What Does Horse Racing Have to Do With Voice of America?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Honest Assessment

A Palestinian spokesman and member of Hamas has offered a refreshingly honest assessment of Palestinian problems.

Spokesman Ghazi Hamad calls life in Gaza "miserable and wretched," but he's not pinning the blame entirely on the Israelis.

The senior Hamas official says Palestinians have been "attacked by the bacteria of stupidity," saying: "The anarchy, chaos, pointless murders, the plundering of lands. What do all of these have to do with the occupation?"

Hamad continues, "We're used to blaming our mistakes on others. We are still trapped by the mentality of conspiracy theories," adding, "We have lost our sense of direction."

Trouble for Tomlinson?

New allegations of wrongdoing against Kenneth Tomlinson, who heads the government's international broadcasting operations such as Voice of America.

The Washington Post reports a new State Department investigation found Tomlinson "improperly used his office, putting a friend on the payroll and running a 'horse-racing operation' with government resources," prompting several Democrats to call for his resignation. But no charges will be brought.

As it turns out, the friend he hired as a consultant had 35 years of experience with Voice of America, and Tomlinson says the report concluded his focus on his horses amounted to one e-mail a day and two-and-a-half minutes on the phone.

Tomlinson named two of his racehorses, by the way, after Afghan leaders: one for President Hamid Karzai and another for guerilla warlord Ahmed Shah Massoud, who fought against the Taliban.

Pricey Comments?

Andrew Young, former U.N. ambassador under president Carter, recently charged that Jewish, Korean and Arab grocers "rip off" black Americans by overcharging for "stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables."

Those comments forced him to resign as head of a Wal-Mart advocacy group called Working Families for Wal-Mart, and now he is being sued as well.

The California Korean American Grocery Retailer Association is suing Young — and Wal-Mart itself — saying Young's false attack hurt their sales.

The Los Angeles Times reports the group is asking for $7.5 million in damages, as well as an unspecified punitive award.

Lighter News?

Future CBS News anchor Katie Couric is looking remarkably thin in a new magazine spread. But it's not the result of some miracle diet.

The photo of the perky newswoman was digitally altered by editors of Watch magazine, which is owned by CBS. Executives say the photo department "got a little zealous," and CBS News President Sean McManus says he was "surprised and disappointed" by the manipulation.

But Couric says she prefers the original photo because "there's more of me to love."

Slimming Down

Speaking of weight loss, White House political guru Karl Rove has dropped 22 pounds over the summer. The AP reports that Rove used a liquid protein diet, but Rove attributes his new healthy appearance to "clean living."

—FOX News Channel's Aaron Bruns contributed to this report.