Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
The Government Accountability Office says federal employees wasted at least $146 million in just one year, by upgrading airline tickets to first or business class in violation of travel guidelines. The GAO report covered more than a dozen agencies from the summer of 2005 to the summer of 2006.
One Agriculture Fepartment executive took 25 premium-class flights costing $163,000 and the person who authorized the flights turned out to be a subordinate.
A political appointee at the Pentagon took 15 premium-class flights and cited a medical condition as justification for $105,000 in expenses. But the only evidence of the condition was a note signed by a colleague, not a doctor.
Out of Sight
A federal judge in San Francisco has given class action status to a lawsuit against the retailer Target Stores, by blind people who say the company's Web site is inaccessible to them. The plaintiffs claim the Target site violates federal and state laws prohibiting discrimination against the disabled.
It may not be immediately clear exactly how a Web site — which is displayed on a computer screen — is supposed to reach the blind. But a spokesman with the National Federation for the Blind says Target refused to make minor technical adjustments enabling blind people with specialized software to access its site.
Target tells FOX News an internal e-mail from the federation confirms the usability of its Web site now.
Silence Is Not Golden
Blind folks are also attacking the hybrid vehicle industry, because its cars and trucks are too quiet. Advocates for blind people say the vehicles make too little noise to be heard by the visually impaired and are therefore a safety hazard.
Environmentalists and automakers are on the same side here, saying they've worked hard to decrease noise pollution and don't want to take a step backward. One advocate says it would be against the public interest to make quiet vehicles artificially loud.
And National Federation for the Blind President Marc Maurer says he received an e-mail from an environmentalist who suggested that members of his group should be the first to drown when sea levels rise from global warming.
Back on the Calendar
We have two follow-ups from recent items:
Tuesday we told you the school district in Oak Lawn, Illinois had decided to stop celebrating Halloween and Christmas in order to avoid offending Muslims. A special public meeting was held Tuesday night and a decision was made to keep observing those days and add Ramadan to the list.
The Muslim parent who started the controversy says she never intended that the other holidays be scrapped.
And officials in Oakland are reacting to the story we told you Monday about U.S. Marines coming back from Iraq being prohibited from going into the Oakland Airport terminal during a re-fueling stop. The executive director of the Port of Oakland — which runs the airport — admits mistakes were made but says no disrespect was intended. And Oakland Democratic Mayor Ron Dellums — a retired Marine — has ordered an investigation and pledged the situation will never happen again.
— FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.
With more than 35 years of journalism experience to draw from, Brit Hume currently serves as a senior political analyst for FOX News Channel (FNC) and contributes to all major political coverage. Hume also is regular panelist on FOX's weekly public affairs program, "FOX News Sunday" on Sundays at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET. Click here for more information on Brit Hume.