High Flying on Capitol Hill

And now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Flying Solo

More than $150,000 of your taxpayer dollars paid for a congressional trip in December that included no actual members of Congress.

Roll Call reports 14 staffers with the House Homeland Security Committee went on an eight day trip to Turkey, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. The bipartisan -- but primarily Democratic -- group's commercial airfare alone totaled almost $140,000.

Treasury Department reports show congressional foreign travel has tripled in the past decade, costing more than $110 million since 2001.

Illinois Republican Congressman Timothy Johnson has introduced a bill to curb travel and increase transparency -- quote -- "To have this unlimited spigot of money with no criteria or standards built into it... it's not dishonest, but it's not appropriate."

You're Outta Here!

A federal judge in Seattle has ruled a gay softball league can keep its rule, limiting the number of heterosexual players on each team.

However, a trial will go forward regarding allegations by three bisexual players who say they were disqualified from a tournament because they were not gay enough.

C'est Censored

And finally, French regulators say broadcasters cannot use promotional lines like "follow us on Twitter" or "find us on Facebook" on-air because they violate a ban on secret advertising.

A French blogger who once advised President Sarkozy on Internet policy lambasted that decision. He Tweeted -- quote -- "French regulation forbids TV networks to say Facebook or Twitter? My country is screwed."

Media experts are calling the ban out of touch.

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