Some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will deliver the annual Christmas message on Britain's Channel 4 television network. Since its launch in 1993, the channel has offered a controversial counterpoint each year to Queen Elizabeth's traditional Christmas greeting. But none have been as contentious as this.
In a thinly-veiled swipe at the U.S., Ahmadinejad says in the pre-recorded message, “If Christ were on earth today undoubtedly he would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers... he would fight against the tyrannical policies of prevailing global economic political systems."
Despite an outpouring of criticism, Channel 4’s Dorothy Byrne says the selection is in line with the broadcaster's policy of providing "an alternative world view."
The newly-resigned Iraqi parliamentary speaker is praising the journalist who hurled his shoes at President Bush earlier this month. Mahmoud al-Mashhadani says "he was a zealous, brave journalist and even his enemy bush said he is brave — only parliament did not say that he is brave. This is a clear fault. It shouldn't be like that."
Mashhadani — who is Sunni — made the comments just a day after he resigned under heavy pressure from Shiite and Kurdish lawmakers. Tensions came to a head last week during a shouting match over the detention of journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi — who is accused of assaulting a foreign leader. Al-Zeidi's trial begins December 31st and he could face up to two years in prison if convicted.
Environmental activists blamed everything from cannibalism to the death of the Loch Ness Monster this year on global warming. For example, in April media mogul Ted Turner said in an interview with PBS' Charlie Rose on April 1, 2008, the world will be so hot in 40 years that “most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals."
Scotland's Daily Record newspaper reported researchers are giving up the hunt for the Loch Ness Monster because "Nessie may be dead, a victim of global warming."
USA Today reported in April that Burmese pythons — large enough to eat alligators in a single mouthful — will be capable of living on one-third of continental U.S. as global warming makes the country more hospitable. (We assume they are talking about being hospitable to snakes — and not people.)
And The Daily Mail newspaper warned in July, killer stingrays "will invade Britain this summer due to global warming."
Meanwhile, the National Climatic Data Center says 2008 will go down as the coldest year in a decade.
Flight of Fancy
And finally, environmentally-conscious travelers flying out of San Francisco International Airport will soon be able to offset their guilt by buying carbon credits at airport kiosks. The San Francisco Chronicle reports an experimental program will make the airport the first in the nation to offer the service.
The kiosks will resemble self-service check-in stations that airlines use. Fliers will type in their destination — and their carbon footprint will be calculated — as well as the cost to offset that damage. Travelers can then swipe a credit card to help save the planet.
— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.