Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Kindler & Gentler
A former Al Qaeda mastermind who is incarcerated in Egypt is now denouncing most violence in the name of Allah.
The New Yorker Magazine says the terrorist best known as "Doctor Fadl" attempts to define new rules for holy war. He writes that it is forbidden for Muslims to kill civilians, jihad is not required against an overwhelmingly strong enemy and that God praises those who simply move away from unbelievers, rather than fight them.
Fadl says the 9/11 hijackers were wrong, prompting reprisals that have killed tens of thousands of Muslims.
"What good is it if you destroy one of your enemy's buildings, and he destroys one of your countries?"
Fadl's writings reportedly have further eroded Al Qaeda’s standing among many Muslims, particularly in Egypt.
Just the Beginning
The group that spearheaded the successful effort to have polar bears listed as a threatened species has a blueprint for further action that could create ripples throughout the U.S. economy.
The Arizona Daily Star reports the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity wants to use the polar bear designation as a springboard to challenge offshore oil and gas leasing in Alaska, launch challenges to the licensing of coal-fired power plants all across the U.S. and oppose local government development plans in major cities.
How can they do this?
The endangered species act requires that all actions carried out by federal agencies be considered in light of their ramifications for habitat of threatened animals.
Meanwhile, Alaska Republican Governor Sarah Palin says she will sue to block the Bush administration from listing the polar bears as threatened. Palin points out that the bear population has dramatically increased over the past 30 years because of conservation.
Silence Is Golden
An Israeli government spokesman today refused to comment on Jimmy Carter's assertion that Israel has at least 150 nuclear bombs. Another Israeli official said that the government had taken note of the statement, but never discusses the issue. The White House also refused comment.
Carter made the comment while trying to make a point that it would be difficult for Iran to have a secret nuclear weapons program. He is urging the U.S. to talk to Iran directly.
One former Israeli intelligence official says Iran can use statements like Carter's to its advantage.
But, he points out that discussion of Israel’s nuclear capability can also work in its favor as a deterrent.
A grandmother in Portsmouth, England, has for years had her two grandchildren and other neighborhood kids over to her yard for some playtime in a two-foot-deep wading pool.
But the Daily Mail reports that Lourdes Maxwell has now been told by the local government that she must have both a lifeguard and insurance for the pool or she can no longer use it.
"I asked around for insurance and they just laughed at me," she says. "No one offers insurance for paddling pools."
But, the Portsmouth council's neighborhood manager says the government did not have sufficient assurances that the risks associated with the wading pool would be well-managed.
This isn't the first time the council has ruled with a heavy hand. Residents say they are even supposed to ask permission before having a barbecue.
— FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.