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3:25 PM ET, December 20, 2013


 Top Items: 
Ezra Klein / Wonkblog:
The individual mandate no longer applies to people whose plans were canceled  —  Today, the Obama administration announced that people whose insurance plans were canceled this year will “temporarily” be exempted from the law's individual mandate.  Here's how they're doing it — and what it means for the law.
Avik Roy / Forbes:
Utter Chaos: White House Exempts Millions From Obamacare's Insurance Mandate, ‘Unaffordable’ Exchanges  —  It's hard to come up with new ways to describe the Obama administration's improvisational approach to the Affordable Care Act's troubled health insurance exchanges.
Amy Goldstein / Washington Post:
Obama administration relaxes rules of health-care law four days before deadline  —  The Obama administration Thursday night significantly relaxed the rules of the health-care law for millions of consumers whose individual insurance policies have been canceled, saying they could buy bare-bones health plans …
Paul Mirengoff / Power Line:
Let's call the whole thing off
Discussion: neo-neocon and Weasel Zippers
Jennifer Rubin / Right Turn:   Well, let's delay the mandate after all
Tal Kopan / Politico:
Chuck Todd: Will anyone be fined?
Dylan Scott / Talking Points Memo:
Does New Obamacare Mandate Exemption Open A Pandora's Box?
Discussion: Health Affairs Blog
Politico:   Six questions for Obama
John Fund / National Review:
Who Says Obama Hasn't United the Country?
Discussion: The PJ Tatler
Obama Lifts Health Mandate for Those With Canceled Plans
Swalker / Duck Commander:
The Robertson Family Offical Statement  —  We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support.  The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E's decision.  We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word.
The Atlantic Online:
Phil Robertson's America  —  I've yet to take in an episode of Duck Dynasty.  I hear it's a fine show, anchored by a humorous and good-natured family of proud Americans.  I try to be good natured, and I have been told that I can appreciate a good joke.  I am also a proud American.
Discussion: Balloon Juice
Daniel Strauss / Talking Points Memo:
GOP Congressional Candidate: Duck Dynasty Star Is ‘Rosa Parks Of Our Generation’
GCHQ and NSA targeted charities, Germans, Israeli PM and EU chief  —  • Unicef and Médecins du Monde were on surveillance list  —  • Targets went well beyond potential criminals and terrorists  —  • Revelations could cause embarrassment at EU summit
New York Times:
N.S.A. Dragnet Included Allies, Aid Groups and Business Elite
Paul Steinhauser / CNN:
President ends year at all-time CNN polling low  —  Washington (CNN) - Fourteen points.  —  That's how far President Barack Obama's poll numbers fell in CNN polling over the course of what's been an especially tough year.  —  Obama's approval rating stands at 41% in a new CNN/ORC International …
Massachusetts State Police / Facebook:
Trooper Joe Petty assisted by Tpr Dave Stucenski & K9 Frankie Locate 1250 Bags of Heroin in Hatfield  —  Early this morning, Trooper Joseph Petty was on a traffic stop of Route 91 in Northampton when a vehicle passed by him.  Trooper Petty observed several violations.
Eric Lach / Talking Points Memo:
Massachusetts State Police Bust ‘Obama Care’ Heroin
Discussion: The Jawa Report
Pete Kasperowicz / The Hill:
Senate hatches last-minute deal  —  The Senate reached a last-minute procedural agreement late Thursday that spared them from horribly-timed votes on Friday and Saturday, and should let everyone fly home Friday for Christmas.  —  Before the deal, senators were facing a bitter end to a bitter year.
Discussion: Daily Kos and Booman Tribune
Jenny Beth Martin / New York Times:
John Boehner's Betrayal
McKay Coppins / BuzzFeed:
Paul Ryan Finds God  —  How a backstage prayer in Cleveland and a new leader in the Vatican set the budget-slashing congressman on a mission to help the poor.  “My bet is that he's on Pope Francis' team.”  —  On Oct. 24, 2012, Paul Ryan slipped into a high-ceilinged backstage room …
Washington Post:
Officials' defenses of NSA phone program may be unraveling  —  From the moment the government's massive database of citizens' call records was exposed this year, U.S. officials have clung to two main lines of defense: The secret surveillance program was constitutional and critical to keeping the nation safe.
Post Politics: goes down as Dec. 23 deadline looms  —  With less than two hours to go before President Obama is scheduled to give his year-end news conference, people are not able to apply for health insurance on  —  The home page is still present, but when one tries to apply …
Discussion: Weekly Standard
Jason Felch / Los Angeles Times:
Occidental College flooded with fake reports of sexual assault  —  Officials say roughly 400 false allegations were made by Reddit and 4Chan users, some claiming to represent 'men's rights.'  —  Occidental College has been barraged with bogus allegations of sexual assault in recent days after two groups …
Charmaine Noronha / Associated Press:
CANADIAN COURT STRIKES DOWN ANTI-PROSTITUTION LAWS  —  You are here  —  Home » Canada » Canadian court strikes down anti-prostitution laws … TORONTO (AP) — Canada's highest court struck down the country's anti-prostitution laws Friday, a victory for sex workers who stepped …
Discussion: Liberaland
Lucy McCalmont / Politico:
Jack Kingston defends school lunch quote  —  Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston, who suggested children should sweep cafeteria floors to earn meals from the federal school lunch program, is clarifying his comments Friday, saying he meant all children should be instilled with a work ethic.
Discussion: Talking Points Memo, CNN and Daily Kos
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 More Items: 
John Biggs / TechCrunch:
Alleged Top Moderators Of Silk Road 2 Forums Arrested In Ireland, U.S. In International Sweep
Discussion: Forbes, Mashable and The Verge
Benjy Hansen-Bundy / Mother Jones:
Science Says: Cocktails Could Protect You From Getting Sick
Discussion: Outside the Beltway and Daily Kos
Philip Klein / Washington Examiner:
Obamacare ‘death spiral’ scenario is about the states, stupid
Discussion: Washington Post
John Sides / The Monkey Cage:
Democrats currently have a 1 percent chance of retaking the House
 Earlier Items: 
Eli Lake / The Daily Beast:
Terrorists for Human Rights
The Atlantic Online:
The Gangs of Chicago  —  I spent last week trooping through …
Discussion: Washington Monthly
Brendan Nyhan / Columbia Journalism Review:
Political centrism is not objectivity
Podesta's Push for Executive Power Raises Stakes on Obama Agenda
MacIver Institute:
Workers Dismantle Over 70 Unions in Wisconsin
Amie Parnes / The Hill:
Messina rejects holding Baucus's Senate seat
How dogs scan familiar and inverted faces: an eye movement study
Discussion: CBS Philly