Fidel's Failing Health?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

The CIA has concluded that Cuban dictator Fidel Castro suffers from Parkinson's disease and is warning policymakers to prepare for a tumultuous transition. The Miami Herald reports that CIA doctors are convinced Castro was diagnosed with the disease in 1998 and analysts fear an incapacitated Castro clinging to office could lead to a bitter power struggle.

Castro has long laughed off rumors that he had Parkinson's, even jokingly challenging reporters to a pistol duel in 1998 to show the steadiness of his hands. But while the State Department refused to comment, one official told the Herald that Castro is clearly "not the same person he was five years ago."

No more Weddings

A Presbyterian minister in suburban Washington says the state's ban on same sex marriage is "unjust,” so he's refusing to perform any weddings at all. Instead, the Clarendon Presbyterian Church will hold "Celebrations of Commitment." Pastor David Ensign, who wears an earring and is known to play his guitar during services, will renounce his authority to marry couples and The Washington Post reports that any heterosexual couple who has their wedding "blessed" in a "celebration ceremony" at the church will need to be officially married somewhere else.

The Post, meanwhile, describes the church as "tiny," while in fact, the church building is large, but features a tiny congregation, now down to fewer than 100 members.

Most Influential

Former President Bill Clinton is "The Most Influential Man in the World,” according to Esquire Magazine, which calls Clinton "the most powerful agent of change in the world," in its latest issue profiling the world's "Best and Brightest."

Despite holding no political office, Esquire says Clinton has been so active in world affairs that his post-presidency amounts to "a third term" and that Clinton is poised to become "something like a president of the world." Meanwhile, Clinton tells students in Dubai that the invasion of Iraq was a "big mistake,” saying, "The American government made several errors... one of which is how easy it would be to get rid of Saddam and how hard it would be to unite the country."

Old Hat

Flaming automobiles have become a symbol of Muslim outrage in countless television reports on the French riots. But it turns out that burning cars is nothing new for French youth. Police say nearly 9,000 vehicles have been set ablaze since the riots began three weeks ago, but 30,000 cars had already been torched since January.

The president of the French Crime Commission says burning cars to mark the New Year has become a French tradition and that suburban gangs have long burned cars to mark their territory. And the head of one police union says cars are accessible and easy to burn, adding, "little by little it has become a sport."

— FOX News' Aaron Bruns contributed to this report