Thursday, February 26, 2009
But that's not all. The show will be premiered in Great Britain for the first time in its 20-year history this St. Patrick's day.
I'm not a huge fan, but I think that after 20 years, there is a possibility of running out of subject matter. I've been looking around, and it seems like many people are, if not excited, at least positively receptive to the new seasons, relishing the stability that comes with the sameness of the plot lines, the one-liners, and Homer Simpson.
So congratulations to "The Simpsons."
Plus I thought that this was an interesting piece of news:
The First Summer Youth Olympic Games will be held in 2010 (not an election year) in Singapore. It was announced a year ago, but I just found out about it today, and I don't know if it's something that I just missed, or if it's something that a lot of people don't know about. The Youth Olympic Games (YOG for short) are meant to bring together the world's best young athletes, aged 14-18... which is kind of funny since many of the participants in the Olympics this last summer were in that age group. The purpose is to prepare these young people for participation in the actual Summer Olympics in the future.
I thought that this was really cool... but there is only one problem. Nothing makes me feel more like a bum than when I see people of my own age (and younger) set world records, make history, and win gold medals. I can only wish I was talented enough to do the same!
Here are the top choices:
(1) Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, (2) former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, (3) former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, (4) former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, (5) Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, (6) Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, (7) Texas Rep. Ron Paul, (8) Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, (9) former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and (10) South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.
Some are familiar faces, like Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney. Some are newecomers, like Bobby Jindal. By the way, both he and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford rejected money from President Obama's stimulus (partially)... is there a connection? Tim Pawlenty doesn't seem like an awful choice, but I'm not so sure about Newt Gingrich.
I cannot fathom why Sarah Palin is on this list; frankly, I thought that Sarah Palin mania ended a long, long, long, long time ago, and that she went back to obscurity in Alaska...but I guess not.
I also think that it was interesting that people are already making plans about the next presidency when Obama's just barely got started...
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
This is for those of you who, like me, were unable to watch the speech and wanted to see it for yourselves.
Plus, here is a video of the , Ty'sheoma Bethea, on ABC's Good Morning America. She was referenced by President Obama in his speech, and even sat next to Michelle Obama. The reference may have been cheesy, but she seems to have a good head on her shoulders.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Well, due to the economic recession, many people are probably not meeting with physicians very often... But an economist from the University of North Carolina, Christopher Ruhm, thinks differently; he believes that a failing economy can actually lead to better health. He states, "Health is complicated. People think it's determined by medical care, and obviously that makes a difference, but it's not the primary thing. There are all these lifestyle factors, all these other things that are not well understood."
I take this to mean that people, in a recession, make thrifty decisions that end up being beneficial to their health. For example: rising gas prices will ideally lead to less car use, and, as a result, less pollution in the air and therefore we inhale less nastiness.
However, I don't know if Ruhm's theory is perfectly accurate, since healthy food, especially organic, can be especially pricier than the unhealthy, high-fructose corn syrup-containing junk that is packed on all of the shelves in most grocery stores. Just think about how expensive Whole Foods is...
I think that during times of economic recession, people put their health on the back burner; the choices that they begin to make will indirectly affect their health, but they do not make their choices based solely (if based at all) on health concerns. Even though the body is a temple. Even though health is important. Even though good health is necessary to live. In a recession, I think that the attitude of many people is perhaps to look at the short-term effects rather than the long-term benefits, and I think that this is manifested by the way people treat their own health.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Shirwa Ahmed participated in extremist activities, but it was not directed against the United States; the United States is fighting a War on Teror. Can we really call it treason? Did Ahmed essentially bite the hand that feeds him? It is hard to determine, since there doesn't seem to be any hatred directed towards the United States. Nor are Somalia and the US close allies: the U.S. Embassy in Somalia has been closed since 1991.
I don't approve of the extremist activities in Somalia, but I wonder if the FBI is being too cautious. It kind of seems like they are trying to lump together two different groups, too quick to jumpt to conclusions. I don't know what to think, actually.
Our own Arnold Schwarzenegger, however, is more than happy to comply: he is willing to accept any and all money offered. It is probably a good idea: in California, we need all of the money we can get.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
“Facebook basically told its users that when they posted personal information to their Facebook pages (including photos, the music they were listening to at the moment, or their favorite movies), Facebook owned that information forever and could use it in just about any manner the company wished”.
