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Special Report

Better Late Than Never? Amnesty International Condemns Hezbollah

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

New Better Late Than Never?

Weeks after it condemned Israel for a bombing campaign it said amounted to indiscriminate attacks on Lebanese civilians, Amnesty International is now condemning the terrorist group that initiated the attacks. The human rights group is accusing Hezbollah of war crimes during its conflict with Israel, including "deliberate attacks on civilians."

While the report ruled out Israeli accusations that Hezbollah used civilians as cover during the conflict, it quotes Hezbollah officials who acknowledge keeping weapons in towns and villages. Secretary General Irene Khan said the two reports didn't cancel each other out, but "show both sides of the violence that took place."

GOP Gains?

Amid widespread predictions that the House was all but gone for Republicans, the party appears to be making some headway in the congressional race. That according to a new FOX News poll, showing voters prefer a generic Democratic candidate over a generic Republican by just 3 points, down from 16 last month.

Voters name the war in Iraq and terrorism as two of the most important issues this election cycle. Thirty-four percent think Republicans will keep the country safer from terrorism, compared to 22 percent who say Democrats will keep the U.S. safer. While 53 percent believe Democrats will not pursue terrorists aggressively enough and 51 percent say they support the war in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman says the RNC is prepared to spend at least $60 million on the congressional races while the DNC plans to spend $12 million.

Pay for Propaganda?

A front page business-section spread in The New York Times last week accused Wal-Mart of contributing to conservative think tanks in exchange for favorable news articles from authors who consistently failed to disclose the donations. But the paper now says one of those authors, "told The Times that he had indeed disclosed contributions... a fact that should have been included in the Times article."

What's more, the paper accused the Heritage Foundation's Tim Kane of writing propaganda pieces for the retail giant, but never called him for comment prior to publication. Kane says he didn't know about the contributions and was critical of Wal-Mart in his article.

Keeping Kenneth

Democrats on the federal board overseeing Voice of America and other international broadcasts tried and failed to remove Chairman Ken Tomlinson, who's been accused of improperly using his office to hire a long-time friend.

Two attempts to oust Tomlinson split along party lines, with all three Republicans voting to keep the chairman. One of the three tells The Washington Times that Democrats "planned to usurp the authority of President Bush and the Senate" and accused board member and well-known Democratic donor Jeffrey Hirschberg of engaging in partisan attacks.

But Hirschberg denies engineering a witch-hunt, saying the Inspector General's report of wrongdoing is causing Tomlinson's problems.

—FOX News Channel's Aaron Bruns contributed to this report.