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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.

O'Malley, O'Mara...O'Bama?
Henry Chu, The Los Angeles Times | O'Malley, O'Mara...O'Bama? | May 24, 2011

Until recently, Moneygall's most famous son wasn't even human. It was a horse, Papillon, who streaked to the title as a long shot in a nail-biter at Britain's prestigious Grand National race in 2000. But for months now, the modest sign marking Papillon's achievement has been muscled aside by pictures celebrating the new hero in this tiny pit stop on the Dublin-to-Limerick road: President Obama -- or, as they like to call him here, Barack O'Bama...

The Syrian Problem
Steve Coll, The New Yorker | The Syrian Problem | May 24, 2011

The Damascus Spring of 2001 was so called because Syrian democrats hoped that President Bashar al-Assad, a mild-mannered doctor trained in London, who had been installed as the successor to his ruthless father, Hafez, might forswear tyranny. That Spring ended, and some of the hopeful landed in torture rooms. Four years later, activists issued the Damascus Declaration for Democratic National Change, which called on Assad to hold free parliamentary elections, “launch public freedoms,” and “abolish all forms of exclusion in public life.” Instead, he imprisoned the document’s leading signatories...

Religion and Sex Quiz
Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times, Op Ed | Religion and Sex Quiz | May 23, 2011

Faith is a huge force in American life, and it’s common to hear the Bible cited to bolster political and moral positions, especially against same-sex marriage and abortion. So here’s my 2011 religion quiz. Choose the best responses (some questions may have more than one correct answer)...

Free Speech on Twitter Faces Test
Claire Cain Miller and Ravi Somaiya, The New York Times | Free Speech on Twitter Faces Test | May 23, 2011

What began as seamy gossip about an affair between a famous British soccer player and a reality TV star has quickly become another test over how far the rights to privacy and free speech extend online, where social media operate in countries with vastly different laws...

Obama Elaborates on '67 Lines
Ben Smith, Politico | Obama Elaborates on '67 Lines | May 22, 2011

President Obama is telling AIPAC at the moment that he expected the controversy over his comments Thursday on the 1967 lines, and elaborates...

On Virginia's Crooked Road, Mountain Music Lights the Way
Sarah Wildman, The New York Times | On Virginia's Crooked Road, Mountain Music Lights the Way | May 22, 2011

It starts with a well-worn fiddle, held in equally well-worn hands above a tapping black cowboy boot. Then in comes the banjo, plucked with steel finger picks, followed by the autoharp, the mandolin, the percussive beat of an upright bass. Another banjo grabs the melody, and suddenly the room is bursting with knee-slapping, country-porch music. A man in a crisp checked shirt gets up and starts to dance, bouncing out a complicated bumbumBAM bumbumBAM with his feet, moving as smoothly as a Martha Graham dancer, hitting the floor on the downbeat...

The Elephant in the Green Room
Gabriel Sherman, New York Magazine | The Elephant in the Green Room | May 22, 2011

The circus Roger Ailes created at Fox News made his network $900 million last year. But it may have lost him something more important: the next election...

Obama's Israel Surprise
Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee, The Wall Street Journal | Obama's Israel Surprise | May 20, 2011

President Barack Obama, seeking to get ahead of historic changes rolling through the Middle East, promised support for democratic uprisings in the Arab world and called for the first time to begin negotiations for a Palestinian state based on Israel's pre-1967 borders...

Make My Bed? But You Say the World's Ending
Ashley Parker, The New York Times | Make My Bed? But You Say the World's Ending | May 20, 2011

The Haddad children of Middletown, Md., have a lot on their minds: school projects, SATs, weekend parties. And parents who believe the earth will begin to self-destruct on Saturday...

The Goldilocks Number
Brooke Gladstone, Slate | The Goldilocks Number | May 19, 2011

Once upon a time -- November 2005 -- someone said a very scary number. "Law enforcement officials estimate that 50,000 predators are online at any given moment!"...