Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Not So Fast
British intelligence officials are said to have grave doubts about the accuracy of the National Intelligence Estimate that concludes Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program four years ago. The London Telegraph reports the British feel the report is based on shaky evidence, and has undermined efforts to impose tough new sanctions against the Tehran government.
British analysts believe Iranian nuclear workers were aware their phones were tapped — and gave out false information. And British officials say their American counterparts were determined to avoid giving President Bush a reason to go to war with Iran. The story quotes one U.S. intelligence source as saying many middle-ranking CIA veterans believe Iran is still committed to making a bomb.
Former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda says Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez did not graciously accept the defeat of his constitutional reform package at the polls a few days ago — as it has been portrayed in most media reports. Castaneda writes on Newsweek's Web site that Chavez in fact tried to overturn the results. He says Chavez backed down only after the Venezuelan military command threatened him with a coup d'etat if he persisted.
Chavez conceded after insisting that his margin of defeat be reduced in order to save face — and appear as a magnanimous Democrat in the eyes of the world.
On the same day Al Gore received his share of the Nobel Prize for his work on climate change — one of his main arguments is being challenged by a scientific fact.
Gore has said that the northern polar ice cap could be completely gone in as little as seven years. But Brazil's MetSul Weather Center reports the ice and snow cover in the Arctic have recovered to within one percent of normal — even though the official start of winter is still more than a week away.
And it says the southern polar ice cap actually has an additional 772,000 square miles of ice now — compared to a year ago.
City officials in Milwaukee thought they could save some money and help the environment by using energy-efficient LED lights on their big Christmas tree in Red Arrow Park.
But a local TV station reports that squirrels are chewing the strings of the lights, causing them to short out, and requiring the city to spend more money to replace the lights and fight the squirrels.
It turns out that with the old lights, the current in the power cord between the bulbs was sufficient to shock the squirrels when they tried to chew through. But the new lights use much less current — and the squirrels don't seem to be bothered.
The city has tried several things to deter the squirrels — including deer repellent — which apparently does not work. And one worker says he doesn't think they make squirrel repellent.
— FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.