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2:35 PM ET, December 16, 2011


 Top Items: 
Juli Weiner / Vanity Fair:
In Memoriam: Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011  —  Christopher Hitchens—the incomparable critic, masterful rhetorician, fiery wit, and fearless bon vivant—died today at the age of 62.  Hitchens was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in the spring of 2010, just after the publication of his memoir …
William Grimes / New York Times:
Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011: Christopher Hitchens Is Dead at 62 — Obituary  —  Christopher Hitchens, a slashing polemicist in the tradition of Thomas Paine and George Orwell who trained his sights on targets as various as Henry Kissinger, the British monarchy and Mother Teresa …
Christopher Buckley / News Desk:
Postscript: Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011  —  We were friends for more than thirty years, which is a long time but, now that he is gone, seems not nearly long enough.  I was rather nervous when I first met him, one night in London in 1977, along with his great friend Martin Amis.
Mail Online:   In Memoriam: Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011
Christopher Hitchens dies at 62 after suffering cancer
Discussion: Guardian
Nick Gillespie / Reason:
Christopher Hitchens, RIP
Discussion: The Agitator and Hit & Run
Matt Schudel / Washington Post:
Christopher Hitchens dies; Vanity Fair writer was a religious skeptic, master of the contrarian essay
Discussion: Reuters, CNN and Michael Totten
Kevinliptak / CNN:
Haley robocalls South Carolina touting Romney  —  Sioux City, Iowa (CNN) - Mitt Romney's presidential campaign moved quickly Friday to capitalize on a high-profile endorsement from South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley by sending out a wave of robocalls across the early primary state …
Discussion: The Moderate Voice, GOP 12 and Hot Air
A.Killough / CNN:
Haley explains her decision to back Romney, not Gingrich
Darren Samuelsohn / The Politico:
GOP wins light bulb fight  —  The shutdown-averting budget bill will block federal light bulb efficiency standards, giving a win to House Republicans fighting the so-called ban on incandescent light bulbs.  —  GOP and Democratic sources tell POLITICO the final omnibus bill includes …
Stephen Dinan / Washington Times:
Congress overturns incandescent light bulb ban  —  Congressional negotiators struck a deal Thursday that overturns the new rules that were to have banned sales of traditional incandescent light bulbs beginning next year.  —  That agreement is tucked inside the massive 1,200-page spending bill …
Pete Kasperowicz / The Hill:
House approves omnibus spending bill
Discussion: Daily Kos
Brian Beutler /
TPMDC  —  McConnell Demands Keystone XL In Any Payroll Tax Agreement  —  It's gut check time for Congressional Democrats on the payroll tax cut bill.  —  Regarding that legislation, Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell emails me with the following statement …
Jake Shermanand Manu Raju / The Politico:
Keystone Pipeline may end up in payroll deal
Discussion: The Hill and Daily Kos
Ian Swanson / The Hill:
House expected to return next week
Discussion: The Maddow Blog
Alicia M. Cohn / The Hill:
Dems call on Rep. West to apologize for Joseph Goebbels comparison  —  Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) landed in hot water on Friday for his remarks the previous day comparing the Democrats' proficiency in getting out their message to the notorious head of the Nazi Party's propaganda department under Hitler.
New York Post:
Long Island high-school students suspended for ‘Tebowing’  —  The Tebow mania sweeping the nation sacked a group of Long Island high-school students who were suspended for mimicking the quarterback's famous prayer pose.  —  Twin brothers Tyler and Connor Carroll of Riverhead HS …
Maxim Lott / Fox News:
Climategate Bombshell: Did U.S. Gov't Help Hide Climate Data?  —  Are your tax dollars helping hide global warming data from the public?  Internal emails leaked as part of “Climategate 2.0” indicate the answer may be “Yes.”  —  The original Climategate emails — correspondence stolen …
Discussion: Biased BBC
Steven Jiang / CNN:
‘Batman’ star Bale punched, stopped from visiting blind Chinese activist  —  DONGSHIGU VILLAGE, China (CNN) — As Christian Bale approached an impromptu checkpoint leading to this tiny village in eastern China, four men blocking the narrow path started marching toward him in menacing unison.
Yolanda Jones / The Commercial Appeal:
Southaven Mayor Greg Davis' expense receipts prompt frank revelation  —  Purchase at store for gay men leads to mayor's admission  —  Southaven Mayor Greg Davis addresses the media last month following a meeting with the state auditor.  —  Receipts from embattled Southaven Mayor Greg Davis reveal … Truth-O-Meter rulings from National:
Michele Bachmann: “After the debate that we had last week, PolitiFact came out and said that everything I said was true."  —  “After the debate that we had last week, PolitiFact came out and said that everything I said was true.”  —  DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz “denied unemployment went up under Obama.”
Lymari Morales / Gallup:
Fewer Americans See U.S. Divided Into “Haves,” “Have Nots”  —  The majority would put themselves in the “haves” category if they had to choose  —  WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans are now less likely to see U.S. society as divided into the “haves” and “have nots” than they were in 2008, returning to their views prior to that point.
Ryan Jones / Israel Today:
Hamas: Vote for us, we kill more Jews!  —  Hamas on Wednesday marked its 24th anniversary by playing up how many Jews it has managed to murder.  The highly publicized event (and grisly casualty figures) came just months before Palestinians are scheduled to go to the polls to elect a new parliament and president.
Discussion: The Jawa Report and Atlas Shrugs
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission:
SEC CHARGES FORMER FANNIE MAE AND FREDDIE MAC EXECUTIVES WITH SECURITIES FRAUD  —  Companies Agree to Cooperate in SEC Actions  —  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  —  2011-267  —  Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2011 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged six former top executives …
Kevin Zieber / Media Matters for America:
Cartoon Regularly Featured On Big Journalism Connected To Nazi-Era Magazine  —  In at least three instances, Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism website has used an image connected to a Nazi-era German magazine noted for anti-Semitic cartoons and pro-Hitler leanings.
Greg Sargent / Washington Post:
Romney accuses Obama of deliberately harming America for political reasons  —  I'm not sure why this isn't getting more attention.  After the debate spin last night, Mitt Romney made an accusation during an interview with Fox News I haven't seen him make before: He accused the President …
Discussion: Washington Monthly
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 More Items: 
Mark Tapscott / Campaign 2012:
Congressmen can't say ‘Merry Christmas’ in mail
Discussion: Weasel Zippers
Kevin Gosztola / Firedoglake:
Bradley Manning Pre-Trial Hearing: Live Blog
Josh Lederman / Ballot Box:
Pelosi: Dems can take back House
Discussion: Weasel Zippers
Associated Press:
Russian fishing boat sinking in Antarctic waters
Discussion: Liberty Street
Voting Rights Controversies Wreak Havoc in Texas
 Earlier Items: 
James V. Grimaldi / Washington Post:
FBI considered a sting aimed at Newt Gingrich in 1997
Wayne Besen / Truth Wins Out:
Marcus Bachmann Backs Down and Caves on Bogus $150 ‘Ex-Gay’ Therapy Bill
Discussion: Towleroad News #gay
Jennie Rothenberg Gritz / The Atlantic Online:
Hitchens: ‘People Need Ritual, and Probably Particularly Funerals’
Jonathan Garthwaite /
Gingrich wins Townhall/HotAir Primary; Conservatives still not completely sold that Gingrich is the last man standing
Discussion: Hot Air
Scott Peterson / Christian Science Monitor:
Exclusive: Iran hijacked US drone, says Iranian engineer
Washington Post:
Congressional leaders reach spending deal to avoid government shutdown