Now I know everyone is intelligent enough to not put things up on facebook that they wouldn’t want anyone or everyone to see, but still! That is just disconcerting. Forget worrying about GPS chips in your cars when facebook is pretty much claiming they own your soul. And what makes matters worse is that they did this change very under-the-radar obviously realizing the uproar it would cause. But before you get too freaked out, don’t worry, they got rid of the new “terms of service” and went back to the old ones. It seems there was a HUGE commotion made about it, and well there should’ve been.
Even though this incident won’t necessarily deter people from getting facebook accounts, or make them stop using the ones they already have, it’s still good to just realize that no matter how many privacy settings you have turned on, facebook will still be watching you…
Saturday, February 21, 2009
He will try to achieve that lofty goal by cutting back spending on the Iraq war and raising the taxes of the U.S.'s wealthiest citizens, an administration official told The Associated Press.
The official said Obama's request for the budget year that begins on Oct. 1 should put the country on track to cut the deficit within a four-year timeframe.
Obama's budget request will be delivered to Congress on Thursday, with a full summary of the massive document to arrive in April.
Obama inherited about a $1.2 trillion deficit from former president George W. Bush.
Earlier on Saturday, Obama said nearly all working families in America will benefit from the tax cuts included in his US$787 billion economic stimulus package within six weeks.
In his weekly radio and web address, the president said 95 per cent of working families will see more money coming home from their weekly paycheques by April 1.
"I'm pleased to announce that this morning, the Treasury Department began directing employers to reduce the amount of taxes withheld from paycheques," Obama said. "Meaning that by April 1, a typical family will begin taking home at least $65 more every month."
"Never before in our history has a tax cut taken effect faster or gone to so many hardworking Americans," Obama added.
According to The Associated Press, the incoming tax cuts, known as the "Making Work Pay" tax break, will save eligible individuals $400 throughout the rest of the year. Couples should see up to $800 in savings.
The president thanked lawmakers, his colleagues and his fellow Americans for supporting his efforts to speed ahead with "the most sweeping economic recovery plan in history."
"I'm grateful to Congress, governors and mayors across the country, and to all of you whose support made this critical step possible," Obama said.
Like in previous addresses, the president cautioned that although he was pleased that his recovery plan had been signed in to law, it would not be enough to fix all of America's problems by itself.
"No single piece of this broad economic recovery can, by itself, meet the demands that have been placed on us," Obama said.
But the president said he was optimistic that the U.S. was on the right track.
"I am confident that we, as a people, have the strength and wisdom to carry out this strategy and overcome this crisis," he said.
"And if we do, our economy -- and our country -- will be stronger for it."
Friday, February 20, 2009
• The best reason is that it will get rid of the incentive of people to drive more fuel-efficient cars. People are concerned about global-warming, the environment, and drilling for oil, but not everyone is. The people who aren’t would probably not even consider fuel-efficient cars if gas was no longer taxed.
• In order to know how many miles someone has driven to be able to tax them the correct amount, GPS chips would have to be installed in cars. The cars movements could then be tracked. Some feel that this is a violation of their privacy.
I like the first argument, but the second one I don’t think holds up that well. Some cars already have GPS chips in them, and most new ones will anyways. I also doubt that the government is going to sit there watching your car’s every move as indicated to them by the little blinking red dot on the screen in front of them. And so what if they do? I mean, if you aren’t doing anything illegal in the first place, what’s it to you if they watch you go to the grocery store? And even if you were doing something illegal, you would obviously be aware of the chip in your car and take the necessary precautions before driving your car somewhere, such as taking the chip out and sticking it on another car, or just leaving it in your garage.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
President Barack Obama stepped cautiously in his first foreign trip Thursday, refraining from asking Canada to rethink its plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and saying changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement can wait.
In a news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Obama acknowledged that he has said NAFTA does too little to protect U.S. workers and the environment. Canada, the United State's largest trading partner, is leery of changes to the deal.
Robust trade helps both nations, Obama said. Noting that NAFTA has side agreements on labor and the environment, he added: "If those side agreements mean anything, then they might as well be incorporated into the main body of the agreements so that they can be effectively enforced." He said he hopes there eventually will be a way to do so "that is not disruptive to the extraordinarily important trade relationships" between the two nations.
Both leaders said that as economies around the world face challenges, it's important for the U.S. and others to resist calls for protectionism.
