How Much Money Does Congress Go Through in an Hour?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Tax Freedom Day

This past Monday was "Tax Freedom Day" — marking the day you finally stop working to pay your taxes for the year. Now the National Taxpayer Union has released its latest study of congressional spending — and notes that lawmakers voted to spend an average of more than $150 million of your money every hour they were in session during 2005 and 2006.

The average representative supported almost $290 billion in net spending increases — the average senator $357 billion. But the good news — both of those figures are declines of about 25 percent from the previous session of Congress.

Ticket Blitz

Postings on the New Jersey State Troopers' Union Web site are urging fellow officers to engage in a ticket-writing blitz this month — as payback to the public for ridicule of the police following the accident that left Governor John Corzine badly injured.

Corzine was hurt when his state trooper-driven SUV crashed after going as fast as 91 miles/hour. And the governor wasn't wearing a seat belt. The Gannett News Service reports the state police superintendent ordered commanders to make sure the troopers do not launch the ticket blitz.

And the head of the union was so upset with a couple of talk radio hosts who broke the story that he launched into what Cybercast News described as a profanity-laced tirade, even threatening to release to the public their private personal information — such as home addresses and license plate numbers.

He says since the Corzine crash, motorists have been increasingly confrontational when they are stopped by troopers for speeding.

Gag Order?

The Wall Street Journal's Online page reports The World Bank has refused to allow the girlfriend of bank President Paul Wolfowitz to tell the public her side of the controversy about her transfer from the bank to the State Department.

Shaha Riza reportedly was told she could not write a newspaper op-ed piece, for instance. The Journal says the order came from a longtime bank bureaucrat from Ghana — who cited the bank's disclosure policies regarding board proceedings, though others have freely disclosed internal discussions in the dispute.

The same official also was said to be among those who opposed letting Riza and Wolfowitz even testify before the ad hoc committee investigating charges of favoritism against Wolfowitz.

Global Warming Intelligence

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee are complaining Democrats on the panel are cutting money for intelligence operations involving Iraq and radical jihadists in the latest budget... but at the same time ordering the intelligence community to produce an official National Intelligence Estimate in the next few months on the impact of global warming over the next 30 years.

Democrats say global warming could have a serious impact on military operations and global tensions. But Republicans say it's a waste of money and resources... and that other parts of the government are already working on the issue.

Eye in the Sky

And one local government in London is using light aircraft fitted with military spy technology to identify homes that are wasting energy — so they can shame the homeowners into doing better. The Times of London says Haringey Council records thermal images of homes that are poorly insulated or have leaky windows. Then the images are placed on the Internet.

Some people are crying "Big Brother." But local officials aren't backing down — and folks in other districts are considering doing the same thing.

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