Iraq–The Next Big Threat To America’s Global Standing After Bin Laden?

“In fact, Osama bin Laden is a pilot of Americ...

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Successful termination of Al Qaeda head Osama Bin Laden may have provided a sense of closure to the victims of the 911 attack and may have improved stock of American government and intelligence agencies in the international community. However, America is still fighting wars in Iran and Afghanistan and is informally involved in another one in Libya.

While the Libyan action is being passed on to NATO which shall be operating under the auspices of the United Nations, there is no doubt that the United States Of America is involved in two long wars that can still spoil the show.

The death of Bin Laden would have had a significant impact on global security had he remained the master strategist and planner for all terrorist activities. However, the terrorist organization has splintered into many groups and a decentralized power setup is in place today. While the termination of the top figurehead is an important achievement, it has not rendered the problem of global terrorism completely irrelevant.

The next important decision that will have a huge impact on America’s standing in the world is the successful withdrawal from Iraq. Generals are good at starting wards and fighting them. However, concluding the war and finalizing the political goals for which the war was initiated is an integral part of the task. This is the next big decision that will impact security of Americans and all countries friendly to America in the next year or so.

The impact of a successful withdrawal on the next presidential election cannot be understated. A mess may create problems for the incumbent president while a successful one may boost chances of reelection.





Push for Cap on Property Taxes Introduced by New York Mayor

New York, like many other cities across the United States, is looking for ways to increase revenue to keep the budget where it needs to be. This can often be in conflict with taxpayers when it comes to property taxes, which is a common place for cities to find the funding they need. New York is currently dealing with a budget deficit, but Governor Andrew Cuomo has put capping property taxes in the state at the top of his list.

New York property taxes rank as being some of the highest in the United States, the cap will be well received by both the New York Senate and the state’s residents. The support for this has crossed party lines, as the economic situation of the nation makes it harder for many to pay any more than they already are. The proposal that Cuomo has put forth limits the raise in the property tax at either two percent or at the amount equal to that of inflation. It is set at whichever condition is the lesser one.

Though this is good news for homeowners, but it may bring financial problems for schools. Many districts within the state are saying that it could adversely affect their budgets, forcing them to cut various programs and possibly to even close some schools. This won’t affect New York City schools as much, but those areas outside of the city may be impacted.

The government is working with the governor to find a solution to these problems. If the measure does go through, communities can override it by having the support of at least sixty percent of the voters in the area. As New York state works to find a solution to the budget crunch and internal problems, the parties seem to be brainstorming together to find a compromise for everyone involved.

The Economy and Efforts to Stimulate a Recovery

Nationwide, efforts are in full swing to find solutions to the economy issue. Many states have had to pull out unpopular tactics, such as raising property taxes and making deep cuts into various programs. Though many of these actions are unpopular with voters, there has been one positive note within the whole affair: cooperation. Past rivals and the fence between Democrats and Republicans has had to be crossed in order to make many of these deals go through.

This was recently seen in Washington, D.C. when President Obama pushed through stimulus legislation by working out a deal with the G.O.P. With party politics put aside at times, governments are finally learning that working together is the best medicine for a struggling economy. Without a compromise in many cases, budgets would not be passed and solutions would lay mired in a field of discontent. This political cooperation gives the country a measure of hope into an uncertain future.

Other efforts have been successful at staving off real problems for some areas, while others continue to struggle. One area that is having the most problems are local school districts. Reduced tax revenues and cuts in funding allocations has brought numerous challenges to many. Some have had to resort to cutting positions and closing schools. Enterprising districts, especially small ones, are starting to be more strategic with their funds, hiring grant writers to help bring in additional moneys. By thinking with an eye on quality and being creative, many of the smaller districts can weather the financial storm.

The ability of governments, at both the state, local and national level, cooperating and with smart planning, things should improve in time. These are lessons learned that we can take with us into times when the economy is once again strong and full of potential.

Gas Prices Rise Within Limits

Nationwide, drivers may have noticed the slow rise of gas prices at the pump when filling up. The cost of gasoline has risen slowly over the past month, though in most areas it has stayed below the three dollar per gallon ceiling. This is at least some good news for drivers, who in the past had to suffer through paying $3-$4 a gallon. According to a recent Lundberg Survey that focused on various cities throughout the United States, the average price for gas was around $2.99 a gallon. It is a sharper rise though, from prices as they were in the past year, averaging around $.39 less for a gallon in your tank.

San Francisco came in with the highest gasoline prices, with $3.29 a gallon and Denver, Colorado came in at the lowest with $2.60 a gallon. Other cities fared higher, such as Boston, Massachusetts with $3.08 per gallon and Seattle, Washington with $3.14 per gallon of gas. These prices will take a bit more out of Americans’ pocket books when they fill up at the tank. Many drivers have started to switch to smaller and more fuel efficient vehicles, especially hybrids. Government subsidies that support ethanol-based fuels have helped to keep those prices much lower. Other drivers are turning to making their own bio diesel, or just simply driving less.

Drivers can help to improve their gas mileage by performing routine maintenance on their cars. This includes such things as a regular oil change every 3,000 miles, making sure that their tires are properly inflated and getting an engine tuneup as scheduled by the car’s manufacturer. These steps keep the car running efficiently and smoothly, which helps to keep more gas in the gas tank. Mixed in with the economy, many drivers are also not purchasing newer vehicles as often. They’re stretching their older vehicles much further, while some even convert them so that they can use an alternative form of fuel.