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Is the Earmark System Really Being Reformed by Democrats?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Earmark Reform

Despite promises to reform the earmark system — in which lawmakers request funds for specific projects back home — House Democrats have come up with a way to make the process more secretive than it is now.

Instead of putting earmarks in bills during the committee process when they can be discussed, Appropriations Chairman David Obey has ordered that the requests not be added until bills are in House-Senate Conference — an eleventh hour, often closed door process that will keep the earmarks from being debated.

When asked about the inevitable criticism the move will receive from Republicans and others — Obey told The Washington Post — "I don't give a damn if people criticize me or not."

Iraq Connection?

Pennsylvania Democrat John Murtha is blaming the U.S. involvement in Iraq for the recently-announced terror plot against JFK airport, for which three suspects from Guyana have been arrested and another from Trinidad is being sought.

Murtha told ABC's George Stephanopoulos — "This is the kind of thing that's happening because of our troops in Iraq... Our presence in Iraq, our occupation of Iraq gives these people the inspiration... We didn't have this kind of problem before... Our presence in Iraq is inspiring them to recruit people all over the world."

However the indictment says the mastermind of the plot first conceived his plan more than a decade ago — when he worked at the airport.

Radicals Infiltrate

A British government study says radical Muslims have infiltrated colleges and universities, and are using Islamic studies departments to recruit students for jihad.

The London Telegraph reports as many as 25 schools have been affected — with some recruits going to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight.

The report was expected to criticize courses for failing to present Islam as a faith than can peacefully coexist with other religions.

It suggests the creation of a network of Muslim advisers to give impressionable youngsters guidance away from radical influence.

Scientific Consensus?

A former adviser to President Carter's global environment task force and one of Canada's leading environmentalists is disputing the claim that there is a scientific consensus about the human origins of global warming.

Lawrence Solomon writes in the Financial Post that a majority of astrophysicists and other solar scientists may in fact disagree with the conventional wisdom. He points out that almost 18,000 scientists signed a petition in opposition to the Kyoto Protocol.

And he says a survey of the National Registry of Environmental Professionals found that only 59 percent believed human activities were largely responsible for global warming.

—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