TPM News

The Obama administration wants to make sure people in Afghanistan and Pakistan heard six key sentences in the president's announcement about sending more troops - telling them "America seeks an end to this era of war and suffering."

The State Department took President Obama's comments and similar remarks made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (they also promised the U.S. has no interest in "occupying" Afghanistan) and translated them into several languages to be spread via compressed video that can be watched on cell phones and mobile devices.

Clinton taped videos directly to the people of Afghanistan and translated into Arabic, Dari, Pashto, and Urdu and one to people in Pakistan, dubbed in Punjabi.

"Building on the lessons of 21st century statecraft, we are aiming to continually listen, learn and engage people around the world," the State Department's Katie Dowd wrote. "It is our hope that we can continually leverage new tools and technology to reach and engage people whether they are 10 or 10,000 miles away."

Alec Ross, senior adviser for innovation at State, told TPMDC that citizens in Afghanistan and Pakistan may lack traditional Internet access in computers with high-speed broadband but they are increasingly getting mobile access. (Read more about Ross' efforts here.)

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So: You've heard about this big summit in Copenhagen, at which negotiators will try to save the planet by agreeing to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The news that President Obama will be there for the conference's last few days -- coming on the heels of China and India's announcements of nationwide efficiency targets -- has raised expectations that world leaders will be able to tout substantive progress by the end of next week. But what exactly is on the agenda in Denmark, and what can we realistically expect?

Herewith, a quick and dirty guide to the Copenhagen talks:

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President Obama will soon be honored with a statue in Jakarta, Indonesia, depicting him as a child in the period when he lived there for four years.

The statue, erected by a private group called "Friends of Obama" and financed by local businessmen and businesswoman, will be two meters tall, and made of bronze. It will be located at a playground near the elementary school that the young Obama attended.

The statue will be unveiled on December 10, at a ceremony attended by Jakarta's governor, the U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, and hundreds of children who have attended the school.

This isn't the only instance of a statue of Obama in the country -- though others are not as friendly. In the city of Yogyakarta, artist William Syanhur will take a fiber-glass statue of Obama around the city on a bicycle taxi, in order for people to boo Obama in effigy for his decision to send more troops to Afghanistan despite having received a Nobel Peace Prize.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, and Amb. Karl Eikenberry both expressed full support for President Obama's new strategy in the Afghanistan War today during hearings before the House Armed Services Committee.

"I can say without equivocation that I fully support this approach," Eikenberry said.

"I fully support the president's decision," McChrystal told the committee. "I'm confident we have the right strategy and the right resources."

Asked about the July 2011 date to begin withdrawal, McChyrstal said it's not a "major factor" in his military strategy.

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Today, we may learn the answer to two very related, very important questions. First, what will Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) do if his abortion amendment fails? And second, if he decides he'll join a filibuster, what does that mean for the public option alternatives, currently under discussion. If he's out, then Democrats need both Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) to back whatever public option compromise emerges from meetings between conservative and liberal Democrats.

This morning, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), who's played a key role in these negotiations, told me and one other reporter, "Senator Lieberman and Senator Snowe have been very much involved in discussions not just with me but with a lot of folks on our side, and I'm sure on the Republican [side].... I think they're being very constructive."

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On the Senate floor yesterday, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) railed against gender discrimination by insurance companies, citing an example of a women who was refused coverage unless she agreed to sterilization. Mikulski said, "I thought that's what they did in Nazi Germany, or in the old Communist China."

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White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs scoffed at President Obama's 47 percent approval rating in the Gallup daily tracking poll, the lowest the firm has recorded at this point in a presidency.

"If I was a heart patient and Gallup was my EKG, I'd visit my doctor," Gibbs told reporters in his morning gaggle.

Gibbs said the swing in the poll could be duplicated by a "six-year-old with a crayon" and said he doesn't put a lot of stake in the daily poll and "never have."

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