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1:50 PM ET, January 4, 2010


 Top Items: 
Jonathan Cohn / The New Republic:
EXCLUSIVE: Dems ‘Almost Certain’ to Bypass Conference  —  Now that both the House and Senate have passed health care reform bills, all Democrats have to do is work out a compromise between the two versions.  And it appears they're not about to let the Republicans gum up the works again.
David Dayen / Firedoglake:
House-Senate Health Care “Conference” Begins; PhRMA Deal Targeted  —  Rep. Waxman not yet willing to swallow the bitter ones? (photo: nvinacco)  —  Henry Waxman, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced at a constituent meeting Sunday that he was headed to Washington today …
Peter Baker / New York Times:
Inside Obama's War on Terrorism  —  The evening before he was sworn into office, Barack Obama stepped out of Blair House, the government residence where he was staying across from the White House, and climbed into an armored limousine for the ride to a bipartisan dinner.
Byron York / Washington Examiner:
White House: No matter what, we're sending Gitmo prisoners back to Yemen  —  As Susan notes below, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is urging the Obama White House not to go forward with plans to send a number of Yemeni terrorists now being held in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility back to their home country.
Myglesias / Matthew Yglesias:
Former Bush Officials Refusing to Endorse Policies They Support Out of Pique  —  Peter Baker's article on John Brennan and Obama-era counterterrorism is pretty conventional “friendly profile of important government official” stuff.  But this is a good break with convention that more reporters should engage in:
Steve Benen / Washington Monthly:
BRIT HUME SAID WHAT?.... As regular readers know, I've made no mention of Tiger Woods on this blog.  I don't care about golf; I don't care about golfers' private lives; I don't care about any aspect of this “story” at any level.  —  But I was taken aback when I saw that Fox News' Brit Hume …
Allahpundit / Hot Air:
Video: The obligatory “Brit advises Tiger Woods to convert to Christianity” clip
Discussion: JustOneMinute and Bookworm Room
Paul Krugman / New York Times:
That 1937 Feeling  —  Here's what's coming in economic news: The next employment report could show the economy adding jobs for the first time in two years.  The next G.D.P. report is likely to show solid growth in late 2009.  There will be lots of bullish commentary …
Aaron Blake / The Hill:
Staff walks out on party-switcher Griffith  —  Rep. Parker Griffith's (Ala.) staff has resigned en masse after his recent decision to switch parties and become a Republican.  —  In a sternly worded statement, Griffith Chief of Staff Sharon Wheeler announced the exit of herself …
Ben Smith / Ben Smith's Blog:
Anti-Griffith camp recalls segregationist figures
Discussion: New York Times, Raw Story and
Adam Fogle / The Palmetto Scoop:
Brown will not seek re-election  —  CONGRESSMAN TO RETIRE AFTER 5TH TERM IN OFFICE  —  Republican Congressman Henry Brown, who has served South Carolina in the U.S. House since 2001, will retire at the end of his term, sources tell The Palmetto Scoop.  —  Brown will announce his intention …
Chris Cillizza / The Fix:
Republican retirements mount in House  —  The decision by South Carolina Rep. Henry Brown to retire brings Republican retirements to 14, a number that, if it continues to rise in the coming months, could curtail the expected GOP gains in the House in November.
Aaron Blake / The Hill:
Rep. Brown to retire  —  South Carolina Republican Rep. Henry Brown Jr …
Jeffrey Gettleman / New York Times:
U.S. Evangelicals' Role Seen in Uganda Anti-Gay Push  —  KAMPALA, Uganda — Last March, three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the United States, arrived here in Uganda's capital to give a series of talks.
‘Missing arms spark Yemen alert’  —  The closure of three embassies in Yemen followed local security forces losing track of six trucks full of arms and explosives, say reports from Yemen.  —  France announced its mission in the capital Sanaa was shut on Monday, a day after the US and UK closed theirs.
Martina Stewart / CNN:   DeMint: Obama ‘distracted’ from protecting the country
Jim Scarantino / New Mexico Watchdog:
Stimulus Funds Went to Nonexistent Zip Code Areas [Updated]  —  First it was phantom Congressional districts.  Now it's phantom zip codes.  —  Last month, we reported on federal stimulus money credited with creating jobs in nonexistent New Mexico Congressional districts.
