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.

U.S. Embassy Cables: Browse the Database
The Guardian, UK | The U.S. Embassy Cables | December 10, 2010

U.S. Embassy Cables: Use our interactive guide to discover what has been revealed in the leak of 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables. Mouse over the map below to find key stories and a selection of original documents by country, subject or people. Click on red dots for latest stories…


At Peace Prize Ceremony, Winner's Chair Stays Empty
Sarah Lyall and Andrew Jacobs, The New York Times | Winner's Chair Stays Empty | December 10, 2010

Imprisoned in China and with close family members forbidden to leave the country, the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, an empty chair representing his absence at the prize ceremony here. Noting Mr. Liu’s absence, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Thorbjorn Jagland, said to a standing ovation: “This fact alone shows that the award was necessary and appropriate.”...

On Eve of Nobel Ceremony, China Cracks Down and Lashes out
Keith B. Richburg, Washington Post Foreign Service | China Cracks Down And Lashes Out | December 9, 2010

Restaurant and bar owners in China have been summoned to local police stations and warned against allowing large gatherings on Friday. Some lawyers, writers and academics have been stopped at airports from boarding their flights; others have been forcibly taken to the countryside. Known activists are under house arrest. And today, several foreign media Web sites and television stations were blocked. Chinese police have said they were taking these actions to guard against a threat to national security. The threat, apparently, is the 54-year-old bespectacled intellectual Liu Xiaobo, currently serving an 11-year prison sentence in China's northern Liaoning province for the crime of "inciting subversion of state power." Liu in October was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. Since neither Liu nor any of his family members are being allowed to leave China to attend Friday's ceremony in Oslo, the Nobel committee organizers said he will be represented by an empty chair...

The New Hue For 2011
Christina Binkley, The Wall Street Journal | The New Hue For 2011 | December 9, 2010

The new year is looking brighter in at least one respect. Thursday, color authority Pantone plans to announce that its color of the year for 2011 is an intense pink it calls "honeysuckle."...

Election Violence Flares In Haiti
Deborah Sontag, The New York Times | Election Violence Flares In Haiti | December 9, 2010

Violent protests, ignited by preliminary presidential election results that were widely considered suspect, shut down this troubled country on Wednesday and threatened the fragile stability that has held since the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake. Businesses and schools were shuttered, streets emptied of traffic and the international airport closed. Angry protesters set fire to the party headquarters of President René Préval’s chosen successor, and many hundreds marched on the electoral council offices, where United Nations peacekeeping troops repelled them with tear gas, rubber bullets and flash-bang grenades...

'Naughty' Joke Gets Santa Claus Fired From Macy's
Kevin Fagan, San Francisco Chronicle | Santa Claus Fired | December 7, 2010

Santa Claus has been canned from Macy's, and he's anything but jolly about it. His fans aren't happy, either. And there are many...

Cablegate Roulette
The Daily Dish | Cablegate Roulette | December 6, 2010

This is an installment from our on-going series on the adventures of American diplomats and the people they monitor. The red button below will take you to another random episode...

Bush V. Gore's Disgrace Deepens
Eric Alterman, The Daily Beast | Bush V. Gore's Disgrace Deepens | December 6, 2010

Passions are supposed to recede with time as wisdom and maturity, but the Supreme Court’s willingness to hand the presidency to George W. Bush looks even worse than it did 10 years ago, when passions flared and pundits feared for the future of the republic. The obvious problem with making Bush president was the fact of the Bush presidency, a catastrophe in so many directions at once that presidential historians argue today about whether Bush was the worst president in American history or merely the worst since Grant, Buchanan, or Johnson (Andrew, not Lyndon)...

WikiLeaks Founder Threatens To Release Entire Cache Of Unfiltered Files
Doug Sanders, The Globe and Mail | WikiLeaks Founder Threatens Release | December 6, 2010

At the centre of a tightening web of death threats, sex-crime accusations and high-level demands for a treason trial, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange threatened to unleash a “thermonuclear device” of completely unexpurgated government files if he is forced to appear before authorities...

Why We Can't Stop Playing: Mixing Psychology With Physics, Cute Characters, And Lots of Cheering
Nick Wingfield, Wall Street Journal | Why We Can't Stop Playing | December 6, 2010

Not since the invention of bacon and eggs has the collision of fowl and swine tasted so good. A game called Angry Birds is dominating the best-selling-applications charts for Apple's iPhone with a simple, whimsical premise: Players turn different species of scowling birds into projectiles with which to crush a collection of grunting pigs scattered around various ramshackle structures. More than 12 million copies of Angry Birds have been sold since it went on sale late last year, most of them 99-cent downloads for iPhones and iPod touches, according to Rovio Mobile Ltd., the Finnish company that created the game...