Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Travel Expenses

The State Department is so desperate for workers to help clear the backlog of three million passport applications that it is offering to pay expenses for overseas-based diplomats who agree to come back to the U.S. and help out.

The Washington Times reports the government has issued a plea for 100 workers to work afternoon and evening shifts at passport centers in New Hampshire and Washington.

The mess started with a law that took effect at the start of the year requiring passports for re-entry to the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean.

The State Department has acknowledged that it grossly underestimated the number of Americans who would need a passport because of the law.

The government has relaxed the new rule, allowing people to re-enter the country before September 30 with proof of a pending passport application.

Sea Levels

The retired head of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics Department at Stockholm University says the United Nations climate report prediction of a dangerous rise in sea levels due to global warming is a deliberate falsification.

Sea level expert Nils-Axel Morner tells EIR News Service that there is no trend toward rising sea levels. But he says the scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change added what he calls a "correction factor" in order to make the figures indicate that water levels are rising.

He says — "If you go around the globe, you find no rise anywhere. But they need the rise, because if there is no rise, there is no death threat. Sea level rise ... doesn't exist in observational data, only in computer modeling... Their idea is to attract money from the industrial countries. And they believe that if the story is not sustained, they will lose it."

Unintended Consequences

Hamas Co-Founder Mahmoud Zahar says American aid for the Palestinian people has had an unintended consequence — the subsidizing of weapons for his organization.

Zahar tells Spiegel Online — "There are naturally very many weapons around now. Two years ago, one bullet in Gaza cost around 3.5 Euros — about $4.70 — now it would cost 35 cents. The American aid money has been translated into weapons. Thank you, America."

Zahar is calling for an Islamic state in Gaza — and is threatening Fatah with more violence in the West Bank.

"No Guns"

And in southern California — a former gang member who founded an anti-violence group called "No Guns" has pleaded guilty to federal weapons charges.

The Los Angeles Times reports Hector "Big Weasel" Marroquin is accused of selling an assault rifle, a machine gun, two pistols and two silencers to undercover federal agents.

Marroquin's "No Guns" groups received $1.5 million from local government as a subcontractor on anti-gang efforts — until its contract was canceled last year.

The "Big Weasel" faces up to 50 years in the big house if convicted.

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