Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:


The Federal Emergency Management Agency is under pressure to explain why it approved $30 million in hurricane aid to Miami-Dade County in Florida, even though none of the three hurricanes that ravaged the state in 2004 hit that particular area. FEMA officials are defending the payout, citing data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that they say shows winds reached up to 85 miles per hour.

But NOAA says FEMA misrepresented its data and that they never recorded wind speeds that high in Miami-Dade. The Senate Homeland Security Committee has announced it will investigate allegations of fraud and waste in FEMA’s distribution of disaster aid.

Full Disclosure

The former head of Internet outreach for Howard Dean says the former Vermont governor’s presidential campaign hired two prominent Internet bloggers in the hopes that they would write positive things about their candidate.

Zephyr Teachout writes in her online journal, Jerome Armstrong and Markos Zuniga were paid $3,000 a month to serve as consultants. While the bloggers never committed to supporting Dean for the payments, "It was very clearly internally our goal." But Armstrong and Zuniga say that they both promoted the Dean campaign long before they were hired, and that they made sure their readers were aware of their affiliation.

Textbooks Evolve

A federal judge has ordered Georgia’s schools to remove stickers calling evolution a theory, not a fact, from the front of their science textbooks. Judge Clarence Cooper said that the stickers violated the First Amendment by tacitly endorsing religion. The stickers had been used since 2002, after more than 2,000 parents complained that the books presented Darwinism as an undisputed, scientific fact leaving no room for creationist theories.

One of the parents who sued to have the stickers removed said the ruling would be a warning to fundamentalists who favor including creationist views in school curriculums.

Democratic Decoration

Those ubiquitous, yellow "Live Strong" bracelets associated with Lance Armstrong’s cancer foundation have some competition on the wrists of Democrats. Since November’s election, separate companies have sprung up selling blue bracelets for Americans who voted against President Bush. The wrist bans features slogans like, "Count me blue and I did not vote 4 Bush."

New Yorker Burns Rothschild is selling her bracelet on the web for $2 each and said she’ll donate the proceeds to charity. Meanwhile, her father John has started his own bracelet company, selling red bracelets for Bush backers.

— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report