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.

At 84, A City's Last Geisha Defies Time
Norimitsu Onishi, The New York Times | At 84, A City's Last Geisha Defies Time | April 5, 2011

The requests to see her perform had dwindled over the years. But when the earthquake struck at 2:46 p.m. on March 11, this city’s last geisha was, fittingly, at home getting ready to sing that night at Kamaishi’s 117-year-old ryotei, an exclusive restaurant featuring fine food and entertainment where she began working as a 14-year-old seven decades ago...

Reporters In Tripoli Find It's A Big Brother World
Liz Sly, The Washington Post | Reporters in Tripoli Find It's a Big Brother World | April 4, 2011

The loudspeakers in every journalist’s hotel room burst into life with a “ding-dong” presaging the announcement of a news conference, or perhaps a bus trip to the scene of an airstrike or a school where children erupt with chants of support for Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi...

Ai Weiwei: France and Germany Lead Calls for Chinese Artist's Release
Tania Branigan, The Guardian | Ai Weiwei: France and Germany Lead Calls for Chinese Artist's Release | April 4, 2011

France and Germany are leading calls for the release of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who remains missing more than 36 hours after his detention...

2 Qaddafi Sons Are Said to Offer Plan to Push Father Out
David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times | 2 Qaddafi Sons Are Said to Offer Plan to Push Father Out | April 4, 2011

At least two sons of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi are proposing a resolution to the Libyan conflict that would entail pushing their father aside to make way for a transition to a constitutional democracy under the direction of his son Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, a diplomat and a Libyan official briefed on the plan said Sunday...

'Sacred' Turtle Captured In Vietnam's Hoan Kiem Lake

An ailing giant turtle considered sacred by many Vietnamese was captured in a lake in central Hanoi on Sunday by rescuers who hope to give it medical attention...

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...