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  1. Looking Forward Kim Jong-il’s Shaky Successor Vincent Yu / AP Photo

    1. Kim Jong-il’s Shaky Successor

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's death is sure to bring out the obits and the geopolitical chess games, and will put the media on lookout for cracks in the world's most isolated regime. The Daily Beast's Richard C. Bush sets the stage for a sudden transfer of power: "The most likely scenario is a collective leadership that will rule in the name of the Kim family—in effect, a regency. Kim Jong-un has not had enough time to consolidate power in the key institutions of the North Korean regime: the military, the Korean Worker’s Party, the government administration, and the security and intelligence agencies."

    December 19, 2011 11:15 AM

  2. Death Watch Can Newt Stop His Freefall? Scott Olson / Getty Images

    2. Can Newt Stop His Freefall?

    After Gingrich tumbled in the polls and The Des Moines Register endorsed Romney, the conventional wisdom has swung back against Newt. Desperate, he's resorted to "a radical, constitutionally dubious assault on federal judges," writes Salon's Steve Kornacki. But it's not looking like he can withstand the concerted assault from the GOP establishment. "With the caucuses approaching, Iowans are more engaged now, and Gingrich’s recent rise also spooked some influential conservatives into vouching for Romney, whom they see as far more electable. So maybe for the first time Romney will benefit directly from an opponent’s flame out, propelling him to a potentially decisive Iowa triumph."

    December 19, 2011 11:26 AM

  3. Endorsement Tea Party Bloggers: Perry for President! Scott Olson / Getty Images

    3. Tea Party Bloggers: Perry for President!

    GOP heavyeights are jumping on the Romney bandwagon in order to stop Newt Gingrich, but the true believers are staging a mutiny: bloggers at the influential Tea Party-leaning website RedState co-signed a statement of support for Rick Perry. "We have the chance to nominate a conservative for president and win the White House in 2012. We can fumble that chance away by settling for a nominee we can’t trust to pursue conservative policies in office, or we can make a stand for the best, most conservative potential president in the field." The signatories do not include RedState editor Erick Erickson, who has also warned against nominating Romney and signaled possible support for Jon Huntsman.

    December 19, 2011 11:26 AM

  4. Reading the Signs Krugman: China’s About to Blow Frederic J. Brown, AFP / Getty Images

    4. Krugman: China’s About to Blow

    It's not a day in news without requisite worry about whether China will overtake the U.S. as the world's economic superpower, but New York Times columnist Paul Krugman says we should be focusing on how volatile China has become. "Recent growth has relied on a huge construction boom fueled by surging real estate prices, and exhibiting all the classic signs of a bubble ... Now the bubble is bursting—and there are real reasons to fear financial and economic crisis." Western commentators assume China can solve all its problems because it doesn't have to be democratic. "To me, however, these sound like famous last words."

    December 19, 2011 11:36 AM

  5. Smackdown No, Panetta, Iraq Wasn’t ‘Worth It’ Charles Ommanney for Newsweek

    5. No, Panetta, Iraq Wasn’t ‘Worth It’

    You have to admire the U.S. secretaries of state who have the balls to declare debacles and emarassments are "worth it," writes Salon's Glenn Greenwald. Madeleine Albright said it about Iraq sanctions that killed half a million children, and now Panetta says it about the Iraq War. "Consider how often U.S. officials announce to the Muslim world, either in essence or, as here, explicitly: yes, our actions extinguished the lives of hundreds of thousands of your innocent men, women and children, but we think it’s worth it. What is the inevitable outcome of that message being sent over and over?"

    December 19, 2011 11:47 AM

  6. Obit The Other Side of Václav Havel J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

    6. The Other Side of Václav Havel

    Like all memorials, the celebration of former Czech president Václav Havel, who ended Stalinist rule in eastern Europe, is leading to whitewashing, says Neil Clark in the Guardian. It ignores the significant advances communist regimes made in employment, education and women's rights, and how badly the globalized market economies that replaced them have been for the little people. "Lauding Havel is not only doing a disservice to the millions of ordinary people in eastern Europe who have not been served well by his politics, but to the innocent men, women and children killed by the western military adventures he supported. While Havel was a man of undoubted talent and intellect, it's time we stopped eulogising people simply because they were anti-communist dissidents, and instead look at the bigger picture."

    December 19, 2011 11:59 AM

  7. Tech Social Media Sneaks in Face Recognition Kimihiro Hoshino, AFP / Getty Images

    7. Social Media Sneaks in Face Recognition

    Social-media companies quickly learned that users adjust better to "opt-in" features than options that are forced on them. But that's not always a good thing, especially when it comes to facial-recognition software, writes Evgeny Morozov at Slate. Opt-in features can still become basically inescapable. "To assume that a given technology isn't problematic because its users can turn it off seems misguided. Why disregard the possibility that, once enough people opt in to use it, the collective adoption of this technology might dramatically transform the social environment, making nonuse difficult or impossible?"

    December 19, 2011 12:05 PM