A Scoop Gone Bad

And now some fresh pickings from the political grapevine:

Time for a New Capitol?
A Beijing newspaper thought it had a great scoop: The U.S. Congress was demanding a flashy new Capitol building — or it would pack up and move to a sunnier clime, such as Charlotte, N.C., or Memphis. The item cited Congressional leaders such as House Speaker Dennis Hastert and House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt saying they needed more parking spaces and better facilities. Trouble was, the item came from The Onion, a satirical Web site. A writer for the Beijing Evening News apparently lifted the story from the Internet, and it was published as a straight news story without citing a source.  The paper's editor said he'd tell the writer to "be more careful next time."

Georgia on My Mind
U.S. Army Special Forces arrived recently in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, prepared to live in difficult conditions as they trained Georgian soldiers to fight terrorism. Instead, they found themselves billeted at the five-star Sheraton Metechi Palace Hotel in Tbilisi.  The army is paying $10,000 dollars a day for 35 double rooms, and plans to keep the troops at the hotel until early August, when they will move into renovated Georgian military bases. Army officials considered other options — including fixing up a local barracks — but concluded that option would cost $400,000 more than a stay at the Sheraton because the barracks "required costly improvement to bring them up to Army standards."

Jihad at Harvard?
A Muslim American student yesterday urged fellow Harvard graduates to engage in a "jihad" — but not the kind associated with Usama bin Laden. Twenty-two-year-old Zayed Yasin used the word "jihad" — which can be translated as "struggle" — to refer to an effort to do what is right.  He also noted that the word "has been corrupted and misinterpreted." Yasin said his personal "jihad" stems from his desire to adhere to the ideals of peace, justice and compassion found in both the Koran and the U.S. Constitution: Several students gave Yasin a standing ovation after his speech.  Yasin dropped the words "My American Jihad" from the original title of his speech after some on campus complained, but the text remained largely unchanged.