Watch AFTER THE JUMP as Talking Points Memo does the year in 100 seconds.
North Korea Hub
“People say, well, when are you gonna get your surge?” says Santorum. (Some of the “people” are the reporters in the back of the room; some are the Iowa conservatives who keep doubting him.) “Everybody in this race has had their surge, and their bump. Why haven’t you had it? I say, I’m gonna get mine the old fashioned way. Actual people who know the candidates coming on board and helping us. Not some media creation. Not some clever line. But actually folks who are taking their time to look at the records, to look at the vision, to look at the character, to look at the courage.”
Santorum has been saying this all year. It stopped sounding ridiculous on Wednesday.
Rasmussen: If the election was tomorrow, Romney would beat Obama like a gong.
More speculation on Hillary as veep.
CNN.com's running a series of coming out stories from LGBT youth.
Jim Burroway explains why so many racists and homophobes can dig a libertarian.
On harness-training a kitty.
Entrepreneur to rebrand brothel as "Area 51 Travel Center," Nevada's one-stop shop for sci-fi sex:
Hof describes the current state of the bordello as a “disgusting, terrible place” without a single window. The partners are hoping to finish a complete conversion inside of a couple of months, before beaming in customers.
The important details regarding the working women are still being hashed out, such as whether or not to paint the women green to resemble Orion Slave Girl characters from Star Trek.
However Hof tells CBS Las Vegas that for the clients he is reaching out “to everyone, all the Star Wars fans and Trekkies,” and cater to all flavors of geek fantasy.
Hof also hopes to collaborate with science fiction icons such as William Shatner – known better to his prospective clients as “Captain Kirk.”
China to land astronaut on the moon:
While Chinese scientists have previously discussed the possibility of a manned lunar mission, a government white paper published on Thursday is the first public government document to enshrine it as a policy goal.
China will “conduct studies on the preliminary plan for a human lunar landing”, the white paper said.
Although a manned moon mission is still some time off – Chinese experts say after 2020 – the statement highlights Beijing’s soaring ambitions just five months after the US retired its space shuttle programme . “Chinese people are the same as people around the world,” Zhang Wei, an official with China’s National Space Administration, said at a briefing. “When looking up at the starry sky, we are full of longing and yearning for the vast universe.”
Salon wonders: "Does gay sex cause incontinence?"
Reddit wonders: Did North Korea Photoshop a giant into pics of Kim Jong-il's funeral?
The Teens from Teens React wonder: What the hell is Rick Perry's "Strong" ad all about? Watch them discuss it AFTER THE JUMP ...
Just a moment ago, the world learned that Kim Jong-il, supreme regent of his dead father's necrocracy, creator of famines, and would-be owner of a nation's souls, is dead, dead, dead. The Times had its obituary up in minutes. They've been waiting for this a long time. Lots of people have.
From the Times:
SEOUL, South Korea — Kim Jong-il, the reclusive North Korean leader who has been battling ill health following a reported stroke in 2008, has died, the North’s official news media reported on Monday.
“Our great leader Comrade Kim Jong-il passed away at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 17,” Korean Central TV reported.
... Called the “Dear Leader” by his people, Mr. Kim, the son of North Korea’s founder, remained an unknowable figure. Everything about him was guesswork, from the exact date and place of his birth, to the mythologized events of his rise in a country formed by the hasty division of the Korean Peninsula at the end of World War II.
North Koreans heard about him only as their “peerless leader” and “the great successor to the revolutionary cause.” Yet he fostered what was perhaps the last personality cult in the Communist world. His portrait hangs beside that of his father, Kim Il-sung, in every North Korean household and building. Towers, banners and even rock faces across the country bear slogans praising him.
That business will probably go on a while. CNN just announced that there will be a state funeral in Pyongyang on December 28th. It will undoubtedly be one of the greatest pageants of all time, though many North Koreans will be celebrating for more reasons than their state TV will let on.
Behind the scenes, old veteran generals of Kim Jong-il's administration will likely spar with the deceased despot's son and heir apparent, the 20-something-year-old Kim Jong-un, for control of the country's decrepit infrastructure, hungry masses, defective rockets, nuclear warheads, and outsized military. There's no telling what kind of North Korea will eventuate. Whatever comes, though, almost anything will be better than what's come before.
Tensions are high on the Korean peninsula following shelling of areas of South Korea earlier today by North Korea:
"Two South Korean soldiers were killed, 15 were wounded and three civilians were injured, said Kiyheon Kwon, an official at the Defense Ministry. The South Korean military went to 'crisis status,' and fighter planes were put on alert but did not take off. South Korean artillery units returned fire after the North’s shells struck South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island at 2:34 p.m., said Mr. Kwon, adding that the North also fired numerous rounds into the Yellow Sea. Television footage showed large plumes of black smoke spiraling from the island, and news reports said dozens of houses were on fire."
White House statement from Robert Gibbs:
"Earlier today North Korea conducted an artillery attack against the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. We are in close and continuing contact with our Korean allies. The United States strongly condemns this attack and calls on North Korea to halt its belligerent action and to fully abide by the terms of the Armistice Agreement. The United States is firmly committed to the defense of our ally, the Republic of Korea, and to the maintenance of regional peace and stability."
Watch some raw footage, AFTER THE JUMP...
Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart step out to do a Q&A for John Cameron Mitchell's Rabbit Hole.
The owner of The Abbey in West Hollywood on what makes his bar a success: "Anyone who walks through my gate is a VIP. Everyone is gonna be treated the same."
New Nielsen polls shows strong support for marriage equality in Australia: "The poll, published on Monday in Fairfax newspapers, found nearly 60 per cent of people support same-sex marriage, with 37 per cent against. The same poll also shows the federal coalition leads Labor by 51 points to 49 on a two-party preferred basis."
Disney decides it's done with movies based on classic fairy tales.
Gay and lesbians rally in the Bronx: “For so long the Bronx has been very quiet about LGBT issues. This particular event sparked the feeling to doing something and how do you do it—you do it in unity.”
Desperate Housewives will go on with one less housewife.
North Korea shows American scientist new secret nuclear facility: "He had been “stunned” by the sophistication of the new plant, where he saw “hundreds and hundreds” of centrifuges that had just been installed, and that were operated from what he called “an ultra-modern control room.”
Cher knows her limits: “Look, I have a very narrow range. I’ve never tried anything more than playing who I am. If you look at my characters, they’re all me.”
Steve Jobs and Rupert Murdoch to team up on an iPad-only newspaper: "There will be no "print edition" or "web edition"; the central innovation, developed with assistance from Apple engineers, will be to dispatch the publication automatically to an iPad or any of the growing number of similar devices."
If you think adult pandas are cute, wait until you see a picture of a newborn panda.
One-time correspondent professor Pontifical Academy of St Thomas Aquinas in the Vatican tells German magazine: “It must be acknowledged that a large number of Catholic clerics and trainee priests in Europe and the United States are homosexually-inclined,”
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I has a big box office weekend.
Paris Hilton fulfills part of her 200 hour community service.
Arrests made at a sit-in on Ottawa in to mark Transgendered Day of Remembrance.