Thursday, October 21, 2010

Stimulus money used in Africa etc.

Stimulate Africa and Nepal. Joe Biden promised he would audit Obama Giant Stimulus projects to make sure every dollar went to help Americans. Travel to Nepal? That might stimulate some student or researcher a bit and Nepal a lot. Joe, you promised. Senator Patty, are you asleep? Detroit News University of Michigan scientist is getting $500,000 for a study on people's impact on the environment — in Nepal. In the Upper Peninsula, a professor will get $145,000 to take students to Africa. Both research projects, as well as scores of others across the country, are under fire by conservatives for being funded by federal stimulus money, funds intended to boost the U.S. economy and create jobs. Critics say the money has been lavishly extended to questionable projects, pointing to hundreds across the nation that they believe don't create jobs or invest in long-term economic growth. The issue has become a cause celebre for Republican and tea party activists heading into the November election. While campaigning for Republicans in California last week, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called the stimulus package "the biggest boondoggle in U.S. history." "Some of these projects may or may not have merit, but these are not stimulus projects," said U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland, one of the most vocal critics of the stimulus package and a candidate for re-election. "We have not seen the job creation that we need to see in our economy: 48 out of 50 states have lost jobs since stimulus was passed." But supporters counter that the stimulus funds have had a major impact. Out of $7.6 billion awarded, Michigan has received $3 billion for projects that have led to 70,000 jobs, according to the Michigan Economic Recovery Office. Much of that funding was aimed at saving jobs, unemployment, protecting health care and modernizing schools. "We know very well that the recover act has helped Michigan," said Vicki Levengood, spokeswoman for the Michigan Economic Recovery Office. Since the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was approved last year, about $13 billion of the funds have been awarded to the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation for scientific research grants. Facing some of the harshest scrutiny has been funding to university researchers, who counter that their work funded by the stimulus is creating jobs now, or in the future. U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has issued three reports since June 2009 on projects he deemed wasteful, along with U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Grants criticized include $221,355 to Indiana University professors to study why young men do not like to wear condoms, $210,000 to the University of Hawaii to study how honeybees learn and $144,541 to Wake Forest University to study how monkeys act under the influence of cocaine. Highlighted projects in Michigan include stimulus funds awarded to universities for international travel for students, including a $145,000 grant for Michigan Technological University engineering students for travel to Tanzania ...

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