Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Directorio pays thousands of Cubans

Orlando Gutierrez Boronat spars with Cuban intelligence chief
Directorio Democrático Cubano was founded 25 years ago in Miami Beach. Back then it was called the International Congress of Cuban Youth for a Free Cuba. Members changed the name to Directorio in 2002.
Now based in Hialeah, Fla., the organization gives direct aid to Cuban dissidents and carries out radio broadcasts to the island. Its co-founder and national secretary is Orlando Gutierrez Boronat, who made headlines in April after getting into a fistfight in Panama City where the Summit of the Americas took place. His foe that day was Alexis Frutos Weeden, identified as a Cuban intelligence chief.
Gutierrez' wife, Janisset Rivero-Gutierrez, is adjunct national secretary of Directorio Democrático. Board member Lorenzo L. de Toro is her brother-in-law. The executive director and co-founder is Javier de Céspedes.
U.S. taxpayers provide most of the funding for the Directorio, which received $6,272,110 in government grants from 2009 to 2013, tax records show.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"Snackable content" at Radio Martí

Carlos García-Pérez
Radio Martí marks its 30th anniversary on May 20. Carlos García-Pérez, director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, said in a statement:
The staying power of Radio Martí is a testament to the importance of a free flow of information. It is a profound and personal honor to be part of an institution that has made such a positive impact on the daily lives of people throughout the island.
García-Pérez said Radio Martí reaches audiences in Cuba using everything from satellite and shortwave radio to websites, flash drives and mobile apps. He said:
At each step of the way, the Cuban government has tried to stop us. But we have been undeterred and by pursuing creative media alternatives we have ensured that our professional journalism reaches Cuba.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

State Department's Top 50 Intriguing or Bizarre Expenses

See interactive graphic
I took a spin through $6,052,837,219 in State Department expenses and compiled a list of the 50 most intriguing or bizarre expenses.
The top expense was for office buildings, at $1,897,708,127. Further down the list was a category called "miscellaneous items." That totaled a whopping $57,035,138 - all expenses that were too trivial to describe.
The government spent $105,549,588 in household furniture - a nice little perk for our diplomats abroad. No big surprise there. But the top 50 I chose were offbeat or strange. They included such items as:
  • $5,939,630 for tableware
  • $2,924,003 for draperies, awnings and shades
  • $1,322,750 for intelligence services
  • $882,035 for perfume, toilet preparation and powder
  • $301,750 for bags and sacks
  • $278,000 for surveillance services
  • $249,400 for "motor charter for things," whatever the heck that means
  • $235,000 for camouflage and deception equipment
  • $198,000 for torpedo and gun boats
  • $186,000 for recreational and gymnastic equipment
  • $111,000 for screws
  • $98,000 for miscellaneous weapons
  • $39,000 for men's outerware
  • $33,500 for space vehicles (no kidding) and,
  • $8,000 for "launchers, torpedo and depth charge."
See interactive graphic of State Department spending by category.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

GITMO wants a little religion

U.S. government chaplains. See graphic.
The U.S. Navy is searching for "potential PROVIDERS for Catholic Priest Services" at its base in Guantanamo, Cuba. Information about the job is below.
The Navy's search got me wondering how much the U.S. government spends on chaplain services. The amount reported: $173,394,152. Most of the money was spent over the past 10 years.
The Army led the way with $75,792,084, followed by the Navy, $31,201,548; the Air Force, $30,640,263; Veterans Affairs, $14,940,948; and the Federal Prison System, $13,931,998.
If you'd like a piece of that dough while living in sunny Guantanamo, see below:

STATEMENT OF WORK
COVERAGE OF CHAPEL SERVICES AS CATHOLIC PRIEST CONTRACT RELIGIOUS MINISTRY PROFESSIONAL (CRMP) IN SUPPORT OF THE COMMAND RELIGIOUS PROGRAM (CRP) OF NAVAL STATION (NAVSTA) GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA FOR THE PERIOD OF 27 August 2015 – 18 September 2015

1.0 BACKGROUND. Per US Navy Regulations, SECNAVINST 1730.7D, and OPNAVINST 1730.1E, it is incumbent upon Commanding Officers (COs) to have a CRP which accommodates the religious needs, preferences, and rights of assigned military personnel, eligible family members, and other authorized users.