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Special Report

Grapevine: NYC rat population exponentially overestimated?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine...

Ballot Initiative

Charlotte, North Carolina's former mayor is now under house arrest, because he voted Tuesday.

Last month, Democrat Patrick Cannon pleaded guilty to wire fraud for taking bribes from undercover agents posing as developers looking for special treatment.

That makes him a convicted felon, which the law dictates renders him ineligible to vote.

The judge did not buy Cannon's excuse -- that he did not realize he had been relieved of that particular civic duty.

Cannon must now serve house arrest until his prison term begins.

Rat Race

As we learned this week, polls can be way off.

Now, it appears that a particular demographic in New York has been exponentially overestimated the rat population.

Common lore states there are as many rats as humans in the city -- in the neighborhood of eight million.

However, a statistician from Columbia University says there are really just two million rats in the big apple.

He came up with that figure by tracking rat complaints and sightings, then did some number crunching involving rat habitats and the typical size of rat colonies.

It was not easy, he notes, rats are terrible survey respondents.

The city health department calls the findings, interesting but not particularly useful.

Hard to Swallow

And finally, animal rights group PETA is lashing out at the Discovery Channel for an upcoming show where a man will be eaten alive by an anaconda.

The special has already been recorded.

The man dons a snake-proof suit and drenches himself in pig blood so the snake finds him particularly appetizing.

Once he is eaten, he is pulled back out of the anaconda.

PETA says it is not fair that the snake is [not] allowed to digest its dinner -- quote -- "The snake was tormented and suffered for the sake of ratings...Anacondas go days without eating and expend the energy needed to do so selectively. Making this snake use up energy by swallowing this fool and then possibly regurgitating him would have left the poor animal exhausted and deprived of the energy that he or she needs."

The Discovery Channel insists neither man -- nor reptile -- was injured in the making of that show.