In Afghanistan, Canada plans to pull its 2,500 combat troops from the volatile south in 2011, following the loss of more than 100 troops killed in the country since 2001. Obama is headed the other direction, dispatching 17,000 more U.S. troops to the war zone.
Obama said Thursday he did not press Harper to reconsider. He said he praised Canada for its sacrifices and for making Afghanistan its largest recipient of foreign aid.
Turning to U.S.-Canada border security and the fight against terrorism, Harper said any threat to the United States is a threat to his country, too.
The prime minister said Canada has made "significant investments" in security and in border protection since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States.
But he said there's a "real challenge" in increasing border security in a way that doesn't limit commerce and social interaction.
Obama said he believes the ties between Canada and the United States will grow even stronger over the next four years. The men took questions from two Canadian reporters and two U.S. reporters in a room adorned with numerous flags of the two nations.
Obama later made a surprise visit to a downtown market in Ottawa leaving fellow customers stunned.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Here's what to watch for to tell whether the stimulus package is actually working, and when the economy might start to mend.
- An improvement in the unemployment rate. Of all the economic indicators, this is probably the single most important. But you might want to avert your eyes for awhile.
- More stable home prices. The realestate boom and bust is what torpedoed the economy in the first place, and the economy won't start to recover until the housing bubble fully deflates.
- A consumer confidence rebound. Since consumer confidence closely tracks the job market, the dismal numbers of the last few months probably won't improve by much until late in 2009, or 2010. Homeowners have lost more than $3 trillion worth of value in their homes over the last three years, and investors have seen their stock portfolios shredded. So even people who feel secure in their jobs are dour.
- A less volatile stock market. Every investor hopes that beleaguered stocks will come roaring back in 2009 and regain some of the ground lost since the peak in 2007 - when the S&P 500 stock index was nearly 50 percent higher than it is today. But a better indicator of economic health would be a steady recovery - without the manic swings that seem to come from every hint of undisclosed trouble at some big bank or rumor of new government intervention.
- Economic growth turns positive. By economic standards, the current downturn has already lasted longer than the typical post-World War II recession.
- Computer Software Engineer
- Dental Hygienist
- Elementary Teacher
- Environmental Science and Protection Technician
- Personal Finance Advisor
- Physical Therapist Assistant
- Skin Care Specialist
- Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor
- Veterinary Technologist and Technician
I just found this really interesting
Also, here is a video about it from youtube, featuring Chris Matthews - the guy who wrote that - fun - book we read over summer.
In chapter two of the book, I include a table of propositions to which most economists subscribe, based on various polls of the profession. Here is the list, together with the percentage of economists who agree:
1. A ceiling on rents reduces the quantity and quality of housing available. (93%)
2. Tariffs and import quotas usually reduce general economic welfare. (93%)
3. Flexible and floating exchange rates offer an effective international monetary arrangement. (90%)
4. Fiscal policy (e.g., tax cut and/or government expenditure increase) has a significant stimulative impact on a less than fully employed economy. (90%)
5. The United States should not restrict employers from outsourcing work to foreign countries. (90%)
6. The United States should eliminate agricultural subsidies. (85%)
7. Local and state governments should eliminate subsidies to professional sports franchises. (85%)
8. If the federal budget is to be balanced, it should be done over the business cycle rather than yearly. (85%)
9. The gap between Social Security funds and expenditures will become unsustainably large within the next fifty years if current policies remain unchanged. (85%)
10. Cash payments increase the welfare of recipients to a greater degree than do transfers-in-kind of equal cash value. (84%)
11. A large federal budget deficit has an adverse effect on the economy. (83%)
12. A minimum wage increases unemployment among young and unskilled workers. (79%)
13. The government should restructure the welfare system along the lines of a “negative income tax.” (79%)
14. Effluent taxes and marketable pollution permits represent a better approach to pollution control than imposition of pollution ceilings. (78%)
If we could get the American public to endorse all these propositions, I am sure their leaders would quickly follow, and public policy would be much improved. That is why economics education is so important.
Note that the proposition about fiscal policy (#4) does not distinguish between taxes and spending as the best tool for purposes of macro stabilization. Maybe that question should be added in a future poll. I doubt, however, that the answer would make it onto this list of widely agreed upon propositions.
Mankiw's blog can be found here. Well worth bookmarking!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I’m curious though what the other 42 presidents would say about not having a holiday on their birthdays. (Cleveland was both the 22nd and the 24th president and I very much doubt that his birthday changed between his two times in office). (One could also argue though that it would be the other 41 presidents because Lincoln is often celebrated on President’s day as well).
