Published January 19, 2009
Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
It seems the inspirational words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are not enough to bring two dueling groups of parade organizers together in Houston. The Houston Chronicle reports the MLK Parade Foundation and the rival Black Heritage Society staged two separate parades again today.
The groups have been in a pitched battle over hosting the main event for years — even sparking a federal lawsuit over the city's one-parade-per-day ordinance for downtown. The MLK Parade Foundation was awarded the coveted spot this year. Last year a coin flip gave it to the Black Heritage Foundation. Even though the group missed out this time around, it held its event in another part of the city. Its founder -- Ovide Duncantell -- said earlier, “We're going to enjoy it. we're not complaining."
The man who threw his shoes at President Bush during a news conference in Baghdad last month is seeking political asylum in Switzerland. Muntadhar al-Zeidi's lawyer, Swiss National Mauro Poggia, says his client's life is in danger. But not because people are opposed to what he did. In fact, just the opposite.
The lawyer says, "He's in danger in Iraq. He's also in danger in other Muslim countries because people who support his action could try to make him a martyr."
Al-Zeidi has been detained in an Iraqi jail since the event. He was due to face trial last month on a charge of assaulting a foreign leader. But the court date was postponed after his defense filed a motion to reduce the charge.
Hillary Clinton has not yet been confirmed as secretary of state but she's already ruffled the feathers of her Afghan counterpart. Clinton said during her confirmation hearing that Afghanistan is a "narco state." That upset Afghanistan’s foreign minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta, who says, "if somebody believes that our government ... is involved ... in the production of drugs, this is absolutely wrong."
Afghanistan does produce more than 90% of the world's opium — the main ingredient in heroin. But the foreign minister says, "The main production center of drugs is Helmand (province) — and we are not in charge. Helmand is not under control of my government."
Claim to Fame
And finally, the election of Barack Obama has turned an Indonesian photographer into a celebrity. But Ilham Anas is not famous for the photos he has taken of the president-elect.
His celebrity comes because he bears an uncanny resemblance to Mr. Obama. Many Indonesians have taken a keen interest in the president-elect because he lived there when he was a child. Anas says when Mr. Obama won the election his friends, "made me wear a suit, a tie, and took pictures of me posing as Obama. The pictures spread on the Internet. It was phenomenal."
That led a number of TV stations and advertising companies to contact him. And now he plays the president-elect in a new pharmaceuticals commercial in the Philippines.
— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.