Twas the night before Christmas, and … eh, screw it. Enough of Christmas. Here are the newsy bits you’ve been craving more than that pumpkin pie: The Simpsons, torture, gay marriage, crime-fighting music and more.

On a regular basis, Truthdig brings you the news items and odds and ends that found their way to Larry Gross, director of the USC Annenberg School for Communication. A specialist in media and culture, art and communication, visual communication and media portrayals of minorities, Gross helped found the field of gay and lesbian studies.

Newer links are on top.

Decisions in 9th Circuit Challenge the DOMA and the Department of Justice

I have had several people ask me off-blog about the “opinions” on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that have surfaced in the 9th Circuit. I may write more later, but for now I want to lay out the sequence of facts and actions and start the discussion.

Mexico’s Indigenous Minority Converting to Islam

El Sistema: When Music Cuts Crime and Saves Lives Julian Lloyd Webber visits Venezuela to witness the spectacular success of an orchestral project that he is determined to replicate here.

Vatican Paper Says ‘The Simpsons’ Are Okely Dokely To put it as the devout Ned Flanders would, the Vatican’s newspaper thinks “The Simpsons” are an okely dokely bunch.

A Short History of the Manipulation of Copyright Law It’s nearly the end of 2009. If the Copyright Act of 1790’s maximum term of 28 years were still in effect, everything that had been published by 1981 would be in the public domain — so the original “Ultima” and “God Emperor of Dune” would be available for remixing and mashing up.

Anti-Socialist Bachmann Got 250K in Federal Farm Subsidies Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. — so fond of accusing the Obama administration of foisting socialism on an unwilling America — has apparently been the recipient of about a quarter of million bucks in government handouts.

NYT Accuses Al Jazeera of Lacking Objectivity for Accurately Describing What the U.S. Did It’s amazing that The New York Times would claim that Al Jazeera’s description of the Bush administration’s conduct as it concerns al-Hajj and other detainees — “one of the victims of the human rights atrocities committed by the ex-U.S. administration” — departs from precepts of “journalistic objectivity.” How can the lawless detention, brutal torture, numerous detainee deaths, obvious targeting of unfriendly media outlets and explicit renunciation of the Geneva Conventions be described in any other way?

Had a Bad Experience With Peer Review?

Improvise Everywhere Seasonal Strike

Sorry, the Tablet Computer Won’t Save Newspapers Who can forget the excitement that the CD-ROM version of Newsweek generated in November 1992 when it was announced! Well, everybody.

Health Care Industry Stocks Explode as Bill Progresses The president claims Democrats “stood up to special interests” as they get very rich on “reform.”

Has the Left Missed the Boat on Climate Change? Make no mistake about it, formal negotiations in Copenhagen ended in a train wreck that no spin doctor can put a good face on and was a huge setback for the prospects of averting climate change in an equitable way.

Physicians for a National Health Program on the Senate Bill Legislation “would bring more harm than good,” group says.

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