Grapevine: Furniture store owner betting on low oil prices

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine...


As has been widely reported in the United States and abroad, President Obama was conspicuously absent from Sunday's solidarity march in Paris, following the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

But if you believe one Israeli newspaper our president wasn't the only one missing.

The Announcer -- an orthodox Jewish paper -- removed all the women from the picture of the 40 world leaders, linked arm-in-arm.

Among the missing -- as seen from another, unedited angle -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, and Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini.

In 2011, a Jewish paper in New York came under fire for removing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and another woman from the Situation Room during the raid on Usama bin Laden's compound.

That paper's policy was not to publish photographs of women because of modesty issues under strict interpretation of Jewish law.

The Price of Free

As the saying goes, there's no such thing as a free lunch.

A free police helicopter has cost one New Jersey city more than $2 million. reports, the Army gave Newark the chopper in 2005 as part of a military surplus program.

But the 42-year-old Vietnam-era aircraft has needed significant maintenance and upgrades, including more than $1 million in maintenance contracts.

In 2010, faced with budget problems and hundreds of layoffs, the police department turned the chopper over to state police to save money.

Well, these days, reports, Newark has it back, but it spends most of its time grounded, typically only flying patrols on Friday and Saturday nights.

Texas Tea Party

And finally, a Texas businessman is willing to bet that oil prices will stay down.

Gallery Furniture's owner in Houston is telling customers who spend $7,000 or more in his store that if oil prices rise above $85 a barrel by the end of the year their furniture is free.

A bold offer, but the odds are in favor of the furniture store owner.

Oil forecasts estimate prices will stay below $75 a barrel this year.

This isn't the first time the businessman has pressed his luck.

Earlier this year, he paid customers $4 million after he offered refunds if the Houston Astros lost fewer than 100 games.