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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.

Rare Survivors In Japanese Village That Was Mostly Sucked Out To Sea
Mark Magnier, Los Angeles times | Rare Survivors In Japanese Village That Was Mostly Sucked Out To Sea | March 16, 2011

Looking back, Emiko Chiba has no idea how long her silver Suzuki rode the waves of a giant tsunami or even whether she had trouble breathing inside of it. What's clear is that she ranks among the very lucky in what may be Japan's most unfortunate town...

Radiation Thwarts Helicopter Plan
Yuka Hayashi and Andrew Morse, The Wall Street Journal | Radiation Thwarts Helicopter Plan | March 16, 2011

Efforts to extinguish smoldering spent fuel were thwarted Wednesday, after high radiation levels above forced the cancellation of a plan to dump water from a helicopter on the power plant at the center of Japan's escalating nuclear crisis. And suggesting the spreading of problems at the reactor, officials said the waste fuel kept at a storage pool at one of the reactors appeared to be heating up...

Battle of the Brontes
Jennie Yabroff, The Daily Beast | Battle of the Brontes | March 16, 2011

With a new film version of Jane Eyre now in theaters and an adaptation of Wuthering Heights coming later this year, fans of authors Charlotte and Emily Bronte are choosing sides. Jennie Yabroff examines which sister was the better author...

Bahrain Declares State of Emergency; Saudi Soldier in Bahrain Reportedly Shot
Michael Birnbaum and Karen DeYoung, The Washington Post | Bahrai nDeclares State of Emergency | March 15, 2011

The king of Bahrain declared a state of emergency Tuesday afternoon, a day after Saudi troops entered the country to help prop up the tiny nation’s Sunni monarchy. The state of emergency, which is one level below martial law, was announced by the Bahrain Information Affairs Authority and broadcast on state TV. It will last three months, according to the state television channel, the Associated Press reported. The government did not explain what the state of emergency entailed...

Workers Strain to Retake Control After Blast and Fire at Japan Plant
Hiroku Tabuchi, David E. Sanger and Keith Bradsher, The New York Times | Workers Strain to Retake Control After Blast and Fire at Japan Plant | March 15, 2011

Japanese officials and safety workers struggled to reassert control over badly damaged nuclear reactors on Tuesday after the situation at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant appeared to verge toward catastrophe, with a huge spike in radiation levels after a new explosion and fire...

Quake Survivors Face a Landscape of Loss
Michael Wines, The New York Times | Quake Survivors Face a Landscape of Loss | March 15, 2011

Outside the public gymnasium here, on a hillock about a mile from the Pacific Ocean, survivors of the tsunami came and went all day on Monday, searching for the dead. Two hundred and sixteen sheets of printer paper were stuck on a wall, one for every body brought to the gymnasium so far, some with names, most bearing only physical descriptions. Hands anxiously clutched to mouths, people pored over them until, finding nothing, most turned away in relief. Syunsuke Doi, 22, did not. At noon, Mr. Doi heaved great sobs on the gymnasium’s concrete steps, head in hands...

Japanese Scramble to Avert Meltdowns as Nuclear Crisis Deepens After Quake
Hiroko Tabuchi and Matthew L. Wald, The New York Times | Japanese Scrabmel to Avert Meltdowns as Nuclear Crisis Deepens After Quake | March 13, 2011

Japanese officials struggled on Sunday to contain a widening nuclear crisis in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and tsunami, saying they presumed that partial meltdowns had occurred at two crippled reactors and that they were facing serious cooling problems at three more...

Japan: The 'Big One' Hit, But Not Where They Thought It Would
Joel Achenbach, The Washington Post | Japan: The 'Big One' Hit, But Not where they Thought It Would | March 11, 2011

This looks like the Big One for Japan - but it's in the wrong place, seismically and bureaucratically. Japanese geologists have long forecast a huge earthquake along a major fault line southwest of Tokyo, and have poured enormous resources into monitoring the faint traces of strain building in that portion of the Earth's crust. They've predicted the amount of property damage and the number of landslides. They've even given the conjectured event a name: the Tokai Earthquake...

Libyan Military Forces Sock Key Oil Port
CNN Wire Staff | Libyan Military Forces Sock Key Oil Port | March 11, 2011

The military forces of Moammar Gadhafi on Friday pounded Ras Lanuf, the key oil port once in the hands of rebel forces, and its leadership confidently vowed the retake all territory from the opposition. Pro-Gadhafi forces cranked up an intense and steady bombardment of the city, believed to be by rocket, artillery and tank fire. A refinery was hit and a storage tank is on fire. Huge plumes of thick, black smoke can be seen...

Rise of the Ethnoburbs
Timothy Egan, The New York Times Opinion Pages | Rise of the Ethnoburbs | March 11, 2011

Just east of the still-seething volcano that is Charlie Sheen a visitor finds The Great Mall of China, so-dubbed, 12 acres of new-century America in the midst of an ethnic makeover far more compelling than the Twitter bursts of a raging celebrity. Its formal name is San Gabriel Square, a crowd of restaurants, bubble tea shops and high-fashion footwear boutiques in a prosperous middle-aged suburb with a majority-Asian population. You can walk around for an afternoon, as I did, and hear nothing but Cantonese and Mandarin. But what stands out about the Great Mall, in this part of the West, is that it no longer stands out at all...