Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Cause and Effect

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York is defending himself against allegations that he is to blame for the collapse and subsequent government takeover of mortgage lender IndyMac. Schumer is a member of the Senate Banking Committee.

On June 26 he sent a letter to market regulators expressing concern about the solvency of the bank, saying, "The regulatory community may not be prepared to take measures that would help prevent the collapse of IndyMac." Schumer then publicly released the letter.

In the 11 days that followed, depositors withdrew more than $1.3 billion from IndyMac, leaving the bank unable to function.

But Schumer denies that he is at fault, saying, "The regulator here was asleep at the switch. The administration is doing what they always do, blaming the fire on the person that called 911."

Malarkey Markey?

The excitable Democratic Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts told high school students last week that climate change not only caused Hurricane Katrina, but also led to the "Blackhawk Down" battle between American forces and Somali rebels back in 1993.

Cybercast News reports that Markey said, "The planet is running a fever... the worst consequences affect the planet — not only New Orleans."

He claimed that "climate change... resulted in a drought which led to famine. That famine translated to international aid we sent in to Somalia, which then led to the U.S. having to send forces to separate all the groups that were fighting over the aid, which led to Blackhawk Down."

Many scientists say it is impossible to make a direct link between global warming and Hurricane Katrina. And the desperate famine in Somalia, according to the U.N., was the result of years of war and bad governance, and population growth.

Stars and Swipes

Students attending a youth leadership conference in Sacramento, California, last week were scolded by armed security officers for singing the "Star-Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America" in the state capitol's rotunda.

World Net Daily reports that the Capitol Resource Institute, which organized the conference, said the students "engaged in a spontaneous expression of passion for their country by singing."

Despite the applause from onlookers, armed troopers entered the rotunda and rebuked the students for singing without a permit. In the five minutes it took to sing the songs, someone called security and complained about the noise.

But the students formally asked for, and received, a government permit to sing in the capitol rotunda on Sunday.

Heading for Trouble

A British drama on the BBC has triggered a barrage of viewer complaints after it showed a beheading. The Daily Mail newspaper reports that the first episode of "Bonekickers" had a scene in which an extremist evangelical Christian beheads a Muslim man.

One viewer wrote on BBC's Web site, "If it had been another religion portrayed in that manner — the P.C. police would have been up in arms about the nastiness and their rights not to have their religion ridiculed. As it was Christians — it was apparently okay."

The BBC has admitted regret that viewers found the scene inappropriate, but is defending its decision to show it.

FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.