Unemployed people will find their first $2,400 of benefits is untaxed, and they may qualify for reduced health-insurance premiums through their former employer's group plan, or Cobra.
There's the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers who buy between Jan. 1 and Dec. 1, 2009 -- this credit doesn't have to be paid back, unlike the $7,500 perk available in 2008. I think that this could either be a very good thing or a very bad one, but I'm not seeing a medium coming into play, though I do support Obama and am hoping for the best. We're just going to have to sit back and see how things play out, don't you think?
Saturday, February 14, 2009
The military sees this as beneficial, because temporary immigrants often have better foreign language skills and education than many of the Americans who are already enlisted. By having people familiar with other languages enlisted in the army, the military can “accomplish the missions with more accuracy.” Also, it is difficult for the army to attract doctors and language experts, so by allowing temporary immigrants to enlist, the number of these professionals in the military could expand greatly.
Opposition to this program believe that this will bring too many immigrants into the country when we already have a large enough population with many living in poverty as it is. Immigrants may only increase the problem. Another concern is that this may be a way for terrorists to infiltrate the American military.
What do you think? Will this program be a great addition to our military system, or could it ultimately be detrimental to our country?
Friday, February 13, 2009
If you don't believe me that $787 billion is a big number, take it from senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky): "This is one of the most expensive pieces of legislation that Congress has ever approved...it adds up and it has to be paid back." See? I'm always right.
Votes for the economic stimulus plan were mostly divided along party lines. Republicans voted against it, Democrats voted for it. The exceptions were seven Democrats in the House who voted against the plan, and in the Senate three Republicans and two Independents voted for the plan. In the Senate, the stimulus plan needed all the help it could get - it passed with the minimum number of votes: 60-38.
Now if you're thinking that $787 billion is a lot and that we will just spend it and see how it works out, you're not thinking like Obama. President Obama says that this stimulus plan is only the beginning - another $700 billion will be needed for a financial industry bailout.
Less than 30 days in office and Obama has already passed some legislation that will go down in history. Obama doesn't mess around.
HOWEVER, if these government officials were actually smart, they would just give me all this money so that I could single handedly jump start the economy. Now THAT is a good idea! I should run for president.
Sources 1 and 2.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Obama's stimulus plan should greatly help cities like Elkhart that have been badly affected by this economic downturn. If Obama is as successful with this campaigning as he was with his election campaigning, he should have more than enough support for the plan to pass. According to a recent Gallup poll, he is already working his magic, and has already boosted support on Tuesday from 52% to 59% from a week back (as in this recent Tuesday the 10th, approval was 59%, and the Tuesday before that it was at 52%). If it takes Obama a week to raise support by 7%, he probably won't have too much to worry about, in terms of support for the stimulus plan at least.
- OR -
Obama's Economic Stimulus Plan is funding for a secret government mind beam to allow Obama to know what we are thinking - it IS abbreviated ESP.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
A new site has popped up that discloses information on who donated to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign. The information for this site is attained by California state law. The California's Political Reform Act of 1974 made it state law for all contributions of $100 or more to be made public. The goal of this law was to expose large businesses who might be trying to seek influence in big projects or political figures. The information was collected and now this site has put the information on google maps. Anyone can now look up people in their area who donated to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign. Not only do you see their first and last name but you also see their occupation and how much they donated to the campaign.
The people who donated to the campaign are now receiving hate mail, being harassed and their businesses are being boycotted. Some people have received death threats and some received a white substance in the mail. One college professor from USF supported civil unions for gay couples but didn't want to change the traditional definition of marriage. His donation went on the website and he received e-mails that were also sent to his colleagues and supervisors.
The question this raises is, is this helping the democratic process or hurting it? People may want to stop participating in the political process because they don't want the possibility of being harassed. The information being provided has been magnified by the Internet and is widely available, many groups can easily find this information and target voters one by one. But the information also gives the public more knowledge of who is donating. The law was intended to make the political process transparent, not blocked off to the public.
Two solutions that have been proposed, one is to raise the amount of money that requires donors information to be public. This would protect the anonymity of smaller donors. Another idea is for people who want to access this information must provide identification, then the information will go both ways.
What do you think?
