Some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine, first of the year:
Wiped Off the Map
Publishing giant Harper-Collins is apologizing for an admission on an atlas made for students in the Middle East. According to that world view, so to speak, Israel does not exist.
The Catholic newspaper The Tablet first noted it. Gaza and West Bank are labeled, but the area we know as Israel appears to either have been swallowed up by Jordan or was turned into a no man's land.
A subsidiary of Harper-Collins specialized in maps told The Tablet the map was altered to satisfy "local preferences", and it would have been unacceptable for customers in the Mideast to acknowledge Israel, a harmful practice, according to the head of the Council of Christians and Jews, who said, "Maps can be a very powerful tool in terms of delegitimizing the other", and it can lead to confusion rather than clarity.
Besides apologizing, the company also pulled all copies of the atlas from stores and has now destroyed them.
Pattern of Behavior
Meanwhile, a federal agency is scrambling to figure out how a man with a lengthy criminal background was able to land a high-paying government job, where he managed to steal more than $800,000 of your tax dollars.
Brian Thompson was hired in 2011 by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The job requires a background check, but somehow no one somehow no one noticed he has a laundry list of convictions, including armed robbery, check deception, receiving stolen property and several probation violations. Once in his job as, wait for it, a loan specialist, Thompson embezzled the profits of real estate sales to the tune of $843,000.
A spokesman for HUD says they are now reviewing their background check process to see how Thompson's past somehow not flagged.
And finally, a warning to flies, mosquitoes, other pests, steer clear of the commander in chief. White House photographer Pete Souza has released his year in photos which includes proof once again that this president has absolutely no patience for flies buzzing in his personal space. An image from May shows the president taking down a fly that interrupted a meeting in the Oval Office.
But his successful swatting certainly is not beginner's luck. Look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: For all of Nathan's employees and their families, no other insurer would take they Nathan as long as Thomas was on the policy. Get out of here.
And Richard Cordray to continue leading the leading the financial protection bureau. This guy's bothering me here.
The signature characteristic of our - sorry. I'm going to start over. Hey. Get out of here.
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC: That's the most persistent fly I have ever seen. Nice!
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
You heard that smack, and the animal rights group PETA was not pleased with that, encouraging the president to set a good example by shooing flies away or setting a trap to catch flies and release them into the wild. But as that photo we showed you reveals, the president did not listen, and he took executive action to wipe out another fly.