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2:05 PM ET, December 31, 2011


 Top Items: 
Jonathan Martinand Maggie Haberman / The Politico:
Rick Perry campaign plays blame game  —  DES MOINES - With a revamped message and a significant TV presence here, Rick Perry is hoping to revive his disappointing presidential campaign with a surprise finish Tuesday.  —  But even as they hold out hope that Perry can find a way back into contention …
Carl Cameron / Fox News:
Virginia Attorney General Intervenes in GOP Primary Ballot Dispute  —  Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is intervening in the Virginia presidential primary dispute and plans to file emergency legislation to address the inability of most Republican presidential candidates to get their name on the ballot, Fox News has learned.
David Chalian / Yahoo! News:
Ann Selzer, queen of the Iowa caucuses: For a day, the most powerful woman in American politics  —  Every presidential candidate, campaign operative and political journalist in Iowa will spend most of Saturday in suspended animation, waiting for the results of the final Des Moines Register poll before the caucuses.
Brian Montopoli / CBS News:
Occupy Iowa: We aren't trying to disrupt caucuses
Mark Landler / New York Times:
Obama to Target Congress in 2012 Re-election Campaign  —  HONOLULU — President Obama is heading into his re-election campaign with plans to step up his offensive against an unpopular Congress, concluding that he cannot pass any major legislation in 2012 because of Republican hostility toward his agenda …
Julie Pace / Associated Press:
In 2012, Obama to press ahead without Congress
Discussion: Weasel Zippers
Steve Benen / Washington Monthly:
There's no crying in baseball, but in politics...  Crying has come a long way in politics.  In 1972, Ed Muskie wept outside the offices of New Hampshire's Union Leader, and it was, at the time, a political disaster.  Americans were apparently uncomfortable with adults in leadership positions emoting like this in public.
Molly Ball / The Atlantic Online:
Frank Luntz Always Makes Newt Gingrich Cry
Jonathan Easley / Ballot Box:
Outside groups overwhelm Gingrich  —  When Newt Gingrich opened up a sizable lead in Iowa last month, he was promptly broadsided by a torrent of negative Super PAC advertisements that now threaten to sink his once-promising campaign.  —  The amount of campaign advertising will likely set …
New York Times:
Restore Our Future Attack Ads Harm Gingrich in Iowa
Steve Benen / Washington Monthly:
Enjoy the payroll tax break while it lasts  —  Last week, after a needlessly-contentious process, Congress approved a two-month extension of the payroll tax break.  As part of the agreement, a conference committee will try to come up with an agreement to extend the cut through the end of 2012.
Dominic Sandbrook / Daily Mail:
The spectre of 1932: How a loss of faith in politicians and democracy could make 2012 the most frightening year in living memory  —  The dawn of a new year is usually a time of hope and ambition, of dreams for the future and thoughts of a better life.  But it is a long time since …
Discussion: The Other McCain and Ed Driscoll
Alicia M. Cohn / Ballot Box:
Romney gets emotional talking about parents, tells audience 'I won't cry'  —  Mitt Romney stopped short of his GOP rival Newt Gingrich on Friday evening when he spoke emotionally about his parents but did not tear up.  —  Romney described the patriotism of his parents, both deceased, at a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Friday.
Discussion: CNN and The Politico
John Hinderaker / Power Line:
Flag Burning at Occupy Charlotte  —  We haven't paid much attention to the Occupiers lately; nor, for the most part, has anyone else.  But every now and then they continue to endear themselves to the American public.  Like last night, when four members of Occupy Charlotte-including their media spokesman! …
Discussion: Moe Lane
John Marshall / Associated Press:
No one hurt after camera falls at Insight Bowl … TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Flying cameras have been providing unique perspectives on everything from golf to college and professional football for more than a decade, becoming so commonplace that fans rarely notice the whizzing remote-controlled devices.
Discussion: Scared Monkeys
Elliott Abrams / The Atlantic Online:
Should the U.S. Cut Off Aid to the Egyptian Military?  —  The military, which has been consolidating power and extending dictatorial rule, gets over $1 billion per year  —  Egyptian soldiers attack protesters in Cairo / Reuters  —  MORE FROM THE COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS:
Stephanie Condon / CBS News:
Obama team exploits Romney team's birther gaffe  —  After Mitt Romney's son made a “birther” joke on the campaign trail, he quickly apologized and downplayed the taboo remarks.  President Obama's re-election team, however, is keeping the moment alive and hoping to earn a few bucks off of it.
Josh Marshall / Talking Points Memo:
What's the Deal with Romney's Taxes?
Waterbury Republican American:
Year of tumult for Connecticut  —  This year saw Connecticut get through its first year after the sweeping changes ushered in by the 2010 election.  It was not an easy transition.  In January, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., announced he will not seek re-election to the seat he has held since 1989 …
Discussion: The Gateway Pundit
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 More Items: 
Mitch Green / New Economic Perspectives:
Fannie and Freddie Fantasies
Discussion: Economist's View and Credit Slips
Niall Stanage / Ballot Box:
Gary Johnson asks Iowa supporters to back Ron Paul
Ron Lieber / New York Times:
After Outcry, Verizon Abandons $2 Fee
Damon W. Root / Hit & Run:
The Left-Wing Origins of Newt Gingrich's Attack on the Courts
Discussion: Washington Post
Jean H. Lee / Associated Press:
Kim Jong Il's presence is felt in series of images
JJ Hensley / Arizona Republic:
Black leaders in Phoenix area ask Arpaio to step down
Discussion: ThinkProgress and Tucson Citizen
 Earlier Items: 
Orin Kerr / The Volokh Conspiracy:
Fourth Circuit Overturns Conviction Because Officer Used A Knife to Remove the Crack Tied Around …
Discussion: walshslaw and Law Blog
Wall Street Journal:
Holder's Racial Politics
Discussion: Hot Air and TEXAS REDISTRICTING
NY Daily News:
Democratic fundraiser convicted of engineering $21 million bank fraud scheme

From Techmeme:

Raffaele Huang / Wall Street Journal:
Apple removes WhatsApp and Threads from its App Store in China, saying it was ordered to do so by China's cyberspace officials citing national security concerns

Ryan Morrison / Tom's Guide:
Microsoft researchers introduce VASA-1, an AI model that can create a realistic talking face video from a portrait photo and an audio file, in research preview

Zaheer Kachwala / Reuters:
Google says it will consolidate teams that focus on building AI models across Research and DeepMind, and move its Responsible AI teams from Research to DeepMind

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