Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
On Second Thought
Fairfax County, Virginia is backing off a ruling that would keep most churches and private citizens from preparing meals for the homeless. As we told you Wednesday — county health officials said meals could not be served from kitchens that were not government certified because of fear of food poisoning.
The Washington Post reports that when Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald Connolly heard about it he "hit the roof." Connolly blamed overzealous employees for making the county the object of nationwide ridicule. Connolly says the health code requiring government certification does not apply to private kitchens and shelters because they are not commercial operations.
El Nino Kills Hurricanes?
Climatologists who predicted this year's hurricane season would be worse than last year's, are being criticized by people who are skeptical of global warming science. There were fewer hurricanes than predicted this year — and none made landfall in the U.S. — a far cry from the devastating summer of 2005.
Many global warming proponents — including Al Gore — have suggested a link between rising temperatures and more frequent and powerful El Ninos — which they speculate could spawn more and stronger hurricanes.
But Gerry Bell of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tells Cybercast News Service that El Nino may in fact kill hurricanes with its sinking motion and increased wind shear— and that may have been what happened this year.
David Ridenour of The National Center for Public Policy Research says people who claim rising temperatures will lead to more intense hurricanes "appear to be relying upon political science, not climate science."
Fear of Labeling
Air marshals, pilots and security experts are worried that the fear of being labeled a racist may prevent airline passengers and crews from reporting suspicious behavior. This comes following such accusations from imams removed from a U.S. Airways flight last week in Minneapolis — after passengers complained about loud prayers and a seating pattern experts associated with terrorists.
One imam called the reaction "Islamaphobia." A federal air marshall tells The Washington Times that terrorists could use people's fear of being called a racist or bigot to their advantage in future aviation attacks.
Away From the Manger
And the nativity scene at the city park in Saint Albans, West Virginia has a star — some sheep and camels — and a manger. Everything but the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
City officials say they have never used the main players in the Christmas story out of fear of complaints from the ACLU. The Charleston Daily Mail reports that this has some people upset. One woman called it one of the dumbest things she's ever seen in her life. The woman told the paper that when she complained, "I was told that it is a desert scene and to use my imagination."
—FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.