The latest from the Political Grapevine:
Tiff Over Term
President Bush has named Gerald Reynolds, a former official in the Education Department's civil rights office, to replace Mary Frances Berry (search) as chair of the U.S. commission on Civil Rights, effective today. But the controversial Berry, who last week accused President Bush of "[deepening] the spiraling demise of hope for social justice and healing," insists her term doesn't end for another six and a half weeks.
She was picked by President Clinton in 1998 to fill an uncompleted six-year term set to end on December 5, 2004 — Sunday. But Clinton didn't officially appoint Berry until January 26, 1999 so Berry says she has until six years from then to remain chairwoman, and she says commission documents prove it. But White House records show her term ending as of midnight Sunday. And a federal appeals court ruled in 2002 that appointees to the commission are fixed to six-year terms running with the calendar, and concluded that an appointment to fill an uncompleted term ends when the original term was set to end, which — in Berry's case — was yesterday.
Not So Diverse
NPR radio host Tavis Smiley (search) — who's leaving NPR after hosting his own show for three years — is condemning his own radio network for failing to adequately reach out to minorities, insisting,
"It is ironic that a Republican President has an Administration that is more inclusive and more diverse than a so-called liberal-media-elite network."
Smiley, in an interview with Time magazine, says he and NPR had agreed to work toward a more diverse audience, but "somewhere along the line NPR wavered in the journey."
Friday's French Fiasco
French police have been training bomb-sniffing dogs by putting explosives in passengers' luggage, and having the dogs find them. On Friday police at Charles de Gaulle Airport (search) in Paris placed five ounces of plastic explosives in a passenger's bag, and then put the bag on a conveyor belt. But the dogs apparently missed it, and the police lost track of the bag.
Police believe the bag made its way on to a departing flight, and they have no idea where it went. They are now discontinuing the practice.
Freedom Elementary School in East Manatee, Florida, is banning not only Christmas and religious-themed songs from its winter concert this year; it's banning references to winter, altogether. Snowmen and snowflakes are strictly forbidden.
The schools principal insists, "[We're] trying to be respectful of everyone." So, according to the Sarasota Herald Tribune, students are now planning to sing songs about America and patriotism.
— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report