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Hillary Clinton will be in London for State of the Union

Hold the secret sauce

Pressing international business will keep Hillary Clinton away from her boss's State of the Union speech.
Pressing international business will keep Hillary Clinton away from her boss's State of the Union speech. (Alex Brandon/associated Press)

We got an invitation earlier this month from the Foreign Policy Research Institute to attend a day-long conference Monday on "Power in East Asia." Looked pretty interesting -- some excellent speakers scheduled to talk about China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. We really wanted to cover keynote speaker Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs. But the invite said "the keynote will be off the record; the rest of the conference will be webcast live."

The keynote speaker off the record? Must be some really inside stuff. But if it's off the record, not even on background, it wouldn't be usable anyway. So we didn't go.

Just as well, it seems. "You didn't miss anything," a source who was there told us. Well, except lunch . . .

All ayes on Johnsen

Sen. Arlen Specter's office asked us to clarify a column last week saying that the Pennsylvania Democrat switched his vote on Justice Department nominee Dawn Johnsen and would thus be the 60th vote to confirm her. His office notes he never voted against Johnsen. The only time he voted on her was in the Senate Judiciary Committee in March, back when he was a Republican, and he voted "pass."

So you might say he switched from "pass" to "yes." But Scottish law is explicit that this is not really a switch.

Catching up on nominees

Obama last week nominated publishing executive (and, yes, major contributor and bundler) Theodore "Tod" Sedgwick to be ambassador to Slovakia. Sedgwick founded and headed Pasha Publications, which focused on energy, defense and environment markets matters, and ran a lumber company. He's also on the boards of a number of cultural and land preservation organizations. Slovakia, a NATO member, is a lovely country in the heart of Europe. It's small, but Sedgwick only bundled a bit more than $200,000 for the Obama campaign, plus contributing $42,416 of his own money to Democrats in the 2008 cycle and another $10,000 for the inauguration.

Obama on Monday named Elisabeth Hagen, chief medical officer at the Agriculture Department and before that a top official in the agency's Food Safety and Inspection Service, to be undersecretary for food safety. She has an MD from Harvard.

Acting Drug Enforcement Administration chief Michele M. Leonhart, who's been with the DEA for nearly 30 years and became acting administrator in 2007, was nominated Monday to be administrator.

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