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11:25 AM ET, December 28, 2011


 Top Items: 
Tom Jensen / Public Policy Polling:
Paul maintains his lead  —  The last week and a half has brought little change in the standings for the Iowa Republican caucus: Ron Paul continues to lead Mitt Romney by a modest margin, 24-20.  Newt Gingrich is in 3rd at 13% followed by Michele Bachmann at 11%, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum at 10% …
John Hinderaker / Power Line:
For President in 2012, Mitt Romney  —  It is time for Republicans to get serious.  After flirting with just about every candidate in a large presidential field, is is time to come home to the one candidate who has the demonstrated ability to run the largest organization in the United States …
Kevinliptak / CNN:
Perry changes stance to oppose all abortions  —  (CNN) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry revealed a hardening in his stance on abortion Tuesday, telling a crowd in Iowa that he opposed abortions in all cases, including when a woman had been raped or the victim of incest.
The Politico:
Romney in striking distance of Iowa win  —  Don't look now, but Mitt Romney suddenly seems like the Iowa front-runner.  —  The former Massachusetts governor has carefully tempered expectations in Iowa all year, visiting only a handful of times and saving the bulk of his television spending for the final weeks of the race.
New York Times:
A New Romney, Seeking to Connect, Reveals Some Quirks  —  DAVENPORT, Iowa — When Mitt Romney introduces himself to voters, he has a peculiar habit of guessing their age or nationality, often incorrectly.  (A regular query: “Are you French Canadian?")  —  When making small talk with locals …
Nate Silver / FiveThirtyEight:
Polling Gridlock in Iowa Could Produce Last-Minute Momentum  —  The most interesting thing about the latest polls in Iowa (which are the basis for our forecasts) is that they essentially show a four-way tie for third place among the Republican presidential contenders, with Newt Gingrich …
New York Times:
Republican Rivals Unleash Broadside on Paul in Iowa  —  MASON CITY, Iowa — The Republican presidential candidates sharpened their criticism of Representative Ron Paul on Tuesday in an effort to keep his support from growing among voters who are frustrated with government and may be inclined …
Scott Keyes / ThinkProgress:
After Watching Citizens United Film, Perry Shifts To Oppose Abortion Even For Victims Of Rape Or Incest  —  Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) declared that he'd experienced a “transformation” following an anti-abortion film and now no longer supports allowing women to get an abortion if they are victims of rape or incest.
Boston Herald:
Endorsement: Nation needs Romney
Cameron Joseph / Ballot Box:   EMILY's List ranks Gingrich as ‘worst’ GOP presidential candidate
Jonathan Easley / Ballot Box:
Paul holds slim lead over Romney in first post-Christmas Iowa poll
Stephen Gordon /
In the Future Everything Will Be A Coffee Shop  —  Phil and I ended last week's FastForward Radio show discussing how higher education will change in the coming years.  My conclusion:  —  Universities Will Become Coffee Shops  —  We're faced with an education bubble.
Discussion: EconLog and Belmont Club
GOP Rivals Unleash Blistering Attacks on Ron Paul  —  Ron Paul, who doesn't even return to the campaign trail until Wednesday, is already facing a barrage of attacks from his GOP rivals.  —  Newt Gingrich told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that he could not support Paul if he won the Republican nomination …
Discussion: Iowa Caucuses and GOP 12
Kevinliptak / CNN:
Gingrich wouldn't vote for Ron Paul
Charles P. Pierce / Esquire:
Mitt Romney: The Real Austerity Candidate  —  Over the holidays, Willard Romney has been seeking once again to define himself, a job that is very similar to that undertaken by the people who renovate old country homes.  The first thing you have to do is to tear down the accumulated improvements …
Discussion: Suburban Guerrilla
Michelle Hirsch / Business Insider:
America's Dirty Little Housing Secret Is Rocking The Suburbs  —  For years, the food pantry in Crystal Lake, Ill., a bedroom community 50 miles west of Chicago, has catered to the suburban area's poor, homeless and unemployed.  —  But Cate Williams, the head of the pantry …
Discussion: BizzyBlog
Lori Montgomery / Washington Post:
Washington's year of drama leaves little done regarding debt  —  Reid Ribble, a Wisconsin roofing contractor-turned-Republican lawmaker, has helped change the way Washington talks about the national debt.  That's not to say he has done much about the debt itself.
