Dropping Charges for Donations?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Ronnie Earle (search), the Texas prosecutor who indicted Tom DeLay, denies any political motivation for his investigation into the Republican leader. But Earle was the featured speaker at a Democratic fundraiser earlier this year, where the Houston Chronicle reports Earle compared DeLay to a bully, and talked about political corruption and the DeLay investigation.

And this summer, Earle dropped felony charges against four corporations indicted for making illegal contributions to Delay's political action committee, in exchange for contributing as much as $1 million to one of his pet causes. The National Review reports that after at least one company balked at the sum, Earle settled for pledges of up to $100,000 to a University of Texas program on how corporations influence American democracy.

NY Times has Roberts Evidence?

A New York Times story yesterday described a 30 page, unsigned memo the paper said was written by chief justice nominee John Roberts (search) during his days in the Reagan White House, as evidence on how Roberts might rule on current libel laws.

The Times wrote that the memo, which criticized a court ruling increasing media protections against libel suits, was much harsher on the subject than Roberts' congressional testimony and showed "a deep hostility toward the press." The trouble is, the memo was written not by Roberts, but by Bruce Fein (search), who was the FCC's general counsel at the time. Today's New York Times corrected the error.

No "Cooing" at British Babies

A British hospital is banning visitors to the maternity ward from "cooing" at babies because the practice threatens the newborns' human rights. One ward at the Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax, West Yorkshire, even features a doll asking visitors, "What makes you think I want to be looked at?" The manager of the hospital's special baby care unit says the ban is meant to protect the privacy of newborn babies, saying, "Cooing should be a thing of the past because these are little people with the same rights as you or me."