Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
'Second Annual Old Time Flag Burn'
In Santa Cruz, California, there was a sort of reverse July 4 observance involving not the flying of the U.S. flag — but burning it. Organizers of the so-called, "2nd Annual Old Time American Flag Burn" said it was a celebration of the First Amendment.
One participant said, "It seemed like a good idea to burn some flags just because we can." And another who gave his name as "Poison Oak," said he wanted to "reclaim the flag. Not only those who support President George Bush can wave the red, white and blue."
And correspondent Chantal Valery of Agence France-Presse called America's July 4 flag displays, "A true epidemic ... the red, white and blue stars and stripes banners are everywhere ... on house facades, front lawns, cars and clothes."
Israel Violating Human Rights?
A United Nations human rights official accused Israel today of violating "the most fundamental norms of humanitarian law and human rights law" with its siege of the Gaza Strip.
The official, John Dugard, told the U.N. Human Rights Council that Israel's military action — launched after an Israeli soldier was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists — was a "disproportionate use of force against civilians."
At the insistence of Arab and Muslim states, the newly formed council has proposed a resolution that urges Israel to "immediately release" Hamas legislators and other Palestinian Arab politicians it has recently arrested. The resolution is apparently silent on the Palestinian rocket attacks, and the kidnapping that triggered Israel's reaction.
Program Widely Known About?
Eric Lichtblau — under fire for disclosing details last month about what it called a secret U.S. terrorist financing tracking program — now suggest that the program was widely known, and thus no harm was done.
It turns out, though, that at least one person apparently didn't know about it — Lichtblau himself. Last November 29, Lichtblau wrote, ''The U.S. government lacks an integrated strategy to train foreign countries and provide them with technical assistance to shore up their financial and law enforcement systems against terrorist financing."
He goes on to write that the administration, "is now developing a program to gain access and track bank transfers ... but experts in the field say the results have been spotty." At the time, of course, the finance-tracking program had been in place for four years.
Killed for Watching World Cup
And in Somalia — radical Islamic militia fighters shot and killed two people who were watching a banned World Cup soccer broadcast.
The hard-line Muslims, who have banned watching television in line with their strict interpretation of Islam — opened fire after a crowd of teenagers refused to leave a hall where a businessman was showing Tuesday's Germany-Italy match on satellite television. The businessman and a teenage girl were killed.
—FOX News Channel's Aaron Bruns contributed to this report.