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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.

Efforts to Ban Circumcision Gain Traction in California
Jennifer Medina, The New York Times | Efforts to Ban Circumcision Gain Traction in California | June 5, 2011

When a group of activists proposed banning circumcision in San Francisco last fall, many people simply brushed them aside. Even in that liberal seaside city, it seemed implausible that thousands of people would support an effort to outlaw an ancient ritual that Jews and Muslims believe fulfills a commandment issued by God...

With Yoga and Fasting, Graft Fighters Shake India
Jim Yardley, The New York Times | With Yoga and Fasting, Graft Fighters Shake India | June 3, 2011

For more than 40 years, reformers and other agitators have tried in vain to cleanse India of corruption. They have staged demonstrations, candlelight vigils and protest marches for naught. In Parliament, efforts to create an independent anticorruption agency began in 1968. It still does not exist. Given this legacy of failure, an unexpected development is now stirring up the world’s largest and most raucous democracy: the agitators are on a hot streak. Government ministers are frantically trying to persuade one of India’s most popular gurus to call off a nationwide yoga rally against corruption — yes, a yoga protest — and a mass hunger strike, scheduled to begin Saturday. Already, the government has capitulated to the demands of another hunger-striking anticorruption crusader...

Gaga's Oprah Moment
Ramin Setoodeh, The Daily Beast | Gaga's Oprah Moment | June 2, 2011

The lady's hotter than ever, but not because of her music: She's become an evangelist of self-acceptance, preaching to an audience of outcasts...

Fighting the Taliban One Irrigation Project at a Time
Maura O'Connor, Slate | Fighting the Taliban One Irrigation Project at a Time | June 2, 2011

When Chris Corsten describes his job, he starts from space and zooms into the eastern hemisphere of the world, down into Central Asia, and then into Afghanistan, using Google Earth. In one of the country's rural districts, nestled in mountains and riverbeds, are hundreds of colored dots representing construction sites. If Corsten moves his cursor over one of these dots, a geo-tagged photograph showing Afghan men building walls or mixing cement appears. If he displays all the construction sites he's managed in Afghanistan, there are thousands of colored dots spread across the country...

Ambitious Plan for China's Water Crisis Spurs Concern
Edward Wong, The New York Times | Ambitious Plan for China's Water Crisis Spurs Concern | June 2, 2011

North China is dying. A chronic drought is ravaging farmland. The Gobi Desert is inching south. The Yellow River, the so-called birthplace of Chinese civilization, is so polluted it can no longer supply drinking water. The rapid growth of megacities — 22 million people in Beijing and 12 million in Tianjin alone — has drained underground aquifers that took millenniums to fill. Not atypically, the Chinese government has a grand and expensive solution: Divert at least six trillion gallons of water each year hundreds of miles from the other great Chinese river, the Yangtze, to slake the thirst of the north China plain and its 440 million people...

Tank Turned Into Treadmill Adds Theatre to U.S. Venice Biennale Entry
Charlotte Higgins, The Guardian | Tank Turned Into Treadmill Adds Theatre to U.S. Venice Biennale Entry | June 2, 2011

The Venice Biennale – aside from being the single most significant international gathering for the visual arts – is a theatrical event. With 89 national exhibitions competing for attention, spectacle is part of the point. This year, the spectacle that is wowing the crowds is the huge upturned tank outside the American pavilion in the Giardini di Castello, which has been "repurposed" into a treadmill...

Al-Qaeda's Young Extremists
The Huffington Post | Al-Qaeda's Young Extremists | June 2, 2011

Even before Osama bin Laden's death a month ago, a young generation of would-be terrorists had turned away from the al-Qaida leader toward a new breed of brash, charismatic ideologues...

Who Killed Saleem Shahzad?
Ron Moreau, The Daily Beast | Who Killed Saleem Shahzad | June 1, 2011

Courageous Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad, who had scored major scoops on al Qaeda and the Taliban, was abducted and brutally murdered this week. Was the ISI, the country's shady intelligence agency, to blame?...

WikiSecrets:The Inside Story...
PBS Frontline | WikiSecrets | May 31, 2011

The inside story of Bradley Manning, Julian Asange and the largest intelligence breach in U.S. history...

How Roger Ailes Built the Fox News Fear Factory
Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone | How Roger Ailes Built the Fox News Fear Factory | May 31, 2011

The onetime Nixon operative has created the most profitable propaganda machine in history. Inside America's Unfair and Imbalanced Network...