And now some fresh pickings from the political grapevine:
The director of finance for Howard Dean's campaign is on record saying that Dean's large lead in the money race can be traced to the support of gay and lesbian organizations. Stephanie Schriock, quoted in The Washington Post, says -- "the early foundation of Governor Dean's campaign -- both in fundraising and organization -- was built by the support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community around the country."
The Post reports that all but one fundraiser outside Dean's home state of Vermont in 2002 was organized by gay and lesbian groups. As Governor of Vermont, Dean signed the nation's first law legalizing same-sex civil unions.
New Year, New Jobs
Unemployment is expected to fall in 2004, and the New Year could see the creation of as many as 1.5 million new jobs, according to a survey of 54 economists conducted by The Wall Street Journal. That forecast comes as the number of new claims for unemployment benefits last week fell to its lowest point in nearly three years, and a key index measuring the strength of the manufacturing industry, released today, reached its highest mark in two decades.
Security at nuclear labs across the country will be reviewed next month amid reports that hundreds of keys protecting the nation's supply of highly enriched uranium - which can be used in bomb making - have come up missing. The Energy Department is investigating to determine the extent of the security breach, but we know at one Tennessee lab alone 200 keys are unaccounted for, and master keys have disappeared in several others. These are the latest in a string of security problems at nuclear facilities, including the disappearance of two hard drives loaded with secret material in 2000.
Immigrant Concerns in Iowa
Labor groups in the key primary state of Iowa have asked local TV stations to stop airing an ad asking lawmakers to end illegal immigration. WHO TV general manager Jim Boyer pulled the ad, saying it is inflammatory and -- "borderline racist." The Coalition for the Future of the American Worker, which sponsored the ad, says it is not anti-immigrant.
— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report