Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Livestock Worse Than Humanity?
A report by the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization says cattle and other livestock cause more greenhouse gases than cars, planes, and all other forms of transportation put together. Britain's Independent News says the report blames cow flatulence and manure for one-third of all methane emissions — which warm the earth 20 times faster than carbon dioxide.
The world's 1.5 billion cows are also blamed for everything from acid rain to desertification and the destruction of coral reefs. And while cows are taking the heat in one U.N. report, another says humans are doing less harm to the environment than previously thought. The Sunday Telegraph says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has reduced its estimate of human affect on global warming by 25 percent. And it has lowered its prediction of how much sea levels will rise by half. The Panel cites improved data for the revisions.
Private Travel Crackdown
Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has proposed cracking down on privately funded travel for her House colleagues. But Opinion Journal writes that getting a ban past soon-to-be Ethics Committee Chairwoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones will not be easy — because she is the top traveler in the house.
The Ohio Democrat has taken 74 trips since 2000 — an average of almost one a month — including a 2005 Las Vegas conference paid for by the United Steelworkers — and a speech in Barbados earlier this year courtesy of the National Bar Association.
Jones makes no apologies for the trips — saying she receives the invitations because she is "the only African-American woman and only Democratic woman on the Ways and Means Committee."
North Korean refugees interviewed by a bipartisan U.S. Committee on Human Rights say there are increasing signs of dissent in the country. The Daily Telegraph reports that 80 percent of the 1,300 people interviewed say North Koreans no longer believe the official propaganda that their living conditions are superior to those in South Korea.
90 percent said North Koreans are voicing their concerns about food shortages — and that they had witnessed someone dying of starvation. Three-quarters said they'd seen a person die of torture. The refugees say that while the government tightly controls official information — word about rising living standards in neighboring china is getting out.
And incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman Silvestre Reyes had some problems answering questions about Middle East terrorism during an interview with Congressional Quarterly national security editor Jeff Stein. When Reyes — who has been on the committee since 2001 — was asked whether Al Qaeda was made up of Sunni Muslims — or Shiites — Reyes said "predominantly Shiite" — which Stein points out is exactly wrong — Al Qaeda is militantly Sunni.
Reyes also couldn't answer the same question regarding Hezbollah, saying, "it's not like the Hatfields and the McCoys. It's a heck of a lot more complex. It's hard to keep things in perspective and in the categories." Hezbollah is a radical Shiite organization formed in 1982.
—FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.