HAVANA (AP) — A U.S. foundation will ship nearly $900,000 in supplies to build a state-of-the-art facility to preserve Ernest Hemingway’s books, letters and photos – the first major export of construction materials to Cuba since President Barack Obama loosened the trade embargo on the island.
The Boston-based Finca Vigia Foundation has been trying for years to help Cuba stop thousands of pages of documents from slowly disintegrating in the baking heat and dripping humidity of the sprawling homewhere the American writer lived and worked outside Havana from 1939 to 1960. Officials with Cuba’s National Cultural Heritage Council, which runs the Finca Vigia, have been enthusiastic about building a conservation laboratory but said they didn’t have the funds or supplies to do it.
High-quality building materials are virtually impossible to find throughout much of Cuba, with homeowners forced to buy paint and water pumps stolen from government agencies and pay overseas travelers to bring items as large as sinks and kitchen cabinets in their checked luggage. In state-run hardware stores, a request for an item as mundane as a box of screws can provoke peals of laughter from salesclerks.
The foundation’s proposal to send four shipping containers with as much as $862,000 of materials ranging from nuts and bolts to tools and roofing was approved by the U.S. government in May, after Obama created a series of exemptions to the embargo. The exceptions include permission for Americans to export supplies donated for the purpose of supporting the Cuban people in fields such as science, archaeology and historical preservation. Read the rest of this entry »
President Obama’s distant second cousin has taken family feuding to a new level in his bid for the Senate.
Dr. Milton Wolf, the radiologist challenging Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), told The Hill on Monday that while Obama’s a “nice guy,” he believes he’s “the worst president in our time, if not our history…”
By Daniel Halper
Two charts on food stamps spending, provided by the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee, just as the Senate is voting the food stamps program (which is part of the so-called farm bill):
“Among the roughly 80 means-tested federal welfare programs, the food stamp program is the second-largest and the fastest growing. Nearly 1 in 6 Americans now receives the benefit. Food stamp spending has more than doubled since the start of the Obama presidency, and has quadrupled since 2001. Total spending on food stamps is now projected to be more than $760 billion over the next 10 years. By contrast, between 2003 and 2012, the nation spent less than $480 billion on food stamps,” writes the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee.
Following this historic increase, the Administration continues to use promotional campaigns to further increase enrollment. USDA, for example, advertises food stamps as a form of economic stimulus, asserting that “each $5 dollars in new SNAP benefits generates almost twice that amount in economic activity for the community… Everyone wins when eligible people take advantage of benefits to which they are entitled.” USDA has also acknowledged a formal partnership with the Mexican government to boost food stamp enrollment among non-citizens. In response to oversight inquiries from Ranking Member Sessions and then-Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Pat Roberts, USDA revealed that the current administration has met with Mexican officials approximately 30 times as part of the partnership.
“The Department also instructs food stamp administrators and volunteers on “how to overcome the word ‘no’”, and has given a “Gold” award to a local recruitment office for overcoming the “mountain pride” of individuals in North Carolina. USDA even provides bonuses—totaling about $50 million per year—to states that meet high enrollment targets.
“The Senate farm bill would reduce food stamp spending by $4 billion dollars over 10 years, or just 0.52 percent. That compares to reductions of nearly $14 billion to the other farm bill programs, approximately a 6 percent cut.”