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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.

A Biblical Blueprint Meets the Fire Code and the Neighbors
John Tagliabue, The New York Times | A Biblical Blueprint Meets the Fire code and the Neighbors | May 30, 2011

If Noah had run into the modern nanny state, or nimby, or a few of the other obstacles that Johan Huibers has been facing, the animal kingdom might look a lot different today. Mr. Huibers, 60, the successful owner of a big construction company, has spent the last few years building an ark, identical in size to the one Noah is said in the book of Genesis to have built..

U.S. Gains Entry To bin Laden's Pakistan House
Siobhan Gorman, The Wall Street Journal | U.S. Gains Entry To bin Laden's Pakistan House | May 27, 2011

Under a new agreement with Pakistan, Central Intelligence Agency forensics experts will begin scouring Osama bin Laden's residence Friday for hidden clues to the activities of al Qaeda and its late leader, officials said Thursday...

Ratko Mladic, and World's Most Wanted War Criminals

Serb butcher Ratko Mladic is in the clink after 16 years on the run. From Sundanese President Omar al-Bashir to former Nazi Gerhard Sommer, see our gallery of bad guys still on the loose...

Tension Marks Clinton's Visit to Pakistan
Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times | Tensions Marks Clinton's Visit to Pakistan | May 27, 2011

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Pakistan on Friday in what officials described as an effort to measure Pakistan’s commitment to fighting Islamic extremism after the killing of Osama bin Laden badly strained relations with the United States. It did not appear to go well...

Is Obama Grounding JFK's Space Legacy?
Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan, USA Today | Is Obama Grounding JFK's Space Legacy? | May 26, 2011

A half century has passed since Kennedy challenged our citizenry to do what most thought to be impossible. The subsequent American achievements in space were remarkable: Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Skylab. Our efforts enhanced international cooperation with Apollo-Soyuz, the space shuttle and the International Space Station. The compelling fascination of our space achievements among young people spurred their interest in education...

A God Is Dead, But It's Business That May Suffer Most
Jim Yardley, The New York Times | A God Is Dead, But It's Business That May Suffer Most | May 26, 2011

His face adorns the yellow motorized rickshaws zipping down the streets. Billboards bear his simple motto, “Love All, Serve All.” His portrait hangs in almost every shop: a tiny man with a gravity-defying crown of curly hair regarded by millions of worldwide devotees as a god. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, who declared himself a “living god” as a teenager and spent decades assembling a spiritual empire, permeates every corner of this small Indian city. He transformed it from a village of mud huts into a faith center with a private airport, a university, two major hospitals, rising condominium towers and a stadium — a legacy now forcing a question upon his followers: What happens when a god dies?...

Herman Cain's Enron-esque Disaster
Andy Kroll, Mother Jones | Herman Cain's Enron-esque Disaster | May 25, 2011

What GOP presidential contender Herman Cain lacks in political experience, he likes to say, he makes up for with decades' worth of success in corporate America. He climbed the corporate ladder at the Pillsbury Company, chaired the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, and rescued the failing Godfather's Pizza franchise. That business-centric message has won Cain his share of admirers: a focus group convened after a recent Fox News presidential debate overwhelmingly declared Cain the winner...

Bay Area Native Jon Huntsman Jr. May Run in 2012
Carla Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle | Bay Area Native Jon Huntsman Jr. May Run in 2012 | May 25, 2011

Republican Jon Huntsman Jr., the former U.S. ambassador to China, has a political profile that sets him apart from the pack of possible 2012 GOP presidential candidates. For starters, he starred in a 2004 advertisement with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger lobbying for congressional action on climate change...

A Tree Hugger, With a Twist
Henry Fountain, The New York Times | A Tree Hugger, With a Twist | May 25, 2011

Stefan Schnitzer paused along one of the trails that crisscross this forested island in the Panama Canal waterway. Around him were trees, their high canopies muting the light from the tropical sun, the occasional woody vine, or liana, climbing up their thick trunks. But Dr. Schnitzer’s attention was turned to a break in the forest just a few yards off the trail. There, in harsher sunlight, a tree stump was all but obscured by a riot of lianas, their tangled stems forming a heavy thicket. Clearly the tree had come down at some point, which created an opening in the forest canopy that allowed the vines to run amok...

GOP Braces for Medicare Blowback
Jennifer Haberkorn & John Bresnahan, Politico | GOP Braces for Medicare Blowback | May 24, 2011

This week, an off-year special election in Buffalo and a purely symbolic vote in the Senate might tell Republicans all they need to know about the mercurial politics of Medicare reform...