Here is the link to the website that provides the prop 8 donation information.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
The pirates that are attacking the ships are mainly from Somalia. They are young men and usually pretty ragged and poor, but they have experience from working on merchant ships and they have made many attacks on boats. Somalia is going through a civil war right now and the government doesn't have the means or resources to prosecute the pirates. The attacks are happening in the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden, as well as the Straits of Malacca and the Nigerian coastline. The hijackings have escalated to smaller fishing ships to large merchant ships and supertankers. The latest in these attacks was the Saudi owned Sirius Star, which carried $100 million worth of oil. The ships that are being attacked are paying thousands, even millions, of dollars for ransom.
Muammar Gaddafi, the new chairman of the African Union, defended the pirates saying that their actions are defensive. He says that the pirates are trying to defend themselves from western nations that are illegally fishing in these regions and are exploiting Somalia.
I think the pirates are really cool, but maybe that's because I watch to much Pirates of the Caribbean. But in this case, pirates aren't as cool. I think that organized crime like this is really easy in a country like Somalia where there isn't a great government set up yet. Unfortunately this is one of the many problems in that region. It kinda makes our problems a little bit more high class.
My thoughts is that there are smart people who know how to spend money, they should be in charge and then fix it. But I know its much more complicated then that. To me it looks like there are two different opinions on how to fix it, the Democrat way and the Republican way. For this problem, I feel like any solution would be a good one. The Republicans seem mad that they don't have a majority so the first big thing they can oppose, they will. Also, it is unlikely that there will be a major rise in the economy in the next 2, 4 or 6 years so I'm thinking that these Senators are looking for an easy argument for re-election. "See, I told you it wouldn't fix it. Vote for me!" But anyways, were not looking to good now so lets try and get past politics and do what you were elected to do.
Friday, February 6, 2009
I think that these new improvements are a really good start for the energy efficiency plan. I believe that we will really benefit from it. Not only will it save households and businesses a lot of money, it will also help our environment.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
I think that this is a first couple weeks of the administration fluke. Admitting something early on shows that he is willing to take responsibility, but I agree with the article, that the more he admits them the more doubt will pile on. I just hope he doesn't make any mistakes that way he won't have to admit anything more. :]
Cecil Brown wrote the article supporting affirmative action. Brown says that if he didn't have affirmative action that he would never been able to afford Columbia, the same school president Obama went. Obama has stated that he does not know if he received some form of affirmative action but said he wouldn't be ashamed if he did. Brown is quoted saying "He is not for affirmative action- he is affirmative action." Brown argues that after prop 209 passed, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of race or gender in state institutions, "black enrollment dropped and a hostile racial climate blanketed campuses". Brown also quoted Greg Jones who is on the African American Advisory Committee supported by the California Board of Education, who said that some African American student have "low expectations among themselves". The purpose of the African American Advisory Committee is to figure out why 43% of blacks are failing to graduate from high school. Brown says that Obama gives inspiration to young minorities and that it will inspire the generation. He says that affirmative action will help young African Americans who are motivated by the success of Obama.
Victor Merina writes about the other side of affirmative action, mostly talking about Ward Connerly. Connerly has made many attempts, some successful and some not, on getting rid of affirmative action. He has helped pass measures in California, Washington state, Michigan and Nebraska, that prohibited affirmative action for gender and race. This article comments on Obama's disdain for McCain, who supports Connerly, and says that Obama does want some kind of affirmative action for low income students. Connerly thought that in Obama's inaugural speech he was "looking beyond race" and that this will be a new push against affirmative action. But if Obama doesn't do away with affirmative action Connerly will be back with the same arguments.
My opinion is that affirmative action for race and gender is tricky, but I agree with it. I'm a little biased because I researched the affirmative action cases on the side of U of Michigan, but I think that diversity is important in education. I think that in the first article they went a little overboard saying that without affirmative action there is hostile relationships in schools but I think the more people around you that are different the easier it is to understand and appreciate people and their differences.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
They were armed and took the items by force. Ahmad Kurd, the Hamas official in charge of the ministry, did not deny the aid was seized. Kurd said the U.N. was giving the aid to local groups with ties to Hamas opponents. Mkhaimar Abusada, a professor at the Fatah-linked al-Azhar University in Gaza City, said Hamas probably took the supplies to distribute them more widely than the U.N., which supports only refugees. This is a very unfortunate situation for many who were counting on receiving aid from the UN. The UN is accepting donations to help those families in need and expecting the Hamas to return the items.
