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11:55 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% …
The Politico:
Mitt 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.
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 …
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 …
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.
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 …
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 …
Jonathan Easley / Ballot Box:
Romney describes health mandate as conservative principle
Discussion: Weasel Zippers
Scott Keyes / ThinkProgress:   After Watching Citizens United Film, Perry Shifts To Oppose Abortion Even For Victims Of Rape Or Incest
Cameron Joseph / Ballot Box:   EMILY's List ranks Gingrich as ‘worst’ GOP presidential candidate
Boston Herald:
Endorsement: Nation needs Romney
Jonathan Easley / Ballot Box:
Paul holds slim lead over Romney in first post-Christmas Iowa poll
Robert / Jihad Watch:
Islamic honor killing in Texas: “Santa” who murdered family on Christmas morning was Muslim who didn't like his daughter dating a non-Muslim  —  Aziz Yazdanpanah, a Muslim, didn't like his daughter's non-Muslim boyfriend and was exhibiting stalker behavior.  “She couldn't date at all until …
Bare Naked Islam:
Well, well, well, the Texas Christmas Day massacre of 7 people, including the killer …
Discussion: The Jawa Report
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
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
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
IDF targets terrorists involved in attempted terror attack  —  IAF aircraft target two Global Jihad affiliated-terrorists in northern Gaza who prepared attacks on Israel-Egypt border; an additional terrorist squad was targeted earlier  —  Following the targeting of a Global Jihad affiliated-terrorist …
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
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.
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 …
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
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 …
Valerie Richardson / Washington Times:
New laws: No caffeine in beer, shark fins in soup  —  California bans among laws set to take effect across nation  —  DENVER — Starting Jan. 1, getting shark fins, caffeinated beer, cough syrup or a tan is going to be tougher than it was in 2011.  —  The National Conference …
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 …
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
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 More Items: 
Associated Press:
No troop parade imminent as Iraq war ends
Discussion: The Gateway Pundit
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
Dan Balz / Washington Post:
For GOP candidates, worries about the party's brand
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
James Rowley / Bloomberg:
Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson Says He Won't Run in 2012
 Earlier Items: 
Tim Robey / Telegraph:
The look that shook the nation
Discussion: Washington Monthly
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