TPM News

National Security Adviser James Jones said on CNN's State of the Union this morning that the Obama administration won't meet its goal of closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay during the president's first year in office.

"We won't meet the target date, unfortunately," Jones said, saying that he expected Gitmo to be closed within three to six months.

On Iran, Jones said the U.S. is "still open to negotiations" but that "the picture Iran is painting is not a good one."

"That clock's ticking," Jones said.

National Security Adviser James Jones said on CNN's State of the Union this morning that President Obama's July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan is "not a cliff. It's a glide slope."

"The president's decision on 2011 has more to do with a transition than anything else," Jones said.

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Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are making the rounds on the Sunday news shows today, appearing on CBS' Face the Nation, ABC's This Week and NBC's Meet the Press. Regardless of the platform, their message seems to be the same: The U.S. isn't already planning a withdrawal from Afghanistan.

On Face the Nation Gates said "there isn't a deadline" for withdrawal.

What we have is a specific date which we will begin transferring responsibility for security district by district, province by province in Afghanistan to the Afghans.

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The Republican National Committee issued the following statement yesterday regarding Max Baucus recommending his girlfriend for a U.S. attorney nomination. Here's the full text:

Today's report that Senator Max Baucus used his Senate office to advance a taxpayer funded appointment for his staff-member girlfriend raises a whole host of ethical questions. This issue demands the attention of the Senate Ethics Committee. They should hold a hearing to identify who was involved in this process, what they knew and when they knew it, and why Senator Baucus put his personal needs above those of the people of Montana.

Neither rain, nor sleet nor snow could keep a crowd of about 500 from Sarah Palin in Northern Virgina this afternoon. Perhaps due to the horrible weather conditions (bitterly cold with the first snowfall of the season) or perhaps due to the fact that this was the part of Virginia famously dubbed "fake" by Nancy Pfotenhauer last year, the crowd for Palin's booksigning at a BJ's Wholesale in Fairfax didn't resemble that of earlier stops on Palin's book tour in either size or sheer enthusiasm.

Which is not to say Palin didn't get a warm welcome. Conservative Virginians in the crowd were excited to see the Republican rockstar a month after they turned the state red again in statewide elections.

"The tables have turned," one said when asked if he thought Palin would win a 2012 rematch with President Obama in Virginia. "If she chooses to run, this is Sarah country now."

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Obama: I'll Be Unveiling Additional Ideas On Economy In The Coming Days In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama discussed the positive trends in the economy, but also said there remains more work to be done. "In the coming days, I'll be unveiling additional ideas aimed at accelerating job growth and hiring as we emerge from this economic storm," said Obama.

"And so that we don't face another crisis like this again, I'm determined to meet our responsibility to do what we know will strengthen our economy in the long-run," he explained. "That's why I'm not going to let up in my efforts to reform our health care system; to give our children the best education in the world; to promote the jobs of tomorrow and energy independence by investing in a clean energy economy; and to deal with the mounting federal debt."

Fiorina Slams Mammogram Recommendation: 'Will A Bureaucrat Determine That My Life Isn't Worth Saving?' This weekend's Republican address was delivered by former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, a candidate for Senate in California. Fiorina, who has won the GOP establishment's support in her primary against state Rep. Chuck DeVore, discusses her own battle with breast cancer, and slammed the recent government panel recommendation that women under 50 not get regular mammograms:

"As it turned out, costs were a significant factor in this recommendation. Will a bureaucrat determine that my life isn't worth saving?" said Fiorina. "All this takes on even greater urgency in the midst of the ongoing health care debate in Washington. We wonder if we are heading down a path where the federal government will at first suggest and then mandate new standards for prevention and treatment. Do we really want government bureaucrats rather than doctors dictating how we prevent and treat something like breast cancer?"

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Tai Shan, the prized panda and star of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., peers out during his press debut in November 2005. Tai Shan, who was born at the Smithsonian Institution park, will be sent to China, his ancestral home, in early 2010. Pandas born at the zoo belong to China, according to an agreement, and a two-year extension given to Tai Shan is now up.


August 30, 2005: An infant Tai Shan is examined by National Zoo staff. The giant panda was conceived through an artificial insemination process. His parents, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, are on a 10-year, $10 million loan to the zoo until 2010.

Newscom/Smithsonian National Zoo/Jessie Cohen/MCT

February 12, 2006: His first time in the snow, the young cub plays with his mother, Mei Xiang.

Newscom/Ann Batdorf/Smithsonian National Zoo

February 14, 2006: During her stay, Tai Shan has been no stranger to visiting luminaries. First Lady Laura Bush looks in on the seven month-old.

Newscom/Shealah Craighhead/The White House/KRT

July 3, 2006: Nearly a year old, the giant panda has become quite comfortable with his surroundings. His first birthday was celebrated with big public bash at the Zoo.

Newscom/Ann Batdorf /Smithsonian National Zoo

July 9, 2009: Tai Shan celebrates his fourth birthday with a giant bamboo "cake."

Newscom/Zhang Yan

December 4, 2009: Tai Shan will now move to the Sichuan Province in China to participate in a breeding program run by the Chinese government.

Newscom/Xinhua/Zhang Yan

In a press conference, First Lady Michelle Obama annouced that this year's White House Christmas theme is "reflect, rejoice and renew." "For the Obama family, Christmas and the new year has always been a time to reflect on our many blessings, to rejoice in the pleasure of spending time with our family and our friends, and to renew our commitment to one another and to the causes that we believe in. And I wanted to continue that part of the tradition during our first holiday season here at the White House," she explained.

Photo: Newscom/Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT

Oh Christmas Tree! Delivered from Shepherdstown, West Virginia, this year's White House Christmas tree arrived via horse and carriage on November 27. It now adorns the Blue Room of the White House.

Photo by Christina Bellantoni

In light of the 'renew' theme, each of the 800 ornaments throughout the White House and on the Christmas tree have been repurposed from past administrations. Community groups personalized each ornament with their favorite local landmarks.

Photo by Christina Bellantoni

It took Chef Bill Yosses six weeks to design and craft the traditional White House gingerbread house, a masterpiece he describes as a "pet project of the whole house."

Photo by Christina Bellantoni

A new addition to the traditional gingerbread house is a Bo Obama figure made out of marzipan.

Photo by Christina Bellantoni

Another new addition is the White House kitchen garden on the South Lawn, with soil made from chocolate cake and the vegetables -- crafted with the help of local schoolchildren -- made out of marzipan.

Photo by Christina Bellantoni

A scene from the East Room.

Photo by Christina Bellantoni

The red room of the White House has become ablaze with festive Christmas trees and decor.

Photo by Christina Bellantoni

The state dining room.

Photo by Christina Bellantoni

December 3: The first family attends the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. There, they press a button to light the tree, an annual tradition since the 1920s. During the ceremony, President Obama jokes: "I'm technologically challenged and I might not get this right."

Newscom/Carrie Devorah /

First Lady Michelle Obama reads "The Night Before Christmas" during the ceremony.

Newscom/Dennis Brack

Newscom/Carrie Devorah /

Sheryl Crow (fourth from left) performs "Jingle Bell Rock" at the ceremony.

Newscom/Carrie Devorah /

Obama meets America's second most powerful couple: Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

Newscom/Dennis Brack/Pool/Sipa Press

American Idol winner Jordin Sparks and host Randy Jackson (both on far right) are also present.

Newscom/Carrie Devorah /

Sadly, Bo Obama was left to enjoy Christmas lights on his own at the White House.

Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton