Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
The Hillary Clinton campaign has finally paid a bill to a Manhattan deli owner who went to small claims court and filed suit. Peter Semetis had catered a campaign event in mid-December.
He tells FOX News that he received payment for the $2,500 Monday — after his trouble getting the money was reported in Saturday's New York Times. Semetis had said he was concerned Clinton would lose in Texas — quit the campaign — and stiff him for the money.
There have been numerous reports of vendors having difficulty collecting from the Clinton staff — including landlords in New Hampshire and Iowa who reported not being paid for extended periods — and messes left on their property. A cleaning service and a hotel in Iowa both were not paid until TV stories were aired about their situations. A Clinton spokesman tells FOX News the campaign has thousands of vendors who are paid on time and that those incidents were just oversights.
Members of the national media are complaining that Barack Obama is the least accessible of all the remaining candidates. The Politico newspaper reports Obama's campaign is concentrating on interviews with local media — instead of national press. It is limiting access to those interviews — not permitting national media even to monitor them — something the Clinton campaign allows. There are restrictions on media access at events — requiring reporters to have staff escorts through security gates. And Obama staffers are trying to keep conversations with the senator aboard his campaign plane off the record.
The Politico reports this is in stark contrast to John McCain — who is said to be the most accessible Republican candidate in decades. McCain talks and jokes with reporters on his campaign bus — and answers questions until reporters are finished.
New information from the U.S. National Climatic Data Center indicates much of the world is suffering through record cold and snow this winter. Snow cover over North America and much of Asia is greater than at any time since 1966. The average January temperature was three-tenths of a degree Fahrenheit colder than the average for the 20th century. China is said to be experiencing its must brutal winter in 100 years.
And despite fears by some that the Arctic ice pack is melting — one senior forecaster with the Canadian Ice Service tells the National Post that ice is up to 20 centimeters thicker in many places than at this time last year. Experts from the National Research Council — and the Russian Academy of Natural sciences — both predict global cooling in the near future if sunspot activity does not increase soon.
The city of Atlanta is spending $1.5 million tax dollars on constructing and maintaining five new public toilets for use by homeless people. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports each toilet costs $300,000. The toilets feature running warm water, automatic toilet paper dispensers, and piped in, soft jazz music, including the tune "What the World Needs Now Is Love."
Former Republican Congressman Bob Barr points out this comes as Atlanta's infrastructure is crumbling, the city faces a water supply crisis, and its roads are among the most congested in the nation.
One resident who lives near one of the new toilets says it wrecks his view of a local park. But the head of the Atlanta Community Food Bank says having a clean, sanitized toilet is something all citizens deserve.
— FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.