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2:40 AM ET, December 19, 2011


 Top Items: 
Associated Press:
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il, 69, Has Died  —  SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Kim Jong Il, North Korea's mercurial and enigmatic leader, has died.  He was 69.  —  Kim's death was announced Monday by state television from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.
N Korean leader Kim Jong-il dies  —  North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has died at the age of 69, state-run television has announced.  —  His death was announced in an emotional statement read out on national television.  —  The announcer, wearing black, said he had died on Saturday of physical and mental over-work.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il dead, state TV reports  —  (CNN) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is dead, North Korean state TV said Monday.  —  Kim, 69, died Saturday, state TV said.  —  South Korean news agency Yonhap — which based its reporting on its monitoring off North Korean state television …
Bill Austin / Bloomberg:
Kim Jong Il, North Korea's ‘Dear Leader’ Dictator, Dead at 70  —  Kim Jong Il, the second-generation North Korean dictator who defied global condemnation to build nuclear weapons while his people starved, has died, Yonhap News reported.  He was 70.  —  The news came in a radio broadcast …
Discussion: CNN, Doug Ross and neo-neocon
New York Times:
N. Korea Says Dictator, Kim Jong-il, Dies  —  SEOUL, South Korea — Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader who realized his family's dream of turning his starving country into a minor nuclear-weapons power even as the isolated nation sank further into despotism, died on Saturday of a heart attack …
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il dead, son hailed as heir  —  (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-il died of a heart attack while on a train trip, state media reported on Monday, sparking immediate concern over who is in control of the reclusive state and its nuclear program.
Tom Jensen / Public Policy Polling:
Paul leads in Iowa  —  Newt Gingrich's campaign is rapidly imploding, and Ron Paul has now taken the lead in Iowa.  He's at 23% to 20% for Mitt Romney, 14% for Gingrich, 10% each for Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry, 4% for Jon Huntsman, and 2% for Gary Johnson.
Washington Examiner:
GOP will take off the gloves if Ron Paul wins Iowa  —  The Republican presidential primary has become a bit feisty, but it will get downright ugly if Ron Paul wins the Iowa caucuses.  —  The principled, antiwar, Constitution-obeying, Fed-hating, libertarian Republican congressman …
Discussion: Blog
Jennifer Steinhauer / New York Times:
Payroll Tax Cut Rejected by House Republicans  —  WASHINGTON — The House Republican leader on Sunday flatly rejected a short-term, bipartisan Senate measure to extend a payroll tax break and unemployment insurance, setting the stage for a bitter year-end Congressional collision and the potential loss …
David M. Drucker / Roll Call:
John Boehner: House GOP Will Reject Extenders Bill
Associated Press:
House GOP demands new payroll tax cut bill
Discussion: The Mahablog
Amie Parnes / The Hill:
Keystone climbdown leaves Obama supporters scratching their heads
Russell Berman / The Hill:
Speaker Boehner opposes Senate's two-month payroll tax cut extension
Discussion: The Politico
Russell Berman / The Hill:
White House backs Senate payroll bill over House objections
Discussion: Speaker, The Politico, RedState and CNN
Lucy Madison / CBS News:
Gingrich: Gov't branches should rule 2 out of 3  —  PLAY CBS NEWS VIDEO  —  Newt Gingrich on Sunday reiterated his argument that there is something “profoundly wrong” with the United States' judicial system, and argued that the balance of power in American government should come down to “two out of three” branches of the government.
Steve Benen / Washington Monthly:
Quote of the Day  —  At this week's debate for Republican …
Discussion: ThinkProgress and Political Mojo
Alexander Bolton / Ballot Box:
Gingrich: Congress can send Capitol Police to arrest rogue judges
Michael Zennie / Daily Mail:
Vivid new Battle of the Bulge photos offer never-before-seen look at the war-weary soldiers braving the frigid weather as they fight off Nazi Germany's last major offensive of World War II  —  Breathtaking new photographs, including several vivid full-color images, offer a never-before-seen look …
Inderdeep Bains / Daily Mail:
The brave women of the Middle East: Female protesters brutally beaten with metal poles as vicious soldiers drag girls through streets by their hair in day of shame  —  After being viciously beaten by a 10-strong mob of Egyptian male soldiers, this woman lies helplessly on the ground as her shirt …
John Christoffersen / Associated Press:
‘We are the 99 percent’ chosen as year's top quote  —  NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — The growing scrutiny of the rich dominated this year's best quotes, according to a Yale University librarian who anointed the Occupy Wall Street protesters' slogan — “We are the 99 percent” — as the year's best.
Discussion: Don Surber and Weasel Zippers
New York Times:
Vaclav Havel, 1936-2011: Vaclav Havel, Former Czech President, Dies at 75  —  Vaclav Havel, the Czech writer and dissident whose eloquent dissections of Communist rule helped to destroy it in revolutions that brought down the Berlin Wall and swept Mr. Havel himself into power, died on Sunday.
Ted Mann / The Atlantic Wire:
Vaclav Havel is Dead
J.Y. Smith / Washington Post:
Vaclav Havel, dissident playwright and former Czech president, dies
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 More Items: 
William Galston / The New Republic:
Why Obama's New Populism May Sink His Campaign
Discussion: Campaign 2012
J. Freedom du Lac / Washington Post:
In Iraq, the last to fall: David Hickman, the 4,474th U.S. service member killed
Charlie Savage / New York Times:
Under Partisan Fire, Holder Soldiers On
Discussion: Weasel Zippers and Mediaite
Associated Press:
Islamists win 70 percent of the vote in second round of Egypt elections
 Earlier Items: 
Star-Ledger Guest / NJ Voices Guest blog:
Discrimination against same-sex marriages cannot be tolerated in our society as a matter of law
Discussion: Towleroad News #gay
Reid J. Epstein / The Politico:
Mitt Romney has tame return to Sunday roster
Discussion: CNN
Frank Bruni / New York Times:
Op-Ed Columnist: Newt Gingrich's Self-Adoration
Allysia Finley / Wall Street Journal:
The Chicago Expulsion Act of 2011