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1:25 PM ET, January 2, 2012


 Top Items: 
Tom Jensen / Public Policy Polling:
Headed for a Photo Finish in Iowa  —  The Republican caucus in Iowa is headed for a photo finish, with the three leading contenders all within two points of each other.  Ron Paul is at 20%, Mitt Romney at 19%, and Rick Santorum at 18%.  Rounding out the field are Newt Gingrich at 14% …
Roger Simon / The Politico:
Mitt don't need no surges  —  DES MOINES — If Mitt Romney wins the Iowa caucuses, the race for the Republican nomination is over.  —  If Mitt Romney comes in second in Iowa, the race for the Republican nomination is over.  —  And if Mitt Romney comes in third in Iowa, the race for the Republican nomination is over.
Lydia Saad / Gallup:
GOP 2012 Battle to Date Most Akin to Dems in 2003  —  Four Republican front-runners in 2011 compares with five Democrats in 2003  —  PRINCETON, NJ — The lead in the Republican nomination race has thus far changed seven times since May in Gallup polling.  Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Herman Cain …
Gschwarzcnn / CNN:
‘Iron Lady’ goes back up on Iowa TV  —  Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) - One day before Iowa's caucuses, Rep. Michele Bachmann touts her Hawkeye State roots and conservative credentials in a new TV commercial.  —  The congresswoman's Republican presidential campaign says the ad, titled “Iron Lady …
New York Magazine:
Battered in Iowa, Gingrich Plans to Rip Romney in New Hampshire and Beyond
Discussion: Daily Kos and Guardian
First thoughts: Romney vs. Santorum
Discussion: Poynter, Iowa Caucuses and Pat Dollard
Steve Benen / Washington Monthly:
Cantor can't handle the truth about Reagan  —  CBS's “60 Minutes” ran a good profile on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) last night, but there was one portion of the interview that was especially important.  —  In this video, it starts at about the 10:19 mark.
CBS News:
The Majority Leader: Rep. Eric Cantor
Discussion: Outside the Beltway
Paul Krugman / New York Times:
Nobody Understands Debt  —  In 2011, as in 2010, America was in a technical recovery but continued to suffer from disastrously high unemployment.  And through most of 2011, as in 2010, almost all the conversation in Washington was about something else: the allegedly urgent issue of reducing the budget deficit.
Nick Allen / Telegraph:
Americans buy record numbers of guns for Christmas  —  Americans bought record numbers of guns last month amid an apparent surge in popularity for weapons as Christmas presents.  —  According to the FBI, over 1.5 million background checks on customers were requested by gun dealers …
Robert Pear / New York Times:
After Three Decades, Tax Credit for Ethanol Expires  —  WASHINGTON — A federal tax credit for ethanol expired on Saturday, ending an era in which the federal government provided more than $20 billion in subsidies for use of the product.  —  The tax break, created more than 30 years ago, had long seemed untouchable.
Annie Karni / New York Post:
Columbia offers ‘Occupy 101’  —  Does getting pepper-sprayed count as extra credit?  —  Columbia University is offering a new course on Occupy Wall Street next semester — sending upperclassmen and grad students into the field for full course credit.  —  The class is taught by Dr. Hannah Appel …
Tim Lister / CNN:
Islamist militants in Nigeria warn Christians to leave north within 3 days  —  The devastating scene outside St Theresa Catholic Church near the Nigerian capital Abuja on Christmas day  —  (CNN) — The militant Islamist group Boko Haram has issued an ultimatum giving Christians living …
Discussion: Weasel Zippers and
Sam Quinones / L.A. NOW:
‘Person of interest’ detained in L.A. arson fires  —  Los Angeles police this morning detained and are questioning a “person of interest” in the spate of arson fires occurring around the city since Friday.  —  The individual, believed to be the man seen in a video police released Sunday …
Sharon Otterman / New York Times:
Obscuring a Muslim Name, and an American's Sacrifice  —  He was buried after the Sept. 11 attacks with full honors from the New York Police Department, and proclaimed a hero by the city's police commissioner.  He is cited by name in the Patriot Act as an example of Muslim-American valor.
Steve Benen / Washington Monthly:
For no reason, Santorum ‘singled out blacks’  —  Over the weekend, Rick Santorum told an Iowa audience, “Diversity creates conflict.  If we celebrate diversity, we create conflict.”  It seemed like an odd thing for a presidential candidate to say.  —  The line does, however …
Discussion: NPR
Ilan Grapel / Washington Post:
In Egypt, jailed but not broken  —  Five months in an Egyptian jail gives a person a lot of time to think.  When you are not pacing or trying to catch an hour of afternoon sun through the barred window, there are thoughts of home, family, the freedoms Westerners take for granted …
Colombia Urabenos ‘drug gang leader’ shot by police  —  Juan de Dios Usuga was killed in Choco, the north-western province which was his power base  —  Officials in Colombia say the alleged leader of a powerful criminal gang has been killed in a police operation.
Discussion: PoliBlog
About 200 birds found dead in Arkansas city for second straight New Year's Eve  —  (CNN) — Someone went into a large roost of blackbirds in Beebe, Arkansas, as the clock struck midnight Saturday and set off fireworks, contributing to the deaths of scores of blackbirds, a state wildlife spokeswoman said.
Discussion: The Raw Story and Joe. My. God.
John E. Sununu / The Boston Globe:
Primaries may be messy, but they make candidates stronger  —  THERE'S NOTHING like the strange design and random outcome of the Iowa caucuses to break up the clean, fresh slate of the New Year.  If you're in the Ron Paul camp, polling well and running an excellent grassroots operation in the Hawkeye state …
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 More Items: 
Joby Warrick / Washington Post:
Iran seeking to expand influence in Latin America
Eric W. Dolan / The Raw Story:
Indiana bill would outlaw singing national anthem ‘inappropriately’
Mark Mardell / BBC:
Is Obama doomed in 2012?  —  Many have seen Barack Obama as a disappointment
Discussion: Biased BBC and The Other McCain
Peter Wallsten / Washington Post:
GOP's election battle plan: Use Obama's own words against him
Joel B. Pollak / Big Government:
Democrats' ‘Brain Trust’ Hit by Antisemitism Accusations
Discussion: Israel Matzav
James Hohmann / The Politico:
Ron Paul's Iowa victory
Discussion: Taegan Goddard's …
Mackenzie Weinger / The Politico:
Mitt Romney: ‘Good boost’ coming from Iowa
Discussion: Daily Kos
Joint Calls of Central Committee and Central Military Commission of WPK Published
Discussion: Washington Post
 Earlier Items: 
Nelson D. Schwartz / New York Times:
Austerity Reigns Over Euro Zone as Crisis Deepens
Elizabeth A. Harris / New York Times:
Four Attacks in Queens With Homemade Firebombs
Discussion: Runnin' Scared and Gothamist
Walter Russell Mead / Via Meadia:
The “News” That Isn't News  —  The Iowa caucuses are coming …
Discussion: TBogg
Michael Ono / ABCNEWS:
Santorum Says He Would Bomb Iran's Nuclear Plants
Discussion: Weasel Zippers
Gschwarzcnn / CNN:
Huntsman offers up own money for bid
Discussion: The Politico
Pamela Geller / Atlas Shrugs:
We won't eat halal meat, say MPs and peers: Reject Islamic Supremacist Demands to serve it at Westminster