The latest from the Political Grapevine:
Negotiations With Niger?
Democrats have called President Bush a — "liar" for saying last year that, according to the British government, Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy uranium from Africa. But senior European intelligence officers now say that the African country of Niger did, in fact, negotiate with Iraq to sell Saddam's former regime refined uranium.
One unnamed official, quoted by the Financial Times, says potential buyers from Iraq met with officials from Niger in Europe at least three years before the U.S. invaded Iraq. The senior European intelligence officials say an intelligence operation in Europe and Africa indicated that Niger had been in similar negotiations with Iran, Libya, China and North Korea. However, it's unclear how far any of the negotiations ever progressed.
The New York Times' ombudsman, public editor Daniel Okrent, says his paper's headline a week and a half ago saying "9/11 Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie" was a — "distortion" and a — "misstep." As we noted at the time, the 9/11 Commission said there were links, though no evidence of any Iraqi involvement in Al Qaeda attacks on this country.
And so, Okrent says, — "good reporting and careful presentation are ... needed" at the Times. But, Okrent insists, the distortion was not intentional.
Worth $1 Billion?
An analysis of public records shows that John Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, is worth an estimated $1 billion — double previous estimates, and enough to make them the richest first family in history, if Kerry is elected.
According to the L.A. Times, Heinz Kerry's vast fortune comes from a series of investments in blue-chip corporations, venture capital funds and municipal bonds. The richest president so far was Herbert Hoover, who was worth the equivalent of $88 million today when he took office — or less than one-tenth of what the Kerrys are worth.
The BBC — which is struggling with complaints about the fairness and accuracy of its work — is now reporting that a woman in Iran has given birth to a frog. The BBC, quoting an Iranian newspaper, says it is believed the woman picked up frog larva while swimming in a dirty pool.
And the larva, then, grew into an adult frog inside the woman's body. The woman has two other children, both apparently human.
— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report