Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Sin Taxes

Government has often taxed behaviors it considers harmful — such as alcohol and tobacco consumption. But now a Chicago city alderman wants to tax — bottled water. A Chicago TV station reports Alderman George Cardenas wants to put a 25 cents/bottle tax on water — in order to help close the city's $217 million budget gap. He says bottled water usage has contributed to a $40 million shortfall in the city's water and sewer funds.

Critics say taxing something healthy makes no sense. And the mayor's office says raising taxes remains a last resort.

Easy Money?

The World Bank wants to allow Third World countries to use their own rules — instead of the bank's — to award contracts for bank-funded projects.

But The Washington Times reports critics say that will lead to increased corruption. The World Bank has already sanctioned more than 100 organizations for fraud and corruption in bank-financed projects just over the past two fiscal years, and that was with the bank still calling the shots. Business leaders also complain they have not been sufficiently consulted about the proposal.

But bank officials say it will improve the efficiency of government spending, give countries a sense of ownership of development projects, and be more environmentally-friendly. The bank hopes to set up pilot programs to see how the new procurement system works.

Cleared for Takeoff

The effort by some activists to stop the Blue Angels from performing at San Francisco's Annual Fleet Week apparently has failed — at least for this year. The proposed resolution banning the team from flying was tabled by a committee Monday.

Activists had cited last year's fatal accident at a Blue Angels show. But many San Franciscans suspected an anti-military agenda. The Angels have been the centerpiece of Fleet Week since 1981.

Fuel vs. Food

We've told you how the use of food crops for biofuels has driven up the prices for tortillas in Mexico, breakfast cereal in the U.S. and beer in Germany.

Now Spiegel Online reports the price of Germany's beloved gummy bears may soar next year because of the biofuel boom. That's because the price of key ingredient glucose rose by 30 percent in 2006.

Some German business people have had enough. They have formed an alliance that is seeking an end of government subsidies for biofuel crops. They say that in two to four years there will be food shortages — if crops continue to be diverted to biofuel production.

Law and Order

And the acting chief of the Bangkok police department's Crime Suppression Division is trying to get his own officers to stop showing up late for work, parking in the wrong place, or committing other minor offenses.
So offenders will now have to wear pink armbands depicting the face of Hello Kitty — a Japanese symbol of cuteness. The New York Times reports the first attempt — using tartan-colored armbands — failed — because officers actually liked them and took them as souvenirs.

But the threat of making masculine cops wear the pink Hello Kittys seems to be working. As of last week no offenses had been committed that would force officers to wear the dreaded armbands.

—FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.

With more than 35 years of journalism experience to draw from, Brit Hume currently serves as a senior political analyst for FOX News Channel (FNC) and contributes to all major political coverage. Hume also is regular panelist on FOX's weekly public affairs program, "FOX News Sunday" on Sundays at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET. Click here for more information on Brit Hume