Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
President Bush has begun inviting reporters to informal, off-the-record chats at the White House, a practice also used by several past presidents. But at least one major media outlet refuses to go. The New York Times has declined the president's invitation because "off the record” means nothing that is said can be reported. Washington Bureau Chief Philip Taubman says, "The Times has declined this opportunity after weighing the potential benefits to our readers against the prospect of withholding information from them about the discussion with Mr. Bush."
But the Times admits that such concerns didn't stop it from attending other off-the-record meetings with this president and several others over the years. The paper did not say what has changed.
Doesn't Apply to Diplomats?
London Mayor Ken Livingstone says the U.S. ambassador to Britain is acting like a "chiseling little crook" — after embassy officials stopped paying the city's $14 "congestion charge" on all cars in the crowded downtown area. The embassy made the decision prior to Ambassador Robert Tuttle's arrival — joining the Germans in arguing that in international practice — including here in Washington — diplomats do not pay taxes or traffic fines. But the outspoken socialist mayor known as "Red Ken" isn't buying that explanation.
He says "When British troops are putting their lives on the line for American foreign policy, it would be quite nice if they paid,” adding, "we will find a way of getting them into court either here or in America. We are not going to have them evade their responsibilities."
Cuba Knows Disasters
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has been spending the week in Cuba to learn about disaster management — to counter what he calls the U.S. government's failure to cope with Hurricane Katrina. But he also took the opportunity to call for "regime change" in the United States. Farrakhan said the Bush administration's domestic policies are "sucking the blood of the poor and weak" and its foreign policy is designed to " rape the treasuries of the United States of hundreds of billions of dollars to be doled out to the friends of President Bush."
Threatening ‘Sexual Power’?
Actress and sex symbol Sharon Stone says she thinks Hillary Clinton is fantastic — but "too sexy" to be president. The New York Post reports that Stone thinks it's "too soon for her.... A woman should be past her sexuality when she runs," adding, "Hillary still has sexual power, and I don't think people will accept that. It's too threatening."
— FOX News' Aaron Bruns contributed to this report.