President Obama asked for a better health care plan, so here it is. Native people say “Avatar” is real, so there. But why are they digging up Leonardo da Vinci — and is there anything left? These stories and more on 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.

The links below open in a new window and newer ones are on top.

New Study Shows We Can Tell Democrats From Republicans in Head Shots

You can tell a lot about a person by their face—even their political affiliation, new research claims.

Free New Academic Freedom Journal The American Association of University Professors has started an online journal focused on academic freedom. The first issue of The AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom made its appearance this week.

How Far Would You Go for 5 Cents? Charging a nickel for every bag at the grocery store has created ‘a behavioral economist’s dream.

White House Technology Glitch

Religion and the U.S. Census The U.S. Census Bureau has not asked questions about religion since the 1950s, but the federal government did gather some information about religion for about a century before that.

Dept. of You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: Exhuming Leonardo Scientists seeking permission to exhume the remains of Leonardo da Vinci plan to reconstruct his face to discover whether his masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, is a disguised self-portrait.

Lip-Synch Fine for Chinese Stars Two Chinese pop singers have fallen foul of a lip-synching ban, facing fines of up to $12,000 (£7,400) for allegedly miming at a concert.

Shocking Crime Exposé

‘There Is a Better Health Plan, Mr. President’ Rising to President Obama’s challenge to others in his State of the Union address that they come up with a better approach to health care reform than his own, physicians who advocate a single-payer program stepped forward this morning to again make the case for their alternative, which they say has solid public support.

Steve Jobs Presents the iPad Watch Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveil the revolutionary new iPad. See the video-on-demand event right here, exclusively in QuickTime and MPEG-4.

How to Report the News

No Footloose Dancing in Wisconsin… Educators issue rules covering grinding, other dance offenses…

iPad and the Risk of ‘Sustaining Innovations’ The risk of the iPad for higher education is that the device will prove a “sustaining innovation” in learning technology.

Israel Plans to Repatriate ‘Lost Jewish Tribe’ in India Nazareth, Israel // The Israeli government is reported to have quietly approved the fast-track immigration of 7,000 members of a supposedly lost Jewish tribe, known as the Bnei Menashe, currently living in a remote area of India.

Researchers Develop a More Accurate Spam Filter California researchers have developed a system they believe could stop the most common kind of spam from reaching people’s in boxes.

Democracy in America Is a Useful Fiction Corporate forces, long before the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, carried out a coup d’état in slow motion. The coup is over. We lost.

The Sorry State of the Union The state of the union is just miserable, no matter how President Obama sugarcoats it.

‘Avatar Is Real,’ Say Tribal People Following the film “Avatar’s” win at the Golden Globes, tribal people have claimed that the film tells the real story of their lives today.

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