word “unwinnable.” They speak in grim sound bites: A gunfight on the United States Embassy’s doorstep. A helicopter shot out of the sky. But before people outside the Beltway accept this hardening conventional wisdom as fact, allow me to offer a different view...

The PeePoo, a Biodegradable Toilet for the Developing World
Sindya N. Bhanoo, The New York Times | The PeePoo, a Biodegradable Toilet for the Developing World | September 28, 2011

It looks like a plastic bag, but in fact the PeePoo is a single-use biodegradable toilet for the developing world. After it is used, the bag is knotted and then buried or sold back to the manufacturer. A lining of urea crystals in the bag helps transform the waste into fertilizer...

The Sixth Beatle?
Paul Theroux | The Sixth Beatle? | September 27, 2011

George Harrison was liberated by rock and roll. Turns out Martin Scorsese was too...

Roger's Reality Show
Howard Kurtz, The Daily Beast | Roger's Reality Show | September 26, 2011

First, Ailes dialed back the Tea Party talk. Now he's turning the GOP race into a political X-Factor -- and steering the election agenda one more time...

Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Dies at 71
Jeffrey Gettleman, The New York Times | Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Dies at 71 | September 26, 2011

Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist who began a movement to reforest her country by paying poor women a few shillings to plant trees and who went on to become the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, died here on Sunday. She was 71...