Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Empire Strikes Back

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had some choice words in response to Newsweek magazine's prediction that he would be ousted in a military coup in 2010. Chavez called the publication "the empire's magazine," saying in a televised address that: "They feed on hatred and the wishes of the imperialism that they represent — big money, big newspapers, the TV stations of the global bourgeoisie."

The magazine also forecasted the death of ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Chavez didn't buy that, saying Castro's death has been predicted for years and he's still around. Chavez said he jokes with Raul Castro, who took power from his brother in 2006: "This guy's going to bury you, me and all of us."

Inside Scoop

A former bodyguard for Iran's supreme leader is dishing details about his former boss, the Ayatollah Khamenei, who has guided the country for the past 20 years. The London Telegraph reports that it's the first comprehensive account of Khamenei's private life.

The bodyguard, who was a member of the leader's private security detail, has since fled to France. He says the Ayatollah has an affinity for the finer things in life, including caviar, antique collectables, extensive stables for the country's leading horses and even cloaks woven from the hair of specially bred camels.

Each evening the leader is said to spend 20 minutes or so listening to secretly recorded conversations of senior officials and colleagues, to hear what they're saying about him behind closed doors.

The Break-Up

Nevada Republican Governor Jim Gibbons and first lady Dawn Gibbons' divorce was final this week. But hours after a judge approved the settlement, the governor's campaign adviser told a newspaper that not having a first lady in the governor's mansion wouldn't really be an issue because any first lady, he said, "is to a large extent window dressing." Something that would go to first husbands as well we assume.

But Governor Gibbons was not amused and fired his adviser, saying the comment was sexist and did not reflect his views.

How Do You Mend a Broken Nose?

While Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi recovers from an attack that left him with a broken nose and two broken teeth, he is writing -- what else? -- love songs.

An Italian newspaper reports Berlusconi, who worked as a cruise ship singer in his youth, hopes to have a record out next year. He appears to have considerable experience to draw on and lots of inspiration in the amore department, since newspaper reports over the last year have focused on his alleged exploits with younger women and the end of his 20-year marriage.

— Fox News Channel's Lanna Britt contributed to this report.