Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

All in the Family

Last week we told you that the nephew of Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman John Murtha says his uncle played no role in securing $4 million in no-bid Defense Department contracts for his company.

Robert Murtha Jr. owns Murtech, which he says provides support to Pentagon testing programs. He said it was "unfortunate" that some will assume his company received federal contracts because his uncle is chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee.

But the Washington Post reports newly obtained documents show Robert Murtha Jr. mentioned his uncle as leverage in his business deals, and that he held unusual power with the military. And some former employees say the role played by Murtech was unnecessary. Former Murtech engineer Jeff Curtis says: "I was always thinking, 'why is the government paying this company?' If it's fair to have this kind of no-bid work, I'll start a company and do it for half as much. Because this company didn't do anything."

Congressman Murtha is already under scrutiny for using earmarks to help favored defense companies and for his relationship with a former lobbying firm.

Notable Absence

Some seniors at the University of Notre Dame have decided not to attend their own graduation Sunday because President Obama will be the commencement speaker. The group, Notre Dame Response, has been granted permission to hold what it calls a prayerful and constructive demonstration on graduation day. The group is also hosting a candlelight vigil Saturday night to pray for an end to abortion and embryonic stem cell research. A statement on the group's Web site says: "Our objection is not a matter of political partisanship, but of President Obama's hostility to the Catholic Church's teachings on the sanctity of human life at its earliest stages."

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said today that while one group is boycotting the president's address, there are 23 others that support it.

Put It On My Tab

And the National Institutes of Health has awarded 2.6 million of your tax dollars to Dr. Xiaoming Li of the Wayne State University School of Medicine who will study and train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly on the job. The researcher tells Cybercast News Service: The purpose of the project is to try and develop an intervention program targeting HIV risk and alcohol use... very few researchers are looking at the complex issue of the interplay between alcohol and the commerce of sex."

The study will take place in one of China's southern provinces where prostitution and HIV are said to be pervasive. The NIH says the study could provide information that could be useful in America.

Last week we told you about a similar study in Argentina, where American taxpayers are funding research to find the relationship between alcohol and risky behavior among homosexuals.

— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.

Bret Baier is the Chief Political Anchor of Fox News Channel, and the Anchor & Executive Editor of "Special Report with Bret Baier.”  His book, "Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission," published by William Morrow, will be released on January 10, 2017.