Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Strange Bedfellows

Some lawyers in the Justice Department are upset with the department's decision to co-sponsor next weekend's convent ion of the Islamic Society of North America. That group is listed as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the government's case against the Holy Land Foundation — which is accused of giving financial support to Hamas.

The Washington Times reports the convention features a session on what's called "The Threat and Reality of U.S. Sponsored Torture." The Department will not say how much it is spending to be a sponsor and have an information booth at the event.

One lawyer says, "This is just staggering. It's outrageous. Lawyers from the civil rights division traveling to Chicago on the federal dime. This will cost thousands of dollars."

The Justice Department says the agency's participation is an outreach to educate Muslims about their civil rights.

Help or Hindrance?

A UCLA law professor, whose previous research indicated that Affirmative Action has resulted in fewer African-Americans becoming lawyers, is encountering significant resistance in doing follow-up research.

The Wall Street Journal's Web site says the California state bar has caved in to outside pressure and denied Professor Richard Sander's request for data. This is in spite of sander's support from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Three years ago Sander found that Affirmative Action admission policies have resulted in less-qualified blacks being accepted at top law schools and that had resulted in higher rates of failure for them both in school and when taking the bar exam.

Liberals 9, Conservatives 8

Last week we told you about a poll by the Associated Press and Ipsos Research Company that indicated liberals read slightly more books than conservatives each year. Association of American Publishers President Pat Schroeder — a former liberal congresswoman — said that what she called "The Karl Roves of the world" had built a generation of conservatives who wanted only simple slogans such as "no new taxes."

Columnist Debra Saunders of creators.com says Ipsos told her the one book difference between liberals and conservatives is within the poll's margin of error and not statistically significant. The company also said that since the poll did not ask respondents if they read newspapers or magazines, it does not say anything about their general level of information.

End Justifies the Means?

An environmental group in Honolulu wants to hold a summit and concert next year and is asking the city to uproot and relocate 15 large trees so people can get a better view of the stage.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports this has upset members of another environmental group, which has launched a fight against the plan. That group says moving the trees would likely kill them and result in a huge hot, shade-less area in the park.

A city spokesman points out that Honolulu is called "Tree City USA" and that any suggestion the city would cut down the trees is "absurd and irresponsible."

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