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Ask AP: Iraqis in the US, printing less money
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    If you print more money, each dollar is worth less, right? Does that mean a country can fight inflation by simply easing back on the cash printing presses?
    Curiosity about this possibility inspired one of three questions in this edition of ‘‘Ask AP,’’ a weekly Q&A column where AP journalists respond to readers’ questions about the news.
    If you have your own news-related question that you’d like to see answered by an AP reporter or editor, send it to newsquestions(at)ap.org, with ‘‘Ask AP’’ in the subject line. And please include your full name and hometown so they can be published with your question.
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    What is the status of immigrants from Iraq who have come to the United States during the Iraq war? Are they becoming citizens or have they been granted full or temporary asylum — and if so, how long can they stay and does granting them asylum put them on the road to citizenship?
    Lou Doll
    Green Valley, Ariz.
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    Iraqi immigrants have come to the United States under two separate programs that address effects of the war. Both offer a path to citizenship.
    This year, the State Department granted 500 special visas for Iraqi and Afghan nationals who had worked directly for the U.S. government — people like translators or interpreters — whose work put them at risk of reprisal. They are on a fast track to a green card and likely citizenship after five years.
    The U.S. also expanded its refugee program to admit Iraqis, with a goal of resettling 12,000 by Sept. 30. Those who choose to stay permanently will be free to do so, as legal U.S. residents. They will also be free to apply for citizenship, though they will be under no obligation to do so.
    Anne Gearan
    AP Diplomatic Writer
    Washington
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    I think there are a couple of ways to reduce inflation. One is increasing interest rates, but in the past I have heard of countries printing too much money and increasing inflation. Is it possible to decrease the amount of money printed and therefore reduce inflation?
    Tracy Ultican
    Blue Springs, Mo.
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    Decisions about how much money is in circulation do indeed affect inflation. And adjustments in the supply of money coursing through the banking system are closely tied to the interest rate changes imposed by the Federal Reserve.
    Say the Fed wants to fight inflation. It can reduce the amount of money available to commercial banks to make loans — which is somewhat like printing less money. Draining money from the system makes it more expensive to borrow money — in other words, interest rates go up. Higher interest rates make consumers and businesses less likely to borrow money, which slows the economy and puts a brake on inflation.
    When commentators talk about the Fed ‘‘printing’’ too much money, they mean the Fed is taking the opposite step — infusing money into the banking system. The Fed does this by buying Treasury securities, a type of bond, from banks. Banks then have more cash and make loans more easily available to consumers and businesses, which encourages economic growth. But if the Fed overdoes it, inflation can rise and weaken the dollar.
    Martin Crutsinger
    AP Economics Writer
    Washington
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    Exactly what is meant when a weatherman says that there is, for example, a 30 percent chance of rain? I’ve been told everything from:
    1. On this exact date over the past 10 years it has rained 3 times, hence a 30% chance, to
    2. That 30 percent of the TV station viewing area will receive rain.
    Please explain what they mean when they give a percentage for the chance of rain, and how the figure is determined.
    Judy Hardy
    Donna, Texas
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    Forecasts are done locally from 122 National Weather Service forecast offices and are provided to local news outlets along with the computer guidance that led to the forecast. Many broadcasters use the weather service forecast directly, others study the computer information and adjust it based on their local knowledge and still others incorporate information from private forecasting services.
    When the forecast says there is, say, a 30 percent chance of rain, it means that in any given place within the forecast area there is a 30 percent chance of rain falling and a 70 percent chance of no rain.
    It does not mean it has rained three times in the last 10 years on this date, though historical data is included in computer programs used to forecast weather.
    It may or may not mean that 30 percent of the area will receive rain.
    What we call the ‘‘chance of rain’’ in any given location is known as the Probability of Precipitation, or PoP, in weather talk. According to the National Weather Service, you calculate PoP by multiplying the confidence that precipitation will fall somewhere in the forecast area by the percentage of the area that will get a measurable amount, if it falls anywhere.
    An example: The forecaster knows precipitation is going to fall — so confidence is 100 percent — and has concluded that 40 percent of the area will get measurable rain. That works out to a 40 percent chance of rain in any given spot in the forecast area.
    Or, let’s say the forecaster is 50 percent sure precipitation will occur, and expects measurable rain over 80 percent of the area if it does fall. In this case, you end up with — once again — a 40 percent chance of rain.
    Randolph E. Schmid
    AP Science Writer
    Washington
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    Have questions of your own? Send them to newsquestions(at)ap.org.

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