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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.

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...

A Short History of the F-Bomb
John Leo | A Short History of the F-Bomb | April 26, 2011

A professor's email retort to campus Republicans set off a scandal in Iowa this week. John Leo on the latest in America's long line of f-bomb detonations...

Predators Need Editors

Now that NATO is using unmanned aerial vehicles to destroy Libyan artillery—now that drones are a mainstream global weapon—it's time to clear up a misconception about them. Drones aren't robots. They're remotely piloted by humans. And our challenge is to keep it that way...

The Guantanamo Docket: A History of the Detainee Population

Documents and research related to the 779 people who have been sent to the Guantanamo Bay prison since 2002...

Royal Wedding: Route & Guest List
The Sun | Royal Wedding: Route & Guest List | April 25, 2011

With just four days to go, The sun gives you the lowdown on Friday's Royal Wedding at Westminster Abbey...

Tsunami Warnings, Written in Stone
Martin Fackler, The New York Times | Tsunami Warnings, Written in Stone | April 24, 2011

The stone tablet has stood on this forested hillside since before they were born, but the villagers have faithfully obeyed the stark warning carved on its weathered face: "Do not build your homes below this point!"...

The Crash and Burn of an Autism Guru
Susan Dominus, The New York Times | The Crash and Burn of an Autism Guru | April 23, 2011

As people streamed into Graceview Baptist Church in Tomball, Tex., early one Saturday morning in January, two armed guards stood prominently just inside the doorway of the sanctuary. Their eyes scanned the room and returned with some frequency to a man sitting near the aisle, whom they had been hired to protect.

The man, Andrew Wakefield, dressed in a blazer and jeans and peering through reading glasses, had a mild professorial air. He tapped at a laptop as the room filled with people who came to hear him speak; he looked both industrious and remote. Broad-shouldered and fair at 54, he still has the presence of the person he once was: a conventional winner, the captain of his medical school’s rugby team, the head boy at the private school he attended in England. Wakefield was a high-profile but controversial figure in gastroenterology research at the Royal Free Hospital in London when, in 1998, he upended his career path — and more significant, the best-laid plans of public-health officials — by announcing at a press conference that he had concerns about the safety of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (M.M.R.) and its relationship to the onset of autism. Although Wakefield did not claim to have proved that the M.M.R. vaccine (typically given to children at 12 to 15 months) caused autism, his concerns, not his caveats, ricocheted around the world...