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1|| Strong winds and rain pummeled the Israeli coast this week. In the city of Ashkelon, a storm was strong enough to liberate a 1,700-year-old statue of a woman from the ground where she had been buried for hundreds of years. A resident found the statue, a headless and armless marble figure, while walking near the shore after the storm, the Associated Press reports. A mosaic floor of what is thought to be a Roman bathhouse was also found.

Who says looks fade? Check out some pictures of this ancient beauty. ||Rafael Ben-Ari/Chameleons Eye/newscom&& 2|| ||Rafael Ben-Ari/Chameleons Eye/newscom&& 3|| ||Rafael Ben-Ari/Chameleons Eye/newscom&& 4|| ||Rafael Ben-Ari/Chameleons Eye/newscom&& 5|| ||Rafael Ben-Ari/Chameleons Eye/newscom&& 6|| ||Rafael Ben-Ari/Chameleons Eye/newscom&& 7|| ||Rafael Ben-Ari/Chameleons Eye/newscom&& 8|| ||Rafael Ben-Ari/Chameleons Eye/newscom&&

For curious readers, and recovering fans of the show "Cops," here's a picture of the scene outside the Capitol this morning, passed along by a source, of police tackling and arresting a man who claimed to be carrying a gun.



We were all treated to a nerve-wracking warning over the PA system to stay in our office and lock all doors -- but that advisory lasted about one minute.

Late update: Photograph originally taken by Matthew Gagnon.

Stephen Colbert last night was shocked to learn that the TSA's full body scanners can be "fooled by pancakes," as Gizmodo reported earlier this week. But he wasn't surprised by the culprit.

"It's no surprise, folks, that pancakes have joined the global jihad," Colbert said, referring to the popular restaurant IHOP. "We have long known they are part of an international conspiracy."

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This afternoon, the House of Representatives will vote on -- and likely pass -- the White House's tax cut plan. The legislation, which already passed the Senate, will likely go straight to President Obama's desk, and here's why:

The House's influential rules committee has OK'd a vote on one key amendment -- to stiffen the plan's estate tax provision. The overwhelming majority of Democrats support lowering the threshold, and raising the rate of the estate tax in the plan -- in fact the House has passed estate tax legislation that does just that.

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Here's a more political health care report, put together by the office of Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA).

This one's more of a playbook for Democrats, who in 2011 and 2012 will be batting back GOP efforts to repeal the health care reform law. For months now, Democrats have noted that full repeal of the health law will eliminate popular provisions like the ban on discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions.

Stark's report goes into greater depth, bullet pointing for the law's supporters the key reforms that will be repealed if the Republicans get their way.

Among the less well-known consequences of repeal, according to Stark:

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Proponents of repealing the military's ban on openly gay servicemembers have enough votes in the Senate to get it done this year. The only thing standing in the way of ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell now is time.

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) is backing the standalone Don't Ask, Don't Tell bill in the Senate, his office confirms to TPM. So is Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). The pair join Republican Sens. Susan Collins (ME) and Olympia Snowe (ME) in publicly supporting the measure, giving it more than enough votes to secure the 60 needed for cloture, the first step before a final vote that would almost assuredly come down on the side of repeal.

So if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can find time for the bill in the closing days of the lame duck session, it appears that the military's ban on openly gay servicemembers would end this year.

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If Don't Ask, Don't Tell is going to be repealed by Congress this year, it will be because the Senate found the time to do it. That's what the long battle to end the military's ban on openly gay servicemembers has come down to: a Republican Senator, and the number of days before Christmas.

Unfortunately for proponents of repeal, how those two factors play out is very much an open question.

Yesterday, the House passed a standalone DADT repeal bill -- the second repeal legislation to leave the House this year. The bill means that the House is well and truly done with DADT repeal. A bipartisan coalition of 250 House members weighed in and voted yes on repeal yesterday, sending the action to the Senate once and for all.

At least that's how it's supposed to work.

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I'm listening to Mitch McConnell savage the omnibus bill on the Senate floor right now, and given all the high dudgeon, you'd think the spending package was toast. But it's not -- at least not yet.

So as the Senate tip toes toward a (potential) government shutdown, keep a few incentives in mind. If Democrats can fund the government through the end of the fiscal year, they'll delay the Republicans' hold on the pursestrings in 2011 for months. And if Republicans let this pass, propelled by the votes of the few remaining proud GOP earmarkers, they get a political twofer: a cudgel to wield against Democrats for passing another trillion dollar monstrosity, and a bunch of pork projects that they requested months ago but are now railing against.

Publicly, McConnell and most Republicans are pushing a short-term spending measure to fund the government until February. But I wouldn't count the omnibus out yet.

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