Eric Lipton / New York Times:
U.S. Intensifies Screening for Travelers From 14 Nations  —  WASHINGTON — Citizens of 14 nations, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, who are flying to the United States will be subjected indefinitely to the intense screening at airports worldwide that was imposed after the Christmas …
Effigy of Obama hanged in US town  —  The US Secret Service says it is investigating after an effigy of Barack Obama was found hanging in the home town of former President Jimmy Carter.  —  TV footage showed the doll hanging by a noose in front of a red, white and blue sign that reads “Plains, Georgia.
Jeffrey Goldberg:
Israel's Worst Mistake: The Siege of Gaza  —  Bradley Burston calls the siege of Gaza the worst mistake Israel has made in a decade: … He lists nine more very compelling reasons why the siege is a miserable mistake.  For my money, the worst mistake Israel made was the mistake that led …
Discussion: Matthew Yglesias
Micah L. Sifry / techPresident:
The Obama Disconnect: What Could Have Been?  —  One question that a number of people have raised in response to my post on The Obama Disconnect is essentially, “What's your alternative?  What should the Obama team have done to keep the new political movement it had spawned going as a force for change?
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished as Banks Seek Profits From Bailout  —  Jan. 4 (Bloomberg) — To understand the meaning of no good deed goes unpunished, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner can look no further than Wall Street where the banks that received the biggest taxpayer bailouts are seeking …
Discussion: Wonk Room
Aaron Blake / The Hill:
Ten campaign themes to watch  —  Important themes are emerging as party leaders move into full “campaign mode” ten months ahead of the 2010 midterms.  —  The Hill looks at 10 to keep an eye on as we say goodbye to 2009.  —  1. How real is the tea party effect?
Discussion: and Taegan Goddard's …
Gina Cavallaro / Army Times:
Surge in casualties predicted in Afghanistan  —  Americans should prepare to accept hundreds of U.S. casualties each month in Afghanistan during spring offensives with enemy forces.  —  The dire forecast was made by retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, an adjunct professor of international affairs …
Discussion: Think Progress
Daily Mail:
Choudary compares British troops to Nazi stormtroopers as 200,000 sign Facebook bid to stop his Islamic extremist march  —  The hate preacher organising a march of Islamic extremists through the streets of Wootton Bassett sparked outrage today by comparing British troops fighting in Afghanistan to Nazi stormtroopers.
Discussion: Guardian and Gateway Pundit
Wall Street Journal:
Uncertainty and the Slow Recovery  —  A recession is a terrible time to make major changes in the economic rules of the game.  —  Printer  —  Friendly  —  In terms of U.S. output contractions, the so-called Great Recession was not much more severe than the recessions in 1973-75 and 1981-82.
Discussion: The Glittering Eye and AmSpecBlog
Peru's mountain people face fight for survival in a bitter winter  —  For alpaca farmer Ignacio Beneto Huamani and his young family, life in the Peruvian Andes, at almost 4,700m above sea level, has always been a struggle against the elements.  His village of Pichccahuasi, in Peru's Huancavelica region …
Fox News:
Man Skirts Newark Airport Security; Flights Delayed  —  NEWARK, N.J. — A man walked through a screening checkpoint exit into the secure side of a terminal at one of the nation's busiest airports on Sunday night, and flights were grounded for hours and passengers had to be re-screened while air safety officials searched for him.
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 More Items: 
Myglesias / Matthew Yglesias:
The Real Torture Debate
Discussion: The Daily Dish
Asif Shahzad / Associated Press:
US suspect in Pakistan defends ‘jihad’ plans
Discussion: Jihad Watch
Andrew C. McCarthy / National Review:
The Constitutional Crisis and the Security Crisis
Discussion: The Foundry and PrairiePundit
Myglesias / Matthew Yglesias:
Townsend: Time to Start Being Polite, and Start Getting Vague and Hawkish
Darrell M. West / Brookings Institute:
Assessing the Obama Administration: Lead With Confidence
Discussion: The Swamp
Former Sen. Chafee to announce gubernatorial bid
Daily Mail:
As Britain told to expect snow for ‘next 10 days’, how is the rest …
Discussion: The Age
Bob Brigham / MyDD:
Barack Obama Poll Numbers and the Midterm Elections
Discussion: Corrente
 Earlier Items:
Ex-spy chief says Iran government about to collapse
Emily Goodin / The Hill:
Reids, Bidens and Pauls to attempt to follow the Bushes and Kennedys
Discussion: The Page
Marc Lacey / New York Times:
A Black Market Finds a Home in the Web's Back Alleys
Andrew Sullivan / The Daily Dish:
Photo-Smearing Obama  —  Glenn Reynolds finds a photo …