Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Congressional Travel

Congressional spending on foreign trips is reportedly soaring. An analysis of 60,000 travel records by the Wall Street Journal shows the cost has nearly tripled since 2001, and increased almost tenfold since 1995.

The report says lawmakers racked up $13 million worth of overseas travel in 2008. That's a 50 percent increase since Democrats took control of Congress two years ago.

Despite the economic downturn, taxpayers picked up the tab for congressional travel to such hot spots as the Virgin Islands and Australia's Great Barrier Reef — as well as war zone visits to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Helen Hits Out

Veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas has lashed out at what she sees as an unprecedented effort by the Obama administration to control the media.

Thomas tells Cybercast News: "Nixon didn't try to do that... What the hell do they think we are, puppets?" Thomas points to the arrangement between the White House and The Huffington Post's Nico Pitney, who was allegedly invited to last week's presidential news conference with the understanding he would ask a question from an Iranian blogger.

And Wednesday, Thomas vented during the White House press briefing after the president conducted a town hall meeting that featured pre-screened participants asking pre-screened questions: "It's really shocking... It's a pattern of controlling the press. Your formal engagements are pre-packaged."

Pocket Protection

And workers at Nepal's international airport will soon be issued uniforms without pockets in an attempt to crack down on rampant bribery.

The BBC reports the country's anti-corruption agency has decided that pocket-less pants will help "curb the irregularities," says spokesman Ishwori Prasad Paudyal of Nepal’s Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority.

The announcement comes amid growing complaints about airport workers shaking down local travelers. Apparently, without pockets, they'll have no place to put the bribes.

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