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11:20 AM ET, January 4, 2014


 Top Items: 
Randy Lewis / Los Angeles Times:
Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers dies at 74  —  This post has been updated.  See note below for details.  —  Phil Everly, who with his brother, Don, made up the most revered vocal duo of the rock-music era, their exquisite harmonies profoundly influencing the Beatles, the Beach Boys …
Fox News:
Phil Everly, of Everly Brothers fame, dies at 74, wife says  —  Sept. 7, 2011: Late musician Buddy Holly's wife Maria Elena Holly, left, looks on as musician Phil Everly speaks during a ceremony posthumously awarding Buddy Holly with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood.Reuters
Senator Bernie Sanders / Senator Sanders's Feed:
Is the NSA Spying on Congress?  —  U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today asked the National Security Agency director whether the agency has monitored the phone calls, emails and Internet traffic of members of Congress and other elected officials.  —  “Has the NSA spied, or is the NSA currently spying …
Discussion: PandoDaily and Hullabaloo
Tal Kopan / Politico:
Bernie Sanders to NSA: Spying on Hill?
Mario Trujillo / The Hill:
Paul to file class action suit against NSA ‘soon’
Glenn Harlan Reynolds / Wall Street Journal:
Degrees of Value: Making College Pay Off  —  For Too Many Americans, College Today Isn't Worth It … In the field of higher education, reality is outrunning parody.  A recent feature on the satire website the Onion proclaimed, “30-Year-Old Has Earned $11 More Than He Would Have Without College Education.”
Fred Kaplan / Slate:
Why Snowden Won't (and Shouldn't) Get Clemency  —  He went too far to be considered just a whistleblower.  —  I regard Daniel Ellsberg as an American patriot.  I was one of the first columnists to write that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper should be fired for lying to Congress.
I, Like David Brooks, Have Smoked Marijuana  —  In order to comment on the marijuana legalization debate, it is apparently necessary to confess to your own history of pot-smoking first, so here goes: While in college, I experimented with marijuana.  To be precise, I conducted 132 experiments with marijuana.
James Taranto / Wall Street Journal:
Political palliatives won't cure ObamaCare's ills.  —  While we were away, the Department of Health and Human Services offered what might be termed a concession to reality.  In a Dec. 19 letter, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius informed Virginia's Mark Warner and five other members …
John Hinderaker / Power Line:
IMF Says: By the Way, There's a Debt Crisis  —  Two summers ago, we ran the Power Line Prize contest to try to focus attention on the exploding national debt.  The contest was successful, in that it incentivized the production of many high-quality videos, songs, pictures …
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard / Telegraph:
IMF paper warns of ‘savings tax’ and mass write-offs as West's debt hits 200-year high
Discussion: Clayton Cramer
Liz Sly / Washington Post:
Al-Qaeda force captures Fallujah amid rise in violence in Iraq  —  BEIRUT — A rejuvenated al-Qaeda force asserted control over the western Iraqi town of Fallujah on Friday, raising its flag over government buildings and declaring an Islamic state in one of the most crucial areas …
William Bender /
Teens in Muslim garb try, fail to rob gun shop  —  MOST TEENAGERS do dumb things.  But not trying-to-rob-Joe-Galiano dumb.  —  Galiano is the owner of Suburban Armory, the gun shop on MacDade Boulevard in Collingdale, Delaware County.  There is a giant gun-shaped sign on the roof.
Discussion: The Gateway Pundit and Jihad Watch
Jon Favreau / The Daily Beast:
The Social-Minded Pope Francis Is a Very Different Kind of Pontiff  —  Pope Francis, the first Pope from a developing nation, sees the world through the eyes of the poor and dispossessed.  —  Add my name to the long list of souls who have leapt aboard the Pope Francis bandwagon.
Discussion: Reuters
Carson Walker / Associated Press:
Cold U.S. Temperatures Expected To Break Records As ‘Polar Vortex’ Blasts Midwest  —  SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The weather warnings are dire: Life threatening wind chills.  Historic cold outbreak.  Bitter cold temperatures.  —  Winter is normally cold, but starting Sunday tundra …
Discussion: The Week and Taylor Marsh
Brian Beutler / Salon:
GOP's “Duck Dynasty” problem: Why Phil Robertson was a hugely important political story  —  Phil Robertson explains more about our country's political culture than almost anything else that happened in 2013  —  I was on vacation for the last two weeks of December, and off the grid for most of that time.
Brian Carlson /
Utah man fasting to stop same sex marriages  —  SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) - A Utah man is vowing to go without any food until the state stops allowing same sex marriages.  He claims if Utah wants to protect traditional marriage, it has an option it's not using, and he's fasting until it does it.
James Nichols / The Huffington Post:   Trestin Meacham, Utah Man, On Hunger Strike To Halt Gay Marriage
Josh Gerstein / Politico:
Administration faces tough fight on contraception cases  —  As a new round of religion-based challenges to President Barack Obama's health care law head to the Supreme Court, advocates on both sides of the issue say the administration's arguments are likely facing a chilly reception.
Discussion: The Hill
George Hunter /
Detroit police chief: Legal gun owners can deter crime  —  Detroit Police Chief James Craig (Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News, file)  —  Detroit— If more citizens were armed, criminals would think twice about attacking them, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Thursday.
Fox News:
Rude and Crude: Why MSNBC keeps getting into trouble  —  Is there something in the water over at 30 Rock?  —  Whether you love or detest MSNBC, the network has had a rough few months, and I'm wondering whether a series of embarrassing episodes is more than a coincidence.
Discussion: Mediaite, NewsBusters and TVNewser
The White House:
FACT SHEET: Strengthening the Federal Background Check System to Keep Guns out of Potentially Dangerous Hands  —  Today, the Administration is announcing two new executive actions that will help strengthen the federal background check system and keep guns out of the wrong hands.
Discussion: BizPac Review, and TalkLeft
Katie Pavlich /
BREAKING: Obama Issues New Executive Actions on Background Checks for Gun Purchases
Discussion: protein wisdom
Tim Stanley /
Did North Korea's Kim Jong-un really kill his uncle with 120 starving dogs?  —  The thing about North Korea is that it's so mad, so gruesome that it's difficult not to believe whatever tall story you hear about it.  Kim Jong-un ate a baby?  The army uses kittens for taget practice?
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 More Items: 
Jesse Lichtenstein / New York Times:
Ronan Farrow, Reluctant TV Star
Discussion: NewsBusters and TVNewser
Bryce Covert / ThinkProgress:
Raising The Minimum Wage To $10.10 Could Lift Nearly 5 Million Out Of Poverty
Discussion: The Huffington Post
Ronald Brownstein /
Why the Senate Will Only Get More Polarized
900 Rich People Won't Pay Into Social Security For The Rest Of The Year
Discussion: Los Angeles Times and Hullabaloo
 Earlier Items: 
Lydia Saad / Gallup:
Obama's Job Approval Declined Steadily Throughout 2013
Steve Lonegan / New Jersey Online:
Lonegan says he'll run for Congress in South Jersey
Washington Free Beacon:
Mother of Five Told by Healthcare.Gov She Faces ‘Worst Case’ of Obamacare Glitches
New York Post:
Public advocate caught in lie over Times homeless story