Prairie Post

5 things you absolutely must know today

1. U.S. Department of Justice subpoena AP phone records

In an attempt to weed out the source of a potential government leak, the Department of Justice has sent subpoenas to the Associated Press demanding the phone records for the numbers of 20 journalists through the months of April and May 2012. This is, of course, completely legal—but there’s a catch: they already obtained the records secretly earlier this year without subpoenas or even a warning. The controversy surrounds a story the AP released on May 7, 2012 about a CIA operation in Yemen that foiled an al-Qaida airplane bombing. [Wired]

2. Russia detains suspected U.S. spy

In a story that’s sure to revive some Cold War memories, Russia’s Federal Security Service has detained Ryan Christopher Fogle, a member of the CIA, over allegations that he attempted to recruit a Russian agent as a U.S. spy. Russian news sources have shown text from Fogle’s alleged letter to the agent, which asks the new recruit “to discuss your experience, expertise and cooperation,” and that they could “offer up to $1 million a year for long-term cooperation, with extra bonuses if we receive some helpful information.” The U.S. has yet to respond to the allegations. [NY Times]

3. Gut bacteria could help fight obesity

Researchers at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium have discovered a species of gut bacteria that can play a large part in controlling the metabolism of mice. The bacteria is responsible for increasing the thickness of the gut’s mucus barrier, which helps to slow the transfer of food into the bloodstream. Though scientists believe the bacteria can be used to help fight diabetes in humans, they also say it’s not going to be a cure-all for chronic obesity.

“I don’t think it’s feasible that you can eat cream cakes and chips and sausages all day long and then eat bacteria to reverse all that,” says Prof Colin Hill, a microbiologist at University College Cork and a serious Debbie Downer. [BBC]

4. Dan Brown’s ‘Inferno’ hits shelves

Talk all the trash you want about Dan Brown, but when he releases a new book, it’s a big deal. Inferno, the follow up to The Lost Symbol and Brown’s fourth novel in the Robert Langdon series, hits shelves today. According to its description on, Inferno will follow Langdon as he “battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science.” It’s hard to tell who’s more excited about the novel at this point—Brown’s adoring fans or the critics who can hardly wait to take the piss out of his lousy writing. [Amazon]

5. Daft Punk streams new album on iTunes

Daft Punk is now streaming the entirety of Random Access Memories, the duo’s first studio album since Human After All in 2005, on its artist page on iTunes. Random Access Memories has already received rave reviews from critics; Rolling Stone gave the album 4/5 stars, saying Daft Punk has been successful in “conjuring the musical era that first inspired them, when disco conquered the world with handcrafted grooves and prog-rock excess magnified emotions in black-lit bedrooms,” and Exclaim! gave the album a 10/10, saying  “this is the album on which Daft Punk are truly and convincingly “human after all.” And on this toweringly grand achievement, they’ve never sounded better.” Random Access Memories will be released on May 21. [iTunes]

Mark Schram grew up on a ranch in southwestern Manitoba and now writes out of Winnipeg. If you would like to offer him a job or ask him about how to pull a calf, you can contact him at