-$275 billion in tax relief
- $90 billion for infrastructure
-$79 billion for school funding
-$198 million for U.S. military benefits for Filipinos who fought for the U.S. during WWII
- $75 million for "smoking cessation activities"
- $87 million for the "design of a new polar icebreaker"
- $335 million for HIV/STD screening
- $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees
- $6.2 billion for home weatherization
- $50 million for port modernization and water and wastewater infrastructure needs in Guam
-$100 million for children to learn green construction
I suppose a certain amount of hypocrisy is inevitable in politics as politicians try to make everyone happy and end up promising too much, but it is still aggravating. Case in point: the recent choice of Michael Phelps. READ THIS hilarious send-up of the hypocrites.
Obligatory disclaimer: the writer of this rant describes himself thusly: "I’m a former policy analyst with the Cato Institute, now a senior editor for Reason magazine. I’m also a biweekly columnist with FoxNews.com. I’ve been published in lots of places, from Playboy to the Wall Street Journal, and have done lots of TV and radio interviews (see resume or published writing). My work has also been cited in a Supreme Court opinion, helped get a guy off death row, and I’ve testified before Congress a few times."
So yeah, drugs are bad. Smoking is bad for your lungs. Stoners are lazy and forgetful. But if you hadn't figured that out by now...
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Many senate republicans are hoping to make a variety of changes to make the plan more acceptable. Since the house bill passed it has consisted of one-third tax cuts ($325 billion) and two-thirds spending ($560 billion), it was previously criticized by senate democrats who argued for more spending and by republicans who want deeper tax cuts. Republicans may find it really hard to pass the additional income tax cuts since the senate is predominantly democratic.
Hopefully, this debate will be resolved soon and have a good outcome. In addition, this plans seems to have good aims. However, I also think that it’ll be a little too much money.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Sunday, February 1, 2009
As the economy drops so does welfare. 18 states had to cut their welfare programs last year. Michigan's unemployment rate dropped 9% and its welfare was cut 13%. However, Rhode Island's welfare decline 17%, which is one of the largest declines in the nation. The welfare program works as it was designed when the bill was passed in 1996. Some believe that it is time for a new system. “There is ample reason to be concerned here. The overall structure is not working the way it was designed to work. We would expect, just on the face it, that when a deep recession happens, people could go back on welfare” said Ron Haskins, a former Republican Congressional aide who helped write the 1996 law overhauling the welfare system. The new bill in Congress right now is gives $2.5 billion to states with caseload expansions. However, the new bill has some people concerned because they believe that the poor would suffer.
However hopeful these plans are, critics argue that the stimulus plan might not be enough to create much of a difference for the economic problems here in California. And although the stimulus bill calls for federal tax cuts, some states, like California, are considering tax increases. In addition to all of these issues, California has been quite politically unruly. The deeply partisan culture in Sacramento makes it more difficult for the state's leaders to reach an agreement on closing the budget gap this year and on spending money marked by Congress as discretionary. With so many problems, the stimulus bill will definitely be put to the test the hardest here in California.
However, there are still numerous disagreements. Senator Jon Kyl (Republican0-Arizona) criticized the Obama administration's $500 tax credit to working families, which some economists say will not result in sufficient additional spending. He also criticized the creation of numerous new government programs and giving billions of dollars to the states. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (Republican-Texas) wanted cuts on "social spending provisions" that total around $200 million in the bill. She, and some fellow Republicans, feel additional tax cuts would be more effective than large-scale government spending programs. Senator Kyl warned that Republicans will not support the bill until there are "major structural changes to it."
Now, Super Bowl time!
Most Iraqis are ready for Americans to leave. Many feel that they can handle problems on their own and that American involvement has only made some matters worse and more confusing. The American military is worried about security in the provinces of Nineveh and Diyala, where counterinsurgency operations are still going on, and where there are signs of activity by Sunni extremist groups. However, the military also sees this as a test of Iraq's political stability, to see whether Iraqis can handle and resolve their sectarian and ethnic tensions.
However, no matter how much the U.S. pulls back, Iraq and the U.S. will always be interdependent. The Iraqis still need U.S. troops to lessen terrorist activities, and protect them from their neighbors, Syria and Iran, while the U.S. still needs Iraq as "a strategic prize close to the Middle East flash points of Israel, Lebanon and Syria as well as Iran and the oil-rich Persian Gulf countries." The Iraqi Parliament and the U.S. settled a security agreement in November that sealed the date of departure: by the end of 2011.