Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
The House and Senate have agreed to bar the Navy from allowing defense contractors to compete to build the next generation of destroyers. Instead, shipyards in Maine and Mississippi will take turns building half of the 10 new ships — a decision that will cost taxpayers an estimated $3 billion.
Republican Senators Thad Cochran (search) of Mississippi and Olympia Snowe (search) of Maine called for the arrangement, saying that competition would result in the loss of thousands of jobs at whichever shipyard lost the contract. But the Navy will be forced to pay for idle workers and other costs when one plant is waiting for the next ship. A Navy spokesman called the method "horribly inefficient."
Heckler in Handcuffs
A speech by conservative firebrand Ann Coulter (search) at the University of Texas last night resulted in one student being led away in handcuffs, after he asked an obscenely worded question about gay marriage, and made lewd gestures to the crowd. Last month, Coulter was jeered by students at St Thomas University in St Paul Minnesota, where students applauded every mention of Bill Clinton, and heckled Coulter's every sentence.
School President Dennis Dease (search) found that the event "clearly violated our controversial issues policy," in which members and guests of the university "are expected to treat one another with respect and dignity." But Dease says the violation wasn't by the hecklers — it was by Coulter herself. Dease came to that conclusion, by the way, without having attended the speech himself.
Times' Take on Iraq
The swearing in of Iraq's first freely elected government since 1921 may have been a momentous event that made headlines across the world. Here's how The New York Times (search) led their front page article on the event this morning: "In a striking display of the divisions that have plagued Iraq's fledgling government, the new cabinet was sworn into office on Tuesday with at least six positions still undecided after days of polarizing negotiations." The Times continued,
"The persistent failure to fill the cabinet — and the public protest by one of the government's only Sunni Arabs — was a serious embarrassment for the effort to build a government of national unity."
No Free Parking
After his campaign workers stiffed the city of Boston on nearly $300 dollars in overdue parking tickets, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry (search) has finally paid up — using campaign funds. The tickets were written well over a year ago and had been incurring late fees ever since. The campaign listed the fines as a "travel expense." A Kerry aide said the overdue tickets only recently came to light.
Meanwhile, The Boston Herald (search) reports that Kerry also spent more than $3000 in campaign cash on Red Sox Tickets when he threw out the first pitch at Fenway Park last July.
— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report