Oh what to make of Sen. Joe Lieberman’s dark influence on health care reform? Should it be passed or torpedoed for the greater good? And what about sexting? Hey, there’s more to life than health care. And it’s all here, in today’s list.

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.

Obama’s 2010 Challenge: Wake Up Liberals, Calm Down Independents

As with most presidents’ approval ratings at the end of their first year in office, Barack Obama’s numbers have slipped in 2009, though not as much as the clamor of his critics would suggest.

Teens and Sexting As texting has become a centerpiece in teen social life, parents, educators and advocates have grown increasingly concerned about the role of cellphones in the sexual lives of teens and young adults.

Poor Joseph — God Was a Hard Act to Follow A billboard at a New Zealand church depicting a downcast Joseph lying beside Mary in bed and the heading “God is a hard act to follow” provoked more than the intended reconsideration of the meaning of Christmas.

Welcome to the U.K. (Leave Your Camera at Home) An Italian student has described how she was stopped by police under anti-terrorist legislation while filming buildings. She was later arrested, held in a police cell for five hours and given a fixed penalty notice.

The Kabuki Theater of Health Reform (or, Kill the Bill) Sen. Joe Lieberman has refused to support health care reform in the Senate if it includes any provision that actually reforms health care.

Senate Unveils CompromiseCare (The Borowitz Report) The Senate … unveiled details of its health care plan, tentatively called CompromiseCare™: Under CompromiseCare™, people with no coverage will be allowed to keep their current plan.

Job Slump Worsens for Language and Literature Scholars The job market for language and literature scholars, already weak before the recession hit, is likely to leave job-seekers chasing a rapidly shrinking pool of jobs for the next several years.

Scholars Seek Better Metrics for Assessing Research Productivity Evaluating scholars simply by tallying their citations is “like saying Britney Spears is the most important artist who ever existed because she’s sold 50 million records,” said Johan Bollen, an associate professor of informatics and computing at Indiana University at Bloomington, as he introduced a daylong workshop on academic metrics. …

This Is Bigger Than Climate Change; It Is a Battle to Redefine Humanity This is the moment at which we turn and face ourselves. Here, in the plastic corridors and crowded stalls, among impenetrable texts and withering procedures, humankind decides what it is and what it will become.

Howard Dean Urges Defeat of Emerging Dem Health Care Bill Former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean argued Wednesday that the health care overhaul bill taking shape in the Senate further empowers private insurers at the expense of consumer choice—a claim the White House rejected.

‘Idol’ Creator’s New Show to Launch Online The media industry has been keenly awaiting Simon Fuller’s next move after his success with “American Idol,” the most-watched show in the U.S. for the past eight years.

What If It Fails? A Glimpse Into the Abyss of Health Reform’s (Unlikely) Defeat The White House is so determined to pass anything — and I mean anything — it can call health reform that I’m not yet prepared to believe that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s sweat-drenched labors will fail. But …

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