Some R.E.M. news from undercover.com:
Former Ministry drummer Bill Reiflin has been appointed the full-time drummer for REM. Reifin, who played on their recent album Around The Sun, has now officially replaced Bill Berry who left the band amicably in 1997. Reifin joined Ministry in the late 80's. He was also a member of Ministry side-project Revolting Cocks.
I think this is a good idea for them. The records since Bill Berry left have some good moments, but in general they don't sound cohesive. Perhaps playing together as a true band will give their songs a little more focus. Also, I believe that it is often a drummer that can make a good band great.