Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
International Invitation Rescinded
Columbia University has withdrawn a speaking invitation to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but not because of his inflammatory views. The dean of Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs had asked the Iranian leader to address the university.
But a group of professors objected, complaining that the school's commitment to academic freedom doesn't mean it has to give a podium to a "Hitler wannabe who has actively suppressed academic freedom in his own country." But while Columbia's president agreed Ahmadinejad might not reflect the academic values of the Forum, he said he would allow him to speak at another venue.
Fatwas for Sale?
The Muslim world has erupted in religious indignation over everything from cartoons of the prophet to the pope's comments last week. But in India, which boasts the world's third largest Muslim population, that indignation can be bought for a small fee.
An Indian TV network broadcast a sting operation against several prominent Muslim clerics who were shown demanding bribes to issue religious decrees, or fatwas. Among them? Bans on the use of credit cards, sleeping in double beds, using cell phones with cameras, acting in films, donating organs, or teaching English to Muslim children. Time magazine reports one cleric even issued a fatwa against watching TV while another issued a fatwa in support of watching TV.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf joked about his autobiography during his press conference with President Bush today, but the book itself is no joke. It's called "In the Line of Fire” and reportedly netted Musharraf a million dollar advance from American publishers Simon and Shuster. Musharraf is set to detail his rise in the Pakistani army and answer charges that he plotted a war without government permission.
Pakistani media are reporting strong early demand for the book but audiences there will have to wait. Musharraf is set to launch the book at a high-profile event with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in New York next week, followed by a full schedule of American TV appearances.
Maryland Republican Senate candidate Michael Steel is making light of the wild accusations he expects Democratic opponent Ben Cardin to throw his way joking that TVs will soon be jammed with negative ads saying "Steele hates puppies," adding, "for the record, I love puppies."
But Maryland's Democratic party took it seriously. It issued a statement detailing Cardin's "puppy powered record" in Congress including sponsoring "House Resolution 3718, the Puppy Protection act, to improve conditions at pet stores and puppy mills... HR 2669 and HR 425, strengthening the Animal Welfare Act... and HR 817, strengthening rules related to animal fighting."
A Need to Breed
Good news for workers in Russia's Ulyanovsk province who all got an afternoon off this week, courtesy of the local governor. The catch? He has something specific in mind for that afternoon away from the office.
With Mother Russia facing a population crisis, Governor Sergey Morozov urged residents to spend the afternoon, well, to go home and make a baby. It is part of his "Give birth to a patriot" campaign. He's also offering incentives to parents who give birth on the next Russian Independence Day ranging from a refrigerator or washing machine to a new car.
—FOX News Channel's Aaron Bruns contributed to this report.