Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
News that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is co-sponsoring legislation aimed at cutting off funds for troops in Iraq comes in striking contrast to a statement he made shortly after last November's elections. Reid said on November 30: "We're not going to do anything to limit funding or cut off funds."
Meanwhile another vocal war critic — Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman John Murtha — says he wants to reinstate the draft. Murtha told CNN: "We'd do it by lottery, and we'd call everybody up. I think we have a citizen's army is what it ought to be, not just a volunteer professional army."
The most recent congressional attempt to revive the draft was by New York Democrat Charlie Rangel in 2002. His proposal was voted down in the House 402-to-2.
The European Union has promised to set an example for the world by limiting its greenhouse gas output — through the use of emissions trading — making polluters buy permits which theoretically will become increasingly harder to obtain over the years — thus encouraging them to develop cleaner power supplies.
But it turns out that emissions were up by 30 million tons last year. The new figures come out less than a month after E.U. officials vowed to cut their greenhouse gas output by at least 20 percent by the year 2020. Now they admit granting too many permits — enabling major polluters to just buy them at relatively cheap prices and keep right on doing what they've been doing.
Global Warming Fight
Local officials in Belgium's French-speaking region of Wallonia have a new tool in the fight against global warming. They have approved a tax on barbequing. Experts say that up to 100 grams of carbon dioxide are produced during barbequing.
So Wallonians will have to pay 20 euros — about 27 dollars — each time they fire up the grill. And the authorities aren't kidding around when it comes to enforcement. Officials say they will use helicopters with thermal sensors to detect illegal grilling.
And the Pacific Research Institute — a conservative San Francisco think tank — says the U.S. legal system costs $865 billion a year — or almost $10,000 per family. The institute says its study reveals costs associated with civil lawsuits are 27 times more than the federal government pays on homeland security — 30 times what the national institutes of health dedicates to biomedical research — and 13 times the amount the feds spend on education.
—FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.