Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Why Weren't We Invited?
The North Korean government, which relies on outside aid to feed its people has thrown a massive, nation-wide party for dictator Kim Jong Il's sixty-third birthday. He was treated to a feast of pheasant and venison — as he watched a children's dance show, a synchronized swimming program, and a fireworks display.
The streets of the capital, Pyongyang, put up banners wishing "good health and long life for the general." And State media reported, "The Korean people unanimously revere leader Kim Jong-Il as a brilliant commander." State media also said that wild flowers blossomed unseasonably early this year because of Kim Jong Il's birthday, claiming the early blossoms are divine proof that nature is celebrating the "common holiday of humankind."
Specifics of Subsidies
Over the past nine years, the Department of Agriculture has paid billions of dollars in agricultural subsidies to farmers the USDA determined were "actively engaged" in farming. There's only one problem, thousands of farmers who got subsidies are dead. And, according to the Chicago Tribune, some dead farmers received more than $400,000 each.
Farmers are considered "actively engaged" if they contribute significant amounts of land, capital, equipment or labor to a farm. But to keep from paying subsidies to dead people, the department says it's now planning to tighten up the language on eligibility.
A Weighty Issue?
Women's rights groups are up in arms that the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City will start weighing its waiters and waitresses to make sure they're staying slim. According to a new policy, waitresses — known as "Borgata Babes" — who gain more than 7 percent of their weight, and don't lose it, will be fired.
The hotel insists the policy is legal, since "The official job description for a Borgata Babe is 'costumed beverage servers.' [So] it's a performance-art function." Plus, the hotel says, "Our customers like being served by an attractive cocktail server." But women's rights advocates, quoted by the New York Post, say, "Women should not have to starve themselves just to keep their jobs."
Modest House Move
France's finance minister, Herve Gaymard, is at the forefront of the country's budget-cutting efforts according to The Washington Post. So it came as a surprise to some to learn not only that his housing is paid for by the government, but that he and his family have been living in a 6,500-square-foot split-level apartment in one of Paris' most posh neighborhoods — complete with a butler, a cook, a nanny and a number of housekeepers. Total cost: $18,000 a month, all paid for by the government, which is to say French taxpayers.
Gaymard will now be forced to move into more modest housing about one-third the size of his current digs.
— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report