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Let’s see. The Google launched a Digg-like gadget for iGoogle where users can submit trending stories, favorite them, and — more importantly — vote them up and down as personal preference so that it “learns” the type of stories you’re interested in and then feed you more stories of that “type.”

Called “What’s Popular,” the gadget’s picking up steam, getting some press, and here at Scribe gets a fairly positive thumbs up.

Then, Venture Beat picks up on a he-said, she-said story between former WaPo and NYT reporter Sharon Waxma and Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Writing for the Wrap, Waxma says Schmidt said that the Goog is launching a premium news service with premium ads in six months time.

Supposedly, the service will be behavioral. That is, the news that’s fed and read will be based on browsing history and active preferences, like say, those recorded when using What’s Popular.

Venture Beat goes further with the details:

Users will be presented with high-quality news that is specifically targeted to them based on “search words, user choices, purchases [presumably via Google Checkout]” without needing to first conduct a search; and the New York Times and Washington Post will be among the first newspapers to have their content delivered through this channel.

Google, on the other hand, is keeping quiet and won’t confirm Waxma’s report.

Perhaps they’re being politic.

After all, with all the grousing from the likes the Associate Press about the use and “abuse” of their content, and the planned attempts of Steve Brill, Gordon Crovits and Leo Hindery to create their industry saving, money making Journalism Online company, maybe its best Google sits back, waits and then unleashes a game changer with not so much a peep of advanced notice.

They’ve done it before. No surprise here if they do it again.