DAYBREAK DAILY: Md. colleges protest boycott of Israeli academic centers

ABC7 WEATHER: Partly sunny with rain in the afternoon and highs in the mid 40s.

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – Coverage of holiday traffic, 11th-hour shopping; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

PROTESTING A PROTEST: Or something like that, per the Baltimore Sun, “The University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, joined a group of other U.S. universities in opposing a boycott of Israeli academic institutions announced by the American Studies Association this week. The association, a group of about 5,000 American history and culture professors and scholars, said the boycott is aimed at Israeli policies infringing on human rights and the educational freedoms of Palestinians. Two thirds of the 1,252 members who voted on the resolution supported the boycott.

“. . . University of Maryland President Wallace Loh and Provost Mary Ann Rankin called the boycott "a break of the principle of academic freedom" in a joint statement Monday. "Faculty, students, and staff on our campus must remain free to study, do research, and participate in meetings with colleagues from around the globe," their statement said, and added that Maryland has no plans to sever those ties.”

SNOWDEN SPEAKS: At length, no less, per the Washington Post, “The familiar voice on the hotel room phone did not waste words. “What time does your clock say, exactly?” he asked. He checked the reply against his watch and described a place to meet. “I’ll see you there,” he said. Edward Joseph Snowden emerged at the appointed hour, alone, blending into a light crowd of locals and tourists. He cocked his arm for a handshake, then turned his shoulder to indicate a path. Before long he had guided his visitor to a secure space out of public view.

“During more than 14 hours of interviews, the first he has conducted in person since arriving here in June, Snowden did not part the curtains or step outside. Russia granted him temporary asylum on Aug. 1, but Snowden remains a target of surpassing interest to the intelligence services whose secrets he spilled on an epic scale.”

OBAMACARE: Suddenly, heavy traffic, per the New York Times, “A record-setting crush of last-minute shoppers descended on on Monday, creating long wait times for users and putting new stress on the government’s much-maligned health portal as they raced against a midnight deadline to sign up for coverage that will go into effect on Jan. 1. More than one million people had logged on to the site by 5 p.m., officials said, five times more than the previous Monday.

“The flood of visitors quickly triggered a backup queuing system that invites users to come back during less busy times. More than 60,000 people provided an email address on Monday to get invitations to return, officials said. The high volume of visitors also prompted White House officials to abruptly establish a 24-hour grace period that will effectively extend the deadline, allowing those who sign up on Tuesday to still receive coverage from Jan. 1.”

GAY MARRIAGE: On a roll, per the Los Angeles Times, “Same-sex marriage is picking up steam in the courts. A federal judge ordered Ohio on Monday to recognize gay marriages on death certificates, but used broad language that could be cited to mount a broader challenge to the law barring such unions.

“It was the third judicial decision in the last week favoring same-sex marriage rights. In Utah, a federal judge struck down a gay marriage ban Friday and refused to suspend his decision Monday. A federal appellate court also rejected Utah's plea to put his ruling on hold.”

WHOPPING RAISE: Kind of, per The Hill, “President Obama on Monday ordered pay increases for federal workers and members of the military effective in the new year. Federal workers and uniformed military members will receive a 1 percent cost-of-living increase starting in January while locality pay will remain the same as in 2013. Obama announced his intention to increase federal worker pay in an August letter to Congress.

“As part of the budget negotiations between Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the Obama increase was allowed to go forward. The deal cut retirement benefits for future civilian workers and for military retirees.”

POLITICO PLAY: “As the year comes to an end, it seems every corner of the Internet has its own list of the Biggest, Most Important Developments of 2013. But many of them are by now unsurprising. Here’s our question: What about the big changes we’re missing—those potentially revolutionary shifts that took root outside the media and the public’s eye?

“POLITICO MAGAZINE asked leading thinkers like Bill Gates, David Petraeus and Anne-Marie Slaughter to nominate the most overlooked development in their fields this year, whether game-changing new inventions, market-shaping regulations or consequential but little remarked-on news events halfway across the world. Here are the big shifts they noticed, from France’s resurgence to America’s budding robot advantage to the rise of autocrats abroad and the onset of a new battle for supremacy in space.”

WOW: As in, wow, per City Paper, “Mayoral hopeful Vincent Orange earned some attention last month with his pitch for a sports entertainment complex centering on a rebuilt, 100,000-seat RFK Stadium. But the actual text of the bill, highlighted recently by ANC6B commissioner Brian Flahaven, is even better.

“Orange's extraordinarily specific bill tasks the District with studying the feasibility of building a complex around RFK that would include—deep breath here—a commercial strip, a PGA-level golf course, a movie soundstage, a "hotel zone," an indoor waterpark, and a "film and photography center." And he's not the only one on board—the bill has earned the backing of fellow councilmembers Marion Barry, Anita Bonds, Jim Graham, Yvette Alexander, and Orange mayoral rival Jack Evans.”

TOYS: For tots, per Gazette.Net, “Parents and kids of all ages flooded the Toys for Tots warehouse in Gaithersburg at a free-for-all event Monday after the organization collected almost three times as many toys this year as last year. Paul Gunther, who manages Toys for Tots’ Montgomery County efforts, said the organization received 36,000 items last year, but got an overwhelming response this year: almost 100,000 toys.”

ROBERT ETHAN SAYLOR: Just the facts, per the Frederick News-Post, “A man with Down syndrome who died in the custody of three Frederick County sheriff's deputies contributed to his own asphyxiation by resisting arrest after refusing to leave a theater seat for which he had not paid, the officers said in a federal court filing Monday. The deputies, who were moonlighting as mall security officers, asked a judge to dismiss a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Robert Ethan Saylor's parents, asserting that they, too, were at fault for putting their son in the care of an aide who couldn't control his angry outbursts.”

SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Caps lose 3-2 against Anaheim.

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “It was a frantic few moments for Crosby, the dog who fell into an icy river, but luckily for him and his owner, a firefighter was there to come to the rescue. Watch the video below and learn more about the story.”

NEWSTALK: Among today’s guests (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) is legal analyst Jim Shalleck, who will be asked about the "affluenza" defense and the report that lawyers representing Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia got federal prosecutors to delay action against him.

--Skip Wood