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The Senate's chief vote counter told reporters today that the votes likely aren't there for Sen. Ben Nelson's controversial abortion amendment to the Senate health care bill.

A tired and concerned looking Dick Durbin told reporters, "The whip count says it's close, but at this point it appears there are more senators who would vote to table than those who would oppose table."

Durbin cautioned that even if Nelson does defect from the bill, there's no sense in wondering what might have happened if the abortion amendment had passed. "This is a zero sum situation. We could gain one senator and lose several other [pro-choice Democrats]," Durbin said.

If Nelson joins a health care filibuster, both Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) would become must-get votes for Democrats. I asked Durbin if he knew, one way or another, whether either senator supported the ideas being kicked around to replace a public option.

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House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters today that he understands it's hard out there these days for his counterpart on the other side of the Capitol. That in mind, he suggested that House Democrats would be willing to embrace the Medicare age compromise reportedly on the table in the Senate to ease a health care reform bill through.

"I congratulate him for the extraordinary, herculean efforts that he is making to to bring 60 votes together to get something done in the United States Senate," Hoyer said of Harry Reid, "so I think that's an idea worth consideration."

"I don't want to anticipate what is acceptable or not acceptable," he said of the Medicare compromise plan's chances in the House. "I think it's an interesting idea," he added.

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As I wrote earlier, the Obama administration has been using social networking technology to spread his foreign policy message abroad.

The State Department has been at the forefront of the technology push, coordinating with the private sector abroad with a focus on connectivity.

Alec Ross, senior adviser for innovation at State, told TPMDC about several projects being done in Afghanistan and Pakistan to help bridge those communities in ways diplomats thing will help forge peace.

"The premise is that connectedness is a net positive," Ross said.

"The more voices there are, the more points of view," the better it gets, said Ross, who ran technology media and the telecommunications policy for the Obama campaign, including the text message rollout of Joe Biden as the Democratic vice presidential pick.

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Monday, December 7, 2009 marked the 68th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks. Survivors of the assault participated in a commemorative wreathlaying ceremony at the Navy Memorial in Washington, DC. The presiding officers of the memorial were (from left to right) Retired Rear Admiral Edward "Ted" K. Walker, Jr. (second from left), Rear Admiral Patrick Lorge, Retired Commander John Budzik, and Mr. John Carl Mindte.

All photos by Jeff Malet /

The ceremony began at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, December 7 and featured performances by the United States Navy Band.

Photo by Jeff Malet /

Jeff Malet /

Jeff Malet /

Retired Commander Budzik, a survivor of the 1941 attacks, lays a wreath during the ceremony. Budzik joined the Navy in 1939 and retired as a commander with 28 years of service.

Jeff Malet /

Survivors of the attack preside over the ceremony, including Retired Admiral Edward "Ted" K. Walker Jr. As a nine-year-old son of a naval officer, Walker directly witnessed the Pearl Harbor attacks. He now serves on the Board of the United States Navy Memorial.

Jeff Malet /

Retired Rear Admiral Walker, Rear Admiral Lorge, and Retired Commander Budzik.

Jeff Malet /

Retired Commander Budzik.

Jeff Malet /

The Navy Ceremonial Gaurd.

Jeff Malet /

The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, the Naval group that attends the annual commemoration, said that next year's ceremony may the group's last "given the age of their members." From the AP report: "The youngest survivors are now about 85 years old, and their numbers are dwindling. Richard Laubert, 89 years old, said he hopes to return for the 69th anniversary next year."

Jeff Malet /

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), the co-chairman of the House Progressive Caucus, released a statement today calling a reported compromise on the public option "troubling."

Leaders "have already compromised far too much," Grijalva said.

Ten Senate Democrats -- five conservatives and five progressive -- have been meeting to work out a compromise on the public option. One option on the table is to water down or remove the public option but allow some people between 55 and 65 buy into Medicare. Another is to lower the eligibility age altogether.

Here is the full text of Grijalva's statement:

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In an interview last Friday with conservative talk radio host Lars Larson, Sarah Palin left the door wide open to running for president in 2012 -- as a third-party candidate, not a Republican.

"That depends on how things go in the next couple of years," said Palin, when asked whether she would consider the move.

She further explained: "If the Republican party gets back to that [conservative] base, I think our party is going to be stronger and there's not going to be a need for a third party, but I'll play that by ear in these coming months, coming years."

A security consultant who was a passenger on AirTran Flight 297 says the man who claims he thwarted porn-watching Muslim hijackers clearly fabricated the story, but Brent Brown adds that the airline's version of events underplays the seriousness of what happened.

Brown told WSBTV that Tedd Petruna, who says a group of Muslim terrorists were casing the plane, is "living in a fantasy world." (Petruna now has his own hash tag on Twitter.)

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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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