One Government Agency Profits at the Expense of Another

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Livid Vets

Hillary Clinton’s exaggerations about coming under sniper fire during a visit to Bosnia have infuriated some high ranking veterans.

Retired Major General Walter Stewart of the Army National Guard — who was assigned to the Army's European headquarters at the time — called her statements "really astonishing." He added, "She has no sense of what a statement like that does to soldiers. She is insulting the command in its entirety."

Stewart says Clinton was not in danger during the 1996 trip, and that if the military put her at risk "heads would have rolled all over.”

Retired Air Force Lieutenant General Buster Glosson says, "It really bothers me any time anyone running for the highest office fabricates a story. That should bother any American, whether you're military or nonmilitary."

Stormy Scapegoat

The disastrous hurricanes of recent years have become what some critics call the "poster child of global warming." But an environmental policy expert at the University of Colorado says that shouldn't be.

Roger Peelky analyzed 207 hurricanes that hit the United States between 1900 and 2005 and found that greenhouse gases had little to do with storm damage. In fact, Peelky says it boils down to a simple equation: If you build more, then you will lose more.

His findings — which are published in the Natural Hazards Review — show that had it occurred today, the most devastating storm would be the great Miami hurricane of 1926. Its path through the developed southern tip of Florida would have caused $157 billion in damage if it occurred today.

Peelky says that with each decade the potential damage for any storm doubles because of development.

Yellow Harvest

And Britain is urging resistance to a European Union directive that all gasoline contain 2.5 percent of biofuels by April first and nearly six percent by 2010.

Biofuels are made with corn and other renewable sources of energy that must be harvested.

But professor Bob Watson — the chief scientific adviser at Britain’s Department of Environment —says it is wrong to introduce quotas before the effects are known. He argues that if "that policy led to an increase in greenhouse gases rather than a decrease, that would obviously be insane."

And earlier this month John Beddington — the British government's chief scientific adviser —
argued, "There are real problems with the unsustainability of biofuels."

Trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and Beddington said cutting them down to grow crops is "profoundly stupid."

Profitable Plan

And finally, the Washington Times reports that a decision by the government's printing office to outsource the manufacture of U.S. passports has proven quite lucrative.

The agency has made $90 million since October 2006 by charging the state department more money for passports than they cost to make. Documents obtained by the Times show that each passport now costs the GPO around $7.97 — but that the GPO is still charging the state department almost $15 per passport.

The problem is, the law that created the printing office requires the agency to break even by charging only enough to cover costs. Fred Antown — a lawyer who specializes in federal funding and printing issues – says, "The whole concept of the GPO is eat what you kill. For the average taxpayer, for them to make large profits is kind of reprehensible."

FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.