Discussion: Hit & Run and RedState
Greg Miller / Washington Post:
Under Obama, an emerging global apparatus for drone killing  —  U.S. Air Force/GETTY IMAGES - A crew chief from the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron completes post-flight inspections of the RQ-1 Predator after one of its sorties in Balad Air Base, Iraq.
Michael Calderone / The Huffington Post:
New York Times Staffers Express ‘Profound Dismay’ With Management … New York Times , Newspapers , Video , Arthur Sulzberger , Bill O'Meara , Janet Robinson , Jill Abramson , Jill Abramson New York Times , New York Newspaper Guild , New York Times Buyouts , New York Times Contract …
Jeffrey Gettleman / New York Times:
Somalia Faces Alarming Rise in Rapes of Women and Girls  —  A rape victim in Mogadishu hid her identity.  Aid workers say there has been a free-for-all of armed men preying upon women and girls displaced by famine.  More Photos »  —  MOGADISHU, Somalia — The girl's voice dropped …
Discussion: Jezebel and Hullabaloo
James Rowley / Bloomberg:
Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson Says He Won't Run in 2012  —  (Updates with retirements, Obama comment in ninth paragraph.  For more on the election, see ELECT.)  —  Dec. 27 (Bloomberg) — Democratic Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska announced today he won't seek re-election next year …
John Bresnahan / The Politico:
Ben Nelson retiring from Senate
Choe Sang-Hun / New York Times:
North Korean Mourners Line Streets for Kim Jong-il's Funeral  —  SEOUL, South Korea — Kim Jong-un, the designated dynastic heir to power in North Korea, walked alongside the hearse of his deceased father, Kim Jong-il, through snow-covered downtown Pyongyang on Wednesday …
Dan Balz / Washington Post:
For GOP candidates, worries about the party's brand  —  View Photo Gallery —  In December, the GOP presidential candidates turned their attention to Iowa and New Hampshire..  —  Iowa is awash in presidential candidates right now, and for the next week they will be focused on turning out their voters for the caucuses.
Jennifer Epstein / The Politico:
First family frees 4 turtles  —  HONOLULU — The first family released four sea turtles into Hanauma Bay on Tuesday afternoon before visiting the park where the reptiles were raised.  —  The four turtles — each 18 months old — were raised in captivity at Sea Life Park, about five miles away along the Oahu coast.
Discussion: Weasel Zippers
Robin Hanson / Overcoming Bias:
Why Work Hour Limits?  —  Many laws discourage and limit work hours.  Laws require holidays and vacations, limit hours per day and week, and require extra payment for work over these limits.  And of course income taxes discourage work more generally.  The standard economic explanation …
Discussion: Outside the Beltway
Washington Post:
Frontrunners stay (mostly) positive as super PACs do dirty work  —  The leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination continue to churn out positive television ad after positive television ad, even on the eve of the first ballots being cast in a close race in Iowa.
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 More Items: 
Valerie Richardson / Washington Times:
New laws: No caffeine in beer, shark fins in soup
New FIRE Video: How ‘Firefly’ Fans Saved Free Speech on Campus
Discussion: Hot Air
Ryan Grim / The Huffington Post:
Ron Paul: Drug War In U.S. Has Racist Origins
Discussion: Firedoglake
Harvey Morris / New York Times:
Italy's Borrowing Costs Drop Sharply at Auction
New York Times:
Iran Threatens to Block Oil Shipments, as U.S. Prepares Sanctions
Discussion: and Right Wing News
Israelis rally against ultra-Orthodox extremism
Discussion: Lez Get Real and Truthdig
Tim Robey / Telegraph:
The look that shook the nation
Discussion: Washington Monthly
 Earlier Items: 
Jonathan Martin / The Politico:
Iowa GOP moving vote-count to ‘undisclosed location’
Discussion: ABCNEWS and Politisite
Ben Smith / The Politico:
A very unique ad for Newt
Discussion: BuzzFeed