Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
After standing by stories of alleged American troop misbehavior in Iraq for more than four months — despite strong evidence they were not true — The New Republic magazine now says it should not have published the stories. Army Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp wrote that soldiers used Bradley fighting vehicles to run down dogs — wore skull fragments as hats — and mocked a disfigured woman. The accuracy of the allegations was immediately challenged by other media and disputed by the Pentagon. Beauchamp admitted they were false, then recanted.
New Republic editor Franklin Foer now writes that having Beauchamp's wife serve as a fact checker was "a clear conflict of interest." He reveals Beauchamp now contends the events took place in Kuwait, not Iraq. Foer says editors eventually found what he calls "some reason to doubt Beauchamp's reliability."
He writes — "In retrospect, we never should have put Beauchamp in this situation ... We published his accounts of sensitive events while granting him the shield of anonymity—which, in the wrong hands, can become license to exaggerate, if not fabricate. When I last spoke with Beauchamp in early November, he continued to stand by his stories. Unfortunately, the standards of this magazine require more than that. And, in light of the evidence available to us, after months of intensive re-reporting, we cannot be confident that the events in his pieces occurred in exactly the manner that he described them. Without that essential confidence, we cannot stand by these stories."
Illinois Democratic Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is contradicting his father's recent column in the Chicago Sun-Times — in which Jackson Sr. says the Democratic presidential candidates — except for John Edwards — "have virtually ignored the plight of African-Americans in this country."
Congressman Jackson writes — "While causing quite a stir, Reverend Jackson's comments unfortunately dimmed — rather than directed — light on the facts." Jackson Jr. writes that Barack Obama has been what he calls a "powerful, consistent and effective" advocate for African-Americans. And he compares Obama to Abraham Lincoln. Jackson Jr. is a national co-chairman of Obama's campaign.
Image Is Everything
The Fur Council of Canada is running a new advertising campaign that paints the industry as environmentally-friendly — something that has animal rights activists howling. The Canadian news Web site CNews reports the ads call fur "eco-fashion." They say that fake fur contains petrochemicals and non-renewable resources that cause environmental problems. And they contend fur is a natural, renewable and sustainable resource.
An official with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals calls the claim "completely ridiculous," saying "it's just another desperate attempt by the fur industry to pimp their fur." He says the amount of fossil fuel needed to convert natural fur to a garment is 20 times what goes into a fake fur.
And British children's book author Kes Gray says he will change the name of one of his characters from "Mohammed the Mole" to "Morgan the Mole" — after the prosecution of that British school teacher who got into trouble when her students named a teddy bear "Muhammad."
The London Times reports author Gray had used Muslim and Hindu names for characters in his book "Who's Poorly Too" in order to embrace other cultures. But now he is postponing the reprinting of his book and renaming the mole — in order to avoid offending Muslims.
— FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.