Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Strength in numbers
There is fresh evidence of recent military successes in Iraq. Cybercast News Service reports that deaths caused by improvised explosive devices or IEDs have plummeted 89 percent since the troop surge reached full force last June.
American IED-caused fatalities peaked at 84 in May of last year — the month before the surge was completed. The following month — the number dropped to 71. In July it was 36 — and by December it was eight. That is the lowest figure since August and September of 2003.
And while casualties from IEDs jumped slightly in the early part of 2008 — American forces experienced only nine such casualties last month. And Iraq's oil minister said today — that attacks on oil pipelines have fallen from around thirty a month — to just 4 in May.
Caught in the Crosshairs?
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has accused the United States of plotting to kidnap and assassinate him during a visit to Iraq in March.
Iranian state-run television reports Ahmadinejad told a meeting of clerics that the plot was never carried out because of intentional last-minute changes in his schedule. He says those trying to kill him did not learn of the changes until after he had left Iraq.
White House Press Secretary Dana Perino tells FOX News — "It is an absurd statement. Completely not true."
Hamas' minister of culture — and possibly minister of purple prose — has lashed out at Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calling her a — "black scorpion with a cobra's head." The Israeli news network — Arutz Sheva — reports that in an interview on Hamas television — Atallah Abu al-Sub said that Rice has the blood of Palestinian children between her lips and fangs and —
that — "I pray to Allah that you will soon slither away — along with your master who is more Zionist than the Zionists... whose place in history is more advanced than that of Nero... Genghis Khan, Timor the Lame, Hitler, and Mussolini... That criminal murderer — little Bush — who is striving to fan the flames in this region."
Pick of the Litter
And finally — if you are planning to attend this summer's Olympic games in Beijing — and the idea of a squat toilet doesn't sit well with you — then you may want to go — before you go to the events. Chinese officials are having a hard time deciding which style of toilet would be best at public restrooms.
The municipal utilities administration committee says that westerners prefer seated toilets — which are more comfortable and convenient for the elderly. But squat toilets — which are widely used in Chinese public facilities — are said to be more hygienic because there is no direct contact with the body.
Olympic officials, however, say that those squat toilets drew frequent complaints from foreigners at more than 30 test-runs. One official told a local newspaper that not all the toilets will be converted to the seated variety — but that those for journalists, athletes and VIPs will be.
— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.